Foodie heaven comes to Los Angeles

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Two weeks of heaven for foodies in Los Angeles are taking place this week and next.

dineLA, which recently celebrated its 5th anniversary at the W Hotel in Westwood, is taking place this week through Jan. 27, and resumes Jan. 29 through Feb. 3. Specially priced three-course lunch meals ( $16, $34 or $28) and dinners ($26, $34 or $44) are available at Los Angeles County neighborhood restaurants for those who want to try out new places without breaking their wallet. Although, I must warn, it is very easy to spend more than the fixed prices if you add alcohol or other extras to your meal.

Participating restaurants include those such as Napa Valley Grille in Westwood, which has a new executive chef,  Taylor Boudreaux. Boudreaux, who was previously the corporate executive chef for Wolfgang Puck Worldwide for many years, is offering a $34 prixe-fixed dinner menu of first, second and third course choices such as Celery Root and Apple Soup, with truffled apple slaw, Beer Braised Short Rib, with parsnip puree, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and onion jus; and Apple Guava Galette with Chantilly cream. Sounds delish to me!

The Napa Valley Grille is a great place for Happy Hour. In addition to its tasty and reasonably priced happy hour menu and drinks, the patio with its  comfortable couches is a great place to hang out with good friends. (

Executive Chef Dakota Weiss of NineThirty restaurant at the W Westwood-Los Angeles is offering during dineLA some tasty bites like Porcini Bisque soup for a first course choice on both lunch and dinners menus, and Seared Idaho Trout with Haricot Vert on the dinner (lunch menu is $22, dinner is $34). Weiss will compete on Bravo’s next Top Chef series, “Top Chef Texas,” one of the many places she’s lived.

NineThirty offers a chic, yet comfortable place to dine, with many delicious menu items. During a visit celebrating the opening of the W’s CHILL ice skating rink, my companion and I had a dinner of spaghetti squash lasagna that had grilled Portobello mushroom, charred tomato coulis, house-made ricotta and fresh basil, a side of sweet potato fries with truffle aioli, and a delicious flat-iron steak. The food is simply, yet elegantly presented and the flavor of all the ingredients in each dish can savored fully with every bite. Small plates are priced from $15 to $22, and large, $18 to $48. There’s also a special fixed priced menu at $52, which includes one small plate and one large, dessert and coffee. If you add a wine pairing, it’s $82. (

More information about dineLA can be found online at






Fresh is best (Day 10 of my detox)

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Today was the best day yet of my 15-day veg/fruit/juice fast. I had stayed out late and slept little, yet this morning I felt good. I woke up late, but was not immediately hungry.

My first glass of juice was at 1 p.m. and although by then I was starting to feel hungry, I wasn’t desperate. Tomorrow I start eating solid fruits and vegetables again, although a friend urged me to try another day on just juice. I thought about it for a second, but noooooo. Five days of just juice is good enough for me this time around. For me, the fact that I’ll have gone two weeks on just fruits and vegetables is a strong enough cleansing and readjustment of my intake of what kinds of foods I ingest.

One important thing to note is that anyone who tries this and is trying to lose a great deal of weight, or has health problems should consult a doctor first and be monitored while on a fast or detox. I wish I had my vital signs taken before I started. I didn’t even weigh myself. But I am pretty healthy anyway; my cholesterol, blood pressure and other vital signs have always been good.

Right now, I am having my evening juice meal of tomatoes, cucumber, celery, red onion, parsley, fennel and lemon. It’s quite tasty. It reminds me of a Mexican salsa.

My good friend who urged me to do another day asked me if it was amazing to me, that I have done this, to exert the mental willpower to overcome an internal desire and succeed in it. I suppose it is. Because food is a necessity, not just a desire.

We humans have come up with some fantastic ways to feed ourselves–some of them sublime; some, such as bioengineered food, creepy– and constantly a chef or at-home cook somewhere in the world is creating another fantastic way to consume food (such as the interesting miso soup made with Saki, crimini mushrooms and a blast of some sort of cream that was served at the fifth anniversary of dineLA at the W Hotel Westwood).

But it’s the types of food we desire that can cause a problem. Whether  it is fast food, what I call cardboard, that offers little to no nutritional value or bioengineered and chemically altered food of which the lasting adverse effects are not yet known, or just not enough balanced consumption of food groups, people are basically eating themselves to death. The list of ill effects from being overweight is enough to make one change their eating habits: coronary heart disease; high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 Diabetes; cancer; sleep apnea; reproductive problems; gallstones; osteoarthritis….

An acquaintance on Google + posted a photo of a hamburger that was sitting on a counter for two years and it’s basic shape and texture had not changed; it did not decompose as natural food does, decaying and becoming moldy. So your body has to work much harder and longer to digest processed foods. The doctor who conducted this experiment said she has not eaten fast food since.

Enough of the soapbox…

I am still looking forward to that pizza I watched my friend eat the other day, and to upcoming events that are centered on food. I’ll just balance it now–more vegetables, more fruits, and definitely limited intake of processed foods. Fresh is best.


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