Dreamscape Immersive Reopens in Century City

Dreamscape Immersive’s reopens at the Century City Mall on Thursday, May 6, 2021. Without leaving Century City, guests ages 10+ are once again transported on a mind-bending, heart-pumping adventure to faraway worlds. 

Before the pandemic, I rode Dragons Flight Academy, inspired by DreamWorks Animation‘s critically acclaimed film trilogy – “How to Train Your Dragon”, this interactive experience allowed eight VR participants a reserved time to experience the 20 minute journey together.

Closed for over one year, I wondered how this fun, family activity would reopen. I learned that in order to ensure a healthy and safe environment for all, Dreamscape has added enhanced cleaning procedures, social distancing standards, and mandatory masks wearing for guests and employees.  

Also, they are only selling private adventures, where one travels only with their trusted crew.  Just purchase two or more tickets per experience and the POD is all yours. Tickets are available for presale now for $23.50 online.

The adventure begins the minute you walk into the flagship Los Angeles Dreamscape, near Eataly and step inside a replica of a train station.

Bruce Vaughn and Walter Parkes

“At Dreamscape, our goal is to create the ultimate immersive experiences that allow our customers to enter into, and in this case fly into, worlds that they never dreamed possible,” said Walter Parkes, Chairman, Dreamscape and Producer, DreamWorks Dragons Flight Academy. ”

Bruce Vaughn, CEO Dreamscape Immersive is living his dream of animation and movie magic. Ever since he was 12 years old watching the first Star Wars movie, he knew he wanted to create stories and experiences for people. Now he has taken his dream to a new level with his Dreamscape vision, creating virtual 3D environments, enabling people to become the star of their own movie adventure.

Christina Lee Storm, Producer, DreamWorks Dragons Flight Academy, DreamWorks Animation said, “The thrilling adventure will bring guests to new heights in a fun, wondrous way that will inspire repeat visits.”

Click here to reserve your Dreamscape ride. Other Dreamscape Immersive Theaters open includes Easton Town Center in Columbus, OH; NorthPark Center in Dallas, TX and Mall of the Emirates, Dubai UAE.

Best Ice Skating during the Holidays in LA

When shopping during the holidays at the Westfield Century City take a trip through The Market at Westfield to explore a charming winter village with cobblestone streets, dotted with pine trees and twinkling garland.

IMG_2087

Peek inside curated specialty shops and food purveyors offering holiday gifts and delicious gourmet treats. Santa and Mrs. Claus’ bungalow is inside the village neat the sleigh parking area. The Town Square clock tower showcases the latest must-have L.O.L Surprise! collectibles and chances to win holiday toys. Get your holiday gifts expertly wrapped at Santa’s Post Office. Hourly snow falls and clock chimes.

IMG_1701

Look above to see a one-of-a-kind 600-foot skate rink that circles the market overhead, for an elevated perspective.

IMG_1733

This unique ice skating experience is now through January 12, 2020. Skate along to holiday music around The Market at The Atrium. Live performances are on Wednesday – Sunday by a village town villager cast. Stop along the wrap around ice track for a warm beverage.

IMG_1735

Shop 13 charming and curated specialty shops and food purveyors offering limited-edition gifts, gourmet treats, and accessories. Featured brands include:

  • Dandelion Chocolate (Level 1 & 2): From their award winning two-ingredient chocolate bars to assorted gift boxes, hot chocolate mixes, and their famous chocolate maker kit, the Dandelion pop-up will have it all. On Level Two at the Skating Rink, they will serve their famous hot chocolate drinks and treats for the first time in Los Angeles, including their popular European Drinking Chocolate, Cold Chocolate Oat Milk, chocolate chip cookies, and more!
  • Ghost DemocracyGhost Democracy is a direct-to-consumer skincare brand whose mission is to make exceptionally clean skincare accessible to everyone. It’s focused on a higher standard of clean and higher ingredient concentrations for results you can see, at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
  • GoodiesGoodies offers uniquely handcrafted home goods for nothing over $25. Their products are made in small batches with new items added every two weeks. They believe in sustainability, using natural materials and no plastic in their designs. Their mission is to make sustainable design attainable for everyone.
  • Lady M Confections
  • Lord Jones: Lord Jones formulates, manufactures and distributed the world’s finest hemp-derived CBD infused products. The collection features best-in-class skincare, handmade confections and daily supplements.
  • Mac Shackk: This Buttered Beer Pop-Up Shop is home to the finest purveyors of (non-alcoholic) Buttered Beer Beverages and Magical Macaroni and Cheese Bowls. The Buttered Beer Beverage is full of notes of vanilla, caramel, and other secret flavors that will enchant your taste buds and  leave you hooked like most famous wizards. At the shop you can also purchase their glittery Mac n Cheese in homemade Bread Bowls and buy yourself a mystery wand.
  • NURA: Nura produces the nuraphone —  world’s only headphone that automatically learns and adapts to your hearing creating the best experience of your music possible, now available as a monthly subscription.
  • Outerknown – For People and Planet. At Outerknown, they’re known for making every decision with the highest regard for the hands that build our clothes and the world we call home. From seeds to suppliers to circular design, their mission is to protect natural resources, empower the people crafting our clothes, and inspire change within the industry and beyond. Outerknown want to be the world’s most progressive digital brand and believe that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for sustainability – the two should be synonymous.
  • Tiary: Make gift giving personal this year by designing your own custom piece of jewelry from Tiary. Designers will be on hand to help you choose the style, metal, stones, personalized letters and engraving to make each piece as unique, as the person you are gifting. Each piece is then custom made in the USA from high quality and ethically sourced materials and shipped to you or your gifting recipient. Jewelry is one of the most personal gifts you can give or receive, be the gifting-giving hero this season with custom, made-to-order jewelry from Tiary!
  • VEJO: Vejo is the first integrated health and wellness platform to provide access to targeted on-the-go nutrition without compromising nutrients or convenience. Vejo has created the world’s first connected, pod-based blender that allows users to consume doctor-formulated and athlete-tested blends anywhere.
  • Von Holzhausen: Von Holzhausen has reinvented leather with their 100% animal-free Technik-Leather. They are a Malibu–based collection of accessories with a focus on design, sustainability, and quality of life at prices that leave out the traditional retail mark–up.
  • Waffleshot: An edible cup made out of a waffle cone and coated with Belgian chocolate. Depending on the flavor you choose you will find a hidden filling nestled at the bottom.

Skate times are from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Crack Shack takes fried chicken up a notch

Celebrity chef Richard Blais is known for his appearances on the reality cooking show Top Chef, and as San Diego’s top restaurateur with his fine dining restaurant Juniper & Ivy, and fine-casual fried chicken eatery The Crack Shack. 

Fine-casual restaurants are popping up all over Los Angeles since restaurateur Danny Meyer of Shake Shack came up with this culinary term. Now other chefs are taking off with this concept, blending speed and convenience of fast-casual with a chef-driven menu and upscale touches. 

IMG_9115

Blaise’s touches include an elevated food and bar menu showcasing innovative California cuisine and whimsical decor. He partnered with chef Jon Sloan and Michael Rosen in 2015 to open an all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner menu that revolves around chicken and eggs in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. The chefs fry, grill and prepare healthy, and not so healthy, but oh so satisfying dishes that appeal to all. 

This concept became so popular, that Blais and his team opened other “Shacks” in Encinitas and Costa Mesa. Now one is in Los Angeles at the Westfield Century City near Nordstrom.

Walking to the glass and wood “Shack,” we were greeted by an enormous white rooster statue, before following a long hallway to the order counter. Looking over the menu, we noticed the restaurant has a glass and metal Moët & Chandon vending machine located in the large bar area. It’s filled with hundreds of chilled small bottles of Imperial Brut or Imperial Rosé.

IMG_9135

Moët & Chandon first introduced the vending machine in London a few years ago, and then the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas became the first U.S. destination. Now Arnaud’s French 75 in New Orleans and The Crack Shack in Century City have one too.

Since Blais is also a James Beard nominated cookbook author, his books including – Try This at Home: Recipes From My Head to Your Plate are on displays for guests to look through or purchase. 

We decided to order one or two items from each “cocky” category on the menu to share family style. The “Other Cluck” section listed chicken oysters, Mexican poutine, deviled eggs, schmaltz fries and six mini biscuits. We noticed the deviled eggs come on a tray with four halved eggs topped with candied “crack” bacon and a french toast crumble. That sounded good. My daughter also wanted to try the fries and small biscuits served warm with a miso-maple butter spread. 

IMG_9144

My husband ordered one of the fried chicken sandwiches named Señor Croque. Others are humorously called Double Clucker, Malibu Barbie Q  and Coop Deville. I selected a healthier bowl called the Downward Dog. Others in the salad section are named “Anti-salad power bowl”, “Miso healthy bowl” and a Baja chop salad. 

IMG_9148

Since the Crack Shack makes milkshakes from Salt & Straw ice cream, my husband and daughter ordered a honey lavender purple shake and a deep brown chocolate one. I received a token for $20 to retrieve a personal size Moët & Chandon bottle. 

IMG_9120

Taking our number and looking for a table, we commented how the indoor dining room is large, light and bright with concrete flooring, metal chairs with plaid upholstered backs in soft blues and cream colors. There are whimsical wall posters featuring LA Galaxy, Los Angeles Dodgers, and LA Lakers players with chicken heads replacing the player’s face. It’s silly, yet adds to the fun of not taking itself too serious atmosphere. They even have chicken coop wiring above some of the booths near the full bar. 

IMG_9171

The large square style bar has mixologists making and pouring craft cocktails and strawberry frose’ slushies. There are a variety of beer options that include King Harbor, Beachwood, and Mother Earth. Wines can be poured in two glass sizes or ordered by the bottle. The selection includes a light whites, rose’ and reds. 

Since it was a lovely day, we sat out on the front patio at a wood table, under black umbrellas and waited for our food to arrive. I took my token back into the bar area and inserted it into the machine. A robotic arm moved to the number I pressed for a bottle of Imperial Rosé. With a soft mechanical sound, the bottle was taken from the refrigerated case and deposited into a tray that opened to reveal my selection. 

Returning to my table, a server brought a flute and shiny gold Moët pourer, so I didn’t have to drink straight from the bottle. The bubbles complemented the richness of our fried chicken, eggs and biscuits meal. 

IMG_9167

Taking a bite of my husband’s crispy chicken sandwich, I enjoyed the layers of bacon, a fried egg, melted cheddar, smear of miso-maple butter all between a brioche bun. It’s thicker than most, juicy and enhanced with “crack spice” a proprietary blend of spices from Le Sanctuaire in San Francisco. 

There are six different handmade sauces to elevate a burger or fries even more. The sauce station offers “Crackup (ketchup)”, “Sweet Heat”, “Ranch”, “Sriracha 1000 Island” “Kimchi Barbecue”, and “Baja Hot Sauce.”

IMG_9139

My healthier bowl arrived with thick hummus on the bottom and up the sides, bite-sized local grilled carrots and beets, sunflower seeds, quinoa, and rocket arugula. It was delicious with a light lemon yogurt vinegar sprinkled on top.

Crack Shack offers a Happy Hour every Monday through Friday where guests receive special priced beverages and crack snacks from 3 to 7 p.m. These deals will have you “crowing” after a day of shopping or before an early movie.

IMG_9122

Before leaving we learned that Blais and his team are opening another Crack Shack in Old Town Pasadena on Green Street before the end of 2018. $-$$ 10250 Santa Monica Blvd. (424)320-0046.

This article was also featured in the August 16, 2018 – Beverly Press

Healthy Eating is a Breeze

DSC_0697After experiencing a Paleo dinner prepared by Chef Ali Parvinjah last Saturday night at Breeze Restaurant and Bar, I vowed to start my New Year’s resolution early, by eating like my ancient ancestors in the Paleolithic era.

Chef Ali at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza is an expert at Paleo cooking and inspired me to adjust my culinary lifestyle.

Born in Connecticut on the fourth of July, Chef Ali was overweight as a child and bullied. He went to the California Culinary Academy to become a chef, because he loved eating food. Later, he worked at Patina and helped Joachim Splichal open the downtown steakhouse, Nick and Stef’s.

Seven years ago, Chef Ali was at his all time highest weight, 270 pounds. He was miserable and decided to do something about it. He met Roger Machado a professor of Brazilian jiu-jitsu who taught Chef Ali to become a vegetarian, while learning the martial arts-combat sport. While attending classes for two years, Chef Ali dropped down to 205 pounds. Feeling good about himself, he competed in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and became lighter, faster and leaner. Chef Ali surrounded himself with people who ate a healthy Paleo eating plan, and dropped down to hisDSC_0689 current trim 185 pounds.

Meanwhile, Hyatt offered him a job to be a chef at various Hyatt Hotels. Chef Ali created a successful gourmet vegan menu for the Hyatt in London, and then came to the Century Plaza Hotel a little over two years ago.

Here he has created a Paleo menu to accompany the regular menu at Breeze Restaurant and Bar. Even the regular menu offers fairly healthy dishes that included vegan, gluten free, perfectly portioned dishes that are lighter and only 500 calories or less.

“Paleo is a modern nutritional plan based on a hunter-gatherer diet, also known as a caveman diet,” Chef Ali said. “The development of farming and grain-based diets that are reconstructed are the root to obesity.”

A Paleo diet consists of sustainable fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. It excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. He believes our bodies can’t digest these foods properly and stores them as fat. “You take in the calories, yet don’t get much in nutrients,” he said.

IMG_5892You will not see any of these on Chef Ali’s Paleo menu, but what you will see is an appetizing array of dishes that you could easily eat daily.

“I go to the Farmers Market every Wednesday in Santa Monica to be inspired by the soil and what grows from it,” said Chef Ali. “Recently while choosing fresh vegetables and produce, I created my winter and holiday season Paleo menu.”

The Breeze Paleo Menu features appetizers titled “The Early Days of Man,” with two dishes that peeked our interest; a roasted butternut squash bisque and a pear and arugula salad. When our dishes arrived, I asked our attentive server, Robert, how this soup can be so creamy without any dairy. Robert has worked at the Century Plaza since 1995, and explained to us that Chef Ali adds coconut milk to the butternut squash, some onions and thyme, and then smooths it out with a Vitamix.

The salad had a natural sweetness and tartness to it with the sliced pears and honey, next to fresh cranberries filled with good antioxidants.

Our server Robert recommended a glass of Canvas Chardonnay made exclusively by Michael Mondavi for the Hyatt Hotels. It’s a clean tasting

food-friendly wine. Also, we had a glass of a more oaky and buttery Franciscan Chardonnay with our salad.

Inquiring about the wine list, I noticed there are 14 wines by the glass and various bottles that range from $52 to $235. What piqued my interestDSC_0690 was the Director’s Cut on the back page. Robert sent sommelier Nicholas Trznadel over to our table to explain these wines. Nicholas looks at his inventory of wines and chooses a variety of bottles to sell at discounted price to make room for new incoming wines. “It’s an added value to guests and keeps our wine list current and fresh,” said Nicholas. Every two to three weeks, he changes the wines offered on the Director’s Cut list.

Under the entrées is a char grilled New York steak topped with a grainy mustard sauce and served with sautéed winter greens, and an appealing sweet potato and leek gratin. Chef Ali’s mustard sauce is made with almond milk, honey, herbs and spices. There’s no butter

Nicolas brought out a bottle of a 2011 Justin – Justification that is made with 59 percent Cabernet Franc and 41 percent Merlot. The Merlot softens the blend. It paired nicely with the steak offering deep blackberry, blueberry and currant notes with soft spice and earth tones.

I ordered a moist and tender seared Patagonian tooth fish, also known as a seabass. It was served on a bed of cauliflower “rice” with roasted artichokes, sliced fennel, and colorful baby tomatoes next to robust olives decorating the plate.

The dishes are presented to appeal to your eyes and tastebuds
The dishes are presented to appeal to your eyes and tastebuds

The “rice” is blanched cauliflower put into a Cuisinart to resemble Jasmine rice. It doesn’t taste like rice, yet is a much healthier option.

Nicholas offered a healthy pour of 2011 Chalk Hill Sonoma Chardonnay with just a wisp of green apple, pear, soft oak and elegant butter tones.

Desserts are under “The Sweeter Side of Man” and include a Mason jar pumpkin pie with coconut whipped topping. Our favorite was Chef Ali’s mint chip ice cream made without any dairy. It’s made with raw cashews, maple syrup, vanilla bean, fresh mint and raw cocoa nibs from the seeds of the cacao tree. The nibs give the frozen delight texture and a delicate crunch. Three tablespoons of cacao offer more antioxidants than a cup of blueberries. It also has the chemicals that produce one to feel blissful and euphoric.

So for my New Year’s resolution, I am going to try to change the way I look and the way I dine. I look forward to visiting Chef Ali again for inspiration, guidance and to enjoy his healthy,

It looks like ice cream, tastes like ice cream, yet has no dairy.
It looks like ice cream, tastes like ice cream, yet has no dairy.

seasonal fare.

If the Paleo menu does not appeal to you, a regular breakfast, lunch and dinner menu is offered.

For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Chef Ali is preparing a maple yam bisque with fried leeks and lemon misto oil, herb cashew crusted prime rib with Yorkshire pudding. Finish with a raw pecan pie with coconut whipped cream or a chocolate Yule log. Dinner is from 5:30 to 10 p.m. for $50 per person. This celebratory dinner includes a glass of Canvas Chardonnay or Cabernet. On New Year’s Eve, Chef Ali is cooking up a special three course prix fixe dinner for $80 a couple.

Breeze is open for breakfast on Monday through Friday from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m.  On Saturday and Sunday breakfast is open until 11:30 a.m. Lunch is offered daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The sushi bar is open from Monday through Friday at 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner begins at 5:30 to 10:00 p.m. daily. $$ 2025 Avenue of the Stars (310) 551-3334.

Obika – Mozzarella Bar

When my Salmone e Ricotta pizza arrived, I remarked that the wild Alaskan salmon had such a beautiful color. The CEO of Obika restaurants, Raimondo Boggia, overheard my comment and introduced himself to me and my group of diners. “It’s wild sockeye smoked salmon,” shared Boggia. He said the salmon is hand filleted in small batches and then smoked to create a silky and smooth finish.

Sockeye salmon is one of the lowest in fat of the salmon family. “King salmon has about three times more fat than Sockeye,” Boggia said. “Farm raised salmon is even fattier.” Boggia works with Gerard & Dominique in Seattle, to produce a sugar-free salmon for his pizzas. “Did you know that most smoked salmon in restaurants has sugar?” Boggia asked.

Obika Mozzarella Bar in the Westfield Century City shopping center has just introduced new Neapolitan pizza menu. They make the dough with stone ground whole wheat and white flour that is imported from Italy, allowing the dough to naturally rise for 48 hours before making a pizza for a guest.

Boggia was so excited about his recently installed Valoriani-Mugnaini pizza oven. “In Italy, it would be heated with wood, but here we need to use gas,” Boggia said. “Regulations say it is better for the environment.” He informed me that the oven reaches over 900 degrees. “The temperature is so sensitive, we can cook four pizzas in one minute.”

My group and I devoured the delicious salmon pizza with ricotta and Mozzarella de Bufal. This is the cheese that has made Obika famous. It is handmade mozzarella that is processed using water buffalo milk for water buffalo. It has 33 percent less fat and cholesterol than mozzarella made from cow’s milk. “Our mozzarella is made with a lot of science and a bit of art. It’s unique,” Boggia said. There are various types of Mozzarella de Bufala imported from Italy. The classic mozzarella is a delicate cheese, Stracciatella di Burrata is a sweeter and creamier cheese and Affumicata is smoked on iron nets over a hay fire.

To read more of my review click here http://parklabreanewsbeverlypress.com/news/2012/04/obika-mozzarella-bar-authentic-italian-pizza-and-more/. Courtesy of the Beverly Press / Park LaBrea News. Published on April 26, 2012.

Breeze – Iconic Dining at the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel

 

Two dapper dressed gentlemen have greeted guests at the iconic Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel for over 40 years. Jack and James graciously opened the doors, and wished me a great lunch at Breeze. Click below to read the rest of my review, courtesy of the Beverly Press / Park La Brea News – published May 12, 2011

http://parklabreanewsbeverlypress.com/news/2011/05/breeze/

%d bloggers like this: