Tag Archives: los angeles

Beverly Hills & Maison 140

Standard

Yes, our week-long vacay to Cali has been spewed at you completely out of order. So where did Beverly Hills come in? After Pasadena, but before Temecula. We spent one night in a beautiful boutique hotel called Maison 140, which I found on TripAdvisor.

What we learned is that, apparently, Beverly Hills pretty much shuts down on Sunday. That was our day there. I picked our hotel based on its (walking) distance from various restaurants. A couple that we considered were the Crustacean {for the Garlic Noodles we saw on The Best Thing I Ever Ate} and La Dolce Vita for the Italian food and the ambiance.

But both were closed on Sunday.

#planningfail

But we did still have a great time. Our hotel was in walking distance of Rodeo Drive. Walking down that street felt foreign to me. Not just because of all the high end shops, but because we didn’t hear any English spoken. I couldn’t pick out any celebrities, but then again none of the well-dressed shoppers were speaking any English. I am not sure why that surprised me…

Every girl from my generation remembers the scene in Pretty Woman where Vivian’s friend writes “Reg Bev Wilsh” on a pizza box with a tube of lipstick to remember where her friend is staying. Well, we were instructed by our friend to just go there… And to have an exorbitantly priced $20 glass of wine and people-watch.

So we did.

The Beverly Wilshire {Note: It is now owned by Four Seasons} is located on the corner of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard, also walking distance from our hotel. We hoped to take a seat out on the patio, street-side, because it was a gorgeous day. However, there were no tables to be had. As we made our way toward the door to step inside, I heard Rob gasp. He saw this:

044This Batventador Lamborghini was parked on the side of the road. I find the little cones quite amusing. I wonder who owns it! Were they inside the building watching everyone gawk at it? The funny thing is that we actually ended up seeing four different Lamborghinis that day. Now, Rob is a car guy, so this was quite fun for him. In BH, Porsches, especially the Carerra, are so common that we started calling them Ford Focuses. “Oh, look! There goes another Ford Focus!” we’d say to each other – every time we saw one.

When I was finally able to pull Rob off the street, we stepped inside. There was no worry about a dress-code, really. Rob was wearing shorts and a nice shirt. I was wearing capris and a nice shirt. Maybe if we had been wearing sweats or something, it would have been different; but I didn’t feel out of place at all.

We strolled up to the bar and had a look at the menu. After all that, Rob just ordered a House Cab…

041She actually gave him a taste before she poured him a glass. He told me that it was the best House Cab that he’s ever had. Then she showed us the label – Iconoclast Stag’s Leap Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa. Seriously? Who puts a wine from Napa on their menu as a “house” wine? Let alone, who puts one on their menu from a distinct vineyard? We were quite impressed. And while we were expecting it to be overly expensive, when we got the bill, it was “only” $15/glass. If only we had a glass of wine nearly this good for some of the $12 glasses we pay for back at home…

I went a little further into the menu book for my drink. The Pretty Woman cocktail caught my eye because it was made with St. Germain, which is probably my all-time favorite liqueur. But there was a pink version of the cocktail on the menu for Breast Cancer Awareness month that I chose instead:

Meyer Pretty

Meyer Pretty – house-made Meyer limoncello, vodka, Meyer lemon juice, St. Germain, pomegranate syrup & egg white – $17

Our total bill for those two drinks, with tip, came to about $40. But we enjoyed every sip. That is when we wandered around a bit to find a place to have a quick appetizer and perhaps another drink. We finally found a place open called Roni’s, which reminded me of a little neighborhood joint you might find in Europe. We each had a mediocre beer and some horrible poutine. They were probably the worst fries of my life. But we liked the vibe of the place and got to witness some strange interactions – including a request for $500 worth of twenty-dollar bills. The funny part is that it seemed like a regular occurrence.

I spent a lot of time on TripAdvisor and Yelp trying to find an open restaurant that would suit us for our dinner that evening. However, Rob was drawn to the menu of our hotel’s sister hotel that had a restaurant inside called Hush. We both just wanted a relaxing/lazy evening. It was close to our hotel and we didn’t have to think anymore about it, so I happily obliged.

But it turned out to be just a mediocre meal. We each ordered a cocktail that ran about $14 a piece. We started with the Mosaic Fries which sounded delicious. They were pretty good, as apparent by the photo of the remaining fries below…

Mosaic Pommes Frites Parmesan, Parsley & 8 Essence of Truffles

Mosaic Pommes Frites – Parmesan, Parsley & Essence of Truffles – $8

I ordered a caprese salad because a salad just sounded soooo good. And with my love of tomatoes…

Heirloom Tomatoes, Arugula, 14 Avocado, Fresh Mozzarella, Extra Virgin Olive Oi

Caprese Salad – Heirloom Tomatoes, Arugula, Avocado, Fresh Mozzarella, Extra Virgin Olive Oil – $14

To be honest, the tomatoes weren’t that good, but I had no problem finishing this bad boy. Rob on the other hand, ordered something you’ll never believe he ordered – A BURGER! 😉

The Mosaic Burger Swiss or Cheddar Cheese with Spring Greens, Tomato, Char re d Red Onion 16 & Butter Pick le , Choi ce of Fries or House Made Chips

The Mosaic Burger – Cheddar Cheese with Spring Greens, Tomato, Chard, Red Onion & Butter Pickle {+bacon}

Again, a decent burger, but we weren’t wowed. Let’s just say that the menu looked more intriguing than the food was satisfying. And before we knew it, we spent $75 {before tip}.  At this point in the trip, we had already spent about twice as much money as we had planned. So we decided our best bet would be just to go back to the hotel room and relax.

I can’t ever remember a time when I just lounged in a hotel room and watched TV on vacation! It was so nice to do this for once! Rob was able to log some hours for work, too, because Internet was included in the room rate. The mini-bar provided us a half-bottle of wine and I sunk in to the most comfy-cozy bed and settled in for some mindless TV…

046I adored this bed so much that I didn’t want to get out of it. It was sooo much better than the one we about to sleep in for three nights at South Coast. Seriously, I still dream of this bed. The room was cute in general. The funny thing is that I did not know this when I booked the hotel, but it is French-themed! {Yeah, Carrie, it’s called the Maison 140. Duh.} Check out this sculpture in the room:

048My chip-fanatic husband wanted me to get the Doritos in the picture. He picked these up at Target in Pasadena because he’s never seen the Tapatio Hot Sauce flavored Doritos before.

I loved the adorable Frenchness of the entire place, including breakfast! Breakfast is not included with the room rate and parking is an extra 28 smackaroos. So when I saw online that I could get a package deal for parking plus breakfast for two people for just $24, I took it. The breakfast was continental, but included croissants and pain au chocolat!

054Okay, so not the best pastries I’ve had… but still… There was strong, French Press coffee!!!

053Needless to say, Carrie was a well-rested happy girl departing Beverly Hills that morning…

057What else did I like about Maison 140? I loved that we were pretty much in a little, quiet residential neighborhood but still in walking distance of what we wanted to do that we needn’t drive anywhere. That was huge in Rob’s book, too.

How do you choose a hotel when you go on vacation?

Cheers~
Carrie

Advertisements

California Vacay: Pasadena

Standard

Our vacation began in Pasadena.

Wait, do you remember THIS poll?

Yeah. Well, we didn’t end up going to any of those places. Our goal is to travel internationally every year. However, the back surgery I had this year drained much needed vacation time and funds for such a trip.

So when I found out that my friend Erika was getting married in Pasadena, I said to my husband, “That’s what we are going to do instead!” Not only could we celebrate the special occasion with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, but we could also get a taste of Los Angeles and then drive down to Temecula Wine Country.

Why Temecula?

I’ve been to Sonoma. We’ve been to Napa. It was time to try something new. And a friend suggested Temecula because she said it’s more laid back than the other two well-known wine regions. But we’ll get to that tomorrow – on Wine Wednesday!

Our first day started out by waiting in this 1 hour and 45 minute line to get our “reserved” rental car:

014It was followed by another 15 minutes to stand in a line with our paperwork to get said car. While I could complain, the rental cost us half the amount it did when we rented for the same amount of time for our wedding in Pensacola in 2010. I told Rob that instead, we should think of it as them paying us $150 for standing in line for two hours.

Then, there’s the traffic. At first, we didn’t understand what all of the fuss was about. But time lost due to the rental car line and a little bit of traffic kept us from stopping in Chinatown on our way to Pasadena. We wanted to check out the Phoenix Bakery, which the groom’s family owns! #fail

But we were going slowly enough that Rob made me take a photo of this exit sign:015~

That night, we spent catching up with friends from Milwaukee who just moved to L.A. this year! It was a gorgeous night sitting outside at the Yard House. There’s an excellent selection (over 50) of beers on tap, which is pretty remarkable for a growing chain restaurant. We had to try a few pints of California beers and maybe a couple from out of state that we can’t get in Minnesota. I personally thought it was fun to try a Youngberry Chocolate – half Lindeman’s Framboise, half Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. It appears we’ll be getting a Yard House in St. Louis Park in 2014. I’ll only go, though, if they put some local stuff on tap and support the little guys!

Rob was quite pleased with his food, too. He ordered a burger or some sort and upgraded to the truffle fries. {Surprise, surprise!} He also ordered a side of Shiitake Garlic Noodles to split. I tried a few different street tacos. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of these because, fortunately, we focused our time catching up with our friends. It was the perfect place to do that! Great find, Juan!

~

The wedding was absolutely beautiful. It made me so happy to see Erika so happy! We had a long lull between the wedding (10:30am) and the reception (6pm), so we went to lunch with our friend Lisa to one of Craig & Erika’s favorite restaurants in Pasadena – The Green Street Restaurant. It was highly recommended by Erika to order the Dianne Salad, but I didn’t because I thought I wanted something more substantial. All we had for breakfast was the Starbucks Coffee in the hotel room. {Yay, Westin for that perk!}

Here’s what we ordered instead:

Pimento Cheese Bacon Burger with an upgrade to the Potato Chips with Carmelized Onion Dip

Pimento Cheese Bacon Burger with an upgrade to the Potato Chips with Carmelized Onion Dip

Rob really enjoyed this burger. The chips were really good, too!

Caprese Sandwich - La Brea Bread grilled with olive oil topped with fresh mozzarella cheese, roasted tomatoes, tomato-caper spread and pesto with a side of fruit

Caprese Sandwich – La Brea Bread grilled with olive oil topped with fresh mozzarella cheese, roasted tomatoes, tomato-caper spread and pesto with a side of fruit

This sandwich was good, but it didn’t knock my socks off. I really should have just listened to Erika! I mean, in college, we used to go to Perkins late in the night to order those Bread Bowl Salads and talk until the wee hours…

~

Before entering the restaurant, I saw a wine shop next to a cheese shop right across the street. Ding Ding! Knowing that we’d have more time after lunch, I begged Rob and Lisa to stop there afterwards. Maybe we could find some wine to pick up for later? The Wine Detective indicated that there was a tasting going on. I didn’t have to beg them too long. 😉

But I was wrong.

This wasn’t a typical wine shop where you buy bottles of wine. It’s more of a… Wine Tasting BAR! Have you ever been to one of these before?

033Here’s how it works. First, you get a card with a $50 credit. They take your credit card to start your “tab.” You take your card to the stations which consist of 16 white and 32 red wines. Let me just say, these are high end wines. They are wines that you probably wouldn’t be able to get a glass of or taste unless you were at the vineyard, at a specified tasting or bought an entire bottle.

Then you insert your card into the slot of the station that corresponds with the wine you want to try.

The red numbers indicate the cost for a one ounce tasting pour. If you want to try it, just push the button for the machine to dispense the wine from the bottle. I photographed this one because it was our favorite. There was a Chateauneuf-du-Pape that came in 2nd place for us. {Can someone say graham cracker flavors?!}

The Wine Detective just opened for the day when we arrived, so we had the place to ourselves. However, there is space to sit and relax and enjoy happy hour or time with friends like you would at any wine bar. For the wine above, you could enjoy it by the glass for $12, if you’d like. I think the employees would need to dispense that for you though? Or maybe you’d dispense it four times for four ounces? We didn’t get that far! We were too busy tasting. We also learned that the price per bottle was for here {corkage} / to go.

When you are done tasting, you bring your card to the front and the amount you used from your $50 card is charged to your credit card. At first I was a little nervous tasting $2 – $4.50 one-ounce pours so quickly. I thought we’d rack up a hefty bill. But then Rob pointed out, “Look at all of the expensive wines we may have never had the opportunity to taste unless we bought a whole bottle!” POINT. We did enjoy a nice taste of Brunello. 😉 I don’t think any of these wines were under $30/bottle. But then again, we only tasted reds.

~

Before the reception, Lisa and I got to be flies on the wall at the Tea Ceremony. As explained to us by one of the groom’s uncles {I think}, this is a Chinese tradition in which the groom’s family officially accepts the bride into the family. Each couple in the family comes up to formally sip some tea and pass the couple a red envelope with a {generally monetary} gift. The groom’s mom often offers a piece of jewelry, sometimes one that has passed down within the family. It is done with every married couple in the family, starting with the grooms parents and then from eldest to youngest couples. There was a lot of joking around going on! While I know it is tradition, I loved seeing that everyone was having fun with it, too.

~

The reception, too, was beautiful. Look at these gorgeous centerpieces! I loved the tradition of each of the fathers introducing their families that were present.037Overall, we had a great time in Pasadena. Who knows when we will be back? Perhaps for a Rose Bowl game? My high school band played there in 2012! In fact, Erika was at that game and texted me when she saw them!

In any case, we know we have friends in the Los Angeles metro area, so it’ll be a great destination whenever we want to get away from these Minnesota winters. 😉

Have you been to any unique wedding ceremonies or witnessed cultural wedding traditions?

Cheers~
Carrie