C is for Cleo

 

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A few years ago I went on a wine safari in south Rhone Valley with a guide who eloquently explained that in Europe dinner is not so much about sustenance, but more about connecting with people. He commented that the company one keeps affects our memories of how the food and wine actually taste. This sentiment was 100% apropos for my visit to the new Cleo at LA live. Its not that the food was bad, per say, and I wouldn’t necessarily deter someone from eating there if they were visiting LA live, but for the most part experiencing the Mediterranean fare at Cleo was plainly unremarkable.

Stark and imperial is one way to describe the ambiance at this new location. Brightly lit, sparsely adorned, and a bit sterile, the feel is much less intimate in comparison to the bold boudoir-esque climate at it’s sister location in Hollywood. Music seems to be playing, but only audibly enough to hear sporadically, making it more of a nuisance than enjoyable. Conversation is difficult, as the acoustics in the room create a loud hum and everyone’s voice becomes one big cacophonous overtone. It’s worth noting however, from the moment of entrance, the staff is very friendly and cheerful, an excellent juxtaposition to the chaos of LA Live.

With no Grenache or Chianti the wine list at Cleo is at the least limited, if not inadequate. Our waiter, Taylor, surmounted our frustrations over the wine limitations by serving a flight of their bold reds, which was accommodating and helpful in making a choice. The margarita was basic, clean and crisp but nothing to write home about. I should mention the management at Cleo will not allow you to buy a drink at the bar and transfer your bar tab to the table tab, which could be very annoying depending on what your plans are for the evening.

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Taylor explained that the plates served would be “tapas style”; small but sharable. Our meal started with an in-house-made hummus topped with extra tahini, cumin, and a few scattered garbanzo beans. The hummus, accompanied by a warm lavosh served in a paper bag, arrived at the table in good time. The presentation was original and witty. The hummus itself was tasty, though once the toppings were mixed in, somewhat thin. Lesson learned: As my dinner partner pointed out, “don’t mix in the toppings”.

For our main course we sampled the scallops and the hangar steak. The scallops were actually delicious (though one was undercooked). The steak itself was flavorful though a bit overcooked for “medium” and did remind me of an in-flight airplane ration, albeit first class not coach. It was somewhat impressive for airplane food but not so amazing otherwise. The accompanying carrot purée, perceivably pumpkin sauce, was quite savory as was the side of fingerling potatoes. The staff politely checked on our table often, and engaged in entertaining but non-invasive conversation. From funny jokes to discussions of calligraphy, water fountains, and Caligula, my company and the staff most definitely made the meal more fulfilling.

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As I took a walk around the restaurant, the clientele seemed to mostly consist of wealthy out of town-ers visiting LA Live, which makes sense. The kitchen was not as organized as others I’ve seen, and the women’s bathroom was a mess with paper towels overflowing everywhere. On my walkabout the hostess asked how I was enjoying my meal and the sous chef smiled as I passed by. The attentiveness of the staff here was definitely a nice touch.

Being somewhat of an introvert I often abide the law of Sartre,  “hell is other people,” but regarding Cleo LA Live the truth seemed contrary. It was the friendly staff and my company that made my evening complete. With that being said, the food was far from inedible and I’d say the prices were comparably moderate for the area. If you are at LA Live anyways it’s potentially better than some other options, but I definitely wouldn’t plan my night around eating there. I give it a C.

xoxo,

QJ

QJ

 

 

 

I am Pippi Longstocking….

BobBakerTheaterLosAngeles

If you say it fast its funny!

Nothing has brought me into a rush of nostalgia like the intro to Pippi In The South Seas. Our memorial day weekend launched with a surprise viewing of this film. The minute the title credits were done and the story opened in Pippi’s house I literally felt like I was hit on the head with a flash of memories. I’ve never realized how much I loved Pippi. I remember the house as if it were my own. Every detail. Where the kitchen table was, what the wallpaper looked like, Old Man (her horse), the amazing dirigible that Pippi created from her bed, Pippi’s strange sense of fashion, Annika and Tommy….the list goes on. Embraced by the warm familiarity of “home” and pacified by the soothing sound of the projector purr (yes, it was real film shown via projector),  I sat on the edge of my seat (albeit somewhat because the chair was very uncomfortable) and enjoyed every moment of the story. For 90minutes I remembered being 8 years old and building forts out of pillows and blankets and my parent’s huge library chairs. I remembered how I built my own dirigible and flew over the 7 seas looking for pirates. What happens to humans that so many seem to lose that sense of magic? I’d like to read more on the subject of the “adolescent brain”. Is there a way we can slow down the degeneration? Or resuscitate it once its gone? Why do some have the ability to stay young at heart, and others loose it?

What can we learn from Pippi:

A. Anything is possible if we just believe in ourselves and our own strength.

B. If something goes wrong, no need to worry at all because no matter what, a solution is just around the corner.

C. Some things may look mundane, but it’s really a disguise. There is something special in everything, we just need to think outside the box.

D. As long as you have family (close friends included), you have everything you need to make it.

E. Memories are malleable. Don’t be subjected to a negative past. If you don’t like the story, change it. Look at it from a different perspective or headspace.

F. Enjoy the little things. Don’t forget to smell the roses.

G. Singing a ditty makes everything more fun.

Cinefamily

Cinefamily

This event was thrown by Cinefamily. Taken directly from their website:

The Cinefamily is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of movie lovers devoted to finding and presenting interesting and unusual programs of exceptional, distinctive, weird and wonderful films.

The Cinefamily’s mission is to reinvigorate film culture by fostering a spirit of community and a sense of discovery.

Like campfires, sporting events and church services, we believe that movies work best as social experiences. They are more meaningful, funnier and scarier when shared with others.

The Cinefamily was founded in 2007 by brothers Dan and Sammy Harkham and Hadrian Belove, founder of Cinefile Video. We currently average 14 shows per week, many of which are enhanced with special guests, live music, dance parties, potlucks and other kinds of social fun. Over 65,000 patrons visit the Cinefamily annually.

If you are interested in learning more regarding show times and events: Cinefamily Website

In a rush today. I’ve been slammed at work and  am helping set up for a benefit at the studio tonight. Have a great weekend everyone! Work hard, play hard!

xoxo

QJ

QJ

 

FYC: For Your Consideration.

JaneTheVirginScript

Its that time of the year again- the time when boxes upon boxes of DVD’s show up at my edit bay door. Sent from a plethora of networks, these DVDs contain TV show episodes and movies that need Emmy nominations from Academy members. I always wonder if most members watch through everything?! I try and watch the ones in the categories for which I’ll vote. It would take a year to get through all the DVDs….maybe more! I don’t necessarily look forward to all the boxes, but I DO look forward to being part of such an exhilarating time in the television season.

I’m so delighted to have launched this pre-Emmy’s season with a bang. Last night I attended my first For Your Consideration (FYC) Academy event at El Portal theater in North Hollywood, exploring one of my favorite shows; Jane The Virgin. (I even blogged about this show here ).

Marqee
This photo includes elegant Ana Dela Cruz. While in line, I enjoyed our conversation. Ana is an actress on many shows and commercials, often playing the roll of the doctor- as she did in the second season of Jane The Virgin. Here’s to many more rolls for the lovely Ana!

All Academy members are invited to FYC events. Its another opportunity for networks to explain why they feel their show(s) deserve an Emmy nomination. Usually these events start with either a screening of an important episode, or a sizzle reel displaying samples of exemplary work. The screeners are followed by a panel consisting of actors, writers, producers, sometimes editors- moderated by a guest. The moderators ask the creatives/producers questions regarding the creation of the show, the working environment, personal revelations….the list goes on. At the end, questions are opened to the audience (academy members). The panel is followed by a cocktail and appetizer reception where the members and show runners/creatives/producers can mingle. I believe that some members try and attend all of the FYC events during the pre-Emmy season. I tend to only visit the ones covering shows I adore, or shows MSM likes (if I’m allowed to bring a guest).

Jane The Virgin Table Read Season 2 Ep 1
It was unique for the producers of Jane The Virgin to kick off their event with a table read rather than a screener.

I was beyond excited when I received my FYC invite to Jane. The crew handled their event a little differently. Rather than a screener, the members all received a script from the show and we watched a table read of Season 2 Ep 1. I was SO relieved that’s as far as they went into season 2 because I only watch shows on Netflix, so I’m  a season behind. This way there were no spoilers!

After the table read they had their regular panel, moderated by surprise guest Mario Lopez! Yay! A Saved By The Bell throwback! I’ll take it!

JaneTheVirginPanel

 

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This is as close as I was able to get to “Raphael”, Justin Baldoni and “Petra”, Yael Grobglass. Both seemed really down to earth- just like the others. This is the type of crew I always hope to be working with, and am lucky that right now I am. Little side note- I have always loved the name Yael.

I was impressed with how well the crew got a long and how modest they all were. I can definitely relate to the wonderful and refreshing joy it is to be with a kind and talented crew that is grateful and excited to be part of the team of that particular project. I had fun meeting some of the actors. I wish I could have met them all, but I had to pick my top few because they were getting bombarded and I knew there wasn’t enough time to talk with everyone. I loved meeting Jamie Camil (Rogelio). During the panel presentation I noticed that this man is smart, sassy, and down right hilarious. I also think his acting on the show is superb.  While waiting in line I also met a few actors that played reoccurring incidental parts. All very lovely people.

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Gina was literally swarmed. I just can’t get over how crazy things got after the panel. We all work in the industry so I was wondering why this particular event was full of people wanting AUTOGRAPHS. I mean yes, the crew is stellar and they all seem so humble and appreciative. I was excited to meet them as well. But acting like a bunch of star struck teenagers?! I was embarrassed for half the people that were there. Then I remembered… why worry about the things you can’t control? I just stayed true to myself and let the others deal with the craziness :). Gina seemed like a doll and took the time to speak with everyone that wanted to talk with her. She was eloquent and classy and seems to be a fabulous roll model for today’s young women. I have to say I felt the same about Andrea Novado, who plays Jane’s Mother, Xiomara. Both impressive.
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Team Michael? The lighting in this place was terrible for photos but I had to post this one.  It was cool meeting the happy-go-lucky and easy to talk to Brett Dier. Brett is a little more laid back and humorous than his character Michael (though I adore Michael as well). We talked briefly about ComicCon, but then I had to move on. Not kidding about the actors being swarmed after the panel!
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So sue me, I’m Team Rogelio all the way! Jamie Camil was amazing. Funny, smart, talented- the whole package. I adore this selfie we took. It completely captures the essence that is Jamie. My favorite thing that he said? That he can’t stand those people that act like they are “the last coca-cola bottle in the dessert.” I concur.  Well said Mr. Camil!

I had to prioritize, so I missed out on meeting “Raphael”, “Petra” and others. I was very exctied to meet head writer and producer Jennie Urnan. I had learned, while waiting in line for the event, that Ms. Urnan has been a writer on pretty much every show I enjoy (Ugly Betty and Gossip Girl, to name a few). I wanted to let her know that I would be excited to cut a show she wrote. I realize writers probably have no say in the hiring of post production editors, but her writing is so smart and funny and so many of her shows, mostly dramadies,  have covered subject matter that I dream of cutting.  I have learned over the years that the things we do that we feel passionately about 9 times out of ten end up fairly amazing. And the process of creation is even that much more fun. So universe…..I hope one day I can cut a show on CW that Jennie is writing.

Next I met Ivonne Coll. Honestly, she’s the initial reason I gave Jane The Virgin a shot. Ms. Coll also plays the Grandmother in Switched At Birth (I just adore this show. It gets my vote for Drama every year). I was curious to see what other show she picked to collaborate.

 

Abuela
Ms. Ivonne Coll is a remarkable actress with so much range. I just adore what she puts in to her characters. She mentioned that when she has a spanish part in an american show, she writes her intensions in english. This was interesting to me because maybe it helps non spanish speakers to understand what she’s saying via her mannerisms…..

I do believe Jane The Virgin should get an Emmy nomination, at least definitely for the writing. The show is smart, funny, and a fresh creative twist on dramedy. If you haven’t checked it out yet, definitely do!

WHAT THE HECK TO WEAR TO A FYC EVENT:

I was freaking out a little about this one because I knew these events tend to be fairly casual (unless its for Mad Men) but I still wanted to appear chic and successful. Here’s my Danielle approved selection:

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Jacket: Alice and Olivia Sweater: T by Alexander Wang   Jeans: Current Elliott Shoes: Valentino Necklace: Chanel
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I hardly ever have an opportunity to wear this statement piece. I think I need to casually throw it in to more outfits……

I feel like I don’t look so great in all the photos, but the lighting in there…..lets just blame that! What a great night. I’m curious to see if Jane gets a nomination and if so, who will the show be up against? There are a lot of good ones out there. There are also a lot of HORRIBLE ones. We shall see…..

xoxo

QJ

QJ

Unplugged.

 

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Last week I was reminded what life was like without a cell phone. The brain of my 16 month old iPhone decided it had had enough and chose to loose it. When I went to Apple for a repair, the “genius” did a factory reset- which didn’t work- and I lost everything. Well, not EVERYTHING because LUCKILY I had recently backed the phone up via itunes. But all those files were stored as a “compressed wad somewhere” in my computer and since I decided to go with an Android as my new phone, there was no certainty I could retrieve those files. At first I was flipping out. I felt panicked. I couldn’t send or receive texts or calls and all my photos were lost. The new phone was complicated and unfamiliar and felt like a downgrade from my beloved iPhone. Mind you, I had an LG droid prior to my iPhone and LOVED it. I had selected this new phone assuming it would be similar to the Droid and because it was only $150.  I figured at that price point I’d have more money to put towards Saks Fifth Avenue. But I quickly learned that you definitely get what you pay for.

Iphone Vs Android.

Issues with switching from iPhone to Android:

  1. If people have saved your IM streams from previous apple to apple texts, nothing they send you on your droid will show up unless they delete the saved text streams. You have to contact everyone you know with an iphone and tell them to delete those or you’ll never get their texts.
  2. Instagram has different filters on the different OS.
  3. You have to re-organize your photos (I actually liked the way the android organizes things better, to be honest)
  4. The lower end android phones are not pretty as an accessory. They are just four wheels and an engine. They get the job done. Period. Nothing special or flashy.
  5. The android camera is amazing but has a really weird aspect ratio.
  6. There is no button to push and say “call ‘so and so'”. If there is- I’m not sure what it is. Its harder to be hands free on this phone.

Unplugged Jill

Since I was unable to receive texts from people, and that is my most common way of communicating, I felt I was basically living as Thoreau at Walden. I decided, however, to try the phone out for a week- see if I could get used to it, see if I just needed some time to acclimate. I couldn’t.

I DID, however, decide to embrace and enjoy being unplugged for a few days. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Dogs are SO CUTE. Ok so DUH I already knew this. But with all the time I’ve spent with my face in my phone, I’ve missed out how many of these adorable creatures are walking around my neighborhood.
  2. Moments DO exist in the day for meditating, going for a short walk, or writing.
  3. A lot of TV shows are REALLY boring (not including any of the shows I work on, of course :))
  4. A good book or magazine is a GREAT way to escape
  5. Its sunny outside and my backyard is the ocean- how lucky am I?

Henry+David+Thoreau

Unplugged LA

Coincidentally MSM decided to take me to this party called Unplugged LA. How HILARIOUS was this?! All cell phones were checked in at the front (like a coat check). Everyone had to write their name on a name tag- but not our real names, a NICK NAME. I was “Gidget” (of course) and MSM was going to be Crescendo but because he didn’t know how to spell that he decided to be Coda.

The first person we met was a professional camp counselor who did “other stuff” when the summer was not in session  (?! I.E Unemployed and living with parents?). It became very clear rather quickly that this was a single’s event but whatever, we decided “when in Rome”. What I mean is, we delved into the activities offered. We played Connect Four while listening to a jazz bass played by a very hasidic looking young man. I typed on a non-electric old fashioned typewriter (it was HARD by the way- but totally fun). There was a lanyard making table, face painting, and coloring books. Seriously, it was summer camp for adults. After a short time we noticed that MSM’s best friend was wedged in a corner looking scared and out of place, so we decided to bail. As weird as it was, it was nice taking a little time to focus and be in the moment. To do something without feeling such an obligation to be instantly available to whomever may reach out. Not everything is an emergency.

If your interested in experiencing an unplugging (or an adult summer camp), here’s some info on Camp Grounded   Its not for everyone, but I actually enjoyed myself at their event. Not sure I could spend more than an hour there but……who knows what floats your boat.

Lesson learned?

I think one day a week we should all put or phones away, take a respite from the digital world to unplug and recharge. I think its important to re-connect with friends in person, re-connect with nature in person, and to reconnect with ourselves in person.

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Our phones have become such important characters in our lives. Siri or Google or whomever with you speak, they are our virtual assistants who have become an integral part of our lives. In many ways these personal assistants have facilitated our day to day chores, making it easier to get more accomplished. But by always being connected we are loosing ability to figure things out on our own, we are suppressing our sense of whats real and what is really in front of us. I truly believe by always having instant gratification and instant answers we are squashing our growth in creative thinking  and problem solving development.

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I have to admit I couldn’t even wait a week to go back to the iPhone. I decided I’d rather cut costs elsewhere (like switching from Verizon to T Mobile which, by the way, has been the best decision EVER) and go with the “Porsche” of phones, the iPhone 6S plus. LOVE. A. Its GORGEOUS (i got it in rose gold). It goes so well with my wardrobe- I am a fashion junkie so it makes sense B. The engine is amazing and  C. I’m getting all my texts! YAY.

What kind of phone do you have? What do you love/hate about it? Do you ever take time away from it? Let me know.

xoxo

QJ

**all images this week from google search.

QJ

 

 

Baby you can drive my car….

To-Catch-A-Thief-Grace-Kelly-and-Cary-Grant

Well, its March. Spring, with all its splendor, is just around the corner. A long time ago I had a fabulous car. My current car is also fabulous, but for different reasons. When I moved to California I came out here with just my car, my dog, and the (19inch) television that my mother insisted she needed binoculars to watch. Do they even make that size anymore? Sort of one step up from “phone” or “tablet” but below a traditional flatscreen? Anyways, I ADORED my car. It was a BMW Z3 convertible that my friends back home referred to as “the shoe”. As I said, this car was FABULOUS. SO MUCH FUN.

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This car was extra special to me. It was the first car I bought with my own earnings (as opposed to borrowing my parent’s car). Once I picked it out, I brought my father to do a final look over (it was three years old, the previous owners 3rd car. He was 6’7″ and could only drive it with the top down, so in Ohio that was like three days a year). My father once had a convertible and loved it. He was so excited for me to have a fun car like this, and to start my new life (and business) in California. It was one of the last things he helped me choose. I loved getting his opinion on things. Not approvals, but opinions. He was so wise. 

When I first moved to Orange County I would take daily drives up and down the coast from Dana Point to Newport and back around. Top down, wind in my hair, salt air kissing my skin, and Janet Jackson on my radio. Paradise. I never got sick of or even used to those views either. The OC coast is probably one of the most beautiful in the world, in my opinion.

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From Long Beach to San Clemente, PCH hugs the coastline and offers some of the most spectacular ocean views that I have ever seen. 

I can’t say its been truly “winter” regarding climate.The weather is completely erratic here. Hot, cold, hot, cold. OR freezing in the morning, 90 degrees in the afternoon.  The weather channel is not one to trust for reliability, either. However one trait of winter remains true; darkness at noon is practically a reality in LA until Spring springs into town. Thank goodness its on its way because I have had enough with midnight and am more than ready for some sunshine.

With spring’s approach I’ve been thinking a lot about my little shoe and how liberating a top-down drive felt. In fairness, my thoughts may have also been persuaded by the 80’s rock icon/gym buddy whose been talking with me about his brand new corvette convertible (so exciting).

Along with the fun, there are some (first world) “issues” that arise when one drives with the top down. Namely:

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How To Avoid A Hairtastrophy And Other Negative Top Down Ramifications:

  1. The Hair Wrap– First and foremost its imperative we classy women maintain hair integrity. Especially if the convertible joy ride is with a date! Plus HELLO, if your driving you have to be able to see!
LowBunHeadband
This low bun with a head band is so simple and classic beachy. A great way to go.
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I love the low bun wrap. This blogger said the one photographed is a pre-made wrap that she literally bought at CVS. She also mentioned it can be replicated using a tank top! I’m going to have to try that out. 

 

2. Don’t forget your SPF. Anyone in this day and age that does not use SPF is an idiot. I’m sorry to be judgmental, and I know a tan looks great, but its STILL better to use SPF and a bronzer. Protect your skin people.  Actually lets make this: DON’T FORGET YOUR SPF!!! 

My esthetician recommends these Sunblocks by MD Solar Sciences. They are all natural and approved by the american dermatological society as safe and effective.

SPF30
This mineral tinted cream contain’s skin nourishing ingredients. With its nice finish, it can be used as a primer under foundation or alone. SPF 30.

 

SPF50
This silky feeling creme is also full of skin nourishing goodies while simultaneously blocks all the negative affects of sun exposure. SPF 50.

3. Sun Glasses.  Protect your eyes too. Also because who doesn’t want to look like Jackie-O or Grace Kelly when going for a joy ride?

SunniesGivenchy
Danielle is recommending these adorable sunnies by Givenchy. I love how they have the peek-a-boo crystals over the top, so when you coyly lower your head and lift your eyes, your date is bedazzled by this little secret. I love anything with a secret :). Sunnies available via Danielleseligson_klein@s5a.com

 

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I also adore these Dior sunnies. They definitely are reminiscent of something Grace or Audrey would wear while looking chic in their head scarf with the top down.  J’Dore Dior 🙂

 

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Danielle is obsessed with this Dior twist on the classic Ray Ban’s. These will be huge this summer and probably next.

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What The Heck To Wear To Go Cruisin’ In A Convertible:

Option A: Spring

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After much hemming and hawing (between two different sneakers) I am obsessed with these slip ons. MSM hates them but whatever. They are SO comfy but still have edge. LOVE! Jacket: IRO  Tank: Wildfox  Shorts: One Teaspoon  Sneakers: Mui Mui

Option B: Summer

ConvertableOutfit
I feel like this is cute for a summer drive. Shorts: Joie  Blouse: Equipment  Sandal option: Fendi  Sneaker option: Mui Mui

Here’s an idea- lets rent a convertible for a day! Its more affordable than buying one and allows an opportunity to feel the joy!

PS I also hope I get to go for a spin in Rock Star’s new ride. #bucketlist.

xoxo

QJ

QJ

Los Angeles’ Silly Little Secrets.

DTLA
Here we see one of Los Angeles’ many “mini cities” that, when clustered together, make up one big city. Not sure who the urban planner was for LA, but its weird to me how everything is so spread out. 

In pre-celebration of the birth of MSM, Saturday night was filled with joy and magic that unveiled all sorts of secrets that Downtown LA has to offer. It began with an adventure to Takami Sushi and Robata, a sky-top sushi bar with soaring views of LA, followed by a secret tour of a mysterious spherical penthouse, ending with a dance at the brilliant best kept secret in the city.

Takami Sushi and Robata: TADA!

 

Takami
Nope. This is not Japan! Its Los Angeles! Grabbed this striking photograph from google images. The view from the top makes the experience at Takami Sushi all that much better. Gorgeous. Almost fantastical/SciFi, right? Straight out of Lucy

One thing I adore about MSM is that he knows I have food allergies and other eating restrictions, so he always thoughtfully sends me a link to menus days before we visit an establishment, giving me ample time to a. figure out what I want and b. speak up if there’s nothing I can eat. When I first saw the menu for Takami, my eye went straight to the glorious title The Endless Summer (my favorite season!). I couldn’t wait to try this refreshing sounding concoction of vodka, watermelon, mint, and a spritz of ginger ale. Once on the premise, I immediately ordered a Cucumber Gimlet. After all, isn’t it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind? Crisp and not overwhelmingly sweet or acidic, the gimlet was delicious. MSM ended up with The Endless Summer, which was exactly as it sounded, yummy. I highly recommend either.

Takami Robata  is actually three restaurants that share a dining area. This being said, there’s no way to plan the arrival of courses since the food is plated as the different kitchens prepare them, and there is no communication between kitchens. Sharing each course is the best plan of attack. Neither of us had been here before so the menu was our oyster, so to speak.

We decided to start with the shishito peppers (I LOVE THESE) and buttered scallops served on the half shell. You really can’t go wrong with shishito peppers.  I have never not liked these at any restaurant. I assume they must be difficult to mess up. The scallops…..OMG…..like butter! They actually tasted like buttered popcorn. A hint of sweetness balanced perfectly with salt and cooked to a precise texture, not too soft, not rubbery.

scallops
Enough with the chicken already! Lately I’ve been slighly obsessed with Scallops. They are packed with an abundance of lean protein and can be cooked in so many exciting new ways. At Takami they are grilled with butter and served on the half shell. Beautiful and Yum!

Next we shared the Angus filet, zucchini, and asparagus Robatas (basically kabobs). All of these were amazing. Just the right amount of spice. Nothing over-whelming. The veggies were juicy and had the correct amount of crunch. The meat….Voila! MMMMM.

At this point I was actually close to full but we continued with the Lemon Albacore Roll and a Spyder Roll. I was a little underwhelmed by the spyder roll  because I had to remove the mayo inflicted crab meat. What a travesty. The Lemon Albacore was FANTASTIC. We also had a plate of ahi sashimi with jalepenos that I almost didn’t want to review because no one does this like Nobu so its not really fair to judge. I will say I recommend avoiding this sashimi dish because the literal CHUNKS of tuna were SO BIG it seemed to be prepared for a giant!

 

lemon albacore
The Lemon Albacore Roll was divine. The lemon with zest attached was a brilliant way to enhance the flavors in this delicious roll. 

The staff of the restaurant was interesting. Our actual waitress, perhaps new, didn’t seem too versed in the menu and when I told her I had a soy allergy she said “remind me as you continue to order”. Really? Then she brought the peppers to the table with soy all over them. hahaha. Luckily my allergy isn’t anaphylactic. There was another person there whom I’m not sure was a waiter or a host or what but he was fun, funny, and fantastic. Not to mention he sported the most amazing mustachio I have ever seen. We enjoyed his banter. The ambiance is very “club” like with a touch of fancy (the out door tables especially ring “high end” to me ) yet almost like a “fancy in the airport” vibe. I loved observing the other patrons at their tables. Such a great mix of people in Down Town LA, as opposed to the homogeny so often seen in Santa Monica. There were fat women and skinny women and extremely effeminate men and macho women and macho men, and HUGE men and tiny men and all types of outfits….you get the gyst. It was great and kind of felt like we were in another country or at least a different state, making Takami a nice little escape.  The view from the rooftop of this trio of conjoined bars is nothing short of spectacular.

Breaking mid dinner we walked along the patio seating and looked out over LA. Our curiosity was sparked regarding one very high round penthouse in the near distance. No one at the restaurant seemed to know what this was so MSM took it upon himself to find out.

The Sheraton VIP Lounge: A view from the top.

SheratonDTLA
I’m not sure why, but in the right hotel lobby, I feel like a Queen or Princess. I was surprisingly impressed with the lavishly decorated interior at the Sheraton Downtown LA. 

MSM used his vampire ways to convince the doorman at The Sheraton DTLA to not only explain the secret behind  the round building perched atop the hotel, but to also give us a private tour! Sadly the story gets less interesting from here….its a VIP lounge for Sheraton card holders,  similar to an admiral’s lounge at the airport. Half the “lounge” is an eating area where breakfast and dinners are served. The other half is a gym. A very nice gym. Though it was sort of “whatever” up there, it was another incredible view of our glorious LA.

Sheraton Lounge VIP
The hotels of DTLA seem to have really stepped up to the plate, taking their part in the city’s attempts at renovation and re-gentrification.

Cana Rum Bar: The perfect hideaway for a dark and stormy salsa dance 😉

CanaThisWay
The actual Cana lounge is hidden in an alleyway, but visitors can’t miss it! 

 

The next and final step of our adventure is, in my opinion, seriously one of the best kept secrets in LA. At first approach this bar feels like one would need a secret password to cross the velvet rope. In some respects you do, as this speak-easy type bar is a members only club. Don’t roll your eyes though, because the low 25$ membership price-point (that allows you two guests with each visit) is SO WORTH IT! Live bands or DJs every night, this is a dance club heaven but with a Cubana lounge vibe. There’s a cigar room out back with open beams. Literally, open beams- no glass. Sticking with the theme of the night, I just loved the variety of guests enjoying the ambience. The music was fun for dancing, the decor reminiscent of a Caribbean pirate ship, and the drink menu is vast and full of both unique fun rum concoctions and traditional pirate faire. I can’t recommend this place enough. If your itching for a little bit of Havana in your life, this rum bar is the spot to go.

cocktailListCana

barTender_Cana
A little bit of Cuba on my mind….and  perched on this bar tender’s head!

What the heck to wear while adventuring in DTLA on a fair weather night:

SO….as per usual MSM insisted I not wear my heels. At some point I’m just going to have to suck it up and wear them so he can see that I do not, in fact, complain of pain while meandering somewhat aimlessly in heels on date night. Believe it or not, I DO own some comfortable stilettos that are both sexy and functional. However, this  particular Sat was especially a celebration for him, so I decided to wear flat boots which ended up being a great idea. I was just the right amount of warm and definitely comfortable.  Also I loved the Mod look of my ensamble.

 

Jill_Cana
To be honest, I don’t think my bag is a great pair with this dress. The textures aren’t working together well for me. I need to ask Danielle what she would have suggested. I think she’s been pushing me more to try and make my own arrangements. I am getting better, but this one seems off….Dress: Alice and Olivia Bag: YSL Jacket: Vince Boots: Stewart Weitzman 
bootsDTLA
I was ultimately grateful for not wearing high heels! I feel like these Stewart Weitzman boots worked well. They kept me warm, I still felt sexy, AND I was able to walk for miles!

Down Town Los Angeles has really been growing in a good direction. So may exciting new galleries, shops, and eateries popping up left and right. My favorite is the little alcoves where amour can hide to sneak in some secret kisses ;). Très Parisienne not to mention perfect for the upcoming Valentines Day weekend. Or for any other weekend a couple may want to venture out. Je viens de l’adore quand LA aime l’amour. I adore when LA loves love!

Happy Valentine’s Day ya’ll! I know its hokey and contrived, but instead of spitting at it, why not embrace the craziness by reveling in the idea of loving life!

xoxo

QJ

QJ

Abbott Kinney.

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Photo: Abbott Kinney website.

If your running out for some last minute holiday shopping and you live in the LA area, consider spending an afternoon walking the streets of Venice Beach. Particularly Abbott Kinney. MSM and I look forward to our Abbott Kinney walk every year, and this year was just as wonderful as the past.

snow
How cute is this little girl and her father? I have no idea how they did it but Venice Beach provided snow and hills for sledding, hot cocoa, carolers, and Santa Claus. It was a festive winter wonderland!

When we arrived we first spotted a Winter Festival- yes, in SoCal there was sledding and Santa and Carolers. So much fun! After enjoying time here we started to walk the shops.

gum
Theres something wonderfully nostalgic about antique gum ball machines (filled with not so antique gum balls and candy :)). From Bountiful on Abbot Kinney.

Burro:

Burro

This is a great shop for finding reasonably priced unique gifts that are actually useful, not kitchy like the stocking stuffers from Restoration Hardware.

healthrules
This book was full of uncommonly useful advice. I even took some notes as I flipped through the pages. An outstanding reference book to have on hand.
cuttingboard
I fell in love with this fabulous stone cheese/cutting board by Roost. Attractive but useful decor to spice up the kitchen a little. 

I always find something lovable at Burro. Its a wonderful shop for finding a gift for that person that really has everything- and you won’t leave there with an item they will want to re-gift or throw in a closet.

Intelligengtsia:

Intell

This fabulous coffee shop is home of exclusive chocolates and sodas. A strange gift? Maybe. But specialty chocolate and a superb wine could definitely be a winning combination.

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soda.jpg

If you decide this isn’t the right place to buy a gift, take a break here over a heavenly latte paired with a delectable pastry- all made fresh in house. They also have an internet bistro table that seats about ten. Its funny to come into the shop and see the lineup of people typing away on their computers. Maybe they are each writing a blog!

coffee
Intelligencia has tasty gourment coffees and chocolate drinks.

 

Velvet by Graham and Spencer:

spencer
I love the leather leggings on the right. Leather skinnies are so in the past few years. An homage to the 80s, but I feel like I can rock them. As MSM says, its all in the attitude that defines what you can pull of in your wardrobe. Besides, they would be perfect for our NYE plans!

This clothing store, originally known for its casual T shirts, is stocked with fantastic basics. Capes, tanks, sweaters, and basic blouses abound,  I was coveting a fabulous pair of faux leather leggings. I know, I know, some of you my put your nose up at the word “faux” but hey, they were sexy! Velvet by G&S also hosts great sales at Christmas time. Don’t miss out!

Local Artisans:

While walking Abbott Kinney one can take a peak into a nook and cranny or alley and find stand alone shops where local artisans sell hand crafted jewelry and, if your lucky, wonderfully unique fashions.

cape
I just adore this cape I bought from a local designer. It reminds me of something Judy Garland would have worn in Meet Me In St.Louis. Or of something the women wore skating on the outdoor rinks in Norman Rockwell’s world. PS I know Danielle would hate this, but I couldn’t pass it up. Can’t wait to wear it over Christmas break in Carmel!

What the heck to wear when walking Abbot Kinney?

life
Jacket: IRO  Jeans: Frame Denim (SO comfortable AND flattering!)  Top: Mossimo (yes, Target- its comfortable so sue me!)  Bag: Chloe  Boots: Stewart Weitzman

Its been unseasonably cold in SoCal. Let me rephrase; its been FREEZING (literally, 32 degrees at night) in SoCal. As per usual lately I decided to layer because sometimes, despite a chilly forecast predicted by the local weather man (do weather people still exist? Or is it all done by machines now?), when the sun peeks out to say “hello” it gets hot.

Hoping your holiday shopping is going well and your all having fun!

xoxo

QJ

QJ