Bottega Louie: Having My Macaroons And Eating Them Too

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Just for the record, I didn’t leave my heart in San Francisco, I left it in Paris! What’s a Stalker girl to do when the urge hits for a night in gay Paree eating sugary snacks like a modern day Marie-Antoinette? Head North to downtown Los Angeles to Bottega Louie of course. One would think you would need to buy a ticket to stop and stare at these sumptuous creations in the windows! Would I lie? The only thing missing…women who have mastered the mystical scarf-tying technique and well coiffed dogs! Continue reading

Posted in California dining, Chefs, Destinations, Family, Food, France, Restaurant, The Food Stalker, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LA or Bust: Gracias Madre’s

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Everyone needs a partner in crime. You know the kind – one of those espionage types, equally adept at darting through a Saks sale rack and traveling the globe in search of the best of the best. Gal Pal Janna-Banana loves to break out of the bubble into uncharted territory as much as I do.  A recent girls night out took us to Los Angeles for food, frolic and fun.

It was one of those nights. The stars aligned and we ended up at Maxfield’s where a black trench coat from France had my name all over it. Drool worthy! The clothing, jewelry, hats, shoes and art at Maxfield in Los Angeles represent decades of rare and decadent taste. Since it opened its doors in the 70s, Maxfield has built up a cult-like fan base that now spans the globe & includes musicians, actors, artists and A-list fashion designers. And for good reason. Just drooling around inside the store is a master class in aesthetic sophistication. Next stop was the opening exhibit “The Big Picture” for legendary photographer Arthur Elgort at Fahey/Klein Gallery. (Thank you Michael Eivaz Photography for images). His work is on exhibit October 22, 2015 through December 5, 2015. If you re looking for fine art photography, this is the place.

We hightailed it out of here (from our primo spot in the alley right behind the Gallery) and headed to The Troubadour to document Katie Garfield and her band. My Nikon D750 performed like a charm in this low-light (crazy light truth be told) situation. Katie rocked, the crowd cheered and I shot a few hundred images. Not only had I worked up an appetite for photography, music and fun, I was starving. We skipped down the street in search of a late night snack and along the way passed De Re Gallery. This place was going off with an opening for Brian Bowen Smith’s photography exhibit “Metallic Life”. After catching the eye of legendary photographer Herb Ritts while performing as a pro athlete, Herb became Brian’s mentor and friend. Four years as Herb’s assistant helped Brian find his personal photographic style, landing assignments for W, Vanity Fair, Esquire and more. Capturing pictures of hip urbanites and high rise peeps walking their pups on the street outside the gallery was a blast, but this Style Spy’s stomach was growling… 

Our unbashed passion for great food led us right across the street to Gracias Madre’s Restaurant, a vegan mexican restaurant, on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, California. Gracias Madre means: “Thanks Mom” in Spanish. Like Picasso in his blue mood, Chef Chandra Gilbert is in the zone people. They serve cuisine inspired by the kitchens of Mexico reinterpreted with farm fresh organic vegetables, rather than meat. Their mission? To celebrate and serve the presence of the mother which resides above us, within our hearts, within the earth, and in all those who nurture us. I like the message. Vegans rejoice over this exceptional, authentic Mexican restaurant. Brought to you by the same family that gave us Gratitude, it’s less crunchy granola and more classy while still being casual with beautiful ambiance.

Gracias Madre sets the bar high for all health-conscious, vegan restaurants and this place is second to none in many, aspects including: skill and artistic expression in food preparation and quality of ingredients. Our waiter sauntered over to our table with a sumptuous serving of Chips and guacamole (trust  me when I say, this was no mere Guac! Jam-packed with freshness.) and  the quesadillas de calabaza. This was unlike any quesadilla I have ever tried.) I ordered the COLIFLÓR FRITO which was perfect for sharing. It’s flash-fried cauliflower with cashew “cheese” sauce and it’s potentially the greatest thing in Los Angeles. So good. If there are more than two of you at the table one order will not be enough. (Not wanting my friend to know that I am an ultimate food whore, I let her have the last few bites). I dream of this dish. For real. Want. It. Now.

How can one resist Snow Cone Margaritas with the happy red and white swirled paper straws? Called La Quinceanera, this cocktail is basically an adult snow cone sitting on top of a delicious libation of: Tequila Blanco, Muddled Kiwi, Mint, Lemon, Agave Nectar, Lime Bitters, and Hielo Raspado Bitters. Delicious and the perfect balance of sweetness. Gracias Madre’s Jason Eisner Sells 1,000 Margaritas a Night so that must tell you something. If you like a little snowcone with your liquor, give this a try. I normally consume my tequila out of the bottle, err, I mean, on ice or simply paired with a lime. Bless me Father for I think I have sinned. Down a few of these bad boys and don’t call anyone in the morning! Just bask in the afterglow like a great night of passion. My only feedback is that they are too small. Bigger is always better right? These concoctions would ultimately leave us a bit tongue-tied and giddy in the way that multiple tequila shots often do, especially after darting all over town in traffic rushing from event to event.

Bottom line – from the moment you step foot in this ultimate hangout you experience a real hideaway and the outdoor patio of this place is the perfect spot to be on the prowl. It’s also the perfect spot to unwind after your toes have been crammed into a pair of stiletto boots for eight hours (not me, but gal pal Banana – who looked like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman with those tall black kick ass bad boys). My flat Celine patent-leather booties served me well and actually contributed to my jumping power in front of the Step and Repeat at De Re Gallery. Just ask anyone. It was epic!

The patio is lovely at night with twinkle lights, 80 year old Olive trees and the big open fireplace. On our way out, I noticed a prayer box with church like candles. You could write down a prayer, put it in the box, and light a candle. This was such a special touch and seems my prayer is already being answered. Thankyouverymuch.

Vegans rejoice over this exceptional, authentic Mexican restaurant, and so did we. A sinfully delicious foodie, fashion, music, photography haunt indeed.

What can I say, it was one of those nights…

LA EATER: Gracias Madre’s





Posted in Food, Photography, The Food Stalker | Tagged , , , , , ,

Let The Champagne Flow – Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic

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Sprawled on a picnic blanket with a glass of Veuve in hand? Right up this Style Spy’s alley! Angelenos are invited to enjoy a polo match and an afternoon filled with champagne picnics, music and entertainment. Legendary polo players, gallant ponies and stylish fashion will be on display Saturday, October 11, 2014 for the fifth annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic Los Angeles. It’s always a fashionable affair — last year’s star-studded event drew actresses Zoe Saldana, Sofia Vergara and Ali Larter among others and will be held at the beautiful Will Rogers State Historic Park in the Pacific Palisades.

Fashion Designer Rachel Zoe and husband Rodger Berman will co-host, along with Veuve Clicquot U.S. president Vanessa Kay and famed Argentine polo player-turned-model Nacho Figueras and his wife, Delfina Blaquier. Sip on some bubbly alongside celebs then head to the field to cheer on Figueras as he leads his team, Black Watch, in the 1pm game.

What to wear? Ladies, put on your wide-brimmed hats and Sunday best and leave those short tight Herve Leger dresses at home. One should never be dressed so revealing that it distracts the ponies or the players! And for the record, don’t wear shoes with stiletto heels – Period! A polo match might be held in a beautiful club environment, but you will inevitably walk on grass to get there. It completely ruins an overall look when one is constantly bending over tugging one’s heels out of the dirt.  An elegant embellished flat sandal or stylish wedge heel can not only complement your outfit, but make it possible for you to participate in the divot-stomping (stomp fest) on the field during half-time (if you don’t know what this is, read up or rent Pretty Woman one more time)! After being fed champagne all afternoon, (no complaints here) by the time you are off for the divit-stomping you’ll be floating on air!

Want to win a few tickets? Ladies, dust off those hats and Gentlemen, press those linen jackets. Celebrate with the Polo Classic with Fig & Olive Newport Beach every Wednesday, 7pm to 9pm September 17th to October 1st 2014 for a complimentary champagne tasting and enter a chance to win tickets to the Polo Classic October 11th, 2014.

When Cole Porter sang, “I get no kick from champagne,” he must not have been talking about Veuve Clicquot. Don’t mess with the formula. After years of road-testing, it’s geared to provoke just the amount of trouble you’re looking for! Hair up or down, sipping champagne always makes you feel like a million bucks. Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bubbly event.

Now if I could find a treatment to defy moments like today when I feel like parking my head in the freezer and wiping my brow with a squeegee…

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak”– Rachel Zoe

Posted in Events, Rims and Whims, The Food Stalker | Tagged , , ,

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the political and social achievements of women past and present. A day honoring the accomplishments of the women who actually did the hard work and paved the way for many of today’s women. Just imagine women back in the 1900’s who had the nerve to even suggest such a day. They couldn’t even vote and many could not get an education. I am in awe of them. Hey, when you stop to think about it, what man could ever endure childbirth! Women RULE and these women deserve to be recognized as well as the women struggling today. Continue reading

Posted in Family, Fashion, Food, Sandie Ward, The Food Stalker, Things I love, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , ,

Behind The Scenes – 85th Annual Academy Awards 2013

Whether or not Bette Davis named the Oscar after her husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson or Margaret Herrick, an Academy Executive Secretary first saw the award in 1931 and made reference to the statuette’s reminding her of her “Uncle Oscar” really doesn’t matter. After all these years one thing is for sure…we LOVE the Oscars! This style spy was on a mission to bring you some of the behind the scenes highlights from the 85th Annual Academy Awards (and not the pipe bursting in the ladies room flooding the lobby either). I wanted to take a closer look at the chaos behind the party to see what went into making the Academy Awards Show a reality. The nitty-gritty stuff you don’t get to see. The technicians, editors, videographers, hosts and wizards working their magic for weeks to ensure the Oscars go off without a hitch. Whether it’s Wolfgang Pucks team arriving days before or engineers completing complicated high wire acts, it’s the ground floor people who make it possible for the stars to shine!

Once I secured credentials there was no turning back. It was time to stop driving with the emergency brake on and put the pedal to the metal and that’s exactly what I did. Dodging photographers and press on the famed red carpet leading to the Dolby Theater, each member of the media scrambled to capture the excitement. (BTW, what’s a nice girl like me doing on the red carpet without a drink in her hand? Those security guys are no joke, when they say no food or drink they mean it. My prop bottle of Moet Chandon from my camera bag never got opened). So how did a local novice Laguna Beach blogger end up here you ask? Quite simply, I wouldn’t take no for an answer. Just look at the line-up, CNN, The New York Times, The Today Show, Local stations and The Food Stalker! I earned my place with the big dawgs. God Bless America baby!

As we all know, the Oscar’s red carpet is seen by over a billion people and let’s face it, that stroll is no cakewalk. Photographs and videos appear in magazines and on the Web and are sent to mobile phones immediately. One bad move and you’re toast!  Plus you’ll get the wrath of Joan Rivers worst dressed list! Taking the right risks can mean the difference between icon status or plus-one territory. I loved the simplicity of this years gowns in soft whites, champagne and neutral tones combined with stunning hairstyles. It was truly a night for Hollywood style glamour and this fearless Food Stalker was thankful her designer shoes had served her well.

One of the highlights of my year was meeting Wolfgang Puck and interviewing him for the Oscars. Continuing the legacy, each year he wows guests, by serving them a cornucopia of Oscar related foods. Did you know there would be 1500 bottles of liquid happiness (champagne), 1300 farmed oysters and over 600 Maine Lobsters served at the blowout shindig called The Governor’s Ball? By the way, thanks Wolfie for remembering me with a wink, wine and a hug to celebrate my Anniversary at Spago.

It’s pretty clear that from my first taste of champagne at the age of ten (sorry Mom, I took my first sip at a Christmas dinner as you stirred the rice pudding in the oven) to my near-spiritual rendezvous with oysters years later, I’ve always loved a life of wine, fashion, bubbly and yes, more importantly…chocolate. If only I could have taken a few of those buff chocolate Oscar’s home with me…


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Posted in California cuisine, California dining, Chefs, Destinations, Events, Fashion, Food, Photography, Sandie Ward, Social, The Food Stalker, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments