Showing posts with label Eat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eat. Show all posts


{ Mix & Mingle }
How to throw a fab Christmas party

{ Table runner and place mats, ZGallerie // Fine China, Michael Aram for Waterford, Bloomingdales }
There truly isn't anything like the holiday season.  Something about the fresh winter scent in the air, the cozy grey days, and the twinkling Christmas lights adorning each home in our neighborhood that always puts a smile on my face.  Plus, it doesn't hurt that I absolutely love Fall and Winter clothing, so seeing the busy streets lined with eager shoppers in trendy coats and scarves always does the trick too ;). When the time came to plan our annual girls' Christmas dinner-party, I jumped at the idea of hosting my closest friends at our home in Santa Barbara for the first time. It's been a tradition we have kept going for over 7 years, and as we grow older, our time together is that much more precious.  With every one's busy schedule year round, it was nice to catch up and have some quality girl time. Endless kir royals and non-stop wine were in abundance along with great conversations, personalized goody bags, Christmas tree shaped brownies and a house fully decorated for Christmas {even down to the scent}. Although we are all twenty-somethings, and the party was of course casual, I threw in some formal touches to spice things up a bit.  Here are some steps to throwing a fab Christmas party:

1. Party favors:
If your headcount is small enough, make personalized party favors.  It's always a nice touch and your guests will really appreciate the effort, not to mention the sweets inside. I used this easy recipe I found on Pinterest, along with red and green festive M&M's, initial ornaments that start with each girls' name, and of course, handwritten notes of the candy-cane story attached on each goody bag. Check out our Pinterest for some more holiday ideas. 


2. Table Setting: 
Use your finest dinnerware and cloth napkins for an extra formal touch. I actually used my fine china for the first time since my 2011 wedding {oh ya!}. You can go an extra step further by setting the seating arrangement for your guests {10 and under} with festive name-tag napkin holders like these from Williams-Sonoma.  I scored my red ornament napkin-ring holders on sale last year and added these black and white Diane von Furstenburg ones for an added pop of color among the red napkins. 

3. Centerpieces: 
Always use fresh garlands as a centerpiece to complete your table decor for Christmas parties and be sure it isn't too tall to block your guest's view. The scent of the fresh pines during dinner is sure to keep up the lighthearted and jolly party mood!

4.  Holiday Spirits:
Of course, a fab Christmas party wouldn't be complete without Kir Royales with fresh cranberries afloat and mulled wine after dinner with dessert. I made homemade baked cinnamon donuts {in bundt cake shape, with pumpkin ice cream on top} from Ina Garten's new cookbook, Foolproof ... a Christmas party favorite.  We definitely couldn't get enough...

What are some of your holiday party recipes and decoration tips?


< Halloween Snippets >

1. Spooky table settings with crawling spiders and pumpkin salt and pepper shakers
2. Cored apples, ready for homemade apple turnovers
3. Warm apple turnovers with Pumpkin ice cream
4. Details of the night: studs, skulls and leather
5.Festive arrangement
6. Masks for the ladies/ mustaches for the men
7. Skull toothpicks and spiders on cheese, yum!
8. Masquerade 
9. Witches Brew napkins
10.  Here's the recipe I followed
11. Itsy Bitsy spider wanted Rose Champagne
12. The infested cheese plate of Brie, Manchego and Goat cranberry chèvre


Everything Cookie

It became a tradition with my sister that whenever we'd go shopping together, we would have to make a pit stop to satisfy our ever-craving sweet tooth's with a cookie. Be it the sugar cookie from Vie de France at South Coast, or the everything cookie from Pain Du Monde at Fashion Island, somehow, we had to satisfy those cravings with one of these decadently scrumptious cookies, {and black coffee, of course}.  Now that OC is no longer home and I am tucked away two hours north, {and without my shopping buddy}, my cookie craving still exists but without Pain du Monde or Vie de France, I'm stuck to fend for myself.  So, I decided to bake it. To be exact these are double chocolate chip, oatmeal, coconut, walnut cookies with a gooey center and a perfect antidote to any bad day.

What you'll need:
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconuts
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar-free or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 335 degrees
  • In a mixer bowl, whip together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, add in vanilla. 
  • In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking soda and salt and slowly stir into wet mixture until blended.
  • Mix in quick oats, walnuts, coconut and chocolate chips.
  • with heaping tablespoons, or an ice cream scooper, place on baking sheet.
  • Reason they're so good: FREEZE for 15 minutes before baking!
  • Bake for 12 minutes. Center will be perfectly moist and delish!


{ £10 }

This past Saturday I had the chance to visit the ultra posh, uber glamorous Montage, Beverly Hills, which is home to the hush-hush Whiskey bar known as Ten Pound.  Concealed just above Scarpetta Restaurant, right up the circular stairs, enter a dark, speak-easy shoebox-esq bar with a cozy-glam charm.  We sat outside on an unlikely warm summer night in LA and studied the opulent spirits menu.  I opted for a custom-made champagne infused drink, which was whipped up table side, while my husband sipped on the 25 year old Fine Oak Whiskey. The whiskey is what this bar is famous for, of course, serving only the "world's most precious" Whiskey, The Macallen, from a distillery based in Scotland. The Whiskey ages range, but the oldest is the rare 64 year old Macallen going for a whoppin' $64,000 a glass! The appetizer menu was nothing short of sophisticated, featuring seafood, artisan cheeses, and of course caviar. Some snacks came right away starring crispy bacon, caramelized pecans and cheddar cheese bits, and the memorable bread basket with a scrumptious melt-in-your-mouth toasted prosciutto and cheese brioche. Can anyone say yum!? With only 9 tables and a 35 person maximum seating capacity, this bar is definitely worth a visit.  But remember, you need reservations!  
{ Gorgeous welcome at the Montage lobby }
{ The opulent spirits menu }

{ Stunning outdoor patio }
{ The most genuine waiter, Wahid making custom drinks on the outdoor terrace }


Black Bean, Cilantro & Quinoa Salad

You know the feeling... it's so hot that you've lost your appetite.  You only want something refreshing, light and healthy to eat.  Swimsuits are now more frequently being pulled out, and no one ever liked being bloated: enter Black bean, Tomato Cilantro & Quinoa {Keen-wah} salad. This salad is so easy to make, delicious, and surprising light that I wanted to share. On top of it all, it's packed with nutritional benefits.  Quinoa is part of the grain family but is also classified as a seed.  It contains all of the essential amino acids and a high source of protein, magnesium, fiber, vitamin B, and is gluten-free {for all you non-glutenites}.  Here's how to make:
zest from one lime
juice from 2 limes 

juice from 2 lemons
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, diced or cherry tomatoes
4 scallions, chopped 

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
1 Persian cucumber for extra crunch 
Feta Cheese for sprinkling on top
Start off by making the Quinoa: 1 cup Quinoa and 2 cups water.  Bring the Quinoa to a boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Cool in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, drain the black beans, set aside.  Slice the tomatoes {or use Cherry tomatoes sliced in halves}; Scallions; 1 Persian cucumber; Cilantro; and red onion {if you so wish}.  After Quinoa has been cooled for about 15 minutes, toss in all other ingredients.  Squeeze 2 lemons/2 limes for the dressing along with salt and pepper to taste, 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil, dazzle with some feta, garnish some Cilantro and voila! Bon Apetit. xx

{ Enjoying my salad with a Kir Royale = Champagne <or in this case, Prosecco> with Chamboard }


{ a good weekend }

We found ourselves in Vegas for a dear friend's bachelorette party.  Such a fantastic weekend; here are some snippets of it all:
{ The glamorous Chandelier Bar @ The Cosmopolitan Hotel }
{ A delicious dinner at Fix Bellagio }
{  VV gals ... game face before heading out }
{ Cosmo room service ... A-mazing }
{ An incredible experience at Topshop by the Personal Shopping team }


{ Wine Wednesday }
Wine Cask

Since moving to sunny Santa Barbara, I learned that this city has one of the highest amounts of restaurants per capita than any other West Coast city.  I can honestly say I am thrilled that 99% of those restaurants are not chains! Halleluja! There's nothing better than discovering a new eatery whose chef creates masterpieces that are unique and particular to that restaurant. With that being said, one of those unique restaurants is the Wine Cask.  Owned by prominent winemakers, Doug Margerum and Mitchell Sjervens, this chic restaurant has Intermezzo Bar & Cafe, for a more relaxed yet trendy wine lounge feel, or The Wine Cask for a fine dining experience.  After running a winery in Santa Ynez for 10 years, Doug Margerum, decided to bring his wines downtown with the Margerum wine tasting room. Adjacent to that tasting room, Jim Clendelen, one of the Central Coasts most respected winemakers, opened a tasting room featuring his wine, Au Bon Climat, that he has made for over 30 years. 
{ wine cask patio }

Aside from their large "on tap" wine selection, one of my favorite items on the Intermezzo menu has to be the cheese platter.  Served on a slab of granite, you choose three of their six selections of cheeses from various countries.  Honeycomb, large cranberries, candied walnuts, sliced green apples and perfectly toasted crackers come nestled next to generous portions of cheese. {We had the Taleggio from Italy, Fourme d'Ambert from France, and the Cabra al Romero from Spain}... De.light.ful.  Enjoy a glass of wine and that cheese platter among their quaint European-style courtyard with fountains and vines; or opt for a cozy night in near the fireplace.  Must try the Crispy Cauliflower, Thai Shrimp rolls, Spanish Mac & Cheese, Market flat-bread... and save room for dessert: Homemade pumpkin-cinnamon donuts with cinnamon ice cream, caramel sauce and candied walnuts. H E A V E N.  {Check out this instagrammed picture from a while back}.  Everything is very tasty on the menu, you truly can't go wrong.  Bon Apetit!

{ Intermezzo chalkboard menu }


Cliff's Edge

Last week, I found out that my friend who happens to be a brilliant young French Chef recently started a new gig at Cliff's Edge in Silver Lake. We met Chef Ben Bailly when he was the chef at Petrossian in West Hollywood. We then loyally followed him to his new venture at Fraiche, in Culver City where he brought his creative talents to his customer's taste buds once again.  Last Wednesday, he invited us to check out his new venture at Cliff's Edge, where he created these delicious masterpieces below:
From left to right (clockwise): Whipped Ricotta with lavender, honey and olive oil {delectable!}; Eggplant Caviar with cumin, pine nuts and cilantro; Seared Scallops with lebne, cauliflower, vadouvan & salsa verde {might have been my favorite};  Roasted Brussels Sprouts with anchovy, capers and parmesan ...we really could not get enough. 

From left to right (clockwise):   Chickpea Fritters with rosemary and lemon aioli {so different I had never had anything like this before}; Flat Iron Steak with Potatoes, horseradish, spinach & red wine au jus. We also had the Albacore Ceviche (not pictured) with lime, red onion, green apple and cilantro...{we love cilantro}! For dessert Ben sent us a Chocolate Torta and Lemon Tart both of which were outstanding.

{ Chef Ben and I }
We were SO full by the end of our dinner but full tummies = happy girls! We sat on the heated patio and the ambiance was so charming. I definitely cannot wait to go back and try many more of Chef Ben's brilliant creations!