Made in LA:This DTLA Coffee is a Cup of Paradise

Urban Radish CoffeeI don’t know about you, but when I drink my coffee I want to know that the birds in the trees where the beans came from are happy.   Maybe that’s why Urban Radish’s Mexico Custapec house- brand coffee tastes so good–just read the label on the  air-tight silvery package.  Happy brew–happy you!  Maybe there’s ancient magic in these Rainforest Alliance harvested beans from the Finca  Custapec coffee plantation that gets me happily fluttering through the morning.  Maybe the colorful flavor comes from the way the  beans are  roasted–Italian-style.  Maybe the  fragrant aroma originates from the roots of the trees that reach deep into the fertile earth of the Finca Custapec coffee plantation established in 1911 in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, a land of ancient volcanoes.  But what I do know, is that this coffee absolutely makes it worth the extra effort to get out the electric grinder every morning and enjoy this little bit of paradise in my cup.  These DTLA coffee beans are custom roasted in Los Angeles for Urban Radish.

Unique LA– Where you can play Shark Tank…one purchase at a time

Unique LA at California Market Center 110 E. 9th Street
Unique LA at California Market Center 110 E. 9th Street

I just found out about Unique LA and I’m definitely going to check it out! It sounds like such a great idea: bring together LA-based designers and entrepreneurs and let the public discover what they’ve created.  We all get to play Shark Tank and vote for the success of these start- ups and up-and-coming businesses with our own investments…one purchase at a time.  Unique LA happens May 3rd & 4th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at California Market Center 110 E. 9th Street in downtown Los Angeles.  Admission is $10 at the door.  From the pictures, it looks like there could be a line in the morning so I think I’ll walk over there a little early.  If you’re driving  you’ll find plenty of parking lots in the area but you can also park underground in the California Market Center for $6 during the show.  This event sounds like one more great way to discover and support the  risk-takers that are creating a new economy in and for our city.  And if you can’t get there, watch for my Friday Frivolity posts as I’m sure the show is going to give me plenty of great products to write about!

Made in LA-Addicted to Soap


So I might as well face it, I’m addicted to soap–but I’m a discriminating addict…it’s got to be Light of Beauty soap.  And I’ve created a co-dependent, Jay is right there with me.  This all natural soap is created by a woman from Reseda who spent 10 years in the banking industry before discovering that she could make a living pursuing her passion making all natural soaps that clean your body and lift your spirits with their naturally intoxicating fragrances.  The soaps are made in small batches using ingredients sourced from local farms.  We get panicky if we are down to our last bar.  But each bar does last a long time and is as effective  down to its last thin use as it is when the bar is brand new.  We get our fix at Urban Radish in The Arts District .

Tarina Tarantino on her roof with a camera


Tarina Tarantino, jewelry designer and makeup line creator, owns and works out of the seven-story building catty-corner across Broadway from the Eastern Columbia Building.  The other day I spotted Tarina as she popped out on the roof to snap  photos of two  girls (standing behind the metal tower). Shepard Fairey’s Obey Giant serves as a talisman for all who cross the 9th & Broadway intersection whether they sew seams or pursue dreams of realizing their own creativity.

Dogs Dress up for Heart of the City 5K

If you live in DTLA you know  there’s a pretty vibrant neighborhood in the proximity of Staples Center called South Park.  California Hospital Medical Center sits right at the south end of this community at 1401 S. Grand Avenue.  This past Sunday, April 13th, California Hospital Medical Center hosted their 2nd Annual Heart of the City  5K run/ walk.  They obviously have some pull with the city because we were  treated to the pleasure of strolling down the middle of the pristine, empty, quiet streets of this newer, more modern section of downtown.  Whether it was the decorum of this chic neighborhood or the proximity of FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) never have I seen so many well-dressed dogs out for a morning stroll!

The event started in front of California Hospital Medical Center at 8:00 a.m.

4 12 race time

Parents pushing babies in strollers,  lots of leisurely walkers                and dogs galore!  Here Coco has turned around to make sure I’m going to catch up!

4 12 Coco waiting for me

Let’s just say I was more in it for the fun of it–but I did spend a little time on my wardrobe, too.

4 12 in the race

Now here’s some serious competition!

4 12 Big poodle dog

Love the matching shoes and wings!

4 12 fair dog walking

Coco & Jay make their move to overtake the beflowered prancing poodle

4 12 Jay and Coco

The finish line in our sights!

4 12 CA Health Bldg

Yes, there were medals for the winning runners–more on that for another post..but the  biggest competition was about to go to the dogs…

Who would you pick?

4 12 ladybug dog 4 12 minnie mouse dog winner 4 12 panty dog 4 12 Pink dot dog 4 12 pink stripe T and skirt dog 4 12 scout dog4 12 fairy dogs

It was a close competition but the pup in the red and white polka dot I Love Lucy dress (some called it a Minnie Mouse frock) took home the prize.

4 12 big dog

And  there were those who just couldn’t believe that  any self-respecting dogs would subject themselves to such humiliation.   Thank goodness Matteo Pasquini from the famous Pasquini Espresso Company was there serving free cappuccinos and sufficiently distracting dog owners from thoughts of  XXL velour doggie jogging  suits.

Make a note on your calendar to check The Heart of the City 5K website next January to see when the 2015 event will take place.  This year the fund-raising goal was $123,000 and so far $80,263 has been reached.  There are 6 days left to donate. Click HERE if  you’d like to support the work of this dedicated  facility that does so much for the downtown L.A. community.  More to come on this amazing place with heart after I get my tour in May!

Friday Frivolity- So Cal Locale Vintage Votive Holders

Welcome to Friday Frivolity where each Friday you’ll get a suggestion for something  fun, frivolous, fanciful, indulgent or comforting that’s made by a company based in  Los Angeles or the vicinity.votive holdersI found these vintage-inspired votive holders at Angelo Home,  the best gift and furniture store in Downtown L.A. (or anywhere for that matter–because you can shop Angelo’s website, too).  Each votive holder is unique and the images take you back to everything that was iconic about the culture  and commerce of L.A. , and other California locales, in days gone by.  The designer, David Cheaney, is an L.A. resident who hand-makes all kinds of wonderful  decor items and sells them in stores, flea markets, craft fairs and online.  Plop down in a comfy chair and check out his blog Cheltenham Road and be sure to make a stop in the Etsy Shop while you’re there!

Faith & Flower: A flawless beginning

Bar View
Bar View
Dining Room
Dining Room
Seared Branzino, Marinated Rock Shrimp, Blood Orange Bernaise
Seared Branzino, Marinated Rock Shrimp, Blood Orange Bernaise

Faith & Flower is like a model without make-up–stunningly beautiful without being intimidating.   Rarely does a new restaurant exude such grace on its first Saturday night with every table seated. From the minute we walked in the door we were swept up in the charm and elegance with a welcome undercurrent of relaxed casualness throughout the evening.

Our waiter, Peter, with a charmingly messy ponytail, dapper bow tie and rolled up sleeves of his denim shirt took us into his care the minute he saw us perusing the little hard-cover black book menus looking for the wine selection.  He told us he would send over the sommelier with the wine list and then he let us know that the menu was meant to be enjoyed “family style.” I so much more like that term than “small plates.”

It didn’t take long for us to decide on Sautéed Monterey Calamari; Oxtail Agnolotti made with Butter, Tangerine Salsa, Beef Tendon and Chicharrones; English Peas and Gold Beets; and  Glazed Tender, Boneless Short Ribs. Kudos on the creativity, presentation and deliciousness  to Executive Chef Michael Hung, formerly of San Francisco’s Michelin-starred La Folie.

Fahara, the lovely and attentive sommelier, guided us through the wine options in French and California whites as well as Pinot Noirs.  We settled on a bottle of Cargasacchi, a Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir –which she decanted into an antique glass vessel which helped awaken  each of the four levels  to the wine: earthy, silky, woody and bright.   Sure, we could’ve opted for one of the great values on the wine list but who wouldn’t be seduced to indulge with this kind of  ambiance and service– $84 was kind of a splurge for us, but you can also easily go larger, too.

There are a few small elements of the restaurant that are works in progress–the veranda that you cross to the front door has huge potential for sipping and nibbling on a warm summer night with the vines taking hold on the overhead trellises.  Inside, there is a glassed-in marble area that’s soon to be a full raw bar with fresh oyster shucking and all varieties of shellfish–a signature feature when Faith & Flower eventually opens for brunch.

The name Faith & Flower comes from the restaurant’s location on Flower Street but also it’s an acknowledgement to the history of Los Angeles in the early 1920s when this street was allegedly named “Faith.”  It embodies the old and the new elements that have come together in what must have been an expensive renovation of a previous restaurant that was in the ground floor of this building  just east of Figueroa.

During our meal,  management briefly stopped by and asked how our evening was going and made what was already a perfect evening even better by bringing us something else to try–the Roasted Young Carrots and Brassicas, Smoked Yogurt and Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette.  I’m not a carrot fan but these tender whole baby carrots were so good they could’ve been dessert.

Tonight we passed on dessert but the menu created by Executive Pastry Chef Ben Spungin (Bernardus Lodge) is another reason to bring us back.  Maybe after an event at L.A. Live–a high table in the bar with a glass of champagne and something artistically composed and decadently sweet to indulge in?

The bar space at Faith & Flower makes everyone look beautiful. It’s large but still intimate and the glowing candles, reclaimed doors that panel the walls and the black & white, Robert Vargas mural of a sultry woman’s face lure you in and could quite easily get a hold of you for a very long time.   There’s a certain cocktail that we noticed people experiencing involving an empty snifter that’s “treated”  with a liquor that emits invisible vapors.  Your server holds the snifter with a thickly folded napkin over the top–a thin straw sticks out which one sips. In the center of the table is a stout tumbler of a caramel-colored slightly viscous pour. First a sip of the vapor, then a sip of the liquid–then a sigh… the next thing you know, that report that’s due on Monday has totally loosened its grip on you.   Michael Lay (Restaurant 1833, Rose.Rabbit.Lie.), who helms the bar program as Lead Mixologist, gets all the credit.

We sat along the center banquet–it was a row of rightly-spaced two-tops that evening. We told the two gentlemen next to us not to miss the Agnolloti.  They didn’t spend as much time as we did over dinner…I had the feeling they had somewhere to go.  Being the chatty one that I am,  when they left I asked them what their plans were for the rest of the night.  They told us they are reggae musicians and they had a gig to get to.  Sharing a bit of conversation with them was just another one of Faith & Flower’s pleasant surprises.


Made it to the top! What’s next?


1,400 steps and it felt great!  Well, maybe not every floor–there were a few pauses to catch my breath, let my ears pop and drink some water that volunteers were handing out. The pauses were also to remind myself that pushing one’s limits is a good thing but going past them could defeat the purpose.  My time was 19:28 and I finished 15th in my division of women 50-59.  Training was key–both doing  the stairs in my building twice a week as well as one-hour workouts on Wednesdays and Saturdays, whenever possible, with  trainer Bayo who NEVER lets Jay or me get through a session without  pain as well as some good laughs.  And beyond my physical accomplishment I was so incredibly motivated by the donations from friends and family that raised over $850 for the American Lung Association to help save lives.

So what’s next?

Heart of the City 5 K Walk/Run

I think I’m going for something a little less strenuous.   I like the sound of A 5K with Heart.  It’s a dog-friendly Run/Walk race in downtown L.A. on Sunday, April 13th that will benefit California Hospital Medical Center.   I’m looking forward to a brisk spring  stroll that Jay, Coco and I can all do together with our downtown neighbors and visitors.  The route is a loop that starts in front of the hospital  at 1401 S. Grand Avenue, traveling along Grand Ave., 11th Street and Figueroa Street between 7th Street and Venice Boulevards.

The goal of the race is to raise funds for, and awareness of, California Hospital Medical Center which has been serving the needs of downtown Los Angeles since 1887…more on the value of the hospital in a separate post.  Heart of the City 5K participants, through support from their friends and colleagues will be contributing to  two priority projects: the acquisition of a state-of-the-art 128-slice CT scanner for faster, more detailed imaging with less radiation exposure, and the renovation of the 9th floor of the patient care tower which, according to the hospital website, will maximize comfort and convenience and create a more healing environment.

So if you’re in the mood to enjoy the streets of downtown L.A. with two and four-legged ambulators see you on Sunday April 13th!