Behind The Scenes At The GRAMMYs Gift Lounge

When you think of the perks of stardom, you really have no idea just how many mindblowing treats they get… especially when they’re performing or presenting at the GRAMMY Awards®.

Having been invited to get an insider tour of the 58th Annual GRAMMY® Gift Lounge, I’m happy to give you a little taste of what it’s like to be pampered for your musical talents (or journalistic talents, in my case… ha ha).

Over the course of GRAMMY weekend, presenters and performers such as Adele, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, Sam Hunt, Carrie Underwood, The Weeknd, Lionel Richie, Johnny Depp and Little Big Town experienced the interactive lounge in which they received thank you gifts in acknowledgment of their participation in “Music’s Biggest Night.”

Tanaya's Table GRAMMY LL Cool J WireImage

Rapper LL Cool J eyeing those chocolates (WireImage)

The day I visited the cushy lounge set up next to Staples Center (where the GRAMMYs would be held) a couple days before the awards show, tons of talent like 5-time host LL Cool J, Diplo and Bow Wow also dropped by to check out the goods curated by Lash Fary and Distinctive Assets.

The LA-based entertainment marketing company is known for starting the celebrity swag bag craze 16 years ago, so I guess we have them to thank in part for the ironic concept that the more rich and famous you get, the more free stuff you get. I mean, each gift bag was apparently worth a whopping $22,000 with all the curated goodies inside!

Tanaya's Table GRAMMY Bow Wow Diplo WireImage

Musical artists Bow Wow and Diplo (WireImage)

So without further ado, I present you with the scoop on some of the coolest toys, tools and treats I found inside the exclusive star-studded GRAMMYs gift lounge:

Tools By Gina – Pure infrared professional blow dryers and flat irons from hair expert Gina Rivera. The infrared technology is the first of its kind, steaming the hair instead of applying direct heat, thus restoring natural shine.

Phillip Ashley Chocolates’ Luxe Collection – Chocolate covered caramels infused with Louis XIII cognac, with each piece weighing 30 grams and hand-gilded with 23k gold leaf. It costs $3,000 for one seven-piece box, making it one of the top ten most expensive chocolates in the world. Insane, right?

Tanayas Table GRAMMY Chocolate Gold Louis XIII

Louis XIII Cognac-infused, 23k gold leaf $3,000 chocolates

FitClubTV: Live in Fitness retreat + Fit Culture Threads designer workout apparel + Fit Culture Fuel health & performance supplements – Loved the passion behind all of these lines geared towards fitness, and especially loved that they’re giving back with a ton of free workout videos and more with the launch of FitClubTV.

Tanayas Table GRAMMY Hat

Loved this Flos Floris snapback hat

Flos Floris snapback hats from Milan, Italy – Universal appeal, cool design, comfy to wear. What more can you ask for?

Tanayas Table GRAMMY Drink

The Price of Love cocktail

Custom cocktails & mixology from The Natural Mixologist – I really liked The Price of Love cocktail made with Penthouse The Scarlet Sparkling Shiraz, organic orange elixir, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and orange liqueur. I especially loved that it was garnished with tiny heart-shaped rose petals.

Tanaya's Table GRAMMY LL Cool J Drink WireImage

LL Cool J sipping the cocktails I just tried! (WireImage)

NOON VR headsets – Loved the realistic smooth-panning, 360-degree visuals!

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2016

Trying out NOON Virtual Reality

SCUF Gaming Infinity 1 professional customized controllers and accessories – Gamers will geek out over how insanely customizable and comfortable these controllers are. I personally loved the red and black one! Check out all the specs if you’re into gaming.

SIS by Simone I. Smith jewelry – Created by LL Cool J’s wife after she won the battle with cancer, she started this line in partnership with the American Cancer Society. Find out more on these adorable candy-esque trinkets for a good cause here.

Tanaya's Table GRAMMY Candy Jewelry

Candy SIS by Simone I. Smith jewelry to help fight cancer (WireImage)

truth x Vans by Kevin Lyons one-of-a-kind sneakers that encourage everyone to use their voices and creativity to end smoking for good – I absolutely LOVED the concept of their newest #CATmageddon campaign, with the main message being that you are harming your pets and increasing their risk of cancer if you smoke.

Tanayas Table GRAMMY truth Vans

Secondhand smoke harms your pets, too. So PLEASE STOP!

They even had truth Treats for pets so that celebs’ furry friends waiting for them at home wouldn’t feel left out while their owners were out performing or presenting GRAMMYs! Find out how you can snag the statement shoes for a great cause, and see what they actually look like right here.

“It is a true honor to be even a very small part of (The GRAMMYs),” said Distinctive Assets’ founder Lash Fary. “The GRAMMY Gift Lounge has become one of the most lauded gift events in the world, which seems fitting based on the incomparable stature of the show itself.” Lash Fary was joined by longtime event producer Pam Morrison, who oversaw all elements of the lounge design.

I’m definitely very grateful for the opportunity to get a taste of what kind of star treatment the GRAMMYs talent gets in the Gift Lounge, and to experience a lot of it for myself… especially since the GRAMMYs are one of my favorite awards shows every year! Until next time, cheers! 🙂

 

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Dark Chocolate Red Wine Cookies - copyright 2015 Tanaya's Table

RECIPE: Dark Chocolate Red Wine Cookies For The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Note: So many travel adventures to share with you all! Stay tuned in 2016 for some exciting news with Tanaya’s Travels!

I grew up loving the holidays so much that there are recordings of me singing Christmas songs year-round. Even in 75-degree weather, every so often on family road trips I’d bust out with “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” (Yup, for some reason I placed great emphasis on the “wish” part.)

The holidays just gave me such a joyful feeling, a feeling of safety and love and happiness thanks to my festive and fun-loving family.

Something extra I looked forward to this holiday season was participating in the annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, since really I enjoyed doing it last year despite going through some tough times during the holidays. I suppose it brought a bit of normalcy to my anything-but-normal year in 2014.

Last year, I made Bourbon Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie Cookies. Since this holiday season had a strange kind of calm to it in comparison to my 2014, I decided my cookies should reflect that. Because what’s better than sitting back with a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate when you’re catching a much-needed (somewhat of a) break?

I decided to infuse some Merlot for a little tang, as well as some Himalayan Pink Salt to balance and round out the sweetness of this decadent, fudgy cookie. Here’s the recipe, hope you enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Cookies - copyright 2015 Tanaya's Table

DARK CHOCOLATE RED WINE COOKIES

Ingredients: (makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies) – Adapted from Simply Scratch

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick unsalted butter (softened)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup red wine (I used Merlot, but you could use pinot noir, red zinfandel or any red table wine you’d enjoy with chocolate)

3/4 bag (about 10 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chunks)

1 teaspoon Himlayan pink salt (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375°F

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt & baking soda.  Set aside.

In a separate mixing  bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Next, add in the egg, vanilla & red wine. Mix together until well incorporated.

Gradually add dry ingredients until well combined, folding chocolate chips in last.

The batter will have a mousse-like, slightly fluffy consistency. Oh, and it tastes DIVINE!

Place heaping teaspoons or tablespoons (depending on size desired) onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, a couple inches apart.

Sprinkle a few flakes of Himalayan pink salt on top of cookies, if desired.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on size and desired gooey or crunchy level.

If you’re sending your cookies across the country like I did for this cookie swap, bake those batches a little longer. Otherwise, enjoy these moist, gooey, chocolatey wine-infused cookies to enjoy at home or to share… and be proud of yourself for finding a delicious way to enjoy your dark chocolate and red wine antioxidants! 😉

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

I sent these cookies to the fab bloggers at Freshly Baked SweetsIn Natalie’s Shoes and Hye Thyme Cafe. I also received some incredible cookies from the talented bloggers of Sweet-E Pie & Babycakes, Kitchen Gidget and Creative Touch. Thanks for so much cookie love, everyone!

Check out the Tanaya’s Table Instagram photos with the #fbcookieswap hashtag for photos of the awesome treats. Participating bloggers’ cookie recipes, including mine, can be found here. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

 

Behind The Counter: See’s Candies Opens At Newport Beach Fashion Island

See the video below for a *sweet* look behind the counter at the newest See's location!

See the video below for a *sweet* look behind the counter at the newest See’s location!

Here are a few of my favorite things: Chocolate, I Love Lucy, and behind-the-scenes, hands-on experiences (if you couldn’t tell from my previous posts!).

So, when I got the chance to attend a pre-opening See’s Candies party with fellow blogger friends at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, I jumped at the chance.

I was especially excited to learn that we’d get to go behind the counter and assemble our own boxes of See’s chocolates. The first thing I thought of was the “Job Switching” episode of I Love Lucy when Lucy and Ethel work at a chocolate factory and hilarious shenanigans ensue with the speedy chocolate conveyor belt.

Turns out, that episode was filmed at the historic See’s Candies factory on La Cienega in Los Angeles!

TT Sees Candies Bordeaux

What seems to give See’s chocolates their distinct taste is their chocolate-making process, which remains consistent since the first store opening back in 1921. See’s is one of the remaining few, if not the only one, to still age its chocolate. No wonder they sell over 26 million pounds of chocolate each year!

We learned how to pack the chocolates into our boxes just like the See’s workers are expertly trained to do, and got to take home quite a few goodies as a result! So many, in fact, that it will last me a good week… unless I decide to get chocolate wasted.

TT Sees Candies Pecan

As for flavors, I got the Apple Pie & Pecan Pie seasonal holiday truffles, as well as Butterscotch (for my mom), Maple Walnut, Dark Butterchew, Dark Bordeaux (my all-time See’s favorite!!), Pecan Bud (like a turtle), plus the Peanut Butter Crunch and Strawberry flavors to make a custom creation.

Check out the behind-the-counter video below to find out what it is!

Check out this 1-minute video to go behind the counter with me at the newest See's Candies location!

Check out this 1-minute video and come behind the counter with me at the newest See’s Candies location!

What’s great about going into a See’s Candies store anytime is that you will always be treated to a free sample when you visit. With over 100 sweet varieties at each location, you can visit every day and still never get bored!

Of the multitude of chocolatey choices, See’s has kept the Bon Bon, Maple Walnut Cream, Chocolate Walnut Fudge and Victoria Toffee recipes exactly the same throughout the decades. Sometimes you just can’t change a classic.

Their top five best sellers are the Milk Bordeaux (I personally adore the dark version), the Scotchmallow, the California Brittle, the Pecan Buds and the Almond Buds. Which are your favorites?

...or do you like ALL of them? (photo via Huffington Post)

…or do you like ALL of them? (via Huffington Post)

While we’re going back in time, if you’d like Huell Howser to show you around the See’s factory from back in the day, check out this See’s Candy – California’s Gold episode.

Back to the present: the Fashion Island store just held its grand opening the very next day after I filmed the video above, and is located near Macy’s in Fashion Island at 401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660.

I already can’t wait to get back to try some more flavors… and to get another Dark Bordeaux chocolate truffle while I’m at it! See you there ;).

TEMP TT Sees Candies