Category Archives: travel

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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):

IMG_1740 IMG_1743 IMG_1746 IMG_1749 IMG_1752 IMG_1755

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

 

jose

Post Basel and Pre NYE: A New Yorker’s Guide to Miami

Miami, it’s like little Manhattan, select long weekends of the year. Specifically, the first weekend of December, during Art Basel and the 24 satellite fairs, the city’s gallerists, artists, art lovers, musicians, photographers, socialites and IG famous embark on the 3o5, jam-packed with openings, receptions, exhibits and guestlist only parties. If you’re unfamiliar, think SXSW but prettier and art rather than tech.

Now, contrary to popular belief, truthfully Miami is a small, big city and for whatever reason despite not having 8 million human, it is still rather inefficient especially for New Yorkers. So, after a fairly successful trip for Basel before some of you inevitably take your talents to South Beach for New Year’s Eve, prepare properly with these Miami hacks for New Yorkers.

Let’s start from the beginning, like prior to arrival. I HIGHLY recommend using AirBnb rather than a hotel. A lot of the hotels are run down and do not look like the photos online. If you have the money, stick to the newly renovated James Hotel, The W South Beach, The Fontainebleu (a bit off actual South Beach), The Raleigh, SLS and however tacky it is, the rooms at The Dream are in good shape. Miami has cockroaches, year round, HUGE ones, stay in a nice place. If you AirBnB, stay off Washington, Collins or Ocean Drive to cut on traffic. Anywhere South of Fifth Ave is pretty good and Alton Road will give you good access to leaving or staying on South Beach. Also, there’s a Whole Foods to eat healthy while on vacation and save on mediocre Lincoln Road, tourist trap restaurants.

Upon arrival, have cash and your Google Maps ready for your cab ride. Fortunately, taxis have set fares to different neighborhoods from the airport however, VERY few take cards, which is archaic but very real. Miami does finally have Uber but it was RARE to see cars available without a 2.2 or higher surge price during Basel. Similar to when searching for accommodations, while in cabs, vehemently demand to stay off Washington, Collins Ave and Ocean Drive as much as possible.

Check every tab at every bar you order a drink at. The majority of your orders will have an automatic gratuity charge thus unless you are interested in tipping upwards of 40 percent, stay aware.

Lastly, Miami Beach has free WiFi. Although I am unsure if it works well, it does exist. The signal is City_of_Miami_Beach_Wifi.

To less ATM fees and a Happy New Year – see you soon Miami.

xo Rae

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

transit love

transit on the Tour de Rae

A mistake or negative experience isn’t all that bad if you learn from it.  Don’t cry over spilled milk.  Waste a couple dollars on some rookie moves?  Don’t let it happen again.  Over Memorial Day when I was in NY for only 3 days, I blew through over $20 on my MetroCard and managed to perfect amateur hour by taking at least three $30+ cab rides between Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Not this time.

Lesson learned.  Not only did I know I was going to be there for five days, I knew that I was going to making a lot of solo moves as I was only working two days and was going to try and get some QT in with as many people as possible.  Upon my Monday arrival, I immediately purchased the $30, unlimited week MetroCard.  Below is a list of (most of) my moves in the five days.

Franklin Ave (Crown Heights, Brooklyn) to Nevins St (Brooklyn), roundtrip
Franklin Ave  to Grand Street (LES), one way
Franklin Ave to Nevins, one way
Nevins to Atlantic/Barclays (Brooklyn), one way
Atlantic/Barclays to Franklin Ave, one way
Franklin Ave to Union Square, round trip
Franklin Ave to Nevins, round trip
Franklin Ave to Prince St, one way
Spring St to Union Square, one way
Union Square to Franklin Ave, round trip
Franklin Ave to Atlantic/Barclays, round trip
Court St/Borough Hall (Brooklyn) to 28th Street (Manhattan), one way
33rd Street to Essex Street (East Villiage), one way
Delancy Street (East Villiage) to Canal Street (Soho), one way
Spring Street to Franklin Ave, one way
 

Each one way fare is $2.50.  The above listed travels could have run me about $50 and although the weekly unlimited ride MetroCard is good for 7 days, I used it for 5 and saved minimally $2o, which ended up covering nearly my entire bus fare to Springfield during my northeastern summer tour.  Safe and smart travels everyone!

xo Rae

transit love