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Reviews & Event Recap

Southern California Spas Never Felt So Good

We all know life can get hectic at times. Between work, family, school, household obligations and finances, its easy to feel like everyday functioning is stressful business.

One of my favorite remedies is an excellent spa treatment. What could be more relaxing than a luxurious spa day where someone else pampers you from head to toe? And where better to indulge than in SoCal, the perfect relaxation destination? And while there are a number of larger, well-known Southern California spas, there are also a number of unique one-off locations that offer can a memorable experience and much-needed perks.

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Giada Restaurant Scores on the Vegas Strip

“I eat a little bit of everything and not a lot of anything.”

~Giada DeLaurentiis

These are the words that famed celebrity chef and restaurateur Giada De Laurentiis live by. But they are also the words that are etched in the lights throughout the dining room of her restaurant, Giada, located on a coveted corner on the Vegas Strip. It is this and other little touches, fantastic food, and the attentive service that make this celebrity chef’s namesake restaurant a spot not to be missed on the Las Vegas Strip.

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The Crab City That Ruined Me

“Being from Baltimore, I’m a crab cake snob, and I’m very particular on where I eat my crab cakes.” 

~Max Teixeira

I knew it was going to be good before I went. I had heard the rumors. I just didn’t know it was going to change me.

I love seafood. I especially love crab, and I think thought I knew a good crab cake when I had one. That is until one city changed my perception of the crab cake. It changed my entire worldview.

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Food and Wine for a Cause: Park & Palate 2015

Gelato. Wine. Chicken Wings. Sausage. Cooking demonstrations. And the downtown Dallas skyline. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And that is what Park & Palate was counting on.

Park & Palate, Klyde Warren Park’s inaugural food and wine celebration, boasted around 40 chefs and over 30 wineries over the course of the weekend. On Friday evening, there was an outdoor concert and on Saturday was their ‘Grand Tasting’ with cooking demonstrations, book signings and live music on a hot September day.

But the event isn’t just for great food and delicious drinks. Per Park & Palate: ‘The event not only offers the chance to mingle with the premier chefs, winemakers, and sommeliers in the region and beyond, but also give attendees the opportunity to support Klyde Warren Park and all of its free activities. Because all proceeds from the event go directly back into the park, Park & Palate offers Dallas’ new and established philanthropists a unique opportunity to enjoy an exceptional event while giving back to one of the city’s most beloved spaces.’

Here were some of my faves (noting that there were so many stands I didn’t have the time to hit):

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Off the Beaten Strip: Rhythm Kitchen in Las Vegas

When in Vegas, the Strip is the center of the experience. But the local experience is often where you can find some great gems. And Rhythm Kitchen Seafood & Steaks fits the bill.

The restaurant features a New Orleans theme with excellent Cajun food. I first tried this place a couple of years ago when stumbling upon it looking for a furniture store. And recently, I attended Rhythm Kitchen’s Food and Wine Dinner. It did not disappoint.

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Paris Meets L.A.: Diner En Blanc 2015

“The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table.” 

~Author Unknown

 

We were in a panic.

The event date came out two and a half weeks before the dinner. Our registration was a mere week before the dinner. And we got in. And promptly panicked.

Diner en Blanc, an annual tradition that started in Paris, is shrouded in mystery. Thousands gather for a giant pop-up picnic at a secret location not disclosed until you are on the bus to the event.

Needless to say, I was intrigued. And needless to say, we were strapped for time. We had to rent tables, find pullies (because the table and chairs were heavy), get our all-white outfits together, figure out accessories, and figure out the food. Not to mention the rest of life that continued occurring with no regard for our time crunch. My friend Tyra (yep, two Tyras) and I scrambled to get our lives together in time. And by the day of the event, we were both kind of over it. All of this trouble for a dinner… Was it really worth it? We figured no, but we would go along for the ride.

We were totally wrong.

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Got Pork? The Big Bite Bacon Fest Does

A friend once told me that bacon makes everything better. She was right.

And this mantra was definitely confirmed by the chefs, food trucks and general pork lovers who attended the 2nd Annual Big Bite Bacon Fest this weekend. The festival, held at The Queen Mary in Long Beach on August 1 and 2, featured a vast array of pork-filled dishes, live music, games, and did I mention pork?

I was in heaven. It was a pork smorgasbord of epic proportions. Signature dishes included bacon mac ‘n’ cheese, bacon quesadillas, pulled pork, bacon-wrapped shrimp and drumsticks, bacon maple donuts, and even bacon cinnamon rolls.

“We are committed to growing the Big Bite Bacon Fest in order to welcome all passionate bacon lovers,” commented Big Bite Event’s Chief Bacon Officer, Mark Entner. “We have expanded the festival into two-days and secured double the number of bacon purveyors to participate to create a sensory overloaded environment where bacon enthusiasts can truly enjoy all things bacon.”

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Embracing Independence: My Solo International Adventure

“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without traveling.

~Roman Payne, The Wandress

I would love to say that my first foray into solo international travel was based on some grandiose plan, some well thought out quest to see the world. But really, it was because I was simply tired of waiting.

Sure, in my Goals post that I wrote earlier this year, I laid out the fact that I wanted to take a solo, international, pleasure trip. But when I wrote that, I wasn’t sure I was ready to do it so soon. But I made a goal for myself—along with the goal to see one new state and one new country every year—and I wanted to stick to it. And all of my friends had reasons—some valid, some not so much—about why they couldn’t travel with me internationally this year, even though I had been trying to orchestrate a trip for well over a year. I had finally reached my ‘put-up-or-shut-up’ point with myself. So I pulled the trigger and booked something on my own.

I can’t believe I waited so long.

Initially, I had chosen Turks and Caicos as my destination. But after a series of unfortunate events, I ended up with a solo ticket to Panama.

And. It. Was. Awesome.

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