Travelogue: taking in the arts in Scottsdale, Arizona

Taliesin West

Taliesin West

When I think of Scottsdale, Arizona, spas, golf and swimming pools come to mind. But now, after having spent some time there, I know that art — in all forms — is just as integral to the city’s identity.

I had the opportunity to visit two of Scottsdale’s cultural centers: the Musical Instrument Museum and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. I would go back to either in a heartbeat. Each was a unique experience that left me wanting more.

The Musical Instrument Museum, which is actually in neighboring Phoenix, houses more than 6,000 instruments from 200 countries and territories. This collection makes for hours of fun education for anyone interested in music and world culture. The upper level is categorized by region of the world, and the lower level features special collections, including an exhibit of self-playing instruments and an experiential gallery. There’s even a concert hall with live performances. Allow at least half a day here. Our two hours were not enough!

Guitar exhibit

Guitar exhibit

Chinese instruments

Chinese instruments

This fall, on Oct. 18 and 19, the museum will host an outdoor, two-day music festival celebrating musical traditions from all over the world, with musical performances, dancers, street performers and food trucks.

We also toured Taliesin West (pictured above), architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s West Coast home, studio and instructional campus. We took the 90-minute tour of the grounds and house that includes a lot of historical information from informed docents who clearly enjoy what they do.

I’ve also heard that the Museum of Contemporary Art is a must-see as well. This fall and winter, from Sept. 28 through Jan. 11, 2015, the museum will house the Donald Rumsfeld-inspired “Covert Operations: Investigating the Unknowns,” an exhibit from 13 international artists based on the idea of expansion of federal power and infringement of constitutional rights in the wake of 9/11. Given Arizona’s Republican leanings, this should be an interesting show.

So next time you’re thinking about taking a trip, especially one within driving distance of Los Angeles (6 hours by car), then consider Scottsdale. You can relax at the spa, play the links and take in some culture.

Note: These visits were hosted.

19

07 2014

Wood and Vine’s new summer menu is best yet

Burrata and peaches at Wood & Vine

Burrata and peaches at Wood & Vine

Hollywood’s Wood and Vine has gone through a few changes over the years, but the restaurant’s new summer menu from Chef Marc Johnson might be its best yet.

With a sharing-plates concept, you can try many dishes at Wood and Vine — a good thing, considering the high quality of each.

Start with the burrata and peaches (pictured above) served with prosciutto crisps and micro basil. I love stone fruit, so summer is always exciting for me, and the peaches in this dish pair well with the smooth cheese and crunchy ham.

Move on to the braised bacon with fried grits, cheddar, pickled ramps and jalapeno. The pork belly is super tender, and the fried grit balls topped with the pickled veg are an interesting way to get a creamy sourness in as an accompaniment.

Braised bacon

Braised bacon

For your pasta course, get the basil capellini. The basil-flavored pasta topped with charred cherry tomatoes, proscuitto, mushroom, preserved lemon and duck egg yolk is somehow light and substantial at the same time. My favorite part is the lemon.

Basil cappelini

Basil cappelini

The striped bass comes on top of an interesting concoction of nduja (spreadable salami), peaches and cauliflower, and is topped with fresh peppercress. The fish is perfectly cooked with delightfully crispy skin, and its lightness paired with the flavorful meat combo is a pleasant complement.

Striped bass

Striped bass

For dessert, get the butterscotch pot de creme. No question. Its sweet-and-salty combination makes me happy.

Butterscotch pot de creme

Butterscotch pot de creme

Don’t forget the cocktails! Wood and Vine’s bar manager Justin Stidham’s summer drink menu includes some good ones. The Black Star, with House Spirits rum, Giffard Banane (banana liqueur), housemade orgeat, Angostura bitters, fresh pineapple and lime, is summer in a glass served over crushed ice. And the Street Spirit, with its slightly sour combo of Buffalo Trace bourbon, fresh lemon juice, strawberry balsamic shrub, sherry, ginger beer and lemon peel, might not be for everyone, but it is certainly for me.

Black Star

Black Star

Street Spirit

Street Spirit

Note: This meal was hosted.

13

07 2014

Neapolitan heaven at DeSano Pizza Bakery + pizza making class

Margherita pizza

Margherita pizza

Do you love pizza? Like, really, really good pizza that has the perfect balance of toppings and cheese on a crispy-but-chewy crust? Then we share this love, you and me. So let me tell you about DeSano Pizza Bakery, a Neapolitan pizza joint in East Hollywood where you can not only eat these delicious pies but also learn how to make them.

Tomorrow, July 12, DeSano’s proprietors, Italy natives Marino Monferrato, formerly general manager at Cecconi’s, and pizzaiolo Massimiliano Di Lascio, will host a pizza-making class that includes tastings and your own dough to take home. Maybe you’ll get to make the classic Margherita (pictured above), with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil and garlic. Or maybe you’ll make the San Gennaro, a sweet-spicy-tangy combination of sausage, peppadews, buffalo mozzarella, garlic and caramelized onions.

San Gennaro pizza

San Gennaro pizza

You’ll use ingredients sourced from the Campania region of Southern Italy, and you’ll be firing up these pies in one of the restaurant’s four 6,000-pound, 900-degree wood-fired ovens imported from Italy and traditionally named after Italian saints.

DeSano's pizza ovens

DeSano’s pizza ovens

While you’re there, try a calzone. The Vesuvio, with spicy salame, prosciutto, pepperoni and garlic, is a meat lover’s dream.

Vesuvio calzone

Vesuvio calzone

For dessert, get a housemade cannoli or biscotti, or a small-batch gelato made by local Alessandro Fontana (his is the recipe over at Cecconi’s, too). Or get more than one; no one will judge. The blood orange sorbet is amazingly creamy, given its lack of dairy.

Ricotta cannoli, left, and chocolate cannoli

Ricotta cannoli, left, and chocolate cannoli

Blood orange sorbet, left, and salted caramel gelato

Blood orange sorbet, left, and salted caramel gelato

This is the third location for DeSano Pizza Bakery (the other two are in Nashville and Charleston, South Carolina). DeSano’s space is cavernous, so you can bring a bunch of friends, order a bunch of pies, and eat them with abandon — hopefully with a bottle of something Italian soon (wine and beer will be served here as soon as the license gets worked out — a notoriously difficult process).

More information on the Neapolitan pizza-making class:

Saturday, July 12
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
$40 per person, which includes personal instruction from Massimiliano DiLascio, a tasting of the pizzas prepared and dough to take home.
Call (323) 913-7000 for reservations (ask for Marino Monferrato)

DeSano Pizza Bakery
4959 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

11

07 2014

Set yourself free at Unplug Meditation

Unplug Meditation

Unplug Meditation

Life can be overwhelming. Sometimes, you just need to slow down. Easier said that done, though, right?

That’s where Unplug Meditation comes in.

Unplug, located on the eastern edge of Santa Monica in West Los Angeles, is a studio dedicated to the art of meditation with 30- and 45-minute drop-in classes that focus on everything from simple mindfulness to stress reduction while driving in traffic. Many of the studio’s guides have advanced degrees and are trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques. Unplug Meditation’s founder, Suze Yalof Schwartz, is a former fashion editor who opened the studio as part of her own spiritual journey.

I recently took one of these classes. I was curious to see how the guiding process would go, considering my idea of stress reduction has been yelling, “Serenity, now!” Rest assured, there is no yelling at Unplug Meditation. My guide was Natalie Bell, who calmly and gently guided my small group to be present in the moment. She didn’t tell us that we had to put all thoughts out of our minds, but that we should allow our thoughts to come and go as they please. We sat on the floor on comfy pads that could be flattened or folded up like chairs in a darkened room with soft, soothing music. Interestingly, my classes consisted of three men and me. For whatever reason, I thought there would be more women, but maybe it was just my particular class that day.

I left Unplug Meditation feeling relaxed — maybe too relaxed. It took me a while to kind of snap out of it. Luckily, there are 15 minutes between classes, so you can take your time leaving. And the first class is free, with no obligation to sign up for more. No stress here. (Pro-tip: LivingSocial is currently offering a deal on classes, for when you decide it’s for you.)

Note: This class was complimentary, as are all first classes.

06

07 2014

Travelogue: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort in Scottsdale, Arizona

Fairmont Scottsdale room

Fairmont Scottsdale room

I recently visited Scottsdale, Arizona, and had the opportunity to stay at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort. Located in North Scottsdale, it’s a little out of the way, but that may just be the whole point.

The Fairmont Scottsdale is a sprawling resort complete with multiple pools and eateries, as well as a two-story wellness spa, for maximum desert-style relaxation.

First, the rooms. Our room had ample space, with a walk-in closet, desk, seating area and private balcony. The bed was comfy, and the bathroom had both a stand-up shower and a tub, as well as Le Labo bath products. No complaints.

View from our room

View from our room

Welcome amenities at Fairmont Scottsdale

Welcome amenities at Fairmont Scottsdale

Amply stocked minibar at Fairmont Scottsdale

Amply stocked minibar at Fairmont Scottsdale — with my fave Macallan 12

Fairmont Scottsdale bathroom

Fairmont Scottsdale bathroom

As Scottsdale is known for its luxurious spa experiences, I naturally partook in a treatment at the resort’s Well & Being at Willow Stream Spa, which offers everything from traditional spa treatments and a rooftop pool to aerial yoga classes and nutrition and fitness consultations. I opted for a full body scrub and light massage with natural Body Bliss and Naturopathica skin products, all of which are derived from natural and/or organic ingredients. My provider Mistie made me feel comfortable right away and explained everything to me. And with access to the open-air pool, grotto waterfall, steam room, Swedish dry sauna, eucalyptus inhalation room, Swiss shower, hot whirlpool and cold plunge pool, as well as a full spa cuisine menu, you can easily spend a full relaxing day here. Oh, and fitness classes are included in your booking. Score!

Aerial yoga

Aerial yoga

Keep reading

30

06 2014

Eat better with The Better Chip + World Cup recipes

the better chipYou like snacks. More specifically, you like chips. But you struggle to balance your desire for delicious crunchy goodness with eating healthily. (And by “you,” I of course mean “me.”)

Enter The Better Chip. They’re made with few ingredients that are actually recognizable, are gluten-free and vegan-friendly, and are non-GMO Project verified. What also makes these chips stand out is the use of whole foods baked right into the corn chip base; I spied part of a kale stalk in one of my chips, so they’re legit.

I’ve tried all The Better Chip flavors: corn, beets, spinach & kale, chipotles, and jalapenos. I like them all, though beets doesn’t have as much flavor as the others. Chipotles and jalapenos are spicy — remember, the peppers are baked right in! — so watch out. The chips are a bit on the heavy side but are still crispy, so they make for a good nacho base.

Speaking of nachos, The Better Chip has come up with some World Cup-themed recipes that you can enjoy while watching the games (most of these teams are still in contention, too!):

  • Germany Kraut Nachos: The Better Chip beet chips topped with sauerkraut, finely diced bratwurst, diced bacon and drizzle of brown mustard
  • Ghana Tatale Nachos: The Better Chip chipotle chips topped with grilled marinated beef, fried sweet plantains and fresh baby spinach, sprinkled with unsweetened coconut
  • Greek Salad Nachos: The Better Chip spinach & kale chips topped with hummus, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives and feta cheese (grilled lamb optional)
  • Japanese Sashimi Nachos: The Better Chip jalapeno chips topped with chopped up yellow tail, diced avocado and a drizzle of wasabi-infused soy sauce
  • Mexico Authentic Nachos: The Better Chip chipotle chips topped with marinated carne asada, pinto beans, crumbled queso fresco, cilantro and guacamole
  • Brazilian Samba Nachos:  The Better Chip corn chips topped with feijoada (Brazilian black bean and meat stew) and a fresh mango, onion, cilantro and tomato lime salsa
  • American Hawaii Style Nachos: The Better Chip jalapeno chips topped with pulled pork, grilled pineapple and a drizzle of melted cheese

    Greek Salad Nacho

    Greek Salad Nacho

Even if you’re not into soccer, these recipes would make for some fun international-themed party eats. I even made some satisfying gringo-style nachos with the chipotle chips topped with melted shredded cheddar cheese, refried beans and salsa (don’t judge — it’s all I had in my fridge), so anything is possible.

Note: These chips were complimentary.

25

06 2014

New hotel, new experiences at Loews Hollywood

Dinner on the Stage

Dinner on the Stage

With a recent $31 million transformation, the Loews Hollywood Hotel, located at the Hollywood & Highland complex where the Academy Awards ceremony is held, offers a breath of fresh air compared to its former incarnation as the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. Now the Loews is sleek and modern, befitting any celebrity — or anyone who wants to feel like one.

To that end, Loews Hollywood offers a unique Dinner on the Stage experience — private meals made by Wolfgang Puck Catering served on the Dolby Theater stage complete with decor and live entertainment. This is really designed for large groups (the stage is big!) and will run you at least $50,000. I had the opportunity to experience this, and it really is a cool thing to do. How can you beat having dinner on the same stage where so many Oscar winners stood? The Dolby is a looker, too. Not a bad backdrop.

While Dinner on the Stage will cost you a pretty penny, another unique Loews Hollywood experience is much more affordable. The Top of the World experience, which can include private receptions, marriage proposals and photo shoots, take place on the hotel’s rooftop helipad with 360-degree views of Los Angeles. The best part? You can take an open-air yoga class here once a month during the summer for $45. Just don’t get blown away doing that warrior pose, OK? (Actually, I’ve been up there, and it’s not as windy as you’d think.)

Note: The Dinner on the Stage meal was complimentary. 

21

06 2014

Broadway Bites is back in NYC

This post is written by ShopEatSleep contributor Deanna Ting, a New York-based writer and editor who hails from Los Angeles. She is a seasoned travel, lifestyle and fashion writer, having written for publications such as TravelAge West, Luxury Travel Advisor, Los Angeles magazine and WSAToday (a magazine that was entirely devoted to shoes). These days, you can find her working as a managing editor/senior editor for Incentive and Successful Meetings magazines, as well as scouring New York–and the globe–for her next favorite meal. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @deanna421.

Onigiri by Tampopo at Broadway Bites

Onigiri by Tampopo at Broadway Bites

Given the downright nasty winter that New York City endured this year, the return of warmer weather–and all that comes with it–is a more than welcome sight. One great mainstay of summer is the return of outdoor food events like Broadway Bites, a pop-up, outdoor culinary market that occupies a prime location in the shadow of the Empire State Building.

Located at Greeley Square Park, between 32nd and 34th streets on Broadway, Broadway Bites serves up a collection of 30 different vendors selling fare as varied as handmade chocolates (Nunu) and Japanese takoyaki (Mimi & Coco) to Michelin-starred pizza (Roberta’s) and “California street food” (Jicama). If Broadway Bites seems familiar it’s because it’s the work of the same folks behind the wildly popular Madison Square Eats, Urban Space. Last year, Broadway Bites debuted for the very first time in late October and now it has returned with a new summer lineup.

While some favorites have remained–including Roberta’s, makers of that aforementioned Michelin-starred pizza–there are also a number of newbies that are worth a try. Here’s a look at just a few:

Onigiri by Tampopo: Onigiri, a traditional Japanese rice ball wrapped in nori, is deceptively small but incredibly filling. Many onigiri that I’ve had before have lacked in flavor, with a disproportionate amount of white rice overwhelming whatever tiny morsel–ume, salmon, chicken and the like–was wrapped inside. Tampopo’s version is the exception: The salmon scallion onigiri that I had was so flavorful. With each bite I could taste the lightly seasoned rice, flecks of bright green scaillions and fresh salmon pieces; I never had to search for that one tiny morsel–it was already in every bite. A variety of unique flavor combinations are available (ummm cheddar shiso, anyone?), so save multiple visits to try out each one.

PalenqueHaving traveled to Colombia last summer and eaten more than my own weight in arepas while I was there, I’ve longed to find another arepa as good as the ones I had over there. While Palenque’s aren’t quite exactly like the ones I had in Colombia, they’re pretty darn close. Arepas come in three varieties–classic corn, and quinoa and multigrain for the more health-conscious–and, like miniature pizzas, they are topped with generous heapings of Oaxacan cheese, savory sauces and toppings of your choice, like angus beef and marinated chicken. The chicken arepa, composed entirely of white meat, was never dry and was the perfect mix of salty and savory.    

And here’s a look at a few of my favorite mainstays:

Chutney: I love Indian food, and I also happen to love Mexican food, so this mash-up, while a little bit out of the ordinary, really works. The chicken tikka taco was great–really flavorful, with just the right amount of tikka masala and juicy bits of chicken. Bonus points for the fact that all tacos are made fresh to order. There are also two vegetarian options available. One taco is $4 while an order of three, a good-size meal, is $10.

Chutney tacos at Broadway Bites

Chutney tacos at Broadway Bites

Red Hook Lobster Pound: I like to judge my lobster rolls by two main factors–the buttery-ness of the bread and the quality of the lobster itself–and in both of those categories, Red Hook Lobster Pound is a winner in my books. I also happen to love the fact that Red Hook’s lobster isn’t drenched in mayo or any other unnecessary dressings–they simply let the lobster, and the roll, speak for themselves.

There are so many other great finds to be found at Broadway Bites, so do yourself a favor and start exploring. Stop by now through Aug. 1, every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

15

06 2014

Terranea celebrates 5th anniversary

Terranea collage

Some of my favorite #TerraneaMemories

Terranea hotel and resort in Rancho Palos Verdes is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, and to kick things off, it has announced a monthly photo and video contest that runs through May 31, 2015. The best part? Terranea is giving away some swank prizes to the winners!

The Terranea Memories 5th Anniversary Contest is asking visitors to highlight their favorite memories from the past five years at the resort. Each month will feature a theme tied to Terranea’s 5th anniversary pillars: community, wellness, discovery, epicurean and celebration. The monthly themes and prize packages will be announced in advance each month on the resort’s blog and event calendar.

June’s theme is community. To enter, submit a photograph or video and personal story of a sunrise or sunset you captured while at the resort or in the surrounding area. And remember to share using #TerraneaMemories.

This month’s prize package sounds awesome! It’s an overnight stay in the Shearwater Suite with the Terranea Lexus Drive Series Adventure Escape, which includes:

* Overnight stay in Terranea’s 1,800 sq. ft. Shearwater Suites
* Unlimited complimentary use of a Lexus vehicle during your stay
* A GPS-guided tour highlighting scenic points of interest, including the Point Vicente Interpretive Center to watch the whale migration and Portuguese Bend for hiking and wildlife spotting
* Choose either an aqua or terra activity from Pointe Discovery, such as a coastal hike, falconry, tide pooling, paddleboarding or kayorkling
* A picnic basket lunch from Sea Beans, complete with energy bars and water bottle
* A pair of binoculars for watching marine life off the coast — dolphins, sea lions and whales can be spotted along the shore on a regular basis

This month’s deadline is June 25. If you’ve been to Terranea or anywhere in the peninsula area, or have a chance to do so before the end of the month, then I’d suggest you get on this. I had the fortunate chance to stay here once, and it was amazing. It’s one of the best staycation spots for Angelenos.

09

06 2014

National Doughnut Day is better with bourbon

BLD national doughnut day

BLD doughnut. Photo courtesy of BLD restaurant.

Chef Neal Fraser’s BLD is celebrating National Doughnut Day this Friday, June 6, with a special doughnut and bourbon pairing event. I’m not sure anything could sound better.

Pastry Chef Mariah Swan’s doughnuts are amazing, so to add my favorite spirit, bourbon, to the mix is almost too much to handle. But handle it you shall, if you want what promises to be an epic National Doughnut Day experience.

Here’s the menu:

Rocky Road Doughnut: salted caramel glaze, toasted almonds, cinnamon marshmallows, chocolate sauce
Bourbon Pairing: Elijah Craig 12 Year

Spiced Orange Caramel Doughnut: cinnamon and ginger spiced orange caramel, braised farmers market cherry
Bourbon Pairing: Basil Hayden’s

Coffee Cardamom Doughnut: chicory coffee cardamom custard filling
Bourbon Pairing: Crater Lake Rye

Honeyed Chocolate Doughnut: chocolate honey glaze, candied grapefruit peel
Bourbon Pairing: Bernheim Original Kentucky Wheat Whiskey

Butterscotch Toffee Doughnut: muscovado butterscotch custard, chopped toffee
Bourbon Pairing: Evan Williams Single Barrel

One doughnut: $3/$6 with bourbon
Three doughnuts: $9/$18 with bourbon
Five doughnuts: $15/$24 with bourbon

BLD restaurant
7450 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.930.9744
Doughnuts and bourbon available 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on June 6

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03

06 2014