10 Local Businesses Will Win
If you’re a small business in Southern California, it’s crunch time, and not just because the holidays are right around the corner— but because Small Business Saturday is also soon! Platform LA has launched its Small Business Saturday Competition in a search for the most notable designers and businesses around SoCal. The winning small businesses will be selected by Platform’s community of stores and restaurants and will be announced on November 15. The 10 winning small businesses will be able to showcase their goods and services in Platform’s first Small Business Saturday, on November 25. Platform will also provide each winner with a vendor station consisting of a table and chair, a complimentary parking space, and wifi to showcase their goods and services.
How to Participate
If you have a creative product or brand, or know someone who does, and think that either should be at Platform, here’s your chance! To nominate yourself or your favorite small business for the market, go to Instagram and comment on any photo from the account you’d like to see win with the hashtag #SBSPlatform and tag @platform_la.
About Platform LA
Platform LA – the remarkable retail project by David Fishbein and Joseph Miller of Runyon Group is Culver City’s prized shopping destination. Part of the Hayden Tract, the most dynamic neighborhood in Los Angeles, the versatile center offers a collection of 120K square feet of curated merchants, chefs, and creative companies from around the world. Platform was created to showcase independent small businesses and is excited to welcome the community to join in celebration of these types of businesses on Saturday, November 25th.
Miller states, “Our entire business is finding, nurturing and encouraging new independent businesses. We already have a great community of merchants and chefs and working with them to source the next great talent is something that is very exciting for us.” As the world of retail continues to rapidly transform, Platform knows that the future is in small entrepreneurial businesses, and has made this a huge focus for their merchandising efforts. Since opening Platform a year and a half ago, they have embraced any opportunity to celebrate the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of those merchants and chefs. Now is the time to enter the competition, and it couldn’t be simpler— and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
An appearance at the Small Business Saturday Market should be the icing on the cake for any business, considering the additional exposure just before the holidays and impending sales. Make sure to use the hashtag #SBSPlatform and tag @platform_la in any post on the account of the business you want to see win a spot at Platform’s Small Business Saturday Market.
JADEN SMITH, JADA PINKETT SMITH, ERIC DANE, JORDYN WOODS, AND MORE CELEBRATE JADEN’S UMAMI BURGER X IMPOSSIBLE LAUNCH
Los Angeles, CA, October 11th – After swarming outside of Umami Burger at The Grove for hours, fans were relieved to finally see Jaden Smith arrive, where he was extremely friendly and chatted with everyone as he passed by — thanking them for their attendance to his special event. Jaden hosted his Umami Burger Artist Series launch party at The Grove to celebrate his Impossible Trio collaboration with Impossible Foods. Jaden’s Impossible Trio – a brand new, environmentally conscious dining experience – will be available in participating Umami Burgers nationwide starting October 12th, with $1 from every sale benefitting American Red Cross hurricane relief efforts. SBE, Umami Burger’s majority shareholder, hosted the launch party in partnership with Impossible Foods, JUST water, and New Balance to celebrate the collaboration with Jaden.
Guests were served the Trio, along with other Umami favorites including Sam’s Crispy Chicken, Cheesy Tots, and mini chocolate milkshakes. Guests at the party sipped on a variety of signature cocktails including: Rande’s Spicy Margarita, Maple Bacon Old Fashioned, Velvet Mule, and Casamigos Frozen Margarita while mingling and enjoying tunes from the DJ’s set.
Not only did Jada Pinkett Smith arrive to support her son and celebrate his success, but so did a number of Jaden’s closest friends, fans who follow him on Twitter, and notable influencers from YouTube and the social media world — totaling nearly 300 guests. Jaden was spotted laughing, chatting, and snapping photos with guests in between bites of the delicious burgers. Jaden and Jada were spotted celebrating with Daniel Del Olmo, CEO of Umami Burger, Gregg Frazer, COO of Umami Burger, and David Lee, COO of Impossible Foods — all super excited about the launch. Jaden was truly the spotlight of the night, continuously surrounded by friends, fans, and family!
Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Umami Burger x Jaden Smith Artist Series
Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Umami Burger x Jaden Smith Artist Series
When you’re born and raised in the United States, it’s easy to forget that our colorful culture has origins that began elsewhere. Often times, it comes as a reminder just how diverse of a melting pot this nation is when we see the striking differences firsthand — like traditional garb, uncommon practices, and unpopular beliefs. Yet in the most obvious form of cultural diversity, when it comes to food, ignorance is bliss. It’s likely that an American who has never traveled outside of our borders will misunderstand authentic cuisine from another country — even seeing it as third worldly; and even more ironic, how indigenous people view our “Americanized” versions of cuisines with amusement and confusion.
In the American life, it’s not hard to become accustomed to the frequent bombardment of second-rate, imitation cuisine, to the point that we must make an effort to explore authenticity abroad, or find it at high-end restaurants at home. But it isn’t often that you find a place at home where the authentic, artisanal flavors of a foreign land, immerses you deep into a cultural experience — as if you’ve taken a virtual excursion to the tropical paradise of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. With 4 locations currently around the Los Angeles area, Frida Mexican Cuisine offers all of this and more without breaking the bank or requiring international travel. Follow me on my adventure to feel the freedom of exploration, cultural understanding, and the tasteful beauty of Frida’s “gastronomic journey through Mexico.”
I had the unique opportunity to enjoy a 3 course meal — complete with cocktails and beverages, as well as a visit to three of Frida’s incredible locations: Beverly Hills, Torrance, and the newest branch, Cerritos. (A fifth location in Sherman Oaks is coming soon!) Though all of the restaurants have their own “sabor” (flavor), the full experience of each was complete with Mexican artistry, cantina, dining, and music. All foods and drinks at Frida are made from scratch, and ooze insurmountable authenticity. The experience is further solidified by a live mariachi band on some nights, including during Sunday brunch at select locations. The flagship Beverly Hills restaurant has a sleek traditional Los Angeles boutique presentation, while the other locations immediately mesmerized me with captivating architecture, inviting design, and exotic decor.
Appetizers in Beverly Hills
The restaurant’s cozy, intimate setting felt great for my small group, and is surely perfect for families and dates. The room was draped in warm artificial lighting, and accentuated by the natural sunlight that poured across each table. There is a beautiful marriage between modern and traditional decor as reflected by a dreamscape mural on the wall, the dark wood panel ceiling, and globe-shaped contemporary light fixtures. Traditional table cloths and neatly folded cloth napkins punctuate the table with elegance and a kiss of Mexico. Almost immediately after being seated and absorbing the atmosphere, I was greeted with kindness, and offered one of many intriguing cocktails.
Featured, were the Jalapeño, Skinny, and Watermelon Margaritas — a trio of unique, icy drinks with evolving characteristics. The Skinny Margarita is a traditional mix of Patron Silver Tequila and fresh lime juice. The Watermelon Margarita is a sweet, but natural thirst quencher, accented by a chamoy rim and watermelon wedge, while the Jalapeño Margarita likens to a Bloody Mary, with it’s savory base and spicy kick. The Jalapeño and Skinny margaritas also come with a complementing salt rim, and are garnished with a slice of jalapeño and lime, respectively. It’s also worth noting that both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of the drinks were extremely close in taste — an achievement that not all restaurants can boast about. So if you’re not a drinker, you don’t have to worry about missing out on the flavorful fun!
Mini Sopes, Tostaditos, and Taquitos:
Moving into my assortment of appetizers, it began with a table-side hand-crafted guacamole, created by an enthusiastic manager, who warmly greeted my table. He combined the ingredients in a beautiful volcanic rock mortar, and brought freshly made tortilla chips to seal the deal of tasteful authenticity. With the first bite, I knew I could expect nothing less from the rest of my day at Frida Mexican Cuisine. Frida’s team brought out dish-after-dish of artisanal appetizers reminiscent of the finest finger-foods at a red-carpet event. A variety of delicious platters quickly filled the table with bite sized teases like mini chorizo and black bean sopes, or picaditas – a traditional Mexican dish that originated in the central and southern parts of the country. Resembling an overstuffed pie with their usually pinched sides, sopes are circles of fried masa topped with vegetables, meats, and cheeses. The other version of this mini appetizer was a more traditional style with beans, cheese, tomato, sour cream, lettuce, and onion. Each bite of a sope is satisfying, as the experience can only be compared to putting a whole burrito in your mouth, and tasting all of the contents at once. No burrito filling sloshing around and sinking to the bottom here!
Another bite-sized companion I enjoyed were the tostaditos de camarón (shrimp) and atún ahumado (smoked ahi tuna). These cracker-style hors d’oeuvres are toasted corn tortillas topped with avocado, shrimp, and a chipotle sauce, while the other is topped with guacamole, chipotle sauce, and a fine slice of ahi tuna. Both meats on these tostaditos are cooked by way of denaturation with lime juice. Finally, I enjoyed crispy chicken tinga and potato taquitos, smothered in a green mole and brown mole sauce — made from a reduced pumpkin stew, and chiles & chocolate, respectively. The crunchy shells were the perfect complement to the smooth, savory ingredients.
Completely stuffed from the incredible appetizers at the Beverly Hills restuarant — which certainly stood in their own spotlight — it wasn’t until I arrived at Frida’s Torrance location, 30 minutes away, that I experienced the highest elevation of my palate through their main course options.
Main Course in Torrance
The Torrance setting has a superlative, state-of-the-art facade, intricate artful decor, and has also mastered the open-air style, which involves plenty of space — while not feeling empty — and somehow meshes the essential elements of an outdoor experience with indoor comfort. Despite the beautiful trees and surrounding foliage, you may still forget that you’re outside because of the intimate design of ambient natural lighting. The open-air style of this location made me feel both relaxed and curious, as I eagerly read through the creatively designed, red and white, hard-cover menu book.
While here, I also met the generous and welcoming founder and CEO of Frida Mexican Cuisine, Vicente del Rio. This culinary genius was born and raised in Mexico City, and later moved to Los Angeles, California, where he started the flagship branch of Frida Mexican Cuisine 15 years ago. One year later, the Frimex Group was also born, and since then Vicente has worked on growing this enterprise to what it is today: a fully incorporated hospitality group, both nationally and internationally acclaimed.
After a kitchen tour, which allowed us to see first-hand just how much work goes into making Frida’s fresh taste, hand-crafted, and made-from-scratch cuisine, I arrived at my table, greeted with tamarind margaritas. Just like the margaritas at the Beverly Hills restaurant, these margaritas were also exceptional. The candy-sweet drink was paired with a salty and spicy chamoy straw, which were made for one another. Give the drink a stir, and you can feel like a kid again as your margarita changes colors, and even becomes more flavorful!
Salad, Steak, Shrimp, Mole, & More:
My main course included a special style of Frida’s Arrachera Norteña: Tender marinated charbroiled skirt steak served with a chicken enchilada covered in mole sauce, guacamole, rice, refried beans and fresh handmade corn tortillas.The steak was definitely the hero of the dish, that still left some spotlight for the harmonious flavors of it’s traditional sidekicks, rice, guacamole, and beans.
Next, a delicate and delectable salad of mixed greens, grapes, chopped mangos, caramelized walnuts and goat cheese, with a passion fruit dressing — Resplandor de Mango. This salad is something out of dreams, with it’s subtle undertones of passion fruit, and is perfectly balanced in flavor so that nothing is overpowering, while also maintaining freshness and nutritional wealth. It may be popular belief that salads are a boring diet food, but Frida can surely change that misconception, whether you’re on a diet or not. In addition to this salad, Camarones Al Ajillo made a great companion with it’s layers of flavor: sautéed prawns in garlic, white wine, butter and lemon juice, and served with white rice. But it’s not just any plain old white rice! Frida’s white rice is beyond any rice you’ve ever tasted.
The last round of our main entree involved a hot tub of tomatillo salsa occupied by chorizo, chicken, skirt steak, panela cheese, cactus, avocado, and cilantro — Molcajete Frida. Served in a bowl made from volcanic rock, this piping hot meal brought on numerous flavors, textures, and impressions as I wondered what the surprising elements of this dish were. And to contrast the variety in the Molcajete Frida, the final dish, fried plantains, were simple, hot and crispy on the outside, yet soft and sweet on the inside. With their caramelized exteriors, rich in flavor, each plantain felt like the perfect dessert to wrap up a marvelous meal… But this voyage wasn’t over yet! Dessert at Frida’s shiny new Cerritos branch was a little more than 30 minutes away — the perfect amount of time to make a little extra space for more food.
Dessert in Cerritos
While each location I visited had it’s own way of living up to Frida’s high standards, the experience at the newest location in Cerritos seemed to borrow the best from both the Beverly Hills, and the Torrance restaurants. The Cerritos location fused together an open-air atmosphere with the traditional intimacy of Beverly Hills. The familiar tones of ambient natural lighting also made an appearance, while the inside areas relied more on the artistic flare of modern light fixtures. An accent wall, which illuminated the room with an iridescent blue glow, and was steeped in an intricate metal design pattern, offered guests a calm and curious environment. The patio area (separated by double doors) felt exclusive, but not isolated. In an amazingly executed design, the bar stood as an island centerpiece — accessible to both indoor and outdoor diners.
Coffee, Cake, Flan, and Ice Cream:
In this final marathon of feasting, picturesque desserts were presented: Churros that held a surprising trace of berry and caramel delight; Bola Especial hid vanilla ice cream inside of a volcano-shaped chocolate mousse, which was was topped with powdered cocoa and peach sauce; the traditional Flan Napolitano, a Mexican caramel custard that tantalized my tastebuds; and Pastel de Tres Leches, a delicious sponge cake soaked in three different milks, extravagantly decorated, topped with berries, and set in a berry sauce.
Surely a day of eating, travel, and some L.A. traffic wouldn’t be complete without a coffee or latte. And for those who also enjoy a little alcohol with their coffee, Frida offers a variety of options to cap off any meal, including Cafe Mexicano, Cafe Con Piquete, and Cafe Carajillo — coffee with Patron XO Cafe, Baileys, or Licor 43. ¡Aclamaciones!
Coming Soon: Sherman Oaks
The owners and masterminds behind Frida and Frimex Groups have done so well with their current locations that a great deal of curiosity and amazement sets in as I begin to wonder what the next locale will look like. And besides it’s visual aesthetic, what will it feel like? Is it possible to experience an even deeper immersion into the traditional Mexican culture and heritage that Frida’s foundation rests on?
I look forward to what the future will bring for Frida Musician Cuisine, and can’t wait to take another virtual dive into a world full of uniquely authentic tastes. It is opportunities like this one, where I hope that we can find an appreciation for one another, and be grateful for the diverse cultural contributions that we’ve made to the American culinary experience. There is a fundamental lesson that all of us can learn, and it is that genius, innovation, and creativity — especially when it comes to food — know no boundaries.
Ice Cream and art… It’s the perfect combination of childhood dreams when referring to the Museum of Ice Cream in downtown Los Angeles. This Instagram-worthy exhibition has made waves across social media with its deliciously curated rooms of America’s favorite frozen dessert. The museum has gotten so popular that it even caught the attention of Beyoncé, who paid a visit with daughter, Blue Ivy, on Mother’s Day. Getting tickets to isn’t easy, though, as the website has been sold out for months. You have to sign up to MOIC’s newsletter to be notified once additional tickets become available. I had the pleasure of getting the inside “scoop” for SoCal Mag by being invited to celebrate the newest addition to the museum, My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream.
If you know anything about mochi, you know that it’s an absolutely delightful treat made up of ice cream wrapped in a unique mochi dough. For the My/Mo Mochi Takeover, MOIC is introducing patrons to some of My/Mo’s most indulgent flavors like Sweet Mango, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Ripe Strawberry throughout the tour. The pairing couldn’t be anymore ideal, and I loved it so much, that I just had to share the experience with SoCal Mag’s readers. The museum alone is already such a fun experience, mixing in multi-flavored ice cream treats only amplifies the event to another level.
If you don’t get a chance to visit the museum, My/Mo Mochi is available at grocers all across Southern California. Find the retailer closest to you HERE, and be sure to follow their mouth-watering Instagram, @mymomochiicecream. The Museum of Ice Cream is currently sold out at both its L.A. and San Francisco locations, but you can sign up for their newsletter HERE for updates on when tickets become available. Follow the #MOIC at @museumoficecream on Instagram.
(Photography by: Sebastian “Bash” Johnson)
With the Fall season right around the corner, what better way to bid farewell to summer than with a Classic American staple? It’s nearly time to celebrate what is arguably the best food holiday in the entire year: National Cheeseburger Day! Monday, September 18th, is your chance to excuse gluttonous behavior and scarf down a burger or two, because this holiday only comes around once a year, and there is no better place to take advantage of National Cheeseburger Day than Umami Burger!
What is “Umami“?
If you don’t know, “Umami” means “deliciousness”. There are five key flavor distinctions, but Umami was commonly overlooked until a few years ago when the taste became a newly understood craze in the United States. Beyond sweet, sour, salty and bitter- the fifth flavor, Umami, is rich and savory. A word coined by the Japanese, Umami is a powerful force behind many food cravings and they are serving up some of the most crave-able creations in the industry. Some examples of Umami flavor include soups, noodles, salads, (Umami Burgers!) or other dishes containing high levels of mushrooms, chicken, beef, celery, fish, potatoes, and more.
Where is Umami Burger?
Umami Burger @ Santa Monica
Umami Burger @ The Grove
Umami Burger found its humble beginnings in Los Angeles, California nearly a decade ago, and has 26 blooming locations today: 14 in Southern California, 4 in Northern California, 4 in New York City, 2 in Chicago, 1 in Las Vegas, and 1 in Japan, which welcomed over 5,000 guests in just 8 days!
Amazingly, in an effort to get more people to experience the euphoria of Umami, the chain is undergoing an international expansion planned through 2020, reaching Dubai, London, Bahrain, and Asia to name a few.
How Can I Participate in the Festivities?
Here at home, Umami Burger will help ring in National Cheeseburger Day with a special $2 discount, which will only be accessible by following their social media account on Instagram, @umamiburger, and liking a special “holiday” post. That’s all you have to do!
Cruise on over to Umami’s Santa Monica location, or their restaurant at The Grove on September 18th, 2017 to show that you’ve liked the post, and receive your discount — applicable to any burger.
You’ll find epic menu items with unique cheese offerings, like The Manly Burger — voted best burger of 2016 by GQ, and the Sunny Side Burger. Where else can you get a burger slathered in beer-cheddar cheese, bacon, smoked-salt onion string and Umami ketchup- all in one place? Probably nowhere.
(And the Sunny Side burger with Parmesan crisp, fried egg, truffle thyme compound butter, truffled arugula and truffle aioli… absolutely unreal!)
What if I don’t Eat Meat?
The best part about Umami is that it isn’t exclusive to meat heavy dishes. So, if you’re vegetarian or vegan, feel right at home! Umami Burger has delicious “burger” options like The Impossible Burger, the Ahi Tuna Burger, and the Falafel Burger for alternative or non-meat eaters. Isn’t it nice to know that Umami Burger caters to non-conventional burger lovers so everyone can celebrate National Cheeseburger Day?!
Need More Reasons to Celebrate with Umami?
It should be noted that Umami Burger has ongoing collaborations with numerous influencers and celebrities where $1 of every burger sold goes to a charity of their choice. Umami Burger gives back, and to show just how impactful their collaborations have been, The Montecristo Burger created by Michael Voltaggio has raised over $150k. Umami Burger continues to work with Cindy Crawford, Slash, Alton Brown, and Andy Samburg among many others. You can also expect to soon see collaborations with Jaden Smith and Connor McGregor, which are sure to expand their contributions and touch the lives of millions all over the world.
National Cheeseburger Day is the perfect celebration to welcome “bulking season,” otherwise known as Fall and Winter. Bid an official farewell to your 2017 summer with this special offer on September 18th, at Umami Burger in Santa Monica or The Grove, and look forward to next year’s celebration!