Monday, January 28, 2013

California Dreamin'



Is there anything better than time spent with a old friend, enjoying delectable food and delicious wine? I can't think of much! I was fortunate to have recently had a weekend like this, while visiting a dear friend of mine in California. I found a phenomenal deal on  Virgin America and couldn't pass up the chance to see her and her adorable kiddos! The flight on Virgin was great, it was an enjoyable flight as I sat next to a delightful lady who was fun to talk to, and the staff was top notch. If you ever fly Virgin America, keep an eye out for Angie, she's wonderful! She might even share some of her travel tips for looking fabulous. Bonus! The flight was seamless, it made those hours fly by (pun intended). I love having DirecTv available, or On Demand movies and snacks! Why can't I get on demand snacks at home!? I highly recommend Virgin Atlantic!

There are a few things I have to do when I go to LA, get a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf fix and stock up on whatever I can squeeze into my suitcase from Trader Joe's. I was fortunate enough to fit in two trips toTJ's on this trip. I considered the first a scouting mission to see what I'd get before I left. You have to taste test you know. I'm lucky the TSA only took away my cookie butter. I argued that it was a solid, they did not agree. The only downfall of carry-on luggage.



On Saturday, we went to Malibu Wines, which was absolutely adorable. I was so excited that Kim took me there! The weather was a bit crisp and it felt great! Coming from the winter heat (ugh) of South Florida I was excited to wrap up in a scarf and sit by the toasty fire pit. 

The concept for Malibu Wines is pretty cool! You can bring in whatever spread you'd like to eat- cheese& crackers, baked goods, baguette, whatever you'd like to pair with your wine.  When you arrive, you go to one of the well-staffed bars and either do a tasting flight, buy a bottle or a glass. You can even purchase a membership, which provides a private bar and a discount on the wine. If I lived nearby, I'd definitely be a member.

We decided to pick up some food at a local grocer  and settled on some soup and salad bar fixings. The soup was as warming as the comfort of being with a dear friend. We chose a bottle of red wine to share and relaxed and chatted the afternoon away. 












On Sunday, we went to Beverly Hills as I was hoping to eat at Bouchon Bistro, a Thomas Keller restaurant. It was the day of the Golden Globes, the area was abuzz with prepping for the fete, so the restaurants and shops were pretty empty. Bouchon has three concepts in one area. You can either eat at the Bouchon Bar or Bistro. The Bar is more casual and you can find it downstairs right near the Bakery. The Bistro, where we ate, was up stairs and we decided to sit on the patio, which was delightful. There was a bit of a nip in the air, but that was countered with warming sun rays and bubbly mimosas. We were greeted by the very pleasant Noel, our attentive server. He was from France, so naturally I had to butcher what I have left of my high-school French knowledge, and embarrass the both of us. I'm blaming the mimosas and sunshine.









We started with the Beignets du Jour which were, of course delicious. They were apple cinnamon beignets, and I was hesitant as I cannot bring myself to eat cooked apples. Noel assured us though that it was an apple creme. I'm glad I listened to his suggestion because they were divine! I tried to just have a nibble, a little, teeny-tiny taste. That didn't happen. Definitely worth the cheat.



We looked over the menu between our chit chat but it didn't take us too long to decide. Kim decided on the banana bread french toast with a caramelized banana which was a fun (and tasty!) twist on the original. It was lighter than you'd think, but packed with flavor!



I had the fanciest Chicken and Waffles I've ever seen, it was a delectable combination of a bacon and chive waffle with maple syrup, Tahitian vanilla bean butter, deliciously roasted chicken and sauce chasseur. It was so, so good! The chicken was perfectly roasted, super juicy on the inside with crispy skin and fell right off the bone.  The flavor combination was fantastic and I tried my very best to get a perfect bite every time. It's a good thing I can't get this on a regular basis, it'd be a problem- a delicious one, but a problem none the less.


Before we left Bouchon I had to stop downstairs at the Bakery. Whenever I travel I make sure to bring home some sweets and treats for Hylton. It's better than a tshirt in his opinion (and mine). I picked up some of the Chocolate Bouchons, which if you have a chance- are a must have! I also got a few other things including, a baguette and some macarons in the most delightful colors and flavors.




After brunch we decided to take a stroll around Beverly Hills to do a little shopping. We stumbled upon the Television out of the Box exhibit at the Paley Center. This was a pretty cool find! There were costumes and set pieces from some of the most famous TV shows- from Wonder Woman to Dallas, there was something for every TV fan. We got to sit in the booth from Seinfeld, on the couch from Friends, and check out some pretty cool memorabilia.













After the exhibit, we walked around a bit more and I got my Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf fix, a dirty chai latte. I really wish we had them here in Florida because the coffee is awesome. Then we found the The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills which was fabulous! The selection was fantastic and the staff was wonderful. I picked up a few more gifts and really enjoyed everything about shopping there. 

We picked out three cheeses, which were all great! I enjoyed each one. We paired the cheese with a glass of wine and the baguette from Bouchon. It was a nice, light dinner easy enough to graze on while we watched the Golden Globes





 







As I mentioned, I had to scoop up some of these delightfully colored macarons. They are as delicious as they are adorable. I couldn't decide if I should keep them as decoration or eat them. The indecision didn't last long, I decided to take a pic and eat the treats! Of course I had to share them with Hylton, which was a testament to my love for him. You can try to make your own, check out the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook, which I love. I bought it a few months ago was excited to get try the sweets at their source.

I had a wonderful time in Calafornia and can't wait to go back. I just wish I lived closer to my dear Kim, as it's too far for weekends like this very often. She was as wonderful a host as she is a friend and I appreciate the chance to be a part of their family, if only for a few days at a time. We met what seems like a million years ago on a plane from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale and what seemed like a chance encounter has turned into a almost two decade old friendship. As luck would have it, we ended up in the same high-school class a couple of years later after she transferred shcools. She's the real deal and I love her to bits.

Kim is one of the most talented people I know. She is the brains, beauty and Beastie fan behind the awesome and inspiring Club Brandspiration and Kimberly Bordonaro Personal Branding. So..."Check-ch-check-check-check-ch-check it out. What-wha-what-what-what's it all about..."














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