Beauty product review: Origins charcoal mask

Origins charcoal mask

Origins charcoal mask. From Origins.

Whenever I find a skincare product that works for me, I get excited. Like, really excited. For someone with oily skin, finding something that makes my face feel truly clean is a big deal. Enter the Origins charcoal mask.

Origins’ Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask looks a little scary — it’s black — but it is one of the best masks I’ve ever used. The activated charcoal, which means the charcoal has been heated to make it more porous, pulls impurities and toxins from the skin. It’s the same stuff that’s given to people in emergency rooms for having swallowed poison, so you know it’s good. And the Origins charcoal mask is easy to use: slather some all over your face (it’s best to open your pores first with a warm washcloth first), wait 10 to 15 minutes or until it’s dry, then rinse it off. Origins says you can use it as often as needed, and it’s formulated for all skin types. I use it about once a week, as it feels soothing with no tingling sensation at all.

I’ve noticed that my skin not only feels cleaner, but it’s also clearer, since I’ve been using the Origins charcoal mask. What more can you want?

Note: This product was complimentary. Opinions are my own.

26

10 2014

SunCafe ups the ante for vegan fare

SunCafe

SunCafe

ShopEatSleep was invited to try out the expanded menu at SunCafe’s new location in Studio City. Being a total novice to vegan food — my experience with veganism was limited to a vegan burger that I had a great many moons ago — I was curious to see if the meatless offerings at SunCafe could satiate my usually insatiable appetite.

Known for serving up imaginative plant-based cuisine, SunCafe operated out of a modest Studio City storefront for five years before moving to its current home on Ventura Boulevard. With more than triple the capacity, including a spacious outdoor patio, the fully renovated 1920s-era ranch-style house delivers a good blend of old and new, lending itself to a cozy and relaxed ambience.

Keep reading

12

10 2014

Get ready for Barberia restaurant

Expanding from the Barbershop Ristorante pop-up into a permanent space in downtown Los Angeles named Barberia restaurant, Chef Walter el Nagar (Il Grano, La Botte) has been hosting a run of tasting menu evenings to preview what is in store for the new restaurant. As the location on Hope Street downtown nears completion, these tastings are being hosted in Brakeman Brewery, a gallery space off of Jefferson Boulevard along the Metro Expo Line.

Barberia preview at Brakeman Brewery

Barberia preview at Brakeman Brewery

With a wonderful sound system, cozy bar and golden sunsets to die for, we recently dined on the outdoor patio area at dusk.

After being greeted by a bar inside, a carefully prepared meal was our treat outside. First up to say hello was duck tartare with shaved foie gras and anchovy on sailor bread. The laws in California don’t prevent consumption of foie gras, but the ban on the sale of foie did make this dish a pleasant surprise for many at the table. The theme of pairing these items together is appreciated, but let’s be real: you’re excited about the foie.

Duck tartare with foie gras

Duck tartare with foie gras

In a nod to the sea and barbershop, up next was an uni sponge cake in tomato broth presented in a sea urchin bowl atop a stone with a barbershop pole etching. The taste was subtle, as most of the dishes in the evening would be, and was a refreshing follow-up to the tartare on a warm evening.

Uni sponge cake

Uni sponge cake

The prawns aguachile was quite interesting. It was like a prawn enchilada in green sauce but wrapped in avocado slices instead of tortillas. I would probably prefer this as a snack rather than a dinner course, but I definitely enjoyed it. As always, avocados remind you that you’re in California.

Prawns aguachile

Prawns aguachile

The linguine alle vongole was my favorite dish of the evening. Using wheat germ pasta cooked in clam juice and fresh clams, there’s a kick at the end of each bite thanks to the chili in the spicy sauce that the pasta sat on rather than being coated in it. I could have had three more helpings of this dish, gladly.

Linguine alle vongole

Linguine alle vongole

The abalone and porcini mushroom risotto was a real hit, and for many their favorite dish of the tasting menu. Everything combined perfectly, and each bite had a great taste to it. Seaweed was also used for flavoring in this dish, and it was spot on.

Abalone and porcini mushroom risotto

Abalone and porcini mushroom risotto

Dessert came with a message: “Tomato is a fruit.” That’s literally what the dish was called. A sweet tomato in a bowl with strawberry syrup, topped with white chocolate ice cream and vanilla foam, the message was loud, clear and delightful. This wasn’t a decadent dessert, full of sin and scandal; it was more like a peaceful agreement between good looking people who never really wanted to fight each other. This will be a popular dessert for the summertime.

Tomato dessert

Tomato dessert

Overall, this peek at what’s to come for Barberia restaurant definitely shows promise. You can experience this preview (last pop-up takes place Oct. 17) and decide for yourself by making online reservations on the Barbershop website. No word on when Barberia restaurant will open, but there will be quite a few people in the food world interested to see how this joint venture with Adam Fleischman, of Umami and AdVantage fame, will turn out.

Note: This meal was hosted.

29

09 2014

5 tips for great hair

Joshua Kaplan hair stylist

Joshua Kaplan

Here’s another bikini.com post, this time on tips for getting gorgeous, healthy hair. These come courtesy of my long-time personal hair stylist, Joshua Kaplan, who has been cutting, coloring and styling hair for nearly two decades. He’s a founding member of Goo Salon on the best stretch of Fairfax Avenue as far as I’m concerned (Golden State, Animal, Plan Check and many other delicious restaurants are within walking distance). But I digress. Not only has Kaplan been cutting my hair for years, he also styled my hair for my wedding, so I trust him implicitly.

So check out his top five tips for taking care of your hair.

1. Don’t Shampoo Too Often
Oil is actually your friend, not your enemy, when it comes to hair. “Excessive shampooing dries out the hair and strips the scalp of oils that actually make your hair look better,” Kaplan says. For everyday shampooers, he says to start by trying to limit washings to every other day, then every third day and so on. For very dry hair, shampooing once a week is more than enough, with just wetting it and using conditioner on the ends in between washings. Also, “sulfate-free shampoo is always best,” he says. Sulfates are de-greasing agents found in many household cleaning products that dry out hair and fade color. Who wants that in her hair?

2. Take Biotin
“Biotin is a vitamin supplement that, when taken religiously, promotes amazingly healthy hair growth,” Kaplan says. “It gives you glowing skin and stronger nails, too.” Easy enough.

3. Lose The Extensions
Permanent extensions damage the hair because they are bonded to your real hair. “Our hair sheds naturally. This is a good thing. But when you have extensions, your hair isn’t allowed to shed, so when you remove the extensions, you lose all that hair in one shot that you would have lost over a longer period of time,” he says. “I’ve seen clients missing patches of hair from extensions and major breakage. I’ve also heard many clients complaining of headaches.” Kaplan says to use clip-in extensions if you really want to use them. But how does he really feel about extensions? “They damage the hair and look super dated. This isn’t 2006.”

Keep reading over at bikini.com to find out the last couple of tips (#4 is my favorite).

20

09 2014

Learning is fun with an Eatz cooking class

Eatz cooking class

Eatz cooking class

Looking for a fun and informative way to learn some cooking basics? Then an Eatz cooking class might be just what you need.

Located near the intersection of La Brea and Melrose avenues in a cute kitchen space, Eatz offers a variety of classes, from the casual to the technical. Go for a one-off class to learn how to make Greek food or your steakhouse favorites, or go for a series of classes to learn elevated culinary school skills.

I recently tried a Weeknights Made Easy with Chef Porsche Reid, who has a warm, inviting personality and put everyone at ease quickly. Throughout the process of making our five dishes, she explained the reasoning behind the steps and offered up tips to make cooking easier.

Cooking at Eatz

Cooking at Eatz

Our menu for the three-hour class:

  • Pan-seared skirt steak with herbed rice and jalapeno & avocado dressing
  • Cinnamon spice rubbed pork tenderloin with caramelized apples and onions
  • Chicken skewers with grilled romaine salad and a pistachio-mint pesto
  • Italian sausage and artichoke-stuffed portobello mushrooms
  • Handcrafted donuts with powdered sugar, lemon glaze chocolate glaze toppings
Spice-rubbed pork loin

Spice-rubbed pork tenderloin

I wasn’t sure how to gauge my skill level, so I went in thinking I was somewhere in the middle: a 5 out of 10. But I soon realized that my skills (most of which I’ve learned from watching Food Network shows and practicing on my own) were more on par with a 7 or 8. This Eatz cooking class suits beginners well, as all of the recipes, which are emailed to you after the class, are relatively easy to make. Bonus: You get appetizers and wine as soon as you arrive, and you make so much food that you’ll take home lots of leftovers.

Frying up donuts

Frying up doughnuts

My husband Rory with our donuts

My husband Rory with our doughnuts

Note: This class was hosted.

15

09 2014

Summer cocktails all year round

Even though summer is coming to an end, that doesn’t mean you can’t drink like it’s summer all year ’round, especially here in Los Angeles. From the herbaceous to the tiki, here are some of my favorite refreshing cocktails.

Headhunter’s Repentance at Sonny’s Hideaway

Headhunter's Repentance at Sonny's Hideaway

Headhunter’s Repentance at Sonny’s Hideaway

John Kelly O’Hare, who heads up the bar at Sonny’s Hideaway in Highland Park, is doing some great things. Aside from the overproof punches and barrel-aged Campari and Fernet, there’s a Tiki Tuesday menu with some of the best tiki drinks I’ve ever tasted. Some real thought went into these cocktails, which also means they’re not cloying sweet. My favorite, which isn’t on the current tiki menu but is available if you ask nicely, is the Headhunter’s Repentance with rye, chai, lime, pineapple and toasted coconut, a combination of some of my all-time favorite things.

Garden Cup at Faith & Flower

Garden Cup at Faith & Flower

Garden Cup at Faith & Flower

The Garden Cup at Faith & Flower is a twist on the classic Pimm’s Cup. With Pimm’s (a gin-based liqueur), basil, citrus and a pickled carrot garnish, this cocktail is fresh-tasting for any time of the year. Unfortunately, the pickled carrot isn’t always available, so when you can get it, consider yourself lucky because that bit of vinegar gives the drink a little extra kick.

Spanish Gin and Tonic at Beelman’s Pub

Spanish Gin and Tonic at Beelman's Pub

Spanish Gin and Tonic at Beelman’s Pub

One of the things that sets the newish downtown watering hole Beelman’s Pub apart is its take on the gin and tonic. Here it’s served Spanish style with a bunch of herbs, citrus and a cinnamon stick, taking the classic G&T to a whole new level. I usually don’t go for a gin and tonic, but throwing in a bunch of aromatics freshens up the cocktail and is sure to make you think of summer any time of the year.

Street Spirit at Wood & Vine

Street Spirit at Wood & Vine

Street Spirit at Wood & Vine

I was going to recommend Wood & Vine‘s Black Star, which I previously described as “summer in a glass,” with its tiki-leaning combo of rum, banana liqueur, housemade orgeat, Angostura bitters, fresh pineapple and lime, but that would be too obvious. Instead, I’m recommending the Street Spirit, with Buffalo Trace bourbon, fresh lemon juice, strawberry balsamic shrub, sherry, ginger beer and lemon peel. The shrub, or drinking vinegar, may not be for everyone, but I think it adds an interesting, funky dimension to the drink. But you’ll need to hurry for this one — the summer cocktail menu will be available for just another three weeks or so.

Note: These tastings were hosted.

07

09 2014

5 tips for waxing hair

Alexis Benveniste

Alexis Benveniste

I’ve started a new gig writing for bikini.com, covering health and beauty topics. My latest is a post on waxing, and if you’ve ever had a wax or thought about having one, then following these tips from esthetician Alexis Benveniste will ensure smooth sailing.

Benveniste, who has more than a decade of experience in skin care, started out as a makeup artist (she has worked with numerous fashion magazines, including Elle and Flaunt) before moving on to brow and body waxing. I’ve been going to her for a few years now at Wax on Melrose Avenue, and she really knows her stuff.

Here are some of her tips:

1. Wait Around 5 Weeks
About a quarter of an inch is the ideal length. “Any shorter, and the wax won’t pick it all up; any longer, and the roots get stronger,” she says. Stronger roots = more pain.

2. Know Your Cycle
“Your skin is more sensitive to waxing a week before, during and two days after your monthly cycle,” Benveniste says. Those hormones are messing with you. Plan accordingly.

3. Work Out Before Waxing
Benveniste says working out before, and not after, waxing lessens the likelihood of getting those nasty in-growns. “Working out after waxing causes swelling, and moisture from sweating can invite bacteria into your freshly waxed follicles,” she says.

Head over to bikini.com to read Benveniste’s last two tips. Hint: they have to do with those pesky in-grown hairs!

02

09 2014

Next Door Lounge debuts new menu

Next Door Lounge

Next Door Lounge. Courtesy of Next Door Lounge.

There are times when you need to catch up with a friend, but you aren’t in the mood to go to a club and it’s too late for coffee. Where do you end up? A bar, of course! You might be coming from work, in your work clothes and not trying to deal with over-served rambunctious patrons at a sports bar — you just want a classy place where you can take the edge off with a drink, comfortably talk with your friends and maybe even grab a bite should conversation run later into the evening.

Having been named Best Speakeasy by LA Weekly, Next Door Lounge looks to fit the bill perfectly for these occasions.

ShopEatSleep was invited to dinner with Chef Nikki Martin, who showcased the new menu and carefully concocted cocktails. The Food Network star crafted the new menu with the 1920s speakeasy in mind and put the restaurant’s wood-fired oven to good use.

Keep reading

26

08 2014

Beauty tutorial: perfectly defined eyebrows

I’m not a big makeup person. In fact, I rarely wear any (I’m more about skin care). But every once in a while, I have to get dressed up, and that includes putting on makeup, especially filling in and taming my eyebrows. Since I use makeup so rarely, it’s great to find online tutorials to help me ensure I don’t look like a crazy person. This tutorial on eyebrows from my friend Sarah Sori Kim offers quick and easy directions.

Sarah Sori is a former model and beauty queen, so she knows a thing or two about makeup. She also has hair styling tips, too. Check out her Instagram for more makeup pointers.

Sarah Sori Kim

Now those are some nice eyebrows. Sarah Sori Kim.

23

08 2014

Saint Martha restaurant is pleasant surprise

Saint Martha interior

Saint Martha interior

It’s rare that a restaurant truly surprises you. Sure, I’ve thought that many dishes at many restaurants were good — very good, even. But to find what is almost literally a diamond in the rough is simply a delight.

That’s what I found in Saint Martha, a new restaurant in a Koreatown strip mall serving up modern American cuisine. Following in the footsteps of Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s Trois Mec and Petit Trois, Saint Martha restaurant offers a fine-dining experience in an unassuming location. Named for the patron saint of cooks and servants, Saint Martha is the brainchild of the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel and TART restaurant team. Executive Chef and partner Nick Erven (formerly of Mess Hall) and General Manager and Sommelier Mary Thompson have put together a food and drink menu that would be impressive even if the restaurant weren’t in a strip mall.

Keep reading

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17

08 2014