Day 2: A Perfect Day in LA

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Woke up at noon and relaxed on the balcony overlooking the city.

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Lunch at Herringbone …

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A cocktail or two …

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Lounged at Skybar in the afternoon …

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More drinks while reading Kindle and Nook …

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… and dinner at Lawry’s.

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And returned to our hotel room and watched the Olympics closing ceremony.

The perfect Sunday.

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Day 1: LA Adventures

maya and hirono

The last time Maya visited me, Pon Pon was only four days old. I had just returned home from the hospital after delivering the baby, and I was exhausted, severely sleep deprived, hormonal, stressed, moody, and a hot mess — definitely not a good company.  So I’m happy that we got to spend quality time together this time around. She came down from PDX for Pon Pon’s first birthday party and I got to spend a week of quality girl time with my BFF.

After the party, I took off my mommy hat and headed to Mondrian Hotel on Sunset for a baby-free weekend. It was my first time being away from Pon Pon overnight and I have to admit that it was a little tough at first (yes, I have become one of those parents who can’t stay away from their bebe for more than a few hours)  … but I knew that Kevin was holding down the fort at home and she was in good hand. By the time Maya and I got on the road, I was no longer a mom but a buck wild party girl (okay, this is totally not true).

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Mondrian Hotel was lovely.  The room was very tiny but we got the room with an amazing view of West Hollywood.  Maya and I are such Asians – as soon as we walked into the room, we started snapping pictures!

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I wish there was a bath tub … but the shower had a pretty good water pressure.

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Our balcony overlooked the Herringbone restaurant.

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Picturesque West Hollywood.  You can see Beverly Center and Lawry’s Prime Rib, our wedding venue, from here.

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I remember when Sunset Boulevard was the place to hang out on a weekend.  It was so much more quiet and tamed this night.  I wonder if this famous strip has lost its charm, or I just got older.  Things didn’t look as mesmerizing as I once remembered as a wee twenty-something.

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After we unpacked and unwind, we headed over to Little Next Door for some late dinner.  We weren’t overly hungry, so we decided to eat something light with a glass or two of wine.

Maya and I almost always order fresh oysters when they’re available and we’re usually happy with them.  Unfortunately, this was not that time.  Each oyster was so tiny that we felt like we got ripped off.

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I order this Salad Nicoise almost every time I’m here at the restaurant.  It’s not necessarily that it’s the best item on the menu, but because I’m a Salad Nicoise addict and I cannot say no to it when it’s on the menu.

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Here’s Maya’s fish dish.  We ordered dessert and coffee but we forgot to take pictures.

We were so exhausted by the time we finished dinner, we returned to our hotel room, took off our shoes, and just watched the Olympics.  Although we were in the middle of action in a city that doesn’t sleep (okay, that’s not true .. unlike NYC, bars close early in LA), we realized we’d much rather stay in and relax in our comfortable pajamas.  I guess you can take a girl out of a home, but you can’t take her hominess out of a girl.

Littlefork in Hollywood

My husband, lovely friends D and J, and I stopped by Littlefork for lunch this afternoon before heading over to Pantages Theatre to catch the matinee showing of The Book of Mormon.

This place offers some amazing New-England-meets-Montreal goodness. Who knew maple syrup went so well with everything?

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$1.00 oysters! (Or were they buck fifty each, I don’t remember … but these were one of the few items on the menu without the drizzle or a hint of maple syrup.)

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Maple Eggs — Subtly sweetened egg custard and fluffy scrambled eggs, topped with maple-flavored bacon. (These weren’t real egg shells; they were reusable silicon egg-shaped container, in case you were wondering.)

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Kale salad, with avocado, egg crumbles, red onion, and oranges, tossed in light tangy dressing.  I’m not sure how this gentle, arugula-like leaves can be kale, but it was delicious!

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Breakfast Burrito. This was so good — with scrambled egg, pork rind, fried onion rings, and cheese wrapped in tortilla — it makes ordinary breakfast burrito want to hide under the cover.  It’s even more amazing with maple syrup.

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Lobster Roll (Montreal Style with three slices of brisket).  It’s incredibly steep at $29, but is worth the splurge.

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Poutine.  I’ve never heard of this dish before, but I guess this French fries drenched in gravy, cheese curd, maple syrup, and eggs, is a famous dish in Quebec.

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Apple Cider Donuts with maple syrup. Mmmm.

I really missed the baby but it was nice to have a few hours of grown-up time with my husband, wonderful friends, and a glass (or two) of fruity Rose.

Thanks for the great recommendation, J!

Littlefork
1600 Wilcox Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
★★★★★

Sunday Breakfast: Larchmont Bungalow

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Kevin and I had Sunday breakfast at Larchmont Bungalow in the lovely mid-city neighborhood with even lovelier friends Matt, Liz, and Baby E . The last time I saw Liz, she was still pregnant with Baby E. Thirteen short months later, Baby E grew up to be an adorable little boy who walks and eats solid food!biggrin

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It’s amazing how fast babies grow up. In a mere year, an infant who you bring home from the hospital, fresh out of the mommy’s womb, grows into a toddler, and in the blink of the eyes, leaves home to go to college. Veteran parents always advise us newbies to enjoy and savor every minute we spend with our children because they grow up so fast. Watching the little Baby E blossom into a little person made me realize how true that is, and how precious each second is to parents.

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The breakfast was fabulous.  This is the first time in my life that I’m not overly concerned about the amount of calories I consume, especially during this time of the year when the world is attempting to kick-start a healthier lifestyle as part of the New Year’s resolutions. I do try to be careful that I eat a balanced diet for me and the baby, of course, but I don’t beat myself up if I eat something wacky and perhaps unhealthy, like Red and Blue Velvet Pancakes, once in a while, which, by the way, were completely bizarre but surprisingly delicious.

I’m also extremely thankful for the ever-shrinking stomach. Now that Pon Pon is starting to push against my insides, I can’t eat as much as I want to, which helps me control my consumption. It’s like having a natural gastric bypass to shrink my stomach.

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Here’s the Seafood Lover’s Omelet that I ordered, packed with lobster, shrimp, and fresh blue crab, with a side of green salad and pumpernickel toasts. It was pretty pricey at $14.95 but I enjoyed every bite of it.

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Kevin had the Meat Sensation Omelet.

If there’s a place like Larchmont Bungalow in our neighborhood, I’ll be there every day!  It was a perfect Sunday morning spent with wonderful friends and a precious little munchkin, over great good … and it wasn’t even 11:00 a.m. yet!

Urth Cafe and Les Miserables

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Kevin and I enjoyed our Saturday morning breakfast at Urth Café in West Hollywood today. We were in the neighborhood to attend a free private screening of the movie, Les Miserables, at Pacific Design Center and stopped by this popular cafe for a quick bite before we headed over to the show.

It’s been a while since I last visited this particular location — before HBO’s Entourage made it more popular than it already was.  We were able to find seats quickly because it was still early, but the place was already packed with families and LA actor- and writer-types at 9:00 a.m.

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I ordered the grilled vegetable omelets

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… and Kevin ordered the beef hash plate.

I think I like the lunch selections better than breakfast (panini sandwiches, salads, soups, etc.) but the eggs and a side salad were pretty good. I didn’t order my favorite Spanish Latte but got the hot coco instead. I hate to tell you but it was pretty bland and tasteless. I was surprised because all its other coffee drinks are usually phenomenal.

IMG_3336Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” I love this quote and I’ve experienced this to hold true in many occasions in my life – big and small. I believe that when you really want something and if the intentions are good, the stars somehow align in your favor. It’s the universe’s way of letting you know that you’re on the right path.

Well, the universe aligned today! I’m a huge fan of the musical, Les Miserables, and I’ve been dying to watch the new movie that is due out on Christmas day.

And from somewhere, somehow, the tickets to a free screening of the movie mysteriously landed on our laps! Okay, it wasn’t a real mystery as to where they came from (thank you, Kevin’s boss!) but the fact that they came to us is much more than a happy coincidence!

I’m not going to bore you with my detailed thoughts on the movie except to say that it’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. It’s difficult to translate the intensity of the stage onto a screen, but this amazing ensemble of casts (the best casting I’ve ever seen) does it flawlessly. Expect to walk away surprised, touched, and delighted, and fall in love with Les Miserable for the first time or all over again.  I predict Oscar nominations and possible wins for Hugh Jackman and especially Anne Hathaway.

I really think the hard core Les Mis musical fanatics will walk away satisfied, knowing that the justice has been done to the much loved original version. I’m so going to go see the movie many more times when it opens in two weeks!

My favorite musical + my favorite actor (Russell Crowe) = 2-1/2 hours of pure awesomeness.razz

A Prairie Home Companion at Hollywood Bowl

Kevin and I spent a fabulous Friday evening at the Hollywood Bowl. A few glasses of perfectly chilled white wine under a blissful summer night … this is definitely my definition of a fun Friday night, especially after a busy work week.

Ever since I discovered NPR a few years ago, it became the only radio station that I listen to. I’m in love with all the quality programs on KPCC 89.3 FM, but there are no shows I like more than a weekly variety show, A Prairie Home Companion. I’ve wanted to watch it live for a while now, and I jumped at the opportunity when the show came to Hollywood Bowl last weekend.

Actor Martin Sheen was a guest star, along with an amazing opera singer Ellie Dehn, a bluegrass artist Sara Watkins, and singing sisters Jearlyn and Jevetta Sttele … and they were all amazing. And Garrison Keillor was as splendid as I expected.

A side note:  We took a shuttle from the Universal City metro area to Hollywood Bowl ($5, what a deal).  In the bus, there was a kind man who passed out gardenia he picked from his garden to the ladies.  The scent of the flower was so sweet and melodious, I became an instant fan of this lovely white tropical plant.

I love summer in Los Angeles.

Faux Pas Indeed

If you name a restaurant faux pas, you need to really, really make sure that the place is extraordinary, just so that you won’t become a victim of your own joke. Unfortunately, Faux Pas Bistro in Mid-City, located across from The Grove, was just that – a total misstep.

The atmosphere was wonderful, with a charm of a cute little bistro on the streets of Paris, but the warm and fuzzy ends there.

I didn’t completely dislike the place … but I couldn’t love it, even though I tried. The server kept apologizing for the delay in bringing out our food (we seriously didn’t get our food for an hour after we ordered) and kept telling us how busy they were, even though there were many, many empty tables around us. Other tables, who were seated way after us, got served before we even got our appetizers.

Luckily, I was with my long-time pals Abbie, Sydne and a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio so the wait didn’t feel too long … but it was still pretty ridiculous.  It was a good thing that we weren’t overly hungry.

Quiche Lorraine

The salad that accompanied the quiche.

Profiterole (came with two of these gigantic cream puffs in one order!)

The food was okay but nothing special. My Quiche Lorraine was decent but the cheese had hardened on top, forming a thin film from perhaps sitting out for a while … and the Profiterole that we shared for desserts tasted a bit stale.  The food at Little Next Door is way better than here (check out here, here, and here).

There’s no other way to describe this restaurant than … well … faux pas. At least we saw the glimpse of Queen Latifah at the restaurant to brighten our afternoon.  (By the way, she was very tiny.)

Faux Pas Bistro
7910 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
★★★☆☆