new year another new home

bathroomMovin’ on up . . . to Los Angeles. Can’t wait! And I’m lucky enough to call this amazing art deco bathroom mine. With its lilac & raspberry porcelain, hunter green floors, yellow & floral tiles and original etched mirror — somehow it just all works and is one of the most beautiful bathrooms I’ve ever seen.  I love that LA has so many historic buildings to choose from. And I’m super excited to re-explore this city. But in the meantime, I’m going to take a little break while I find work and settle in.

Happy New Year everyone!  Back soon, I promise.

a little oz in the oc

Pie NotThere’s a little bit of Australia right here in Orange County, CA:  Pie Not the Aussie Style Bakery. Crappy photos aside, it’s the place where you can get some serious down home Aussie fare. The food of football games and 20 years ago. The meat pie.

Sadly there is no  “Sauce” (ketchup) offered with these pies — a real miss but otherwise, here’s the poop . . . the classic meat pie known as The Dog’s Eye is pretty darn good. Although it would be better with sauce. The sausage roll, also missing sauce on the side, was less good — the filling a bit too sweet and overly ground for my liking. The lamington, on the other hand, a chocolate & coconut dipped square of sponge cake, is a real winner even without jam filling. Whether or not the jam filling is needed is an age old, unsettled argument down under. But either way, this little or rather large square of goodness that sounds so simple and unappealing, is a must have.

So if you have a hankering for some real old-fashioned Aussie goodness, give Pie Not a try.  270 E 17th Street, Costa Mesa, CA

weekend agenda: frank gehry

This weekend or any weekend between now and March 20, 2016 you can get up close and personal with some of the many many models representing the work of architect Frank Gehry. It’s like a wander through some sort of miniature land of the future where nary a right angle exists and buildings are more like super-sized sculptures than buildings.

IMG_5239Yes, this is a model of a building, one that actually got built. And what’s nice about the show, videos of the built work accompany many of the models so you can see how it actually came to life, how it scales and relates to a real environment.

Frank’s work is nothing if not stunningly emotional. Arresting even, especially in contrast to our mostly rectilinear world. In fact, i think that juxtaposition is what gives this work it’s power.

At 86 years old, there will only be so many more Frank Gehry buildings to be built. Although there are plenty in the works as evidenced by the show’s room of projects in progress punctuated by an image of the architect’s office — a sea of models:

Office shotWhether you are a fan of “object” buildings or not (admittedly some are more successful than others) there is no denying the genius of this man. It is well worth the $25 price of admission to sneak a peek into his world. And most interesting to hear in his own words and those of other creative geniuses across a wide range of disciplines, how and why he does what he does in a captivating film by Sydney Pollack. On the day i went, there were more people crammed into the little corner where this film is projected than viewing the plethora of models that make up the rest of the show. Say what that may about the show as a whole, just go. And then, because we are lucky in LA to be surrounded by a great many of his built works, take a drive around the city and see the buildings in person.

For tickets and more information on the show visit: LACMA.org

bottom image courtesy LACMA

chocxo tour

By ChocxoI’m a good researcher but I didn’t realize that when I found a local chocolate factory tour for a work outing, that I had stumbled upon a world class bean to bar chocolate company right here in my own backyard. Not only is their award winning chocolate beautiful to look at but their packaging is as well — a double bonus for a team of designers.

Choxco Tour 1_ Mrs Ropers MusingsIf you don’t know anything about the chocolate making process the educational tour ($7/person) is interesting. And it comes complete with small tastings of cocoa nibs, warm chocolate mini-shots and a goodie bag of chocolate tasting squares to sample their various finished chocolate bar offerings.

Choxco Tour 2_Mrs Ropers MusingsThe behind the scenes tour ($17/person) adds on a quick loop through the factory floor (not yet so active as they are still short on enough demand to keep them producing regularly) and 3 truffles of your choice from the chocolate case. Honestly, you are going to want to buy some chocolates anyway, so put your money towards that vs. paying more for the expensive tour.

Here are the spoils:Choxco_MrsRopersMusingsNice, huh? It’s good stuff!! And if you feel like splurging even more, they have a $20  2.8 oz chocolate bar made from a private crop of cocoa beans that no other manufacturer had access to. Just 500 bars were made, each signed & numbered with 2 different awards to their credit.

Opened by a team of 3 earlier this year, in addition to the factory location in Irvine they have also opened 2 coffee & chocolate shops also in Orange County, CA with more to come I’m sure. The team is very knowledgeable and super friendly. I even stepped behind the counter to show them some tips on tying ribbons more efficiently for their gift boxes — always happy to help I am.

Check them out. Take a tour, visit a shop or order online. It will be nice to see this little business make it big.

Choxco — Irvine Chocolate Factory
9461 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 825-5781

Hours:  Tues to Sat  10 am – 6 pm

image one, courtesy Choxco.com

ice cream challenge

HoneyMeeToday’s Contender:  Honeymee
Location:  Los Angeles, CA
Flavor:  Vanilla with Honeycomb

On a 93 degree day with no air conditioning you bet I’m going to blow my no carb kick and go for ice cream. Honeymee is a fast growing chain of soft serve ice cream stores popping up in Asian neighborhoods throughout the greater the Los Angeles area. The menu consists of just 4 items — plain vanilla, vanilla with chocolate sauce & sea salt, vanilla with honey sauce and vanilla with a small square of pure honeycomb. And if you want you can have any of the above combos in a soft hotdog like bun — a true ice cream sandwich.

The ice cream itself is not too sweet. Just a clean cool taste with a nice density and creaminess. I appreciated the natural honeycomb but probably would have been more satisfied with a sauced version — or maybe that was just craving that came on with my first bite of sugar in 4 weeks.

All in all, I would say this is a nice little treat. Just the perfect size. Cute branding (always a plus) and just enough choice to keep it interesting but not overwhelming. The shop I visited was in Buena Park attached to a car wash. Odd little location but yummy just the same.

donut wars

donut warsDonuts are the new cupcakes. I’m not a big fan of cupcakes but I do like a good donut. Who would have thought that Southern California would become the new donut capital? Not a bad trend to find yourself in the middle of . . .

I’ve long been a fan of Stan’s Donuts in Westwood that’s been around since the dawn of time. They serve up a peanut butter and fresh banana stunner. While it’s been 20 years since I’ve had one, in my memory it is the best donut ever!

Today’s new contenders are a different breed. The hot shops around town right now are The Donut Bar — a San Diego transplant (left) and Sidecar Donuts & Coffee (right) which started in Costa Mesa and has recently made its way to LA proper. Both shops have an appetizing assortment of pretty as a picture donuts. The Donut Bar is all about scale — huge donuts with lots of crazy toppings & fillings. The bigger the better. Sidecar on the other hand, is about quality and superior taste — Smaller and a split between yeast and cake donuts with sophisticated flavors. My money is hands down on on the banana walnut cake donut from Side Car. Or maybe I just like banana in my donuts.

The Donut Bar, 18011 Newhope Street, Fountain Valley — get there early as they are only open until they sell out.

Sidecar Donut & Coffee, 270 E. 17th Street, Costa Mesa — open til 4PM daily and late on Fri and Sat nights.

ice cream challenge

Matcha

Today’s Contender:  Matcha Love
Location:  Costa Mesa, CA
Flavor:  Matca Green Tea Soft Serve

I’m a fan just for the color alone! Matcha Love is a small food court vendor inside Mitsuwa Marketplace serving just 4 flavors of soft serve — Matcha, Black Sesame, Roasted Green Tea (Hoji-cha) and Vanilla. They say it’s the best Japanese inspired ice cream outside of Tokyo. I say not bad. Takes a bit of getting used to at first bite. But once you are past that initial burst of the green tea flavor, it’s creamy and just sweet enough. A nice change from traditional American soft serve flavors. I say what would be really great — dip in Yoku Moku cookies (my absolute favorite Japanese specialty sold at the vendor right next store). Oh how I long to go back to Tokyo . . .

 

fancy feet

LA sneakers

If you’re proud to be from Los Angeles show it on your feet with these Joshua Sanders Grey Fleece Slip-Ons.

when in doubt . . . eat

What to do with visitors to an area you’ve only been in for a few weeks . . . why try out many of the local eats, of course. Here’s a round up of a recent Orange County, CA weekend food crawl:

double doubleThis is California after all so start with a late night trip to In N Out Burger. Double Doubles with grilled onions for everyone (add extra sauce and it’s called Animal Style an off menu favorite). Smiles all round for sure . . .

Taco MariaTaco Maria, recently voted one of the top 10 restaurants not in Orange County but in all of Los Angeles (now that’s impressive) is a new favorite. Homemade corn tortillas with tasty hanger steak and a glass of red sangria are worth going back for again and again. I can’t wait to try their prix fixe dinner menu one of these days.

twenty eightTwenty Eight, by Top Chef contestant Shirley Chung specializing in Chinese food served western plate style is a great choice for a nice dinner.  An impressive looking restaurant that’s spacious and heavy on the black – black wood floors, black wooden tables, black overhead lamps. The entire meal was lovely, with the table agreeing that the plentiful appetizers or “munchies” as they call them, were spectacular. I only wish the room had been more crowded on a Saturday night. Open just a few months it doesn’t seem to have found it’s stride yet. But give it a try. You won’t be sorry.

bagels and cream cheeseNew York bagels they ain’t but Shirley’s Bagels aren’t bad for the West Coast. At least they are boiled like a real bagel should be. And they whip their own cream cheese on sight — a nice touch.

shakesEven a cold rainy-ish day shouldn’t keep you from showing visitors the beach. And what better place to sit and overlook the rocky cliffs and white sand of Crystal Cove Beach than the Shake Shack (aka Ruby’s Diner) where yummy flavored milk shakes rule.

Nancy's Chopped Salad50 Best dishes; Mar'13; John Sedlar, Pizzeria Mozza; portraitYou’ve seen the pizza now meet the salad and dessert. Pizzeria Mozza is simply the best restaurant I know. And I am sooooo happy they have an outpost in Orange County!