Sunday, August 24, 2014

LACMA with a bite at Church & State

I decided that a cultural experience was necessary during my visit to LA. Via recommendation, I headed to The Lost Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The difference between museums in NYC and LA is that the California museums are very spread out with a lot of outdoor spaces between buildings. The LACMA, specifically, has a lot of outdoor art instilations. The entrance of the museum is marked by the exhibition Urban Light. The artist, Chris Burden, used 202 restored cast iron antique street lamps to create this work.  

(Jeans: KUT from the Kloth / Top: ANDB / Necklace: C.Wonder (similar here)

I headed inside and wandered around the permanent exhibitions. I could not take pictures in most. But in this modern art section I could.

This piece is titled Giant Pool Balls (very creative). I decided to try my luck at the break.

I loved the vast variety of art at the LACMA.

This is Metropolis II. Interesting take on art. The structure is meant to represent the busyness of a major metropolitan city, in this case LA. Around 100,000 miniature cars circulate this structure at speeds up to 240 scale mph.

I headed to dinner with Jenny and her wonderful boyfriend Greg at the very popular Church & State in Downtown LA (the quality of pictures are very poor, i'm sorry, but the quality of food is very high). 

Yes Way Rose!

Church & State is a French restaurant (aka my favorite). French food is so lush, romantic, fabulous and delicious.

We started with Le Cachat - herbed goat cheese and lavender honey... well as the Olives Marinees.

I demanded we have the Escargots de Bourgogne en Croute - burgundy snails, garlic butter and a puff pastry. Can't get more french then snails.

We all got the Bar de Ligne - local striped bass, basil puree, leak, potato, scallion, cherry tomato, castelvetrano olives in a fennel broth. I licked it up with bread. There are so many incredible items on the menu, I wish I had the opportunity to go back to try more!

Gosh I love this girl. Such a wonderful friend to have in my life.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hello California - Adventures in Santa Barbara

People, get ready for this. I decided last minute to jet-set to Cali to visit my beautiful friend Jenny (I know, very fabulous, right!?). Because the "last minute jet-set" life is not my norm, it was all very exciting. Jen moved out to Cali from NYC a year ago and I was missing her face terribly. 

I arrived pretty late with the time change so after some takeout, a lot of catch up and a bottle of wine I hit the sack to prepare for our first full day. 

Of course I needed to visit a bit of wine country traveling all the way out to California. Since Napa was a bit too far, Santa Barbara was the next best option less than 2 hours away. Due to its' location between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, the city is often referred to as the "American Riviera" because of the Mediterranean like climate. The Santa Ynez Valley and Happy Valley produce some excellent wines, many which have tasting rooms in downtown Santa Barbara. 

After the drive we decided to fuel up with a bite to eat at State & Fig. It is a simple lunch place with wonderful outdoor seating. The menu is seasonally inspired with a focus on California products.

Who can resist a cheese plate?

I munched on the Kali Club - rosemary turkey, arugula, market tomatoes, basil aioli, avocado and applewood bacon.

Jen opted for The Cobb Salad. The ingredients were so fresh and full of flavor.

We decided to walk around a bit to work off our fullness and could not help but snap some shots of my new ASOS dress (on sale here).

Santa Barbara really does have a European feel. There were a ton of little courtyards and hidden spaces we discovered while wandering. 

Our wanderings took us to the first stop on the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.

Grassini Family Vineyard has been producing wine for four generations. Best known for their Sauvignon Blancs and Cabernet Sauvignons, we had the most incredible time tasting wine here. The staff was super friendly as well as knowledgable about wine and the wine making process. I'm still pinching myself for not bringing a bottle home! It is a do not miss when visiting Santa Barbara. 

Our second stop was Au Bon Climat. With so many tasting room options, I was drawn here because they are known for their Chardonnays (aka my favorite).

We decided to walk towards the beach where another cluster of tasting rooms were located in what I learned is The Funk Zone. This area is a vibrant art district, home to local surf shops, galleries, restaurants and the wine trail. 

Gosh California is beautiful. There was never one cloud in the sky. I mean come on, stop being so perfect California, you're making the rest of the country look bad. 

Jen got super excited about these books, such a nostalgic blast from the past. Cali is great if you enjoy thrift and consignment shopping. 

Our final stop on the wine trial was Riverbench. Their grapes of choice are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This tasting room was packed with people, probably because we had entered the afterwork hours. The staff was super accommodating, I decided on the Chardonnay Tasting but was able to substitute one white for a Rose. 

A bit wined out (I can not believe I just admitted that), we sought out sustenance. The Lark is located in the historic Santa Barbara Fish Market building. The Lark is locally sourced and uses responsibility grown ingredients. The menu is best described as seasonal new-American cuisine, very farm to table.

Ok, maybe one more glass of Rose.

We started with a few small bites. Here are the Crispy Brussel Sprouts mixed with medjool dates, garum, sesame and lime.

We also went for the Fried Castelvetrano Olives, stuffed with goat cheese over a chorizo aioli.

The first entree ordered was the Crispy Pork Belly with peach mostarda, pickled okra and spicy chicharron.

The second entree was the Grilled Spanish Octopus over israeli couscous, guajillo chile, blood orange, scallions and peanuts.

And then there was dessert. It was basically a S'more in a jar. Delicious.

So close to the beach, I could not resist running over to it. I had to put my toes in the Pacific Ocean once during my trip. Sadly, it was too dark to capture the moment on camera.

Santa Barbara is a must see. I'd suggest taking two days, one for in town and one out at the wineries in the Valley. Heading back to LA for the next few posts! Can not wait to share.