Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Beverly Hills, California - Villa Blanca & Sprinkles Cupcakes

On my recent trip to California, I spent a day on Rodeo Drive, and then met friends for lunch at Villa Blanca, the restaurant made famous by its owner, Lisa Vanderpump, a lead character in the TV show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The food is tasty, not exquisite, but plays a secondary role to the scene that goes on here. During my lunch, Paula Abdul sauntered in to dine with So You Think You Can Dance judge Nigel Lithgoe. You're pretty much always guaranteed a celebrity sighting at Villa Blanca.

Chicken Lettuce Cups:
In butter lettuce cups topped with grilled sweet corn, red onion, 
toasted pine nuts, avocado and finished with a lemon dijon vinaigrette

The Blanca Chopped Salad:
Organic greens & romaine in a balsamic dressing, with red onion, Point Reyes blue cheese, 
toasted pine nuts, sweet corn, chicken, avocado, seasonal tomatoes and egg

The Villa Blanca Burger:
Certified domestic kobe beef with Wisconsin white cheddar and aioli on a brioche bun

Happy with our celebrity sighting for the day, we strolled down Rodeo Drive and then made a dessert stop at Sprinkles, the establishment that claims to be the world's first cupcake bakery and the progenitor of the gourmet cupcake craze.

We ordered half a dozen so we could sample a few different flavors ... 

... and made it roughly halfway through before saving the rest for later:

And for those of you who pull up to Sprinkles after hours, fear not, their 24 hour Cupcake ATM will serve you whatever your sweet tooth desires:

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Santa Monica, California - Tar & Roses

My favorite restaurant during my brief stay in Santa Monica was, hands down, Tar & Roses. This spot was brimming with energy, great people watching, and food so good its still calling out to me in daydreams. Do book far ahead, as reservations are being taken a month out now. Then grab a few friends and order a slew of dishes to share and savor between you all.

They've got your wine needs covered ...

Voted one of the top 10 new restaurants in LA, Tar & Roses' menu features local and seasonal dishes, with an Italian flair, and come served family-style.

We DEVOURED the following:

Spaghetti carbonara: / soft egg / pancetta / parmesan / black pepper:

Oxtail dumpling / san bai su / chili / green onion:

Venison loin / glazed yam / wood roasted cabbage / dried tart cherry:

Baby carrots / currants / chermoula creme fraiche:

Charred baby broccoli / parmesan pudding / breadcrumb:

And the absolute show-stopping piece de resistance:

Whole fried snapper for two / cold soba noodles / dipping sauce:

I've never said no to a dessert menu and this was no exception.

Strawberry crostata with a side of honeycomb ice cream:

Feeling particulary hungry? Grab four or more friends and pre-order one of these feasts (goat anyone?!):

The bill comes in a tongue-in-cheek envelope stamped "The Damage", but after that food induced coma, you won't even know what hit you.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Alexandra D. Foster Pillows Featured on the Natalie Merrillyn Blog

Thanks to fellow blogger Natalie Merrillyn (another American living in London) for including my Modern Bamboo handmade Italian silk pillow in her blog post this week. You can find the full post here. And you can purchase this and other pillows by shopping here.  

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Santa Monica, California - Brunch at the Penthouse at The Huntley Hotel

Pass the fish-lined lobby wall to reach the glass elevator, and watch all of Santa Monica Beach unfold before you, as you ascend 18 floors to The Penthouse at the Huntley Hotel, one of Santa Monica's chicest Sunday brunch spots.

The all-white interior with dark stained wood floors, beautiful in its own right, is a mere backdrop to the 360 degree views of Santa Monica, Malibu and the Hollywood hills. 

Its hard to imagine a better sunny day spot than this ...

The menu offers everything from pastries, eggs, omeletes, pancakes and french toast to sinful baked macaroni & cheese, sandwiches, salads and burgers. The hardest decision of the morning was choosing only one thing on the menu. This is what we landed on: 

Bacon Waffle Batter,
Topped With Two Eggs Any Style,
Maple Syrup (bacon is added to the waffle batter before cooking!)
Smoked Salmon Flatbread: Scrambled Eggs, Potatoes, Chive, Crème Fraîche & Capers
The service was impeccable, and I can imagine that this place really heats up for cocktails in the evening once the sun goes down, the music gets louder, and the beautiful people come out ... 

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