Eating AYCE at Samba Brazilian BBQ Steakhouse in Universal City, CA

When Harry Potterland officially made their debut at Universal Studios Hollywood I was beyond excited and couldn’t grab a season annual pass fast enough. After many butterbeers and attempts at perfecting my spells (I probably shouldn’t quit my day-job :P), I’ve often have worked up an enormous appetite. Thankfully, on the Citywalk there’s a great restaurant that will fill your tummy with plenty of protein options.img_3629

Samba Brazilian BBQ Steakhouse (1000 Universal Studios Blvd, Universal City, CA 91608) is a chain restaurant with tons of protein options fit for the hungriest carnivore. Conveniently located near the parking structure, tourists and locals alike can enjoy bold flavors of your favorite cuts right in front of you. While many restaurant bring you a steak plate, the servers at this establishment come around with a stick of meat and carve you a slice right in front of you. Talk about service!

They have all sorts of meat options ranging from top Sirloin to tri-tip, to bacon-wrapped chicken, to pork lion and pork ribs – though the lamb was my favorite. They also have a salad bar to pair with your meat options, and pairing the savory steak with plantains is a great contrast of textures and flavors! Additionally, there’s samba performers that come to entertain guests. So, if you’re looking for a cool spot to chow down, Samba will fit the bill.

Whats your favorite cut of meat?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

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Nibbling at Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival

When I first started attending tastings I remembered the Newport Beach Wine and Food Festival setting the bar of how all food festivals should be – refined and elegant, but casual and relaxed, all while highlighting the dishes as the stars of the show. I remembered each bite bringing together a myriad of bright fresh ingredients with complex flavors.  This festival has since become a household name and this year’s increase in guest attendees reflects it’s popularity. I had the opportunity to attend the event again this year and the culinary lineup for 2017 was equally spectacular.

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Snapshots from the event

During Sunday’s tasting my plus one and I enjoyed the finer things in life and indulged in so many delicious tastes. Many of Southern California’s most esteemed fined dinning establishments were present including Pelican Grill and Bar, Red O-Restaurant, and Alexander’s Steakhouse just to name a few and there was an abundance of seafood and steak options. If you love wine there’s not better place to sample so many different varieties, though I fancied the Kentucky Straight from Duke Bourbon. There was also a cooking demonstration by Top Chef contestants Chef Amar Santana and Katsuji Tanabe and viewers had an opportunity to sample their version of arroz con pollo. It was hilarious to see those two banter back and forth.

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Seafood and Steak noms

If you love seafood and steak, this event harmoniously brings two of my favorite proteins together with class and style. While many vendors offered them prepared in a variety of manners – marinated with secret ingredients, roasted, fried, my favorite dish was the Baja cocktail served in a tin-can from A&O Kitchen and Bar. It was simple, but the large chunks of charred squid and shrimp paired with the creaminess of the avocado on a crunchy tortilla chip just made it a perfect afternoon bite. It reminded me how good squid tastes and how infrequent I eat it.

If you could have a festival featuring your favorite protein exclusively what would you choose?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Soaking up the Sun at the LA Times – The Taste Sunday Block Party 

I still can’t believe that it’s already fall and that summer is behind us. Thankfully, I was able to capture the end of summer in a fabulous foodie fashion and made delicious memories. Over the Labor Day weekend I had the opportunity to attend The LA Times – The Taste Sunday Block Party, where I got the chance to sip refreshing spirits and munch on tasty treats at Paramount Studios, CA.

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Photos from the Sunday Block Party  

The afternoon affair was complete with all the Labor Day BBQ favorites, but with a gourmet twist. Sliders with chunks of lobsters was Slapfish’s contribution and Dog Haus served their dogs on buttered brioche bread with all the fixin’s – Yum!  Salt and Straw, a Portland based Ice Cream Shop that recently opened a branch in LA, was a favorite among attendees as the temperatures that day reached the 90s.  I also got a chance to participate in an educational champagne tasting class where my wine glasses were never empty – cheers!

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More photos from the Sunday Block Party 

Chef Jet Tila of 101 Asian Dishes you Need to Cook Before you Die and Judge on Cut Throat Kitchen was also among several celebrity chefs at the event and he entertained attendees with a live cooking demonstration. I was luckily enough to snap a photo with this awesome Asian American as I allowed my belly to digest all the scrumptious samples from event.

I absolutely miss summer, but am excited about all the upcoming holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas! Which holiday are you looking forward to most?

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

 

 

 

Letting loose at LIVE on Grand hosted by Tyler Florence (LA Food and Wine Festival) 

I’ve been to a number of tastings, but never have I gone to them back-to-back let alone for multiple days! So when @foodiejudge (of Instagram) and I were invited to cover the LA Food and Wine festival I was beyond excited.  This epic FOUR-DAY tasting featured culinary legends and new dishes at each venue (yes there are multiple), and I had the opportunity to check out Thursday’s Ultimate Bites of LA event and Saturday afternoon’s Lexus Grand Tasting. Both events were fabulous in their own rights; however, Saturday evening’s LIVE on Grand had a live hip hop performance by Wyclef Jean- you probably know him from Shakira’s hit song “Hips Don’t Lie.” Ah yeah…

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Tantalizing treats and satisfying sips 😀

While the entertainment headline was certainly a star-studded one, the restaurant line-up was certainly no joke. Celebrated chefs from across the nation including chefs from  Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hill (Los Angeles), Hudson Valley Foie Gras (New York), Joe’s Stone Crab (Miami Beach), and Sydney Street Cafe ( St. Louis) plated the evening affair and I loved all the vibrant and tasty dishes.  One of my favorite dishes was Tyler Florence’s “Bacon and Egg” concept where the breakfast duo was artistically presented inside the egg-shell – brilliant!

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Live on Grand Venue

Yet excellent food paired with a bomb venue heightens the experience 10 folds. With the downtown cityscape and Walt Disney Concert Hall serving as the backdrop it doesn’t’ get more glamorous that this!

Some shots from the event including a selfie with Chef Tyler Florence

I thought the night couldn’t get any better until I saw and took a selfie with Celebrity Chef and Food Network Star Tyler Florence, as seen on Tyler’s Ultimate and The Great Food Truck Race. *Gush* but in all seriousness if you’re a foodie/wineo this is definitely an event you should add on your bucket list! I mean who wouldn’t want to wine and dine with the country’s best culinary personalities?

 

If you could have a meal with any celebrity chef who would it be?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Eating LIVE Lobster at The Original Lobster Festival in Long Beach 

Lobster will always be one of my favorite things to eat because the taste is unmatched by any other shellfish. The texture and depth of flavor is hearty, without tasting fishy and the large claws make an impressive statement to any dish.  So, when I was invited to cover The Original Lobster Festival in Long Beach I couldn’t say no. After-all who could say no to lobster, especially ones flown in from Maine? 😀

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LIVE lobster flown in from Main

Steamed whole lobster and dipped in hot melted butter, mMmmm… sounds like the perfect feast to wrap up summer and if you love crustaceans as much as I do then this post is going to be a real treat! Held in the beautiful Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach the festival is an annual tradition for many California natives and tourists to enjoy. The Live steamed lobster was the star of the show and for a steal! $30 if you purchase your ticket online (includes admission and a whole lobster!); however, patrons could also try lobster roll, lobster on a stick among other things.

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Shots from the Lobster Festival

It was my first time attending this event, but as I was waiting in line I saw many veteran festival goers bring in lawn chairs and picnic blankets. Considering the beautiful weather and live local entertainment, this definitely was a perfect event for a family to enjoy.

How would you enjoy your lobster? in a roll? steamed with butter? Chinese style?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Kicking off the Ultimate Bites of LA hosted by Curtis Stone (Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival) with glitz and glamour

If I were a celebrity this is how I would imagine an Oscar afterparty to look like – patrons dressed to impress, a red carpet filled with the best chef’s showcasing signature dishes, and booze galore! While I may not be an Oscar recipient anytime soon, this foodie red carpet event was nothing short of spectacular. Held just outside the Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA), I had the opportunity alongside @FoodieJudge (Instagram Food Influencer) to attend the kick-off party to celebrate the 7th Annual Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival.

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Shots from “The Ultimate Bites of LA”

During the event we enjoyed the kick-off celebration entitled – the “Ultimate Bites of LA hosted by Curtis Stone” which featured some of LA’s most celebrated culinary talent from Downtown, Westside, Hollywood and MidCity/Beverly Hills. There was a DJ spinning pop tunes, photographers capturing every moment, and a plethora of delectable bites and strong spirits to enjoy. Some dish highlights include the BBQ Pork Brisket from Belcampo Meat Co, donuts from The Church Key, sugar custard from 71 Above, and sandwiches from Fleishik’s  #nomnom!

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Kick-off party!

I definitely felt like this was one of the most glamorous tastings I’ve ever attended and one thing that I loved about this event was the VIP treatment! The lines were short and the servers took away all finished plates and drinks throughout the event keeping the venue in impeccable condition. If you consider yourself a food and wine connoisseur this is definitely the place to be.

What would you be most excited to try at the LA Food and Wine event?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Black, White, and Red all over – 2014 February Outfits and Events

Happy Lunar New Year everyone, albeit late, but better late than never! February has been crazy busy with events galore and all with red themes. So today’s post will feature a few of my favorite ways to wear this “not for the faint” color. Hope you enjoy the post!

Every girl should have a red dress in her closet and this little Betsey Johnson number is one of my favorites – purchased at a trunk show in New York for $20 new (crazy I know!!). It’s a showstopper number and I absolutely love the layered tiers and the crinkled texture of this dress. I paired with piece with pearls and nude heals, making it the ultimate girly ensemble (but with a classic twist). Photographer David Lin did a great job in capturing this dress in all its glory. Check out the rest of his work here.

Yet, a skirt can also be a stand-alone piece as well. I recently wore this beautiful Asian designed lucky skirt at Yelp’s Sweet Social event in downtown Buena Park, CA. I decided to wear it with tights and a slick black blazer to pull the entire look together and keep warm as the event was held outdoors in the Krikorian Metroplex courtyard. The Sweet Social featured local businesses from around the area and yelpers and guests had the privilege to sample various food and beverage items. My favorite items were the dole whip Berrysweet (yelp page) and the salted caramel ice cream made from liquid nitrogen from Poof Ice Cream (yelp page).  Mmm… yummy, delicious dessert indeed! Splendid photobooth was also present and we all enjoyed poising for the camera. It was a great event.

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The next day I attended a Matthew Morrison concert in Costa Mesa, CA. Name not ring a bell? Matthew Morrison is a broadway regular, but most people know him as the High School Choir Teacher – Will Schuester – on Glee. Ah, yes… it all makes sense now. He serenaded the audience with a range of show tunes and blue grass music that was to die for! Such a talented artist and you bet he gave us an incredible performance.

The concert was hosted at Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall (yelp review), so it was definitely a dress to impress type of soiree. As I looked into my closest to find the perfect dress, I pulled out this sparkly Cynthia Steffe number – it screamed “pick me!” so naturally I obliged. I paired it with a white tuxedo blazer from Aidan Mattox that I purchased for less than 1/7th of the original price (retail $350, Loehmanns $50) and my favorite red Revlon lip butter (in the color wild watermelon). I also accessorized my nails with my 1st high-end nail polish purchase from Deborah Lippman‘s glitter line (in the color Ruby Red Slippers) to help add a pop of color. Red is such a statement color and it could easily be one that completes an outfit.

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I love the color red as it symbolizes good fortune and can help anyone exude confidence.

How do you wear the color red?

XOXO

Rockstar

13 Moments in 2013

IMG_04142013 was a year of extremes – the highs were high and the lows were extremely low. It was a roller coaster this year, and while a lot of changes happened I felt that I’ve grown tremendously from them. Here are thirteen moments of 2013

1. Spotted celebrities in the Golden State! I attended KLG and Hoda’s (The Today Show’s 4th Hour) on location shoot in Hollywood, CA (blog post) – yes that’s Jaleel White otherwise known as Steve Urkel (!!!), Alton Brown during his “Edible Inevitable Tour,” Youtube make-up guru Ben Green (blog post) at the LA IMATS (blog post), and Giada De Laurentis at South Coast Plaza for her book tour (blog post). It was a star-studded year!  

2. Chopped off my hair and donated it “locks-of-love,” an organization that gives wigs to children with cancer (blog post).    

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3. Growing up I went to a language school on Saturdays, so this year I relieved my childhood memories by watching tons and tons of toons (not ashamed of it!) – including (in no particular order) 6 or 7 seasons of Pokemon, All Batman the Animated Series, Batman & Beyond, My Little Pony, and Justice League episodes.  I’m up to season 4 for Sailor Moon (I was Sailor Mars for Halloween) and currently… I am on Season 3 of the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles! They don’t make cartoons like they use to.

4. A promise was broken. My heart shattered and I couldn’t comprehend the abandonment and betrayal. I felt helpless and naive for believing the best in people and while I was no saint in this marriage, the decision to have it end was already made for me. Divorce is a difficult process, but tackling it all while enduring tremendous health, financial, and family problems during the day and nightmares at night – I just couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t keep it all together and I honestly felt doomed. I’d never felt so hopeless than I did during that month.

I never like asking for help, but I extended my hand out – ashamed – but God was merciful and showered me with love and compassion. He knew that I couldn’t carry the burden myself and sent brothers and sisters to pray for me, hug me, spend time with me. I slowly regained my strength and confidence and while that extremely vulnerable moment could have easily consumed me, my God is good gave me light through the darkness.

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5. Visited the “Happiest Place on Earth” twice and attended the D23 Expo (A Tradeshow for Disney Enthusiasts.) There’s something magical about this theme park and while the tickets are outrageously priced, Disney sure knows how to create a moment.

6. Drove across the United States from Boston, MA down to Pensacola, FL all the way west to Orange County, CA.  My favorite spots included: Belgium Beer & Mussels from Monk’s in Philadelphia, PA, Coconut Cake from Peninsula Grill in Charleston, SC (Yelp Review), Red Royals from Joe Patti’s Seafood in Pensacola, FL (Yelp Review), Real Rootbeer from Tombstone Sarsaparilla  in Tombstone, AZ, (Yelp Review) just to name a few.

7. I’d been a dance teacher for 15+ years, but completely stopped all forms of this art. This year I took it upon myself to learn and teach the iconic Michael Jackson Thriller routine to my most difficult students – teachers, ahh!! But it was a success

8. I had the best meal of my life (and most expensive – blog post) at O Ya (Yelp Review) in Boston, MA. The food is out of this world and while my teacher’s salary can’t justify the bill, it certainly is a once in a lifetime place to appreciate amazing food.

IMG_1299 IMG_13049. Received two “Review of the Day” (ROTD) features on Yelp’s Homepage for my write-up for Deli-licious (Yelp Review) & IKneadLove (Yelp Review); completed “2013 Yelp 100 Reviews Challenge” – just barely; and reached an enormous milestone – 500 reviews!

10. After sending many resumes, cover letters, and enduring “thank you for applying” letters/emails – I finally secured a job as a school counselor. Thank you God for trusting me to help these students.

11. I lost my German Shepard, Boomer. He passed away in his sleep. I miss you!   photo (14)

12. I spent nearly every other day with my grandma who had two major surgeries. She’s getting older and spending time with her priceless. No one every said that they regretted spending time with loved ones.

13. I made the switch over to wordpress, achieved over 90+ “likes” on facebook (facebook page), and hosted my first blogger event at Deja New (Yelp Review).

No one every said that growing up was going to be easy, but I hope that I’ll be able to take on the new adventures in 2014 with more courage, confidence and savvyness. My goals for 2014 include: laughing more, worrying less, and taking every opportunity to enjoy the moment. Here’s to 2014!

What are you looking forward to in 2014?

XOXO

Rockstar