Category Archives: food

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LA HIGHLIGHT: LASA

I tend to try to make myself at home when I travel. As a former and current resident of tourist destinations, I quickly learned that sticking to the normal tourist trappy activities can leave me spending too much money on subpar experiences. I mean, NY residents, would you recommend a restaurant in Times Square? Unlikely.

Luckily, a very close friend of mine in Brooklyn, grew up in LA, so during my first (yea, took awhile) trip to La La Land, we were able to attend a very intimate pop-up dinner. A growing concept of her close friends, brothers, Chase and Chad Valencia, second generation Filipino-American, LASA, the pop-up restaurant, is inspired by Philippine Cuisine and influenced by Southern California’s seasonal farmers’ markets.

In Tagalog (Filipino), LASA means taste and flavor. Appropriately. Chad and Chase both come from impressive food and beverage backgrounds. Chase, co-owner and GM, developed a passion for food and memorable experiences working at a variety of places such as mom and pop shop, Owen’s Bakery, popular Silverlake spot, Sqirl, and taking care of huge events for the likes of SONY and Beats By Dre with Wolfgang Puck’s Catering in a variety of managerial roles. The other half, Chad has 12 years of restaurant experience. In the last five years he’s cooked under Chef Corine Weibel at Canele where he learned about seasonality in Southern CA. He then spent time creating seasonally driven, traditional Spanish dishes at Contigo in San Francisco before returning to LA and working at Sqirl with Chase and close friends, Chef Meadow Ramsey and Jessica Kosklow. It was then that LASA was born.

lasa valencia bros

Pictured, Chad and Chase Valencia. On inspiration for LASA, Chad says “In this time in America, where there is the highest concentration of second generation Filipino Americans, it only makes sense to represent my culture through what I do best, which is cook food. Otherwise aspects of our culture will be forgotten which is inevitable in a sense, but this is our effort and appreciation for our motherland. Also to learn more about my culture and its food history. There is more I don’t know than what I actually do know within Filipino food and to me this means this journey is life long and that I can be excited about learning throughout this journey.”

In 2013, before the LASA it has matured into, the brothers started with summer, backyard dinners, then moved to a bi-monthly pop-up dinner and now has become the quarterly, seasonal dinner that I attended last week. This winter, January’s edition sold out just under 100 available seats inside the event space Elysian, in less than two hours. Game killed.

Check the pics below (food from Jill Tuttle and others from their Facebook):

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Pictured, from top left, Pork Rilette, Soy-Vinegar Braised Octopus, Mung Bean Dip, Scallops Kinilaw, Red Grouper & Manila, Coconut Milk Champarrado. 

lasa menulasa menu 2

lasa seating

So on top of an innovative, cohesive and delicious menu, everyone working at LASA was super welcoming and the music selection consisted of songs I need to know or have already written about (so I’m extra bias), creating a wonderfully warm  and comfortable atmosphere. When I asked Chase, “What is something I need to tell people about LASA?”, he offered a response perfectly in line with how I felt leaving that evening. He said “To us, LASA means food and community, eating and experiencing an honest meal with loved ones. We are thankful for the opportunities we have had to put ourselves out there and how receptive people have been with our concept.”

As for something, I believe you need to know about LASA. The next one is in March and a little birdie told me they are getting closer to the goal of opening their own brick and mortar in Los Angeles. Follow them on Facebook and keep track of them on their website so you do not miss the next one!

xo Rae

lasa pop up

 

view from the Fontainebleau

Going, Going, Back, Back to Basel

After departing over a year ago, I’m finally going back to visit Miami. My favorite week was always during Art Basel and the growing amount of satellite fairs in early December. Obviously, this is when I’ve planned my first visit. As a former resident and seasoned Baseler, I’ve combed through plenty of lists, guides and invites. Granted there are A LOT of events I’d like to make it to and just might, as there are definitely some that I’ll be attending that aren’t on this list, however, this is a short list of events/places/exhibits I am attending or highly recommend making it to.

Now is the best opportunity for visitors to get to Wynwood. There is so much more to Miami than South Beach. In addition to being home to a majority of Miami’s galleries, the Wynwood walls are amazing and there are plenty of events going on during Basel.

An installation that I need to make it a point to see is Andre 3000’s “i feel ya: SCAD + Andre 3000 Benjamin”. At Mana Wynwood from December 3-14, the mixed media exhibit will feature the 47 custom jumpsuits Andre 3k wore on Outkast’s reunion tour this past year.

Between the champagne, Soho House/Harper’s Bazaar shopping and beauty pop-ups and the round the clock openings, receptions and exhibits a little something to do right by your body and break up the monotony will be required. Friday morning from 10am to noon may be ambitious but there’s free yoga at the Loews Hotel. I presume my partner in crime will not make this but I will need to get my zen in. Namaste bae baes.

Not one but two Friday night parties will undoubtedly have the best music of the week, IMO. FKA Twigz, James Blake, SBTRKT, A$AP Ferg and Kelala are having performances or shows but for parties, I recommend trying to get into these two. At Soho Studios, in Miami proper, Ketel One’s Friday night edition of the De Nolet event has Cashmere Cat (who headlined an epic Saturday this past summer at MoMA PS1) and NY DJ, GetLive. I’ve seen both and this event will be great. Also, Friday evening, but on the beach, during Le Baron’s 10 Year Anniversary and week long, pop-up take over, “Airball at the Delano“, Snarkiture vs. Alchemist features performances by Theophilus London and Travis Scott.

Contrary to my New Yorker’s belief, while Miamians may be very body conscious, they do eat. You’ll want to have a reservation and you’ll want it somewhere besides staple Prime 112 or Prime Italian. You must try Yardbird. Their speciality drink menu single handedly elevated my appreciation and ability to drink bourbon, like an adult, sort of. And, chicken and waffles, so there’s that.

Seemingly, my faves are music centric. Surprised or nah? You can follow along on Snapchat at knewyork. Although I’m Snapchatless, I’ll be sidekicking here all weekend.

Of course you can find me my own Twitter and IG, both @raewitte but I’ll also be contributing to Luxury Attache’s Twitter and IG @luxuryattache.

If you’re going or have any Miami questions a former resident can help you with, feel free to reach out to me at contactraewitte (at) gmail dot com.

Happy Baseling!

xo Rae

HH1

#HashbrownsAndHashtags

I recently got connected with Samantha Chin of the Myriad Group over Twitter. Interestingly enough, this isn’t a rarity for me. Anywho, she hit me about the event she was going to be co-hosting, #HashbrownsAndHashtags. Initiated by Sam, Scarlett Stack, Lee Tighlman, and Alexandra Machover and hosted at the latest restaurant from Matt Levine, Chalk Point Kitchen a group of digitally/socially savvy, super swaggy women assembled for an unreal brunch spread and for an even better panel.

Ok, first the food, to. die. for. I really incessantly recommend Chalk Point Kitchen as they never cease to outdo themselves but it was all phenom. See pics below (peep the menu and sponsors too, very real). IMG_2729 IMG_2734 IMG_2735

Now on to the goods, the girls, of course. The panel included Marlo Scott of Sweet Revenge, Cyndi Ramirez of Taste the Style, Stefanie Skinner of People’s Revolution and Socially Acclaimed and Bevy Smith of Bravo’s Fashion Queens and Dinner with Bevy.

Marlo discussed a string of what she called “bad bosses” which inevitably were individuals (probably men) too caught up in being ‘the boss’ to really utilize the mind of someone capable of seeing the bigger picture and running her own business. Bevy was non-stop one liners of advice so real and relevant, I think I could have filled a month’s work of blog content on her portion alone. I opted to live-tweet but you get it. She dropped knowledge like “find your unique value proposition”, “you got a college degree for a reason”, “you only eat what you kill”, “go through the fucking fear” – so much knowledge. Soft spoken Stefanie flourished in front of us when she broke down how she is THE strategy girl.  And I feel that. I may not be soft spoken but there is absolutely, always a method to my madness, business and personal. Cyndi Ramierez spoke on her progression from bringing together two seemingly unnatural topics thus creating her personal brand and focusing on what she was best at. Now, this week, she is releasing her own facial moisturizer, DAILE (make sure to check it out ASAP). HH4 HH5 HH6

pics by Raffi Asdourian 

Although each of the women have different backgrounds and are essentially in different industries (kudos to the selection hosts), there were plenty of similar themes around entrepreneurship. Each seemed very aware of the proverbial ‘big picture’ and how it applied to them and their strengths. If I can do them any justice, here are some important points I left with and can offer to you.

Be capable and unafraid of doing everything. If you don’t know something, learn it.

Find your lane, make sure it’s unique and murder it.

Going corporate won’t kill you if you utilize it and by utilize I mean learn from EVERY SINGLE minute you spend there and apply it accordingly. Don’t countdown the minutes until 5 pm, calculate the minutes you need to invest outside of work on your own thing until your own thing can be the only thing.

As I sat and soaked up every bit of knowledge (and ricotta toast), it really felt like listening to myself but their stories are so far beyond where I am at now. It was not only reassuring but terribly exciting, like finally being somewhere and having the feeling of, ‘yes, I fit here’. Further, (grab the tissues) this was so huge for me, one year into being self-employed, to attend and to bring my mom along.

If I may, on behalf of all in attendance, to the panel and the hosts – thank you so much girls.

xo Rae

 

chalkpointwwd

Chalk Point Kitchen

You’re really making me look good Chalk Point. The week you opened, I brought my close friend, who also just relocated from south Florida, and his sister for his birthday. We couldn’t get a reservation but I thought The Handy Bar would be a spot he’d like. Sure enough, he was thoroughly impressed with everything, from the look and feel, right down to your metal straws. Further, the maitre’d asked if we were still interested in dinner. I’m really looking good now, because you had a table for us. THEN, this came on and subsequently the siblings’ father has been playing Mr. Caldwell their whole lives. With you, it’s like I already won.

Dinner was fantastic, so fantastic that when my cousin came down to the city from upstate for work on her birthday, you were my number one draft pick. She said her priority was “a good feel” and when I sent her the menu she immediately obliged.

Ok, I need to stop listening to Bobby Caldwell before I write an entire love letter to Chalk Point. Let me break down this birthday dinner my cousin, her boss and I had. First, I ordered the cosmo and judged myself, the 90s and Sex & the City ended, awhile ago. In my defense, this was not your average cosmo it was THE Honey Almond Cosmo, made with HONEY vodka. My move for the summer will now be honey vodka and everything. There is also a selection of beers, wines and really well executed drink menus, at each the dining room upstairs and The Handy Bar below.

chalkpointmussels

We ordered three small shares or appetizers, the artic char tar tar, the avocado and crab salad (a special I believe?) and the mussels in kimchi. If I can make a recommendation to Chalk Point, warn people about the mussels and bring them out as the last appetizer. Everything was delicious and memorable however, these mussels were so next level as I sit in my bed and think about them, I can only compare them to the proverbial ‘one that got away’, simply because I don’t have a bowl next to me right now and I am definitely feeling some type of way in their absence. They were so incredible, it was the first and last dish on the table and we (being Italian) had to request extra bread for the sauce. I believe my cousin said she wanted to have it at home to “put on everything, even pb&j sandwiches.” Essentially, I could go on and on and on about the food, but the beauty of farm to table is the menu is constantly changing. For example, my dinner, clams in a deconstructed chili was not on the menu and as Dani (our very friendly, babe of a waitress) explained, the chef felt like trying this instead on the clams entree on the menu. Do not pass up the opportunity to try dessert either. My favorite thus far is includes popcorn over ice cream. If your date is cool, they will take you, if they aren’t, I’ll go with you. You just have to get there, immediately.

xo Rae

photo credit: Villiage Voice and Women’s Wear Daily

 

spinach avocado pasta super foods

Hot Super Foods

I am beginning to think I should have changed my domain name to youhaveoptions.com (which is available if you’re interested). That or icantsticktothescript.com, because doing your own thing is so great. In fact, I encourage you to use this recipe more as an inspiration or guide, do you.

I am too cold to juice and although I should hold the carbs, I needed something hot but still utilized two of my favorite super foods. I came across this recipe for Spinach Avocado Alfredo Sauce. I mean, really taking two of the healthiest fruits and veggies and pairing it with one of the top ten most unhealthy foods? Alfredo sauce? So much yes, followed by so much no. Besides, the recipe called for pulverizing the avocado and spinach down to nothing in a food processor creating a dish that essentially looked like green pasta. So, I did it my way.

Spinach Avocado Vegetarian Pasta

1 avocado
4 handfuls of spinach
1 heaping teaspoon of minced garlic
olive oil
salt
pepper
half a lemon (save the rest for your vodka tonic later)
red pepper flakes
1/8 cup parsley
grated Parmesan cheese
less than half a pound of whole wheat pasta

While waiting for water to boil for the pasta, cover the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil and cook the garlic in it on low/medium. Gradually add in spinach. Make sure to add olive oil if necessary. The leaves shouldn’t be floating in oil but they should be covered. Remove pit and skin from avocado and cut into tiny pieces. Don’t forget to put the pasta on. Put the avocado in pan and add parsley, salt (I actually used garlic salt) and pepper to your taste. Toss everything together. Stay conscious of the olive oil because the spinach sucks it right up. Squeeze half of the lemon and add as much red pepper flakes as you can stand. Turn down the heat and let simmer on low for about 8 minutes. Serve the spinach and avocado over the pasta and generously sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (considering the original recipe calls for a quarter cup of cheese).

Prep time is minimal, probably less than 20 minutes and this is good for about two servings. Also, FYI, this would go really well with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

xo Rae-