Larchmont Sanctuary Spa offers luxe experiences in neighborhood setting

I’ve been to large chain spas and luxury hotel spas, but sometimes a smaller, more intimate-feeling spa is just what the doctor ordered. That’s where Larchmont Sanctuary Spa comes in.

larchmont sanctuary spa outside

Centrally located in the always-cute Larchmont Village neighborhood of Los Angeles, the spa is housed in a converted bungalow on Larchmont Boulevard within walking distance of all the shops and restaurants in the area. Because it’s in a house, there’s a backyard where you can get treatments outside — a unique experience perfect for beautiful LA weather.

larchmont sanctuary spa cabana

Larchmont Sancutary Spa, which used to be called Le Petite Retreat before new ownership took over a few years ago, has just about everything you would be looking for in a full-service spa, with the exception of a wet sauna and a communal hot tub. However, there are now new Himalayan salt treatments, including a stone massage, scrub and inhaler available for purchase, and all spa products are now organic and cruelty-free. The spa also has a special ergonomic copper hydrotherapy tub that can be booked as part of a package.

As part of the ongoing improvements, the spa plans to update many of the common areas, including the Relaxation Room and the locker rooms.

“It’s all very exciting, and we can’t wait for everyone to be able to enjoy the new ambiance,” said Scott Buss, co-owner of Larchmont Sanctuary Spa. “We are [also] one of the few spas in Los Angeles with therapists certified in oncology treatments to enable individuals that are going through, or have gone through, cancer treatments to safely enjoy the benefits of a massage or facial.”

My experience

I got a Himalayan stone massage from Vivian, a very nice young woman. Because I have been suffering from neck, shoulder and upper back pain for over a year, I asked for medium to firm pressure, and boy, did Vivian deliver. She used a combination of deep tissue and sports massage, targeting my problem areas and stretching out the muscles that needed it. The salt stones were heated up and used to target those stubborn knots, loosening them up. I felt good afterward for almost a week, which is a big deal when you’ve been dealing with pain almost every day for more than a year.

I would definitely go back to Larchmont Sanctuary Spa, and I’ll probably ask for Vivian again, now that I know her massages are sure to make me feel great. The spa also has super comfy robes and luxe sheets on the massage tables. And being a smaller operation means you get more personal attention, which isn’t always the case at some of the bigger spas. There are reasonably priced memberships, too. So next time you’re going to YogaWorks or getting some Salt & Straw ice cream down the street, stop by and check it out.

Note: This visit to Larchmont Sanctuary Spa was complimentary.

01

07 2017

Get 15% off admission to Masters of Taste food festival

Masters of Taste

Masters of Taste

The 2nd Annual Masters of Taste, a luxury food and beverage festival, will be held May 7, 2017, on the field of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Masters of Taste will bring together food and beverage from more than 70 restaurants and chefs, confectioners and bakers, bartenders, wineries, craft breweries, pressed juicers, coffee roasters, as well as live entertainment. The list includes:

Bone Kettle and Komodo, Chef Erwin Tjahyadi (Pasadena and Los Angeles)
CAST at the Viceroy Santa Monica, Chef Larry Monaco (Santa Monica)
Celestino, Chef Calogero Drago (Pasadena)
Church & State and Spring, Chef Tony Esnault (Downtown Los Angeles)
HACHÉ LA, Chef Michael “Mick” Schepers (Silver Lake)
Hamasaku, Chef Yoya Takahashi (Los Angeles)
Hyperion Public, Chef Paddy Aubrey (Silver Lake and Studio City)
Little Beast, Chef Jose Perez (Eagle Rock)
Magnolia House, Chef Evan Colter (Pasadena)
Mama Lion, Chef Michael Hung (Koreatown)
Mexikosher, Chef Katsuji Tanabi (Los Angeles)
Milk & Honey, Chef Lulu Cai (Hollywood)
Miro, Chef Gavin Mills (Downtown Los Angeles)
Momed, Chef Alex Sarkissian (Beverly Hills and Atwater Village)
SpireWorks, Chef Kuniko Yagi (Westwood Village and Eagle Rock)
Redbird, Chef Neal Fraser (Downtown Los Angeles)
The Raymond 1886, Chef Tim Guiltinan (Pasadena)
True Food Kitchen, Chef Phil Noresetter (Pasadena)
Venice Whaler, Chef Nick Liberato (Venice)

Masters of Taste, which is for those 21 years old and older only, will take place Sunday, May 7. A VIP Power Hour will be held from 3-4 p.m. and general admission from 4-7 p.m.

Tickets cost $105 for general admission and $185 for VIP. But use code SES17, specifically for ShopEatSleep readers, and get 15% off the ticket price. Buy tickets today!

Best of all? All proceeds from Masters of Taste will directly benefit Union Station Homeless Services. Last year, the event raised more than $435,000 for Union Station Homeless Services, and this year Masters of Taste hopes to reach  $560,000!

ShopEatSleep Masters of Taste

23

04 2017

Lauded barman Damian Windsor brings craft cocktails to the Salon in North Hollywood

The Salon is located upstairs at The Federal Bar (5303 Lankershim Boulevard) on the north side of the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood. Walk past the art school kids you’re going to park by, skip the crowd at the main bar downstairs, and tell the host you want to go up to The Salon for some honest-to-goodness handcrafted cocktails. Go through an Employees Only door, up a flight of stairs and you’ll find the entrance to The Salon, a cocktail hideaway tucked into the second floor. Opening up quietly at the end of 2016, but four years in the making, Damian Windsor (The Roger Room, Warwick) created a drink menu that’s both accessible and finely tuned with a focus on classic and craft cocktails.

Crafty cocktails

You have drinks like the Montgomery Martini, which is just a really good martini. But you also have the popular Horse’s Neck that features Lairds Applejack, ginger beer, Angostura and citrus oil. If your friends are just getting out of plastic bottles and into cocktails, chances are they’re enamoured with those mules in copper cups. The Horse’s Neck will be familiar and is the drink you’ll indoctrinate them into The Salon with. Be careful, though, because you most likely won’t be able to get away with just one round of these.

Horse's Neck cocktail at The Salon

Horse’s Neck

Maybe your friends just graduated from Jameson blackouts and now they only drink Old Fashioneds. The Fransisco San [sic] is right up their alley. Taking inspiration from Japanese whisky and San Francisco (as the name implies, despite the curious spelling), this cocktail features Suntory Whisky Toki, Punt e Mes and D.O.M. Benedictine. It’s a bright take on a whisky drink that goes down easy while still remaining respectable enough for Bill Murray to toast while wearing eyeliner.

Fransisco San cocktail at The Salon

Fransisco San

 

Double dazzle

Fortune Favors the Bold is ironically probably the least bold cocktail on the menu. Double Cross vodka, Carpano Antica Formula, Manzanilla sherry, Cointreau and Spanish Queen olives combine into a smooth but powerful, not delicate, taste. The vodka, vermouth, sherry and triple sec serve to heighten the Spanish Queen olives, making them more than just an accent. What this drinks holds back in adventure, it gives you in unrestrained flavor.

Fortune Favors the Bold cocktail

Fortune Favors the Bold

When you’re ready to commit to a new cocktail experience, go ahead and do yourself the favor of ordering up a Tequila Por Mi Amante. While the pickled watermelon dazzles your tastebuds, the Pueblo Viejo tequila blanco and Chamberyzette dry vermouth await your commitment. The watermelon cubes are more than a garnish; this is closer to a pairing in a glass. Salty, fruity, refreshing, boozy. This is what I started my night with, and it set the bar high. I could most likely drink more rounds of Horse’s Neck on any given night, but the Tequila Por Mi Amante was my favorite.

Tequila Por Mi Amante cocktail at The Salon

Tequila Por Mi Amante

 

Welcome to The Valley

The Salon has limited operating hours, generally Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 p.m. until late, but it would be wise to call and check ahead as there are sometimes performances (comedy, music) in adjacent showrooms. The walls upstairs are not very soundproof, so activity in the other room would be definitely noticed. Nevertheless, The Salon is a welcome addition of handcrafted cocktails in an intimate atmosphere that you frankly don’t always find in The Valley.

19

03 2017

Beauty product review: Cotz mineral sunscreen

Cotz mineral sunscreen. From Cotz Skin Care.

Cotz mineral sunscreen. From Cotz Skin Care.

Living in sunny Southern California, it’s a must to wear sunscreen daily. And since this stuff is going on your face, you want to ensure it’s good for you, right?

Check out Cotz mineral sunscreen, which uses zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. While I still love Jan Marini face sunscreen, Cotz is great because it’s tinted with a non-greasy, matte finish, making it ideal for everyday wear.

And even though Cotz mineral sunscreen is tinted, the pigment is darker coming out of the tube than when it goes on your face. It also feels really thick on your fingers, but it goes on smooth and light.

Cotz products range from 30 SPF to 58 SPF. The one I’ve been using, Cotz Face for Natural Skin Tones, has 40 SPF. Cotz mineral sunscreens differ from chemical sunscreens by creating a physical barrier reflecting harmful UV rays. When you slather on a chemical sunscreen, your skin absorbs laboratory-made carbon compounds that absorb UV rays and release their energy in ways that don’t harm the skin. Read about some of the debate between using chemical and mineral sunscreens.

Cotz mineral sunscreen is perfect for Angelenos commuting to and from work, whether it’s in the car (those UV rays are getting you through the window) or while walking to and from the Metro, like I do. I’ve also worn it to the beach, and it holds up just as well in lots of direct sunlight for an extended period of time. It’s my new favorite face sunscreen.

Note: Cotz mineral sunscreen was provided complementary in a gift bag given out at an Organic Spa Magazine event held at the Beverly Wilshire hotel.

05

07 2016

Travelogue: Anna Maria Island, Florida

I recently visited Florida for the first time since I was a child. I have to admit that I wasn’t very excited about it; I mean, I live in Los Angeles, so I don’t need to go to Florida to find a beach (and then there’s the humidity…). But I have to say that visiting Anna Maria Island in mid April was actually pretty darn nice.

We stayed in a rented house just a couple of blocks away from where Bradenton Beach meets Holmes Beach. The beach wasn’t crowded, had clean, white sand, and clear blue water.

Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island

Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island

We took a boat tour of Sarasota Bay with Capt. Kathe. Actually, since our group was so large, we needed two boats, so I was on a boat helmed by Capt. Kathe’s daughter, Capt. Katie Scarlett (I assume Kathe is a fan of “Gone With the Wind”). Katie Scarlett is easy-going and fun, and she took us from Cortez around the bay so we could see dolphins, some of which even played in the wake of our boat. We didn’t see any manatees, though it’s supposedly possible. We also made a stop at Beer Can Island, which is beautiful, despite its name.

So this happened today. #dolphins #nbd #florida #imonaboat

A video posted by Maya Meinert (@shopeatsleep) on

Dolphin action #dolphins #florida #video

A video posted by Hon. Rory Owen Delaney (@mbdfilms) on

Capt. Kathe docks at Star Fish Company Market & Restaurant. If you’d like to eat there after your tour — and you should — Kathe and co. will call in your order while you’re on the boat so you don’t have to wait in the huge line that forms at lunchtime. I had the fried grouper sandwich with cheese grits on the side. The grits are really, really cheesy, so maybe go for the fries if you’re not inclined to that kind of fish-and-cheese combo.

Fried grouper sandwich and cheese grits at Star Fish Company

Fried grouper sandwich and cheese grits at Star Fish Company

My husband and I also went parasailing, something I’ve always wanted to do. There are lots of parasailing companies on Anna Maria Island, but we went with Bradenton Beach Parasailing. We got 15 minutes up in the air, which came with photos, a higher height than the 10-minute flight and a dip in the ocean, for $89 per person (the 10-minute option is $69 per person). Those 15 minutes go by fast, so I can’t imagine how quick the 10-minute flight would be!

Going up! parasailing

Going up!

Parasailing

Parasailing

We had lunch one day at the City Pier Restaurant located at the end of the Anna Maria Island City Pier. While the food wasn’t necessarily anything special, the fish was cooked nicely, and the ambiance — which includes a view of the ocean while listening to a live musician — was spot-on. The blackened grouper on top of a Greek salad hit the spot. (You’ll find grouper on just about every menu in this area.)

Blackened grouper on Greek salad at City Pier Restaurant

Blackened grouper on Greek salad at City Pier Restaurant

For my mother-in-law’s birthday, we had dinner at Beach Bistro. We started with a sunset cocktail hour, then moved inside for our meal.

Sunset cocktail hour at Beach Bistro

Sunset cocktail hour at Beach Bistro

We opted for the three-course $65 tasting menu (there’s an optional “exotics” course available for an extra $25 that includes your choice of tenderloin rillette, seared foie gras, seared scallops or “Lobstercargots”). I had the oyster mushroom farro, bouillabaisse and Prailine Alexandra, a house-made praline with vanilla bean ice cream and Frangelico. I heard a lot of good things about Beach Bistro from other visitors to Anna Maria Island, but in the end, I thought the meal was nice but not necessarily a standout.

Oyster mushroom farro at Beach Bistro

Oyster mushroom farro at Beach Bistro

Bouillabaisse at Beach Bistro

Bouillabaisse at Beach Bistro

Praline Alexandra at Beach Bistro

Praline Alexandra at Beach Bistro

This trip to Florida changed my mind about the state — well, as long as I’m staying on an island or beach (wink, wink).

09

05 2016

Chef Tara Lazar brings home cooking to Chi Chi Palm Springs

Chef Tara Lazar Chi Chi Palm Springs

Chef Tara Lazar

I met Chef Tara Lazar in the lounge of her restaurant Chi Chi Palm Springs in the Avalon Hotel. It was a slow night. Palm Springs is a resort town at the mercy of seasons and travelers.

But all is not what it seems: Lazar was also overseeing three simultaneous catering jobs as owner of Foundation 10 Creative Group. In other words, getting her food out to the people.

She cares deeply about what she’s feeding people. Beyond the execution of the dishes, Lazar is in charge of sourcing the ingredients from local farms, keeping everything within 100 miles of the restaurant. Maintaining freshness and nutrient integrity of proteins and produce makes a true difference in her dishes, and she does not compromise in the quality of her farm sources.

Lazar is most intrigued by home cooking, something cooks and chefs crave to eat themselves. Small, particular tweaks that their grandmothers might do to make dishes their own can make all the difference, and she loves the realness and care in that.

The realness carries over to Lazar’s menus. At her popular brunch establishment Cheeky’s, the menu can change weekly. At Chi Chi Palm Springs, the menu is more consistent, but the dishes on offer always account for the seasonality of ingredients. It’s understood that certain boxes need to be checked to get a popular draw from what’s in demand (see: cauliflower and kale), but that’s just the gateway to introduce people to food that’s more loving than trendy.

Keep reading

09

04 2016

Do Catalina Island for free on your birthday

Catalina Island

Catalina Island

Want to do something fun for your birthday but don’t want to spend a lot of money?

Consider a staycation at Catalina Island, where you can get a bunch of free or discounted stuff on your birthday. That even includes a free trip to the island on the Catalina Express. You have to travel on your actual birthday and preregister online, but then you get to save up to $76.50 roundtrip. Score!

And once you get to Catalina, more freebies await: BOGO parasailing flights, free admission to the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden, a free meal at Buffalo Nickel Restaurant (online reviews are mixed) and more. Take a look:

~ Rent a bike for two hours from Brown’s Bike and get the rest of the day free until 5 p.m. plus a bottle of water

~ Two-for-one climbs at the Descanso Beach Club climbing wall (open weekends and holidays only)

~ Free cup of coffee at Catalina Coffee and Cookie Co. (must show Catalina Express birthday ribbon)

~ Free scoop of ice cream, buy one pound of salt water taffy and get an extra 1/4 Pound free, and buy any iced coffee drink or smoothie and get a second of equal or lesser value 50 percent off at Lloyd’s of Avalon

~ Buy the mani-pedi special at Island Breeze Spa and Salon for $50 and receive a 50-minute Swedish massage or facial for $69 (M-Th) or $79 (Fri-Sun), or a 25-minute massage or facial for $45

If you’re staying overnight, check out these discounts at Catalina Island hotels:

The Avalon Hotel: Receive a free bottle of wine or sparkling cider.

Hotel Vista Del Mar: Get a complimentary bottle of champagne or wine, celebratory balloons, continental breakfast, and evening milk and cookies

Hotel Catalina and Courtyard Garden Suites: Get 10 percent off one night; 20 percent off two nights

Catalina Island Inn: Receive a complimentary box of Lloyd’s of Avalon chocolates plus your choice of champagne or sparkling cider

Hotel Metropole: Get 20 percent off on any room and save $50 on a couples massage at the hotel spa

26

03 2016

Eat well without breaking the bank at Yalla Mediterranean

Yalla Mediterranean falafel and steak

Yalla Mediterranean falafel and steak

Yalla Mediterranean is quickly becoming one of my go-to spots for a quick and healthy meal. For someone who loves all kinds of Mediterranean food, Yalla is the perfect option, as it offers foods inspired by Greece, Morocco, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Tunisia and Egypt. Chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, falafel — you name it, Yalla Mediterranean‘s got it.

Yalla’s fast-casual set-up is kind of like Chipotle’s. You choose a preparation — a wrap, salad (including fattoush), or plate with rice, grilled vegetables or lentils, and three sides. Then you choose your protein — falafel, chicken (skewers or shawarma), steak skewers, salmon skewers or kefta skewers. There are even different wrap styles to choose from — Greek, Jerusalem street style, Moroccan and Lebanese. Doesn’t look like I’ll be running out of options anytime soon!

I’ve tried the harissa-marinated tri-tip and falafel on a plate with rice and lentils. The proteins were cooked perfectly, and the lentils were flavorful without being overpowering. The Israeli couscous and Greek potato salad sides were my favorite. I’ve also had chicken shawarma on a fattoush salad, which is a tasty low-carb option. My husband liked his ground beef and lamb kefta wrap, which he got Greek style per the restaurant’s recommendation.

Chicken shawarma on fattoush salad Yalla Mediterranean

Chicken shawarma on fattoush salad

Not only is the food at Yalla Mediterranean delicious (it’s all made to order, so that’s a definite plus), it’s also hormone-free, responsibly raised and locally sourced, according to its press release. There’s even compostable plates, cups and cutlery.

And there’s beer. And wine. And Greek frozen yogurt topped with chopped baklava. I repeat: fro-yo with baklava.

Yalla has locations in Northern and Southern California, including one in downtown Culver City, where I’ve visited a couple of times.

Perhaps the best part? For the ample amount of food you get, the mains are reasonably priced at just under $10. Healthy, tasty and economical? I’m there.

Note: A meal here was hosted.

06

03 2016

The Yoga Expo offers all-in-one experience for yogis

The Yoga Expo

The Yoga Expo

This post was written by guest contributor Dani Marie Robinson, a seasoned yoga instructor, writer, traveler and food enthusiast. Find her at Dani Eats Life on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Many consider Los Angeles the epicenter of all things yoga in the United States. Thousands of yoga teachers hustle day in and day out to provide instruction to exponentially more students across a dense landscape. And the seemingly endless growth of this billion-dollar-a-year industry has bled into other facets of life: what we eat, what we wear, what we drink, how we think, what we listen to, who we revere — what we consume in general.

The amalgam of what yoga has become in the West came together in early January with The Yoga Expo at the Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles. Upon approach, you’ll hear the murmur of voices, background “yoga music” and an instructor on a microphone. Friendly volunteers accepted $25 payments and welcomed guests in. In the large open space, there were about 60 yoga mats closely layered across the floor, filled with eager practitioners.

Just beyond the open practice was the warehouse-sized room that hosted numerous vendors, businesses and artists hoping to spread awareness and information (something I like to call “awaretion”…it’ll catch on, I’m almost certain.) Decorating the walls and corners of this large space were yogis (a better term might be acrobats) performing what felt like a hybrid of gymnastics and break dancing. It turns out there were a few competitors in Asana performance-type tournaments and competitions, an odd and very American phenomenon to arise out of yoga’s popularity.

LA Yoga Expo gongs

Keep reading

27

02 2016

Sweat your butt off with WundaBar Pilates

WundaBar PilatesI consider myself pretty adept at the art of pilates. I’m by no means an expert, and I know I still have a long way to go, but I take classes two to three times a week. So when WundaBar Pilates approached me to try one of its classes, I thought I would perform pretty well.

WundaBar Pilates uses the WundaFormer, a patented version of the classic reformer machine that incorporates all major pilates apparatus in one machine. The reformer, chair, jump board and ballet barre are all in one machine, saving space and making workouts more varied and efficient.

For 45 minutes I sweated my butt off while planking, crunching, bridging, lunging, jumping (on the board) and more. Classes are focused and fast-paced. My instructor, Bridgette, was tough but also allowed us to modify the moves if we were struggling (and I was definitely struggling). I actually overheated, so make sure to hydrate and bring a towel!

Wundaformer Wundabar Pilates

WundaFormer

The first class is free, but after that it’s $30 per class. Luckily there’s a Gilt City deal for WundaBar Pilates in California (there’s also a New York City location) being offered right now.

Note: This class was hosted. Photos courtesy of WundaBar Pilates.

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15

02 2016