This coming Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles is the annual Los Angeles Times “The Taste” event being held on Paramount Studios Backlot. The festival includes three back to back evenings of amazing food, wine, spirits and chef experiences, plus unique culinary pop-ups and collaborations. Dozens of local restaurants will showcase the city's rich and diverse culinary scene by serving their best each evening. I’m looking forward to attending and covering the event this weekend.
The first nights event begins on Friday, Aug. 31, 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.:
L.A.’s pop-up and underground restaurants will take the stage with a demo of Cajun-by-way-of-Compton cuisine from chef Michael Lawless (Shad’s New Cali Catering). Ludo Lefebvre (Trois Mec, Ludo Bird) will showcase his French flair. Master of the grill, Burt Bakman (Trudy’s Underground Barbecue), will lead a barbeque how-to. Ricardo Zarate (Rosaliné) and Jonathan Yao (Kato) will provide a glimpse of what makes their dishes imminently Instagram-able. The Bar Stage will be serving up white wines of Italy with Wes Hagen of J. Wilkes Wines. Restaurants include: Amor y Tacos, Baltaire Restaurant, Bone Kettle, Casa Vega, Chao Krung, Farmhouse, Hinoki & the Bird, Otium, Pop’s Bagels and Wanderlust Creamery.
The second night Saturday, Sept. 1, 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.:
Delicious food will be the special of the night as Briana Valdez (HomeState) celebrates breakfast all day with a demo of her signature dishes. Sommelier Ira Norof will give you 101 reasons to drink wine. Restaurants include: Cento Pasta Bar, Border Grill, Crustacean Beverly Hills, Jaffa, Kali Restaurant, Madre Oaxacan Restaurant & Mezcaleria, Mayura Indian Restaurant, Prawn, Taste of Tehran, Trois Mec and Winston Pies.
For the last night, Saturday, Sept. 1, 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.:
Experience the diversity of flavors in our fair city when Sean Lowenthal (Little Beast Restaurant) and L.A. Times Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter highlight Southern cooking, Minh Phan (Porridge + Puffs) shares her technique for elevating porridge, and Charles Olalia (Rice Bar/Ma’am Sir) gives a master class on Filipino cuisine. Niki Nakayama and Carole Iida-Nakayama (n/naka) showcase Japanese cuisine. Wine expert Christine Dalton will raise a glass to rosé. Restaurants include: 71Above, Banh Oui, Coni’Seafood, Holbox/Chichen Itza, Hotville Chicken, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Inko Nito, Kobee Factory & Syrian Kitchen, Meals by Genet and Prince of Venice.
Spain, the beautiful architecturally rich country, has easily become one of my most favorite places to visit. It is certainly the country I’ve been to the most. In February, I took my fifth trip. I was there on behalf of Tile of Spain to attend the annual Cevisama (tile trade show) in Valencia with an added day excursion to Castellon en route to Barcelona for a few days of architectural tours. From there, we took the train to Madrid to spend a couple of days, including a day trip to Toledo before driving to Portugal for another few days. Highlighting Spain, are some of the great architecture sights we visited in Valencia, Castellon, Barcelona, Madrid, and Toledo.
Probably the most noted architecture in Valencia is the work of local architect Santiago Calatrava, who along with Félix Candela, designed the City of Arts and Sciences. Above is the Museu de les Ciencies Principe Felipe and to the left the L’Umbracle. The City of Arts and Sciences is situated at the end an old riverbed known as the river Turia, which was drained in 1957, and is also a park with a trail that curves around the city for walking and biking.
Reflected on water, above is the L’Hemisferic (an Imax theater, planetarium, and laserium). Behind is the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia - I was completely mesmerized by its sculptural curved roof structure. These buildings are listed as part of the 12 Treasures of Spain.
Venturing from the futuristic, is the Old City (Ciutat Vella) of Valencia, the historic city center that was once a walled city. The area is lively and filled with historic buildings including the Estacio Del Nord, above, a Valencian Art Nouveau railway station built in 1852.
Also in the Ciutat Vella, is an Art Deco influenced building known as the Rialto Teatre, still currently used as a theater.
North of Valencia, en route to Barcelona, we visited the small town of Vila Real in Castellon after a tile factory tour. It was fascinating to read this town hosts four of Spain’s 500 largest businesses, all of which trade in the ceramic tile business. (I did see the large tile manufacturer Porcelanosa on our drive - I’ve previously contributed articles for their site.)
In Vila-Real, province of Castellon, the Sancti Pashalis Basilica is listed among one of the main sights.
Beautiful Barcelona, a gem of architecture. As part of our planned Tile of Spain group, we got to experience a day long hosted architectural tour of the city. Including everything from gothic to art nouveau to contemporary and modern sites throughout the city.
This is Casa Vicens by Gaudí, his very first design. The private 130 year old home was opened in 2017 as a museum. It has an amazing tiled roof top terrace with a look out spot and intricate chimneys.
Another Gaudí, and probably one of his most famous, the Sagrada Familia. It was my first time seeing, somehow had missed on previous trips. Stunning, fascinating, mesmerizing, absolutely worth seeing.
Ah Madrid, my favorite, surprisingly. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent the most time here, but it feels a bit like “home”. I tend to gravitate toward large cities, and Madrid offers a mix of a beautiful European city with the vibe of NYC energy in some neighborhoods along with modern city shopping areas, cool trendy barrios and historic areas. It’s a bustling city and I’ve always felt very comfortable in Madrid.
Housed in a beautiful building built in 1916, nearby to Plaza Mayor, is the Mercado De San Miguel. The “market” actually houses over thirty gourmet tapas eateries serving tapas, paella, ham, olives, baked goods and beer and wine are also available.
The famous Plaza Mayor with a detailed painted facade. The large square has some interesting history and statues on display, small shops and bars are on the perimeter.
Walking a neighborhood of Madrid just outside the Plaza Mayor.
Beautiful grounds and buildings seen walking around Madrid on a wintry day.
Retiro Park, which is near to Atocha Train Station and next to the Only You Hotels we stayed at, is a large park with expansive gardens and a lake where you can rent paddle boats.
The amazing building known as Atocha, Madrid’s main railway station, conveniently directly across from our hotel too.
Worthy of a day trip from Madrid, by train, is a visit to Toledo. Another historic walled city that is full of so much fascinating history.
It was so pretty on a crisp cold day in February. This view is upon entering from a steep walk up from the bottom.
The bridge over the river Tagus leading to the historic walled city of Toledo.
This river leads to Portugal and that was our next destination from here.
After two weeks I still wasn’t ready to leave Spain, I came home missing Spain, and I’m still wanting to go back to Spain! Hopefully a return visit soon!
[All photos are personal photos taken.]
I have long loved contemporary art, abstract art, and street art - many an artist falls into this category that I love - and now the work of artist Karlos Marquez has captured my attention. A fellow native Angeleno, one of the original LA graffiti artists since 1983; under the name of “Kartoon”, he joined “K2S” (Kill to Succeed) graffiti crew in 1985. Karlos went on to receive an education in art studying at both Los Angeles City College and Associates of Art in Sherman Oaks. In the past few years his art has evolved to include mixed mediums and collaborations with the furnishings company, Cisco Home, a local LA based home furnishings company. (The above art is for sale here.)
Karlos at work. (Image via Facebook.)
Loving this “Love”chair. (Image via Facebook.)
His Instagram is full of colorful inspiration, there are several great pieces that I love, including this abstract.
The designer in me took to these very cool, vibrant pillows! (More on Instagram.) Super coveting!
A true street artist, right!?
Finally, finally had the opportunity to check out the (fairly new) Eataly in LA. I’m actually about a year behind since the new location opened in the Los Angeles area of Century City. I have only been to one previous location, and that was in Dubai of all places! Surprisingly, the LA location is far more impressive, in my opinion. It’s of grander scale, several more food options, and an extensive food market and wine selection.
There are multiple levels, outside patio seating, and a rooftop lounge. I just read on Friday nights they host “Ferrari Nights” with a DJ and cocktails on the rooftop. May have to go back for that!
My friend Deanna and I met for lunch and were considering sampling and sharing a few options but ended up getting pizza and feeling a bit full after that. Guess that means a next trip is in order to try more!
There is a section with a variety of panini sandwiches - all of which looked really good too.
A complete fresh fish selection, stuffed and oven ready.
There is also a large wine selection adjacent to the market area and a full bar near the food serving areas.
Hope to go back again soon to check out more!
As a designer, I love checking out well designed hotels and trendy boutique hotels with a fun design atmosphere. In the Fall of 2016 I stayed at a luxury boutique hotel in Madrid called Only You Hotels. It was a great stay - the hotel has an eclectic design aesthetic, several options for food and drinks, the rooms are modest yet comfortable, and the Madrid location is in a central neighborhood. I loved it so much that when planning a return visit to Madrid this past February while extending my Tile of Spain trip, I opted for Only You Hotels again. This time staying at their Atocha location.
The expansive entry level lobby of the hotel has several designated areas consisting of seating, check in, a cafe, restaurant / bar, and even a barber shop!
A cute little barber shop at the entry of the eclectic “industrial chic” boutique hotel.
Also in the lobby entry is a convenient small cafe for takeout or casual dining, our go to for coffee, pastries, and really good sandwiches.
The lobby elevators leading to the guest rooms. There is also a rooftop restaurant with an outdoor terrace, which overlooks the beautiful Atocha Railway Station.
The rooms are contemporary chic with an entry vestibule and built-in closets, a private bathroom, desk, and seating. Our room faced the main boulevard overlooking the Atocha train station.
A mid-century modern style desk with exposed brick in the guest rooms at Only You Atocha.
Really loved the bathroom and paid special attention to the tile, having just spent time at the Cevisama trade in Valencia, Spain on behalf of Tile of Spain.
A glimpse of art and the mirrored built-in closets at the entry of the hotel room.
Back in the hotel lobby, lounge areas with leather banquette seating wraparound bookcases filled with books.
A serving area in the restaurant section of the hotel lobby.
The hotel lobby check in with a very friendly helpful staff / concierge - and oh yeah, off to the left are goodies such as candy and champagne upon check in! I love Madrid, I love Spain, and I hope to be back at an Only You Hotels again soon!
The Las Vegas Market took place this week for Summer 2018 at the World Market Center. I had the opportunity to attend as part of Soft Design Lab’s VIP Red Carpet Tour. It was a jam packed few days of showroom tours, events, and parties. Thought I would highlight some of the design finds and trends I saw on our showroom tours!
A favorite was this chic black and white coffee table from Global Views. Love all the black and white accessories too!
Pink still seems to be very much en trend these days - saw lots and lots of it! This chair is pretty in pink by Abbyson Living.
And this pink poodle lamp from Currey & Co.
Another trend still seeing is lots of glam & gold, like this wall sconce featured at Global Views.
Loving all things graphic, I really liked this area rug made by Jaipur.
A standout architectural gem, during our tour at Currey & Co they explained the Japanese designer and influences of this pendant light.
Another black and white find, this geometric side table from Abbyson Living is very cool.
An assortment of yellow and gray accessories at Global Views.
A fun fish themed patterned rug by Jaipur Living Rugs.
A favorite from Currey & Co, an interesting geometric wall sconce.
And yet another interesting light fixture from Currey & Co, loving them all!
A circular settee from Global Views.
Thank you to my friend Ryan from Michael Amini, who gave us a tour of their 85,000 square foot showroom floor and introduced us to Jane Seymour, who has a furnishings line called the Michael Amini + Jane Seymour Collections.
And lastly, the way to end the day at market!
There is is so much more to see and so much I didn’t have time to see! Most of what is featured here are from the showroom tours we spent time at. Hope to be back next market to cover more territory! More to come on my Instagram too!
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