Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Starbucks Holiday Lattes

Image from Style Scrapbook.

I am currently sitting at Starbucks listening to old lectures from my evidence class and sipping on the end of my caramel brulee latte. It was quite excellent, and it has made me really question what my favorite holiday latte is. (These are the kind of things that keep me up at night.) I used to always say the pumpkin spice latte, but even though I will always have a soft spot for the p.spice, it is probably not my favorite now that I have tried more of the flavors. This is how I would rank them, but I'm curious to know your favorite holiday latte!

1. Peppermint mocha - I've never had a poorly made peppermint mocha, but I think that is because the flavors are so strong that it always tastes indulgent.
2. Caramel brulee - Slightly less sweet than the peppermint mocha which makes it more appropriate to have for breakfast, right?
3. Eggnog latte - I know many will disagree with me on this, but I kind of like how it tastes like it was spiked with brandy just like real eggnog. Does this mean I have a problem?
4. Pumpkin Spice - I have to admit, I think Starbucks always skimps on the pumpkin spice syrup, so these lattes end up tasting more like warm milk. With more flavor, the p.spice could definitely surpass the eggnog latte.
5. Gingerbread latte - I love gingerbread, so I wanted to love this latte. But the syrup is just not very good. It is bitter and often crystallizes.

PS: While not a latte, the salted caramel hot chocolate is to die for! It is tied with the peppermint mocha in decadence and perfect for a cold December afternoon!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Study Face

My first final is today, and I've got another one (a big one!) on Saturday. So things will be a little quieter while I hit the books. But I'll be sure to at least share a few photos from Thanksgiving this week. It was pretty successful and tasty if I do say so myself :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

These are my Thanksgiving decorations and a mini pumpkin pie! I made a few pie-cupcakes with the left over filling and pie crust I had. I decorated the plate with caramel I made during my fall party. (caramel lasts forever!), and topped the whole thing with some homemade cinnamon-vanilla whipped cream.

As you read this I am watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, drinking rose champagne (before noon! cheers for impropriety!), and cooking up a storm. The boyfriend and I are having Thanksgiving just the two of us, and we're (I'm) making lamb steaks, Cornish game hens, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, apple-sausage-chestnut stuffing, my dad's special creamed onions, and roasted veggies. I hope you are having an equally indulgent and lovely Thanksgiving with the ones you love!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Cat Audition

The boyfriend sent me a link to one of the most hysterically adorable (or adorably hysteric?) things I've ever seen: photos from a Hollywood audition for black cats. You have to see the rest of the pictures! It only gets better! Too bad our Tiny is completely adverse to ever doing anything you ask her to. She could have been a star!

(This is her refusing to come any closer to me because she knows I will just try to squeeze and snuggle her.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chaya's All Night Happy Hour

A long overdue review of Chaya! If you missed my Bucket List National dining guide, this post is for you.

Chaya is an Asian fusion restaurant across the street from the downtown library. On week nights, it's a hot spot for the business crowd. You'll fight a lot of suits for a space in the lounge, but it's worth it because the lounge boasts an "all-night happy hour." The all-night happy hour is really just a bunch of small plates and reasonably priced drinks available only in the lounge. (There is a regular dinner menu available in the dining room.) You will find dishes inspired by Japan, Korea, and Thailand; some fruity cocktails; a few interesting beers; and some really decent house wines. Your best bet for food is the sushi. The rolls are big and delicious. For drinks, I like the Seeing Double, which is pictured, (pomegranate juice, lime juice, blood orange juice, and lavender tequila) and the pinot noir (seriously good for a $6 glass).

Something else to note is that Chaya runs a promotion on Sunday nights. Four courses is $25, and bottles of wine are 1/2 price. As soon as regular season football is over, the boyfriend says he'll check this out with me. So, Chaya, look for me in January!

Chaya Downtown
525 S. Flower St.
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Let the Cooking Commence!

Was that enough to get your mouth salivating?

Today is the last day of classes before Thanksgiving break! Which means I have studying and baking to look forward to. I was browsing Gilt Taste, and it completely inspired me to bake some special things for Thanksgiving and in the weeks leading up until Christmas! First on my list is to get a heart-shaped cookie cutter and try Linzer tarts. And then recreating that whiskey apple pie will be a close second.

Monday, November 21, 2011

O Hotel's Bar | Kitchen

That is Bar | Kitchen's truffle mac'n'cheese. The rest of the fare at Bar | Kitchen was similar: comfort food with a slight gourmet twist. The boyfriend got the bacon burger, which they spruced up with shallot jam and arugula. I got the shrimp and grits, which came with a chorizo ragout. We both thought our meals were on the verge of being great but just not quite there.

I did, however, think the drinks were pretty great. I started with the Old Cuban with is just a mojito with sparkling wine substituted for the club soda. Although I love champagne and mojitos, surprisingly I thought this was the weakest link. I followed with the Doc Daneeka (sparkling wine, gin, lemon, maple, grapefruit bitters), which was lovely. The boyfriend had the High Five (gin, aperol, grapefruit and lime), which I found perfectly bitter without being overwhelming, and the For Esme (irish whiskey, amaro, pear brandy, cinnamon bark, lemon, bitters). I didn't try this last one, but based on the boyfriend's consumption rate and smile, I think it could have potentially been the best.

But I'm sure I'll get the chance to try it because I'm definitely going to go back. I'm not sure if I would return if Bar | Kitchen was far away, but the place is definitely good enough for a visit if you're in the neighborhood.

Bar | Kitchen
819 S. Flower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy (Date Night) Friday!

 Images from Yelp.

The weekend is here! Are you going to be busy getting ready for Thanksgiving? I know I am. The boyfriend and I are celebrating just the two of us this year. So we've got a lot of shopping and cooking to look forward to. Before all of that begins, though, we're going to let someone else cook our food for us. We're having date night tonight and trying a place we've never been! It's the restaurant at the O Hotel, which is actually only about a half block from our apartment. I'll be sure to let you know if it's good. Have a great weekend!

Romeo & Juilette at the LA Opera

Sooo let's talk about the opera! It was an interesting experience. The whole thing seemed so sophisticated that I kind of felt like I was living someone else's life when I arrived. But then the old man sitting next to me fell asleep 10 minutes into the performance, and the guy on the other side of me was sporting his best Canadian tuxedo. So I knew it was definitely my life! I wore my Zara fisherman sweater over a sequined St. Johns sweater dress, which I thought struck a good sartorial balance.

The performance itself was mostly fantastic. My favorite things were 1) Romeo 2) the fight scenes 3) the chorus and their costumes. Romeo was actually really charismatic and studly for an opera singer. Not at all what I imagined. He seemed to have a little Jimmy McNulty vibe going on. It made it much easier to believe someone would fall in love with him in an instant. The fight scenes turned out to be incredibly intricate dance sequences--serious rough housing set to music. They were lots of fun to watch. And then no surprise here (coming from the girl who's always gushing about shoes and clothes), but I loved the chorus's costumes. There were lots of huge skirts, some plaid pants, and almost cartoonish military uniforms. They kept things entertaining even if there wasn't much action going on.

I'll leave you with the lonely jazz saxophonist outside of the opera house who played while people walked off into the night.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Saketinis at Chaya

Last night my Sonya and I went out for some happy hour libations at Chaya, which made me realize I have not told you about Chaya! It was on my downtown LA dining guide that I did for Bucket List Nation. But I promise to do a proper J Street review of it next week.

Pictured is Sonya, my saketini (sake, cherry brandy, strawberry & pineapple juice), some calamari, and a giant pumpkin in the background (seriously it must have been 50 lbs)!

La Opera

 LA's opera house, the Dorothy Chandler Pavalion. From Vince & Carla.

Tonight I am going to my very first opera! At the risk of sounding like a total nerd, I am so excited! I knew the boyfriend would be gone tonight at band practice (he's a drummer), and so when I saw that student tickets were available for Romeo & Juliette, I jumped on the chance to go. They only open up left over tickets for students about 24 hours in advance, so this worked out perfectly.
 Now the only question is: what to wear?!?! I'll let you know all about it on Friday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tiny Cat

I was going through my email, and I found some pictures my friend Christina had taken of my kitty in her Halloween costume. And even though Halloween was weeks ago, I just have to share. Like everyone else, I think my kitty is the cutest, and I don't show her off enough! This is her pre-costume. She does not hate me yet.

And this is her post-costume. She is doing everything she can to wiggle out of it. I still think she is so cute though! My little pumpkin :)

Urbano Pizza Again (and Again)

Last time I told you about Urbano Pizza Bar, I was pretty happy with my experience. But I have been back twice since my first visit, and now I have become a full on fan. The service has been great every time, and the pizzas I try just keep getting better. I went back with my friend this past weekend to try that pumpkin pizza. It was really unique. The pumpkin takes the place of the tomato sauce, which makes the experience more like eating a giant crostini--very savory and not at all greasy. Then last night I got take out for the boyfriend and myself. This time I tried the spinach pizza with white cheddar and ricotta. Hands.Down.Winner. I got the boyfriend the salami pizza. I have no complaints about it, but to be honest, I'd probably feel "meh" towards just about anything compared to that spinach pizza. Soooo good. At this rate, I'll probably have gone again by the end of this coming weekend!