Fun, cubed

I decided to redeem myself from last year’s restaurant week snafu by going to the restaurant I should have gone to in the first place.

Enter: Cube in Los Angeles

I’ve heard about this place from many a food blogger, so it was about time I checked it out.

we arrived early on a Saturday evening. Nonetheless, the staff scrambled for a bit when they realized we didn’t have a reservation. They did offer us the patio which was open all evening & we obliged.

Sitting in the dimly lit, well heated outdoors, we looked over the menu. We first glanced at the cheese menu which seemed rather intimidating. We decided to have our server make us a dish, accompanied by the obligatory prosciutto of course.


After quite some time, we were presented with the cheese tray. What I loved most about the presentation was the name of each cheese was written in chalk, right on the plate. Definitely handy for us bloggers!
Our server paired some of the cheeses with either fruits or nuts. It was a nice touch. She clearly knew her cheeses because each pairing went very well.

All of the cheeses were exquisite. My favorite was La Tur since it combined cow, goat, and sheep milk, something I’d never hear of which made it a unique cheese.
We finished our prosciutto rather quickly too so we ordered some salami which didn’t make it to the table until the entrees arrived.

Upon seeing my potato gnocchi, I was glad that we ordered the cheese plate to start since that filled me up a bit. The gnocchi was cooked well, the cheese wasn’t heavy at all. However I found the portion to be a bit small for me. If I didn’t have an appetizer, I surely would have been hungry & eaten some dessert & regretted it later.

I’m glad I got to try a place that has been buzzing in the foodie community, at least in my reader list for some time. Our server, although knowledgeable about the menu, did not seem very attentive. The bussers however were on the ball the whole night. Our dining time easily went over the two hour mark, as the management predicted. I’m eager to see what they have on their lunch menu. That is, when I’m in this part of town again.

Cube Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cube at Divine Pasta Co in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Thanksgiving Roundup

It left before I could say cranberry sauce. Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s officially the holiday season in my book. As I mentioned earlier, it totally blindsided me this year. What’s good is that the Bristol Farms smoked turkey was worth every penny.

IMG_0093

Of course with turkey comes the obligatory left overs. Fortunately this year, I was able to find some great recipes. First was My Man’s Belly’s turkey soup which I’ve been eagerly sipping on for the past few of these chilly days. The second one wasn’t exactly a recipe but a nice spin on a classic. French bread, turkey breast, and a little Rondele cranberry orange spread was a hit in my book. The messy cranberry sauce, as yummy as it is, was replaced and this spread helped to hold in the turkey rather well, and prevent sandwich sogginess too.

The very next day, I was invited to a friend’s Thanksgiving get together for their extended family & friends. It was so nice to be around a large group, something I’ve missed since I moved out here.

The spread included smoked turkey, tri tip, and some Korean dishes including the classic kimchee and Japchae which quenched my obsession with noodles.

The turkey & tri-tip were also smoked. All these smoked meats are making baked look like a thing from the past.

My friend & her husband swear by the Orion smoker.

Maybe we’ll look into it. It sure is more versatile than a fryer which, let’s face it, will collect dust, and space in the garage 364 days of the year.

I thank my friend & her family for opening up their home to us. It shows me what Thanksgiving is all about!

What did you do for Thanksgiving? Were there any new traditions this year? How bout those leftovers?

What’s open on Thanksgiving?

I need to stop being in denial. After all Thanksgiving is next week. Where has this year gone? If you’re like me and are still scrambling on options for the big feast, here’s a list of restaurants that are open. No cooking, just show up.

See 2011′s list here

Baleen, the popular seafood restaurant overlooking the ocean in Redondo Beach will be open on Thanksgiving. Have a seat in their spacious dining area or sit outside for a better view of the marina and reflect on how truly thankful you are. Enjoy the traditional menu featuring the finest steaks and seafood or feast on the special Thanksgiving buffet dinner. The buffet will feature a salad station with 5 choices, a seafood station with oysters, shrimp and salmon, a carving station with prime rib and turkey, a hot buffet with over 5 festive sides to choose from, a cheese station & of course a dessert station.

This buffet is $55 per adult and $19 per child 4-12. Reserve now as space is limited!

BALEENlosangeles
The Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club
260 Portofino Way
Redondo Beach, CA 90277

Black Angus in Torrance will serve their traditional menu of steak, seafood, and their famous prime rib on Thanksgiving day. Offering a more casual atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to unwind on what could be a stressful holiday. If this wasn’t enough, be sure to visit at night time to experience their happy hour.

3405 Carson Street
Torrance, CA 90503

Want an Italian flair to you Thanksgiving dinner? Head over to Il Fornaio in Manhattan beach and enjoy their menu with a special twist on the traditional feast.

Start off with a butternut squash and potato soup or a house salad. Have a butternut squash or a risotto with shrimp.  Next, try the free range turkey or perhaps their baked hickory smoked ham, or maybe their mixed seafood grill with salmon, prawn, and sea scallops. Finish off your Italian Thanksgiving with pumpkin pie & vanilla ice cream. Order these items separately or enjoy their fixed menu at $35 for adults & $18 for children. Note that the prix fixe menu requires the entire table’s participation.

1800 Rosecrans Ave.
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

McCormick & Schmicks in El Segundo will offer a special menu alongside their bountiful selection of seafood. At $22.95 per person, this special menu will feature a seasonal soup or house salad, roast turkey and gravy, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, apple casserole, veggies, cranberry sauce & apple or pumpkin pie. Make your reservations today!

2101 Rosecrans Avenue, Ste. 1280
El Segundo, CA 90245

Okay, so you don’t want to cook but you’re not exactly thrilled to go to a restaurant either? Have the best of both worlds & get a turkey cooked for you. Bristol Farms is now taking orders for smoked turkey. Enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast at home without the stress of cooking or getting kicked out by dining staff.

Of course these are only a handful of restaurants open on Thanksgiving. Be sure to check out Open Table for additional restaurants in the South Bay & Greater LA area.

Olive Oil from Spain

A collection of olive oil produced in Spain.

Olive oils are all the same right? Well, not quite. On Monday, I went to an event entitled Olive Oil from Spain with fellow food lovers. It was there that I learned thanks to fifth generation olive oil expert Alfonso Lopez that contrary to popular belief, Spain, not Italy produces approximately 1 million tons of olive oil a year making it the number one producer in the world. Furthermore, similar to wine, olive oil comes in quite a few varieties. We learned about the four varieties that come from Spain in a series of tastings.

Four varieties of olive oil are ready for our tasting

I would have never imagined I’d be tasting olive oil without a piece of bread before this event but that was in fact the proper way to do so. The tasting began by placing one hand over the opening of the glass to seal the aroma while the other hand cupped the base of the glass. Working in a gentle circular motion, the glass & olive oil are warmed. Then, the glass is brought to the taster’s nose to smell the aroma. Finally the taster takes a small sip of the olive oil & keeps it in their cheek for a minute or two to get the full flavor. Pieces of apple were given between each tasting to cleanse the palette.

Alfonso Lopez gives his presentation on olive oil from Spain

The first olive oil we tried was Arbequina. With a light intensity, ripe apple & banana aroma, and a sweet velvet texture, it is best suitable for fresh or cooked vegetables and fish as well as for dipping with bread.

A traditional olive oil tasting glass

Second in the tasting was Hojiblanca which is produced in the south of Spain. The characteristics of this oil include a medium intensity, a pepper and kiwi smell,and a bitter & spicy taste. It is best for frying, bread & pasta making.

Preparing to smell the aroma of the olive oil

Up next was the Cornicabra which is produced in central Spain. It has a medium intensity, an apple aroma, and a very astringent taste. Like the Hojiblanca, it is great for frying, dressings, soups, sauces, and marinades.

The final variety of olive oil we tasted was Picual which accounts for 50% of the oil produced in Spain. It is produced all over the country of Spain. It has a medium intensity and its aroma is that of the tomato plant. The taste is bitter & spicy. This particular type is best used for frying and also for salads.

Following the tasting, we were treated to a tapas lunch made by chef Jemma Gray that showcased all of the varieties we had sampled.

Traditional and liquid olives

Up first was an olive amuse buche featuring a traditional green olive as well as a liquid olive that was truly unique. Instead of biting into the olive, we were instructed to press it to the roof of our mouth which produced a very unique sensation akin to a fruit candy with the juice on the inside.

A refreshing gazpacho

Next was the gazpacho Estilo Algeciras which utilized the Cornicabra olive oil. A rather refreshing dish, it showed me how I need to make this meal next time around.

Tomato caprese

Then was a caprese salad which used the Hojiblanca olive oil. The dish was rather light and me table mates unanimously wanted a second serving.

Arroz Negro

The Arroz Negro was up next. With baby squid & rice turned black from the squid’s ink, this also featured the Hojiblanca oil. Since it used one of my favorite but hardly seen ingredient, squid ink, it was ultimately my favorite.

Braised beef cheeks

The final tapas course was braised Wagyu beef cheeks made with Arbequina olive oil.

Chef Jemma explains the beef dish

Chef Jemma explains the beef dish

Chef Jemma presented this course and informed us that the meat had been cooking for three days.The proof of that came when the meat fell apart with a gentle brush of my knife.

Picual olive oil cakes & olive oil ice cream

To wrap things up was a caramel rosemary Picual olive oil cakes with olive oil ice cream. The ice cream was very rich on its own but accompanied the cakes perfectly.

I thank the staff of Lane PR including Jamie who organized the event, Alfonso Lopez for his informative presentation, Chef Jemma for her delicious food, and last but definitely not least, the staff of the SLS hotel for putting on such a great event.

Are Angelinos Honest?

New York based iced tea company Honest Tea made its way to the Los Angeles area last week. Their unmanned store, stocked up with their signature teas and juices was perfect for the heat wave we had. The drinks costed just one dollar. Hidden cameras were set up to find out the question that has plagued every wide eyed kid moving to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams, “Are Angelinos honest?”  Unfortunately, only 75% of Angelinos forked over a buck to quench their thirst.

So far, the rankings are as follows:

Boston 93.3% honest

Washington D.C. 93%

Atlanta 89%

New York 89%

Los Angeles 75%

The Honest Store made its way to San Francisco this week. Find out how honest our Northern California brethren are by following Honest Tea on Twitter!

Check out LA’s results below!

The Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

The moment I heard about the Grilled Cheese Invitational, I knew I had to go. Being the quirky comfort food that everyone can relate to, I thought it’d be a fun event!

I was surprised I was first in line at the Grilled Cheese Invitational!

I was surprised I was first in line at the Grilled Cheese Invitational!

After learning my lesson with the Food Truck Festival. I arrived early with my prepaid ticket in tow. Even though I arrived two and a half hours before grilling time started, I thought there would be a handful of people in line. I was wrong. In fact I was the first one there! This stuff never happens to me. I chatted with a few people in line; namely Kathy & her brother who were looking forward to judging the event.

I must say that it felt good to be the first one through the gate. No rush, no pressure and at this point, the lot wasn’t packed at all which allowed more place for people to roam free.

A humorous speech lead by the mayor of  cheese town opened the event. It clearly set the tone which was just for everyone to relax and have fun which many people didn’t need to be told twice. In fact people were being civil towards each other, no matter how crazy the event got in my experience.

Humorous buttons at Tilamook's Tent Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Humorous buttons at Tillamook's Tent Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

My first stop was at the bright orange Tillamook cheese tents. They were giving away samples of their sharp & medium cheeses as well as buttons with catchy phrases like “All You Need is Loaf” and “I Loaf You”. Definitely was cute so I took some pins for myself & some cheese samples too. I then headed over to their grilled cheese tent where they were giving free samples of grilled cheese. Buttery and melted, just the way I liked it. No complaints here.

Steaz Fair Trade Tea at the Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Steaz Fair Trade Tea at the Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Next up I tried some black tea from Steaz that was very refreshing on this hot afternoon. I found out that they sell them at Target so I’ll definitely look for it when I’m in next time. Hard to believe I overlooked this yummy tea before.

Pacific Organic Tomato Soup at the Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Pacific Organic Tomato Soup at the Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Then I had a sample of a classic grilled cheese accompaniment: tomato soup compliments of Pacific Organic Food. If I had known, I would have saved my Tillamook grilled cheese for dipping with this satisfying soup!

Fresh Burrata at the Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Fresh Burrata at the Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

I made my very first purchase at The Point & Campanille’s booth. I ordered the Fresh Burrata which contained burrata, cherry tomatoes & salsa verde I found the presentation to be elegant but it fell apart rather easy. Despite it being a tasty sandwich, I expected more for my money. I’m glad this was one of the first vendors that I went to as the line only grew even more the rest of the day. When I was there I was probably the 6th in line. I will say the service was very prompt but probably won’t return a second time.

Artisan Cheese Gallery's Four Cheese Blend at the Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Artisan Cheese Gallery's Four Cheese Blend at the Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

My next stop was at Artisan Cheese Gallery where I tried a quarter of a four raw cheese blend that included fontina & cheddar with paprika aioli and sweet onion confit. The sandwiches were displayed on painted porcelain plates and were wrapped in a palm leaf. This by far was the best presentation of the day and the taste was delicious. The staff was very friendly & polite & seemed very passionate. A definite plus. My friend was joining me later in the day & I made sure she tried this sandwich. She also agreed that it was very good. I felt that this vendor was underrated. It barely had a line for the duration of the day despite it serving one of the better sandwiches. I’ll definitely keep them in mind though because after my experience, I know they won’t disappoint.

Hot Knives' Band Camp at the Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Hot Knives' Band Camp at the Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Next was Hot Knives which made it clear that they were five time grilled cheese champions. They had three different sandwiches offered at different times of the day. Band Camp which was composed of cheddar and apple butter was served at the time I was there. I will say that this was one of the vendors with a confusing line. With one line for ordering and another for pick up, it seemed straight forward. However, with no signs at opening and no crowd control, it quickly got tangled with other lines. After all the chaos, I walked away with my Band Camp in tow. I marveled at the way the apple butter and cheese just wove together so intricately. It clearly was a salute to carefree times when all things sweet were king.

The Champ from Greenspans at the Los Angeles Grilled Cheese Invitational

The Champ from Greenspans at the Los Angeles Grilled Cheese Invitational

I moved on  over next door to Greenspan’s where the line was even more chaotic. By this time, the Grilled Cheese Trucks had two very long lines and Hot Knives’ line was bleeding into Greenspans’ as well. The staff didn’t seem to know how to handle the line and were asking up patrons why we weren’t forming a line. It was a very odd question to ask as we simply were being lost in the shuffle as well. I had The Champ which was raisin bread, apricot, tomato, and white cheese. It was easy to see why this sandwich was worthy of its name as the sandwich really showcased the sweet side of cheese. I’m glad that despite the line drama, the sandwich was worth it.

I bypassed the Grilled Cheese Truck this time around. Despite them having two trucks, both lines were insane, but rightfully so. I had such a good experience last time that I decided to bow out and let others enjoy.

Mint Crack from The Sweets Truck Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Mint Crack from The Sweets Truck Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

There were also some other non grilled cheese vendors there. The one that I was really glad I was able to try after all this time was The Sweets Truck. A truck chock full of cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and coffees & teas? Who could ever go wrong? I had some of their wonderful mint chocolate crack & took home some farm brownies for my husband. We were both equally happy & I’m thankful I didn’t have to chase this truck down as it really doesn’t come to my area.

Short Rib from Wold Fare's truck. Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Short Rib from Wold Fare's truck. Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, CA

Another truck I tried, but this time for a second time was World Fare. The double-decker truck with a dining area on the roof? Ingenious! Their selection of small bites including short rib, chicken, vegetarian & mac & cheese truffle balls are worth checking out. I had the mac & cheese truffles at Food Blogger Forum last month & I tried the short rib this time. In its own little bread bowl, it was a very practical little snack.

After trying the non cheese trucks, we went to check out the All American grilled cheese vendor which was unfortunately, sold out so we just chatted at the spacious seating area after a long carb & cheese friendly day.

Tillamook's Cheese Wagon at the Grilled Cheese Invitational Los Angeles, C

Until we eat again!

The Grilled Cheese Invitational was definitely a fun event. The pre sale tickets were a welcomed change to the event. If you arrive early, you could actually visit all of the vendors in about two hours. Obviously the longer you stay, the longer the line. I would recommend people to go to the event next year & experience the fun. I would probably come next time to partake in the judging of the grilled cheeses which was actually sectioned off. It would have been fun to see the unique & wacky combinations people came up with! However, no matter how wacky, cheese makes everything better!

Lovin Life at Ludobites!

Ludobites Picture

Ludobites in Downtown LA

I was invited to a special dinner hosted by Fooddigger with several local bloggers. I love events like these because it lets me meet the person behind the blog, get to know them, and of course have a delicious dinner to boot. It’s one of the times I don’t feel odd about taking pictures at the table, although I’m starting to get used to it around non- bloggers.

Our Table Awaits

The table is all set for the bloggers to enjoy some Ludobite goodness!

This was my first Ludobites events with Chef Ludo Lefebvre at the helm of course. I heard so many raves about Ludobites starting with the event last Fall at Royal T and at Breadbar. Ludobites has such a cult following among foodies that I jumped at the chance to attend this event held after hours at Gram & Papa’s in Downtown LA.

A Toast

A Toast to the Foodies!

We were each greeted with a champagne toast to a great night. Great was an understatement!

Three Fat Textures

Three Fat Textures at Ludobites

The meal started with a fresh baguette served alongside three butters that showcased three different fat textures which included a clarified butter with chablis, a sweet emulsified brown butter, and a lavender infused whipped lard. While each texture was unique in its own right, I found myself going back for seconds, thirds, fourths….and tenths of the clarified butter, even when it started to solidify! The chablis added a sweet, smooth & slightly fruity taste to the butter which melded well with the chewy baguette.

Carrot Salade

The Carrot Salade brought back memories of warm summer days

Up next was the Carrot Salade served with saffron anglaise, pearl onions, and citrus fruits. I loved the presentation which was very bright and summer like. The two long carrots had been poached, but were still very crunchy and the shredded carrot was served in an orange juice & orange blosson sauce which was rather faint and light. My favorite part of this dish was the oranges which were cooked fully so that you could eat the rind as well which was rather unique. The oranges had a slight spice to them that added a nice kick.

Potato Mousseline

The Potato Mousseline generated much buzz early in the evening

One of the dishes that generated a lot of buzz at the table was the Potato Mousseline that was served atop an egg and a lobster sashimi. The potatoes were so creamy, the egg balanced the dish and I can’t say enough about the lobster which tasted very fresh. Combine the three and you have a delectable explosion of flavor in your mouth. Potato, egg, and lobster, who knew? Chef Ludo apparently!

Foie Gras Croque Monsieur

Foie Gras Croque Monsieur successfully followed the Potato Mousseline at Ludobites

The Potato Mousseline was a tough act to follow but Chef Ludo exceeded our expectations with his Foie Gras Croque Monsieur with Lemon Turnip Chutney served on a squid ink dyed bread with the obligatory ham & cheese. I for one am not a fan of foie gras but the combination of the foie gras & ham made a believer out of me. I didn’t care for the chutney too much, I would have just enjoyed the sandwich by itself. My only complaint here was that the other half of my sandwich was missing!

Burgundy Escargots

Burgundy Escargots at Ludobites

The obligatory escargots were next but Chef Ludo took this staple French dish to a new level. The Burgundy Escargots were served with a garlic flan, green parsley jus and yellow flowers decorated the dish. The snails sitting on a green canvas was a salute to their former lives roaming free on a meadow. Now they’d be roaming in my belly! I loved the fresh & creamy parsley jus as it helped to calm the otherwise overpowering garlic down. It also helped to mellow the earthy taste of the snails. Mix them together and you have perfection in a bowl.

Columbian River King Salmon

The Columbian River King Salmon swam gracefully to my stomach

About to meet my stomach next was a Columbian River King Salmon with Spring Cabbage, Orange Skin, and Juniper Berries. Salmon is known for its rich & buttery texture but Chef Ludo cooked this in a way that it tamed the richness & what was left was a smooth & juicy piece of fish accompanied by crunchy salmon skin that went along great with the red wine sauce. I didn’t care too much for the cabbage that was too tart for my taste.

Poached Jidori Chicken

The Poached Jidori Chicken was a great way to end the main courses at Ludobites

The final main course was a Poached Jidori Chicken with ended the night with a bang. To the naked eye, it looked like a bone marrow dish but instead was a juicy piece of chicken underneath crispy chicken skin. If that wasn’t enough, a side of bacon royale accompanied the dish. The bacon royale and the skin alone told me that I needed to take 3 hours of kick boxing the next morning to burn this all off, but it’d be totally worth it!

Brie Chantilly Napoleon

Brie Chantilly Napoleon at Ludobites

A beautiful napoleon composed of brie whipped for two hours between two thin slices of rustic toast with honeycomb was next. The brie was so smooth, it felt like a butter sandwich, not that there’s anything wrong with that at all! The honeycomb helped cut through the creaminess of the cheese. It made me want to whip up this concoction at home as brie is my favorite cheese. A dish like this needs to be served at a sandwich shop. I know I’d be the first in line for it!

The Dark Chocolate Souffle was a sweet end to a perfect meal at Ludobites

The Dark Chocolate Souffle was a sweet end to a perfect meal at Ludobites

A dark chocolate souffle with black pepper milk chocolate ice cream & chocolate cream was a sweet way to end the night. The souffle was light yet rich. The chocolate cream was a welcome addition. My table mates said that the black pepper ice cream helped cut the richness of the chocolate, which it did, however I’m so sensitive to spiciness that while I appreciated it balancing the dish, it felt like little daggers were hitting my tongue. So I happily finished my souffle with the chocolate cream. All I needed was a glass of milk.

This experience was one of a kind. I love trying new cuisines & Chef Ludo took this to a new level! All the hype about Chef Ludo is well worth it. He made a believer out of me & I invite you all to check his events out. You won’t be disappointed. I thank Chef Ludo & his staff for making a dinner that I will be talking about for a great while & I thank the staff of FoodDigger for organizing this event. I’m truly grateful to have been a part of something so great! I look forward to the next one!

Check out some of my fellow foodies’ reviews of Ludobites!

Food Je t’aime

I’m Hungry and Proud of It

Noms Not Bombs

Gastrophoria

F For Food

The Gastronomnom

The Roaming Belly

Gastronomy

Ludo Bites at Gram & Papa's on Urbanspoon
Ludo Bites 4.0 at Gram and Papa's in Los Angeles

Food Blog Forum Seminar

Last Saturday I attended the Food Blog Forum seminar. I got to meet a lot of people and learn a lot of things. The seminar was hosted by Jaden & Scott Hair of Steamy Kitchen along with Todd Porter & Diane Cu of White on Rice Couple. Topics included a discussion on integration of media that was hosted by the staff of KCRW including host of Good Food, Evan Kleiman, author of Deep End Diving, Eddie Lin, and Good Food’s producer Harriet Ellis was on hand to moderate. The group was very open about the realities of the media and offered great advice to bloggers of all levels.

Jaden and her husband Scott spoke about how they got their start with Steamy Kitchen as well as providing a motivational story about how to get your career, or anything else for that matter off the ground. The story was definitely motivation to someone like me who likes too many things & needs to narrow them down so I thank them a million times for this.

The high energy in the room was through the roof by the end of this talk. We were encouraged to share our thoughts on a live Twitter trend & I could see right away that I wasn’t the only one that thought the room was on fire.

After a delicious lunch of BBQ, pizza, and BBQ pizza as well as mingling with other foodies & sharing stories, we got back to the afternoon session of talks.

Matt Armendariz, the author of Matt Bites as well as food stylist Adam Pearson led a discussion of Food Photography & Food Styling. They described how to set up the shot, the significance of how you plate the food, how to enhance the picture and provided us with beautiful examples of wonderful photography. They were very willing to answer a wide range of questions from point and shooters like myself to SLR users. Their talk made me more aware of photography and is making me more conscious on ways I can be a better photographer.

Todd & Diane of White on Rice Couple piggybacked the food photography talk, discussing the importance of taking the time out and studying the subject instead of just simply pointing & shooting. The talked about the importance of light on a subject and provided an example of how light coming in at different angles can alter the mood that the image is trying to convey. By stopping & studying not only the placement of food as discussed in the previous talk, but also how the light falls on the image, it can help you achieve what you are trying to convey with your story. They also talked about different equipment for SLR cameras that can help to diffuse light & also bounce light from another source when lighting is dim. They also explained that you can improvise if you don’t have access to the equipment by simply using a napkin to white balance & also help with the lighting. Their talk was a smooth segue from the last and definitely made me even more conscious of my picture taking.

Up next was Gary Nicholson of Relevant Trafik that spoke about SEO, social media, and web design. He gave us tips on how our sites can be more SEO friendly by simply being conscious of keywords, titles, and descriptions we use on our sites. He also explained the importance of social media and how it helps to promote you. I for one am proficient with Twitter & Facebook but didn’t realize how important it is to participate in forums that are relevant to my topic. Sure I would post once in a while but this talk made me want to post on a more frequent basis which I am proud to say I have. This talk had a longer Q&A session as was expected since people are all looking to better their sites. He provided great advice to everyone and I was glad that he was on hand.

Jaden took on the final talk of the afternoon focusing on marketing & monetization. She spoke about ad networks, sponsors, and blog revenue. She was very honest about it which I truly enjoyed as I believe it’s important to tell it like it is & not sugarcoat it at all.

The event concluded with a Q&A with all of the guest speakers to answer anymore burning questions the audience may have had. It’s safe to say the energy level stayed high throughout the event and everyone left with their heads spinning thanks to all the new information they received.

I would like to thank Jaden & Scott as well as Todd & Diane for putting on this event. It helped a spring chicken like myself and I’m sure it helped even the more seasoned bloggers. Since the seminar, I’ve been more active with my promotion whether it be posting on social network sites more or using keywords and I have seen an increase in traffic. It was great to catch up with foodies I knew as well as meet new ones who we equally shared ideas with. The whole event was very inspiring.   I thank you for this event & I look forward to the next one!

Day trip in my backyard

I was a tourist in Los Angeles once upon a time. Actually 10 years upon a time. I would visit my mom in LA each summer. She’d take us to all the theme parks, a bunch of restaurants, and shopping. I remember the excitement I felt each year I was in LA, it never got old. The awe of being where celebrities live, the look of the palm trees that was something never seen in New York, the excitement of traveling to the various theme parks, and simply just spending time with mom.

I moved here 4 years ago and just like when I lived in Orlando & never went to any of the parks, the same thing is happening to me now. No longer in awe of LA, maybe I’ve gotten used to it, maybe I’m taking it for granted, or maybe I’m chalking it up to another case of been there, done that. Yes things can get old, but it’s fun to be a tourist from time to time.

Universal Studios' trademark globe

I was one of the videographers for Flash Mob America’s Goddess Flashmob at City Walk two weeks ago. One thing I never get tired of is the thrill of being behind the camera and this time was no exception. The event went off without a hitch. It gave me such a rush.

When the event was over, my husband and I decided to walk around City Walk as he’d never been there before. The tourist had become the tour guide and let me tell you, it was a fun experience whether it was telling him how City Walk had changed over the years, pointing out cool store fronts, or discovering new spots. The experience made me feel like a kid again.

Going with the whole tourist theme, we decided to go to a themed restaurant, Bubba Gump. Thankfully there was no wait so we went right in.

Bubba Gump

Not surprisingly we were met with many memorabilia from the movie such as some famous quotes

A license plate was used to get the servers' attention

and even a ping pong paddle menu

Ping Pong Paddle drink menu

The Po Boy sandwich was served on fake newspaper from the 60s that included snippets of historical news articles as well as fictional ones from the movie, a cute touch. I was just happy to see a po boy on the menu since I haven’t had once since I left Florida. I also admit that I had forgotten all about this sandwich but after being reminded at this theme restaurant, I’ll strive to make my own inexpensive version. The restaurant’s version went very mild on the remoulade, probably to cater to the general public’s taste. Although I don’t like too much spice, it’d be nice if it was kicked up just a little bit for old time’s sake. No complaints on the bread which tasted fresh and the fries which weren’t over salted. I’m happy to say that the pickle was not translucent either.

Po Boy at Bubba Gump

I finished off the meal with a mini mud pie since I was too full to down the larger version. The small version also has less calories since that was a plus. This was the first time I tried a mud pie in my life and it definitely won’t be the last since I’m a sucker for chocolate.

Mini Mud Pie

Our server was very personable and friendly and the rest of the staff seemed to be having fun as they sang along with songs playing on the PA. The energy was a positive one. My only complaint was that she did seem a little inexperienced as she didn’t consolidate her steps of service.

Themed restaurants are always overpriced but they’re fun once in a while. If anything, my experience at this one inspired me to cook more southern food as that’s one type of cuisines that I haven’t found much of out here.

I enjoyed being a tourist for an afternoon, it got me in touch with my carefree side that has all but disappered. Have you taken a vacation in your “backyard” lately?

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company on Urbanspoon

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