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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Keep 'em happy!

Girls, it's time to learn a few tricks! No, not in the bedroom you sickies (that's what Glamour is for); in the kitchen and the bank. If you ever ponder if the saying, "the best way to a guy's heart is through his stomach and his wallet," is valid, you can stop because it is. I know it's very old-fashioned and brings us ladies back to the Dark Ages, but honestly I love playing around with utensils such as the 1970's Cuisinart I inherited from my grandma this weekend, testing different olive oils from Trader Joe's, perfectly executing a new recipe, and saving money by shopping the "net" for vintage finds instead of purchasing $400 Prada platforms which I had to take back to Neiman Marcus after realizing how stupidly impetuous I was being. Yes, they were gorgeous, but to be honest my husband almost had a coronary even though I made him a spectacular meal the night before...they come as a package.

Therefore, today, I'm giving you a lesson on how to make the perfect roasted chicken (pictured above) and how to save money by shopping on Ebay, a therapeutic activity I've grown to love. And if you're throwing in the towel already, please give it a shot. I managed to bid on three amazing vintage items and cook a delectable dinner from scratch in less than one hour. Put your domestic hat on because away we go!

The Stomach

Lesson 1: Subscribe to at least one food publication. The internet hurts more than helps when it comes to anything culinary because all you end up doing is searching for recipes and looking at droolable pictures while at work. My two favorites are Food & Wine and Saveur. But they'll need your full attention, so relax and wind down with them at home.

Lesson 2: Pick a recipe that doesn't call for a ton of ingredients. Once I tried to make my Firenze food obsession, Ribollita, and drastically failed as I went to the supermarket and exhausted myself from zigzagging up and down the aisles for the 40 ingredients I needed. I quickly gave up and made turkey meatloaf.

Lesson 3: Make sure you thoroughly read your desired recipe. I tend to scale too quickly and miss the part about refrigerating for an hour or marinating for a day. I then end up with five pounds of farmers market potatoes and eating frozen pizza for dinner.

Lesson 4: Pick something you like! Chances are you'll be tuckered out after your first go at a new recipe so you want to at least be able to enjoy it!

Lesson 5: Have fun!

Here's an amazing recipe for Pollo Arrosto (Lemon and Rosemary Chicken) I stumbled across in Saveur, which I tried my hand at last night. It came out juicy and flavorful, and paired well with the brown rice and Persian cucumber-tomato salad I made on the side. And as a tip, I used a frying pan and only marinated it for 30 minutes. It turned out perfect.

1 3 1⁄2-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup fresh rosemary leaves
1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 lemon, peel removed, pith and pulp chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Toss chicken with oil, rosemary, lemon juice, garlic, lemon, and salt and pepper in bowl. Marinate for 1 hour.

2. Heat oven to 475°. Arrange chicken in a 9" x 13" baking dish; add remaining marinade. Roast, flipping once, until cooked through, 30–40 minutes.

This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #127

The Wallet

Lesson 1: Grow some patience. I know how many of you hate weeding through racks at vintage shops, but honestly you have to learn to love it. It's like perusing somebody else's amazing closet and walking away with the find of a lifetime. I've always loved it, but was validated even more when I paid $90 for brand new, neon pink Chanel flats I rescued in Palm Beach.

Lesson 2: Sign up for an account on Ebay. It's free and takes 20 seconds. Then, when you have a lazy day at the office or are home sick you can try your hand at bidding on some amazing items instead of snoozing your way through stints of daytime television.

Lesson 3: Look for "Top-rated sellers" only. They are the only ones you can trust and often have the best pieces. For a quick sampling, go to www.http://stores.ebay.com/thriftwares and see what you like! Here are the three pieces I'm currently bidding on, and if I win, my tab will be like $40! TOLD YOU SO!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bridal Shower 102

When you wake up on a gloomy Saturday morning and know you're in for a day of small talk, massive quantities of champagne and pulled cheek muscles (yes, I'm referring to a bridal shower), the blues starts to set in--the blues of, "I have nothing to wear!" What follows is the unavoidable series of panic-inducing questions: "Will I be too overdressed?" and my favorite, "what can I wear so I'm comfortable once I'm bloated from way too much brunch and bubbly?"

Four simple words, girls, "reach for a dress!" And not a tight, bandage-like hoochie coochie piece of a tin foil; a feminine, flowy, floral number. Then, listen carefully, because this next part is very important...add a hint of punk rock with the easy solution of some studded, shit kicking shoes. I can't guarantee you'll look like the Marie Claire model pictured above, but trust me, anyone can pull it off.

I tested this fool-proof "dress to prevent a mess" method out this weekend and it worked like a charm. I had to venture out to Palos Verdes and then to Van Nuys for back-to-back showers in two very different locations with two very different groups of people and I felt great, especially at 10:00 PM that night when I literally wanted to keel over from too much starch, not enough water and an overdose of bridal bliss.

Below are some fantastic dresses paired with wild shoes for the perfect balance of girly and edgy. I've copied InStyle's technique a bit, as there's an outfit for every age range just to prove how easy this look is to pull off.

And, if you're the hostess who could care less what you wear because your too stressed and panicked, here's some help for you too and a recipe for Strata, a melt-in-your-mouth egg casserole dish that has a multitude of preparations. One of the hostesses flawlessly executed a mushroom-sausage variation this weekend. I was very impressed! And for all you ladies who have never set foot in a kitchen, it's the dish Sarah Jessica Parker spilled all over the floor in The Family Stone.

Calm yourself with the following looks (from top to bottom):
Pins and Needles' Dropwaist Dress with B&D's black studded leather 'Austin' platform booties; Patterson J. Kincaid's Pocket Belted Dress with Givenchy's Studded Sandals; Anna Sui's Medallion Floral Scarf Print Dress with Bess' Studded Lace Up Sandals; French Connection's Floral Jersey Dress with Christian Louboutin's Studded Zipper Ballet Flats.






18 slices firm white bread (such as English muffin bread), crusts removed
6 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
4 ounces provolone, grated (about 1½ cups)
¼ cup chopped green onions
6 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
5 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Line bottom of 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish completely with 1 layer of bread, cutting some slices to fit. Arrange half of prosciutto evenly over bread. Sprinkle half of goat cheese and half of provolone over. Sprinkle with half of green onions and half of basil. Top with second layer of bread. Layer remaining prosciutto, goat cheese, provolone, green onions, and basil atop bread. Cut remaining bread into ¼-inch cubes. Sprinkle over top.

Whisk eggs, milk, mustard, and salt in bowl. Season with pepper. Pour egg mixture over strata; press down on bread with spatula. Drizzle melted butter over strata. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover strata and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake until center is set, about 1 hour. Remove from oven. Preheat broiler. Place strata under broiler until top is golden, about 30 seconds. Cut into large squares and serve.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rick, where'd you go?: A Review of Red O

Boy are you in for a treat today. I've reached back into my brain for my restaurant review drawer and pried it open just for your reading pleasure. That's right...I've written up Red O, the first restaurant (or shall I say palace) outside of Chicago to serve Rick Bayless' groundbreaking Mexican cuisine.

The culinaire extraordinaire by way of Chi-town has gotten big, so big that he took down his contenders one by one on Bravo TV's "Top Chef Masters." It was readily apparent after two episodes that he would have no trouble doing so; kind of unfair but so much fun to watch. He talks soothingly slow and with pure intelligence--he is the only chef I know who can break down his ingredients and assign them to an element in the periodic table. My husband likes to think of him as a mad scientist-turned-gourmet chef.

Although not the owner, after the victory, I guess he figured it was time to dry his wings and fly over to La La Land to devise the menu and train the staff at the highly anticipated restaurant. Honestly, I really expected more because, after all, his name is on the towering, red neon sign. But after dining at the restaurant that was once home to Muse and Chocolat last night and a heavenly experience at Hatfield's last week, I'm pretty disappointed.

Maybe its because I've been born and raised in L.A. where it's a sin not to spend your teen years and twenties eating off roach coaches, on sidewalks and in hole-in-the-wall loterias that all serve up amazing Mexican food. Or maybe it's because the decor and overall feel departs from Rick Bayless' charming, homey demeanor and instead resembles Javier's in Orange County to the point where I almost thought I was magically transported to Laguna for the night. With linen upholstered booths, cobble stone floors, white Cape Cod trussed ceilings and a glass tunnel displaying tequila bottles galore, the behemoth space doesn't offer that authentic vibe felt at Frontera Grill, a timeless establishment that pays homage to Dias De Los Muertos; the one you learned about in elementary school with sugar skulls, glowing candles, black and white heritage photos and pink...lots of pink.

Instead, it's impersonal and a spider web for scenesters who look like they have absolutely no clue about the legacy behind Rick Bayless. The place is beyond flashy and this group eats it up (that's about all they eat). They smile, sip margaritas and watch as the valet parkers run back and forth in straw fedoras and the waitstaff meanders in matching red suede pumas. And the price they pay for their dinner and a show, a lot. Be prepared to throw down approximately $85 per person for ungenerous portions and food that comes at you like hot cakes.

However, I will say there are a few redeeming qualities. If you do like to be swept up in West Hollywood's hoopla, you'll love it--everyone's pretty and dressed to impress. In addition, the enchilada suizas are divine and boast tomatillo sauce at its finest, one with just the right amount of acidity to please your palate and prepare it for the perfectly cooked black beans that come on the side. Shrimp taquitos are a good starter and the freshly made guacamole is a must as it arrives at the perfect temperature and is embellished with the slight sweetness of sundried tomatoes. And finally, if you do have to wait for a few minutes or are in the mood for dining at the bar, the restaurant has two, including a tequila lounge in the back which is surprisingly quiet and airy, allowing you to choose from a list of simple yet defining cocktails and take in the view of Melrose Avenue and the comedy goers across the street.

The moral is, if you're homesick and looking for some Chicago lovin' you won't find it here. Instead, you'll find an expensive trip to Las Ventanas in Cabo or a themed restaurant in Vegas...Rick is nowhere to be seen. I miss him, so I guess I'll have to keep watching re-runs of "Top Chef Masters" or pay my brother a visit to the Windy City. For more information and reservations, go to www.redorestaurant.com.

Now of course this is my opinion and you should definitely experience it for yourself. With that said, here are some fun pieces to wear to dinner at Red O. Shop the looks from top to bottom: American Apparel's Tank Dress; Ash's Tyler Denim Wedge Booties; Jenny Bird's Navajo Crest Necklace; Rebecca Minkoff's Easy Rider Date Clutch.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Feline Fever

K kids, today's Feline Fun day! I've been seeing spots everywhere in anticipation of what looks like a daring fall fashion season. I'm not sure if you have, but if today's posting and Angela Lindvall's suggestive French Vogue photo from the 90's (pictured above) doesn't turn you into a leopard print convert, I honestly don't know what will.

I've been obsessing over this Dolce & Gabbana emerald leopard bustier dress, pondering (or should I say daydreaming) what occasion could possibly warrant spending this much money on a delicious looking frock...I'll get back to you, but I'm sure I'll come up with something. Anyway, I've had spots on the brain since last week, and then poof!, Barney's sends me an email about Lanvin's new leopard bags. Oy, I better come up with a plan quick before I go over board and my entire closet explodes with animal patterns.

For the time being, I've decided to feed my addiction by suggesting some purr-worthy pieces (there's even something for the guys) to choose from so you can successfully sassy up your wardrobe and get lost in a whimsical jungle of lions and tigers and bears oh my.

And now that you've been given the key to spice up your wardrobe life, let's spice up your kitchen life as well with my new favorite hors d'oeuvre recipe, courtesy of the fabulous Whitney Florin, who seems as though she can do it all. I nibbled on her toasts topped with Spicy Feta Spread last weekend at her sister Lindsay's pre-party and had to have the recipe. Kisses Whit for letting me share them with my small, yet powerful fan base!

Shop the looks (from top to bottom): Dolce & Gabbana's Leopard Bustier Dress; Lanvin's Happy Mini Shoulder Bag; Billabong's Leopard Halter Bikini; Christian Louboutin's Leopard-Print Lace-Up Bootie; Katy Rodriguez's Leopard Racer Vest; Ked's for Opening Ceremony's Ked Champion Men's Sneakers.

Spicy Feta Spread

6 jalapenos (red and green if available)
1 lb. of crumbled greek feta
½ lb. of cream cheese
¼ c. olive oil
1/3 c. lemon juice
3 garlic cloves

Brush jalapenos with oil and roast in oven at 500 degrees until bubbly. Let cool for 20 minutes then peel and remove some of the seeds (The seeds are the spiciest part of the pepper). Add all the ingredients into a food processor and blend. Lemon juice should be added little by little. Spread can be made a few days ahead of time.

Slice one baguette and brush with olive oil. Lightly toast. Place a layer of spicy feta on bread and top with red pepper spread. Or spreads can be served as a dip with pita chips.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kudos to Donatella

Sorry ladies, this posting's all about the guys today, and guys...boy are you in for a treat!

I've been trying to keep up with Milan Fashion week, which is taking place as we speak, and wanted to diversify my selections to provide you with an unmatched taste of this year's fashion forecast but honestly nothing turns me on more than Versace's 2011 spring/summer menswear collection...nothing! Donatella wowed me so far beyond any other designer that I had to dedicate an entire day to her pieces.

It's hard to believe the orange-tinted female designer did not have anyone but James Dean and Duckie on her mind when she was toiling over her cigarette slacks, striped vests, rat pack shoes and gargantuan silver rings. But the real reason I'm in love is very simply because she chose a black and white 1980's prom floor--wait, sock hop diner for her runway, serving up gaunt tattooed models who look as though they are stepping out of a white Cadillac limo and into a spruced up gym for prom night on a silver platter. And then she throws in greased James Dean hair...ugh, I can't go on any more. I'm obsessed. You'll see why.

To my benefit she's pleasantly schizophrenic...one minute there's a half-naked tattooed biker boy resembling Dean and next is Molly Ringwald's biggest fan gliding down the runway--it's like the perfect movie night. Boys, get ready because I see lots and lots of hair gel and burgundy in your future.

Quick update*** I just discovered this amazing Web site where you can rent couture clothing for 10% of its retail price. Go to http://www.renttherunway.com/ to get on the wait list now! I just did. XO

Friday, June 18, 2010

Lovely Bones Brigade

Even though we all lived for our childhood glow-in-the-dark Halloween costumes back in 1990, none of us would be caught dead in a skeleton get-up...until a few months ago.

There is the skull trend, which has been around for a while thanks to Alexander McQueen who powerfully revived it with silk scarves and knuckle purse ring handles, but other than that, bones have been left to the dog lovers of the world (one of them being my mom), who get a kick out of worshiping their canine companions with all sorts of bejeweled dog bone charms and key chains.

Now, they have competition with us fashionistas though because bone-inspired leggings, t-shirts and heels have been on the rise for the past couple of months. The trend, in my opinion, is a ton of fun; just another way to bring back 80's and 90's rock ensembles with a hint of witchcraft. My future definitely holds purchasing Dsquared2's Spine booties I saw on friend of a friend Geri Hirsch's "Because I'm Addicted" Blog. And yes, I've included Sass & Bide pieces again--I am so freakin' obsessed with their fall collection!!!

However, if you would rather gnaw than dress, follow one of my all-time favorite rib recipes below, Roy's Szechwan-Style Baby Back Pork Ribs, for a flawless, exotic summer BBQ.

De-bone the items (from top to bottom): Dsquared2's Nappa Spine Ankle Boots; Sass & Bide's The Story Beaded Leggings; Sass & Bide's Bones Brigade Jersey T-Shirt; Iosselliani's Skull Earrings.

Roy's Szechwan-Style Baby Back Pork Ribs

4-1/2 pounds pork spareribs or baby back ribs (3 slabs)
2 cups hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons Chinese chili paste (Sambal Oelek or Sriracha)
1/2 cup honey

Cut rib slabs in half and place in a large pot of boiling water. Slow boil 90 minutes, or until tender (meat will shrink down from top of bone at least a half inch). Remove from water and let stand 10 minutes.

To make marinade, combine remaining ingredients and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Brush ribs on both sides with marinade. Place on a rack on top of a cookie sheet in the oven. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until shiny. Remove and cool. Cut into pieces and brush with more marinade. Grill on a hibachi a few minutes until hot. Serves 6.

(Photo and Recipe from Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Channeling the Vampiress

You guys all knew I would have to blog about Twilight at least once. Don't worry "honey," there's nothing about Robert Pattinson in here (or Kristen). This is all about the series' vampiresses.

There are not many things I would line up for after Midnight now that I'm married and in my late twenties, but for Twilight, I'll pretty much do anything. I'm not sure why; maybe it's because one cast member is more beautiful than the next. For example Ashley Greene (pictured solo in the second photo above from Vanity Fair's June issue) is an immortal mix of super model Eva Herzigova and Marisa Tomei. And the rest of the key female players such as Dakota Fanning and Bryce Dallas Howard (pictured in the first photo from Vanity Fair's June issue as well), do a pretty good job acting as bloodthirsty seductresses too.

Many designers are obviously on the same wave length, hence the fact that their fall 2010 collections invoke the look of a female vampire on the prowl. With elegantly frizzy Elvira hair, over-sized Dracula collars, charred eyes and tons of black, it's apparent that a Twilight plague is upon us, especially once Eclipse hits theaters. I can't wait to start taking on this trend particularly because I'm smitten with Australian designer Sass & Bide's pieces, ones that would be perfect on Morticia Adams if she ever wore haute couture--gothic tribal prints, hip cut-outs and so much more.

And to complete my look, I'll be sipping a Vampire's Elixir martini as I watch the first and second movie over and over in anticipation of the third one coming out on DVD. It's an impressive cocktail to make for guests...and not just on Halloween. I learned of the libation while doing some PR work for SKYY; it's delicious but quite sweet (see the recipe below).

Die for the looks (from top to bottom):
Chanel; Sass & Bide(1); Sass & Bide(2); Burberry; Vivienne Westwood; Issa.

Vampire's Elixir

1 1/2 oz. Skyy Infusions Raspberry Vodka
1 oz. Half and Half Cream
3/4 oz. White Chocolate Liqueur
Strawberry Syrup

Dress strawberry syrup on the inside and rim of a chilled martini glass. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into martini glass.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm Starving for a Guatemalan Adventure

I'll admit J. Crew has ramped up its chic factor over the past few years; I love spending a lazy Sunday afternoon combing the store's racks for work staples and quaint accessories that I can wear to the next bridal shower on my calendar. But in the brand's latest catalog spread, Glimpses from Guatemala, the clothes are placed on an entirely different level. They are transformed into high-fashion pieces that warrant a casual night out in NYC or a permanent place in your suitcase when traveling abroad. What I especially love about this spread is that it entices you to plan a trip to Guatemala--it makes the city of La Antigua (the location the shoot occured) look so elegant. Have a look! You won't be disappointed.

And if you're still not convinced that Guatemala is for you, be sure to check out a couple of the Central American country's boutique hotels below for a dose of unexpected luxury.

Luxe Lodgings

Posada del Angel
4ta Avenida Sur #24A
La Antigua, Guatemala

La Lancha
Lake Peten Itza
Tikal, Guatemala