Spotlight: Hilton Mandalay Beach Embassy Suites Oxnard, CA

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The Hilton Mandalay Beach Embassy Suites in Oxnard, CA is perfect destination for the Angelino and a person coming from anywhere in the world.  What is really has to offer the person in live in Los Angeles is a real sense of escape without jumping on a plane or train.

We booked 2 rooms for 2 days and most agree we would wish it would have been three. You don’t have to leave the hotel. If the whether is right you can close eyes and dream you at an island destination. Open your eyes and not be disappointed.

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With heated pools, a jacuzzi, tennis courts, a gym and the beach right out your gated weekend community stay. You couldn’t ask for more but you get it. We had a nice size refrigerator in our room and a microwave. We stayed in building 2 with views of beach shores and ocean.

Now let’s talk about grub on the premise and nearby.  Breakfast may be called continental but it a buffet with a choice of sausage, bacon, pancakes, waffles, fruits, hash browns, scrambled eggs and custom made omlette station.  Walk down a little a little further and you will find healthy section with yogurt bar, cereals, various toasts and maybe not so healthy option of morning pastries.    At lunch time, chef are grilling hot dogs and hamburgers poolside.  It’s a little pricey but if convenience is what you want then you have it.     There is also inclusive reception/happy hour every evening.

Healthy section with yogurt bar, cereal, and juices

Healthy section with yogurt bar, cereal, and juices

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Northridge, CA: The Falafel Palace

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This reviews pains me a bit.  Sometimes, a meal falls short.  I normally enjoy The Falafel Palace but this dinner fell short for not all me but my friend too.  She was a first visitor so she wasn’t impressed.

Let’s talk my plate first with lamb sitting a top of head lettuce( which I hate but that’s not their fault) complimented with tabouli and baba ganoush. My lamb was flavorful but  dry. My tabouli was just too dry and lacked flavor.  The baba ganoush was good.  They also offered me a sample of their falafel which I enjoyed.  However, my dining order a pita filled with falafels and she thought it lacked flavor.  Considering that I have been to restaurant in a year.  I want to give them the benefit of the doubt of a bad day.  My others visits, I have no complaints.  That is why I have kept coming over the years.

Review by Crystal A. Johnson

9255 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324

Phone:(818) 993-0734

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Hateful Eight

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This will be one of my shortest reviews for a film.  As, it says below…”Hated It.”  Normally, there is a foodie review and I could give you some witty suggestions on what to eat but in light of not advocating this film,  no food review.

Now why do I hate it?  At 3 hours and 7 minutes, it is too long given the execution of the story which could have been finished 60 minutes earlier.  There is no payoff by the end of the film and no truly likable hero.  This a bloody mess of a film.  However, in my opinion less bloody than most Tarentino films which admittedly in the past I have enjoyed.   Django, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs are some of my favorites.   If you insist on seeing this then please don’t have children around.  Multiple heads  are blown off.

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Woodland Hills, High Tea Cottage

High Tea Cottage Stacked plate

What a wonderful little spot in the San Fernando Valley.  The High Tea Cottage is located one block south of Ventura Blvd in Woodland Hill.  The staff is friendly and don’t be surprised if they engage in conversation with.

Crystal and Julia at High Tea Cottage

Look out for special days like Downton Abbey Teacher or Customer Appreciation day which prices are slashed in half.  I was fortunate to visit on a Good Friday customer appreciation day.

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We started with tea and delight fruit salad.  Then we enjoyed our tea sandwiches and scones and enjoyed our fruit filled Belgian chocolate cups.

Address: 21938 Costanso St, Woodland Hills, CA 91364

 

Northridge,CA: Szechuan Place

Spicy wonton soup

Spicy Wonton Soup- Photo by Crystal A. Johnson

While going to do my laundry at a strip mall, a vibrant place caught my attention called the Szechuan.  Something about it even from afar screamed authentic.  The crowd mostly, if not all Asians except me tends to validate my authenticity suspicion.

The restaurant has an extensive menu.  Things caught my attention like Szechuan pork, a couple nearby sharing tofu stew,  and corn chowder soup.  However, I settled on something that I don’t see everyday which is spicy wonton soup.   This is not you standard American Chinese won ton soup.   Instead it is a mixture of chili oil, broth, green onions and garlic and my wontons were filled with pork.  Though, I enjoyed the flavor,  I did think it was too oily.  I would like to maybe had more broth based.  It was very rich.  The garlic and green onion tasted very fresh.   I also order some crispy spring roll that were perfectly crispy and the vegetables inside tasted fresh and were crunchy.

I believe this restaurant is relatively new.  The service was extremely slow but the staff was very nice.

The decor is beautiful.  It make you kind of forget you are in s strip mall by a laundry mat and cleaners.  I definitely would like to explore some of the other dishes.

Szechuan Place

The restaurant is located by California State Northridge University.  It should do well and better than previous establishments in that location.

Where: 9250 RESEDA BLVD UNIT #7-8 NORTHRIDGE 91324

Northridge, CA: The Compassion Experience

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This free event features an interactive journey through the true stories of children living in developing countries like the Philippines, Kenya, Uganda and the Dominican Republic.

In over 2,000 square feet of interactive exhibit space, visitors will step inside homes, markets and schools — without getting on a plane. Each child’s story starts in poverty but ends in hope.

When: Sat March 12th to Thursday March 17th 2016

Check Schedule for times vary each day

Reserve Now: http://cts.compassion.com/modify-reservation/

See Video: https://vimeo.com/125943262

 

NBA Star Ray Allen to Open 1st Organic Fast-Food Restaurant on East Coast

Two-time NBA champion Ray Allen and his wife Shannon Allen, are in the process of opening a chain of organic fast food restaurants. The name of the fast food chain is “Grown” and their first one will be located in Miami, FL.  READ MORE

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Long Beach, CA: West Coast BBQ Classic

The Queen Mary welcomes back the 5th annual West Coast BBQ Classic (WCBC) for a finger lickin’ afternoon full of barbeque grillin’ on Saturday, May 14 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. BBQqueenmary-72 (1).jpg The WCBC invites barbeque experts and amateur grill masters to take part in a classic showdown that will leave your taste buds filled with the unmistakable sweet ‘n smoky flavors of BBQ.

The WCBC will feature BBQ styles from across the country including slow-cooked hickory barbeque from Texas and southern Memphis-style barbeque. The competition is an official California-State-Certified, KCBS-Sanctioned, BBQ Championship and will bring Southern California’s most accomplished Champion Pitmasters together to compete for a $10,500 cash prize and the coveted title of West Coast BBQ Pitmaster Champion.

Whether you are a barbecue aficionado or simply a foodie fan, the West Coast BBQ Classic offers something for everyone with delicious BBQ samples for only $2 each, live music, backyard games, contests and a merchant market. Live entertainment will be provided by the country sensation, Scotty Mac Band. Join in the fun and participate in the watermelon or cobbler eating contests. Children are invited to Kids Country offering games, a bounce house, face painters and potato sack races just for little BBQ fans.

Cost: General value pack tickets are $20 each through April 30 and include event admission plus five tasting tickets and access to the Queen Mary ship. AfterApril 30 tickets increase to $25. VIP value pack tickets are $35 through May and include one-hour early event admission plus five tasting tickets and access to the Queen Mary ship. After May 1 tickets increase to $40. Event parking is $15.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the 5th annual West Coast BBQ Classic visit http://queenmary.com/events/west-coast-bbq-classic/.

Film and Foodie Review: Spotlight

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The Film: This is a movie I didn’t want to see, a movie about the sexual violation of children by priests. However, this film is a well done account of the Boston Globe’s dedicated Spotlight team 2003 Pulitzer winning investigation on the crimes committed by priests.  Spotlight is the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative unit in the United States.  In the early 2000s, theteam uncovers the widespread problem of child abuse by priests in the Boston area.   The string of trackable crimes dates from the 70’s to the early 2000’s.   For a disturbing topic, the highlight is delightful cast including  Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d’Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, and Billy Crudup.   Each actor seems to bring nuances of internal agony about the situation.   The story illuminates the fraternity of silence about suspected crimes.  I expected the film to be slanted with Hollywood propanganda but it seems just to be honest storytelling.

The Food:  I deliberated about broaching the topic of food.  It’s such a heavy movie.  Set in Boston,  I thought a bread bowl of  New England clam chowder and Sam Adams beer would be perfect comfort food.  You’ll need for this for this uncomfortable topic.

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