Barrel & Ashes

GO NOW.

I don’t need to say much about the newly opened Barrel & Ashes besides that, because once you’re there and eating the Cheesy Baked Shells, or the Pulled Pork Poppyseed Sandwich, you will be thanking me.

The epitome of gourmet comfort food, revamped for a hipster Los Angeles. My friend ordered a diet coke and tried to return it because it came in a brown bottle labeled ‘Mexi Diet Cola Light’ (see below). I thought the vintage glass coke bottles were as hipster as you can get, but once again, Studio City has proved me wrong.

There is literally nothing on the menu that you could order and not like. I highly recommend the ‘Hoe Cake’- the salty, sweet, buttery, and crunchy outside is so good, that time actually slows down around you.

Everything is meant to be shared! I love tapas style dining, because who doesn’t like trying a  little bit of everything? Under the “Snacks” section of the menu you can try ‘The Best Damn Chick’n Sandwich Ya Ever Had‘- and they aren’t lying about that. I wish all my snacks could be sandwiches.

TIP:
My favorite part of the menu is the Bartenders Choice. You can tell the bartender what type of alcohol you like, what flavors, or any suggestions and they will mix you up a surprise.
Bartenders Choice
I already have a date set to return this week. Don’t forget to check out the Frito Pie, which is made inside of the a Frito bag…
Head over to Colfax and Ventura to check out a comfort food journey, from hillbilly to hipster.

diet coke

Hoe Cake
The Best Damn Chick'n Sandwich Ya Ever Had- Coleslaw, jalapeno, pimento cheese, toasted poppy seed bun
The Best Damn Chick’n Sandwich Ya Ever Had
Chili, cheddar, sour cream, green onion
Chili, cheddar, sour cream, green onion

My Diary Entry: The Worst and Best Year of My Life

Last Thanksgiving my estranged father had returned to LA from a year in Hawaii, where he was recovering from numerous back surgeries and trying to get a way from it all. His choice to leave was not fully supported by my family, but he had come home to try to make it work with my mother, and move back in as I had just moved out of my family’s house. I insisted that he come to my cousins for Thanksgiving, and I am so happy he did. I wasn’t sure if it would be awkward or what, but sure enough everyone welcomed him with open arms and the drama was left at the door.

I am a glass half full kind of gal, and after what had been a troubling year for my family and my parents’ relationship, I saw happiness and love as we all gathered around for the Holiday. I was truly thankful to have this normal day, all together…

We had so much to be thankful for; new babies, my mothers recovery from breast cancer, my new amazing job… seemed like a dream come true.

If I had only known that a month later I would lose that amazing job, breakup with my boyfriend of two years and that my dad would fall ill and pass away.

The month following Thanksgiving was good, all things considering. Until I heard my office was closing, but hey, I could handle that. I knew I would be back on my feet in no time. On the 18th, I went to Vegas with my BFF for 5 days (PS no one should ever go to Vegas for 5 days), and returned on Xmas Eve.  I had a billion presents, and I even bought a Christmas tree (my Dad didn’t even want to do Christmas because he felt so sick and depressed, but I insisted). As I carried in bags of presents, and a 5 foot tall tree, just like Santa himself, I thought I could bring happiness to all of the little boys and girls in my house. Christmas was sort of like the old times. We sat around, drank coffee, had delicious pastries, and talked and laughed and opened presents. The day after Christmas my dad who had been sick with what they thought was a type of walking pneumonia, insisted we call an ambulance and get him to the hospital. We thought he was exaggerating but we called and got him one. When the medics arrived they said it was a good thing we called because his oxygen levels were extremely low. What followed was a week in the hospital where he kept getting worse and worse , until cardiac arrest lead him to be in what the doctors considered a vegetative state from which he would never recover. On January 6th, we took my Dad off the respirator and within a minute he was gone.  We knew he would have never wanted to be alive in that way.

After all of these traumatic things had happened, that glass that was half full, got bone dry very quickly. Everything crumbled apart  so terribly, I didn’t know what to do but just scream and laugh (probably in a very crazy, mad scientist, drunk kind of way), because how could this even happen?

After a couple months of shock, and a phase of victimization ie ‘how could this happen?’ ‘what did I do to deserve this?’ I started to count my blessings:

I am so thankful that I still have my mother.

I am so thankful I have a roof over my head.

I am so thankful I have a family that cares so much about me.

I am so thankful that I have such amazing, wonderful, supportive friends.

I am so thankful, that I had an AMAZING father for 24 years, and that he raised me to be the person I am today.

I am so thankful I had the opportunity to work with one of the top ad agencies in the world.

I am so thankful I had two wonderful years with someone I loved. 

The list could go on and on. This whole year, me, myself, and I had been sitting around a theoretical Thanksgiving table, going around and thinking of all the reasons I am lucky, and not all of the reasons that I have to be sad.

People ask me how I can be so strong, and it is because of this. There are plenty of reasons to be sad, regardless of your situation, but there are SO many reasons to be happy. If you had told me on Thanksgiving last year that this year my father wouldn’t be sitting around the table, I would have never believed you. Even after my mom has just gotten re-diagnosed with breast cancer 3 months ago, I am still thankful because she is here with me today.

Life is not easy, but if you can really live in the moment and realize all of the great blessings you do have, then you will always have a rich life full of love and happiness.

Because isn’t that what we are all searching for anyway?

My parent's last picture I took of them together on Thanksgiving 2014.
My parent’s last picture I took of them together on Thanksgiving 2014.

The K does Hello Kitty

Need something fun to do today?  Head down to Little Tokyo and check out the Hello Kitty Exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum. The Exhibit will be open until April 2015, so no immediate rush, but as the weather gets colder and us Cali kids need something indoors to do, I highly recommend checking Miss Kitty out!

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Everyone loves Hello Kitty! It is hard to be sad when you are surrounded by sparkly, shiny, rhinestone covered, bright pink purses, wall art, and kitchen ware. Hello Kitty really is a LIFESTYLE! Everything is just so fun in at the exhibit, it is no wonder that Hello Kitty has been a hit since 1976. What started out as one little coin purse with the signature mascot and the word “Hello” printed, became  multi billion dollar industry that has shaped much of not only today’s fashion, but also trends in the last 30 years. It is amazing to see that not much has changed with the brand. The stuff that was made in 1976 still looks like the stuff that I was buying from Sanrio at Westfield Fashion Square back in the 90’s. Hello Kitty has always been culturally relevant, and they definitely make it apparent by showing you all of the different celebrities that has sported the signature look.

HIGHLIGHT: Lady Gaga’s Hello Kitty stuffed animal dress is on display as well as some of Katy Perry’s crazy kitty couture moments.

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Did you ever realize Hello Kitty doesn’t have a mouth? Seems interesting since Sanrio’s business motto is “Social Communication”… Thoughts?

The whole exhibit screams fun, but what makes it worth the day trip is walking across the street to the plaza with all the delicious food and  interesting shops. Get a bowl of Udon, and people watch. Or do you want a sweet colorful snack after seeing all the almost edible looking Hello Kitty paraphernalia? Head across the street to Lette Macarons– I recommend the freshly made salted caramel- SO DELICIOUS!

I will say the one thing that bothered me is that I was all amped up after seeing all this fun, pink, sparkly stuff, I wanted to go on a mini shopping spree. I imagined they would have a vast assortment of fun souvenirs to buy, but the museums shop had a few books and a couple key chains… You will have better luck heading across the street to the Plaza where there is a whole Sanrio store.

Hello Kitty!

After you exit the exhibit, you have to walk through the rest of the JANM museum, which lends me to think the Hello Kitty exhibit is part publicity stint to get more traffic and visitors- but hey it worked! Call a couple friends, grab some Udon, go see the Kitty, and top it off with some shopping. I promise you won’t be disappointed, you might even forget you are just in downtown LA!!!

Lincoln Kitty

Hello!

Sparkles

Kitty!

Butchers and Barbers

I had the pleasure of dining at the Houston brothers newest venture in Hollywood last night. Their first restaurant and 8th venue, Butchers and Barbers is everything you would expect it to be and more. The one room, candlelit, Speakeasy style (of course, why would it be anything else), mahogany and tiled throwback, exudes luxury and time lost.  Reservations seem rare, and only booked online, lending to the exclusivity factor for which the Houston Brothers are known [a la No Vacancy– which is right next door].

The menu is divided into three main sections; The Garden, The Ranch, and The Sea. Everything was to die for, and the attention to detail on each plate was extraordinary. It truly felt like the dish was made specifically for you, and that the chef had gone out of his way to make it perfect.

B&B really makes you aware of what fine American dining consists, by incorporating all elements from other cultures and cuisine but still basing it in American style ingredients. Fresh market carrots and radishes in a Tahini sauce that was like none I have ever tasted. Steak tartar that seemed to melt in your mouth, on a huge toasted crostini that  complimented the juicy steak with a smokey flavor. The cauliflower with sheep cheese was so rich and light, while also being crispy, how do they do it? No flavor was too overpowering, and I usually find there is a tendency to overkill with garlic in many of these types of dishes which would give it a clear Italian nod, but these plates were so well prepared, each was literally a breath of fresh air. The drinks were amazing and  unusual as well, and the host and servers were sweeter than your grandma at Christmas.

Houston Hospitality is real. Check it out for yourself.

bar

cauliflower
Roasted Cauliflower, brown butter and sheep cheese
harrow
Farro, Egg, Broccolini, Radishes, and Parsley

 

The Tripel- Libations in Playa Del Rey

I went to grab some fine food and libations at The Tripel in Playa Del Rey tonight. Heard about the place through the grapevine. It is a one room gastropub, that was pretty packed for a Tuesday night. We tried a beer sampler, all of which was very crisp and light since we got the East Coast Belgian flight. They have an alternating selection of at least 40 beers on tap all the time. The ambience was relaxing, and the service was fast. I tried the cauliflower tomato soup, and since the waitress told us their number one seller was the sweet potato tots and dijon aioli, we had to try those as well (maybe so hyped up they didn’t blow my mind). We ordered the clams and mussels in pesto sauce which were delicious. My soup was so creamy, but almost TOO heavy. The gruyere toast that came with it must have been soaked in oil, on top of the melted cheese. If I had known this I would have kept away from the tots! Overall, the tavern pub vibes, guilt ridden food, and  wide beer selection provided for a good escape from LA. If you are looking to find some extreme munchies that you might regret later, head to The Tripel. Let’s be honest, we all need a meal like that once in a while.

You can start that diet tomorrow.

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Cmd+C Cmd+V= Shortcut City

The Copy and Paste Generation

TTL4

I am 24. Do you guys remember Type to Learn? We were the first waves of computer students. We had computer class when we were 9 years old which sounds past due according to today’s standards. Do schools even have that anymore or are kids just naturally engrained with computers skills from playing with their iPads and iPhones starting at age 2?

What I am getting at is that we have grown up with a mindset that is prone to shortcuts. Do you remember hand writing your essays? That shit took forever… on another note, do schools even teach cursive nowadays?  Along with learning to type, meant learning to Cut and Paste-

Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V

= the easy way out

Don’t lie, we have all done it despite our vast MLA education that they pound into our heads every year starting in 4th grade. Every single one of us has either used a friends old essay, or copied and pasted at least a sentence or two from some online source. We have all even heard of those people who have directly copied a full Wikipedia page to use as an essay (we heard of these people because they were caught). I thought that was an urban legend but apparently people did it.

What this has created fifteen years later is a generation of laziness. We forget what hard work is because we have always had it so easy. The most difficult problem for us now is when our technology fails us. It is supposed to help us but lets be honest- its a big technical headache when your computers don’t do what you tell them to do.  Since we grew up with a generation of “hmm lets type this” or “let’s copy and paste this just to save a few minutes”- we now have the mentality of instant gratification and the use of shortcuts to shave off a couple of minutes that could be now be used to check Instagram or watch TV.

Just like everything there are Pros and Cons. Even though I sound very pessimistic about my generation, there are also great innovations that have been made because of our robot like minds. Many of my friends have launched different Startup companies, or developed well known apps. And of course computers and technology have brought us a long way, in terms of health, science, medicine, and general knowledge. I often wonder if we have limited ourselves socially in exchange for easy access to vast information. What do you think, are we better off now?

Going back to 4th grade, do you remember D.E.A.R?  Drop Everything and Read- for 15 minutes. Well I want to employ D.E.A.L- DROP EVERYTHING AND LIVE. And just to make it relevant I will make it a hashtag.

#DEAL

It means you are going off line and off technology.  Maybe we could all pledge for 2 hours a day to just get off the tech train and get back to the basics. Anyone with me?