Monday, January 21, 2008

Huntington Gardens

One of my favorite places to visit in all of Southern California is The Huntington Library and Gardens. I have been at least 100 times over the years, if not more, and am amazed every time.

Driving down Allen Ave from the 210 you enter the grounds through a massive black, elaborate gate, greeted by a friendly security guard and with a wave of his hand granted entrance to the massive 600-acre estate full of every kind of flower, climate, tree, and herb. It is a true urban escape. You forget that you're 30 minutes from LA. You can pretend you're an honored guest of the Huntington's as you wander over their expansive lawn, read in a secluded cluster of trees on a hidden bench or let your kids run free.

Incredibly beautiful, peaceful and serene this former estate of Henry and Isabella Huntington was built to focus on their massive art, books and landscaping passions. Gardens include: Rose, Japanese, Chinese, Camellia, Shakespeare, Childrens, Jungle and Palm. Click here to see what's in bloom.

There are continual exhibits, rotating collections and perennial favorites on display in one of the several on-site galleries including the Huntington Art Gallery, Virginia Steele Scott Gallery, and Boone Gallery. Favorite events every year is the Shakespeare Festival, Plant Sales, Flower Shows, and countless lectures to enrich your historical, horticultural brain.

One of my most favorite things is having tea in this beautiful setting. A buffet approach, this is a great way to start or cap off your trip to the gardens. It's a bit pricey, $24.95 plus the cost of admission. It is worth the treat! The tea is competitively price for tea in the Pasadena area.

You can visit the gardens for free on the first Thursday of the month, with prior reservation. Otherwise, as of 2010, it costs $15 M-Th and $20 on weekends. Members always get in for free. It is so worth it!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Lunch at Montage Resort

Originally uploaded by greenbeangirl74
To celebrate my boss' birthday he treated us to lunch at The Montage in Laguna Beach.

I don't know how we score lunch by the beach for his birthday but I'll take it. He's a cool boss like that.

The Montage is a four star hotel and spa right on the water. The views are spectacular and the resort is luxurious and spendy. One night at the Montage averages about $400. A facial in the spa starts at like $250. Yea, not for the faint of heart.

We dined at the Mosaic Bar and Grille. Located outside, on a patio by the pool you are treated to majestic view of the grounds and ocean. The service is amazing. The menu is diverse and ranges from burgers to halibut tacos.

For appetizers we had the Romanesco Flatbread with Spanish Chorizo, Goat & Mozzarella Cheeses, Basil, and Romesco Sauce. It was AMAZING. It was also $20.

I tried the Mosaic “Prime” Burger on a Sesame Seed Bun with fries for lunch. The burger wasn't spectacular. Nothing you couldn't get at Red Robin for much cheaper than the $22 price tag. Other entrees at the table were the grilled salmon salad, blackened mahi mahi sandwich, and teriyaki chicken sandwich.

Everyone said their meal was good. I think the only one that raved was the boss who ordered the salmon salad. He said it was delicious.

Now desert on the other hand is worth ranting and raving about we had creme brulee with organic madagascar vanilla ice cream. So good. We couldn't get enough.

A trip to the Montage is an experience worth every penny. After lunch we strolled around the path that winds around the ocean cliff. It's relaxing, elegant and generally wonderful. You must go.

30801 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA. 949-715-6000.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

El Gaucho Grill

NOTE: El Gaucho Grill is now Carvao Grill focusing on Brazilian and Argentinian cuisine. I have not been to the new place.

Mouth-watering steaks, deliciously flavored chorizo and herbirific chimichurri sauce, oh yea, I'm talking Argentinian food.

El Gaucho Grill, located in downtown Brea, right across the street from theatres and surrounded by coffee houses, other restaurants this sleek little place stands out with bold yet classic flavor blends.

Every table is given a basket of sliced bread and a dish of chimichurri. It is so good! It is perfectly enhanced with empanadas or a taste of Argentinian chorizo sausage.

I am a creature of habit and generally order the garlic chicken. It is a butterflied chicken breast, bathed in roasted garlic cloves served with a rice pilaf and side salad. So good.

I have also tasted the steak and roasted chicken. I have never had anything I didn't enjoy.

210 W. Birch St., Unit 102
Brea, CA 92821
(714) 990-9140

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Birthday at Lips Drag Club for Gospel Brunch

Lips - Drag Show
Originally uploaded by greenbeangirl74
Our very own diva Janine wanted to do something different for her birthday. So she decided what could be better than a drag show at Lips in San Diego for gospel brunch hosted by Sister Nun-of-the-Above.

It was a four hours of jaw-droppping, cleavage-showing, gender-bending interestingness. LOL. I had no idea what to expect. I have never been to a drag show before, but was game for anything.

The show is irreverent, sarcastic and occassionally amazing. Some of the drag queens are incredible performers. Just as some are incredibly beautiful. I was amazed. Make-up is flawless, everything is hidden and since they often shove your face in their cleavage or even rattle your head between their legs you get a close-up view. It's also very interactive as you are all invited to "beam a queen" with dollar bills when you love the performance.

We were a group of 12, including a couple of men. I felt bad for them they were hit on constantly but were good sports about it. The food was expensive, pretty bad and took forever to arrive, but you're not there for the food or the watered-down over-priced drinks.

Overall, I have to say, it was really long. I think I would have liked the show a lot better if it were only a couple of hours versus the entire afternoon or if I would have gotten drunk. Go for bitchy bingo, diva night (80s). But I didn't much get into the gospel brunch.

I don't really feel the need to go again.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bahia Resort Hotel

Imagine the finest hotel that San Diego had to offer, in 1960.

That would be the Bahia Resort Hotel and where we stayed to celebrate Nicole's elopement and Janine's birthday. Located on Mission Bay you can tell that this hotel used to be state of the art. It has the Dirty Dancing, all inclusive resort, feel. It was Miss Havisham's house, dressed for a party, one that was completely outdated.

Ok, you get the jist.

The hotel is painted a lovely shade of pinkish orange. The stairs and landings and patios are covered in green astro turf. Walking in we saw an exposed cement brick wall, art from the 70s, couches from the 50s and a very dated kitchen. It was retro unchic. LOL.

However we had a fantastic bay view, thanks to our birthday girl Janine. She's a beautiful diva who is unafraid to ask for what she wants. And we got it. All her efforts got us this upgraded suite. Oh yes, this was the suite. Sexy!

Who cares about accomodations when you're with two great friends, celebrating two great events in a great city like San Diego. We had a blast. I think going in the summer vs January the place might be really fun. They even have activities for families, can't beat that.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Olvera Street

Want to visit Mexico without leaving LA? Go to the birthplace of Los Angeles, Olvera Street. Home to 27 historic buildings, countless stands selling Mexican souvenirs and many different restaurants serving taquitos and full traditional entrees. It is a fun place to wander around tasting churros, fresh fruit and tacos.

A great time to visit is during Cinco de Mayo festivals (May), Mexico's Independence Day (Sept) or Dia de Los Muertos (Nov) and Christmas (Dec). The public square is full of additional vendors, sponsors, decorations, and musicians. It is colorful, delicious and a taste of one of the predominant cultures in Los Angeles.

We wandered down to Olvera on a whim. What a treat! We felt like we were in Mexico. I can't wait to go back for one of the festivals.
Olvera Street El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historic Park, 845 N. Alameda Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90012