Embrace Sweets

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Holidays From Embrace Sweets

From our family to yours we wish everyone a wonderful New Years!

Stay tuned in 2011 cause Embrace Sweets just got sweeter! :-)

Happy New Year!

Brandi + Sandra

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Holiday Craziness

Hello my fellow all things butter lovers, forgive me for my lack of post - trust me this is a good sign. Things have been absolutely crazy busy around here and Embrace Sweets is making some major head way.  The holiday season is full swing now and we are busy shipping Brownie Samplers all over the world.  So far we've sent out almost 500 samples since Halloween and many more orders coming in daily.  We shipped our first international order to Hong Kong last month and we are proud to announce they arrived; fresh, in tact and were enjoyed by many.

We have a new logo, which we'll be unveiling soon and this month is Unique LA the premier holiday gift show (Dec. 11th & 12th), Downtown Los Angeles.

There is so much going on, and we still have to find to time to breathe.  So bear with me this next month I promise to get back to blogging (and eating) very soon.

Big hug and lots of love to all our supporters out there. We heart you and couldn't do it without you.

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and keep up with our next locations and special events.  We'll be adding a few new farmers market in a few weeks, and one might just be in your neck of the woods.

Till the next brownie batch, eat more chocolate!

Brandi & Sandra

Monday, November 8, 2010

Embrace the Unique

We're so excited to be joining the Unique LA family this year. Embrace Sweets will be participating in the Unique LA show December 11 - 12th held at the California Mart Downtown LA.

This is a wonderful opportunity for us and the community to come together and support local business, local producers and just all the cool people out there doing good.

Tickets are $10 at the door and the shopping is unlimited. If you don't already know what you're getting those on your Xmas list this year, this is the perfect spot for you to make it happen.

Stay tuned for more information. Put us down in your book!

December 11th and 12th 11am - 6pm - California Mart, Downtown Los Angeles Unique LA!!

See you there!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Making a Difference

Come on LA and the rest of the country (in our time zone) get out and vote!

You've still got one hour left.

If you don't stand up to be heard you can't complain when no one is listening!

Peace, Brandi
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.4

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Closer Than Going to Mexico

I've been planning a wonderful, exotic, Mexican vacation for the past 10 years, well to be honest I've been planning an European, South American and Mediterranean vacation too, I know one of these days I'll actually be booking the tickets.  In the meantime I may have found a temporary solution (or better yet quick fix) for my Mexican vacay blues. Ricky's Tacos.

They are cheaper than a vacation package, arrive faster than the actual flight and can instantly teleport you to the desired little Baja hut and/or Cantina of your wildest dreams.

I stumbled upon Ricky's not by accident, and anyone who has been will tell you why.  They are close to impossible to find if you don't know what you're looking for.  Ricky's is well hidden in the parking lot behind a beauty salon in Silverlake.  Blue tarps and rickety chairs and tables make up this faux-restaurant.  The food speaks for itself and as you're enjoying your meal you find you've completely forgotten that just behind the wrought iron gates is a busy, noisy street and your table setting consist of plastic cups, forks and Styrofoam plate.

Ricky's Taco, are freshly made when you order, large pieces of fresh fish are dipped in secretly seasoned batter (that in my opinion, could put the Colonel to shame) and deep fried in large wok-style pans until a perfect shade of golden reminiscent of the sunsets you're sure to experience along the mexican coastline. You don't need tarter sauce, cocktail sauce or anything else for that matter - the tacos are amazing just as they are.

Until experiencing Ricky's I was a fan of Baja Fresh fish tacos and of course Poquito Mas; I still enjoy these places as well but they have now become my second and third choice when you just can't make it to Ricky's.

Who said you couldn't take a mini beach vacay during your lunchtime? I'm planning one today! :-)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Will The Real Mr. Smith Stand Up

Will Smith

Me + Forrest
Audrey Hepburn

Good Ole Jack
Me, The Prince of Egypt and a camel
My Girl Uma
Whoopie (Wow!)
No It's Not Midnight Cowboy!
Madame Tussaud herself!

Fun facts from Madame Tussaud:

Beyonce in the making
Beyonce completed


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Perfect Bar for Me

Breadbar Century City Westfield Shopping Plaza
Quite possibly the wonderful conclusion to an awful movie experience.

In short, mum and I went to see The American..........I don't want to talk about it.  :-( Ok, i'll say this and this only.. "George, really? What were you thinking with this one?" I mean it's George Clooney I just expected soooooooo much more out of him and this was no where near my expectation level. Even if you told me to imagine a bad movie staring Gorgeous George, I couldn't fathom this picture.  Ok, I'm done venting. Seriously.  :-)

BUT! the pain au chocolat and vanilla cappuccino that followed was fantastic.  Breadbar, is one of the sweetest little establishments I've been too. The service left a little to be desired but I figure they are just trying to give you a real European experience.  Mum and I visited the one located in the Century city Shopping plaza and we were pleasantly surprised.  To be honest though anything after the torture we endured for 1hr and 45sec would be a relief.

Cute little atmosphere, beautiful day and as always great company. Luv you mum! :-)

Check out that foam! Purrrfect!
Pain au Chocolat

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It Takes a Village....

The Village Bakery & Cafe
It's times like this that I wish we (Embrace Sweets) had our own little bakery/cafe/brownie boutique. The idea has crossed our minds more than once and the impulse is strong to go forward, I suppose the only question is where? Where in ALL of LA do we set up shop? Perhaps you can help me with that question. :-)

Blueberry Muffins
Meanwhile, The Village is the inspiration for this blog. Located in Atwater Village (right after Los Feliz) is this wonderful place. I've passed by many times and for some reason just never had the time or urge to stop in.  Boy was this a mistake, knowing now what I've been missing out on is such a disappointment, I should really know better by now. This lovely bakery/cafe has been around for many years but only recently been taken over by new management and what a success it has been.
Vegan Chocolate Cakes

"Baker and owner Barbara Monderine, who turned Atwater's teensy L.A. Bread bakery into the genial Village Bakery & Café late last year. The space has since expanded--it's now twice its former size, with communal tables and a pet-friendly patio out front." - Tasting Table 

Doughnut Muffin
Mum and I ventured over one early Saturday morning for breakfast, greeted with smiles, and sugary sweet attitudes we ordered at the counter and made ourselves cozy in the corner - close enough to the bakery case to drool and be a voyeur but far enough way for no one else to notice.  For an appetizer we shared their famous doughnut muffin, vanilla cappuccino and hot chocolate; for the main dish I had my favorite, a BLT with eggs, Mom munched down on The Village Pancakes with warm maple syrup.

BLT (w.Eggs)
Enjoying my Vanilla Cap

A very simple, not complicated, easy-going breakfast; something you could make at home but you'd miss all the atmosphere. I have to admit though the doughnut muffin was amazing, its sweet, cakey and light - true and imagine a doughnut hole but the shape of a cupcake completely rolled in cinnamon-sugar. Perfection!
Pancakes + Maple

Barbara running back to the kitchen
Lastly, I also love that running around with the staff was Barbara- you could tell she'd been there most the morning, her hair was a little frazzled, she had flour on her face and her apron was already covered but in between sticking things in their large bread oven, pulling dough from the proofer and setting up with pastry in the display case she smiled and had a look of complete contentment and satisfaction.  That is always the sure sign of happiness and success.  That's what I most look forward to if (and when) we do open up our own place.  Stay tuned.. :-)

The Village Bakery & Café, 3119 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater Village; 323-662-8600 or thevillagebakeryandcafe.com (map/directions)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Push and Pull of Life

I had a revelation last night and it came from my first night in Intermediate Tango class. We practiced walking, forward and back, turns and movement with each other without using our arms. There was no tango embrace not even the practice hold, we had only to rely on our core and support each other without tipping over (or dropping) the other person. Pressed chest to chest you had to match the force you gave with the force your partner was giving to you; you couldn't lean on them, they weren't there to support you, not really that was up to you; but, they were there to guide you and help you execute the move.

I realized three things last night:
1. My core is pretty weak.
2. I relay to much on my hands instead of trusting myself and my body to do and give what it instinctively knows
3. and lastly, I realized this one class represents so much of life (at least my own).

Life itself is a push and pull, in our daily lives we give to others and want (or at least hope) to receive the same in return.  We push against the things we don't want but we also push ourselves towards those that we do.  We give ourselves fully when it's something that resonates with us and we protect ourselves when people are trying to put their 'stuff', their energy onto us.  Throughtout all of this however do this with faith. Faith in ourselves, faith in those that we follow and faith that we won't fall.  Much like our practice we had to have faith that we could work together, to come to a mutual agreement, to complete the process only using our own strength and body weight.  I always imagined the embrace was the most important part, the way you express your intention and your passion to your partner; but now I realize that's just the icing.  If you can do all of that without holding your partner you've entered a whole new realm, a whole new dimension of trust and connection that is even more powerful.

Tango is so much more than just a dance. It's a language, it's an expression, it's an outlet and a meditation as my favorite teacher Stefan says.  I'm reminded every time I step into class that I'm not just here to learn a new dance move, but I'm here to be apart of something and I'm here to grow spiritually, emotionally and as a person.  A person who can tango and express herself in whole different light.

Ocho Cortado here I come!! Clear the dance floor. :-)

12958 Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A True Coffee Break

When the day just seems to be having its way with you our maybe you just got up a minute too soon (or late). The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is my mini retreat.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.9

There's a Carb in Heaven For Me

Is it just me or all of the best things in life centered around breads, pasta, sugar and of course butter? As my Mum says, "Why would anyone want to live without it, you'd might as well just shoot yourself" - ok, so maybe that's a little harsh but come on you have to agree (at least a little).  We've been led to believe that these things are 'bad for us' but how can anything be bad in "Moderation".  If you have moderation you can have anything. I suppose the challenge comes in with maintaining the moderation part.

So if I share a blueberry scone and hot tea in the morning, have a small slice of tomato basil foccacia bread with my lunch (of fresh made pasta and sliced chicken) and for dinner salivate and enjoy a moderate portion of butterscotch bread pudding does that count as moderation? Probably not.

If you've had the pleasure to read the book (or see the movie) Eat Pray Love, then you'll know exactly what I'm getting at.  The main character of the book spends three months in Italy and makes the most wonderful statement that 'No carb will be left behind'.  I couldn't have said it better myself. Fully taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity and the fresh country, she indulges in gelato, fresh made pastas and tomato sauces, sautéed in butter everything and of course pizza! Oh, the pizza - I'm convinced that in heaven there is an endless supply of all your favorite foods just waiting for you and to make sure you never get tired of them, you have the memory of a goldfish, so every time you eat something it's like the first time. Amazing.

I am in awe sometimes when I step back and listen to my conversations about food, when did this happen? How did this happen?  I was born in Georgia but raised in California, as a child I was a very picky eater but what I did love was my Grandmother and Great-grandmothers' cooking.  Southern fried chicken breast, collard greens, sweet potatoes and pound cakes.  This type of cooking wasn't for everyday meals but reserved for Sunday dinners, holidays, and special occasions. But it wasn't until my late 20's that I really started to appreciate food and venture out to new cuisine. My idea of 'good food' or even just food I'd eat was so limited, I was so fearful and timid.  Even when I started traveling through Southeast Asia, South America and the Caribbean, I kick myself now because I completely missed out.  Well, on the other hand the upside is I just have to go back and re-experience those places correctly.

Perhaps food has just gotten better with time, like wine, olive oil and canned fruit; I do believe there is some truth to this. Over the last decade so many culinary milestones and advances have been made in the industry. All these new types of salts, sugars, olive oil combinations, herbs and spices; different cuts of meats, hybrid vegetables and fruits, even down to the style and way things are cooked has evolved.  What was once unthought of, impossible or just considered 'wrong' is now copied and exploited all over the place.  Traditional cooking and ceremonial cooking has found a place in chic, boutique restaurants and supper clubs - eating has become fun, fashionable and interesting.  There are more food critics, bloggers (such as myself) and so-called experts than ever before.  Culinary academy's are popping up everywhere, people want to be the chefs they see on reality shows and Food Network, being just a mere 'cook' doesn't hold the fame or light anymore but to be a Chef the possibilities are endless.

Last night my Mum reminded me that when I was young and had a bedtime I used to always think that I was missing out on something, that while I slept she and all the other parents were partying, dancing and having a grand ole time.  Now I know that wasn't the case, she'd be up working late, watching TV or preparing for the next day and then she'd retire as well. Well, now things are different, if I had kids they would definitely believe something was going on while they slept. There might be a few friends over sharing a great new bottle of wine and the latest gossip, mummy and daddy might be making some exotic dinner for two and sharing a slice of Tequila Lime Cheesecake, or maybe I just might find solice in an amazing scoop of Salted Caramel Vanilla Gelato.  Who really knows, but I can tell you this; food is definitely more apart of my life, my friends and anyone I associate with than I could have ever imagined years ago.  I can't even imagine not caring about what I put in my mouth or where I'm getting my ingredients from.  It's a daily conversation but in the most wonderful way, it's not stressful, it's not about dieting or calorie counting; it's about moderation, savoring and honestly just being present and enjoying what you're enjoying.  I believe if you do that, you can't overeat, you can't eat the wrong thing and you can't finish a meal and forget what you ate just a few hours before.

Make every meal count. Appreciate every taste bud. Savor every bite.

Till the next meal!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Smoke This Joint

Baby Backs w/Mac 'n' Chez and Loaded Baked Potato

(2) sauces
Now, I don't necessarily pride myself on having a knack for barbecuing or even being a BBQ aficionado, but I do believe that like most of us I know good BBQ when I come across it. Mom on the other hand is hands down the BBQ queen and if she says it's the best well then you know you have a winner. 

Catfish (Appetizer)

The Best Baked Beans!
Next in line for our weekend food challenge is The Smokin Joint on West 3rd St in West Hollywood.  So, off the bat I was a little concerned, they call themselves a "Fine California BBQ" restaurant, now doesn't that seem to be an oxymoron? I mean Fine + BBQ I can't imagine the two going together. Isn't BBQ supposed to be sticky, messy and fun? Since when do you eat BBQ with a knife and fork with delicate white napkins on your lap? Well, I am happy to report that Smokin may be 'Fine' but they are still firmly rooted in the BBQ tradition. We ordered the Catfish (appetizer) 15 hour brisket, baby backs, mac 'n' chez, loaded baked potato and of course baked beans, the baked beans by the way were boasted as being The Best in LA, obviously they haven't tasted mine. Their sauces were superb, you actually get three to choose from (vinegar based, Carolina style and a special made in house) and they come out separately so you can add as much or as little to your dish. The meats were tender and well flavored, my brisket was cooked for over 15 hours and as it literally melted in my mouth I agree it was worth the effort. Nothing ruins a good meal (especially BBQ) faster than feeling like you're fighting with your meat - the constant pull and tug when even a knife seems to dull and give up over the effort is a sure fire deal breaker. 

15hour Brisket w/Baked Beans

What was also a great, unexpected treat were the pickles they accompany every dish. At first I just over looked them and pushed them to the side, but the owner actually bought them to my attention and insisted I try them. Shockingly they were fantastic. They are sweet, firm, crisp and best of all made in house. They finish off the meal perfectly and could also be great sides on their own.
Elton John on the Big Screen
Autographed Guitars

Smokin's location is ideal, located walking distance from the Beverly Center there is tons of parking and steady foot traffic, it's also a welcomed addition to the same ole food places that have been in the area for years. It was time the area got 'spiced' up a bit. :-)

The owner (a former musician) also keeps true to tradition with the number of autographed guitars hanging on the walls, pictures of musicians and the large television wall display featuring concerts such as Live8, Coachella , and many others.

You're guaranteed great food, great music and great service - could you really ask for more?  

So the next time you're in the mood for BBQ, head over to 3rd Street and give Smokin a try, I promise you won't be disappointed.. :-) Dig in.

8486 W. 3rd St. Los Angeles