Hey, L.A.

Hiking Runyon Canyon - HOLLYWOOD!

Hiking Runyon Canyon - HOLLYWOOD!

L.A. would have been a terrible place for me to live in my twenties, trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, not that I'm entirely sure at 33. But now, when I go there, I start to dream of moving there and having a little garden with orange trees. Planning dinners at restaurants with al fresco seating and a cool breeze. Appreciating every single sunset and the somewhat hazy, unique quality of light framed by palm trees and blue sky. Eating really delicious, fresh, bright food.

People are NICE in L.A., which made me suspicious at first. At Cafe Gratitude in Venice, I ordered a juice and they asked if I wanted to hear the question of the day. "Um, sure," I said cautiously. "Who's your hero??" the girl asked with a giant smile of her face. How nice. It left me thinking about who my hero was for the rest of the day.

I'd have to live and work within a five-mile radius. Commutes in LA. are truly terrible and if I could avoid the 405 forever, I would. I went to L.A. to speak at Virtuoso's agency owner forum at Terranea Resort, which is a wonderful getaway from the city, about 90 minutes from Santa Monica, depending on traffic (the great L.A. disclaimer).

I stayed on for the weekend at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills and laughed until my stomach hurt with my brothers and sister-in-law. I updated my L.A. guide here but here are a few favorite photos from the weekend, starting with the view from my room at Terranea.

Finally tried Gjelina in Venice on a rainy night. Totally worth it.

Finally tried Gjelina in Venice on a rainy night. Totally worth it.

Red velvet cupcake and iced tea - snack of champions at Joan's on Third

Red velvet cupcake and iced tea - snack of champions at Joan's on Third

New favorite store: Tumbleweed & Dandelion in Venice

New favorite store: Tumbleweed & Dandelion in Venice

The wonderful Four Seasons in L.A. Best staff, amazing views, and a green goddess juice I ordered three times.

You're indoors but the sunset is pretty incredible at The Huntley in Santa Monica

You're indoors but the sunset is pretty incredible at The Huntley in Santa Monica

DVF Exhibit - Wrap Dresses Everywhere!

DVF: Journey of a Dress - Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the DVF Wrap Dress

If you're in L.A., the DVF wrap dress exhibit adjacent to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) has just been extended until May 1! I went with my friend Adrienne and we both loved it. One dress really did change the way women dress, work and feel about themselves starting in the 1970's.

DVF dressesIt's free to enter, as it's separate from LACMA (though if you park in the LACMA lot, which is easiest, it's $10, and you'll pay at the ticket counter). It won't take you more than 30 minutes to go through as the exhibit is basically one big, bright, graphic room with all of her dresses on display.

Colorful DVF dressesFeel like a woman - wear a dress! DVF EntranceAfter, don't miss LACMA's famous "Urban Light" outside the entrance - if you're a 15-year-old girl like I am, you may recognize them from No Strings Attached - I loved that Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman vehicle.

Urban Light

Beverly Hills Juice Club

Mixed Green with Banana-MannaI've returned to Beverly Hills Juice Club three times on this trip alone. The juice trend is crazy and I jumped on board a long time ago. But this version is my favorite in all the world - because they turn it into something that tastes like dessert.

You can make any of their juices a BANANA-MANNA version. They will blend the juice with a frozen banana/almond concoction (you can also get frozen banana with sunflowers or cacao) to make it sweet, frothy, and icy. I love the Mixed Green or Big Ten juice for a great breakfast or the Apple Cinnamon or Apple Strawberry for an even sweeter treat.

I KNOW you will become addicted too! Everything's organic so you can feel especially great about your drink. Also, they've been around since 1975 so stepping in is a bit like stepping into 70's L.A. with the white tiles. I guess it's technically Beverly Hills but it feels more like Mid-Cities/West Hollywood - it's all super close.

Beverly Hills Juice Club: 8382 Beverly Blvd (cash only)

Menu A line for juiceOutside

The Original Katsu-Ya, Studio City

I just got back from a week in L.A., with a self-driven packed itinerary to try new spots, check places off my list, and make it back a few favorites. One place that I finally tried was the original Katsu-ya, in a strip mall in Studio City, in the Valley. Strip malls seem to have the best sushi anyways, and this was definitely the case here. It opened in 1999 and quickly became a local favorite by word of mouth, drawing all of L.A.'s foodies, and there are now several locations. Some have different owners but all menus were originally driven by Chef Katsuya Uechi. Try the baked hand crab roll with no rice, the spicy tuna with sticky rice, and the seared albacore with crispy onions.

The greatest thing about L.A. sushi scene are the prices - you can get fresh, truly delicious sushi for mid-range prices. In New York, I feel like it's either $500 for two people or really cheap and nothing I'd want to eat.

Montage Beverly Hills

The Montage Laguna Beach is one of my favorite resorts on the west coast but I hadn't seen the sister L.A. property until a recent whirlwind visit to L.A. I stayed two nights at the Montage Beverly Hills and it was relaxing and the perfect location for my business meetings all over L.A. My room felt like the best guest room at a Beverly Hills mansion. I paid, including tips for each time I needed my car, about $100 for two nights of valet parking, but there really is no other option. Such is L.A.

An outpost of Scott Conant's Scarpetta, which started in New York and is famous for the tomato-basil spaghetti, is attached to the hotel, and has a great bar. The hotel's Parq Bar is also nice but the most buzz is coming from £10 (Ten Pound), a discreet whisky bar above Scarpetta. You'll need a reservation to get in, which is tough to get. I missed it because it is closed on Sunday and Monday nights, when I was there.

I also loved having dinner with family at legenday L.A. Italian spot Dan Tana's, less than 2 miles from the Montage. I LOVE Showtime's The Big C, and one of my TV crushes, Reid Scott, who plays Laura Linney's doctor, was there having dinner.

F for Fitzsimmons on the pillow

 

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