14 Experience-Worthy Valentine’s Day Gifts

14 Experience-Worthy Valentine’s Day Gifts

It’s probably one of the corniest holidays in existence, because without fail, February becomes a month filled with heart-shaped balloons and candy, endless amounts of chocolate boxes and bouquets, and stereotypical nods to cheesy eroticism through red silk boxers paired with bow-ties. Seriously, give it a rest. Now, I’m not trying to be completely cynical, but when I think about Valentine’s Day and how commercially warped it is, I quickly lose interest. I want to celebrate Love everyday of the year, but if I’m going to dedicate a specific day to demonstrate it, then I’m going to do it in a very special way.

Typically, Valentine’s Day gifts are more novelty in nature: We’re talking teddy bears, rose bouquets, themed underwear, and dinner at either a too fancy or too crowded restaurant. I think it’s time we step it up and not only think smarter about these gifts but also add the element of an experience that you and your special someone can share together. (Sidebar*, Love doesn’t have to only be celebrated romantically. Your friends and family can share this day with you too.) Here’s a list of 20 experiential Valentine’s Day gifts that will help create memorable moments rather than forgettable, novelty riff-raff.

In no particular order:

1. Atlas Coffee Club

      

Atlas Coffee Club, is a travel-themed coffee club that explores the world of coffee and culture!  From Papua New Guinea to Peru, Burundi to Brazil, each month they highlight a new country! (Retail: Gift Subscriptions starting at $60)


2. Nostalgia Electronics Waterfall

       

The Nostalgia Electrics Chocolate Waterfall creates a steady fountain of edible chocolate. Perfect to dip cakes, fruit and marshmallows. A great addition to your dessert spread for your and your valentine to enjoy together. (Retail: $49.99)


3. LATHER Sweet As Honey Kit & Road Warrior Men’s Survival Kit

      

Indulge in a collection of face, bath, body and gourmet treats, made with nature’s candy – honey – an excellent source of nourishing antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. And for the guys, Lather created a survival kit for men on the go, with travel sizes of their favorite face, body, and hair care essentials. (Retail $48-$58)


4. Feast Laguna

            

Flowers and jewelry are always romantic gestures but what’s more fun, entertaining, and memorable than spending a delightful afternoon or evening with your significant other, enjoying delicious food and being immersed in stunning works of art and beach culture? Feast Laguna is a culinary/food tour operator based in the beautiful beach community of Laguna Beach, CA. They offer tasty and entertaining food tours that are expertly led by knowledgeable and friendly Laguna local guides. (Retail: $75-$79)


5. LOVE Gem Water Bottle by Vitajuwel

For the crystal lover in your life, Vitajuwel has updated their original Love Gem Water Bottle to include garnet and clear quartz. If you’re a deeply romantic soul looking to inspire love, and deepen devotion, this latest incarnation of the Love gem-water blend awaits… (Retail: $98)


6. Basic Outfitters’ Create-a-Drawer

      

As seen on season 8 of Shark Tank – Basic Outfitters‘ Create-a-Drawer allows guys to ditch their worn out attire and replenish their wardrobe with up to 17 pieces of high-quality basics in under two minutes with a collection of high quality and fashionable socks, underwear, tees, and joggers delivered right to their door for only $60 (a $120 value).


7. ISlide

           

ISlides are the only fully customizable, sought-after slide sandal sweeping the world on the feet of athletes and celebrities like Madonna, Dwyane Wade, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Diddy, and many more. Maker of DJ Khaled‘s famous “Bless Up” and “Another One” slide sandals, ISlide fuses fashion with athletics and has partnered with Neiman Marcus, the NBA, and a number of other teams, brands, and organizations for custom designs. ISlides can be designed to match anyone’s personality with pictures, phrases, emojis and more – or choose from hundreds of pre-designed collections from French Montana, Nickelodeon, NCAA colleges and more. (Retail: $49.99)


8. PediPocket

      

As seen on Good Morning America, PediPocket is 6 feet of super soft microfiber fleece that has a clever foot pocket to keep your toes toasty. Use it at home, at the office or take it while traveling. Plus, it’s machine washable and dryer friendly. Perfect for cold winter days spent snuggling up on the couch with your Valentine. (Retail: $39.99)


9.  Tell It Well Cards

      

Among all the texts and tweets, send your Valentine a meaningful handwritten message with the original line of modern photo greeting cards from Tell It Well Cards! Each card is 4 x 4 square (Polaroid size) and is printed on sustainably sourced and recycled paper that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. 10% of sales go to provide small business microloans to women in poverty in the US and around the world for the Whole Planet Foundation. (Retail: $4 – $20)


10. Gratitude Glass “Love” Jar

Show your friends and family how much you care with the Gratitude Glass Love Jar. Fill the jar up with love notes that can be enjoyed all year long! Named “the gift that keeps on giving” by Oprah and featured among the 102 gifts of Oprah’s Favorite Things 2017 List, the Gratitude Jar from Gratitude Glass Jars has driven a movement – inspiring others to love themselves and the people around them. (Retail: $45)


11. HelloFresh Sweetheart’s New York Strip Steak

      

During Valentine’s Day week (Feb. 10-16) we’ll be offering a special Sweetheart’s New York Strip Steak with Sweet Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, and Blood Orange Sauce. The recipe takes only 35 minutes to make and fool-proof for even the most novice home cooks. As one of HelloFresh‘s Premium recipes, this dinner is undeniably special. With strip steak, brown sugar mashed sweet potatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts, this dish has tenderness, sweetness, and warmth—just like any solid relationship. It’s topped off with cranberries and a sauce based on blood orange—two fruits that have a romantic red hue. (Retail: $59+ for a 3 meal box for 2 people)


12. BOXFOX

      

Do Valentine’s Day differently this year with BOXFOX and their limited edition 2018 collection of pre-curated themed boxes. Available online until Feb. 18, each box is a thoughtful assortment of gifts that allows you to show you care on the most romantic holiday of the year. If you want to really show your creativity, you can curate your own custom BOXFOX with their BUILD A BOXFOX platform and and select whichever items your heart desires. (Retail: $30 – $200)


13. SouFeel

      

Customized gifts are always a great idea. Soufeel Jewelry’s personalized pieces are your easy solution. For once, you can find the perfect gift for everyone on your list without having to sacrifice meaning or thought! (Retail: $19.95 – $49.95)


14. The Mondrian Staycation

Being in love never felt so good. Celebrate your romance with this package that includes an in-room couple’s massage and dinner at the Doheny Room ($150 sbe gift card provided). Followed by a nightcap for two at Skybar. Then end it all with a turndown service including champagne and rose petals. Price point for the hotel stay plus the package is ($800)


BONUS:  Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato & Brut Rose

           

Think Pink this year for Valentine’s Day with Barefoot Wine’s Bubbly Pink Moscato & Brut Rose selections. Everything is better with wine, and Barefoot is trusted and true for this occasion. This is one of SoCal Mag’s favorites!

Vegetable’s Homegrown Menu

Vegetable’s Homegrown Menu

The rise of vegetarian and vegan lifestyles have garnered an influx of restaurants that cater to the health-conscious and plant-based eaters all across Southern California. It’s no longer just a trend, but rather a way of life that’s altering the diet regimens of thousands of people across the world. The thing about plant-based diets though, is that they’re immediately perceived as being very limited in options; however, the steady increase of vegan & vegetarian chefs are specializing in new ways to cook food that’s not only good for you, but also extremely delicious.

      

Chef Jerry Yu had a concept in mind when creating his restaurant Vegetable. He thought that if the ingredients in his recipes were all home-grown and always fresh, than he’d be able to guarantee great, flavorful cuisine. Sure enough, he put that concept to fruition and created the beautifully designed and operated, Vegetable in Studio City, CA. This gem really makes an exquisite dining experience by its concept, “built from the ground-up as a showcase of the restaurant’s namesake: Vegetable.” More importantly, Vegetable is completely organic and there are NO meat-substitutes on the menu; no easy “go-to” soy-protein or reworked versions of meat-centric dishes.

      

I experienced a wonderful dining session at Vegetable and was thoroughly impressed with the way Chef Yu constructs his deliciously crafted meals. From the Charred Brussels Sprout to the Sweet Potato Pie with Peanut Butter Ice Cream, everything was delightful and well prepared. My favorite dish was the Butternut Squash Toast, which is made with roasted garlic & butternut squash butter, heirloom tomatoes, and a balsamic reduction all on top of grilled rustic ciabatta. The entire menu offering really makes for a meal that is consciously satisfying.

      

Everything was truly a chef’s masterpiece. To learn more about Vegetable, visit www.vegetablela.com and follow them on Instagram at @vegetable.la

 

Hayden @ PLATFORM Introduces Golden Hour and its Specialty Wine Program

Hayden @ PLATFORM Introduces Golden Hour and its Specialty Wine Program

Platform LA seems to have it all going on, and for good reason, with one of its highlight restaurants — Hayden. Hayden, a modern Los Angeles restaurant and wine bar, is helmed by chef and partner, Ari Kolender. Aptly named for the creative community of the Hayden Tract, the restaurant will highlight local California ingredients with European influences set in a relaxed and vibrant atmosphere. Hayden will offer a new wine program and Golden Hour, from 5 pm to 7pm, which will offer $1.50 oysters and $8 glasses of wines with special tastings with Beverage Director Anthony Cailan on Saturdays.

In addition, the exquisite restaurant continues to offer its can’t-miss light morning menu, including Chef Kolender’s signature waffles, Vittoria coffee, plus a menu of tartines, salads, and sandwiches throughout the day. During afternoons and evenings, diners can expect oysters, European canned seafood, and an extensive selection of new California wines, which will also be available throughout the day in Hayden’s wine shop.

About Anthony Cailan

Anthony Cailan, Hayden’s Beverage Director, focuses especially on natural California wines in the shop, and is one of the few sommeliers who chill red wine by the glass. With an extensive culinary background in some of the most popular and successful businesses and events across California and the country, Cailan lends his expertise to Hayden to create a rare and unforgettable experience for diners.

About Ari Kolender

Chef Kolender has cooked in some of the best kitchens in Los Angeles, including Providence and Red Medicine. Before opening Hayden, he worked at The Ordinary and Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop in Charleston, where he was nominated for the James Beard Rising Star Chef award.

The design of the restaurant reflects the spirit of Kolender’s cooking.  This focus on simple high-quality materials can be seen in the custom woodwork, handmade ceramic flatware, and an Italian marble bar.  The Hayden team also collaborated with their neighbor, British designer Tom Dixon, on the lighting and furniture in the space.

Kolender summarized the spirit of the project: “Hayden was inspired by the neighborhood.  From gallery owners to music producers to fashion designers, the Hayden Tract is full of entrepreneurs as well as up and coming artists. I want to create a gathering space for all of these people to come together and enjoy a great meal and an incredible bottle of wine any time of day.  The food we cook at Hayden will be inspired by and reflect the diverse and elegant city in which we live.”

Location:
8820 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
Hours: 12 pm – 9 pm daily
Phone: (310) 593-4777

Dine At Osteria Bigoli and Feel Like Chef Claudio Marchesan Is Cooking Just For You

Dine At Osteria Bigoli and Feel Like Chef Claudio Marchesan Is Cooking Just For You

Looking for a more traditional meal that packs a lot of flavor without having to fly to Italy? Look no further than Chef Claudio Marchesan’s Osteria Bigoli on Montana Ave in Santa Monica.

While we’re still dreaming about the tender veal loin chop paired perfectly with the house red, what has me looking forward to my next visit is how Chef Claudio makes sure to greet each guest like family. During our dinner at the cozy restaurant, Chef not only came out and spoke with each party but often knew at least one guest by name and is just opener to the northeast Italian specialities that await you within the menu.

Chef Claudio in his element. Photo Credit: @osteriabigoli

Chef Claudio has been serving Osteria Bigoli “old world new” favorites at such as veal loin chop, chicken parm, and other classic Italian favorites since 2016 and has quickly become the go-to place for a delicious meal in a cozy atmosphere that really does feel you stepped right into Chef’s home.

With option including paleo, roasted meats, sustainable fish, grass-fed Angus Flat Iron steak and marinated vegetables, Chef Claudio’s favorite indigents shine. Veal and pork meatballs are prepared  “old school” with a rich Pomodoro sauce and fresh parmesan. Well worth a drive over to the westside for a proper supper!

More information about the must-try restaurant’s Valentine’s Day offerings, live cooking demonstration classes and more curated by Chef Claudio and loyal 20 year business partner Mark Arreola coming soon.

Osteria Bigoli is located at 714 Montana Ave. Santa Monica, CA and is open Tue – Sat, 5:30 pm – 10 pm; Sun, 5 pm – 9:30 pm. Visit www.bigoliosteria.com for more information. 

Ely Anne Vedar

Food & Lifestyle Editor

While California feels like it’s always been her home, Hawaii, San Francisco, Las Vegas and the Philippines are just a few places Ely Anne has lived thus cultivating her lifelong appetite for finding, trying and sharing new adventures, especially through food and wellness activities. She loves how food can always bring people together – anywhere, any time – and that’s what fuels her passion for public relations and marketing. Ely finds it invigorating to have a hand in seeing brands thrive in their community by using her PR, marketing and event production skills. She is also a regular Editor for SoCal Magazine and other digital publications.

Pappy’s Seafood: Elevated Classics

Pappy’s Seafood: Elevated Classics

(See All Aboard the USS Iowa to find out what else you can do before or after visiting this delicious destination.)

So, you’ve visited the Battleship Iowa Museum, and after an immersive, tiring tour of climbing, walking, exploring, and learning, it’s time to leave and find something to eat (and preferably nearby). San Pedro is a fairly small place, and this is quite possibly the city’s greatest advantage, because after what feels like all day on a battleship, the greatest food is only 5 minutes away!

Pappy’s Seafood, located just a couple of blocks from USS Iowa, is something to look forward to in the second half of a day-long trip to San Pedro. Incredibly, this new restaurant will bring you back to San Pedro repeatedly with their elevated seafood experience. Below are some of Pappy’s dishes and drinks that not only look familiar, but are also bound to be unlike any seafood you’ve ever had. Forget everything you know about these ocean signatures and classics, as Pappy’s has carved a lane for itself in the seafood dining world.

Dive In

Though Pappy’s Seafood is only nearing half a year since opening, it’s hard to believe that it hasn’t been in San Pedro for over a decade. Pappy’s blends into its street of lined boutiques and restaurants well, yet is defined by its fresh paint, window-lined walls, and corner foundation. The “open-air” style restaurant houses comfortable window-side tables and chairs, toasty lantern-lit booths, and a premium seated bar, with a friendly hostess, waitresses and waiters, and a bartender all ready to welcome you.

Nautical colors and décor do well at defining the restaurant and preparing you for the experience in store. Clean white walls, and navy-blue paint don’t make Pappy’s feel empty and bare, but rather close and intimate, as you have your own space not too near to any other diners. And though the restaurant has no views of the ocean, and certainly feels as if you’ve anchored in a seaside cabin.

Smooth Sailing & A Trio of Plunges

Pappy’s features an extended menu of spirits, wines, beers, and cocktails, so it was only appropriate to begin with a classic Rose wine: smooth and sweet, with the perfect contrasting tartness in the aftertaste.

Some of their specialty nonalcoholic drinks are Hibiscus Arnold Palmer, Watermelon Mint Limeade, and Passion Fruit Tea. Each of these notable drinks are house-made and brewed on location, and are the perfect matches to the seafood dishes Pappy’s has to offer.

Hibiscus Arnold Palmer: A classic deep red appearance of hibiscus tea, but infused with the sweet and tart flavors of an Arnold Palmer (sweet and lemonade).

Watermelon Mint Limeade: This summery concoction could refresh the thirstiest of sailors. Not only did it taste extremely fresh with its mint flavor, but the sweet familiarity of watermelon coupled with the hint of lime could make the drink a Pappy’s favorite, and the ultimate summer drink.

Passion Fruit Tea: It can be said that this powerful trio of colorful drinks are easily enjoyed by even the most sophisticated tea lovers. However, the Passion Fruit Tea, possesses the earthiest and sharpest taste of all three. This brewed beverage is well balanced with the contrastingly sweet passion fruit.

Starters

Mac and Cheese w/ Lobster: At first glance, Pappy’s mac and cheese (lobster optional) appears to be your everyday cheesy baked pasta. Don’t be fooled — this appetizer is anything but ordinary. Pappy’s mac and cheese uses shell pasta, but is not thick and extra cheesy like the macaroni and cheese many of us have come to love. In fact, this rendition of macaroni and cheese carefully considers its seafood ally, and contains just enough cheese to share the spotlight with chunky pieces of lobster. This golden chest of pasta is topped off with a toasty breadcrumb crust, reminiscent of sweet cornbread.

Crab Cakes: There are crab cakes. Then there are Pappy’s crab cakes. As if they had just brought back a catch, Pappy’s manages to pack a powerful punch of freshness and flavor. Consequently, with a sprinkle of greens, cherry tomatoes, a dash of sea salt, and a drizzle of house tartar, the flavor of the crab cakes is amplified even more.

Clam Chowder Soup: This New England style clam chowder is actually not like eating a soup at all. In fact, Pappy’s clam chowder could be related to a baked dish in terms of texture and taste: layers of flavor, thicker than usual, and a wholesome, hearty treat. Available in two sizes, Pappy’s clam chowder can be a complete entrée when served in the bread bowl, or as a side dish in a bowl or cup.

The Main Course

Blackened Shrimp Fish Plate: Pappy’s offers a variety of fish plates, consisting of sea bass, Ahi, shrimp, salmon, or Mahi Mahi, cooked in 3 styles: garlic herb butter, chimichurri, and blackened seasoning. All fish plates are served with salad, and rice or potatoes. Reminiscent of a traditional Louisiana meal, the blackened shrimp was spicy and flavorful with its Cajun tones, and roasted red potatoes. The salad, a light vinaigrette dressing compounded with citrus notes was the perfect contrast to bring the otherwise heavy meal together.

Lobster Roll w/ Pappy Fries: This could undoubtedly be one of the best lobster rolls in Southern California. Their house-made tartar paired with the warm, buttery French roll made it an absolute delicacy. Pappy’s has mastered this simple sandwich of moist Maine lobster in between with dill weed, tartar, and purple onions. The bonus fries offered with the lobster roll top the dish off with a trio of sauces: house-made ketchup, garlic aioli, and chipotle mayo. This is somewhat of a treat, as Pappy’s doesn’t give guests just one sauce, but let’s them face the impossibility of choosing a sole favorite!

A Sweet Ending

Chocolate Chip Cookie: The final and perfect way to end a meal at Pappy’s is to indulge in one of their pillow-soft, chunky chocolate chip cookies.

Location:
301 W 6th St, San Pedro, CA 90731
(424) 224-5444
pappysseafood.com

Hours:
11:30 am – 9:30 pm, daily.

Contributing Writer: Anthony C. Stafford

Roberta’s Returns to Platform LA

Roberta’s Returns to Platform LA

 

World renowned pizzeria comes to Culver City!

Roberta’s, the world renowned pizzeria from Brooklyn, has opened its first extended residency on the West Coast at PLATFORM.

Following last year’s inaugural residency at Platform LA, Roberta’s will once again be serving their wood-fired pizzas and a selection of natural wines, courtesy of Hayden’s wine shop, in Hayden Tract. In what could possibly become an annual occurrence, Roberta’s is returning to Los Angeles this December, from the 6th to the 23rd. Joseph Miller, Co-Founder of Platform LA says, “We had so much fun hosting the Roberta’s crew last year and can’t wait to have them back again for the holidays at PLATFORM.”

Roberta’s Co-Owner and Chef Carlo Mirarchi says, “We’re psyched about being back in LA and spending time with our friends on the West Coast. We can’t wait to serve all the great people that came out to see us last year, and are excited to welcome any one who hasn’t dined with us before.”

Pizza lovers can find Roberta’s at PLATFORM LA, (8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City) from December 6 – 23, 2017, and open Wednesday – Sunday from 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Their menu includes signature pizzas alongside a local, seasonal special, in addition to Margherita, Bee Sting, and the Famous Original — all available in a personal pie size, and priced from $12 per pizza. All pizzas are also available for dining onsite or for takeaway.

About Roberta’s

Nestled in the heart of Bushwick, Brooklyn, Roberta’s is the creation of Brandon Hoy and Chef Carlo Mirarchi. Opened in January of 2008, the restaurant has become a neighborhood institution, an international culinary destination, and an incubator for progressive entrepreneurship. Described by The New York Times as “one of the more extraordinary restaurants in the country,” Roberta’s is built inside a former manufacturing building and features communal seating, private tables, and a sun-soaked atrium. Roberta’s is far more than a restaurant – the full campus includes a multi-use outdoor terrace and bar, Heritage Radio Station, an onsite vegetable garden, and discreet access to the two-Michelin Star restaurant, Blanca. The adjacent Roberta’s Bakery offers fresh pizza for takeout and delivery as well as frozen pizzas and a variety of fresh baked goods, naturally leavened breads, and retail merchandise.

About PLATFORM

PLATFORM is the convergence of fashion, culinary talent, and creative companies in the most
dynamic neighborhood in Los Angeles, Hayden Tract. A community of independent merchants,
influential chefs, and creative organizations, PLATFORM is a centerpiece for LA’s newest
creative generation. Through edited experiences including popups, installations, and culinary
partnerships, PLATFORM is a destination for all of LA to discover.
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