March 30, 2014

Closed-door restaurants

Closed-door restaurants (aka clandestine or underground restaurants, supper clubs) have been quite popular in Buenos Aires for a while now. I haven't found a single one in California so far, but truth to be told, I've done very little research on the subject. I remember first hearing about Casa Felix back in 2008 and Noches Grimod soon after; the latter, no longer in existence. In my humble opinion, this concept reached its pinnacle, with artist Tony Hornecker's The Pale Blue Door. Oh, man, I so wish I'd been able to attend the Pale Blue Door Buenos Aires in 2010! 

In case you have no clue how a closed-door restaurant works, let me explain that they are usually run by chefs who may or may not also own a regular dining place. These private dinners are often held in the intimacy of the cooks' own home or at special locations such as art galleries, museums even factories. The specific coordinates are revealed once you've booked your spot in such gathering via e-mail or facebook. In my short experience, such dinners take place once or twice a month and there's only room for a limited number of guests (no more than 10-15). The menu typically consists of at least 4 steps and is revealed shortly in advanced; a vegetarian option is also usually available. I guess the secrecy around them is what makes them so exciting, well, at least to me. 

I only experienced Cocina Sunae in 2010 and Sala Juana in January this year (I feel like bringing up Tegui as well, but it's not exactly the same thing). This post was originally going to be solely about my visit to the latter, but I thought a proper introduction wouldn't hurt.

First things first, I want to say that I found out about Sala Juana thanks to the always wonderful Vero Mariani; she is the one person to resort to when it comes to eating out in Buenos Aires ;).

What I loved the most about Sala Juana is its ambiance, dim lights, mismatching chairs and tablecloths and a galore of little knickknacks spread all over the place.

The meal itself wasn't mind-blowing. but the atmosphere totally made it for me and I'd definitely go back any given weekend if I could. Don't get me wrong, the food was really good, but it's not what makes me want to return.

As you can probably imagine, prices are not the cheapest, but considering the attention and the uniqueness of the occassion, I'd say they charge a fair fee. But mmm, I can't help to wonder if people behind them pay taxes and/or bypass health-code regulations. 


I say give closed-door restaurants a try if you ever fancy a fancy dinner and you care for a different sort of intimate meal ;p.

Have a happy week, everyone!

March 24, 2014

Easter packages

I know it's a bit early for an Easter post, (well, not early at all judging by all the Easter merchandise already available in stores!) but given that I'm usually sending my holiday packages a few days too late :/, I decided to prepare these ones ahead of time for a change. Uff, too long of a sentence! Let me catch my breath, hehe.

I don't know why, but these past 3 years I've felt the urge to send Easter packages. I did not treat my workmates to Valentine's sweets or Christmas little trinkets, but I did prepare some cute (if I may say so) carrot shaped containers filled with bunny shaped crackers last year and will treat them to something different this time as well. It must be all the pastels, bunnies and cuteness in general lying around that puts me in the mood for giving. Of all holidays, this is the one that I probably shouldn't be celebrating at work, since it's religious, but whatever. I know, I know Christmas is a religious holiday, too, but come on ...

So, in past occasions I sent these plastic eggs to my nieces, but I wanted to go bigger this time around.

Instead of mailing plastic eggs, I thought it would be a nice idea to mail a whole box. I saved a couple of egg boxes and bought small plastic eggs at the dollar store.

I filled them with sweets, chicks, tiny erasers, plastic grass and shredded construction paper. Easy, peasy!

I'm going to seal the edges with heavy duty tape and send them without an envelope or wrapping.

I'm also making bigger eggs that fit more sweets to mail and probably to give away at work when the day comes.

I hope these packages get to their recipients sound and safe! I've been so lucky so far with all of my parcels :).

Here's some Easter bliss from Target and Walmart, especially for my non-American readers to see. I want to buy everything!

Have a happy week, everybody!

Hugs! ;D

March 21, 2014

Graffiti in Downtown LA

Whenever I tell somebody I'm planning to go to LA, the most common reply I get is "Why?". I feel like responding "Why no?", but I always keep it to myself. There's something about Southern Californians that live on the outskirts (or at least the ones that I know) that repulse the city. I first believed it was jealousy, but I've discovered they truly mean it; they don't feel the urge to go to the city, they just don't like it. They loathe the smoke, the traffic and think there's nothing there that would interest them enough to get on their vehicle and drive there. If you mention the beach, dirt-biking, hiking, now that's a different story; they're always up for all of them.

I came to the conclusion that being a city person myself, living in a quasi-rural area, I'm always craving it. I just love the fact that there's always something different going on in the metropolis; there are shows you need to pay for and there's the other ones that are completely free and just consist of witnessing simple moments, taking in your surroundings.

"Why would you want to go to LA? It's dirty, noisy, the traffic sucks and the people ..." Dirtiness is an evil every city faces in a larger or smaller scale, it's not neat, true. As for the traffic, I don't drive, ha, so I take public transportation, which in SoCal is kind of scarce, but whatever, I'll take what I have to make it work for me. "Public transportation? Ewww! Poor you!" I take the train, which even has restrooms, tables, AC and is very clean. And the people? I have no problem with people as long as they don't mind my business.

Well, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. I enjoy the colorful chaos, do not fear its people and embrace its craziness. Look at all the wonderful graffiti you can find in LA! All the photos below were taken at the Arts District, which I'd been meaning to visit for a long time. The one above were taken in Downtown LA, between the Fashion District and Little Tokyo.

There's so much to see!

The drawback is that since the Arts District is rising in hype, it's hard to dine without having to wait. I wanted to get some coffee at the Pie Hole when I was there, but I soon gave up the second I saw the line and people gathering by the door.

There are little pieces of art even on the tiles :).

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! ;D

March 17, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel & more

Unlike most days off, this past Friday I had plans - to get on the train to Union Station and work my way down to downtown LA to visit the Arts, Fashion and Flower Districts. But before doing so, I needed to stop at the Arclight Cinemas to see the Grand Budapest Hotel model.

I loved all the details and colors. Sadly, I couldn't stay to watch the movie due to the fact that since it's only playing in "selected theaters", you have to get tickets ahead of time. Clever marketing to promote an indie movie, ha; well, I guess it makes sense and builds up the hype. Still, as much as I rave about it, I am going to watch it and enjoy it and probably talk about it again.

Speaking of details, did you know that this movie is meant to be projected in 3 different ratios? You can read more about that here and here.

Oh, and if you fancy making one of those decadent Courtesans au Chocolate featured in the movie, you can learn how to in this video shot by Anderson himself.

But wait! This post is not over just yet! On to more movie-related stuff. If you're ever in downtown LA, don't hesitate to head over to the FIDM Museum, their current exhibition includes costumes worn on Catching Fire, Anna Karenina, Superman, Star Trek, The Great Gatsby and the list continues. 

12 Years a Slave

47 Ronin

Romeo & Juliet

I particularly enjoyed another exhibit about 19th century wedding gowns. Admission is free.

Ok, this journey has ended until my next post where I'll take you on a tour in the Arts District.

Hope you have a wonderful day and week! ;D