Tuesday, March 31, 2009
There is a sign in the window of Hodori that says, "Ring bell, then run away really fast. Hodori (baby tiger) needs exercise." A sense of humor at a Korean restaurant? Yes, and on top of that, they are open 24 hours a day everyday; this is one of those options after clubbing or partying that actually serves decent food.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, many Korean places give non-Koreans a hostile attitude or very bad service, but Hodori is a fair and equal treatment kind of place no matter your heritage or nationality (this means that they are slow to everyone, not just non-Asians). Another plus is the bright pictures of food above the counter to help you decide what you want, and they even have an abbreviated English description below the Korean menu descriptions to let you know what your dish will include.
As in all Korean restaurants, there are sides that come with every dish, and here that means a nice seaweed soup, slightly sweet kim chee, spicy pickled radish, gelatinous rice flour, bean sprouts, potato salad, and steamed rice. Most dishes are between $7-14, and very generous, so you won't have to break your piggy bank to feed yourself here.
We had the thinly pounded and nicely crunchy fried pork cutlet, served with a shredded cabbage salad, the tender and medium rare Galbi, served over raw onions, and the pictured, sizzling hot, vegetable laden, Galbi BiBimBop. Everything was good, (nothing was great) but the place was clean, the choices varied, and although the service was very slow and a bit lackadaisical, it was nice and never rude.
Rather than a 3am early morning breakfast at one of those chains that serve greasy eggs, why not try Hodori for some good Korean food instead?
Monday, March 30, 2009
Using the Honey Fund makes it more personal than simply sending the couple a check or some cash because each item or excursion they would like is itemized; a romantic dinner, a boat trip to another island, scooter rentals, a show, even the plane tickets, are all listed as gift items. The fund even makes it possible to buy just a portion of a big ticket item (like the plane fare), so you can contribute as little or as much as you would like without paying for the entire item. At "checkout" you can either pay through Paypal or print out a gift receipt and enclose your check or cash with the receipt showing what you have bought the couple.
Of course the Honey Fund also allows the usual gift registry at brand name stores like Crate and Barrel where tangible items are listed and you can buy them (and have them shipped) for the couple. But as my friends said in their announcement, there isn't much they need now or can fit into their small place, so helping them fund their Honeymoon would be much more practical (and fun).
Having been to Bora Bora alone, I know it is much better to travel there as a couple, and it's even better to travel there on a honeymoon with all expenses paid.
Friday, March 27, 2009
For something closer to home, the Miraval Resort in Tucson, AZ, is offering a special price of $399 per night which includes 3 gourmet meals a day and a $125 spa service or golf round credit per day of your stay. Miraval has been consistently voted the #1 spa in the world by Conde Nast Traveler, with 400 acres, an Olympic lap pool, a tri-level pool with cascading waterfalls, accupressure stone walk and whirlpool, state-of-the-art equipment including Cybex and Woodway machines, treadmills, life cycles, Stair Masters and free weights, and 20 minutes away, access to the Golf Club at Vistoso, an 18-hole, par 72, Tom Weiskopf-designed course playing to 6,905 yards.
Once you get to your destination, try Google Transit to get around using public transportation; you can even send the directions directly to your mobile phone!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
My friends got stuck in the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport for 5 hours today after missing a connecting flight. After taking the shuttle around the airport (which took 45 minutes), they discovered the Xpress Spa and spent some time enjoying a manicure, pedicure, and a massage while they waited for their next flight. Delays during air travel are never convenient, but getting pampered while you wait can make it more pleasurable and both my friends were in a much better mood after their spa stopover.
Xpress Spa is to spa services, what Starbucks is to coffee houses; they are in 27 airport locations around the world from Amsterdam to San Francisco, with ten locations in JFK and La Guardia (NYC) alone. Six more are scheduled to open this year, mostly on the East coast.
Prices are very reasonable with time allotments ranging from a 10 minute foot massage for $25, to a 60 minute full body massage for $120. You can get facials, waxing services, gel and silk nails,and specialties like a 100% collagen hydrating mask, or an organic Ginseng and Spirulina mask.
If you travel frequently, sign up for their Membership program to earn points and get special offers, including a $25 birthday gift certificate. Even if you don't travel frequently, you can use your gift to purchase a candle, soap or eyemask from their online store.
You may actually want your next flight to be delayed, at least long enough to refresh your body at the nearest Xpress Spa.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Misasa is one of the few places in the courtyard that serves grilled fish and"sets" (a meal tray with side dishes like soup, rice, salad). I chose one of the most expensive ones, the mackerel tray for $6.50, which included a big bowl of rice, half a mackerel, pickles, miso soup, cabbage salad, a scoop of potato salad, cold tofu with bonito, and a small hot tea, an amazing deal even for a semi-self service meal (you order and wait to take the tray to one of the tables yourself). The tray even included little containers of soy sauce and salad dressing already prepared for you (the counter has huge bottles of katsu, pepper flakes, and soy sauce if you want more).
They offer tempura sets with grilled fish or by themselves, or don bowls of rice with curry or pork katsu (fried boneless cutlet), and you can get grilled salmon or meat as your main course with all the sides. Just the variety of choices is a nice plus since the other eateries all tend to offer only ramen soup choices. Make sure you have cash on hand if you want to eat here; they do not accept any credit or debit cards. For the price of fast food at a big chain, you can eat a much healthier and tastier meal while enjoying fast Japanese soul food.
I think you are more imaginative and patient with your recipes when you've eaten before you begin cooking, so eating at Misasa may all inspire you to make something tasty when you get home.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Edison Nation which was created by the people who put together the PBS show Everyday Edisons, is celebrating the 200th year anniversary of the first patent granted to a woman by hosting the American Women of Inventionsm Search open to any woman over 18 who lives in the US (sorry, not PR or US territories, and not anyone who works for Edison or Bed bath and Beyond) Just submit your great idea for something that makes life better, easier, or more fun, submit a $25 fee, and Edison will filter through the submissions; they will inform you on your dashboard if you are a finalist. If your idea is chosen, you get $2,500 plus sales based compensation. This is a much safer and easier way of getting your ideas to market than the scams that fill the late night television airwaves.
If you have a great idea already, submit it, otherwise think of one by April 30, 2009 and show the world how inventive women can be.
Monday, March 23, 2009
If you don't want to spend four years and several thousand dollars getting a degree, there are great classes for people who would like some education and preparation for acting, like Acting Organics or The Groundlings School. Both offer professional teachers who actually work in the industry teaching the basics of how to prepare and succeed in a career here that is not based in the fantasy of being discovered simply by drinking a soda at a counter in Hollywood.
Acting is work, and if you want to work as an actor, you must be willing to study, present yourself, and persevere in both your education and in the face of rejection. Classes are a safe and fun place to hone your craft as your prepare for that one part that may change your life. Education is always necessary, no matter what your career or your age, so you might as well do it by choosing to study something you want to do with your life. If you want to be an actor, you will be a better actor if you study the art of acting.
If you only want to to be famous, then just apply to be on a reality show.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Every time I have traveled to the South of France I have stayed in a hotel, but next time I go, I will be renting a place. I've already written about VRBO and Beau-Paris rentals, but for the South of France, France Bound has some spectacular places.
If I end up traveling alone, a 1 Bedroom in Nice for $780-$1500 a week, should work out just fine, with a partial view of the Mediterranean, on the Promenade des Anglais, and just 2 blocks away from the famous Hotel Negresco ($1,200 per night for a 1BR in the summer). If I can gather a few friends to journey with me, a private 3 bedroom 3 bath villa in Cannes for $6,700 a week (or $1,116 per person divided by 6 people) with a large pool, terrace, garden, 2 car garage, air conditioning and satellite TV, should work perfectly.
Being able to live in a villa in Cannes during the summer, with a pool overlooking the French Riviera is not just life for Tina Turner anymore; we can all live like rock stars at these prices.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I am very picky about my French food and rarely does anything in Los Angeles pass my palate test, so I decided to try the buttery croissants for $2.25 from La Maison Du Pain (House of Bread); I am happy to report that they are delightfully rich and buttery. I am so glad I bought two so that I have one for tomorrow morning. My only critique is that the outside is soft instead of flaky, even after warming them in an oven (which I did). They use real butter, but not so much that the paper bag container gets greasy, and the size is average American (about twice as big as French).
The display of choices include rows of baguette choices from sourdough to whole wheat, beautiful fruit tarts for $2.25, chocolate covered fresh whole strawberries, Napoleons $4.95, mousses $5.25, mini quiches $2.25, and assorted breakfast breads like pain au raisin $2.90, chocolate almond croissants $3.75, and muffins $2.85. They even offer French macaroons in various flavors and colors (one is rainbow) for only $1.50. It is astounding that they offer so many excellently executed choices with such low prices in such a small space; you can even watch them work on the next batch of goodies through the glass window wall adjacent to the entrance.
It's a good thing that this tiny marvel is just a little outside my immediate neighborhood; I might be able to justify going there if I walked the 7 miles there, ate a Viennoiserie (Danish) and walked back home.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I found Vitacost after I searched all my local grocery and health food stores for my favorite Source Naturals brand of melatonin and could not find it in stock locally; I was thrilled to find that Vitacost not only stocked my favorite brand, but at a 49% discount! I shopped the entire site and found Cliff Bars at 25% off, Celestial Seasonings Tea at 24% off, Dr. Bronner's 32 oz castile soap at 28% off, and Alba 100% Kukui oil at 41% off. They have every vitamin and supplement you could imagine from name brand labels, as well as health and beauty products, kosher products, books and DVDs, homeopathic allergy and cold items, pet and baby products, and a great clearance section with products up to 80% off.
They shipped my order for only $4.99 with no minimum or maximum sale requirement (additional sales tax applicable to FL residents), and I got it all a few days after I ordered online. If you order before March 26, you can save an additonal 5% using the promo code PD93MWB6, and if you choose their option for recurring purchases, you will always save 5% on your auto-ship orders.
All these savings help make taking your vitamins easier to swallow.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
This is a fun store to simply browse through for everything from gifts to useful household supplies. The best part is the prices are so low that you can simply buy something here on a whim to try. Most of the items in the store are under $10, and many are under $2, including false eyelashes that retail elsewhere for $4. Put together a nice gift basket for your favorite little girl here and they will get items all their friends will envy; if you have a boy to buy for, he will love the robots and gadgets.
It is as close to traveling to s store in Tokyo as you will find on the Westside of Los Angeles. Many of the products are labeled in Japanese only, so you may have to guess what it is or does from the pictures (or ask a store clerk). Many of the kitchen products are specific to Japanese cuisine, like the individual mini dishes for ponzu dipping sauce, or the mini strainers for a bowl of personal shabu shabu. If you are looking to set your table for takeout Japanese, you will find all you need here from sushi platters to rice bowls and chopsticks.
When I have a yen for Tokyo shopping, I come here, it beats having to fly 20 hours.
Monday, March 16, 2009
The price from LAX to London is only $196, LAX to Paris $253, and LAX to Rome $292, and these prices are ROUNDTRIP, but they do not include taxes, security, or fuel surcharges; similar fares apply to other cities also, but since I'm in Los Angeles, I have only listed the fares originating from LAX. The only rules are that you must be ticketed by March 31, 2009 and you must travel by April 2, 2009. Not many of us can take off with 2 weeks notice, but at these prices, you can afford to be spontaneous and go away for a long week-end because these LAX fares do NOT have a week-end surcharge!
Now all you need to decide is which city you want to go to for your Spring break; it might be time to create your own Roman Holiday a la Audrey Hepburn.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Shik Do Rak does not have a website, but it is located at 18434 Devonshire St., Northridge, Ca 91325 Tel # 818-832-7080. Besides the wonderful food, which I will get to in a minute, the best thing here is the SMILING people who work here (and yes, they are Korean). Menus are in Korean and English with good descriptions, so you will actually be able to say what you want in English or Korean. The service here was fantastic, especially since we were a table of four non-Koreans. We got kimchee refills twice and they brought us to go containers at the end of our meals without us asking.
The food was delicious, as good or better than the restaurants in Korea Town. The portions are large, so plan on splitting an order if you are not starving or a linebacker; the numerous sides are all fresh, from the two types of kimchee, salad and bean sprouts, to the winter melon soup. Aside from the kimchee, all of the sides are very lightly seasoned, but there is a tray of condiments on every table to spicy things up. One nice touch is a spicy bean paste and seasoned salt oil dipping tray comess with the meal, and rice is automatically served with every dish (usually it must be ordered separately); they even give you an extra plate for your food. I would recommend the marinated Galbi and Bulgogi ($15 lunch), but they also have a whole mackerel ($12 lunch) that is tender, crispy, and slightly salty for non meat eaters, as well as an array of everything from soon tofu to fatty pork.
This is a bit out of the way, but if you are ever even remotely in the area, give it a try; some of the best things in life are hidden gems.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The regular menu includes all the staples found on any other menu around Little Tokyo except the meat is replaced with seitan or tempeh, like grilled tempeh with a sweet BBQ sauce, or a seitan curry rice. Of course there are also imaginative purely vegetable dishes from the basic tempura vegetables, or tofu and mushrooms, to the creative pumpkin croquettes or okra cake with a vegan mayonnaise. If you can't decide, I would choose the bento box where you can pick two entrees from their regular menu items, accompanied with brown rice, a vegetable, and salad.
Shojin is celebrating its' one year anniversary for the entire month of March and in honor of their 1st anniversary they’re offering a special five course dinner including appetizer, soup, entree and dessert for $19.95, available every night for the month of March. They’re also throwing a party, and everyone is invited, March 29 from 5:00pm-10:00pm with a $20 all you can eat buffet style dinner of vegan sushi. The guest chef is Katsuhiro Tamashiro, the former executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel. There will be live music and Japanese games at the party, so bring your friends.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
It is a nice small market for all the things to make a memorable meal, whether you are looking for Black Sea Salt from Hawaii, organic lentils, Arborio rice, fair trade Madagascar chocolate (proceeds go towards building a children's orphanage), Italian Salumi, hand made country pate with peppercorns and port, or their marinated beets or pickles (both home made).
Better yet, eat one of their sandwiches ($8-13 each), like the the Prosciutto Panini, with La Quercia Prosciutto Americano, on a rustic roll with house-marinated baby artichokes, roasted red bell peppers & fresh mozzarella cheese, or their Sloppy Jiao, a soy braised pork shoulder, shitake & bamboo shoots topped with grilled scallion over fresh spinach on a brioche bun.
Vegetarians can choose a salad (about $9 each) like the Big Curious Salad, which is their house salad of green lettuce, Christmas lima beans, feta, olives, roasted peppers & house-pickled beets tossed with Elliot's famous balsamic vinaigrette, or their Quiche-n-Salad Veggie Salad, made with spinach, Gruyere, tomato, scallions, house made pastry, served with a small Curious Salad. You can even make a meal from their sides ($4-17 each depending on the size) like the beluga lentils with feta, olive oil, smoked sea salt, avocado and roasted red pepper, or a side of their perfectly sauteed spinach with garlic and pine nuts (their version is my new favorite spinach side dish), or the ultimate comfort Gruyere, goat, blue, and cheddar mac and cheese.
And yes, they have desserts like scones, cookies, and brownies, so if you are too full to have dessert here, take it to go. One of the best things about this place is they offer online ordering, so you can pick up your order curbside (a great thing on busy Venice Blvd.) without having to find parking (the lot in the back is constantly full).
The atmosphere and service are both friendly and professional, befitting the quality of ingredients both in the market and on the menu. They are building an additional enclosed patio, so soon there will be even more to this wonderful neighborhood cafe; but go now so you can savor it before it becomes packed with foodies.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
When I was in Portugal, I loved the Vinho Verde, but could not find it here (I found a bottle once but it was terrible); they actually stock it here at El Vino! That immediately warmed me up to the place along with the soothing blond wood decor and the easy going vibe. They offer tasting flights on Fridays and Saturadays of three wines for $12 so you can taste before buying your red or white (or they will combine both in a flight). If you need something for tonight's dinner with friends, come in and tell them what you are having and they will recommend something within your budget and tastes, and after all, isn't personalized serive the true test of a good wine shop?
Monday, March 9, 2009
They offer handmade (on the premises) chocolates, cakes, cookies, and light bites of sandwiches (salmon to roast beef) and salads (organic greens with or without meat/fish) on their menu, all for around $15. If you don't live in Los Angeles, they do sell and ship their cookie and chocolates to other places, but I would recommend going for tea, as in High Tea, if you are anywhere near here. This is Tea without the pomp and formality of a stuffy English Tearoom. They offer an assortment of finger sandwiches served with a pot of tea, jam, and clotted cream (yes the real deal). There is nothing stuffy here; this is Californian all the way, from the whole grain breads to the organic greens, but all done with an aesthetic that is as dainty and beautiful as you can imagine (perhaps the one exception is that they do not cut the crusts off the sandwiches), served on clean white plates.
Finding a secret hideaway with nice nibbles is great fun, even more so if you share it with a friend, so go play hokey one afternoon and go to your own grown up tea party.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
This just goes to show that the results are always better than you imagine when you operate from the heart.
Unlike the invisibly tended and watered garden of Eden, The Daffodil Garden is the result of the Bauers' toil and sweat, perseverance and fortitude. As any gardener in the mountains knows, the ground is 99.9% pure rock.
Each bulb has been planted by Mrs. Bauer, or as she puts it: "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet and a body minus a brain." Inspired by a few daffodils in a neighbor's garden and impressed with their beauty and sturdiness, Mrs. Bauer planted the first 48 daffodils in the fall of 1958.
Friday, March 6, 2009
The store motto of "Follow Your Bliss" speaks volumes about the vibe of the shop; from the eco friendly Sigg water bottles, to the natural and organic fiber clothes, and the decorative Buddhas and jewelry, this is the store for anyone who loves boho international style.
Most of the clothes are for women, but they do have a nice selection of Tshirts for men and the store is definitely comfortable for either gender, with neutral tones and open areas. I found some nice items on their 40% off sales rack, like designer named tops for $20, and quality material boutique names for under $10.
The owners clearly love finding unique items to stock, and finding nice items that are neither $$$$, nor fit to be trashed thrift store on this street is a noteworthy find. I'm glad I ventured out after the rains today and found something nice at the end of the rainbow.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
All your writing is stored online and for a small fee ($15 for 6 months or $35 for 40 years) you can even register your work before you submit it to anyone; this applies to treatments and pitches as well as finished scripts. Scripped does not submit your script to anyone and they are not in the movie business, but they do offer a link to Movie Magellan which offers unlimited movie downloads (legally) for less than $30 a year (for another $15 you can burn the movie onto your own DVD).
Once you are done you can even ask the creative professionals on the site to give it a once over (for a fee of $135 per script) before you submit it. It's always better to get feedback and present a polished product; the creative feedback price as half of what you would have paid for a screenwriting software program, so you are saving money even if you pay for the service.
And next year's Oscar for best screenplay goes to....(insert your name here).
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Be sure to reserve a table for a dinner date on Tuesday March 10th, or Friday March 13th, to go to the Fleming's Steakhouse closest to you. They are offering a very special Vintage Rock Wine Dinner Menu for $55 per person that includes wines from Mick Fleetwood (yes, of Fleetwood Mac), but not taxes or gratuities.
The "Opening Song" starts with a groovy goat cheese & oven dried tomato crostini served with a double platinum champagne cocktail. Then a "Mega-Hit" of rockin' shrimp & blue cheese dipping sauce served with spring greens and batons of carrots, paired with Mick Fleetwoood's Private cellar Riesling Central Coast 2005. The "Chart Topper" is a killer mignon served with sauteed chard, tomato, and whole grain festival fries, paired with a Doobie Red, North Collectors Series, 2005. And for the "Encore", a smokin' brownie sundae, with a dark chocolate brownie, fudge sauce, raspberry sauce, chantilly cream, and chopped candied walnuts, paired with either coffee or tea.
The nights include great music and trivia games all night, so your chances of winning a signed CD are better with someone old enough to remember Fleetwood Mac when* they first won a Grammy. It's ok if your date that night is with your parents, they may not even mind paying for dinner for a chance to relive the 1970's.
*Their first Grammy was for the 1977 album Rumours.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
For most of April and some of March, they have rooms at the Wynn for $109 a night or $149 a night at the Encore. Week-ends are $199 a night at the Wynn and $249 a night at the Encore, but since these rates are still about half to a third off regular rack rates, it's still a great deal. Be sure you use promotional code RHHED07 at their website or call them at (888) 770-7903.
Book early to get the rate and the room you want; like spring flowers, these rates don't last very long, but they are beautiful while they are here.
Monday, March 2, 2009
If you want a new way to search for all relevant results on one page (pictures, web links, video) try leapfish. It's a nice smooth way to hunt for several types of searches at once without having to switch tabs. The displayed items all refresh when you type in words so it is intuitive as well, filtering as you type in your search parameters.
If you are looking for a person, my favorite site (that is free) is 123people. The best test is to type in your own name and see the results. They claim their results are the most up to date, so test it to see if your latest blog post is listed (mine was!).
And finally for those who are so into the new web 2.0 that they have multiple facebook, myspace, blogger and aol accounts to cross reference, Flock is a great Mozilla (aka Firefox) based browser that helps you coordinate everything on one page. The easy installation will import all your favorites and once you are set up you can literally drag and drop photos or URLs to any of your friends in email, photobucket or onto your facebook update or blog pages. This is truly the browser for the multi tasker.