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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Pop-Up Dinner: Love As Art

We, as a society, often refer to love as a science, a lot of times citing research on how certain chemical reactions in the brain and body create the feeling of romantic love. However, this past week, I was fortunate enough to experience a five-course pop-up Valentine’s dinner that made me see love in a different way– as an art form.

Thanks to Chef Tiffany of Something Good 2 EatThe Art Institute and Artistic Taste LA, we were in the company of talented artists, singers, and an open bar as we experienced thorough all our senses wonderful works of art and acts of love through food and entertainment. Shoutout to my wonderful, inspiring friend Yuri for inviting me to experience this beautiful dinner affair at Nobo in Los Angeles with her and a few of our other awesome friends this past Friday!

As we enjoyed wonderful conversation with other couples and single pals, we were serenaded in the background by singers and a live band. The candlelight ambiance really set the tone for a memorable evening!

Tanaya's Table Love Pop Up Dinner Soup

We sipped on cocktails and dined on an incredible five courses, starting with a velvety, creamy, comforting tomato soup with a crispy, gooey bite of grilled cheese to dip into it.

The second course was a refreshing garden salad with crisp vegetables, dried cranberries for a little sweet chewiness, and a fresh raw honey-lime dressing that I just couldn’t get enough of.

The third course was quite possibly my favorite, as it was a succulent scallop sitting on a bed of creamy cauliflower puree, topped with crispy bacon crumbles. What a delicious play on surf and turf!

Tanaya's Table Artistic Taste LA Scallops

I chose the chicken for my third course, which was hearty with the addition of garlic white cheddar mashed potatoes, chives and lemon butter asparagus. Loved the veggies, and the cheesy potatoes were a great accompaniment as well.

The grand finale was an incredible half brownie, half chocolate cake heart-shaped dessert iced with decadent ganache and garnished with a chocolate heart and raspberry sauce. This Chocolate Devotion dessert  was sweet art on a plate, and I was in chocolate heaven as I devoured it.

As we enjoyed the entire evening filled with love and art, I realized something… love, itself, is art. It is an art that can be practiced, yet is open to interpretation. Love is something that comes naturally to us, yet some are better at it than others. Yet everyone can learn to love themselves and others, in their own unique way.

Art is something that is very personal, and very unique to the individual who creates it. Yet, others can appreciate that art, be moved by it, and draw inspiration from it. In that same way, so is love.

I reflected back on how I interpret and show love, and came to the realization that although I’ve worked on giving love and showing my love to others over the past many years, I have neglected to show myself that same love… and to fully allow myself to freely receive love in all forms from others.

I discovered in that moment that it felt good to pause the multitude of “to-do’s” and “should do’s” running through my head and allow myself to enjoy a beautiful dinner experience with some of those I love. I realized while eating the food, that it was indeed food for the soul… not because of the type of cuisine served, but because it inspired me to stop and appreciate the moment, and realize that I am worthy of taking a break and allowing the love to flood into my soul sometimes.

Tanaya's Table Artistic Taste LA Chocolate Cake

Perhaps many of you can relate, but oftentimes, I feel that I don’t deserve a complete break from working until I reach my goals and achieve success. But perhaps I should simply aim to love and nourish my soul more, and to enjoy the little moments along the path to success. And perhaps success is also the ability to let go once in a while and enjoy the moment for what it is, with people who truly care about you. All these revelations came to me over the beautiful five courses that night, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it all.

I’m so grateful to have been part of this journey through the senses to experience food as an art form, and as an act of love. By cooking for someone, we are showing our love to another person. By eating food that nourishes us, or gives us pleasure, we are showing love to ourselves, and acknowledging that we are worthy of good food and love. By sharing a meal with those around us, we are connecting, sharing and spreading that love. And that is exactly why I decided to focus on food, and to start Tanaya’s Table years ago.

Let this unique pop-up dinner experience by Chef Tiffany, The Art Institute and Artistic Taste LA be an inspiration to us all… to view our lives, our food and the people we share that experience with, with love and appreciation. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but each and every day!

With love,

Tanaya’s Table

PS – If you’re interested in attending the next pop-up dinner experience, follow my Instagram account @tanayas.table for updates on upcoming events!

VIDEO: Celebrity Chefs + Highlights from LA Weekly’s “The Essentials”

Tanayas Table LA Weekly The Essentials Logo Wine

Where do you go to interview top-tier LA chefs of celebrity status, all in the same room? How about the likes of Curtis Stone, Roy Choi, Michael Voltaggio and Sang Yoon?

Well, this past weekend, LA Weekly hosted The Essentials, an annual food event produced in honor of the recently unveiled 99 Essential LA Restaurants list. This is where I got to chat with all of the aforementioned immensely talented chefs!

Check it out here, along with some of the amazing bites offered by 50 of the 99 restaurants honored on the list:

Here are some of the highlights from what we tried at the event:

Roy Choi’s Kogi served its classic short rib tacos, while Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio of Ink served a bagels & lox-inspired dish featuring rye pasta with smoked trout roe, bagel crumbs and dashi brown butter.

Michael Voltaggio of Ink served up a pasta play on bagels & lox

Michael Voltaggio of Ink served up a pasta play on bagels & lox

Plan Check served their famous (and heavenly!) cruller donut holes with caramelized goat cheese, coconut sugar, almond sauce, white chocolate and candied rosemary.

Plan Check's all-star cruller donut with candied rosemary, caramelized goat cheese

Plan Check’s all-star cruller donut with candied rosemary, caramelized goat cheese

This little ball of rich complexity was definitely one of my ultimate favorite bites, as the donuts were crispy on the outside and light, airy and slightly custardy on the inside. The caramelized goat cheese was the perfect balance of sweet and savory, and the candied rosemary added the right amount of aromatic essence.

A savory favorite of mine had to be Little Sister’s banh hoi with chili braised beef shank and tendon, herbs, sprouts and fried peanuts. Great balance of hot and cold, sweet and salty, and the perfect amount of heat and acid.

Little Sister's banh hoi getting some finishing touches

Little Sister’s banh hoi getting some finishing touches

Alimento’s escolar crudo was also excellent, plated with eggplant, wild fennel and mollica. The succulent yet firm white fish absolutely melted in the mouth along with its Mediterranean-inspired components. It was a very cohesive plate indeed, with deep flavors.

One last donut that stood out was Hinoki & The Bird’s miso donut with honey caramel. It was a perfect umami and sweet combination in one fluffy bite!

Spago served an interesting “Vietnamese style banh mi” with pork belly, but somehow it didn’t taste as good as it looked for me. Still, it was pretty to look at, with all its brightly colored veggies.

Spago's take on the banh mi

Spago’s take on the banh mi

Tar & Roses’ steak tartare was delectable, as was its popcorn with bacon, brown sugar and aleppo pepper. Petit Trois also served a steak tartare, while Park’s BBQ served the flavors of Korean BBQ in one bite. There was also some great Ethiopian food, and a lot of deep-flavored moles served at the event.

Korean BBQ in one bite, by Park's BBQ

Korean BBQ in one bite, by Park’s BBQ

I only heard that chef Curtis Stone of Maude’s white asparagus pain perdu with foie gras mousse, pickled pearl onions & mustard seed was amazing, since we didn’t get to try before they ran out. Still, he talks to us about it in the video above… which kind of makes up for it!

Here’s Roy Choi cracking jokes and plugging Kogi, by the way:

Joking around with Roy Choi

Instagram video: Joking around with Roy Choi

Szechuan Impression’s spicy noodles were hot and flavorful, and had just the right bite. The variety of food, from authentic international street fare to refined European-inspired dishes was a pretty accurate reflection of so much that LA has to offer.

Spicy noodles by Szechuan Impression

Spicy noodles by Szechuan Impression

Although they didn’t exhibit at the event, I was pretty proud to learn that Surati Farsan Mart was recognized as one of the 99 Essential Restaurants!

Wine, cocktails and spirits also flowed at the event, and there was even vodka made from sweet potatoes. Oh, and how could I forget shouting out Philippe The Original and their OG French dip sandwich? There was so much food and drink to try, such little time!

The original French dip by Philippe The Original

The original French dip by Philippe The Original

I do wish some of the fine dining restaurants hadn’t run out by the time we got to them, but overall we definitely left stuffed and satiated with some of the most essential bites LA has to offer.

It was a good time talking food with some very well-respected chefs, as well.

Roy Choi & Tanaya's Table talking food

Cheers from Roy Choi & Tanaya’s Table… peace out!

Check out the full list of stellar vendors here. Until next time, cheers!

VIDEO: CREAM Opens In Downtown Los Angeles

Backstory: Went to Berkeley back in 2013 for a few hours to visit a friend. Heard of CREAM, the Berkeley-based ice cream sandwich place that always has a huge line. Pressed for time, we bypassed the line, hoping to try it someday.

Flash forward to present: CREAM has opened in Downtown Los Angeles, right near USC on Figueroa. The line for free ice cream sandwiches wrapped around the block, but I had to bring you guys the “scoop” (pun totally intended), right?

Here’s what we got, and a word from Hector, the owner of CREAM (which stands for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me, by the way):

Check out the one-minute rundown on CREAM, the newest ice cream sandwich on the block.

Check out the one-minute rundown on CREAM, the newest ice cream sandwich on the block.

The final verdict for me is that it’s worth a try, but they will never come close to what Diddy Riese has done for UCLA and Westwood (which CREAM is said to be trying to do with the USC area).

I have attended both schools and yes UCLA is my alma mater so there is a slight bias by default, but nothing beats Diddy Riese in its history, charm, authenticity, and just the OG experience in general.

Their cookies also go better with the ice cream, in my opinion, but I will say that when the CREAM cookies get soaked in melting ice cream, they have a delicious texture and flavor that makes me very very happy.

They also have ice cream made in-house & vegan options… but what I really love are the toppings you can add to your ice cream cookie sandwich. Everything from Oreo pieces to sprinkles and gummi bears.

However, I wish they had a few more unique flavors, and that their salted caramel had more saltiness to it. I wasn’t mindblown for all the hype, but it was a very solid and satisfying ice cream sandwich. Plus, the service was great.

Go check CREAM out for yourselves in you’re in the downtown area, and share your verdict!

Try This: DIY Terrarium Workshops

Check out our terarrium-making in action, dinosaurs, mimosas and all!

Check out our terrarium-making in action… dinosaurs, mimosas and all!

You know those little glass globes that seem to be quite trendy these days, with tiny little plants inside them, resembling a mini desert oasis of sorts? Well, ever since I saw the first one a couple years ago at a Patchwork Show in Long Beach with my mom, I’ve wanted to make one!

Thankfully, that craft dream was realized when my friend and fellow Tastemaker Laila invited me to take a DIY terrarium-building workshop at MakersKit in downtown Los Angeles. It was a day of mimosas, cupcakes, joking around with our witty instructor Jawn, and of course, learning how to build life-sustaining terrariums full of itty bitty plants… and even a plastic dinosaur and/or gnome or two (see video above).

While the rest of our friends and I sipped on mimosas, Josh led us through the process of properly layering our glass bowls. We started with tiny white volcanic rocks, which actually pull excess moisture away from the succulents and hold it at the bottom. This way, the globe doesn’t need holes at the bottom for water to drip out of and get messy. What a “neat” idea! (ha..ha)

A few of the steps to creating the different terrarium layers.

A few of the steps to creating the different terrarium layers (clockwise from top left)

Then, we layered as we pleased with glittery golden sand, a couple types of pebbles, and of course soil so our little low-maintenance plants can thrive. At the end, I couldn’t resist asking Jawn how long it would be until I risked killing my plants due to my lack of being home much.

Turns out, they only need to be watered about once a week if kept in the sun, and even less frequently otherwise. My kind of plants! Plus, the entire finished project is cool enough to use as a unique (and handmade!) design element in the home.

Check out the video above for the process and the final result in action. MakersKit also has other types of DIY kits on its website. They also have a YouTube channel with fun videos to help guide you through your crafting insecurities, should you have them. If you’re in L.A., you can definitely go in for a class, too. I highly recommend it as a group activity!

Tanayas Table DIY Terrarium Makerskit Mimosas Cupcakes

Now, pardon me if you don’t mind, while I go admire my mini Jurassic Park-themed terrarium.

It felt so good to get crafty again, and reminded me that I need to let my creative side out with different types of classes more often. Any ideas or suggestions for what to tackle next? Let me know! Let’s all go outside our self-imposed lines and try something totally new this month. Cheers!