Friday, July 31, 2009

$6 at 6pm at XIV


It's Friday and it's time to end the week by unwinding and letting loose, all while still having enough money in your account to pay your bills at the end of the month.

The perfect solution is Michael Mina's Terrace at XIV on Sunset. Just go at 6 pm and get $6-$8 cocktails (like the grapefruit cosmo pictured above), $6 menu items, and $6 valet parking (only good from 6-7 pm, it becomes $10 from 7 pm to closing). The good news for vegetarians (and meat eaters who want a break from eating beast) is that there are 35 items on the regular menu for them; vegans have 25 options.


The Happy Hour menu has unusual appetizers, like black truffle butter popcorn, hamachi and ahi tartare poppers (pictured above), tempura prawns, Caesar salad with a white anchovy,and some American inventions, like lobster corn dogs. The drinks include cane mojitos, a raspberry "lemonade", and glasses of bubbles or wine all at the Sunset Terrace $6 price.

Enjoy your TGIF drinks, food and parking, all for about $20 at one of the best terraces on Sunset; who says you can't have fun and save money at the same time? Not me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hotels Around The World Around $100

In these days when going on vacation at any price is considered a luxury (even though it should not be), hotels around the globe are doing their best to entice you with rooms and rates that are so good that it would be a crime not to go.

Like all tourist destinations, New Orleans is struggling to recover tourist dollars; but they also have the added burden of rebuilding their reputation after the images everyone saw of the devastated areas. You can help by going and staying at Loft 523. It is as the name implies, a hotel of lofts which are approximately 600 square feet each with huge floor to ceiling windows, just 2 blocks to the French Quarter, and best of all with rates starting at just $109 a night. If you like modern minimalist decor with limestone and marble touches, this is the place for you. They even have a completely indulgent Milk bath package that includes an Archipelago Oat Milk Bath with a delivery of Krispy Kreme doughnuts! (My only suggestion would be to substitute beignets for the doughnuts).

For an adventure a little further from home, Jamaica's Treasure Beach has 31 secluded cottages and 29 rooms in shades of the sea and sky. The imaginative decor is fun and funky; it will bring a smile to your face and lighten your mood. Just the names of the cottages (like Octopussy and Jellyfish) will give you an idea of the whimsical creativity of this place that rents it's rooms for only $95 a night.

If you always wanted to go to Barcelona to see the fabulous Gaudi architecture, eat authentic seafood paella, and look over the shops in Les Rambles/Las Ramblas, check out Hotel Balmes. It is walking distance to both Les Rambles and Passeig de Gracia, and it has a beautiful pool and outdoor garden terrace that will soothe you after a day out and about on the streets. All this with rates starting at $105 a night is a steal.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

E-Road

If you like to ride bikes, but are not willing to train like Lance Armstrong to navigate miles or hills, the new electric bike E-Road may be perfect for you. Just like any other bicycle, you don't need any gas, any license, insurance or registration, and because it is an electric bike, there are no CO emissions either.

If you want a bike you can pedal, this bike works with pedal power or electric, so you can get a workout if you want one, or just cruise up to 25 miles per hour on the battery power. It comes in eight colors ranging from classic black to pink, blue and red, and at $899, it is reasonably priced for a mode of transport that does nothing bad to the environment. It also comes with a 30 day bumper to bumper warranty (but you can buy a 90 day warranty) and the batteries are all covered for 6 months. If you don't happen to live in Los Angeles and want one, they will ship to all the contiguous 48 states for only $95 (and they will ship to AK, HI & Canada for an additional amount).

Finally, a fun way to ride out the traffic in Los Angeles!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Let Them Eat Cheesecake

I remember when there was only ONE Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Beverly Hills; I used to go with friends and just eat cheesecake for dinner (back in the days when we could do that and not gain 10 lbs overnight). It's nice to see how well they have done in expanding both their menu and their locations across the country.

Since July 30th is National Cheesecake Day, this Thursday you can go to any one of their 146 locations and get any slice of cheesecake for half the price! They are introducing their newest creation, Stefanie's Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake™ with four layers of original, with cream cheese and white chocolate. If this isn't to your taste, then maybe the tiramisu, caramel pecan turtle, or key lime cheesecake will tempt your taste buds. For those who insist on low carb they have that option (but why bother?).

The only real restriction (if you can call it that) is that this offer is to dine in only. And to add to your incentive to eat cheesecake, Cheesecake Factory will donate 25¢ to Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network, for every slice they sell this year.

Go eat your cheesecake (and then go work out!).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Couch Surfing

When I travel to foreign places, one of the things I love the most is getting to know the natives and getting a taste of living like a local. Making friends who live in the places where you travel is a great way to educate yourself and to learn how we are all connected by the simple common experiences of everyday life, whether it is laughter, good food, or a beautiful vista.

Couch Surfing is dedicated to cultural exchanges and education through the simple act of getting locals to show visitors their city. The best way to get to know a place is to stay with local inhabitants and couch surfing is like a huge community bulletin board which offers visitors to a city everything from a simple coffee or drink with a native, to a couch to sleep on for a few days. Although all this is all free, it is NOT meant to be a freeloader or extended stay offer; if you are looking for free crash pads, this is NOT the site for you.

Think of Couch Surfing as an adult foreign exchange program; you should respect the host and the host should respect the guests. Hosts are welcoming strangers into their homes (the host decides whether or not to accept a request); this is meant to be a way to build relationships and understanding. People are vouched for by others who have actually met them and references are taken very seriously (this applies to both hosts and guests). People who do not adhere to the principles and ethics of this type of exchange are black listed.

Most places are in the US, but several languages and countries are represented and there are "ambassadors" for several cities. The FAQ section covers various practical tips for women traveling alone, vegans, physically challenged travelers, and people traveling with children.

I found this to be a great idea and if you keep in mind all the common sense rules for travel (like checking references and profiles carefully before selecting a potential guest or host), this could be a wonderful way to travel to new places and make new friends all at the same time!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Frysmith

Do you love French Fries? Do you love your fries topped with your favorite foods? Ok, most people have had chili cheese fries with all the messy gooey goodness that they entail, but how about vegan fries made with organic tomato and mixed beans with soy chorizo and smoked paprika, with or without cheese? How about an Asian twist with kimchi fries, made with kimchi with Kurobuta pork belly, onions and cheddar cheese? For meat lovers, the Rajas fries with fire-roasted poblano chiles, caramelized onions and shawarma-marinated steak with Jack cheese, would be an obvious choice. You have choices between sweet potatoes and regular, so you can decide which way you want to go on the savory sweet debate.

Where can you get all these? Frysmith. It's one of those roving vendors like the Korean/Mexican fusion Kogi trucks that will start roaming the streets of Los Angeles this August, so if any of the descriptions sound good to you, let them know where you want them so they can put a stop on their itinerary to be near you. You can follow them on Twitter or Facebook for the latest updates.

One thing I love about this company before even tasting their food is the fact that they are building their own trucks to run on diesel so they can RECYCLE the fry oil and use it to run the truck! Talk about literally putting money where your mouth was!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Prima MGM

The second biggest hotel in Las Vegas (and in the world) is the MGM Grand and with everyone trying to stay solvent and save money, they are doing their best to fill their rooms, restaurants, and shops with clients so that the people who work in those places keep their jobs.

It is now easier than ever to be treated like a whale (high roller) without having to spend thousands at the tables. The MGM now has a program called Prima that gives you VIP check-in, upgrade to a celebrity spa or bungalow suite (or a $50 credit if you want a regular room), roundtrip limo to another MGM property, a one level upgrade to tickets at Cirque's KA, VIP entry and escort into both Studio 54 and Tabu nightclubs, 2 for 1 drinks at the lounges, free access to Wet Republic pool, free access to the spa and fitness center, 2 for 1 entrees at 8 of the fine dining restaurants, (including L'Atelier, Seablue and Craftsteak), complimentary bottle of champagne when 2 people dine (at $89 per person) at Joel Robuchon, MGM Buffet VIP line pass, and a no wait taxi line pass (which can save you an hour during peak times).

What do you have to do for all this? Spend at least $500 on your Prima account (aside from your room charge). All the fine print is here, but after reading it, I still found everything was straightforward, without any hidden surprises. It's easy to spend $500 in just two days with two people in Las Vegas, so why not do it in a place that will give you perks you really can't pay for, like VIP line passes, in addition to saving you money on food and drinks?

Laissez les bons temps roulez as a high roller in Las Vegas!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Greek Today Gone Tomorrow

Two of my friends wanted to go for an extended cruise to Greece this year, so I started doing some research for them (and for myself since I am planning to go next year). If I did not get seasick, I would consider the cruise option, but between the possibility of being queasy during the entire trip and my lust for beaches and tasting local Greek life, I decided to stick to a land based trip.

One of the best resources I have found is the Greek Travel website; I love it because it has details on each of the islands so you can tailor your trip to what you like (discos or dinner at a quiet taverna?) There are so many choices that it can be overwhelming, so once you have some idea of how long you want to explore Greece and what kind of vacation you would like (beach or town, museums or hiking), check out Thesaurus Travel. It is always best to go with a local travel agency when traveling to a foreign country, and Barbara at Thesaurus speaks (and writes) fluently in English! She is helping me plan my trip based on my requests for good food (a must!), good beaches, and local (quiet) life on the islands.

My friends decided to be less adventurous, not wanting to deal with renting a place, figuring out directions and learning some Greek, so they have opted for a cruise through the islands. In today's economy, many of the best cruises are discounting prices by 50% or more, especially for bookings right before departures. Since they want to go this August, I found them a few deals through Vacations To Go. The site has details on dress codes, tipping and cabins, so it is like having a one stop cruise discount specialist online. Since my friends are younger (mid 30's) they prefer a more intimate ship like Windstar's Wind Spirit with ocean view cabins for $1599 per person (68% discount) departing August 29, 2009. My friends are like me and love great food, so I also found them Silversea's Silver Whisper suite for $3497 (50% discount) or balcony for $4347 (50% discount) departing Sept 5, 2009 (Silversea was rated by Conde Nast readers as the top cruise ship for food). These discounts disappear quickly as departure dates approach, so if you are flexible enough to go in the next few weeks, take advantage of the savings as they try to fill up the remaining cabins. These ships will sail with or without you, so climb on board with a fatter wallet by booking within a month of your departure.

Doing the research today means that I will be happier with my vacation in Greece (even if it isn't tomorrow).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kooza 25% off

Cirque is coming back to Santa Monica Pier and if you want to go, get your tickets before August 25th and get a 25 % discount ($31-65 for select performances). The new show is Kooza and will have a Halloween type theme (since the show will be in the Fall) featuring skeletons, rats and other assorted scary characters in addition to the usual acrobatic marvels. After watching the preview, I decided to pass on the show for the simple reason that I would run screaming out of the big top during the performance section with the rats (I was even scared during the animated movie Ratatouille!).

If you want to get scary white teeth, Arm and Hammer (yes, the baking soda people) want you to try their toothpaste for free! Just go to http://www.tryarmandhammer.com and they will send you a free sample. I use their toothpaste and love how clean my mouth feels; it tastes so much better than simply brushing with baking soda!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Free Starbucks Pastry

It's always nice when a big name brand offers something you might actually WANT when you may actually want it. Starbucks is having a free pastry promotion tomorrow from opening until 10:30 am (or until the pastries run out), all you have to do is buy a drink and choose whether you want a muffin, scone, croissant, or piece of coffee cake. You don't even have to print out the coupon from the link above, you can just show the Barista this promo link on your mobile device.

Of course all this is to show off their new line up of pastries with no trans fat, no artificial flavors or dyes, and no high fructose corn syrup. They say the best way to get a consumer to buy something is to let them try it for free, so if you like it you will buy it.

Of course, if you are like me and 10:30am is still considered dark thirty, they will have more pastries (although you will have to pay for them) the next day; in this case it really is a case of you snooze, you lose.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

One

~Let us all live as One~

One Race: The Human

One Country: The World

One Belief: The Love

Friday, July 17, 2009

Club Med Food & Wine Festival

Decades ago I vacationed at Club Med in Moorea (French Polynesia, closed since 2001) and I loved it so much that I ended up working there; it was an easy choice between my corporate job in Los Angeles and a tropical job in Tahiti. My vacation changed my life as I went on to travel for two years around the world.

I have been back as a guest to various Club Med resorts and my trips are usually a mix of nostalgia and appreciation for how both the Club and I have evolved over the years. One of their new innovations is the creation of weeks which focus on different themes from food to sports. The one that caught my eye is a Food and Wine Festival in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic the week of September 27 - October 4, 2009. The resort has recently undergone a $34 million dollar renovation, and there will be 32 chefs in a Caribbean island cook off, as well as demonstrations, seminars and dinners throughout the week. All this is sponsored by Travel & Leisure, so top notch chefs and sommeliers will be in attendance as guests and speakers. All this for only $207 per person per night is a great deal considering that Club Med is still all inclusive, so all your gourmet dining and drinking is included with your room and entertainment!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Prix Fixe Las Vegas

After my post on Joel Robouchon the other day, I decided to check out other famous chefs in Las Vegas who are also offering deals on their meals since it's clear that a $500 meal extravaganza is no longer in vogue as it is replaced by more modest meals under $100.

Even at the Wynn, where the restaurants never have special menus, the Daniel Boulud Brasserie now has a $36 menu; you can enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the prime show watching views at the Lake of Dreams with enough money leftover to play at the casino after dinner. If you are staying at the Encore (as I will be in a few months), Society Cafe has a special $36 menu as well.

If you are mid Strip, try Mario Batali's B&B pre-theater (from 5-6:30pm) menu in the Venetian for $49 which includes appetizer, main and dessert choices which you can enjoy with unlimited wine for an additional $25 per person. If you are a local, go to Spago's in Caesar's for a 25% discount off your entire check.

If you are at the other end of the Strip, Aureole in Mandalay Bay has a 3 course dinner for $75 or 7 courses for $95 (add 7 wines for $160 per person). And the MGM, being the biggest hotel on the strip, also has the most offerings, including menus at Craftsteak for $60, $59 at Shibuya, $45 at SeaBlue, and $39 at Nobhill Tavern.

So many choices, but only one stomach; somehow I will find a way!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pet Airways

As everyone who knows me already knows, I do not have any pets, plants or kids. This lack of responsibility is better for all living creatures because I don't want to kill any of them and in my care they would probably suffer from my lack of skill, knowledge, and/or attention, much to their detriment. However, many of my friends (in fact most of my friends) do have pets, plants, and kids, so today's post is for everyone with a beloved pet.

Pet Airways is a new airline which just launched for animal lovers who can't bear the thought of their beloved family in the cargo hold of a plane as they sit in comfort in a cabin. Although they mainly transport dogs and cats, they will also transport other pets. Instead of baggage handlers loading your pets, they are in the care of trained pet attendants. They are assured of fresh air and potty breaks before flying and upon landing and they are secured in pet carriers made for their size by the airline (no need to bring your own). You may even drop off your pet up to 72 hours before your flight to have them board him or her. If their flight is delayed for more than 15 minutes you will even get an email and phone call letting you know the flight status (and potty breaks will be given as soon as the flight lands).

What does all this cost? About the price of a coach ticket for a human; New York to LA is $299 each way, LA to Chicago $199. If you can afford to travel in style and want your pet to enjoy a similar level of comfort, this is a nice option if you don't travel by private jet, and who does these days?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sexy Clothes

Happy Bastille Day!

Since I did not go out to eat at a French restaurant today, I decided to go shopping for something in the spirit of France and wound up at Forplay in Hollywood. Not only do they carry fun lingerie at prices that won't break your piggy bank ($30-$60 for complete outfits), but they have great clubwear for a night out, costumes for Halloween (never too early to shop) or just to play a girl scout, nurse or pirate for fun, and shoes from stripper heights of 6 1/2" to more modest 4" mules. Forplay is a bit like Fredrick's down the street, but with more imaginative choices and slightly better quality.

If you are in the mood to splurge on the real deal, head south to Melrose and go to Kiki De Montparnasse. They carry the truly fine French lingerie that also carries the truly high price tags of about $200 for a bra or panty. They also have some playful underwear for $65 that have French "instructions" on them teaching you what to say to your lover, like "Fesse-moi" (spank me). Unless you shop their sale, you won't find much clothing here under $100. The store is fabulous, with fun gifts ranging from soaps and candles to toys and blindfolds, so you can be as wild or mild (they carry a book by Helmut Newton and DVDs like Roman Holiday) as you wish with your partner and your pleasures. This shop is better than an erotic museum with it's scope and variety of art, styles, and tastes (literally, they carry chocolate sauces). The added benefit here is that you can buy and take home your favorite things!

Vive la difference! After all Bastille Day was all about freedom of choice:)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Joel Robuchon Prix Fixe

The famed chef Joel Robuchon has several outposts in Las Vegas, but to get a taste of this Parisian virtuoso's talent costs about as much as a car payment (and yes, I am talking about a GOOD car, i.e. $300 per person or more WITHOUT taking into account the wines you choose). His reputation and talent have earned him more Michelin stars than any other chef in the world, but with the economic climate today, even Joel Robuchon now has two special prix fixe menus at his restaurants in Las Vegas.

His namesake restaurant Joel Robochon, has two to six course menus that range from $89-$195 per person. This is truly a bargain since one main course here is easily $100, so to get six works of palate art for $195 is a steal. There are several choices for each course to suit every taste: seafood choices include Crevette Royale, shitake mushroom stuffed with a tiger prawn mousse, ginger and shrimp broth; meat choices include duck and seared foie gras in a cherry sauce and fresh almonds; dessert choices offer strawberries and Champagne Rose over fresh mango granite with crunchy red fruits.

The more casual L'Atelier offers even less expensive options with a $39 prix fixe menu of three courses all served within 15 minutes before 6:45pm. Choices here include snapper tartare layered with crispy potatoes, stuffed lamb shoulder with parsley ravioli, and a Harry's berries strawberry sable tart.

It isn't often that you get to savor the tastes of a Master Chef at artful prices, so save yourself the airfare and jet lag by heading over to Robuchon's restaurants in Las Vegas.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Free and Almost Free Drinks Today

Since today is 7/11, the chain of stores with the same name are offering a free slurpee at participating locations around the Los Angeles. If a frozen neon colored drink isn't your drink of choice, maybe a nice bottle of Di Ri-enzo Chardonnay (retail $11.99) is, so order it at Wines 'Til Sold Out, at $6.99 a bottle. As the website name says, when the wines are sold out, they are gone, so order as much as you think you might want to drink at a discount while you can.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Love on Sale, Car Rentals, and Lingerie

The Cirque du Soleil show LOVE at the Mirage has a number of limited seats available at 50% off if you book through it with your hotel stay online; this deal includes 20-30% off your room at the Mirage, so take advantage of the offer if you want to see the show. I saw LOVE twice in two months and now it looks like I will be seeing it again!

If you are planning to drive to Las Vegas, why not rent a car rather than put miles on yours? There is a website called Vroom Vroom Vroom which allows you to compare prices from all the major car rental companies in one place for your dates and destination; it's like Hotels.com but for cars. The beauty of the site is they list the cars available through the different companies with pictures that come up as you scroll so you can see what the cars look like if you are unfamiliar with the model offered. As a bonus, this is a company that actually puts money towards climate and environmental causes to offset the emissions of cars they rent.

And if you do go to the show in your rented car and need some clothes for the trip, stop by Lulu's (see my previous post for more about this great store) in Manhattan Beach today for their annual summer sale with items 50-80% off. I love the Cosabella dress I bought at the sale last year, and I will most likely wear it to Las Vegas when I go in September, so yes, I actually DO what I recommend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bastille Day in the Park

For the eighth year in a row, the French Consulate is having a big Bastille Day Celebration this Sunday July 12th at Elysian Park near Dodger Stadium from noon-10pm, entry is only $5 for adults and free for kids under 13. Spend a day in the park watching the Parisian waiters race, participate in the petanque tournament (like Italian bocce balls), or watch the singing and dancing performers as you taste the delights offered by French restaurants and bakeries. All entrants also get to enter the raffle for a free ticket to Paris or Tahiti, so you never know if a fun day could turn into a fun trip!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Backyard @ Westwood's W Hotel

My friend Cindy came into town for a class at UCLA and the only time we had to get together for a meal was at 4pm. The only place I found open at the "lunner" hour between lunch and dinner was at the Backyard at the W Hotel.

Parking at the free Broxton garage (no charge for the first 2 hours before 6:01pm) a few blocks away was a breeze, and the five block walk on a nice July day was the perfect start to a nice afternoon with a friend.

The entrance to the restaurant winds up a hill by the pool area to the right of the main entrance to the hotel, so you get a nice open air preview of the atmosphere. With private cabanas around the back of the pool, couches and tables are set for the restaurant on the opposite end with choices of sun or shade; we opted for shade because it was a warm day.

There are several menus, lunch, brunch, afternoon, and dinner, with some items appearing on all three as appetizers. Since we were not very hungry, the afternoon menu was perfect. Cindy chose the crispy lump crab cakes served with a spicy mango sauce and scallion mojo; I chose the spicy tuna tartare with gingered cucumbers, lotus root chips, avocado, and sesame edamame. Everything was beautifully presented; the crab cakes were four miniature disks topped with a nice dollop of the spicy mango sauce and my tuna tartare came in a perfect tower of avocado, tuna, edamame, and cucumber.

Because we ate so lightly, we had room for dessert, so we chose the strawberry shortcake on the advice of our very pleasant waiter. It was made with a soft shortcake, dusted with confectioner's sugar, a nice lemon curd, candied blueberries, and strawberries, a nice not too sweet finish to a beautiful afternoon.

If she didn't have a class to go to and if I had not taken allergy medication, we might have opted for one of their dessert drinks, like an iced angel coffee or a chocolate martini, but those are best when you have a room upstairs at the hotel or a pool cabana to sleep in afterwards:)

Paris or Palos Verdes

The Sofitel in Paris is in a 19th Century building, only 100 metres (109 feet) from the famed Champs Elysees. You can compare the location to being in Los Angeles and staying in an hotel only 109 feet from Rodeo Drive (for example at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire), but for 202 Euros (about $281 USD) this is a bargain, especially since the price includes a room upgrade, early check in and late check out, and a free picnic lunch packed for you to explore this beautiful city. You must stay a minimum of 4 nights to get this price, but why would you ever go to Paris and stay for less than four days? Book this through Perfect Escapes by calling them at 877-589-7688 and ask for offer OID:1000 or book it through the link on their website.

If you prefer the Southern California coast, the new Terranea Resort on the Palos Verdes peninsula is open with 90% of the rooms offering unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean. With rates starting at $145 that includes breakfast for two, a $25 resort credit, complimentary upgrade, early check in and late check out, you can escape close to home (if your home is in Los Angeles). This offer is also through Perfect Escapes just ask for offer OID:1018 or book it through the link on their website.

What is your perfect escape?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Flight Sales

Consolidators always have great deals, and when they have sales, they have extraordinary prices! C and H International has a special on Australian destinations through July 15th with fares from $529 going from San Francisco to Sydney, or $710 from New York to Sydney, and yes those prices are for a ROUNDTRIP ticket! The prices don't include the laundry list of taxes and fees charged for air travel these days, but even with all that, you are still looking at less than $1000, which is what I paid to fly to Sydney back in 1985!

For travel closer to home, Southwest is having a 48 hour sale on EVERY city, with discounts based on the distance from your starting point. If you travel up to 400 miles you save $30, if you travel 401-750 miles, you save $60, and for travel more than 750 miles from home, you save $90.

With discounts like these you can afford to fly away and stay away for more days.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cusp Century City Sale

Every once in a blue moon I want to get something special for myself and I don't do my usual hunt for the best deal. But my basic nature is to hunt, and when I am in an extravagant mood, a 40% off sale at Cusp allows me to indulge both my impulses of bargain shopping and blowing out my savings.

As every show addict knows, there are never enough shoes, and that applies doubly when the shoes are unique pieces that make an outfit like Pour la Victoire Spectator pumps ($275 regularly but on sale for $192) or the object of my lust, the Elizabeth James Jazz Button Pumps (not on sale at $325).

Clothes range from the comfortable and casual Joie crop pants (on sale for $112) to the dressy Vera Wang Lavender label ($455 regularly but on sale for $159). Of course they sell accessories from buttery soft handbags (Marc Jacobs hobos on sale for $349) to earrings and bracelets, but the finishing touches which got my attention were the Chanel lip glosses and the Gucci fragrances by the cash register, unfortunately all at regular retail; do cosmetics and perfumes ever go on sale outside of the duty free shops?

I could have easily spent $3000 in Cusp today, but I settled on a $27 Chanel lipgloss because Richard Gere was no where in sight.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

French Independence Fetes

Our Independence Holiday is tomorrow (as everyone on the road today knows), and our National Independence inspired the French to storm the Bastille just ten days (and 13 years) later. Just as our celebrations include food like burgers, ribs, and hot dogs, the French celebration also includes food, but not the kind you eat with your hands.

Comme Ca was recently reviewed by a very prestigious critic as having the best burger in the US, but if you go for their special Bastille Day Celebration which runs from July 12-July 18, you'll get to choose a $40 Prix Fixe 3 course menu. There will be specials throughout the week, including Sunday's special $5 drinks and $7 appetizers of items like pork belly confit (cooked in its own fat).

A bit further south at Newport Beach, Brasserie Pascal is hosting a $25 wine & hors d'oeuvres party to benefit the Literacy Project from 5-7 pm July 14 (Bastille Day); if the party wakes your appetite, you can go on to dine on a 3 course meal of Parisian Cuisine for $35 or $60 with wine pairings.

Oh la la what what great ways to celebrate Independence!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

UK Day

Some smart companies are combining old fashioned marketing with new social web applications to build their businesses, and when they offer great products or services, it is a win-win-win.

I learned about Corsets UK on Twitter because they are new to the social networking site and wanted to reward their new followers with a free corset. Although I don't wear corsets everyday (who does?), I love how they look and for a special dress up occasion, I would happily tie one on (so to speak). They offer beautiful colors ranging from the sexy black and red to prim and virginal white, with a rainbow of colors in between, all in different styles; it's hard to choose just one, and with their special promotion where you buy three but only pay for the two most expensive ones, you can indulge yourself. Prices range from £21-70 ($34-115 USD) and they offer steel boned regular size, waspies and full body styles, so you can order something that fits your waist (20"-38") and your preference.

I also learned about Moonfruit on Twitter because they are giving away a MacBook a day for 10 days when their site is retweeted. I checked out what they offered since I had never heard of them before and I was so impressed by their FREE website builder that I built two! My website has been with Geocities for years, but Yahoo has announced that Geocities is shutting down at the end of this year. I was going to pay to move my site to a regular domain, so finding Moonfruit was fortuitous in many ways. Not only are there NO pop up ads or annoying banners, but the interface is smooth and easy to navigate on Macs (a problem with Geocities-I had to go to a PC to build or update anything). There are literally thousands of templates and customization options to choose from, and the whole thing is FREE. The only thing they ask is that you update your site at least once every six months (which you should do anyway). You can purchase additional bandwidth, mailboxes, and merchant services, but the basic service is all free.

Independence includes the ability to choose where you want to shop for goods and services, even if it means choosing the "old country".

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Le Saint Amour

One of my favorite wines is Cru Saint-Amour (a Beaujolais); I like it so much that it was the wine I served at my wedding eons ago. The combination of the romantic name evoking delicious memories and the proximity of a similarly named French Brasserie in Culver City, drew me to try it for lunch today. It also helped that I was already in the neighborhood, had not eaten lunch yet, and it was getting close to 2 pm.

The outdoor patio is very hospitable; nice wooden tables shaded with sun umbrellas provide shade or sun depending on your preference. Even at 2pm the terrace was crowded with both business and casual lunch clientele, speaking in French and Studioese (there are several movie studios are within walking distance). I was impressed that the service was classically French, meaning that the waiters were obviously trained waiters, not actors killing time in between auditions. Most of the staff is French and I heard the owner ordering supplies with a French accent, so kudos for authentic atmosphere and decor.

I was so pleased to find whitefish with warm lentils ($15) on the menu that I ordered it immediately, bypassing the classic steak aux poivres ($15) , salade nicoise ($14), and poulet roti ($15).


The fish was slightly overdone for me, but most Americans prefer it the way it was cooked (I shuddered as I heard a nearby diner order his steak "medium well"). The lentils were very nicely done with brunoises of carrots and onions; the vinegar was used with a heavy hand, probably too much for most palates, but I liked the contrast of a tart accompaniment to the rich fish.

It looks like I will have to come back on a Thursday night for their gourmet oyster night at the bar. Hosted by "Maitre Ecailler" Christophe Happilon, it promises to be a good way to end a work day or begin a night of fun.