Monday, February 23, 2009

BIG BEAR: Snow Summit

Big Bear Mountain
Big Bear City
Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Ski Resorts


Before I moved down to LA, I had NO IDEA what or where Big Bear was.

Well, now that I'm a SoCal girl, I kind of have to know. Plus the fact that Boyfriend grew up in Big's kind of inescapable. There are also billboards and radio ads galore. I'm not sure if I've seen a TV ad just yet, but if any of you have, holler at me and I'll amend this statement.

Anyway Big Bear is one of the closest ski/snowboard resorts in Southern California. I'm saying that people from San Diego and LA go up to Big Bear to see "real snow". There are actually two resorts: Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. However, a lift ticket to one is a lift ticket to both places. I have only been to Snow Summit, though.

Snow Summit is pretty cool. When you get to the top of the mountain, you pretty much get awesome views of Big Bear Lake. Almost every run from the top has a nice view, that is, if you are skilled enough to not always be face first on the snow.

Their slogan is "Real Snow. Guaranteed."

At first, you might wonder why a Ski Resort of all places would even have to guarantee real snow. Isn't it kind of self-explanatory that a ski resort would have real snow? But you have to remember that this is in Southern California--world renowned for its yearlong "warm" weather, bikinis and beaches--not necessarily for its snow-capped mountains.

So, yes...there is real snow. Some of it, like the snow that are not on the runs are real snow that fell from the sky on its own natural accord. The snow on the groomed runs, however, are a mix of real real snow and man-made real snow. Catch my drift? No? Well, here's what Snow Summit says about it:

Big Bear Mountain Resorts has invested more than $12 million in the past few seasons to advance its snowmaking capabilities, which benefits guests by providing more reliable snow conditions as well as enhances the snow quality each and every day of the skiing and snowboarding season. This investment increased our snowmaking capacity by 50%. Each resort's snowmaking system can convert about 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of water per minute into snow! That's a good sized stream flow and would fill up a back yard pool in just 5 minutes. Normal snowmaking conditions of temperatures in the 20's allow production in the 2,000 to 3,000 gallon range. With a nearly inexhaustible supply of water from Big Bear Lake, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain can cover 100% of developed runs with a fresh blanket of man-made snow - from three to five feet on many runs! This is substantially more than any other Southern California resort, as they rely on extremely limited amounts of well water and are often forced to reduce their snowmaking, thus offering fewer open runs.
Doesn't that sound awesome? They don't need Mother Nature to provide their snow for them, so they don't really have to swing with the weather. Which is all just as well, because sometimes the temperatures up in Big Bear can hit the 50's in the dead of winter...which isn't necessarily snow-making conditions. Also, even with all that snow-making capacity, there are some things that are just inescapable: slushy conditions on warm sunny days, rain and hail when the air is too warm to turn moisture into snow.

Nevertheless, big applause for Snow Summit for beating Global Warming and nature and giving Southern Californians real snow.

Anywho, here are some stats on Snow Summit:
  • 240 skiiable/ridable acres
  • longest run is Westridge, which is 1.25 miles -- I went down this one and was decently tired by the end (mostly because I kept getting scared so kept on stopping).
  • 14 mountain lifts, 2 of which are mountain-express ones that are faster and go all the way to the top of the mountain.
  • 31 trails/runs
  • fun zones with jumps and jibs
  • And the first X-Games were in Big Bear...just sayin'.

Also, only about 10% of the runs are really for beginners, so it gets pretty limiting for beginners. They have some low intermediate runs but I think that to put a noob on one of those is pushing it. I actually found their low-intermediate runs to be very high-traffic and dangerous, because there were so many beginners just falling and stopping and sitting around EVERYWHERE that the probability of hitting someone is just increased all the more.

However, it is very good terrain for actual low-intermediates, like me who just want to learn how to carve and get up the courage to move from green runs to blue runs.

I also really enjoyed the way they interspersed the low-intermediate and intermediate runs so that every now and then you can switch gears.

Boyfriend, who is advanced, also enjoyed hitting the jumps and jibs (or trying to haha!) and making tree runs. Note, though, if you plan on doing tree runs, that Snow Summit does not blow man-made "real" snow outside of the runs, so sometimes coverage isn't all that good among the trees. Which just translates to: watch out for tree stumps, roots and other such things that can get your board or skis caught and send you flying through the air.

So, what makes Snow Summit a good choice?
  1. It's close.
  2. It's about $20 cheaper than Mammoth and other Larger ski resorts
  3. It's a good place to go and practice before trying your hand at the bigger resorts and bigger mountains.
  4. You can go for free on your birthday (although this is only really a deal for those born in the Winter months)
  5. They also have Night Skiing.
  6. And, hello? It's FUN!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

First Fridays at the Natural History Museum

When I was a child, I always, always wanted to see dinosaurs. I went to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. once, but got caught up in the other fabulous exhibits that the museum closed before I made it to the Dinosaur Hall.

Naturally, when the Art & Law Society at my Law School announced that the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles was having a "Dinner & Dance in the Dinosaur Hall," I was ecstatic!

First Fridays: The Natural History Museum.

On the First Friday of every month, the Natural History Museum on Exposition Drive opens its doors to a live band, throngs of party-goers and museum enthusiasts.

Many of the Museum's Halls were opened to the public for $6.50, which includes being able to watch and rock to a live band. They also opened the Mammal Hall and turned it into a night Lounge where wines and appetizers were served amidst glow-in-the dark cubes and dark chaise couches.

It's a great way to hang out with friends, dress-up to go to the museum, listen to live music and just have fun. This is how we nerds get down!


I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the museum and the unique way to spend a Friday night out with friends.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Katsuya Hollywood

I went to Katsuya in Hollywood with my friends in conjunction with DineLA Restaurant Week. I was really excited because I had heard several good things about the restaurant from some of my boyfriend's friends.We were a big group of 15, and arrived at a trickle. There is valet parking, but with it being in Hollywood, it was pricey. But because the restaurant is located just around the corner from the Pantages Theater (where Phantom of the Opera is currently playing!), it is often worth it to just take advantage of the valet. Otherwise, you will be circling around for a good 25 minutes like a couple of my guy friends had to do (because they were too cheap to valet!).I cannot, unfortunately, say anything about the bar because my friends and I did not get a drink from there. The waiting area is very trendy, however, with lighted posts that serve as bar tables and a geisha outfit painted on the ceiling. There are also some very exotic and vibrant photographs of women's eyes and lips all over the wall. I still haven't quite decided if this is sexy or stalkerish creepy. But it's artsy.There was also a standby paparazzi photographer or two just outside the doors the whole night. They basically just lurked there. Amanda Bynes arrived and blinding paparazzi lights lit up the night as she tried to make it into the restaurant with her small group.

Anyway, when we finally got seated, I almost fell into my seat. It was a little lower than normal, but as long as the tables were just as proportionally low, I was fine. I guess I should have looked how far down I was supposed to sit.

In fact, I really like sitting lower. I think it's because I'm shorter, so yay for the fact my feet touch the floor!

It was also very dim in the restaurant. It's romantic, but definitely not recommended for a large group of people. It makes it harder to see the person all the way at the very end of the table. Which ultimately means that the big group becomes separated into a bunch of small groups determined primarily by the circumference of the tiny lamp on the table.

All joking aside, my roommate and I really did enjoy the decor. It's a mix of old world romanticism and hip modernism.

As for the food and drinks, well...let's just say I was mildly disappointed after all the hype.

Cocktail: I ordered a Lychee Martini. It came out ten minutes later, and tasted a lot like liquid cotton candy. Blech. For a good Lychee Martini, I would suggest Tokyo Table or Elevate Lounge.

Sake: **I have to ask my friend what he ordered ** but it was very dry and very strong. Their sake cups were probably twice the size of a traditional one, which no doubt was the main reason for the speed-drunken-effect I felt.

DineLA Menu:

Choice 1
Rock Shrimp Tempura
Choice 2
Crispy Rice
Choice 3
Albacore Onion


Choice 1
Miso Marinated Cod, Nigiri Sushi and Chef’s Choice of Rolls - comes with soup and salad
Choice 2
Beef and Mushroom Toban Yaki, Nigiri Sushi and Chef’s Choice of Rolls - comes with soup and salad
Choice 3
Salmon Cedar with Tomato Salsa, Nigiri Sushi and Chef’s Choice of Rolls - comes with soup and salad

Choice 1
Mango Mochi Panna Cotta with Fruit
Choice 2
Strawberry Mochi Panna Cotta with Fruit
Choice 3
Vanilla Mochi Panna Cotta with Fruit

Above is a picture of the Albacore Onion.
Fabulous Albacore, but completely lost in the onion!

I chose the Crispy Rice + Miso Cod + Mango Mochi

The crispy rice is a staple favorite of mine. It was first introduced to me by Boyfriend when he took me to one of the hole-in-the-wall-sushi-chef-becomes-your-friend kind of sushi places. Since then, I jump at every opportunity to have crispy rice and spicy tuna.

The Katsuya version was good. But it was not phenomenal. After my experiences with Crispy Rice, I cannot rank it on my top five.

The Miso Cod, on the other hand, was DELICIOUS. It pretty much melted in my mouth.

The Nigiri Sushi was awesome. Toro (fatty tuna) and Salmon are fairly safe choices, but the fish was fresh and very, very good.

The Panna Cotta was awesome, too. However, I felt that the mochi tasted store-bought.

Overall, the food gets an A- for it's awesome entree and great fish.

However, service was pretty bad. Our waiter kept getting our orders mixed up. At one point, my Miso Cod came way before my salad, soup and appetizer. My friend's salmon did not arrive until after everyone else had already finished eating. Our drinks took a while, although they were very liberal in refilling our water glasses (haha!).

Thus, service is a C+.

Overall: B.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Calling All Denny's GRAND SLAM Lovers

Tomorrow, February 3, 2009, Denny's is giving away FREE BREAKFAST.

Normally, I don't wake up early enough, or get out of bed fast enough, to get breakfast. It's usually a Slim Fast Lactose-free shake, a quick yogurt, or a grab-n-go chocolate muffin from my school's cafeteria for me. But I might just make it out of bed for this deal.

It's two pancakes, two eggs, two pieces of bacon, and two sausage links.
For FREE. All over the United States (or at least wherever a Denny's can be found in the US). Served free from 6 am to 2 pm. Only on February 3, 2009, Tuesday.

Don't miss it.

I love marketing ploys.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Shuttle 5% Discount Code

One thing I've learned about moving out of your hometown: It's hard to find a ride to the airport.

Back home you have your relatives to obligatorily drive you to the airport when you go out of town. When you're in a new city with new people and most of them lead separate lives from's really, really tough getting a ride to the airport.

Add on top of that the LA traffic, and you actually feel bad asking for a ride.

Hence, Super Shuttle and I have become pretty good buddies. Those awesome blue vans. =)

On my last trip with them, I got a coupon code for 5% off any airport ride. It's not much, but I'm a believer in saving everywhere I can. The code is: WPDV8. It expires December 31, 2009.

Have a fun ride to the airport!

Vinum Populi & Ugo

Saturday evening, Boyfriend and I decided to catch Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (see blog: Stop and Stare for review). I suggested we go to downtown Culver City because I had always wanted to take him to this small wine bar which was just across the movie theater called VINUM POPULI.

Vinum Populi is this tiny hole in the wall wine bar. Depending on the time and day, the bar could either be filled with loud, young people enjoying their wine, or quieter couples having their moment over glasses of wine. One thing you will notice immediately are the little stations of enomatic machines.
These machines use Argon to create a seal over the wine so that they don't oxidize.
It's an awesome concept, combining a wine lounge, wine store, and "enoteca."

You go up to the bar and get a pre-paid card and a wine glass. It is up to you how much to put in the card. You walk around and pick a wine to taste. The prices in glowing red numbers are for how much an ounce of the wine costs. You insert your card into a slot and there are red dots that light up. You press the red dot over the wine you wish to try and an ounce of that wine will automatically pour into your glass.

Ta-Da! Nice and easy!

I went to Vinum Populi for the first time with my girl friends after we watched Sex and the City (the Movie). It made for the perfect setting for us girls to regale over the movie and share every moment that made us cry.

Boyfriend and I also talked about a movie (albeit an entirely different genre) and enjoyed our drink.

After we had had our fill, we moved on to Ugo, the adjoining Italian restaurant. I was actually drawn in by the dessert which looked so enticing in a refrigerated glass display. After a quick look of the menu, we decided to stay and eat.

Whether it was the fact that we had just had a considerable amount of wine, or that it was midnight...but man, the food was good. Boyfriend had pasta and I had a panini. Mmmm...
They also had gelato, the healthier sibling of ice cream...and oh-so-good! Try Amadeus Dreams. Boyfriend says it tastes like Spumoni...but chocolatier.

PS. Avoid the Negroni.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sushi Sasabune


That is really the only word to describe how I feel about the food in Sushi Sasabune. My boyfriend and I consider this one of our favorite restaurants of all time.

I give it 5 dazzling stars.

One thing you must do is TRUST THE CHEF. Nobi Kushuhara, the chef and owner, serves only sushi and sashimi. You won't get the usual fancy rolls and hot meal dishes, but this is really what a sushi restaurant is all about. The staff will immediately suggest the omakase (chef's choice), and I can tell you that you will NOT regret it.

This place is a bit of a wallet breaker, but I have to say, it is worth saving for.

I can't properly review Sushi Sasabune, because all I can think about is how good everything felt and tasted in my mouth. I actually start drooling in a Pavlov-ian way. Therefore, I will graciously link all of you to everyone else who has gone to Sushi heaven and come back just to spread the good news.

Gaga over Sasabune
Sasabune: Trust Me

Definitely L.O.V.E.