Fill Up at Ford's

I love seared fois gras.  I also love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich (really, who doesn't?).  The point is, complicated high-end food is great, but so is simple food.  And sometimes, just because it's simple, it's almost better.

That's the vibe at Ford's Filling Station, an über-hip gastropub with a menu that boasts not only haute cuisine — Bleu Affinè and Humboldt Fog cheeses, cured meats, Moroccan lamb and truffle mascarpone polenta cake — but genius comfort foods like deviled eggs and brioche french toast.  I mean, deviled eggs?  It's like a plate of childhood, it's a picnic, it's so smart it's almost cheating.

TIDBITS: Deviled Eggs with Marash Pepper.  BITS: Bacon-Wrapped Dates.
On top of this, Ford's sits on Culver Boulevard in Culver City, a street packed with other trendy restaurants, therefore making it ripe for people watching.  A seat on the patio with one of their clever cocktails is a favorite place to spend a weekend afternoon, and it's a must when friends visit from out of town.

Oh, and Harrison Ford's son owns it.  Done and done.

LIBATIONS: Sierra Madre - Partido Blanco Tequila, fresh lime juice, organic agave nectar.

Dessert at The Del

Southern California + Winter Months ÷ Heat Lamps = Outdoor Dining any time you like.  This is crap math, but who cares.  You get the point.

Using said crap math, I recently headed down to San Diego with the express plan to visit and grab some beach bites with my good friend Holly, at one of my favorite places on earth: Hotel del Coronado.  (For the record, there's nothing quite like a seaside table and an ocean view cheerfully interrupted by holiday ice skaters.  God love this fine state.)

CHEESECAKE FLIGHT:  Classic Vanilla, Pumpkin Pie, Malted French Milk Chocolate.

We stopped in for lunch at Sheerwater, one of several eateries at the Del.  The lamb sliders, jumbo shrimp cocktail and bloody marys were fantastic, but the desserts were stupid ridiculous shut-the-hell-up awesome.  And really all I remember ... er, cared about.  A sugar cookie marlin, are you kidding me? 

Don't hate me for my awesome life.  Just move here.

COBBLER FLIGHT:  Granny Smith Apple, Peach, Strawberry Rhubarb (which was the best).

Badass in Pink

The next time a bunch of punks breaks onto my property (which happened to me recently), I may just greet them with the business end of this pretty baby.  Now, I am way too in love with my perfectly badass black Glock 19 to dream of touching it ... so I may just have to get a second one.

This awesome custom DuraCoat job was done by Jim's Gun Supply.  It just screams, "Girls can kick ass too, clown."  ;)

Staying Neutral

My love of shopping is really rather famous (okay, infamous).  But I can't help it — I love beautiful things.  And fashion, to me, is an ever-evolving form of beauty.  It's wearable art (that's what I tell myself when I get my AmEx bill).

My love of color is equally famous, but on a recent stroll through Nordstrom, I reaffirmed my love affair with neutrals.  

MARC JACOBS "Wellington" Goatskin Leather  Satchel  — $1295 

JIMMY CHOO "Koko" Piped Platform Sandals  — $1150

There are tons of neutrals to choose from this season, each one unique, versatile, stunning.  That's the point of a neutral — to anchor or complete.  These four bone-colored neutrals were my favorites and any one of them would make an outfit.

Of course, buying all of them would make several outfits (and break my wallet...).

Afternoon on Melrose

I absolutely love Los Angeles.  It is unlike any other place on earth — a mix of sixties kitsch, up-to-the-nanosecond trendiness, vanity, depth, celebrity, history, unpredictability, and perfect weather.  It's cross-pollination of the unexpected: palm trees and maple trees, hipsters and wannabes, vegan organic and the birthplace of Pink's hot dogs.

BLU JAM CAFE — Mazatlan Shrimp Scramble
and a Vanilla Latte.
At the heart of Los Angeles is Melrose Avenue, famous for its restaurants, tattoo parlors, vintage shops, and iconic entertainment spots.  Touristy though it can be, for locals like me, it's still a favorite way to spend an afternoon — strolling, browsing, eating, and of course, enjoying the warm-even-in-February sun.

This morning I slept in and hit a late brunch at Blu Jam Cafe with my dear friend Tara, only this time I skipped the french toast in favor of something savory.  After a flawless meal and my favorite vanilla latte, Tara tipped me off to a kicked-up ice cream shop she and her husband had stumbled over on a previous visit to Melrose: Neveux Aristan Creamery & Espresso Bar.

NEVEUX ARTISAN CREAMERY —  Maple Fig, Strawberry Balsamic and Peppered Peach.  
Hands down, the best ice cream I've ever had.  Flavors like Toasted Marshmallow, Salted Caramel, Coconut Curry Lemongrass and Crème Fraîche were unexpected (always an immediate draw for me), and a hit.  My favorites were the Peppered Peach, Maple Fig and Strawberry Balsamic.  Absolutely ridiculous.

After ice cream, Tara dashed off to meet the hubs, while I popped into Notorious, a trendy-yet-edgy clothing store with surprisingly good prices and well-made designs.  I had to wait for a dressing room since the place is tiny, but it was worth it for the chance to pick up an über-feminine electric blue spring dress for the unbeatable price of thirty six dollars.  

Days like this make me want to move from my spacious place in the 'burbs to a tiny-yet-walkable bungalow in the middle of everything.  Ah, priorities.  :)

Molto Italiano

I am in love with Mario Batali.  Need proof?  Ask my friends and they will tell you: his is almost the only Italian food I will eat out or actually recommend to anyone, New York or LA.  As a foodie, that's a bold statement.

Here's the thing: I grew up Italian, eating the best Italian food outside of Italy (my mom, a Norwegian-Italian bombshell, is an amazing cook).  So, to impress me within that cuisine, you really have to go above and beyond.  Batali always does.  

PIZZERIA MOZZA, 1st Course – Mozza Caprese.
PIZZERIA MOZZA, 2nd Course – Meatballs al Forno.
I haven't yet been to Babbo or Eataly in New York (those are on the list), but I have been to Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza here in LA more times than I can count (lucky girl that I am), and have been delighted every time.  Batali's crowning achievement with me?  The simplest, most delicious and easily the most perfect Italian meal I've ever had (beyond my own cooking).  Four courses, pictured here.

Bizarre Bazaar

I've said before that José Andrés is currently my favorite chef on earth, and that is in no small part due to his two fantastic venues in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills: Tres and The Bazaar by José Andrés.  Both are excellent...but quite different in tone, decor, atmosphere, and of course food.

I love to travel, but as money and time don't always allow, I find the next best thing is to travel through food.  The Bazaar is uniquely positioned to help you do this, because the entire experience is about the experience.  It's all celebration, a circus of culinary experiment, a joyful gastronomic bazaar.

Not your everyday caprésé -- cherry tomatoes, liquid mozzarella. Yes, LIQUID mozzarella.
"Philly Cheesesteak” -- air bread, cheddar, Wagyu beef (by the way, I would kill for this).

Be a Loyalist

Brilliant happy gorgeous shopping genius.  If you're a rabid Bloomingdale's addict like I am, you have absolutely no excuse not to take advantage of Bloomie's new big brown bauble: the Loyalist program.

The gist?  Shop and get points to redeem instantly for rewards.  That's it.  Any item, bought on any card (even your AmEx), at any price, gets you points.  Starts February 27.  I think I'm going to cry.

Chicks With Guns

My good friends know that my chickness very much goes hand in hand with my love of guns, so it's a no-brainer that several of them alerted me to Lindsay McCrum's recent photo book, Chicks With Guns, a cultural portrait of women gun owners in the U.S., the moment it was released.

Photo taken from the Chicks With Guns website.
I have to tell you, the book took my breath away.  Not just because it features stunning images of this remarkable country and its even more remarkable collection of women gun owners (there are 15 - 20 million of us, by the way), but simply because the book itself exists.  Half the point of my blog is to speak to that woman who might not be a cop or a solider, and who doesn't fit the mold of what so many people assume a gun-toting chick must be.

There is no template.  There is no stereotype.  Read the book.  We share a history with guns as rich as men's, we cross all levels of society, we spring from diverse political and regional backgrounds, we shoot for any number of reasons, and we are all, invariably, chicks.

For the record, if I had been born in the Wild West, the photo above would have most definitely been me.

Brunch at Blu Jam

Sunday brunch has to be one of my all-time favorite things on the planet.  I'm not alone in this, and I'm not breaking any ground by blogging about it.  But then, some things you do just for the love of it ... and I am particularly in love with the way they do brunch at Blu Jam Cafe on Melrose in Los Angeles.

First off, the lattes.  They taste delicious, but as any good foodie knows, you eat with your eyes first.  And sometimes your heart.  I swear I keep coming back just to see what they'll do next with their foam art.

Next, the crunchy french toast. Not their regular french toast, specifically the crunchy.  It's on their specials menu, and while the concept is nothing new, at Blu Jam it is ... because it's perfect.  It's the best of the best of the bunch who are making it.  No maple syrup here, but instead, this creamy, mildly sweet vanilla syrup that I have to fight the urge to drink it's so good. 

The key is that nothing on the plate is too sweet, so the fruit becomes more than a second rate garnish and instead elevates the dish.  To me, it's just a happy plate of Sunday. :)

Guns and Doughnuts

The night I broke in my shiny new Glock 19, no less than three men asked if I were LAPD.  Perhaps it was my skill with the weapon, perhaps it was the fact that Glocks are so popular among law enforcement, or perhaps it was both of these things that, along with my black tee and boots, made me appear a badge-wearing badass.

Whatever the reason, it was cool.  I walked out of the range with a new, peculiar sense of authority ... and an inexplicable craving for doughnuts.  Mind you, I find doughnuts magical all by themselves, but I ate three Krispy Kremes that night, and the sugar rush on top of the shooting adrenalin was a fantastical mix of awesome.

I'm convinced this should be studied at the university level. The cops are on to something.


New York has MOMA, Los Angeles has LACMA.  Who wins?

Well, the art and exhibits rotate so you can't really judge them on those.  They're both crammed with tourists, so that's out.  Mmm, think I'm gonna have to give it to LACMA here.  Why?  Duh.  The weather.

In the middle of January you can sit on the patio at Ray's & Stark Bar, share a cheese plate and drink spicy bloody marys under the sun.  In January.

What's Your Shopstyle?

Before there was Pinterest, there was Shopstyle.  And Shopstyle, for those not in-the-know, is basically Pinterest for Fashionistas.

Shopstyle lets you shop for fashion items & specific designers and find discounts across all retailers at once.  It's like a magical moving magazine, allowing you to browse, keep a Style Book and get sale alerts from your favorite stores.  There's even a crazy cool iPhone app (no Android yet).  Below is my Style Book.  As you can see, I'm into nude stiletto boots and yellow things right now.

No more running to fifteen stores to see who has the best little black dress (unless you want to).  Instead, get a preview at Shopstyle, narrow down your options, and then buy online or hit the brick & mortar.  It's fun and you save gas.

Yup.  Shopstyle saves gas.  That should be their new tag line.

Gazpacho Fix

When gazpacho is good, it's like a fresh, cool sip of summer in my mouth.  When it's bad, it's like ice cold spaghetti sauce and I want to kill myself.  So, if you're like me, you'll be happy to know that I can share two remarkably perfect gazpacho options, depending on your coast.

LE PAIN QUOTIDIEN in Studio City, California.
Left Coasters: head to a nearby Le Pain Quotidien.  Yes, it's a chain.  One that actually knows what the hell it's doing, probably because the team is originally from France.  New Yorkers: head to the West Village and check out Extra Virgin.

Bi-Coasters: I'm jealous and I hate you.

EXTRA VIRGIN in the West Village, New York.

My Hero

I want to be Lara Croft when I grow up.  Why?

LOOK AT HER.  She's badass, she's beautiful, and she's a billionaire.  Do you know how many Christian Louboutins you can buy with a billion dollars?

Only in Texas

My adopted mother Glenda, a proud Texan who cheerfully updates me with ridiculous new firearm regulations and overall gun awesomeness, emailed this to me recently.  

Yup, that's right, it's a mailbox.  I guarantee any stupid kid with a bat will think twice before a game of mailbox baseball with this dude.

48 Hours in NYC

I love New York for two main reasons.  One, it keeps some of my favorite people on the planet, like my fashionista/foodie twin Steph, who drags me around the city in search of hummus, truffle omelettes, and cream-drenched chocolate cake (you heard me).  Two, it's the place where, at one o'clock in the morning, if you want a civilized glass of Madeira and a cheese plate, you may have it.  

You may then also sleep in the next day, walk to the east river and have cheap lobster for lunch because it's restaurant week.  You may also stop along the way for a cupcake the size of a hub cap.  Who knows.  It's New York.  Thus were the lazy, gluttonous, perfect two days I most recently spent in NYC.  Ah...


Brunch at AQUAGRILL, a seafood spot in the East Village.  Crab Cake Eggs Benedict.  Shut up.

A "dirty" cupcake from SWEET REVENGE, which we picked up to fuel us for our walk to Chelsea Market, where we were collecting supplies for dinner (homemade truffle & wild mushroom pappardelle).

Seeing Red

These knockout heels were designed by my beloved Giuseppe Zanotti.  They are impractical in every way:

  • They'll only work with certain outfits.  
  • They look like they'll hurt.  
  • They're ridiculously priced at $465, on sale from $930 at Eve's Apple.  

But they have my size.  Sigh.

Hello, Kitty...

When the weekend comes and I suit up in black S.W.A.T. gear, I am proud and happy to blend in and rough it up with the boys.  But then, sometimes it's good to remind them that you are, indeeda girl.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, heading into a firing range carrying 500 rounds in one of these babies and then outshooting the cocky wannabe cowboy next to you = Awesomest.  Thing.  Ever.

Mad Skillz

My first love was a rifle.  My second love was a shotgun.  My third and deepest love was (and still is) a Glock 19.  But since my shotgun is the one thing that allows me to shoot moving targets without getting any blood involved, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Not shown here (now or ever) is video of me getting the hang of things for the first time.  By "getting the hang of things" I mean sending my darling friend Tim into hysterics (and by "darling" I mean punk).  We all have to start somewhere.

Bucket List: Vegas

I watch a lot of TV Food Network (I'm sure you are shocked).  Of my favorite shows, I'm most addicted to The Best Thing I Ever Ate — probably because I am often asked for eatery recommendations myself.  And so, I share with you a personal challenge: to eat my way through this "Best Thing..." list and then blog about it.

First stop: China Poblano, run by my favorite chef, José Andrés.  It's all tacos and noodles, something that could be horrible except that it's not, because José is a genius.

The Full Bucket List  
• China poblano @ The Cosmopolitan: 20 vegetable fried rice
• SW Steakhouse @ Wynn: chile-rubbed double ribeye
• Rao's @ Caesar's Palace: chicken scarpariello
• Mesa grill @ Caesar's Palace: shrimp & roasted garlic tamale
• Tao @ The Venetian: chilean seabass satay
• RM Seafood @ Mandalay Bay: catfish sloppy joe
• L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon @ MGM Grand: langoustine fritter
• Lotus of Siam (off strip): Nam Prik Ong (thai pork & chile dip)

BTW — if any of you should beat me to these, comment here!
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