A Sunday Brunch at Copper Blues Oxnard!

I think it is safe to say I love me a great Sunday fun day brunch. There’s nothing like knowing you can enjoy that extra hour (or two) of sleeping in and lounging, then still be able to catch a great late breakfast or early lunch paired with a Mimosa or Bloody Mary. Michael and I were able to do just this when Copper Blues Rock Pub and Kitchen invited us out to see what makes their brunch ROCK harder than any others!

Following a gorgeous drive up Highway 101 to Oxnard, we arrived at the city’s beautiful shopping center. Boasting department stores, movie theatre, top notch dining and, of course, Copper Blues and their partner, Levity Live Comedy Club. Which are conveniently located next to one another.

Entering Copper’s feels more like a rock club than a restaurant, but don’t be fooled: They know how to do both, and how to do it right. Murals and portraits of famous musicians adorn every wall (Amy Winehouse, John Lennon, Keith Richards, just to name a few) while the ladies room had framed song sheets of such hit songs as Blondie’s Call Me. Everywhere you turn in Copper’s, there is something to see. And, that is to say nothing of their food.

Beautiful fountain and views out front. Photo: Michael Farah.

Copper’s is very gluten free friendly! Photo: Michael Farah.

Getting to chat with the Management team, I was fascinated to learn that EVERYTHING at each Copper Blues is made daily from scratch. From the Bloody Mary mix  to their apple and fennel sauce, it is made with love in house. Thus, making each bite taste more like a home-cooked meal than a restaurant.

While I opted for an order of their endless mimosa (which I was warned is mostly champagne. I wasn’t complaining), Michael was eager to take advantage of their Build-Your-Own-Bloody-Mary bar! Your server brings you your glass with ice and alcohol, then you’re off on your own to make your concoction however you like. Less mix, more bacon? More spice, less celery? It is all up to you. Not being a big fan of the spicy favorite, I had to try Michael’s (which mind you had bacon in it. I tried that too and it was an epic moment of flavor) and for once, I found a Bloody Mary tolerable. I think it is all about the mix and Copper’s does an excellent recipe.

While we awaited our main dishes, the team insisted we try their brunch staple, Bibimbap. Having not had this dish much, I was intrigued. At first look, it appeared to be some hot rice with an egg on top. After one bite? I could have ordered 2 more bowls of this! Filled with savory flavor and spices, kimchi and the option of bacon (Vegetarian for me), their Bibimbap was delicious and certainly a signature dish.

Bibimbap. Photo: Michael Farah.

Cajun Shrimp Benedict. Photo: Michael Farah.

While we awaited our breakfast plates, the live music set began. At Copper’s, they are not joking when they say they are a Blues Kitchen. Behind their full bar that looks out onto the restaurant, a stage rests there, right in the middle of the action. As the great Sunday morning band began, they combined dynamic energy while taking great takes on popular covers that made them their own. An energetic and fun cover of Sunshine in my Pocket while sipping my 2nd (or 3rd) Mimosa made for a great afternoon!

Michael ordered The Cajun Shrimp Benedict while I tried out the Smoked Salmon Omelet with a side order of their Potato Latkes. That is correct, friends, they have Potato Latkes that ARE gluten free! Along with that apple and fennel dipping sauce, I had to ask if the accompanying sour cream was also made in house. I was shocked its one of the few items that is not! Not being a huge sour cream fan, this was delicious and fresh.

Both our seafood dishes were hearty and just what we needed given the bottomless alcohol we were enjoying. Along with Copper’s weekly brunch, make sure to check them out for their “Wine Down” evenings, karaoke and fun to be had before and after you catch some comedy next door.

I am so excited to have a new go-to spot for brunch, and can’t wait to return to Copper’s. Visit them HERE and make sure to let them know Along Comes Mary sent you! 😉 xo

 

A First Time Visit to Hearst Castle!

Along on our recent NorCal weekend trek that took us to Thomas Hill and Linn’s, another highlight was my invite to at last visit The Hearst Castle. Being a California native, its a bit embarrassing that the castle has been on my to-do list FOREVER. Michael had not been, either, and off we headed to the gorgeous San Simeon for our Grand Room Tour!

With each tour lasting about an hour, we were due for at 2:20pm. That gave us ample time to enjoy Cambria’s Moon Stone Beach that morning. Nestled in San Simeon, Hearst Castle is about a 30 minute drive from Paso Robles and Cambria. A gorgeous ride over Highway 1 took us to the Visitor’s Center where you not only check in for your tour, but, the center also boasts a great cafeteria-dining style cafe, coffee stand, a beautiful boutique as well as their Hearst Castle theatre.

Reminding me a bit of my recent visit to Graceland, your castle tour begins on a bus ride up a stunning winding hill to reach the top of vista where, you guessed it, the castle lays. During our ride up, our guided tour begins with Paso Robles resident and Jeopardy host himself, Alex Trebek, giving visitors a glimpse into the rich history and the depths of William Randolph Hearst and his remarkable empire.

Arriving at The Visitor’s Center.
Photo: Michael Farah.

These views!
Photo: Michael Farah.

Tennis courts. Photo: Michael Farah.

Once we arrived, our Grand Tour quickly began with our insightful and resourceful host. He had a difficult task right out the gate as to explain where the infamous Hearst Castle pool is. It is indeed there, but, well, empty and under construction. The castle’s pool is so famous that he admitted many visitors are led to believe their tour is simply that of the POOL, and, not much else!

Made legendary (and what many think of when they hear of Hearst Castle) by souvenirs and stock photos, Mr. Hearst was known to simply “patch up” the pool over the years. So much, that major damage had occurred and was causing the grounds to be draining thousands of pounds of water a day. Now that a contractor has been decided by the city, you can rest assured that plans to have the pool restored by this year are under way.

As we moved on, I adored seeing the gardens and some of the guest bungalows where the castle’s staff and help resided. Throughout the grounds, sculptures and art adorn left and right. A very indicator that The Hearst’s were living quite comfortably as they built their home and, ultimately, a museum!

Our Grand Tour highlighted the party and grand rooms of the castle; where the holiday parties were held and the impressive dining room. Immediately, when you enter their grand dining room, you cannot help but have Harry Potter come to mind and, sure enough, the designers from the trilogy themselves visited Hearst Castle for inspiration and even pursued filming there. While the castle was unable to accommodate those Hollywood requests, the essence and looks are nearly un-canny. Hogwarts may just be alive and well on The Central Coast 😉

The Grand Living Room was spectacular. Decked out for Christmas time, each year the castle re-creates just how the Hearst’s had their home sparkle at the holidays…

Photo: Michael Farah.

The Dining Room Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

As our hour concluded, our last stop is an intimate theatre to watch some rare home movies and clips of William Hearst and the family. With all tour admissions, you are also able to watch an hour long film back at The Visitor’s Center.

With the castle as massive as it is, its understandable why their tours are split up into hour tours. Many visitors opt for more than one tour on a visit which can easily be planned. I would definitely recommend this if you are in search of seeing more of the common areas or bedrooms. The Grand Tour is certainly a great first timer’s visit as you get to learn about the pools, the Hearst family and their lavish hosting rooms.

To learn more and plan your visit to The Hearst Castle, mosey on over HERE to learn more! xo

A Gluten Free Haven at Linn’s Restaurant.

During my time living up on the Central Coast of California in the Santa Ynez Valley, I always loved any chance I got to head to Cambria. Cambria is 30 miles north of San Luis Obispo, and 230 miles south from San Francisco. A humble, small town, Cambria is known for their stunning Moonstone Beach, as well as their annual Scarecrow Festival and a great Main Street drag of restaurants.

One of their dining staples is the absolute gem of a cafe, Linn’s. Linn’s Restaurant is known for their “Olallieberry”; a Youngberry crossed with a Loganberry. The primary fruit grown on their beautiful farm nearby, a Olallieberry tastes similar to the Knotts’ famous Boysenberry, or blackberry. While very tart, it did not provoke any crazy  “lip smacking” and was a great sweet treat…on the MANY dishes I recently got to experience on a visit to Linn’s!

Heading in on a rainy Sunday, we were quickly greeted by our Hostess, Kim and while the place was bustling, she assured us it would be less than a 20 minute wait. We were so engrossed with their bakery and gift shoppe that it felt more like a 5 minute wait. All decked out and ready for the holidays, Linn’s shoppe may not be ample, yet, they manage to have enough variety and beautiful adornments that you feel inside a proper department store.

Just a glimpse of their gift shoppe.

 

Gluten Free Olallieberry Muffin

We were soon escorted to our cozy corner table with a great window view of the rain coming down and the locals enjoying a stroll under their umbrellas. Mr. Linn himself, Aaron, soon came over to greet us and was an absolute delight to chat with. A Cambria native, The Linn’s have been operating their restaurant and farm since the 1980’s. If you want to know anything about Cambria and their townspeople, go have a chat with Aaron and he can fill you in on the what/where/when of the town. Great guy!

They’re also not shy to encourage you to try the entire menu. I was very excited to head to Linn’s as nearly everything is gluten-free (or they will gladly assist you if an item is not). Aaron’s Mom has Celiac, so they know first hand the excitement  you feel when you hear “Olallieberry Chocolate Brownie Cake….Gluten Free” or, my personal favorite: warm bread baskets that are gluten-free brought to your table.

We began our food journey with one of their most famous appetizers, their Ocean Rose Farm Abalone. Having not recalled experiencing Albalone, I was anxious to see why this is such a special dish. One bite, and I knew. Locally sourced Albalone from nearby Cayucos is served with two hazelnut encrusted medallions, lemon-thyme beurre blanc and a decadent jicama-jalapeño slaw. While not a gluten-free dish, simply mention if you need it to be, and they adjust the encrusted medallions for you. Perfection!

Albalone.

Moon Stone Beach Omelette.
Photo: Michael Farah.

Hearst Ranch Hamburger.
Photo: Michael Farah.

With so much already having gone down (chats with the locals, gluten-free galore, great coffee, great atmosphere), it was time for Mike and I to make our big decision: Whats for lunch?! I decided to take advantage of a late breakfast (Weekends they serve it until 2pm, other days, 12p) and try one of their favorite omelettes, The Moon Stone Beach with an abundance of Shrimp, Dungeness crab, tomato, green onion, mushrooms and Swiss cheese. While Mike decided on an old reliable: their Hearst Ranch Beef Cheese Burger with fries.

The Moon Stone omelette was to die for. The seafood so fresh, I would imagine it could have been caught that morning, while the flavor combinations of the cheese and veggies enhanced it perfectly. Mike enjoyed his burger, and the presentation was gorgeous and made it hard to want to dig in (Just a little….).

We were very stuffed by the time we had many options for dessert coming our way….check out what Aaron and staff insisted we try….

Photo: Michael Farah.

Photo: Michael Farah.

See all this, folks? Mike and I were able to get it all down…and, as some of you know, I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I am pleased to say with the proper amount of insulin injections that day, I was able to keep my sugars in a  good range! I truly thought this could be my last supper. Death of a sugar rush. And, what a great last supper it would have been! 😉

First up, was that irresistible chocolate brownie concoction, followed by their famous Pecan Chew Cookie Delight with Linn’s Pecan Chew Cookie, Brazilian Coffee ice cream, house made caramel sauce, candied walnuts and just a little real whipped cream. Bravo!

 While I could continue to share my love for Linn’s, I will end here, and trust that you will do yourself a favor and head to Linn’s next time you are in Cambria. Learn more about them HERE and make sure to tell them Along Comes Mary sent you! xo
(*Disclosure: I was a guest of Linn’s Restaurant in exchange for this feature. All opinions are my own and it was a phenomenal experience!)

 

A Farm to Table Evening at Thomas Hill Organics.

A term I have noticed suddenly coming to the front burner is “Farm to Table” dining. This means that your meal is sourced from locally grown (usually organic) produce and locally raised meats. I find it especially exciting when your dish is from right outside the door of a restaurant. I was lucky to try some remarkable restaurants offering Farm to Table experiences on our trip last month to Paso Robles and The Central Coast. First up? Dinner at Thomas Hill Organics.

After an afternoon at The Hearst Castle (recap coming soon!), Michael and I were in for a real treat when we headed to Downtown Paso Robles to be guests of Thomas Hill Organics. Founded in 2009 by Debbie Thomas, Thomas Hill Organics is actually one of the first restaurants to launch with that now infamous “Farm to Table” as well as source primarily organic ingredients that are brought to your table.

Utilizing the 10 acre farm on the restaurant’s property, Thomas Hill Organics is on the tree-lined Park Street in Downtown Paso. Strolling by, the restaurant is quite un-assuming from the window front. Once you head on in your greeted warmly by an intimate wine bar that houses the front of the bistro. With cheery holiday music playing, our Hostess quickly took us to our cozy table in the back of the building, where the restaurant action takes place. While there was an outdoor area, we opted to stay in to hide from the brisk cold, but, guess what? Walking by on our way out, it felt perfectly toasty as the heat lamps burned on. I would gladly opt for the patio, next time.

Our adorable table for two was next to a window and despite it was dark outside, there still is something fun about that window seat, am I wrong? We began our evening with a glass of their house white wine (Chardonnay that night) and it was really fun to see Michael, who usually is low-key about food and wine (as to where I am pretty straightforward if I like or dislike something), say “Thats a really good glass of wine!”

With a menu that changes nearly weekly, according to what is in season and available, (what could be more fun than never knowing what you would be able to order at your favorite eatery?!) Michael and I both had our eyes on the Weekend’s specials. He ordered their spare rib while I chose the Sole fish over a bed of veggies and cream sauce. Mike’s beef was atop roasted potatoes and some of the best carrots we have ever had. Yes, carrots! Easily, one of the most memorable sides we tried there. That is how fresh and flavorful their food is; we do not usually find carrots that memorable.

The presentation to these dishes were gorgeous, and while the meal appears compact, we were FULL by the time we left…..dessert may have been involved.

Incredible Sole dinner

Mike’s spare rib.

Panna Cotta.

The moment I heard that their sweet special was a Panna Cotta with freshly picked mint leaves and mango, there was no doubt we were ordering one of my favorite desserts. The dairy favorite was sheer perfection, and the cream easily some of the most fresh I have had. It complemented both the wine and our meals perfectly.

During the week of our visit to their Paso Robles location, Debbie and her team were busy launching the second location of Thomas Hill Organics in San Luis Obispo. A half hour from Paso, this is a such brilliant addition to “SLO” that will give both residents and visitors the chance  to experience Thomas Hill’s Farm to Table approach.

Next time you find yourself in Paso Robles or San Luis Obispo, do yourself a favor and make a reservation. Learn more about Thomas Hill Organics HERE.

 

(*Disclosure: I was provided a meal in exchange for this feature. All opinions are my own.)

 

 

Staying a World Away at Fairmont Grand Del Mar.

Having stayed at some of fantastic hotels throughout California, I thought I had an accurate idea of what to expect when staying at a luxury resort. Little did I know that when I pulled into The Fairmont Grand Del Mar, I was about to be blown away and discover the true meaning of a “Luxury Resort.”

With an impressive slew of awards (Including multiple times on Forbes’ Best 5 Star Resorts in the World and separate mentions to their spa and Addison, the property’s restaurant as well as TripAdvisor’s #1 California Resort), The Fairmont Grand Del Mar lays within the hills of San Diego in Carmel Valley amidst Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. Yet, after arriving onto their 400 acres, I could have easily been in The Mediterranean or the South of France.

While I am not one to want a fuss upon my hotel arrivals, it was hard to resist the warm welcome from the Del Mar’s staff as doors were immediately held for me, offers to park my car and take my bags were given and warm cloths were graciously handed to me for a quick refresh with the resort’s signature lemon scented soaps.

Attempting to get over the fact I felt as if I were thousands of miles from home in France or Spain, but instead just barely two hours away from Los Angeles, I made my way to guest room and could not wait to relax. I had over 500 square feet of room waiting for me!

My bedroom

My bedroom

Since I had hit the road a bit early to take in some sights and beach time in Oceanside, I had stumbled upon a great Thai cafe and took some take out to The Fairmont with me. When I inquired about a microwave in my room, the front desk no sooner ordered one to arrive right away for me, and it was there by the time I walked into my room. Every amenity I could possibly need was there and ready for me: microwave, fridge, espresso machine, mini bar, water bottles, fruit basket. And, lets not forget how exquisite my room was….

My patio view.

My patio view.

Bathroom vanity

The highlight: Nespresso machine.

After enjoying my take out, I decided to take a stroll around the lobby a bit and take in as much as I could during my visit. Downstairs, I discovered a gorgeous library and study, a lively bar and several conference rooms and banquet halls. Back in my little haven (my guest room)? I was completely oblivious to the hustle and bustle as my suite was quiet and tranquil. The fountain below my balcony cradled me to sleep!

With an early morning ahead of me to Coronado, I decided to get some shut-eye and melted into my bed. Thank goodness for my wake-up call or I may still be resting. With time to enjoy a morning walk my next morning, I enjoyed my more “laid back” second night’s sleep and awoke eager to have one last Nespresso espresso (Ok, it may have been more like a double or triple shot) and take advantage of all the amenities of my bathroom. A jacuzzi tub, marble tile shower and plenty of boutique soaps and shampoos were awaiting me!

Taking a mile loop around the grounds, there were moments I felt in the French Riviera. Then, suddenly, one of the villa’s made me feel in the Mediterranean. Stunning sculptures and statues abound. One, of Saint Francis, was in my villa’s courtyard and not too far behind was a dog station. Making me very happy that The Fairmont is pet friendly.

Beautiful statue of a Siren by one of the pools.

View of the golf course.

Gift shoppe all decked out for the holidays.

When I returned to the entrance and lobby, I had the chance to check out their numerous award winning spa center, as well as their gorgeous gift shoppe and coffee house/deli. While I stopped to consider a Starbucks drink, I did recall all the Nespresso I had already had to buzz me up. While I declined, I was so appreciative at how personable and friendly the Barista was. Everyone on staff at The Fairmont treated me like an old friend, and I felt they genuinely hoped I was enjoying my stay, and, if I were not, I can assure you they would have gone above and beyond to make everything right.

Which is one of the top reasons why I would gladly give 5 stars as well, to The Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Another perk was the diversity of their guests. I saw couples, young and old, families, with young children to grown, business professionals like myself and some girlfriends who looked to seriously be enjoying some girl time R&R. While I have certainly stayed at resorts and hotels that seem deemed “family friendly” more than others, The Fairmont ensures the entire family can stay and have a fabulous time at the resort, while all other kinds of parties would equally have the same amount of enjoyment. A definite win-win resort for all!

Something else that makes The Fairmont a must-stay is, of course, the golfing. Golfers from around the world have flocked to San Diego’s Carmel Valley. Along with their courses, you can also plan your wedding on the grounds (Hear that, Michael?! 🙂 )

No matter what your reason (or budget) for staying at The Fairmont Grand Del Mar, I cannot recommend this resort enough. Their selection of rooms (ranging from a 500 square feet guest room to a villa at 4500 square feet) make it affordable for different budgets while the amenities and activities make The Fairmont Resort a vacation in itself.

You can visit The Fairmont HERE and make sure to like them on Facebook and follow on Twitter!

(*Disclosure: I was provided with a stay at The Fairmont Grand Del Mar in support for this feature. All opinions are my own and I cannot thank them enough for their hospitality!)

 

 

 

Weekend Getaway on a Budget to Chico, California! #TravelTuesday

At Chico State.

At Chico State.

While I am a City Girl, I could easily see myself retiring (or just moving if the chance came) to Chico, California. A college town loaded with laid back vibes, warm Summer nights and a strong community bond, Chico lays just under two hours out of Sacramento, and is your gateway to Mount Shasta and Redding (home of Turtle Bay and The Sundial Bridge).

Having visited a couple of times to see one of my best friends and her family, Chico is the kind of town with Farmer’s Markets throughout the week, live music in the park and locally grown fruits and vegetables. I love being surrounded by so much nature, and the opportunity to take a hike in Bidwell Park in the morning, then swim in one of the local lakes by the afternoon.

If you are in search of a fun and affordable California road trip, stopping in Chico just might be for you!

Dinner and drinks at Tres Hombres.

Dinner and drinks at Tres Hombres.

EAT

If you want the ultimate Mexican cocktail, head on over to Tres Hombres on Broadway Street. A secret menu item, their Avocado Margarita will have you drinking like a real 530 local. If just Mexican food is what’s more on your mind, Tres is a locals favorite. Just be warned: Their drinks sneak up on you!

For breakfast, the place to go is Morning Thunder Cafe. With massive, share-able portions, you can imagine my excitement that this Mom and Pop’s “greasy spoon” offers many gluten-free dishes, including gluten-free pancakes AND toast! I had their Vegetarian Omelette and, as usual….was a bit skeptical of cream cheese inside the entrĂ©e. This would be along with avocado atop, too (I know–I get excited to order avocado anything). I decided to not omit it and was happy I did not. Strange at first, but, went very well with the avocado and veggies.

While my meal was delicious, Eric, Ariel’s fiance, had a less than happy experience and was unsatisfied with his dish. The staff offered to change out his breakfast and while he declined, they did not charge us for his plate.

They also offer original and French Roast coffee. Mmmm…..

Morning Thunder is perfect for families and everyone in between!

Breakfast at Morning Thunder.

Breakfast at Morning Thunder.

And, we all know I can devour a pizza, and luckily Chico has one of my favorite pizza parlors. Woodstock Pizza always makes me think of “college life” as fellow student-ville San Luis Obispo has a location on their main drag, as well. Even Ariel did not think this pie “tasted” like it was gluten-free. Get there before you’re too hungry, though: As they get busy.

PLAY

If you’re wondering why I said Chico is ‘affordable’, their outdoor activities (especially in the Summer) are mostly free or affordable. Making it the perfect NorCal getaway for the camping loving family or the couple looking to bike around town and find some new hiking trails.

Bidwell Park

This 3,670-acre municipal park encompasses both sides of Big Chico Creek Canyon for a full five miles up into the foothills, making it a truly unique and spectacular retreat. There’s really no park like Bidwell anywhere else. The Lower Park gives you the option of swimming in ether the pool or one of the lakes, or head upward and hit their trails. I could spend every day of Summer here!

On their website, they list a total of 17 different trails from minor, easy trails to 10 mile and elaborate hikes. I like a challenge 😉

chico9

Paradise Lake.

In nearby Paradise (which feels a bit like the real thing to me, but, Ariel says it’s a play on words. Paradise used to be known for its gambling and casino community….get it, “Pair of Dice”??) spend the day fishing or reading a book at Paradise Lake in Magalia. Perfect for dogs, too!

Back on Broadway Street in Chico, no stop is complete without a visit to The National Yo Yo Museum. Yes, there is a National Yo Yo Museum, and its in Chico! You will easily see the most yo yo’s in your life. Plenty to buy, play with and even the largest anywhere. It’s about 5 feet tall!

If you are a BEER lover, Chico truly is for you. Sierra Nevada Brewery calls Chico home. While I have not visited the brewery, they do offer daily tours! Get more info HERE.

STAY

After countless adventures of food, hikes, water, bikes, beers and yo yo’s (Oh my!), head back to relax and freshen up at nearby Motel 6. Motel 6 is an oldie but a goody. Less than 3 miles from Chico State University, Motel 6 completes keeping this NorCal trip on a budget. Most rooms are under $100 a night, and boasts all the amenities you have come to expect when traveling.

My 1st Dutch Brothers coffee!

My 1st Dutch Brothers coffee!

GET YOUR COFFEE FIX….

Something in Northern California that is much like SoCal’s In ‘n Out Burger is Dutch Brothers Coffee. Having heard of this widely popular drive thru only coffee-house, Dutch Brothers has really made their fan base with remembering the ol’ reliable: Great customer service. The barista’s are FUN and were just as excited as I was that it was my first visit!  They gave me a frequent stamper card that just needed 1 more for a free drink. When I returned to use my card at the Paradise location, Kyle could not have been more sweet and gave us both our drinks for free!

And, was my iced triple shot latte as awesome as the people? Absolutely!

I could go on all day about Chico and its surrounding areas. Let me know if you get the chance to visit! xo

 

 

Support Friends of Griffith Park at Nordic Noir LA!

greek
On September 25th, join me at The Greek Theatre for Nordic Noir LA, a one-of-a-kind benefit for Friends of Griffith Park, a non-profit charitable group, at the Greek Theatre here in LA! This world-class concert is hosted by internationally recognized film composer Jacob Groth and the Danish Film Harmonics as they offer the LA community an opportunity to experience the acclaimed soundtrack for the film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Come and take part in the effort to conserve our beloved city’s environment and urban wildlife. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Concert begins at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are selling fast HERE.

I’m so honored to have had the opportunity to interview Groth, and learn a bit more about himself and his incredible music career.

Can you tell me a bit about life growing up in Denmark? Whereabouts do you hail from?

I was born in Copenhagen,grew up with 2 younger brothers, and 3 kids from my fathers first marriage.

So, A lot of noise and 
sometimes a little fighting too! I was a teenager before I found an interest in music, but, when I found music,I knew that that was the right thing for me.

2) I think any artist will agree that performing at The Greek is always a ‘bucket list’ venue. What makes The Greek a special place for you?

The Greek is special to me because its in that very same park that I am supporting with my concert,and because its an iconic venue where the greatest artist have performed.
Me  and my orchestra “The Danish Film harmonics” cannot wait to go on
stage this weekend!
Do you have any particular influences for your music, when writing for a film score?
Its always the story that inspires me,the mood ,the acting,the pictures


jacob-groth-2013-7jg

 What can your audience expect at this performance?
The Audience is coming with me on a journey into 9 different  Groth scores performed as one symphony.Its both action,thriller,love and everything in between. We also have a back screen showing scenes from feature-film like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo mixed with more abstract images.
Whats next for you and your music?
I am gonna stay in LA for a while doing the score for an amazing new TV-Show called Midnight Texas and also write the score for Flatliners,a very cool remake of that film from the 90’s.
Hope to see you this Sunday at The Greek! Mange Tak! 😉 (That means Much Thanks in Danish and is about how much Danish I can speak. I try to practice, but, have yet to learn it better. ) xo

Hiking at Escondido Falls Trail in Malibu….

trail7

Picture: Michael Farah.

So, granted, when I returned home from my Chico trip? I could not stop talking about Burney Falls. To see such a giant waterfall before me, and that setting, it took my breath away. Anxious to continue on my nature “kick”, Mike found us a great hiking trail in nearby Malibu.

Escondido Falls Trail is right off Pacific Coast Highway in the trendy beach community. While you need to clearly read all street signs, it is quite easy to find parking right off the highway (and thank goodness for porta potties before you start your journey–that will be your only chance for a restroom, FYI!).

As we began up the hill, we were surrounded by gorgeous houses, some in the midst of being built. The beach views were to die for. Then, to your left, you will see the sign leading you to the trail (See my picture above)

trail3

While I huffed and puffed a bit up to the beginning of the trail (I think it’s because I’d been at The LA Food and Wine Festival the evening before–way too much wine and food and fun), I got into my groove and the trail was, overall, flat and easy, except for a couple of inclines but its laid out well enough that even if you have restrictions, you can still easily navigate through without too many high lifts, squats and no climbing at all.

You will hit a point when you need to choose whether to take the high or the low trail. We stayed low and hung a left. While it was a good 2-3 miles, we at last found our way to the “Falls”. Sadly, the drought has definitely effected the amount of water here, but, nonetheless, it still was a great ending place to chill-lax with other hikers, dogs and enjoy being surrounded by nature.

Black and white vibes.

Black and white vibes.

While you could take your chances and not take the same direction back out of the trail, we played it safe and followed our same way. If you’re looking for an ultra fun outdoors environment to take some pictures, Escondido is a great option….

Picture: Michael Farah.

Picture: Michael Farah.

Picture: Michael Farah.

Picture: Michael Farah.

As we made our way back down to PCH, guess where we had to dip our toes?

beach
With the beach right there, that was a welcoming break and cool down!

IF YOU GO

Make sure you’re comfortable with the weather. This is an “easy” hike in that it is mostly flat walking, but, you’re still looking at 5-6 miles on the trail. Pack water and sunscreen. I would call this a great hike for beginners or those who don’t do intense hiking/jogging.

Have you ever been out to Escondido Trails? 🙂 xo

Weekend Getaway: Half Moon Bay, CA. #TravelTuesday

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Having loved The San Francisco Bay Area since I was very young, this past month was a real treat for me as I headed out on The Fresh As it Gets Media tour with my fellow IFWTWA members and our hosts from The San Mateo/Silicon Valley CVB. I spent a week up north exploring and learning so much about this beautiful county that boasts lush vallies and mountains on one side, and, the other end? The bay, baby. From visiting Harley Goat Dairy Farm to Pillar Point Harbor, from beautiful wine tastings to world-class meals, I cannot wait to tell you about these excursions in the coming weeks.

Our first stop in this series? Half Moon Bay. A town that’s been on my radar, but I had no idea just how gorgeous the often dubbed, “Seaside Hamlet”, truly is.

Sidewalk sale on fabric!

Sidewalk sale on fabric!

EAT

Something is mighty clear when you run away to the coast: You can usually, always, find delicious food. I was reminded that when we headed to lunch at local fave, Pasta Moon.  A “Fresh As it Gets” award winner, Pasta Moon is the brain child of local Kim Leddes; “Pasta Moon started out as a passionate concept where I could keep myself busy and enjoy the lifestyle of a small coastal town.” Kim explains on her website, “Originally Pasta Moon was a place for people to dine on cuisine derived of locally grown organic produce, fish, meats and cheese supplied from local ranchers and dairies. Soon however my love for Italian cuisine compelled an ever-growing compulsion to express my creativity in the kitchen and had me composing variations on classic Italian dishes.”

Known for the best lasagna around, every single dish I saw go by me, looked fabulous, and with our starter salads and soups (I had a tomato based veggie soup that bursted with flavor), it was very clear just how dedicated Pasta Moon is to bringing their diners the best, and most local, ingredients.

Pasta Moon lunch.

Pasta Moon lunch.

Seafood Paella at La Costanera.

Seafood Paella at La Costanera.

And, my #1 priority: Good gluten-free pasta! I was in luck as I was immediately asked if I would like brown rice linguine or corkscrew pasta. I chose linguine with seasonal veggies tossed in olive oil. Often, I find that even if I enjoy a gluten free pasta noodle dish, the noodles tend to get dried out, and downright sticky. At Pasta Moon? They were moist, tender, and tasted like the real deal down to my last bite. Bravo, Pasta Moon!

For dinner, I would be experiencing Peruvian cuisine ocean side at the popular La Costanera. With countless awards under their belt, this Montana Beach eatery combines slick, ocean side dining with a unique blend of flare. Much of which is the result of South Peru native, Chef Carlos Altamirano. Whether its their Churrasco (Grass fed Creekstone Black Angus Ribeye steak, Yucca Fries, chimichurri andino) you’re in the mood for, or their Vegetarian fave, Quinotto  (Quinoa-pumpkin stew, choclo, veggies, parmesano Crispy tomatoes and anticucho de hongos), La Costanera has expertly crafted the ultimate hot spot in Half Moon Bay to accommodate all of their diner’s wants and needs.

And, no visit is complete without getting their signature drink:  A Pisko Sour…..

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I admit, I enjoyed some amazing glasses of wine, and just stole a sip of the Pisco. Thoughts? It had an egg in it, which was intriguing, but, a bit too frothy for an alcoholic drink, for my preference. If you are a Pisco Sour fan? You will love it.

SIP

Before dinner, we began our evening at  nearby Pacifica’s A Grape In the Fog Wine Bar. Unbeknownst to us, we were arriving in the middle of the many weekly Farmers Markets. This was a true reminder that San Mateo County is “As Fresh As it Gets”. The tomatoes were gorgeous colors of scarlet red to lighter shades of rose, as well some yellow’s to take note of.

At A Grape in the Fog, Redding native Beth Lemke had a dream of opening up a coffeehouse to create a space for the locals to gather, socialize, hear some good music and enjoy some drinks. Change those dreams from latte’s to wines from around the world, and you’ve got yourself Grape in the Fog! With a menu that is always changing, Lemke has indeed made an environment that could easily find a student getting some reading in while enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir, or meeting up for an online date to break the ice over a Chardonnay and hear a local musician perform.

Beth Lemke, Owner, Grape in the Fog.

Beth Lemke, Owner, Grape in the Fog.

I loved this mural in Half Moon Bay!

I loved this mural in Half Moon Bay!

 

STAY

When I arrived at Half Moon Bay Lodge, I loved the laid back vibes….and, even cookies during check-in! Half Moon Bay Lodge is nestled 5 miles outside the hustle and bustle of the main drag and mere minutes from the water. Something I rarely get to take advantage of is a pool and Jacuzzi when I travel. Had I remembered my swim suit? They offer a heated pool, outside fireplace and chairs and tables aplenty for the ultimate stay.

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If you are in search of a banquet or event hall, they have you covered with a fantastic meeting room that opens out to the pool. (Great nook to enjoy your breakfast, too).

Half Moon Bay is only a half hour from The San Francisco Airport, and 45 minutes from San Jose. It is such a romantic getaway, and enough to do right in the area that you will easily not even leave the city limits! xo

 

Enter to Win a Pair of Tickets to The LA Food Fest!

(Editor’s Note: Due to time restrictions from LA Food Fest, I had to close this giveaway a day early. I apologize for any inconvenience. See you at the fest! xo, Mary)

Remember a few years back when Michael and I covered The LA Food Fest? One of my most “liked” pictures was taken that day….

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I must admit, I have always loved this picture, too. Mike is always capable at getting the best photos of me. Even when I don’t feel the most photogenic….like here. Any other time, I would complain that my tummy rolls are noticeable, I have on a stupid hat, I am pigging out on ice cream. You get the idea. It’s a woman thing, I think. But, somehow, it all came together here and all I see is a girl in her bliss. Having a great time. Even my tee-shirt is matching my AWESOME hat I had just gotten 😉

Lucky for us all, it is that time of year once again and The LA Food Fest will take over Exposition Park at USC this coming weekend (July 9th and 10th) for 2 filled (literally) days of any and all kinds of cuisine and drinks you can dream up. Two words: Stretchy. Pants.

Quick stop to the Iced Coffee Lounge!

Quick stop to the Iced Coffee Lounge!

From Sage Vegan Bistro to Canter’s Deli truck, from Dr. Brew’s Kombucha to Firestone Walker, there will be something for EVERYONE at this year’s food fest, and, like always, this event is awesome whether you’re looking for a date day to get your drink and donuts on, or a family with little ones looking to try out some ice cream and wines (for the Moms and Dads!)

Formerly at The Rose Bowl, LA Food Fest now takes over “The Trojans” and Exposition Park in Downtown LA. Just like when USC is taken over by The Festival of Books, this is another match made in heaven as you’re also surrounded by such gems as The Natural History Museum and The California Science Center.

The LA Food Fest and their partners (and my friends) at Nederlander have offered one of my readers a pair of general admission tickets to the festival! Tickets will be valid for the event July 9th OR 10th. ($30 value.) Simply follow the directions on my Rafflecopter form below and enter by July 8th (I know, very quick turnaround! Act fast!). Winner’s tickets will be emailed to name and email provided, and check out my sweepstakes rules tab, too! 🙂 Good luck and see you this weekend to get your STRETCHY PANTS on! xo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Discover District Wine, Long Beach’s Best Kept Secret

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When an Angelino is looking to check out an eclectic, diverse city with just as much to offer as say, Downtown LA or Hollywood, my suggestion? Long Beach. About 45 miles south from Los Angeles and right on the Orange County border, some of you might remember Long Beach (Or “The LBC” as many affectionately call it) was my first home when I moved out all by myself and I continue to love it whenever I visit.

Long Beach boasts so many wonderful neighborhoods; like Belmont Shore, where you will be surrounded by gorgeous water front homes and their infamous 2nd Street, to The East Village Arts District, where I got to spend an amazing afternoon with my IFWTWA peeps at District Wine a few weekends back.

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I was reminded almost immediately as I exited off The 710 onto Broadway that it was Long Beach’s largest weekend of the year: The Long Beach LGBT Pride Weekend! Main drags were closed, and the whole Downtown was knee-deep in celebrating. Despite some frustration with lack of parking, it was awesome!

Located on Linden Avenue, District Wine Bar has been on my radar since Mark Dunton, their fearless owner (and truly one of the kindest people I have met since I began my blogging journey) and I started chatting on Twitter and he invited me to come review his wine bar. Much like my amity with Downtown’s San Antonio Winery, District Wine is my go-to when down by the beach.

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Mark, along with his wife, Angela, launched District Wine in 2010, smack dab in the middle of the economy recession. “Why would you open a business now?!” was a question The Dunton’s were often asked. But, fast forward to now, and they have made one of the most beloved wine bars in LA County!

We started off with a sparkling Rosé from the Gruet winery just outside of Albuquerque. We all know I love to celebrate the little things in life, and I thought this light, airy libation was such a great introduction for our afternoon. It became even more flavorful and bright after a few bites of the seasonal salad we had.

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While their Artichoke and Roasted Pepper Dip contained flour, I had nothing to fear as nearly every other “small bites” dish we were treated to try was gluten-free. As far as their crackers for dipping their Pea Tapenade and the mouth-watering Jalapeno Jam and Goat Cheese? Just like 3 years ago, Mark continues to always have gluten-free crackers on hand! Nothing makes me more happy than a restaurant you feel 100% comfortable alerting that you are gluten-free.

Paired with the Jalepeno Jam and Goat Cheese dip (which I seriously could devote an an entire article to. So flavorful and decadent) was a Cosa Obra Pinot Noir from Sonoma County. Originally, I was expecting a white to pair with this jam but, upon my first bite, I understood how well the Pinot would mingle with the spice on your palette from the jam, and the richness thanks to the cheese. Bravo!

Then, there were the Prosciutto Bon Bons (dates stuffed with chevre and prosciutto). Why don’t I just move into District Wine and live entirely on that jam and cheese dip, followed by these bon bon’s?! With dishes made fresh, in-house, it is no wonder why these specialties are superb.

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While District Wine thrives on their “Small Bites”, making it the perfect first stop of an evening on the town, they also know how to step it up should you be looking for a bit more of a substantial meal to enjoy with your bottle of wine; Flatbreads! Our table got a heart sampling of both their Margherita and Italian Meats.

The only item not made in-house is their cheesecake, although they could have fooled me as it was just as on par as everything else I was lucky to have. Paired with Quady Essensia Orange Muscat, I am not usually a Muscat fan, but, they pulled out the stops with this bottle. Being a huge citrus and “tropical” flavor lover, this was my kind of Muscat.

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District Wine is open 7 days a week, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Visit them online here and look into their wine club for great perks and savings!

If you stop in, make sure to tell The Dunton’s Along Comes Mary sent you! 🙂

Brunch at The Federal Bar in North Hollywood!

A topic I have been wanting to make a series on Along Comes Mary has long been features and reviews on a Los Angeles staple: Sunday brunch. Look around you anywhere in LA and you will see what I mean. So many of the fabulous eateries among our city limits offer amazing brunches each weekend, complete with the brunch must: Mimosa! Lucky for me, it was just one of my best friends birthdays and she decided on brunch at North Hollywood’s Federal Bar. Music to my ears!

The Federal Bar is no stranger to me. I love their happy hour and every dish I have had there has been excellent. Located in North Hollywood’s “NoHo Arts District” on Lankershim Boulevard, you will find an array of eclectic shops, bars and coffee houses to get cozy in. What sets The Federal Bar apart is their spacious building and diversity; upstairs is not one, but two bars you can utilize should you book an event there in either their intimate VIP room or in the wide open concert hall where most nights you can be treated to music or stand up.

Downstairs is their restaurant…and, two MORE bars for all your boozing and grub needs. They don’t take being called a “bar” lightly!

Our entertainment was great, too.

Our entertainment was great, too.

It was my first time checking out their brunch offerings, and, despite it just being a page, they have a lot of goodness to select from….even gluten-free pancakes. They were not on the menu, but, they do have them! A dish that caught my eye was their Salmon and Bagel Board; in-house smoked salmon, bagel and cream cheese and all the fixings. I asked our waitress if it would be possible to try that gluten-free, and, her suggestion was to substitute the bagel with one of their gluten-free hamburger buns. We both agreed it probably would not be as epic so, alas, I passed.

What I did decide on, though, was perfect. Their Scramble Stir Fry. I got a HUGE portion of their red quinoa (so, so good, folks) with veggies galore (mushrooms, carrots, peas, even brussel sprouts) and scrambled eggs on top. Delicious and very hearty. I must be getting old as I appreciated the fact that I had a power breakfast, and not a stack of sugary, carb loaded pancakes!

If breakfast burritos and eggs Benedict are not your thing, they do offer their lunch menu during brunch, beginning at 11:30am.

Our service was also great. Our waitress was very attentive and kept a great eye on us all (We were a party of 10). Our friend who ordered their bottomless mimosa would barely finish his glass and she was like a NINJA ensuring that his glass never got, well, bottomless.

Scramble Stir Fry

Scramble Stir Fry

While I passed on mimosa (I know, I know), for $12, you can get your bottomless fill on. For $30, you can get 2 brunch entrees and 2 bottomless mimosa. This, to me, is a STEAL and I now know where to recommend weekend brunch should Mike and I ever want to go, or if I want to catch up with a friend.

Due to the popularity of The Federal Bar’s weekend brunch, they do ask that you enjoy yourself for a maximum of 2 hours. Completely understandable, and a good idea if you are going bottomless on your “fruit juice.”

The Federal Bar was such an awesome afternoon, and I can’t wait to return. Tell me, where do you recommend I try for brunch in LA? xo