Introducing the Ladies (& Gents) Wining & Dining Series: The Best Spots for Business Eats

November 21, 2015

Hello readers!

I’m excited to share that despite a brief hiatus since earlier this summer, I will be launching a new series here called the “Ladies (& Gents) Wining & Dining Series” dedicated to the best lunch, dinner and drink spots for doing business while enjoying the best cuisine that New York City, Los Angeles and other top cities across the country offer.

I hope this will inspire some great ideas for you as you travel on business, particularly if you’re looking for a unique spot to wow client and colleagues, old friends and new, from the easiest to the hardest to please foodies. The series is designed to provide you with insider insights beyond the contents of that magazine in the seat back pocket and what’s on the menu from a first-hand business and foodie expertise perspective.

I invite you to dialogue on any of my recommendations as well as offer up any of your favorite/can’t miss spots as well (business success stories welcome too!) to inspire fellow business travelers on their culinary and business adventures.

Enjoy! Bon Appetit! Buen Provecho!

[Reviews coming soon: Maysville (NYC), The Garret (NYC), White Oak Tavern (NYC), Javelina (NYC), Pig & Khao (NYC), The Rockefeller (Manhattan/Hermosa Beach, CA) and more].



Breakfast Munchies

June 7, 2015

If you’re on the hunt for a filling breakfast in a hurry, look no further than Phanny’s at 1021 S. Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach. Calling themselves the “healthiest fast food in town since 1982” might be a stretch, but they do serve up authentic breakfast burritos, omelettes, burgers and specialty sandwiches.

The building is fairly non-descript and sits between a variety of other local haunts, so it’s best to program this one in your GPS to ensure you don’t miss it.  There isn’t true table service here, so you’ll want to ensure you place your order at the front.  While it isn’t a place to choose for ambiance, it’s quality and you can tell by the volume of many locals in and out the door, opting to sit in for a quick bite or pick it up on their morning strolls through the area.

I opted for a Ham breakfast burrito with eggs, potatoes, cheese and salsa. You could definitely split this if you’re not too hungry, or eat the whole thing if you’re really ravenous.



Phannys 4

Phannys 2

Phannys 1

Looking for other great breakfast spots in LA and outside the city?  Try these:

  • Tops Burgers – 1792 E. Walnut St., Pasadena, CA – Offers a great selection of breakfast plates, sandwiches and burritos and of course, burgers. There’s something about the butter they use in the potatoes that just makes it taste extra special.  Again, nothing fancy here, just take out or sit down in a low-key, off the grid building.
  • Grand Burger – 710 S. Grand Street, Glendora, CA – Like Tops, this spot offers a variety of breakfast offerings, though they’re most famous for their burgers. I’ve been for breakfast and lunch and you can’t beat it. They also recently opened for 24 hour drive through service, so whatever time you have a breakfast craving or otherwise, you can swing through.
  • Manhattan Bread and Bagel – 1812 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA – Can’t beat bagels if you’re on the go, but they also offer a wide selection of breakfast items from french toast to frittatas, oatmeal, “sinful scones,” “marvelous muffins,” and breakfast pastries. It’s also close to the airport so it’s a great place to swing through if you’re coming from the South Bay to LAX to beat those lines and overpriced breakfast sandwiches at the airport.
  • Uncle Stavros – 201 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach, CA – Cute (and small) so be prepared to wait for a table as it’s also right by the entrance to the beach. As it’s family run, service is a little slow, but enjoy a mix of greek dishes, traditional breakfast fare and sip a mimosa before you head to beach for a lazy day.

Have a recommended can’t miss breakfast spot? Let me know in the comments here.

NYC to Los Angeles: Foodie Reflections

April 28, 2015

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been almost two years from this date that I have touched this blog.  My last entry was right before I enjoyed Camp Blogaway in California and I dreamed about being here since that time. Fast forward and my journey has led me here to the city of Angels as of this past July.

I love blogging and I love writing. I love food. None of that went away when I wasn’t blogging here, but there was always a little sensation, a passing comment or curiosity peaked when I mentioned that I have a blog related to the culinary adventures I had documented here. Those little moments kept the blog alive for me even while I wasn’t faithfully writing.

So with that in mind, after a nearly two year respite of writing here, it only makes sense to me to share you with, dear readers, a journey from nearly 10 years in NYC to one in Los Angeles, a place I had wanted to be and now am, on this greater journey called life.

I was really fortunate to have experienced all the culinary delights I had the chance to explore in New York City – from City Lobster to Bell Book & Candle, Kaia Wine Bar, The London, Social Eatz, Koi, B. Smith’s, Dardanel, and my all time favorite (yes, I’m revealing it!) David Burke Townhouse, to name a few – these are not only the places I remember and have documented, but the moments I truly cherish in looking back on the delicious experiences – culinary and company wise, almost as if they were yesterday.  I remember exactly who I was sitting with and what the experience was like. After all, good food is supposed to take you right back to that moment you experienced it, right?

I don’t have a verdict yet on NYC vs. Los Angeles like you might be wondering as I’m still new-ish to Los Angeles, I can give you some compare and contrasts.  The biggest is certainly the distance. While in NYC you can easily get from delight to delight, Los Angeles is a bit harder in that way as it is very spread out. Both NYC and Los Angeles boast great chefs and great establishments so those are a fair comparison, and there are definitely hidden gems in both cities.

So what are some of my favorite haunts in Los Angeles thus far? Read on…

Greenbelt (36 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA) – Greenbelt serves everything using local farmer’s market produce and the dishes are delicious for it. I’ve now been for brunch, lunch and dinner and can tell you that you can’t choose a wrong item on this menu.  Depending on what meal you’re going for, I recommend the Grilled Avocado benedict with basil hollandaise. Best part? No bread and you get the healthy fats from the avocado with other great seasonal vegetables that’s filling and it’s also gluten-free for those who have any allergies. Lunch?  Go for a shared pizza like the burrata, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, basil and pesto. Simple and yummy. Dinner?  I love tuna so the Grilled Yellowfin Tuna with coconut black rice, shitake mushrooms and thai curry is great. Spicy alert on this one though, so the faint beware.

Grilled Avocado Benedict

Grilled Avocado Benedict

Grilled Yellowfin Tuna

Grilled Yellowfin Tuna

Uncle Bill’s Pancake House (1305 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach, CA) is the ultimate comfort food. I went on a weekday holiday with friends which was great as only on weekday holidays and weekends do they serve the eggs benedict which was delicious.  We also opted to share a side of what they are famous for – pancakes (when in Rome, right?) with coconut and chocolate chips. And for the view alone, the picture says it all.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict & Coconut Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Uncle Bill's

Uncle Bill’s

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

Others not pictured?

Mediterraneo (73 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA) because of its can’t beat shared apps like the Deviled Eggs with harissa oil, Roasted Dates prosciutto wrapped and stuffed with cambozola blue cheese (my favorite on the menu), Polpette beaf meatballs with San Marzano tomato sauce and parmagiano (really you can’t go wrong with anything here), in addition to the very carefully crafted cocktails, do yourself a favor and check it out. Plus you can walk off dinner as you’ll be right by The Strand for a lazy afternoon or crisp evening beach walk.

Manhattan Beach Post (1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, CA), it’s called a “Social House” for a reason. It’s always busy. And the food and scene is why. I also came on a Sunday for brunch when it’s likely at its peak. But it’s entirely worth the wait starting with some Bacon Cheddar biscuits with maple butter like the tasty ones at Red Lobster (but better) and for shared plates like the French Toast stuffed with house ricotta, bartlett pears and candied almonds and the benedict (yes of course I had to try it, lest you forget the name of my blog).  What else is cool?  The fact that the menu changes seasonally and on the whim of a chef. Can’t hate on that.

Zinc at the Shade Hotel (1221 N. Valley Drive, Manhattan Beach, CA) come for brunch, walk the beach later. Or come during the week and enjoy one of the festive cocktails like the Are You Man Enough? with the Patron Silver Tequila, Veev acai spirit, agave, lime and muddled jalapenos or for a less spicy option the Aviation with gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqeur and creme de violette.

Ok, ok, you’re asking where are all the places not at the beach?  Don’t worry, my friends, I have you covered!

Check out:

Taste on Melrose (8454 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA) – their tagline is “eat, drink, indulge” and that my friends, you can do. I came with some friends who also happen to be awesome work colleagues and we shared the calamari and Pommes Frites with garlic aioli and remoulade. They have great dishes all around whether you’re going healthier with a grilled natural salmon, or more indulgent like the Rigatoni Bolognese I tried.  Fun fact: Grilled cheese night is every Tuesday and you can add their housemade Pommes Frites for only $5. Yep.

Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa (Multiple locations, I went to 4722 1/4 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA) – You can’t explain this sushi, you just have to try it for yourself. It’s served warm and melt in your mouth worthy. I know what you’re thinking. After I was in NYC for so long, can it get any better?  But this truly is an experience.  If you’re really hungry, go for the Nozawa Trust Me. It’s worth it. It includes organic edamame, tuna sashimi, albacore, salmon and yellowtail sushi, halibut sushi, Toro hand roll, Blue Crab hand roll and the daily special.

041 Bacaro (9552 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA) Chef Conrad came from NYC so that’s almost enough to be said there, but there is true Italian love in this food. Try the roasted brussel sprouts or french fries with truffle oil to start (or both if you’re sharing) and the entrees speak for themselves though I enjoyed the risotto with mixed wild mushrooms. It’s like a slice of Little Italy NYC. Go.

And of course there are more to come.  Have a must try place for me to check out?  Feel free to comment here whether you’re an Angeleno or just know some great spots here in the City of Angels.

Camping Foodie Style

May 24, 2013

Off to Camp Blogaway this weekend where the top food bloggers will meet for a weekend of fun, learning and networking. I’ll report back so look for my weekend recap here.  Happy Memorial Day fun and good food wishes to all.

Camp Blogaway


The Beauty of Home(made)

April 28, 2013

Dear readers:

I know it’s been several months since I’ve had the opportunity to post, and for that, I am truly apologetic. But as I know fellow foodies and their busy schedules and explorations of all the new restaurants, I also know you’ll understand as I look to get back on track. To this end, I’m writing a post that makes me feel close to home (and heart).

There is truly nothing like the beauty of homemade cuisine. Sure, you can always feel like it’s a taste of home when you’re at your favorite restaurant or delectably enjoying the cuisine that takes you to that special place, but there is nothing like being the one slaving over the stove or having someone else do it for you to really understand the beauty of true enjoyment.

I had not only one, but two recent special occasions, where a home cooked meal was prepared especially for me (the special person knows who they are). It’s one thing to already appreciate the person who is doing it for you, but there is an extra special level when the food is absolutely delicious and prepared with love. On the first occasion, I had the opportunity to enjoy a pork chop (yes, it takes a while to cook according to the special chef who prepared it for me), stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, spinach and cheese. (The sauce was a secret recipe that the chef wouldn’t share with me).  It was paired with rice and topped with an olive – check out the amazing presentation!

photo 9

The second homemade dish I had the opportunity to enjoy was a steak that was specially marinated with mushrooms (again, chef’s secret) with plantains and avocado – yum!

photo 12

After being inspired by the special chef who cooked for me, I decided it was time to get more savvy in the kitchen and I opted to take a cooking class with friend and RD, Diane Henderiks.  She hosted us at the lovely cooking studios of Taste and Technique in Fairhaven, NJ (yes, I traveled all the way out to Jersey for the class) where we learned how to make “Culinary Concoctions.”  What was great is she showed us ways to use our leftovers from Shrimp and Arugula Salad to Turkey Taco Night to Chimichurri Skirt Steak with coffee grinds from your own coffee maker – delicious!

After a successful cooking class evening, I sought to create my own dinner for the special chef and while it may not have been as fancy, it certainly still tasted delicious and left the chef satisfied, which was the best part to thank him for the culinary skills he had shared with me to enjoy.

The Art of the Cocktail: EFFEN Vodka

October 19, 2012

No, Chuck Bass wasn’t in attendance for EFFEN Vodka’s evening of cocktail mixology at Hotel Empire, but the drinks certainly were flowing as was the creativity.

EFFEN Vodka Art of Design

EFFEN Vodka welcomed food bloggers around NYC including myself to enjoy and vote for favorite concoctions from area mixologists. And these mixologists certainly had the imaginations to dream up some delicious delights including a “Smoke N’ Cherries” made with EFFEN Black Cherry and Reposado Mezcal, “The Kyoto Cocktail” with EFFEN 80 Proof and passion hibiscus tea, as well as “Cherry
Jubilee,” with Prosecco and Marischino cherries.

Laura Cruz’ “Smoke ‘N Cherries”

Perhaps the most popular part of the event was the EFFEN Cucumber Design Station in which you had the opportunity to select your pairings. I opted for the EFFEN Cucumber with lime, jalapeno and watermelon.

EFFEN Vodka Cocktail Design Station

My concoction

Each of the mixology tables had vases whereby bloggers could vote for their favorite cocktails by dropping in marbles. The winner? Read on.

The evening reception also featured a presentation with models wearing garments in the EFFEN Vodka signature colors/flavors including Cucumber, Black Cherry, and Dutch Raspberry.

I’m feeling seriously courted as in 2013, EFFEN is creating a community of social brand ambassadors, providing bloggers like me with a bunch of ways to get involved and benefit in a big way.

It was a perfect night to imbibe stellar drinks while overlooking the city.

And now for the winner?

Jhailen Puello

The Kyoto Cocktail

1.5 oz Effen 80 proof
2 oz Tazo passion hibiscus tea
1 oz Agave Nectar
Topped with sprite
Garnished with a mint spring

The other amazing cocktails:

Laura Cruz
Smoke ‘n Cherries:

1 ½ ounce Effen Black Cherry
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup
½ ounce Reposado Mezcal
1 egg white

Danny Neff
2 oz. EFFEN Black Cherry Vodka:
3/4 oz. Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz. Honey Syrup
2 Dashes Peychauds Bitters
Shake, Strain with a Lemon Twist.

Will Peet
Scant 1/2 oz Cardamaro

1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1 oz Effen Black Cherry

James Menite
Cherry Jubilee:

6 muddled maraschino black cherries,
1 1/2 oz Effen black cherry vodka,
3/4oz vanilla syrup,
1/4 oz Maraschino syrup (from the jar)
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice, topped with prosecco
Cherry garnish

Angry Lobster

July 17, 2012

I alluded to the fact in my previous post that I would be chronicling a couple NYC Restaurant Week adventures.  I’m pleased to report that NYC Lobster friends can rejoice as there is a great place that serves up amazing seafood and even a true Floridian Key Lime Pie that’s sure to dazzle any palatte. Yes, I’m talking about City Lobster at 121 West 49th Street.

City Lobster

Because NYC Restaurant Week afforded us the opportunity to enjoy an appetizer, main course and dessert, we certainly opted for that. I selected the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail to start while Raphael ordered the calamari.

Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail


For the main course we chose the Petite Filet Mignon “Oscar” served with lump crab meat and the Traditional San Francisco “Fisherman’s Wharf” Cioppino.

Petite Filet Mignon “Oscar”

Traditional San Francisco “Fisherman’s Wharf” Cioppino

Yes, you do have to work for your food if you order the Cioppino. Hey, the “Angry Lobster” has to get its name from somewhere, right?

Angry Lobster

Angry Lobster

And after all that hard work into your seafood, you can enjoy dessert – save room for it because it’s worth it.  I chose the Key Lime Pie and Raphael ordered the Warm Peach & Blueberry Parcel. I was so absorbed in eating my pie I almost forgot the picture.  Enjoy!

Key Lime Pie

Warm Peach & Blueberry Parcel

Satisfied customers!

Making Up For Lost Time: February-July Eating Adventures

July 15, 2012

Dear readers:

In an attempt to make up for the scarcity of posts you may have not seen in the last few months, I wanted to take the opportunity to catch you up on my culinary adventures.  To do so, I’ve included some of my favorite highlights from February to July to date and look forward to keeping you updated in the coming weeks including my two NYC Restaurant Week reservations. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out where! :)

In February, I started out at Bell Book & Candle , a place I had been trying to go for quite some time but found it difficult to get a reservation due to the “farm to table” trend craziness.  I mean, after all, the restaurant has its own aeroponic rooftop tower garden where they grow their own seasona produce. I thoroughly enjoyed all the delectable dishes on the menu including the caviar pancakes and filet. They keep these seasonal people, so keep in mind the menu may be different when you go.

Caviar Pancakes at Bell Book & Candle

Filet at Bell Book & Candle

Next up was Fashion Week. Of course during the week that is, you barely find a moment in time to grab something, so I spent some time hanging out with the lovely crew at the amNewYork “Fit in Fashion” Pop-Up Lounge serving Voli vodka – 1/3 less calories. Yum!  Cocktails continued at Leather Japan’s collection at Lincoln Center.

amNewYork “Fit in Fashion” Pop-Up Lounge

Leather Japan at New York Fashion Week February 2012

Of course the February adventures didn’t stop there. I ventured to Los Angeles and then onto Vegas for some amazing grub including The Grill on Hollywood, Rosa Mexicano, Tao Las Vegas and Delphine at W Hollywood.

Grill on Hollywood

Rosa Mexicano West Hollywood

Tao Las Vegas

Tao Las Vegas Sushi

Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass with Wok Vegetables at Tao Las Vegas

Delphine at the W Hollywood

Omelette with Fine Herbs & Potatoes at Delphine at the W Hollywood

Tea Forte at Delphine at W Hollywood – so cool!

March and April brought foreign eating adventures including Kaia Wine Bar featuring South African cuisine and my second trip to Havana Cuba to an amazing paladar (privately owned Cuban restaurants, mostly by families) called the Doctor Cafe, local arts markets and more on a dance and music research trip.

Kaia Wine Bar grilled cheese

Parsnip soup at Kaia Wine Bar

Enjoying local fare at the artist market in Havana

Artist Market “cheers” in Havana, Cuba

Helado in Havana (ice cream!)

Doctor Cafe Havana, Cuba

Grilled Octopus at Doctor Cafe

Flan at Doctor Cafe

May and June marked closer to home with local NYC eateries including The London NYC Hotel (including a kitchen tour!), Pier 9 for amazing seafood and unlimited boozy brunch,  a very special Zacapa Rum tasting event with global women’s network 85 Broads and a Kahlua brunch with Daily Candy at Hotel Gansevoort.

The London NYC

Hannah eyeing the dessert platter at The London NYC

Kitchen tour at The London NYC

Kitchen at The London NYC

Pier 9 Brunch – Burger with Peekytoe crab

Zacapa Rum

Zacapa rum pairing with an amazing filet

Zacapa rum and scallops

Kahlua Brunch with Daily Candy

Kahlua Espresso Martini

Kahlua Brunch at Hotel Gansevoort

Kahlua brunch

And July, well, even though we’re still in the month was ushered in with fireworks for Kristian’s birthday aboard the Star of Palm Beach. More adventures to come!

Star of Palm Beach – Happy 4th!

Cuba Coming Soon

January 22, 2012

I spent a life-changing seven days in Havana (la Habana) Cuba with a very special group of researchers studying dance, music and culture. Everything was superb, including the food that’s made with no preservatives, fresh fruit juices and vegetables, and more.

Social Eating

December 11, 2011


You’re usually social (but maybe some times not if you’re typing away on your smartphone) when you’re eating and socialness is exactly the premise of this place.  I’m talking about Top Chef hottie Angelo Sosa’s restaurant, Social Eatz at 232 East 53rd Street. The restaurant opened in March so it’s still gaining a following, and if you catch it at the right time, you can still get a choice seat before it completely fills up. Since this restaurant practices what it preaches and is so socially connected on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and with Scoutmob, which offers “mobile deals fo the local curious,” upon my check-in here on Foursquare, I was able to get 50% off my entire bill thanks to them.


Described as American-Asian (very different than Asian-American) offering comfort foods with an Asian kick, the restaurant prides itself on offering a social experience and “food values” by crafting its unique, yummy dishes with the highest quality ingredients – think certified organic vegetables and humane fish and meats, as well as the fact that most will appreciate everything on the menu is $15 or less – definitely something to cheers to.

To kick off the meal, I enjoyed a White Sangria made with mango, mango seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and pear. It’s a very unique take on a typical sangria, and the different flavors explode to create a drinking sensation as you’re taking each sip. However, what’s also cool about this place is that they offer seasonal sangria and a variety of seasonal drafts beer including their own Social Eatz brew.


To whet our appetite, we chose the Toga Rings which are crispy sweet onion rings sprinkled with the restaurant’s togarshi spiced salt and served with a side of spicy mayonnaise.  We also enjoyed the Edamame Fritters which feature ginger and citrus and served with a side of garlic mayonnaise (think mini falafels with an edamame flavor – yum!)


For the main course, I couldn’t pass up the Bibimbap Burger, Korean for “mixed meal” which is served with a slow cooked egg, lettuce and pickled carrot and cucumber (very spicy, but delightful). This burger has also been rated the “Greatest Burger in America” by Eater, so I couldn’t pass it up. I also enjoyed a side of the crispy fries and longevity sauce – cool!



If you like American and Asian, you’re in for a real treat. I’m still hankering to try so many things on the menu including their Crispy Spring Rolls, Mac & Cheese, Kung Pao Wow Sandwich, Korean Beef Tacos and maybe dessert if I can ever save room. Bring a friend and get social here!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,362 other followers