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Posts from October 2010

Has Anyone Seen My Mind?

I think I've lost it.  I've gone and signed up for a 15k (approximately 9.3 mile) race.  In DECEMBER.  I know what you're going to say: "but Laren, that shouldn't be hard for you; you do triathlons!"  Well guess what, kids, running is the hardest part of the triathlon for me, and I've never run that far in my life, plus the running in the cold thing is going to be, well, interesting to say the least.  Thankfully, a few other crazies have joined me in this challenge, so I'll have company.  I'm already about two weeks behind in my training, so no more slacking.  Let me know if you want to go for a run!

Pacific Time

I returned to NYC from LA on Thursday night but still feel somewhat like I'm running on Pacific time -- I slept until 11 both days this weekend (which doesn't happen that often).  It could be that I'm just recovering from the trip generally, as it was jam-packed.

I drove straight from the airport to visit my cousin and his family in Culver City, and spent a chunk of the day catching up with them and meeting their baby Kai for the first time (he's adorable, for the record).  We had a snack at Ugo Cafe, then I drove to my hotel in West Hollywood, the Farmer's Daughter (which I loved, BTW.  Thanks, Sarah!), quickly showered and changed, then @ThirstyinLA picked me up to head to Jonathan Gold's Cocktail Speakeasy fundraiser for Zocalo at Union Station. At the event, I was able to taste food from a wide variety of restaurants and bars -- an efficient culinary tour of LA!  We went for a nightcap at Varnish, but I was fading fast, thanks to the jetlag.

Sunday I slept late, then headed to Venice for a day with my friend Arielle.  We probably walked more that day than most Los Angelinos walk in a week -- after lunch at the Venice Beach Wines, we wandered over to the beach to admire the skaters, take in the activity on the boardwalk, and relax in the sand.  We walked back to her house via the Venice Canals, then rested up at her lovely, bright apartment watching Garden State before a sushi dinner at Kiriko.

Monday I visited the Original Farmer's Market and started the day with a donut and coffee from Bob's and a walk through the market and the Grove.  After a bit of work in the courtyard of my hotel, Marco picked me up for a delicious lunch at Pizzeria Mozza.  Highlights included the bruschette with white beans alla Toscana with extra virgin olive oil & saba, the pizza with squash blossoms, tomato & burrata, and of course, Marco's wonderful company.  I spent my afternoon hiking of some of my lunch with a hike up and around Runyon Canyon, where I caught my first view of the Hollywood sign, but no celebs walking their dogs (which I was told I might see).  After returning home for a bit more work, I met Zac for dinner at BLD, where we took advantage of Dine LA week.  Speaking of dogs, Zac's story of his recent dog adoption definitely helped to convince me that I want a dog too.  Soonish.

Tuesday I got up early to catch up with Chris over breakfast; I was happy that we were able to catch up and that he was able to squeeze me in before heading off to shoot for Law & Order LA (ah, actors!).  Then back to my hotel for some work before meeting yet another Chris (hee) for lunch at Umami Burger, my first of two meaty meals for the day (hatch burger!).  He and my friend Jimmy had both suggested visiting Griffith Observatory, so I took a detour there after lunch to wander around a bit before heading downtown to my new hotel.  Once downtown, I went to visit Allan at Caña, where Jono joined me for a quick drink.  Afterwards, I picked up some work friends and headed to Animal for an amazing dinner, heavy on the pig parts (although the fried rabbit legs might have been my favorite).

Wednesday was a work day, beginning at 7:30 a.m. (eek!) with a meeting, followed by the APBCo Academy.  I've got to admit, I'm very lucky to have not only a job that I like that makes a difference in the world, but I've got an amazing pack of colleagues across the country, and it's always inspiring and fun to see them.  Plus, we had lunch from the Border Grill Truck -- yum!  After a long but productive day, I took a nap before heading to Rivera to meet @LushAngeles for some excellent pre-dinner cocktails (V.E.P. Chartreuse Swizzle, anyone?).  The last stop of the night was Drago Centro for dinner with @tallnoe.

I headed back to NYC Thursday morning and had a relaxing recovery weekend from my jam-packed trip.  Thank you, L.A., for a fun-filled first visit.  I'm not moving out there anytime soon, but I had a great time, and, as your Governor says, I'll be back.  Thanks to all who were a part of it -- it was wonderful to see you and I'm sorry it took me so long to get out there!  Pictures from the trip are here.

I'm Driving in My Car . . .

. . . I turn on the radio.  Yes, I am still capable of driving with the radio on.  After all that anxiety, I will admit, I'm really enjoying tooling around L.A. in my Ford Focus hybrid.  It's a zippy little number with a sunroof and pretty good pickup, it handles well, and my GPS is my new best friend.  For the most part.  It has kept me off of the freeways so far, but it did take me on the absolutely most ridiculous roundabout route from WeHo (as the locals call it, apparently) to Venice -- through the damn airport.  Insanity.  I've now taken to checking Google maps before hitting the road.  That said, it did lead me to this gem along the way:


Walking in L.A.

As you read this I'm already on a plane to L.A.  Freaking out a bit about the whole car culture thing, as I'm a huge walker, but I think it's more anxiety about driving in a city I don't know or understand at all than the acutal driving -- every time I get behind a wheel of a car (which isn't all that often), I love it.  Looking forward to seeing L.A. friends and family!!

LES* Noshing Walk

Jam-filled doughnut from Doughnut PlantA few weeks back, I went on a self-guided noshing walk around the Lower East Side and Chinatown; I highly recommend it as a way to spend a sunny Sunday.  I followed it up with a ridiculously long walk -- hope that helped to counterbalance the caloric intake.

Heebster at Russ & Daughters (I only ate half)

Full sour pickle at The Pickle Guys

Jam filled square doughnut at Doughnut Plant

Optional stop at Kossar's Bialys (for breakfast later in the week)

Wave hello to Mark at Pizza a Casa

Tastes at the Hester Street Fair: Sigmund Pretzel Shop cheddar and truffle pretzel, Guerrilla Ice Cream's Peking Duck ice cream

Spicy pork jerky from Malaysian Beef Jerky

If you can handle more, there are other good stops, but I was definitely done by then (I didn't even get any jerky, actually).  Eat and enjoy!

*Both the Lower East Side and my initials!

Booze You Can Use: Leblon at Lani Kai

Often I am invited to attend events that don't completely mesh into something I can write about for my current freelance columns, but which are great for gathering information, getting pitch ideas, increasing my knowledge, and making contacts.  I'm going to do my best to write about them here instead.  I figure that between those of you who read my blog, plus 800+ of you on Facebook and 1200+ of you on Twitter who see my blog posts via feeds, at least someone will be reading them!

Last week I went to a Leblon event held at the soon-to-be opened Lani Kai in SoHo.  Lani Kai, Julie Reiner's newest project, is a tribute to a beach in Hawaii, with modern tropical decor and menus that reflect flavors of the region (More about all this from Julie in the not-too-distant future is in the works).  The food, by chef Craig Rivard, was fantastic, starting with an ahi poke (something I haven't had since my trip to Hawaii a few years back), a pork bun slider with "Lani Kai secret sauce," a fried whole red snapper with a selection of dipping sauces, and steak served with bibb lettuce, bean sprouts, friend shallots, fried purple potatoes, hoisin, and ginger scallion sauce, made to be wrapped. 


The cocktails served that night were all made with Leblon cachaça.  Many people don't know much about cachaça beyond the caipirinha -- Brazil's national cocktail -- but this spriit, distilled from sugar cane juice, and in Leblon's case, aged in XO cognac casks, has a delicate, somewhat floral flavor that plays well with others.  Joe Swifka, who I first met when he worked at Elettaria (RIP), is running the bar at Lani Kai.  Joe has a flair for tropical flavor and is one of the nicest guys around.  I'm quite excited to see what he has in store there.  He created a Leblon cocktail that was served with the ahi poke and will be listed on the opening menu. 

The Tides

2 oz. Leblon cachaça
1 oz. Falernum
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
1/4 oz. cane syrup
2 dashes Peychaud bitters

Shake with ice and strain over fresh ice in a collins glass.  Garnish with a lime and grapefruit twist.