5 Things to Do in Los Angeles

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1) Handboarding. Instead of surfing, next time you go to LA, try handboarding! One of the biggest handboarding companies and shapers is located right in Venice Beach. The company is called SLYDE Handboards and is run by the raddest couple – Steve Watts & Angela Ferendo. Steve, the founder and CEO of the company is originally from South Africa and has been shaping handboards for years. After traveling the world, he obtained a degree in product design and now is the leader of an amazing community of handboarders across the world. Their shop is located right off the Venice Beach boardwalk. They are always willing to initiate new people to the sport by taking them out in the water nearby.

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI had the chance to get in the water twice with them, while I was in LA in August and it was one of the most enjoyable activities I’ve done in a while. It’s thrilling to be able to catch a wave and propel yourself into it, while kicking with your fins and letting yourself glide with the handboard. Hanging out with Steve & Angela, we also met other locals who are involved in the sport. There’s definitely a nice community of friendly handboarders growing in Southern California, Florida and other parts of the world. I am a big fan of their boards, all of their graphics are made with artists from around the world and the boards themselves are designed with the best materials. They also have boards for everyone from beginners to pros. Highly recommend stopping by their shop (you’ll also get to meet their beautiful dog Cowboy!!), getting in the water and trying out handboarding. Guaranteed stoke!

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2) Stay at The LINE Hotel. There are so many hotels always opening up in Los Angeles but I would say that one of the latest and greatest hotels that’s opened up in downtown LA is hands down The LINE Hotel. Located in Koreatown to be exact, The LINE Hotel is a new hotel collaboration between Roy Choi (the Korean American chef that create the famous Kogi food truck in LA), The Houston Brothers, Sean Knibb and Poketo. The hotel itself is located in a mid-century building that has been transformed to offer the coolest modern rooms with the dreamiest views of the Hollywood Hills. In addition to the amazing rooms, they have the nicest rooftop pool and restaurant called Commissary. I’ve talked about Commissary before in one of other blogs here. It’s special because it’s a little garden oasis in the middle of the busy cityscape. Pot and the Pot Lobby Bar is renown for it’s delicious Korean food. The customer service at the hotel is fantastic and the rooms are pretty affordable. I could wake up there every day…

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3) Explore the coast. One of my favorite things to do while in Los Angeles is exploring all the different little cities and neighborhoods in and around Los Angeles. I love driving around the coast, parking the car and exploring all the gems in the area. I’ve found so many amazing shops, restaurants and communities thanks to just wandering around up and down the coast. If driving isn’t your thing, you can also explore a lot of the coast by just renting a bike for the day. The Strand or The Marvin Braude Bike Trail starts at Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades and goes as far south as Torrance Beach, south of Redondo Beach. The 26-mile path can be done with a bike, skateboard, rollerblades or whatever your heart desires. It’s a beautiful way to get to know the area better. The view is just so incredible and it’s super freeing to ride a bike instead of being stuck in traffic with a car. Many people take The Strand to commute every day to and from work if they live close to the ocean.

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4) Visit the Sunset Marquis. Whether for a drink, a bite to eat, a day at the spa or even to just enjoy their two pools, the Sunset Marquis is a classic Hollywood hotel that just doesn’t go out of style. There are many things that still make the hotel so special. I personally love all the rock memorabilia and photographs that you can find all around the hotel. The Morrison Hotel Gallery at the entrance of the hotel is also filled with iconic rock photographs. Bar 1200 is a small and private bar that makes you feel right at home. They offer classic drinks and always have the best music playlist. Plus, they also have a super cozy patio at the front that is dimly lit with small candles. Their restaurant Cavatina is a great place for a lunch, a meeting or a mid-day snack. Their menu focuses on local California products and is creative but also affordable. Relaxing by the pool after getting a spa treatment is also quite special. If you’re willing to spend the cash, I’d have you know that the rooms are incredibly lush and comfortable. I haven’t slept that well in a hotel in a while!

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5) Shop at The Kooples & Anine Bing. It’s impossible for me not to mention my two new favorite stores in LA. The Parisian brand The Kooples, finally made it’s big west coast entrance this summer, which a luxurious and enormous marble-floored shop on S Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills. The shop is split into two sections, they have both their men’s and women’s collection in the store. I had discovered this French rock n’ roll band two years ago while in Paris and have been coveting every collection since. Shopping at The Kooples is a unique experience.

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Those who’ve been following my blog, know how obsessed I am with all-things Anine Bing. The lovely designer recently opened up her first shop in Los Angeles on West 3rd Ave. in Beverly Hills. It so happened that I was in town the day her flagship store opened and got to be one of the first ones to shop her new collection. It’s also always such a pleasure to see Anine, she’s such an inspiring woman. I have so much respect for what she does. What I love about her new shop is that it’s bright, modern and minimalistic. All of the items from her current collection can be found at the shop. I love Anine’s passion for flowers and candles, it adds a little personalized touch to the shop. Everyone at the shop is incredibly nice and helpful. An added bonus, it’s located right next to the FONUTS bakery 😉 If you want a nice personalized shopping experience and are looking for rocker meets bohemian threads, you’ve got to stop by the shop!

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5 Food Discoveries in Los Angeles

Here’s the first of a series of blogs I’ll be posting on my recent trip to Los Angeles. The theme for this blog is FOOD! If you’ve ever traveled to Los Angeles before, you know that there are always new restaurants opening up in every part of the city. One of the things I love most about traveling is trying out new restaurants everywhere I go. I’ve been vegetarian for over 12 years now and contrary to what most people think, I can eat just about everywhere (especially when traveling to California, where there are so many vegetarian-friendly dishes on all the menus!). I’d definitely say I’m an epicurean vegetarian! Here are 5 food discoveries I made while in LA earlier this month:

1) Fōnuts. Yes, there’s no typo here, fōnuts and not donuts. Fōnuts are donuts but better! Here’s why: they’re not fried, they are baked and/or steamed and come in so many incredible flavors, many of which are gluten-free and vegan. I first heard of fōnuts through Instagram and have been obsessively following their feed for the last couple of months, promising myself I’d check them out next time in LA. And that I did… not only once… or even twice, but three times! And boy was I not disappointed. I’d say, I became mildly obsessed with their baked goods while I was there. The thing I love most about them is that they use fresh and natural ingredients in every fōnut and they are made in-house daily. I love the “cake-like” taste & texture and the clever combination of flavors. They’re also not too filling as a result of not being fried and have a very different texture. Hands down my two favorites were the “Blueberry Earl Grey” and “Peanut Butter Chocolate“. A must if you’re in the Hollywood area. They’re located on West 3rd street, just at the corner of S. Crescent Heights Blvd.

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2) Gracias Madre. I had been meaning to go to Gracias Madre last summer and then on my trips since but each time, I ended up somewhere else. Gracias Madre’s is all about serving local, organic and vegan food. Three key words that totally attracted my attention when I had first heard of this amazing restaurant. Added bonus: it’s all Mexican food!! But not any kind of Mexican food, Mexican food done with a modern and clever twist. All of the food we ate at Gracias Madre was so incredibly fresh and flavourful! It was just the right amount of spice and all the dishes were very well balanced. The drinks were also so incredibly tasty. I highly recommend sharing a bunch of plates. My favorite appetizer: “Gorditas“, which are potato cakes accompanied by avocado and cashew cream. My favorite main: “El Plato” a dish with butternut squash, cashew cheese and chorizo mushrooms. My favorite dessert: their incredibly yummy “Fudge Brownie” made with salted mezcal caramel. One of the best parts about eating at Gracias Madre, was being on their incredibly beautiful outdoor terrace. It’s decorated with an outdoor fire place, beautiful lights, lanterns and is in the middle of trees and plants. Super romantic! You can make reservations through OpenTable, just make sure you reserve a little while in advance, the place is always busy.

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3) Sqirl. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a better brunch than the one I ate at Sqirl. Sqirl is a small cafe located in the Los Feliz area of LA. It’s packed with young hipsters, businessmen, actors, etc. who all come for their morning coffee, meetings or to just enjoy the incredible food their serve there. They’ve got a few seats inside but also have a great little alcove on the side of their restaurant with a bunch of chairs and tables. What makes Sqirl awesome is not only that everything is made from scratch in-house, including their jams, their almond milk, their hot sauce, etc., it’s also more than just a little cafe. They have an extensive breakfast/brunch and lunch menu that they make fresh in front of your eyes. Everything I tasted there was absolutely to die for! Things you NEED to try when you go to Sqirl: their vanilla bean lemonade, unreal! Also their open faced brioche with kale, tomatillo puree and fried egg. And finally for “dessert” their brioche with homemade jam and freshly milled almond hazelnut butter, WHA?! Take me back now!!

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4) Fig & Olive. A discovery that Offner made while looking for new restaurants to check out in LA. The restaurant has definitely become a city hotspot over the last little while. Located on Melrose Place in West Hollywood, Fig & Olive is a beautiful and classy restaurant. The decoration is sophisticated and so are the people that eat there (or they at least seem to be!). They’ve got a great selection of wine and an interesting choice of plates for dinner. Though a little bit more on the pricier side, the food is delicious, tasty and worth dishing out the extra cash. The fish “Paella del mar” seems to be a favorite among customers, including Offner himself. The thing that I also loved, was their incredibly well presented desert. Good times!

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5) Commissary. You’ll find this little oasis at The Line Hotel, located in Koreatown. The Line Hotel has only been open since the beginning of 2014 and is already attracting people from all over the world and incredibly hype (I will tell you more about the hotel itself on another upcoming blog!). Commissary is located in a greenhouse and is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their entire menu revolves around fruits and vegetables. Though not exclusively a vegetarian restaurant, there are definitely many veggie-friendly dishes. You can either sit at the bar or at one of their beautifully presented tables. The drink menu is original and savoury and so is the food. Another thing that’s super unique about this place, their menu contains no words, just pictures! A clever idea by the one and only chef Roy Choi (founder of the LA Kogi food truck!)! Yup! He’s the one responsible for the remarkably creative menu & space. Totally worth checking out!

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