Category Archives: Champagne (DINING)

Dining in Vancouver

Vancouver_BC_Downtown_Skyline-cover

Vancouver may not  be the sunniest, cheapest, most fashionable, or cultured city.. but one thing Vancouver is, is one of the best dining cities you will ever visit. It may not be obvious I know… but take it from me (who lived there in the miserable rain for 3 years ) it has a great dining scene!

The hospitality industry is the “industry ” there. Forgot actors, directors, writers, and producers.. if you are a server, a host, a bartender, or a chef – you are in the “Industry.” This is the reason the food scene is of such a high quality. The restaurant industry is full of passionate people who are looking to make a career out of your dining experience.

I hadn’t visited Vancouver for the past few years, so I was very out of the loop when it came to knowing where the newest and greatest places to try were. I got a handful of suggestions and did my best customer research to pick out the dining itinerary for the trip.

Here are the highlights:

Medina Cafe ~ Have a waffle and a Lavender Latte’
556 Beaty St. www.medinacafe.com

Medina Cafe

Cafe’ Medina 

Waffles at Cafe Medina

Waffles at Cafe Medina

Lavender Latte

Lavender Latte

Sushi Maro ~ Flamingo Roll is my favorite (anything is good!)
220 Davie St. www.sushimaro.com

Sushi Maro

Sushi Maro

The Reef ~ Johnny Cakes and Ackee and Salt Fish
1018 Commercial Drive www.thereefrestaurant.com

The Reef

The Reef

Ackee and Saltfish

Ackee and Saltfish and a Johnny Cake 

Rodney’s Oyster House ~ Have… Oysters (obviously) and champagne! (you can’t have one and not the other)
1228 Hamilton St. www.rohvan.com

Rodney's Oyster Bar - Condiments for your Oysters

Rodney’s Oyster Bar – Condiments for your Oysters

Oyster Platter

Oyster Platter

Hawksworth – Have everything… everything is good and beautiful… their menu changes all the time. My favorite new spot!
801 Georgia St. www.hawksworthrestautant.com

Hawksworth

Hawksworth – Georgia Hotel 

Summer Salad at Hawksworth

Summer Salad at Hawksworth

Chambar ~ Lavender/Blue Cheese Martini and Le Nico Fume’ (Chocolate scotch cake, bacon caramel, and burnt milk ice cream)
562 Beatty St. www.chambar.com

Blue Cheese Martini at Chambar

Blue Cheese Martini at Chambar

Le Nico Fume'

Le Nico Fume’

Thanks Vancity ~ its been a slice

Thanks Vancity ~ its been a slice.

Hot Child in the City’ – Around NYC in 7 Plates.

NYC_Cover photo

Ok well that was a slight fib – The post should be named “Around NYC in 5 Plates and 2 Drinks,” but that didn’t sound as good…. and the “Hot Child in the City” refers to how hot and humid it was when I was there! ….(and is a title of a  Sex and The City episode…which anytime I can reference anything to do with SATC I take the liberty to do so).

brunch

Onto the food (and drinks) – here are my highlights over a 5 day trip of trying new, hot places to drink and dine.
Let the photos do the speaking for themselves.

IMO a perfect culinary day would look like this:

AM – Rise and Shine – If you are in NYC you have to get your morning coffee at Dean and Deluca, no question.

Dean & Deluca

Dean & Deluca

Early Afternoon – Because let’s be real you woke up in the last moments of the morning (you are in NYC after all) and it is now 1pm, so breakfast is out of the question. Therefore, head to Balthazar for your first meal of the day brunch..lunch.. call it what you would like and have The Nicoise Salad.

Balthazar

Balthazar

Tuna Nicoise at Balthazar

Tuna Nicoise at Balthazar

Mid Afternoon Refresher - Because the heat and shopping can be taxing..
So stop by the Mercer Hotel and have their Strawberry Rhubarb Cocktail.

Strawberry Rhubarb @The Mercer

Strawberry Rhubarb @The Mercer

Early Evening - Having the amazingly delicious, but simple Ricotta Crostini at Locanda Verde.

locanda-verde

Locanda Verde

Ricotta Crostini

Ricotta Crostini

Dinner First Course – Check out ACME – a bustling, happening spot with an eclectic menu. Try out their Burrata salad with pickled raw vegetables.

www.guestofaguest.com

ACME NYC

Burrata Salad

Burrata Salad

Dinner Entree - A culinary experience explains what CORTON is and was. A 7 course tasting menu is what you are in for when you dine here. I favored the pork course. Pork 3 different ways, with a side of pork rind.. yes pork rind.

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CORTON – Pork Course

CORTON - Fancy Take on a Pork Rind!

CORTON – Fancy Take on a Pork Rind!

Late Night.. Best Part of the Day –  DessertThe first time I went here was 7 years ago… but this cake is engrained in my brain as my favorite dessert ever… I swear it will be my wedding cake.
Banana Cake at Billy’s Bakery. Amazeballs.

Banana Cake

Banana Cake

Billy's Bakery

Billy’s Bakery

Eat-Drink-and Be Merry in NYC ~

Summer Love

Summer

Summer Love

Coachella passed, Memorial day flew by, and here it is the first week of June and I have yet to post on either. Call it a FAIL, laziness, or pure distraction, use whatever term you would like to describe it best, but here is my best attempt to salvage parts of what would have been in each post to describe my suggestions for the best BBQuing summer outfits….
Offside:> Lets be real anyways… for Coachella you wore the most random things from your “costume” pile at your house, combined with a shirt you found at the $1 Jet Rag Sunday sale, and a $9.99 Navaho printed something-or-other from Forever 21… all which will be :
1. Disposed off – (because you didn’t shower all weekend ) OR
2. You will not wear again until Coachella 2014 (OR if you decide to be LA Hipster for Halloween).
And as for Memorial Day.. .You spent 80% of the day in your bikini…

So really we didn’t lose out on much for the non-communication during that time.

Therefore for what really matters during the next few months – which is going be laid out loud in a crystal-like matter. (Please see below.)

>My thoughts of late are, enough about being super causal and dressing like some 14 year old punk-rocker boy (did anyone say Coachella..?….) this summer dress like a girl! and dress like you have style and taste.
4 Very Simple things are needed to round this look out.

1. A Dress – Summer, flirty and short. If you must… do the Lazy man’s version and wear a romper, both are great. Deciding Factor – Wear a romper to please yourself, a dress to please a boy.

Dresses on 2013 S/S Runways

Dresses on 2013 S/S Runways

The Romper - i.e. Tomboy Dress

The Romper - i.e Tomboy version of a dress

The Romper – i.e Tomboy version of a dress

H&M Dresses

H&M Dress $34.99

Bebe Romper

Bebe Romper $109

2. A Hat – A large Fedora (See My Tory Burch Obsession below) or try a floppy style. Channel your inner glamazon – (take inspiration below) while being practical in saving yourself wrinkles ; )

Look Inspiration

www.fabsuga1r.com

www.fabsugar.com

Tory Burch Walking Fedora

Tory Burch Walking Fedora – ON SALE $87.50

3. Wedges – They give you height (as we all know Girls carry themselves differently when they have a few inches below their heels) and they are more comfortable than heels and not as cumbersome (See my favorite pair of Cynthia Vincent wedges below).

www.shefinds.com

House of Harlow Wedge

House of Harlow 1960 Veronika Wedge $240 

My favorite Cynthia Vincent Marlow Wedges

My favorite Cynthia Vincent Marlow Wedges $179

4. A Cuff – As Jewelry isn’t over practical when it is hot out and you mix in the element of water. A Cuff lends itself to be a big enough item that gives your outfit some accessory but is still practical. Stack Bangles to make a cuff or just wear one, either works.

Cuffing It

http-::style.la-mimi.com

Runway Inspiration

randilynnwood featuring a beach tote

Palm Greens Lovin’

Palm Greens

So I have been meaning to make this post for a while as I have eaten here PLENTY of enough times to give a well-rounded post. Really every time I walk into Palm Greens  a sense of guilt washes over me that I haven’t taken the time to put a post up in the last year and half since I have been a regular… (and by regular I mean that I might have a button in their computer labeled” Randi” with my regular dish along with my modifications under it… ) Once again – so bad of me that it has taken this long to write something!!

Let’s move on and get to the point. Palm Greens Cafe is a place that you if you lived in Palm Springs you might drive by a multitude of times and never noticed it  as it is tucked away in a strip mall on Palm Canyon Drive. I had originally discovered it from reading an article a couple of years ago in Palm Springs Life that was highlighting all the Vegetarian restaurants in the desert. I made a point and put it on my To-Do list to try out.

palm_greens-cafe1

With an interior that is super casual and leans to the bohemian side, you may walk in assuming that all you are going to get feed are wheatgrass shots and tofu, but that is far from reality of the situation. With a hugely diverse menu they have choices that appeal to everyone’s tastes and dietary preferences i.e. vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, organic. Meat options are plenty as are vegetarian. They have a wide selection of smoothies, juices, and baked goods as well.

My first day I tried a garden wrap and since have literally had the same exact dish 100 times. The Garden wrap I order, is  rice paper stuffed with a garden of raw vegetables and avocado. All their wraps come with a option of tortilla or gluten free rice paper and their sides for all their sandwiches and wraps  come with options such as potato salad, coleslaw, fruit, salad, and chips. I am also super partial to the Greek Wrap which is the same idea as the Garden Wrap but take out the avocado – replace it with feta cheese and add in a spinach nut burger… delicious!

The Infamous Garden Wrap

The Infamous Garden Wrap

An action Shot.

An Action Shot

My other favorites include the Salad Sampler which is baby greens, seasonal veggies with scoops of roast yam salad, seen n’ nut salad, eggless tofu salad, hummus, potato salad, seaweed salad, raw pasta pesto, quinoa tabouli and your choice of dressing. – This is super filling and can easily be shared!

The Salad Sampler

The Salad Sampler

Salad Sampler

The New Falafel Salad

My friend Liz Blue about to eat the Salad Sampler

My friend Liz Blue about to eat The New Falafel Salad

If we are going to talk breakfast.. (as we have to.. it can’t be over looked). The Breakfast Tacos are amazing. Corn or flour tortillas, eggs with beans or potatoes, avocado, onions and Chile verde. My friend swears by the Vegan Blueberry Pancakes (which I need to try- pictured below, as well as the vegan french toast) and I also just discovered the Breakfast of Champions last week, which is going to be my new favorite breakfast item. It is Black beans, brown rice, avocado, salsa, feta cheese and tortilla.

Vegan Blueberry Pancakes on a Breakfast Platter

Vegan Blueberry Pancakes on a Breakfast Platter

Cinnamon French toast

Cinnamon French toast

And last but certainly not least… my guilty pleasure… The Vegan Love Bite. Small version of some of their very healthy portioned cookies, it is gluten and dairy free, made with banana and chocolate chips OR oats and raisins. Really just eat any of their baked goods… you cannot go wrong.

Vegan Energy Bars

Vegan Energy Bars

Raw Apple Pie

Raw Apple Pie

I have to give a shout out to their amazing staff, so friendly and accommodating, not to mention hustlers! I am going to end now as I could keep rambling, but hopefully you have gotten my point. Just Go.

611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264.

Phone. (760) 864-9900

Around Palm Springs in 7 Plates.

I know Palm Springs is probably not a place you would put as a stop on your culinary tour, but un-obvious to most, the Coachella Valley has some great dining options.

As I always feel like I need to go back to a restaurant a minimum of two times before I write a full review on it, I have created a list of highlights throughout the desert with some of my favorite dishes thus far.

Here we go…

Cheekys for Breakfast…

The Best Eggs Benny you will ever have…

Norma’s for a side dish…

James Beard Award Winning Potato Pancakes

Lunch at Palm Greens Cafe...

Lunch at Palm Greens Cafe…

Garden Wrap in Rice Paper with avocado and a side of vegan coleslaw

Clementine Bakery for Side of Greens Snack

Kale Salad with orange segments, potatoes, and citrus dressing

First Dinner Course at Copleys….

Scallops with Creamy Corn

Second Course at Lavender Bistro in La Quinta…

Steak Tartare with mixed greens and truffle oil

Lastly…. Dessert at….. Golden Spoon!! Yes Golden Spoon for some Frozen Yogurt (I know so sophisticated)

Peanut Butter and Graham Cracker are the best flavors!

I will get back to eating to give you a full report on all!

FNO Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills 2012

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With the FNO madness that goes on, it is hard to decide what to do and where to go, as there are always endless options! Thank-fully I did not have to face this predicament as Neiman Marcus was gracious enough to invite my salon (R&B Studios)  to be a part of their Fashion’s Night Out.

Neiman Marcus provided a great night with a variety of events going on throughout the store. Some of the highlights included a VIP Caviar tasting on the 4th Floor, YSL Beauty Touch Up Bar on the 2nd Floor, and R&B Studio’s “Braid Bar” on the 3rd Floor.

To keep everyone full and happy Chris Brugler provided fantastic catering, Lemonade served mini cupcakes and Beard Papa’s were all the rage supplying delicious cream puffs! Attendees enjoyed all while taking in the escalator Fashion Show debuting Fall’s 2012 Trends.

R&B Studios provided braids for clients in a variety of styles naming each style after a Fashion capital. We couldn’t have been happier with the response to the Braid Bar and we only hope attendees felt the same way!

Thanks again to Neiman Marcus for having us and putting on a fantastic Fashion’s Night Out 2012!

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ImagePhotos Courtesy of Myself and Neiman Marcus. 

ink.

Micheal Voltaggio’s premier restaurant ink. is explained on their website to allude to the permanence of ink.” endeavors to create an indelible impression with flavor profiles that are inspired by the myriad of cultures that make up the city of Los Angeles. ” In Voltaggio’s words ink. is “modern Los Angeles cuisine” …. and that it was!

Definitely a dining experience unlike any I have ever had before it was just that .. an experience! With flavor combinations and profiles that you think to yourself “what on earth were they on when they thought of that!?” Regardless, somehow everything seamlessly worked though. Tasty and thought-provoking could be how you would describe the dishes.

I recommend everyone go at least once to understand the hype and have the experience. Be prepared to leave slightly hungry, but possibly inspired!?

P.S. Don’t leave without having the dessert – Burnt wood ice cream sounds like a trip, But it’s one that you would like to go on!

Carrots -carrots, coconut ice, cardamom soil, pea tendril mojo

beef tartare, hearts of palm, sea bean chimichurri, horseradish, rye

crab, charred avocado, whipped fish sauce, mushroom chicharron

halibut, asparagus, sesame seed mayo, ginger, oro blanco

chocolate, ice cream, spiced tofu, sesame cake

apple, caramel, burnt wood ice cream

Note> Dining companion included the company of Aaron Green

The Larder @ TAVERN Brentwood

Having enjoyed myself very much while dining at Tavern in the past, I had always made a mental note to come back in the day to try its cafe’ called “The Larder”.

Last Sunday when deciding on a brunch spot my dining companion and I decided Brentwood would be the perfect pit stop, as we were on our way to attempt the daunting task of the Santa Monica Stairs.

Tavern Outside

Quite Busy on Sunday morning at 12pm, we were nervous about finding a table while ordering. In contempo-casual cafe’ style they have you order at the front, take a number, and then find a seat.

Reading many reviews, I was slightly distraught on what to try. Their bakery itself has an overwhelming variety of choices…Not to mention they have a deli case of salads and a full brunch menu.

We decided on a coffee and cappuccino, Eggs Benedict (highly recommended), a side of blueberry toast (also recommended), vegetable melody salad, and a berry and cream cheese Danish ,all for the two of us to share.

Eggs Benedict

The Eggs Benedict was delicious! Using Brioche instead of an English Muffin and prosciutto instead of ham, it was probably the best take on Eggs Benny that I have ever had. The Blueberry toast did not disappoint either.

The Cream Cheese Danish was very enjoyable although slightly disappointing, since my comparison (which was the last time I had any type of pastry) was in Paris at Laduree’ … (which is supremeley tough competition!!!) Nonetheless it and the cappuccino were very good. Where the The Larder lost points was service… I had to practically stalk two different wait-staff for water on two different occasions… as well as clean off our own table before we sat down.

Regardless it is a super fun, tasty, casual brunch spot! I will go back.

CUT

CUT restaurant and lounge at the Regent Beverly Wilshire is yet another culinary acclaim by famed chef Wolfgang Puck. Known as a steakhouse that you go “to see and to be seen”, with regular industry heavy hitters as well as a favorite amongst celebrities, it is another slam-dunk for the master chef.

I had never visited CUT , In the past if the opportunity had ever presented itself  I was never THAT enthusiastic about sitting down to a 20oz Steak. Little did I know – they have way more to offer than their fabulous cuts of beef…

First of all the bread…. (You can always make a great first impression with me if you have good bread) – Pretzel Bread – Warm, slightly salty and slightly sweet – Totally delicious! When it came to ordering my dining companion proclaimed himself an “expert” on CUT’s menu, so I let him do the all the deciding.

We started out with two appetizers, Bone Marrow Flan and the 6oz Wagu (strange for an appetizer I know…). The Bone Marrow flan… well… was VERY interesting… super soft and decadent, it is definitely a dish you love or hate. It’s a creamy mixture of bone marrow and custard. It was served with a brioche and a mushroom ”marmalade” (more like a tapenade). I am OK with most strange dishes, but the texture of this dish weirded it me out a bit, although I could appreciate why some might think it is decadent.

Next we split had the 6oz of Wagu cooked medium rare. I am going to go out on a limb here (especially since I am from Alberta, Canada known for its beef… ) BUT pretty sure it was the best piece of beef I have ever tasted. It literally melted in my mouth…beyond delicious!  I was already full by this point (that is what happens when you binge on pretzel bread) so it was a good thing that I had ordered a salad for my main dish. Not that this was any an old salad the “ Pink Lady and Fuji Apple Salad “ was a combination of fennel, apples, dates, almonds and blue cheddar. It was a super pleasing combination of flavors. The small sharp cheddar went so well with the crisp, light texture of the apples and fennel, sweetened just a tad with the Medjool Dates.

Overall it was an extraordinary meal. The food, service, and ambience made it definitely a night to remember! Although I would never lean-to say it was an inexpensive meal, therefore put this one to the back-burner for a special occasion.

FRENCH LAUNDRY

French Laundry is a restaurant located in Yountville, Napa Valley and is chef Thomas Keller’s claim to fame. With a round table of greats already; Bouchon (with locations across the US), Bouchon Bakery, Ad Hoc, Per Se, French Laundry has been the self acclaimed Pinnacle of Keller’s career.

It is a perennial awardee in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World (having been named “Best Restaurant in the World” in 2003 and 2004), and since 2006, it has been awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide to San Francisco. It has also been favorably reviewed by The New York Times and called “the best restaurant in the world, period” by Anthony Bourdain

With a standard two month waitlist and reservation line that constantly rings busy, you are set to wonder if you are in store for the best meal of your life, or another hype induced media dupe of a restaurant.

After experiencing it, I can tell you my feelings are that it does not disappoint and it is one epic meal.

There are two seatings per day and there is a choice of two menus (a meat lovers and a plant lovers).  The foursome I was dining with, all chose the carnivore menu seeing as no one was a vegetarian and the latter menu seemed a bit more adventurous.

Starting the meal was two amuse bouches’.  One was a Gruyere filled cream puff and another was tuna tartar cone.   Closely followed was the first course which was “Oysters and Pearls”,  I found it slightly odd looking at first, but it turned out to be pleasantly creamy, the two oysters being savory and complimenting the texture of the tapioca pearls.

"Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar

The next course was a cucumber soup that I wasn’t a fan of.  So we will just skip over that. (Tasted slightly like a certain “green juice” that I have had before when subjecting myself to a liquid cleanse). The “upgradable” option was “PB&J Foie Gras” (pictured below) which although sounds odd, was amazing!

Moulard Duck "Foie Gras." Peanut "Genoise," Concord Grapes Celery Branch and Petite Syrah Reduction

Seven more courses followed…

“Tataki” of Big Eye Tuna – Watermelon “Kimchi,” Red Radish, Scallion, Rice Pearls and Finger Lime “Gastrique”

"Saffron-Vanilla" Butter-Poached Main Lobster "Mitts," Sweet Onion "Agnolotti Arrowleaf Spinach and Saffron "Nuage"

A perfect combination of savory and sweet with a distinctive, but appropriate touch of saffron.

Next came the poultry course, that again struck the perfect balance of salt with the chantralle mushrooms and  simple Yukon gold potatoes complimenting the perfectly cooked piece of chicken.

Four Story Hill Farm “Poularde” Hobbs Bacon, Yukon Gold Potato, Chantralle Mushrooms and Frisee

An enjoyable poultry course, that again struck the perfect balance of salt with the chantralle mushrooms and  simple Yukon gold potatoes complementing the perfectly cooked piece of chicken.

One of my favourite courses came next which was Snake Hill Farms “Calouette De Beouf Grille”. It was an amazing blend of beef; Angus and Wagyu,  so succulent it literally melted in my mouth. It was  paired with grilled cherry box tomatoes which was the perfect accompaniment.

Snake River Farms "Calotte De Boeuf Grillee" Toybox Tomatoes, Rye Pain Perdu, Romaine Lettuce, "Ranch Dressing" and Mustard Seed "Ravigote"

Followed by the Cheese Course..

"Cambembert" Ground Cherry, Baby Beets, Fennel Bulb and Cherry-Beet Puree'

The last course, “Caramelia’ Chocolate “Cremeux” made the meal for me!  One reason being  - I am a Dessert Girl  and  the other reason being that the Salted Popcorn Ice Cream was one of the best things I have ever tasted (it has been officially added to my formal list). A heavenly combination of creamy chocolate and caramel was complemented by crunchy and sweet pine nuts, combined with the ice cream… it was… to die for!

Camamelia Chocolate "Cremeux" Gros Michel Banana, Candied Pine nuts, "Dentelle" and Salted Popcorn Ice Cream

Just when we thought the meal had finished with the perfect ending they brought out Pot de “Hot Chocolate” with Turkish doughnuts along with chocolate covered macadamia nuts…delish!

Again, we thought they were finished.. But –oh- they were not…. they then delivered a plate of six truffles including a “Peanut Butter and Jelly” flavor, a “Meyer lemon” flavor, and a crunchy “Hazelnut.”

Making sure that we left in a food induced coma state they gave us a “to go” shortbread cookie bundle…. Like we actually needed more food…

After the meal they were kind enough to give us a tour of the kitchen and introduced the executive sous chef to us all.

Executive Chef Phillip Tessier and I

Overall, the meal and experience was wonderful and nothing short of blockbuster. Give into the rumor around town and put it on your bucket list or make it a must on your Napa vacation!