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!

 

VIDEO: Pueblo Tapas Now Open At OC Mix

Tanayas Table Pueblo Tapas OC Mix Costa Mesa desserts Copyright 2015 Tanaya Ghosh

Here’s some food news for you global food lovers: Pueblo Tapas opened earlier this year at the OC Mix in Costa Mesa, bringing some Spanish flair to Orange County.

I was sent to cover the new opening thanks to Tastemade, and the hospitable owners of the OC restaurant with Spanish charm brought out some of their top recommendations from the lunch and dinner menus… such complex and flavorful savory bites!

Short Rib Two Ways: Six-hour braised and crudo.

Short Rib Two Ways: Six-hour braised and crudo

The food at the new restaurant was outstanding, and the design and layout made me feel like I was back in Spain.

It made me miss España, and although I haven’t been to Madrid yet, Barcelona and Girona were both unique and charming. Since the owners are from Madrid and still have restaurants there, I felt the authenticity and also the original creativity in the dishes.

Tanayas Table Pueblo Tapas OC Mix Costa Mesa desserts 2

Pan Perdido, a Spanish take on Pain Perdu: Creme brulee bread pudding with rosemary poached pears

It felt like I was being transported across the globe for a taste of Madrid, right there in Costa Mesa.

Check it out in the video below, from when we went to take a look within a couple weeks of their opening… plus, dessert presented by Chef Michael!

One-minute video rundown of some of the most top bites to get at Pueblo... like the six-hour braised short rib!

One-minute video rundown of some of the most top bites to get at Pueblo… like the six-hour braised short rib!

Check out Pueblo the next time you’re at the OC Mix! It’s like a mini vacation to Madrid, without leaving the OC. ¡Salud!

New Restaurant Sneak Peek: SoCal Gets Its First Steak ‘N Shake

Get the inside scoop before anyone else on the first Steak 'n Shake to arrive in Cali. Dancing waiters, DIY eggnog-beer floats and more!

Get the inside scoop before anyone else in this video recap of the first Steak ‘n Shake to arrive in Cali. Dancing waiters, DIY eggnog-beer floats and more!

Midwest-to-L.A. transplants — or just about anyone who’s had the privilege of trying Steak ‘n Shake — will be happy to know that you don’t have to drive to Vegas to get your Steakburger and milkshake fix. There’s a new burger joint in town opening tomorrow, and it will mark the long-awaited arrival of the legendary 80-year-old burger chain from the Midwest.

I had the chance to attend the pre-opening party for Steak ‘n Shake earlier tonight, and we got to order anything and everything off their full menu while a DJ spun party tunes loud enough for the waiters and guests to break out into impromptu dance (see video above).

Having been to the Steak ‘n Shake located inside the Las Vegas South Point Hotel & Casino once before and enjoying it, I have to say that this Third Street Promenade location is a great one. It’s sleek and modern (with LED screens and a couple of those fancy billion-choice soda machines), but also retains that nostalgic diner vibe. The servers are friendly and fun-loving, and seem to really enjoy accommodating guests.

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

You can also dine al fresco, as the eatery occupies a prime corner location with patio seating on both sides. It’s a nice view of the Third Street Promenade and the iconic string lights in its trees.

Upon entering, you order at the counter and take a seat, then sit back and wait for them to bring your meal to you. It’s fast-casual, with the right amount of attentive service and do-it-yourself ordering.

We tried the Frisco Melt (my personal favorite!), Signature Steakburger and the Original Double ‘n Cheese. All of them were juicy and tasted fresh, from the vegetables to the bread.

We also tasted the chili cheese fries, parmesan herb and salt & vinegar fries, wine, beer and a cool, creamy seasonal eggnog milkshake. Talk about food coma!

Check it all out here (or in the one-minute video above):

Copyright Tanaya Ghosh 2014

The Steak ‘n Shake full menu with pricing, wine selection and beer on tap (click to enlarge)

 

Tanayas Table Steak n Shake Steakburger

The Signature Steakburger with grilled onions and parmesan & herb fries

 

Tanayas Table Steak n Shake Meal

Eggnog seasonal milkshake (it’s a winner!), red wine, Santa Monica Brew Works local beer, chili cheese fries and the Original Double ‘n Cheese burger

 

Tanayas Table Steak n Shake Steakburger inside

Inside the Signature Steakburger

Oh, by the way… the first 100 guests in line will get free Steak ‘n Shake for a year. The only Steak ‘n Shake in California opens its doors for its Grand Opening at 11 a.m. on 10/28 and is located at 1455 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA.

There may be a lot of great burger places in L.A. and even Santa Monica, but Steak ‘n Shake brings a friendly vibe and delicious, hearty yet fresh food in a modern yet nostalgic diner setting. It’s just more proof that all good things eventually come to Cali!

Check out the video above for all the action and stay tuned for a sneak peek at Ice Cream Lab, opening its doors later this week in Pasadena. Cheers!