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SF (AND BEYOND): THE BEST WAY TO GET NUTS

By Nora Zelevansky / April 30th, 2010

NUTS

Some times you feel like a nut.  But I never do.  I don't like nuts.  I just don't.

Still, if I have to eat a nuts, I'll generally take an almond above the rest.  I guess that's what possessed me to check out these newer "Bold" Blue Diamond almonds on my way home from India.  Well, let's be honest: I was attracted by the "Salt 'n Vinegar" descriptor.  I feel like it's my duty to report on all things with this flavor combination.

Maybe I should rename this blog, The Salt Lick.

Anyway, my mother always told me to eat a couple almonds a day, as they're anti-carcinogens, so that seems like as good an excuse as any to eat these.  (Of course, she also told me not to eat so much salt.)  Regardless, these taste just as delish as they sound and probably make a pretty good snack for low carbers too.

Amusingly, while I bought these snacks during a layover at London's Heathrow, they're actually grown and created here in Northern California.

Now, that's what I call nuts.

Have wonderful weekends!

xo – N.

NYC (BROOKLYN): THE BEST (CHOCOLATE) GRANOLA

By Nora Zelevansky / April 29th, 2010

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I'm like Dionne Warwick (or at least her Psychic Friends).  I bet I can guess what you're thinking right now:

"Really?  Another damn post about GRANOLA?  How much granola can one person eat, no matter how deranged?"

I hear you (along with the other voices in my head).  But seriously.  This time is different.  Because this time I'm writing about Early Bird organic granola's newest flavor, Choc-a-doodle-doo.

This may not be the lowest calorie version you've ever had, but it's definitely the BEST granola you've ever eaten.  Seriously.  It's made with dark chocolate, coconut, olive oil, real maple syrup and a couple of other delicious treats, which combine to create this sweet and salty crunchy masterpiece of granola heaven.  You'll get a sweet bite and then a salty one and then you'll literally never be able to stop the cycle: I was like, wait I just ate sweet.  Now I need salty.  Wait, I just had salty.  Now I need just ONE more handful of sweetness.

The company was created in Brooklyn by former franny's manager and Texan baker, Nekisia Davis.  When it comes to flavor, everything really is bigger in Texas.

xo – N.

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LA (BEVERLY HILLS TO PASADENA): THE BEST WAY TO GET SOME SPA NEWS (AND SOME CHINESE INSPIRED TREATMENTS IN PASADENA)

By Nora Zelevansky / April 28th, 2010

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Last Thursday was one of my favorite annual work-related fĂȘtes of the year: Spa Magazine's yearly event.  This year was a little quieter than usual, but it's still hard to go wrong with mini-spa treatments, new products, chocolate chip cookies and passed bites like California rolls.

Anyway, I covered the shindig for Mondette, so–for a bit of spa news–check it out!  I am TOTALLY looking forward to checking out The Langham in Pasadena's brand new set-up at The Huntington Spa, as they now have a new Chinese wellness component called Chuan Spa.  (The Langham is also home to the resto run by Top Chef's Michael Voltaggio, as if a new spa wasn't enough of a draw.)

Sign me up!  Twice!

xo – N.

LA (PASADENA TO ALHAMBRA): THE BEST WAY TO SPEND A SUNDAY AND (MAYBE) END UP GAINING A POUND (OOPS) … CONTINUED.

By Nora Zelevansky / April 27th, 2010

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Last post on POCKET LINT: I had just finished shopping Zac Posen wares with M. at Target, when we started to feel a little hungry …

Yeah, so anyway … we were hungry AND we already had plans to meet some peeps for brunch, including Andre Vien and P., at Luscious Dumplings in Alhambra (it's actually in San Gabriel, but some people say it's Alhambra for some reason, so whatever).

I am such a Din Tai Fung fan that I tend to gravitate there anytime I travel that far east for Asian brunch, BUT I have also always wanted to try this lauded spot, where they also serve soup dumplings.  I guess I really don't need to mention what Luscious Dumplings is known for since the name is self-explanatory, but suffice it to say that M. & I were handed a small menu of mostly noodles and, yes, dumplings to peruse while waiting.

We also were served the above gratis pre-meal snack of tofu and celery in a spicy peanuty tangy sauce, which was delicious.  M. couldn't get enough (see above).

Once everyone arrived, we sampled everything from soup dumplings (less refined than Din Tai Fung, but very flavorful) to pork and celery dumplings, some kind of thin-crusted fried item stuffed with scallions, eggs and glass noodles and the below signature pork pot stickers, which were SHUT. UP. good!

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OMG.  Now I want to eat them immediately.  Ugh.  This is the downside to visiting all these east side dumpling houses.  Then, when you want the food, you're pretty far from the actual restaurant.

ANYWAY.  I also loved this below Szechuan noodle dish in flavorful broth with pickled cabbage, pork and ramen noodles.  SO SO good, if you like pickled stuff.  Which you know I do.

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Once in the area, might as well check out Maria's too, for discounted jeans from Seven For All Mankind to whatever.  I wrote a story on the store what feels like a billion years ago for D.C., but basically they sell all manner of overstock jeans and the prices are amazing.

Okay.  Now I need to go track down anything that remotely resembles this food and devour it.  I'll be the crazed lunatic you see in a Zac Posen cardigan, running around and screaming something about pot stickers.

xo – N.

LA (PASADENA TO ALHAMBRA): THE BEST WAY TO SPEND A SUNDAY AND (MAYBE) END UP WITH A NEW RED LEATHER MOTORCYCLE JACKET

By Nora Zelevansky / April 26th, 2010

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The early bird gets the worm.  Or so I hear.  Generally, the earliest hour I see involves full sun and brand new Oprah episodes.  Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but suffice it to say that I don't really do mornings.  Or Oprah really.  But that's another story.

But I made a morning exception this Sunday, when M. & I headed (strategically) at 8am to a lesser traveled Target in Pasadena to check out Zac Posen's new capsule collection before it was snatched away by the waiting fashion-possessed hordes.

Suffice it to say that I went TOTALLY overboard, but my favorite item of all is a fairly simple black cardigan with some subtle sparkles embedded, a sort of nod to military shoulder and mesh sleeves.  Seriously.  I almost bought two.  I think maybe I should have bought two.  WHY DIDN'T I BUY TWO???

Anyway, I meant to take pics of our shopping process, but–blame it on the early hour–I forgot to record the event.  Actually, you should be grateful cause I look a little frightening that early on a Sunday.  Here's a model picture of the cardigan, although you can't see all that much.  I plan to wear it with just a bra too.  To work meetings.  But without a bottom too.  Does that seem too conservative?

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Oh, wait, here you can at least see the sleeve and shoulder details:

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I also bought the above (and below) red leather and suede motorcycle jacket, which I may need to return, so someone who will love it better can have it.  I think it's awesome, but will I really wear it?  Not sure.  Oh well.  Something to debate endlessly with anyone who will listen, until they refuse to stop being my friend or relative.  This pic below doesn't do it justice though–it looks sort of cheesy and Express here.  It's not.

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I got a few other cute things like this below dress (from far away and up close), which I really like although it's not quite as fitted on me because I had to get one that would actually fit over my chest.  (For better or worse, I am neither 4lbs or a double A cup size like the below girl.)  But it's still cute.

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M. bought this tank in a pink zebra pattern–cute stuff!

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There were some bad situations too like some tank tops with the word "Zac" splayed across in glitter or some hot mess like that.

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No, thank you, Zac.  Have you lost your damn mind?  I doubt Claire Danes and Natalie Portman were muses for that.  Maybe Heidi Montag.  Ick.  I don't even like saying her name.  You can't see me, but right now I'm washing my mouth out … with spaghetti and meatballs.  What?  I have Casa Bianca leftovers.

There seem to be plenty of sizes still online and maybe even in stores, so if anyone wants to know about the fit of any particular dresses or pieces, I literally tried on EVERY piece, so feel free to ask!  Except this shirt apparently, which I think actually looks cute.

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Hmph.  I should have bought it.  That way I could have set a record for
the most money ever spent in a discount store.

Anyway, the rest of my Sunday is to be continued on PL tomorrow, but suffice it to say that it involves some very Luscious Dumplings … If that's not a cliffhanger, then I don't know what is.  Now go wash your mouth out with breakfast!  I know I am.  Galaxy granola, as usual.  That's just how I roll (that's right, I roll now because of how much spaghetti and meatballs I ate).

xo – N.

LA (THIRD STREET): THE BEST SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION (AGAIN, AGAIN)

By Nora Zelevansky / April 23rd, 2010

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Happy Friday, Linters!  And what a happy Friday it is.  And not just because Earth Day is over and now we can return to our regularly scheduled programming (or more varied emails from retailers).

Today Vanity Fair.com posted my story, Up in the Aero, on the closing of Aero & Co. boutique and the history and future of the Third Street area.

So, read it, if you feel so moved.  Then go have your lovely weekend!  And that's an order.

xo – N.

LA (AND BEYOND): THE BEST WAY TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY (AND SHOP VIRTUOUSLY)

By Nora Zelevansky / April 22nd, 2010

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[The special reduced price Earth Day Bundle, which actually does seem to hold all their best stuff.]

The earth is going to the dogs (and not the cute ones).  Well, maybe one of those weird "designer" hybrid dogs like a labradoodle or a puggle.  They might sort of signal the end of days.

Eh, ANYWAY.  This is just my twisted way of saying that today is Earth Day.

On my first ever Earth Day (and maybe it was officially the world's first ever), I was in circa sixth grade.  I went to Central Park to see the B-52s perform on an enormous lawn.  When I couldn't see, some friendly dude picked me up and put me on his shoulders.  (These days, he would probably be some kind of serial killer psycho and I'd end up on a "ripped from the headlines" Law & Order, but anyway.)  During the celebration, the park got so ripped up and littered with beer cans that they had to replant the entire area's grass.  So much for saving the earth from puggles.

This year, I suggest you do something equally self-serving, but less destructive: Jurlique is offering 25%-off all orders on their website today.  So, buy yourself some rose water toner and call it a happy Earth Day.  See?  Earth Days are easy!

A portion of proceeds will go to preserving Botanical Gardens in S.F., L.A. and N.Y.C.  Actually, if you shop in-store at the Madison Avenue boutique, they'll also give you a free pass to the Botanical Gardens.  (Although, if you spend weekdays strolling along Madison Avenue and shopping, maybe you don't need a free pass.)  Eh, plant it or something.  Maybe a flower will grow.

Speaking of which: Do you know what puggles do to gardens?  They dig them up!  Not very earth friendly.  I think I'm onto something here.

xo – N.

LA (GUINEA PIG): THE BEST WAY TO STRAIGHTEN YOUR HAIR SANS DRYER

By Nora Zelevansky / April 21st, 2010

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Don't ask me why this image has that strange yellow hue, why I'm posed like some kind of confused homeboy or why my fingers look so weirdly double jointed.  And definitely don't ask why I was willing to post this picture despite those potentially embarrassing factors.

But ANYWAY … my wonderful Brazilian blowout faded long ago and I, for one, am sick of blow drying my hair.  Also, I'm sick of choosing between my natural curly (which is really unpredictable and basically not reliable enough to wear) and pin straight.

What, you may ask, does that have to do with the above photo?  Well, in a short span of time, two different ladies in my world (both with that perfect beautiful wavy frizz-free hair) told me the same secret: that they let their hair dry naturally and then use curling irons to "straighten" it instead.  I decided I had to try.

To be honest, I didn't expect good results.  After all, when I let my hair dry and then use a straightening iron, the ends always look raggedy.  But I had them coach me via email and then I allowed my hair to dry naturally and slept on it.  Then, the next morning, I showered with a cap and went to work with this new FHI Heat digital curling iron with this awesome computerized heat setting mechanism.  (I've used the straightening version I got in the world's best gift bag for years and I'm sort of obsessed with their products.)

Now, I've gotten conflicting advice about the ideal size of the barrel and I think it depends on the thickness and (especially!) length of your hair: the shorter the hair, the smaller the ideal width of the iron.  But for my purposes this time (pictured all yellowy above), I used a 1 1/4-inch version, which was a tiny bit thick maybe?  As the "experts" suggested, I wrapped small sections of my hair in coils up around the thing.  It took me a few tries and some brain teasing to figure out which direction to curl the hair, so it ended up matching on both sides with waves towards facing towards the back of my head, but I sorta got the hang of it (as I think you can see above and maybe even better below).

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It did take a lot less time than a whole blow dry scene and I'm sure the more adept you get, the less time it takes.  I kinda like that it's not so perfectly straight because a wave is nice, although I did feel a bit like a Farrah or Flying Nun wannabe.

Overall, a successful experiment though, I think.

Well, successful except for the pictures.

xo – N.

LA (AND BEYOND): THE BEST WAY TO TAKE YOUR VITAMINS

By Nora Zelevansky / April 20th, 2010

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I'm aware that this may fall under the category of incredibly lame PL posts, but I just can't help myself.  I created this blog to share my most favorite discoveries and, well, this is one.  DEAL WITH IT.

Since Ye Olde Flinstone Vitamin days and, okay, maybe those chalky sour cherry C days, I've not been able to get myself to regularly take vitamins.  I buy multis.  I take them for a day or two.  Then I forget and only remember six months later, when I'm moved to start taking them again.  Inevitably, I return to the cupboard to find that they've expired.  Then I buy them again.

Until now.  Now, I am totally and completely obsessed with the above Sour Gummies (Adult Multivitamins), which are for adults (ahem), but taste so much like yummy candy that I have to talk myself out of eating more than my daily allowance.  I like saying "daily allowance."

Andre Vien has asked me about seventy-fives times whether they're for adults because he's been taking them too (and because apparently he doesn't listen when I answer questions!).  I haven't tried the regular non-sour variety, but they may do the trick too.

And that, my PL friends, is one to grow on.

xo – N.

LA (SAWTELLE): THE BEST SHRIMP & EGGPLANT IN BROTH YOU’LL WANT TO DRINK

By Nora Zelevansky / April 19th, 2010

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I've been diagnosed with malaise.  By my sister, Dr. C.  She got her honorary degree online via Web MD (and by that I mean that she checks the site A LOT).  Anyway, I'm not about to come down with some serious disease (um, we hope–knock on wood! Knock on wood!), but I'm a little antsy and blue and basically I'm craving some shift in the routine.

So, with a fresh experience in mind Saturday night, Andre and I decided to check out a new restaurant for dinner.  I perused Jonathan Gold's most recent 99 Essential L.A. Restaurants list and found, Kiriko, a Japanese restaurant just of Olympic on Sawtelle.

I was sort of tempted to jump ship and head to one of Sawtelle's many awesome ramen joints, if I'm honest, but we stayed the course and it was worth the trip.  I wouldn't say that every single dish blew our collective mind (say "no" to the spicy miso albacore handroll, which tastes neither spicy nor like miso), BUT a few dishes really stood out:

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As Jonathan Gold suggests, the super smoky salmon wrapped around fresh mango is AWESOME and, though simple in its ingredients, complex in its mixture of flavors.  The sweet mango kind of cuts the salmon's flavor, which is seriously reminiscent of the smoked mozzarella I grew up eating from Fairway.

But our favorite find was definitely the eggplant and shrimp in broth (pictured above).  Now, I LOVE Agedashi Tofu in almost every form I've ever sampled.  If you haven't had it, it's basically lightly fried tofu in a sweet, salty and mild soy broth, usually with some grated radish and daikon.  In this case, you're having the Agedashi Tofu experience, but instead of tofu you have this amazingly flavorful, warm and amazingly textured eggplant stuffed with shrimp soaking in the broth.  I'm not going to lie.  It was amazing.

Andre and I were initially drawn to the dish because we LOVE an eggplant stuffed shrimp dim sum dish from Empress Pavilion downtown in Chinatown.  (I'm going to go out on a limb without Andre here to confirm and say that it's probably our favorite dim sum dish.)  That one is drizzled in black bean sauce and is also DELICIOUS, but definitely a different thing.

But different is good.  At least I think so.  After all, it's the only real cure for malaise.

xo – N.