Case of the Tasties : DKNG

By Tsz on July 25, 2011

Mondays can be a drag.

So I thought, why not redefine it into something more delicious? Here are some tasty music posters by DKNG. They’re a illustration/design duo from Santa Monica and they create some the most clever posters that I’ve seen and come to hanker for!

Got to meet DNKG (specifically Dan) recently at Unique LA and got to learn about their process behind their work—especially the food related ones! I could write about it, but I’ll let Bangback take the reins. Here’s how DKNG came to create this particular dairy inspired Phish poster:

{Photos by DKNG & Tsz}


The Wit : Best Cookie and Touristy Fun in Chicago

By Tsz on July 22, 2011

Let me start off by saying I’m not a cookie person. I bat for team cake instead.

To me, cakes are so much more sophisticated—they are the belle du jour. Take a cupcake for example, there’s the cake portion, deliciously fluffy and wrapped in a little fluted paper corset. On top, a artfully swirl or piping of decadent frosting. And if its creator goes all out, you may find it with a playful fondant cutout or a gathering of candy sprinkles or even perhaps an extra burst of flavor with a dollop of filling inside.

Cookies on the other hand—no offense to cookie lovers—look often like Quasimodo (sorry Disney!) with its lumpy top and random protrusions of nuts and bits. Yes, I’m quite shallow regarding certain foods.

So, imagine my ambivalence when handed an envelope with a warm, ginormous cookie upon checking in with a few friends at The Wit in Chicago. I was hungry, but then again, it’s a cookie. Did I really want to spoil my appetite with it? By the end of my elevator ride up to my floor though, curiosity and a rumbling stomach won out and I took my first bite.

Warm, melty chocolate chips cut with salted walnuts and finished with a simultaneously chewy, soft and crumbly cookie, it changed my perceived notion of the ugly sister of the dessert world. It was a very, very tasty cookie—giant one at that, around the size of 4 cork drink coasters stacked up. Kudos to the good bakers of DoubleTree (who owns The Wit) and if you read this, please continue baking those delectable morsels.

I polished that cookie off within minutes. Armed with a sugar rush and giddiness of being in a new city, I explored my room (typographic love and spectacular views). From the window, I saw Millennium Park with the famed “bean” (Cloud Gate) and knew that was my next destination. A great start to an amazing weekend.

For those who haven’t been to the windy city, here are some mandatory touristy (yet cool) sights and activities to try out:

1. Cloud Gate (aka the Bean). It’s the big silver bean that looks straight out of a science fiction movie. Designed by Anish Kapoor, it’s an interactive sculpture located in Millennium Park that reflects the Chicago skyline in a funhouse mirror way. Really though, it indulges the closeted narcissist in all of us cause almost everyone stares at their own reflection there! Also, it’s the spot for people watching—I got to witness an engagement shoot, with a Lex Luthor look-alike and his fuchsia, shoulder-pad clad fiance. Cool.

2. Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Also in Millennium Park and home to numerous concerts and performance. I didn’t do enough planning this time around but I would imagine it to be a great place to have a picnic while listening to a free symphony concert.

3. Chicago Theatre. Go when the sun sets and all its lights all lit up. Bonus: listen to “And All That Jazz” from Chicago the Soundtrack.

4. Architectural River tour. Best way to explore downtown Chicago period. And no, I’m not saying it cause I’m lazy and would rather sit on my caboose than walk around town (ok, maybe a little). What I have discovered is that it’s actually really hard to see the buildings fully when exploring on foot as most structures are skyscrapers. To fully enjoy the view, you have to be at a distance and the river gives you just that. Also, the guide is a goldmine of information. In the 1.5 hr long tour (I went with Wendella), I learned about the history of Chicago, the different building styles and also which buildings where they filmed The Dark Knight. Also, did you know both Obama and Oprah worked at the East Bay Club? It was $26 well spent.

Until the next time!

Ps. For all those on team cookies, my friend Yulree, has got just the sweet treat for you with her new cookie blog called Millions of Morsels. Happy eating!


Parker Palm Springs: Glutton’s Delight

By Tsz on July 21, 2011

Can you keep a secret?

I’ve found my own hideaway and it’s only a 2 hours drive from Los Angeles. Located in Palm Springs, this little slice of heaven is called Parker and it’s everything I could dream of. Picture citrus trees with ripe oranges you can pick off the branches and eat, private swimming pools, cabanas for lounging and a full-service spa. And this is just scratching the surface.

Inside, the hotel is a vision from Jonathan Adler. Picture mod meets chic. Blenko glass, shag carpet, indoor fireplace and lots of colorful (and fluffy!) pillows. Rooms are more subdued yet still full of character with funky tapestry and embroidered pillows. The best part is their toiletries, where else do they provide Hermes soap, Blistex lip balm, Peter Roth sun block and Bvlgari lotion? I couldn’t stop myself from taking everything home with me after my stay!

For food, Parker offers two fine choices right within its premises. Mister Parker’s for dinner and Norma’s for everything else. When you book your room, make sure to mention Glutton’s Delight. It’s an unbelievable deal where your room is $199 for the night and it comes with $200 worth of food credit. Almost as if your stay is free!

To utilize the deal, my friend and I dined at Mister Parker’s for dinner. You can find the restaurant by its psychedelic door and a red light when it’s open. Step inside the room and you’re enveloped by dark woods, mirrors and nudie art work—how I imagine a bachelor’s den from the 60s to be. Order a glass of wine and enjoy the short ribs.

As for brunch, Norma’s is the natural choice as Mister Parker’s is only opened for dinner. Right as you sit down, a server appears out of nowhere to present you with an amuse bouche, a double shot of the day’s smoothie of the day. Everything on the menu is tempting and no doubt delicious, but be sure to get their potato pancake with cranberry apple sauce and carrot payasam as it won the James Beard Award! The Waz-Za (waffle with buleed fruit) and traditional eggs benedict are both solid as well.

After all that food, it’s best to work it off by walking on the hotel’s grounds as it’s full of little surprises. For the more adventurous, they have beach cruisers you can ride around town. Or if you’re me, just spa it up at Psyc (Palm Springs Yacht Club). Indoor pool, Arabian tents, steam room and personal ipods makes me a happy camper.

I’m already planning my escape back to Parker…


Raffetto’s: Chefs’ Secret

By Tsz on July 20, 2011

What does Mario Batali, Marcus Samuelsson and Lidia Bastianich all have in common?

They all buy their fresh pastas from a shop called Raffetto’s, located in Greenwich Village—or as I like to call it, the Chefs’ Top Secret Pasta Headquarters. Since 1906, the Raffetto family has been quietly and steadily cranking out glorious homemade pastas, gnocchi, raviolis and pasta sauces both for wholesale and retail. Their customer base is vast, as they supply most of the city’s finest restaurants and hotels such as The Russian Tea Room, Waldorf Astoria and Il Mulino. Chances are, if you have dined in New York’s high end restaurants, you’ve had Raffeto’s pastas.

Walking in the cozy shop, you are greeted with a wall of dry Italian goods on the left and a refrigerated case of sauces and raviolis on the right. If fresh pasta is more your thing (and it should be!), check out the menu on the wall for a list of pastas made fresh that day.

Once you make your choice, an associate swiftly cuts the pasta to your specification and wraps it in a neat little package ready to be brought home. Neat eh? Wanting to try more flavors, I got myself half a pound of squid ink pasta cut in the linguine style and the chestnut pasta cut in the pappardelle style.

The best part? Their unbelievable price. The two pastas and a container of their homemade pink sauce costed a grand total of $10. Expect to pay triple the price at Dean & Deluca, which by the way, buys their fresh pasta from Raffetto’s!

If you have time, say hi to Andrew, the grandson of founder Marcello Raffetto. He now runs the business with his brother Richard and mother Romano. Although he’s quite busy, he doesn’t hesitate to stop and point you to good eats around the city or tell you a tale or two about pastas!

That night, armed with my purchases, I pretended to toil in the kitchen to create a pasta dinner for my friend and host. In reality, it took me less than 15 to boil the pasta, heat up the sauce and toss the two together along with grilled sausage and sautéed veggies. Bellissima!