Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Karl Lagerfeld for Macy's Launch Review

Those are actually live models standing on platforms
N. and I went to the launch of the Karl Lagerfeld Collection for Macys at the Beverly Center hosted by the Fug Girls. The collection launches at Macys tomorrow, August 31st. We both tried on pretty much all of the collection that was available, but unfortunately nothing worked out for me. Some of the fits and cuts were really odd and the colors, particularly the pinks, just were not flattering on me. The fake leather did not look good, some of the embellishments like buttons and rhinestones looked cheap, and a lot of the pieces just didn't have the finishing details that you would want. Overall, the fit was just a little too big particularly around the top, even in the 0 / XS; I would say the collection definitely runs large. They didn't have the pieces that I was more excited about from the lookbook, namely the tweed jacket and coat. Update: I tried on the tweed coat in an XS today and it was awful: huge poofy sleeves, very loose, a little too shiny and way too many knick knacks. The tweed pieces of the collection that were available looked the most high end. Out of everything I tried on, my favorite was probably the floral dress that was in the August Vogue article with the girl from True Blood. The floral dress seemed to the best seller as they were out of most of the sizes, including my size, go figure. I'm definitely glad I went, it was a fun event with champagne, hors d'oeuvres and a DJ and it was fun to try on all the clothes. I don't think I'll be getting anything from this collection, although I did fall in love with an Etoile Isabel Marant Lexy Jacket at Traffic next door, that I'm trying to forget about. Sorry for the terrible iphone photos; I wasn't sure if cameras would be allowed at the event.
My favorite dress; relatively flattering style, decent fabric, nice print. It's a size 4, which was way too big, I'm holding it closed in the back. I might have gotten this dress if it were in my size, though I don't think it's particularly special. Especially at $109 for a polyester dress.
Color of this dress really is not flattering on me. OK fit though a little loose on top, might look good in the black version, which they didn't have
High waisted tweed shorts. I like the concept but did not like how they belled at the bottom. Not flattering on anyone

Tweed vest. Not a bad fit (stretchy ribbed cotton on the back), just not sure where I'd wear this
Tweed dress. Would have looked better if it didn't have the racerback style on the front of the dress with the cut away shoulders. Not flattering for me.
Looks good in the ad, but very ill fitting in person

Lanvin x Pitbull

Loved the Lanvin A/W Fall 2011 print campaign, but love this video even more... Even Alber makes an appearance in the last frame. Plus the clothes are gorgeous as always.  I thought it was interesting that some of the colors and silhouettes were reminiscent of my favorite Lanvin x H&M collection from last November...

Monday, August 29, 2011

A-Frame Revisited

It has been almost a year since we went to A-Frame right when it opened and I've been meaning to check it out again and try some more menu items. The food didn't seem quite as exciting or interesting as the first time we visited, but it was still pretty solid and a reasonable value. We went early, around 5:30pm on a Sunday without a wait for a table, and wasn't even a wait by the time we left. I found out that I've been spoiled by my beloved 35mm 1.8 lens and I unfortunately forgot my camera so pictures didn't turn out quite as well.
Furikake Kettle Corn. Addictive with beer.
Pan de sel: warm crusty fluffy bread with soft butter
Heirloom tomato salad
Bbq ribs: a little dry, not quite falling off the bone tender as I like
Grilled squid: nice heat to the dish
Whole Peruvian Beer Can Chicken: good crispy skin, a little dry in spots, good egg and dipping sauce

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Isabel Marant Warehouse Sample Sale Report

Runway image from elle.com. One of the S/S 2011 jackets that I picked up. Freja is also the face of the AW 2011 campaign
Sample sales used to be a part of my regular routine back in NYC where it seemed like there were sample sales every other day. I'm not sure if I've even been to a sample sale in LA, with the exception of the Barneys New York Warehouse sale and perhaps a couple of bridal sample sales with friends. Usually the sales are in downtown LA, like at the Cooper Building, where a lot of designers have showrooms, which is way too far of a trek for me, especially with traffic and parking.

Isabel Marant has been on my radar for awhile now; I never owned any pieces but her clothes definitely fit the effortlessly cool look of Los Angeles.  Her cut and tailoring are really unique and her clothes have a lot of style and personality. Definitely an element of Downtown (NYC) / Eastside (LA) / Parisian chic. I like how her clothes aren't completely ubiquitous yet; the only department store that I'm aware of where you can find Isabel Marant is Barneys.  She doesn't have an LA retail store and is carried in a few specialty boutiques like Creatures of Comfort and Heist in Venice. She's well known for her boots, including her slouchy fringe boots as well as the more short cowboy style Dicker boots which have been sold out everywhere. I've been recently gravitating towards her aesthetic especially with fall approaching with recent Theyskens Theory purchases (including a messenger bag, to come) and my new Fryes that I've been wearing with everything.

I still wasn't sure if I would go, but at the last minute today, I decided I might regret it if I didn't check it out, so I decided to brave Friday afternoon traffic and head to the Cooper Building. I barely made it in time, a combination of luck and navigation of local roads around Koreatown (thank goodness for GPS), and I got there just as the doors were shutting. I always like to go to sample sales towards the end of the sale as the markdowns usually are the best and this was no exception. Sometimes you have to sacrifice selection, but my theory is that if it was meant to be, it will be, and the pieces will be there. There's very few things that I can't live without. The selection was still pretty good by the time I got there and I'm so excited about my haul at really amazing prices. I picked up two S/S 2011 jackets that are perfect fall / winter jackets for LA (Ed and Boyle), one S/S 2011 Garland skirt, one Etoile Isabel Marant S/S 2011 tweed Cooke skirt and a pair of Etoile Isabel Marant cords. The people working the sale were really nice and it was overall such a great experience. I was looking at the insides of the jackets and the construction really is amazing. Both skirts have pockets which I always love. Usually I don't gravitate towards separates as it requires thought to pair tops and bottoms, but I had fun trying on some of my purchases last night with my existing wardrobe. Given the intricacies of the pieces and uniqueness of cuts, it's really hard to know what will look good until actually tried on. Sizing seems to run a bit on the small side though inconsistently; I bought pieces in both size 0 and 1, although there were a couple of size 0 pieces that I tried on that I couldn't fit into. There weren't any size 0 pieces of the ones that I bought in size 1, so I couldn't really compare. The pieces I bought are generally a little loose, but I think intentionally so, like the jacket above. I wish I had more time to look at the pants, jewelry, shoes, as well as bags from Jerome Dreyfuss, Isabel Marant's husband, but it's probably good for my wallet that I was out of time. I can't wait to wear everything; all the pieces will be perfect for fall, and I'm officially done (banned) with shopping for the upcoming season.
S/S campaign image. Image from isabelmarant.com

Friday, August 26, 2011

Farmer's Market Vegetarian Summer Pizzas

Mexican Pizza, a new favorite
Wednesday night was K.'s favorite night, pizza night! Pizzas are a nice way to highlight seasonal vegetables as the baking really brings out the sweetness in summer vegetables and we had a ton fresh from the morning's farmer's market. Usually I used canned tomatoes as the base for the pizza sauce but since we are at the height of tomato season, I used freshly sliced early girl tomatoes and even heirloom tomatoes (a little sacrilegious not to eat them fresh on their own). Since we had an abundance of wonderful vegetables, I kept the pizzas almost completely vegan with the exception of a little avocado sour cream topping. The first pizza was a new experiment for us; a Mexican inspired pizza based off of this recipe from the kitchn with chipotle black bean spread, fresh summer corn, early girl sliced tomatoes, yellow peppers, red onions, green onions, chorizo seitan, Daiya vegan cheddar cheese and some spinach and arugula, topped with a cool smooth dollop of avocado, cilantro, lime sour cream. It was one of my favorite pizzas ever, like a big taco pizza with lots of big flavors from all the vegetables and spices and heartiness from the black beans and chorizo seitan. The second pizza was a summer squash, eggplant, red onion, garlic and heirloom tomato pizza topped with Daiya vegan cheddar cheese and spinach and arugula. It was also very good, definitely tasted like summer with all the sweet juicy vegetables.

Mexican Pizza Recipe (inspired by thekitchn recipe, but vegan style and with a lot more fresh vegetables):
  • Stretch out the pizza dough, made a day ahead of time, preheat oven to 525 degrees with a pizza stone
  • To prep: mince 1 chipotle pepper, shave corn off of two cobs, cut 1 yellow pepper into strips, thinly slice 1/2 a red onion, chop a handful of cilantro, slice 3-4 small tomatoes, chop 3 green onions
  • Microwave a 16 oz can of black beans in a bowl for 30 seconds. Add the minced chipotle, 1/2 tsp of chili powder, 1/4 tsp of cumin, 1/4 tsp of salt and 1 TB of olive oil and smash everything together with the back of a fork
  • Spread a spoonful of adobo sauce from the chipotle pepper over the dough, spoon on the black bean paste
  • Layer the tomatoes, corn, red onions, yellow peppers, on top of the black bean paste and then crumble 1/2 package of Upton Chorizo Seitan and shredded Daiya cheddar cheese all over the pizza
  • Bake for about 16 minutes, add the green onions and handful of arugula and spinach and bake for another minute
  • While the pizza is baking, mash 1/2 avocado with juice from 1/2 a lime, minced cilantro and 2 TB of sour cream together to form a smooth creamy topping
  • Serve with the avocado cream on the side or on top
Just a few of the vegetables that went into the pizza. Happy to say that almost all colors of vegetables were represented for a healthy meal with all sorts of good vitamins
Can't say enough about the heirloom tomatoes in season now
Mexican pizza before the oven
Mexican pizza after (but before the last layer of arugula and spinach for more greens). Still vegan at this point.
Summer squash, eggplant, peppers, red onions (all first roasted) and heirloom tomato pizza (before the cheese). Tried to fit as many in season summer vegetables on the pizza as possible
Summer vegetable pizza. A bit of a juicy mess from all the vegetables, but the freshness of the produce really shone. Totally vegan pizza.
Curran 2009 Grenache rose: a light, but crisp rose that paired well with the pizzas

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Simplicity of Summer

My idea of a perfect summer breakfast: two pieces of whole wheat toast topped with 1/4 of a mashed ripe avocado and a thick slice of organic heirloom tomato each with a little basil, salt, chili flakes and good olive oil. The heirloom tomatoes right now are simply wonderful: soft and tender without being mushy or mealy, and very sweet and juicy with very low acid. These tomatoes are fresh from the market and have never been the fridge. The creamy richness of the avocado mixed with the ripe juicy sweet tomato with the freshness of the basil on top of warm nutty and crispy toast is just heavenly.

Alternative: for an even simpler version, use light mayonnaise instead of avocados. I was out of avocados so I just had the mayo version for lunch, so wonderful! I want to eat it for dinner as well! It's really all about the tomato. I want to go out and buy more heirlooms now.

Late August Farmer's Market Report: Time for Tomatoes

I love this time of year at the farmer's market, all the produce is so vibrant and colorful and stands appear to be overflowing with beautiful produce. Yesterday's Wednesday farmer's market in Santa Monica was the perfect reflection of all that is good out there. We finally bought our first heirloom tomatoes and I'm happy to say that they were well worth the wait. I also bought a lot of beautiful early girl and heirloom tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, summer squash (season starting to wane) along with some fresh herbs, salad greens and avocados. Peppers and tomatoes really are overflowing right now. Corn has been really sweet the last few weeks, melons are really starting to get big and grapes are starting to really come into season as well, although I've been having a hard time finding organic grapes at the stands. I've been buying my organic grapes from the Co-op the last few weeks; they've been really good and relatively reasonable at $2.99 / lb. Cooking is fun this time of year; it's all about letting the ingredients shine. I love cooking on Wednesdays with the produce just picked up in the morning from the farmer's market. These ingredients have never even seen a refrigerator, at least not mine, and I like to think that they came straight from the farm to the market to my plate. I made two excellent vegetarian / vegan pizzas last night with a lot of the produce that I bought in the morning (post to come later).
The heirloom tomatoes at Tutti Frutti are excellent
This stand always has the most beautiful varieties of pepper, eggplants and summer squash (same stand as first photo)
The various melons smell so intoxicatingly sweet as you walk by the stand
You can always tell the serious shoppers (ie the chefs) from the rest of us amateurs by their dollies loaded with crates

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies v. Alton Brown

I think I found my go-to chocolate chip recipe that works better than the Giada version; more traditional and similar to the ones I had at the Cookie Guru. Alton Brown's "The Chewy" cookie recipe got great reviews on Food Network so I decided to give it a try. I made a couple of tweaks, including reducing the amount of white sugar, adding chopped heath bars for extra toffee flavor, subbing in almond milk for whole milk and changing the baking time and temperature for my oven. I made one crucial mistake; I wasn't really thinking and used cake flour instead of bread flour. I would have even been better off with A/P flour which is at least closer to bread flour in terms of gluten/protein content vs. cake flour which is on the other end of the spectrum (lighter). As a result, my cookies weren't exactly "chewy" per the title of the recipe, but still very good. The bottoms were just slightly crunchy, the cookies were soft, moist, and there was plenty of oozing chocolaty toffee goodness. I used quality callebaut chocolate chip discs from Surfas which I think make a difference since it's all about the chocolate chips. I have to say, I enjoy making cookies over other baking as they are relatively straightfoward and easy to make. Not too many ingredients or steps, not too long cooking time, not too messy and too much cleanup. I've converted Alton's recipe to cups as opposed to ounces and included my alterations:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (adapted from Alton Brown's "The Chewy Recipe")
  • Melt 2 stick of butter over low heat and let cool slightly
  • Combine with a little less than 1/4 cup of white sugar and a little less than 1 1/4 cup of light brown sugar in a Kitchenaid stand mixer on medium with the paddle attachment for a minute or two
  • Sift together 2 1/4 cup of bread flour, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of baking powder (original recipe called for baking soda)
  • Whisk together 1 large egg, 1 egg yolk, 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, 2 TB of almond milk
  • Reduce mixer speed to low and add the wet ingredients and mix for about 30 seconds
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients until fully combined, scraping down the sides
  • Turn off the mixer and stir in 1 2/3 cups of semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of chopped heath bars (about 5 oz)
  • Chill the dough for at least an hour
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees (360 degrees for my oven)
  • Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the dough onto a parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheet. I was able to fit 8 cookies to a sheet. It's much easier to scoop and form the dough when chilled
  • Bake for about 18 minutes, turning the pan once. I used the middle and top racks in my oven
  • Let cool for 5 minutes on the pan and transfer to a cooling rack
  • Eat with a nice cold glass of almond milk
For some reason, the cookies baked on the silpat don't spread as evenly as on parchment paper. They often have jagged edges and are a little burned and lumpier on top. I'm not sure if its because of the silpat, or because they are on the lower of the two shelves which is at a slightly higher temperature. I tried to compensate by using a higher shelf and reducing the temperature from Alton's recipe but they still turned out funny.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Trouble...Miu Miu Noir Sunglasses Collection

    Image from miu miu
    Leave it to Miuccia Prada to drive me nuts with two crazy must-have sunglasses in one year. First it was the Prada Minimal Baroque collection, which I still adore. Now, it's Miu Miu's 1940's inspired Noir collection and in particular the silver / anthracite glitter version. I'm a total sucker for all things glitter and sparkly. I like the angular shape of the frame, plus the nose bridge is key for keeping glasses up on my face. I adore the Hailee Steinfeld Fall 2011 Miu Miu ad campaign; so sophisticated, moody and perfect! I'm having trouble tracking down the sunglasses which is probably a good thing. As much as I love these, I think I will have to restrain myself as K. would not be happy with the amount of spending that I've done lately. Too bad my birthday is past and Christmas is still so far away....

    P.S. there are also some fabulous shoes from the Miu Miu Fall 2011 collection as well...

    Update: The wonderful ladies at Ilori found out for me that they will be carrying the entire line except for the silver pair that I want. Miu Miu is currently taking pre-orders with a credit card. Bergdorf will also be carrying the line starting in September. Unfortunately at $390 a pair, they are just out of my budget right now...
    Image from miu miu
    The pair I want. Image from fabsugar
    It's a little hard to see, but she's wearing the most amazing pair of silver glitter and black booties. I hear the shoes are sadly sold out everywhere. Image from miu miu.

    Trieu Chau Review: Vietnamese Noodle Breakfast in Little Saigon

    The usual long line outside. Take a number.
    On our way home from San Diego after beer fest, we stopped in Little Saigon in Santa Ana at Trieu Chau for a big bowl of Vietnamese noodles for breakfast. My idea of an ideal breakfast since noodles are probably my favorite food and I could eat them morning day and night. It was my first time at Trieu Chau; we were luckily able to find a parking spot quickly but still had to wait about 30 minutes. I had the house special noodles with the thick noodles and K. had the duck and wonton noodles (also with thick noodles, though we actually ordered the thin. It was a little hard to communicate with our waiter). The house special noodles were filled with all sorts of goodies like chicken, duck, fish balls, liver, shrimp. The soup is really good, deep and flavorful perked up with some hints of fried garlic / shallots. It's a little more complex than the duck noodle soup. Service was short, the place was packed and a little dingy, but we got out of there for less than $20 including 2 drinks and tip. Crowd was a mix of Asian and Mexican, K. was the only person who was neither. My only complaint is that I detected some MSG afterward; I had that unquenchable thirst and slight headache on the car ride home. I think I would still go back though if I was in the area...
    House special noodle soup
    Duck and wonton noodle soup
    Trieu Chau
    4401 W. 1st Street
    Santa Ana, CA

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Stone Brewing's 15th Anniversary Celebration & Beer Festival

    Beer Fest! The regular tents
    We headed back to San Diego again on Saturday for Stone's 15th Anniversary Party at Cal State San Marcos. We should have learned our lesson from the previous weekend, but traffic was terrible again, particularly between Dana Point and Oceanside. Crawling along in traffic is so brutal, especially when you want to get somewhere to start drinking beer. We got there in time to meet our friends for the afternoon session but actually ended up with All-Access passes. Usually it's a guys trip, but this year, the girls were invited along as well. I was skeptical at first, but the All-Access passes are totally worth it; it gives you admission to the VIP tents on the top of the hill with two rare beer stands, free duck and pulled pork tacos, and awesome live music. It was so relaxing to just chill in the grass under the shade of the trees, listen to the music and sip on delicious beer; a perfect way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon. There was never any wait to get beers or tacos and plenty of empty chairs around. We never made it down to the regular tents; it just looked like a zoo down there, way too crowded. We did miss out on the Stone 15th Anniversary beer that was only being poured in the regular tents as well as onion rings, but it was much more enjoyable. The rare beer menu:
    I'm definitely missing a few, but we tried:
    • Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin Ale,
    • Beachwood BBQ Thrill Seeker American IPA
    • Ladyface Trois Filles Tripel
    • Maui Heaven and Hell Barleywine,
    • Mother Earl Paul Sangster Collaboration
    • 2004 Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine
    • Redstone Meadery Hoppy the Terroir
    • AleSmith / Mikkeler / Stone Belgian Style Triple Ale
    • Dogfish Head / Victory / Stone Saison du BUFF
    • AleSmith Brewer's Reserve Speedway Stout
    • Pizza Port Carlsbad Bourbon Barrel Aged Night Rider
    • Allagash Lawrence
    • Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
    • Stone SoCal Hop Salute Double Black IPA
    • Tustin Brewing O.E. Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Barleywine
    My favorite were: Ladyface Trois Filles Tripel (just a really nicely balanced Belgian), Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin Ale (love the prickliness from the habenero, just the right amount to give the beer a kick without being overpowering), Maui Heaven and Hell Barleywine (favorite Barleywine, very balanced with deep and delicious flavors) and Mother Earth Paul Sangster Collobaration (my favorite chocolate-y rich porter).
    I liked the pourers at Dr. Bill's Corner, they seemed to really be enjoying themselves
    The VIP tents on the hill; a lot less crowded than the tents down below
    First time drinking cider since my college days
    Jimmy and Enrique rocked! They played the best covers of great classic songs like "Don't Stop Believing,""Free Fallin'", Santana, the Beatles, etc
    Pulled pork tacos. Goes well with beer.
    Random people shots:
    Almost everyone was wearing a random beer t-shirt. I wanted to get a beer t-shirt to fit in but they were all sold out by the end of the day.
    Beer + great music = drunk people dancing
    Outdoor beer fest drinking outfit: coal Lululemon Bliss Dress (bought on sale), Prada Minimal Baroque Sunglasses, H&M hat, H&M x Swedish Hasbeens clogs, Balenciaga velo bag in black and Lululemon heathered coal vinyasa scarf (in the bag). I got a lot of compliments on my outfit, particularly on my shoes, but I think it's just because people were drunk.


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