When I grew up in New York, Bustelo used to be the only espresso you could always find in the supermarket --and it was reasonable. I rediscovered it when I was in New York this last trip and it was a delicious reunion...it brews a rich cafe au lait and a lovely, dark espresso. Can't seem to find it easily in Los Angeles, and I'm sorry about that.
I walked into this tiny vineyard by chance a few years ago. We found ourselves in a gravelled back area, greeted by a barking dog. It seemed deserted. A tall, sleepy guy appeared with a half smile. Almost reluctantly, he gave us a brief "tour" of the modest place not at all "done" f or tourists and half heartedly led us to a little tasting room.
This unenthusiastic prelude did not exactly make us have any hopes for the wine. Then with a little pour of the red and quick swirl, he handed over a glass. We were not prepared for the lush delight we tasted. Needless to say a case immediately was placed in the back of the car before we left. I recently found a bottle from that trip and it is still a really nice glass of red.
A few months ago, I saw one of these beautiful soy candles perched on a bedside table in a friend's guest room and was entranced. The lush patterns on the lovely packaging reminded me of mixed prints I use in my clothing line and it didn't hurt that the candle itself had a heavenly fragrance. Even the hammered copper vessel was elegant and unusual. I made a mental note to find the candles for my store.
Happily, a few months later in New York, I met the creator, Manuela Testolini, a charming and smart beauty who told me a little more about her company.
I didn't realize until after we met that Manuela was formerly married to Prince. And while this may be notable to some, I was more impressed by her beautiful presentation and delicious fragrances with names like, Harmony, Artistry and Integrity. More importantly though, I was won over by Manuela's warm and generous spirit. She donates a percentage of her proceeds to a children's charity, In a Perfect World, which is focused on arts and education.
Now that makes for a wonderful gift and I am delighted to have them at the shop.
I don't indulge very often, but I will admit to having a weakness for fried oysters, especially in the hands of an able chef. Here are two of my faves in Los Angeles:
Lazy Ox Canteen 241 S San Pedro St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 213.626.5299
sorry photo isn't in focus !
I've been a fan of chef Josef Centano since he was at the dearly departed Meson G and then when he did his amazing stint at Opus -- who can forget his original, memorable conjurings there? So it was with great delight that I learned he was opening a restaurant last year in Little Tokyo, a few blocks away from my design studio. I went early on and here, very good Fried Oysters with a roasted pepper aioli. While we were waiting, we were served some crispy cancha, a type of toasted Peruvian corn, seasoned with lime and salt...which we could have probably kept eating all night!
Even though the food still is earthy and inspired, I haven't been back much. The "college Bar /dark wood" decor they've chosen just amplifies the noisy chaos of the place as more people arrive. I know it's supposed to be casual, but these days when I go out I don't want to shout across the table... but that's me: the place is always packed.
225 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
I order this dish every single timeI go to this exceptional restaurant where chef Mako consistently turns out artful and flavorful Asian-French fusion delights. Why? Because it is so perfectly cooked and addictively good. The oysters are one of those appetizers you finish and think --maybe I'll order another one and just make that the whole meal...
Listed as Crispy Oysters, they sit in a delicate creamy pesto with a tangy dollop of something mysterious and delicious on top...tapenade, maybe?
In the many years I've enjoyed this place, the food has been stellar each time --with friendly service, and reasonable pricing. It's also quiet and a good place if you actually need to also speak during your meal.
I'm only focusing on the noise element at both of these restaurants because these days, I'm not going out nearly as often. So when I do -- and it's usually after a long day at work -- I'm looking to unwind and enjoy my meal in a serene setting. As a side note: while simple and elegant, Mako might be due for a little makeover in the decor department which has a 90's vibe that could benefit from a little newness.
Mako seems to be a best kept secret for locals but most friends I introduce to this restaurant,have usually never heard of it. Which is a shame. In a town full of new and trendy always getting the attention, this place deserves to be on top ten lists..it certainly is on mine!