Stories for: Los Angeles

Hair, Los Angeles, Spas & Salonsbanged at spoke & weal

Spoke & Weal

I used to have bangs. And they were fabulous. But they took so long to grow out, I swore I’d never get them again. Then I was offered a complimentary haircut at Spoke & Weal Los Angeles by owner and hair artist extraordinaire Jon Reyman. Even though I was growing out my hair, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity (he charges $450). So I did it; I got banged. Standing up, I might add.

How did this happen? Well, it started at the end of the workday, around 6 p.m. (The salon is conveniently open until 7 p.m. on weekdays.) Just after I arrived, I was given a green juice from the local juicer and a relaxing, aromatherapeutic scalp massage. This alone was worth the trip.

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Hotels, Los Angeles, Spas & Salons, TravelA Lovely Way to Exhale

Zen Lounge

There’s nothing I love more than a good massage…seriously, it’s a struggle every day not to just schedule another one. When I win the lottery, I’m totally going to have a masseuse on standby and get one every single day. So, naturally, I love finding a great new place in my city where I know I can escape to anytime I need to de-stress.

Exhale Spa has locations all across the country, including three here in Los Angeles (Hollywood, Santa Monica and Venice) and offers Core Fusion and Yoga classes, as well as spa services. When I got the chance to visit for a service, I had about thirty seconds of wondering if I should do something to burn calories, then I came to my senses and picked the massage. (I’m no fool!)

I visited the Santa Monica location, which is inside the Fairmont Miramar Hotel on Wilshire Blvd near the ocean. If you’ve never been to the hotel before, you’re in for s treat: It’s gorgeous and luxurious and everything you would expect from a hotel in that area, so it instantly sets the tone when you enter. Once you check in, you change in the lounge, which has seating areas for relaxing and a chill vibe. If I hadn’t had an appointment I needed to get to afterwards, I would’ve definitely parked myself in one of the comfy chairs in my oversized robe and read magazines for an hour or two. (The above image is from the Zen Lounge in the Hollywood location, but it gives you a good idea of what the Santa Monica one looks like as well).

I booked myself for the sixty minute Exhale Flow massage, which is their signature full body massage. It involves what they call “choreographed waves of kneading” that are meant to open your muscles up, free energy blockages and relieve tension. It’s a technique that incorporates more lymphatic drainage than a traditional deep tissue, so it helps detoxify your body more and boosts your immune as well. All of that sounds very technical, but what really matters is how it feels and that answer is… amazing. I had been so tense over a work project that was having some unexpected problems and for that hour, I forgot all about anything but the fabulous massage I was getting. It was so, so relaxing with the aromatherapy oils that were used and I loved that my technician followed my lead–when I started a conversation with her, she was lovely to talk to, but when I was quiet, she was also silent so I could fully enjoy the massage. My only complaint?  That I didn’t book the ninety minute treatment because the one hour one was over far, far too soon.

It was such a nice treat in such a lovely setting, and if you live in Los Angeles, I highly recommend this location, especially because it’s so close to the Third Street Promenade, which means you can shop afterwards (the perfect follow up to a massage!)

To learn more about the Exhale spas across the country or book a treatment for yourself, visit www.exhalespa.com.

Dining & Nightlife, Los AngelesMangia at Pellicola Pizzeria

pellicola

I just made what I’m sure will be my best food discovery of the year (and it’s only January!) — Pellicola Pizzeria in Downtown Los Angeles . A film aficionado’s pizza paradise, the Neopolitan-meets-NYC-style pizzeria serves up gourmet pies whole or by the slice from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. (Rumor has it they will be open for lunch soon!)

The brainchild of L.A. bar czar Cedd Moses (Seven Grand, Cole’s, Caña Rum Bar) and N.Y.C. “pizza master” Giulio Adriani (Forcella), Pellicola blends New York-style pizza with Neopolitan flavors for the perfect — and I do mean perfect — pizza. The crust is indescribably light, crunchy and sturdy; the sauces are to die for; and the shape is perfectly foldable. It’s the best pizza I’ve ever had in Los Angeles, even better than Village Pizzeria and Xlixe (sorry, guys). I’ve only tried the Nonna Maria (San Marzano tomato sauce, house-made mozzarella, basil, olive oil, parmesan), the Tricolore (San Marzano tomato sauce, truffle oil, house-made pesto) and the Nutella (double pizza crust, nutella, sliced almonds, powdered sugar), but I’ll be trying every flavor before Spring; I guarantee it. Check out the full menu here. READ MORE

Fitness & Health, Los Angeles, TravelPost-Thanksgiving Fitness at the Ranch 4.0

4SeasonRanch019

As the leftover turkey wanes and your waistline waxes, remember this: There’s still hope — and discounted gym memberships — come New Year’s Day. But if you can’t wait until then, consider dipping into your savings and booking a quickie at The Ranch at Live Oak/Malibu‘s Ranch 4.0 (aka R4.0) program. According to the founders, it’s “life-changing.”

A shortened version of the Ranch’s original 7-day program, the R4.0 program is held Thursday through Monday for those who can’t get away from their lives for a full week but still want a “jump start” to their fitness, weight loss and wellness goals. It features up to 10 hours a day of rigorous activity, including four hours of morning mountain hiking, an afternoon of exercise classes, daily group yoga sessions, a daily massage, a diagnostic fitness test and a VO2 metabolic test. (Whew! I got a workout just typing that.)

While it may seem intense, this mind-body retreat/boot camp is far from rustic. Held at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village with the California Health & Longevity Institute (CHLI), it includes a daily 1400-calorie diet of gourmet vegetarian fare, a healthy nutrition class and cooking demo led by a registered dietitian/chef in what they call the “Wellness Kitchen,” plus lodging at the Four Seasons and access to The Spa at Four Seasons.

And, unlike the 7-day program, you can stay plugged in (meaning you can actually get Wi-Fi). The catch? It’s $3,800 per person. (I know, I know … but think of it this way: It’s a steal compared to the 7-day $6,200 price tag!)

We had a chance to interview Ranch founders Alex and Sue Glasscock about the 4.0 concept, and here’s what they had to say: READ MORE

Food, Gift Guides, Los AngelesThe Sweetest Gift: Sugarfina Beverly Hills

sugarfina beverly hills

I don’t know about you but I seem to have outgrown the candy emporiums of my youth — where color-coded M&Ms graced the walls, waiting to be dispensed into a plastic bag for my movie-snacking pleasure. But what I haven’t outgrown is really good candy. And that’s where gourmet candy curators and founders of Sugarfina, Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick, found their sweet spot.

Recently engaged, Rosie and Josh met on Match.com four years ago and dreamed up the idea for Sugarfina, a gourmet candy haven for grown-ups, after watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on their third date. A combination of marketing savvy (she used to be a marketing director for Barbie) and entrepreneurial success (Josh sold the now-defunct Pandemic Studios, a video-game design firm, to Electronic Arts in a deal valued at $860 million), they had great potential for success.

Sugarfina launched in August 2012 online, and just this weekend, these lovebirds opened the first-ever Sugarfina candy boutique for grown-ups in Beverly Hills. I stopped by during their fourth hour of operation, got a tour from Rosie and sampled as much candy as I could. (Tough job, I know.) Here are the highlights: READ MORE

Food, Los AngelesThe Best American Wines for Thanksgiving

thanksgiving wines

Bird, check. Veggies, check. This year’s “It” pie, check. Wine … Marijke?

Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year or being a gracious guest, you may find yourself staring blankly at a wall of wines, trying to decide which (affordable) bottle will be most delicious with a turkey dinner. Well, stare no more. I’ve enlisted my dear friend and sommelier Marijke van Niekerk @lawinegal to provide her top recommendations for Thanksgiving.

The theme is “classic gourmet” with a deep Southern twist, based on the menu I curated from the growing stack of Bon Appétit magazines under my coffee table and a borderline obsessive recipe-search habit. Marijke has decided on an all-American wine selection because, “Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to explore the United States’ fantastic, world-class wines.” Very well, then! Here’s the lineup:

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Food, Gift Guides, Los AngelesGet in the Spirit with Twice the Vice

Twice the Vice Chocolates

Is it too early to talk about holiday gifts? My mind is already racing with ideas! It started at a truffle-making class I took recently at Caffe Luxxe, one of the best coffee shops in Los Angeles (well, Santa Monica, to be specific). There, Craig Boreth, founder of Twice the Vice chocolates and author of The Hemingway Cookbook, plied us with his amazing artisan spirited truffles.

Made with Callebaut Belgian chocolate, Twice the Vice chocolates are filled with top-shelf liquors such as The Glenlivet 15-year Scotch, crowd-pleasers such as Bombay Sapphire gin and cocktails such as the Woodford Reserve Mint Julep or The Big Lebowski lovers’ favorite, the White Russian. Each piece is packed with 1/8th to 1/10th of a shot, giving you a much richer, more sophisticated flavor than you’d get with those funny little bottle-shaped chocolates. Still, while select boxes are still illegal to ship in many states, the chocolates aren’t overwhelmingly potent — which is a good thing. Of course, if you choose to eat a whole box yourself, I can’t guarantee you won’t get a buzz!

Twice the Vice spirited chocolates are available online and totally worth the price. I highly recommend ordering them this year for the drinking men and women in your life — naughty and nice!

Celebrities, Food, Gift Guides, Los AngelesPicture Perfect Gift: The Macallan Masters of Photography with Elliot Erwitt

The Macallan Elliot Erwitt
Remember the famous photo of Jackie Kennedy at JFK’s funeral? Or the ones of Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Seven Year Itch and The Misfits? Those were taken by Elliot Erwitt, the man responsible for some of the most iconic photographs of our time. Erwitt is the fourth photographer to team up with The Macallan, my favorite Scotch, for their award-winning Masters of Photography series. (Previous collaborations were with Annie Leibovitz last year, Albert Watson in 2010 and Rankin in 2008.) The result? About 2,030 limited-edition sets featuring unique single malt Scotch whiskies paired with Erwitt’s gorgeous autographed photos. READ MORE

Beauty, Los Angeles, MakeupRoundup: Our Favorite Halloween Makeup Looks

Halloween Makeup Looks

Halloween is the best holiday ever. Why? It’s the one time where it’s perfectly acceptable for adults to act like 8-year-olds. And I loved being 8. Of course, this year, Halloween is on a Thursday, and some of us are ill-prepared. So here’s a quick roundup of great Halloween makeup looks that can help you pull together something at the last minute, assuming you have all the goods or can get to a store near you. Just channel your inner 8-year-old and you’re all set! READ MORE

Food, Los AngelesSecret Hosting Weapon: Jen & Joe’s Cookie Dough

Jen and Joe's Chocolate Spice Cookie Dough

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Your neighbor. I brought wine.

It’s times like these — when I’m completely unprepared to entertain guests — that I appreciate Jen & Joe’s Cookie Dough, a frozen gourmet cookie dough that produces cookies with a homemade taste. In this case, they made entertaining my neighbor possible without my having to cancel plans to watch “Breaking Bad” with my husband. (And I didn’t have to palm off leftovers to my coworkers the next day!)

An easy-bake solution for busy foodies, Jen & Joe’s Cookie Dough takes about 11–15 minutes to make (counting preheat time), and you can mix and match any of the six available flavors for a delightfully spontaneous snack. While it’s a tad more expensive than say, Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, it eclipses the competition IMHO. Jen & Joe’s Cookie Dough is made without artificial colors, flavors, additives or preservatives and it’s available in Chocolate Chunk, Snickerdoodle, White Chocolate Wasabi, Oatmeal Toffee, Chocolate Spice and Lemon Drop. What’s better than that?! READ MORE

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