Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Has it ever happened to you… When you do not feel like cooking after work? Especially when you are out of work tired, lazy and overwhelmed.

Well it was one of those days for me last Thursday evening when gf was out of town for several days and I did not feel like going home to cook for myself. (I’m thankful to my gf because she usually does all our cooking! I am a blessed man.) Though that evening, I treated myself to some delicious seafood at Hermosa Beach Fish Shop. I LOVE seafood by the way. It was my first time there and I was very impressed with their quality of food and fast service.

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I arrived and the ambiance was great. I really felt as if I was at a fish shop steps away from the beach because it really has that laid-back atmosphere, but you can’t tell that the beach is actually several blocks away.

Hermosa Beach Fish Shop is located at the corner of Pier Ave. and PCH, and you will not have any problem finding parking. It’s also the sister store to Pacific Beach Fish Shop and Encinitas Fish Shop and this trio of stores has been serving the San Diego area since 2010.

As soon as you walk-in you can smell the delicious food. Customers can eat inside, or take their food out onto the dog-friendly patio to enjoy the breeze.

I decided to sit inside and immediately chips were brought to my table. I served myself some salsa from the salsa bar, which is made fresh every day. The green salsa was my favorite – spicier.

While I looked at the menu and the grand variety of endless possibilities I opted for their famous TKO Taco that comes with Mahi Mahi grilled marinated with the Fish Shop seasoning to start. This was just the beginning and I knew I was in for a good treat.

Then I went ahead and ordered the shrimp ceviche. It was as good as the one my mom makes and my mother’s is the best. Lol

I had to pair all this succulent food with one of their craft beers on tap, which was the Expatriate IPA from Three Weavers Brewing Co. located in Inglewood, CA.

It poured a golden hue with a big fluffy white head. The smell was dominated by fruits and citrus, ranging from grapefruit to apricot to peaches to white wine grapes. Very sweet and incredible nose. The flavor is mostly bitter grapefruit with hints of herbal hops, but there’s an incredible malt balance reminiscent. Mouthfeel is medium.

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Inside the restaurant/bar you could watch surfer videos, families gathered and an older and younger crowd like myself knew that this was the place to be on a Thursday night.

Locals and visitors enjoy Hermosa Beach Fish Shop’s “build-your-own fish” menu that consists of three steps:

  1. Choose your fish (up to 12 choices including red snapper, salmon and jumbo shrimp)
  2. Choose your marinade (blackened seasoning, lemon butter, chipotle glaze, and others)
  3. Choose your style. Have your fish as a sandwich, salad, taco, or plate.

Customers can eat inside, or take their food out onto the dog-friendly patio to enjoy the breeze. In addition to the build-your-own fish menu, Hermosa Beach Fish Shop also offers many other delectable seafood dishes, including Lobster Lumpia, Crab Cakes and Fried Calamari. For appetizers, they offer a succulent, tomato-based Fish Shop Soup, New England-style Clam Chowder and Fish Shop Chowder.

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These can be washed down with either soft drinks, wine or any of the draft- or bottled beers they offer from their extensive beer menu. There is no corkage fee!

Hermosa Beach Fish Shop uses only the freshest fish caught right on the Pacific Coast. They make all of their seasoning and sauces by hand, and soups and salads are made from scratch each day.

The night progressed and I knew I had to make another decision; plate #2 so I choose the Fish Shop Shrimp, a popular and addicting one too according to many customers The shrimp is seasoned in Fish Shop seasoning-sautéed and served with a chipotle aioli dipping sauce.

Let me confirm that it was mouthwatering.

I also had a side order of the seaweed salad and macaroni salad. I had to taste each and they were delicious. I was very full by then that I had to take leftovers home.

The fast-casual environment is perfect for popping in for a quick lunch or dinner or unwinding with friends and family just like I did on Thursday after a long day at work. I will be returning with family because it is one of those places that is worth visiting again and again to indulge in other plates.

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Thanks Brian for your hospitality!

For more information on Hermosa Beach Fish Shop visit them online: http://www.thefishshophermosabeach.com/

Embrace your inner child because that’s exactly what Nike wants you to do with their latest winter campaign! Nike’s campaign aims to get people outdoors as they would back in their youth.

With the cold and harsh months of Winter Nike unveiled their latest campaign via their official website.

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As the snow starts to fall many people are afraid to venture outside, instead more invested in embracing the warmth. And this is what I LOVE the most about this campaign — that it is challenging you to leave all excuses aside and work out in the cold weather because its easier to give up, but the mind is powerful to get the work done!

Using several high class athlete from their roster, including Patriots Rob Gronkowsi, Odell Beckham Jr, Carli Lloyd and Eugenie Bouchard, the advert features a well produced video which ends with an improtu game of football.

The short movie marks the start of Nike official Winter Training campaign. The Oregon based sports giants, have cleverly chosen the hashtag #GetOutHere to support the campaign. Encouraging their consumers to get outside and enjoy the perks of training in the winter, the tagline is highly memorable and persuasive.

The video was unveiled to their official Facebook page, with over 1.3m views and 44.8k likes and Twitter, with over 22.7k retweets and 28.7k favourites within 6 hours of its premiere. Many of the athletes starring in the video, took to social media to support the promotion of the short movie and campaign, utilizing the branded hashtag, whilst giving a personal touch to the movie to further entice consumers.

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Social buzz around the campaign has meant that Nike’s Winter Training range is likely to see a surge in sales and traffic to their website, as well as further brand awareness of their training range.

In a PR stunt, set to raise further interest in the campaign,  Nike has also specially commissioned an ice sculpture of Rob Gronkowski, outside the Gillette Stadium alongside another sculpture with the new campaign’s hashtag.

As as part of the #GetOutHere campaign, Nike featured 48 weather-defying athletes to compete in the Get Out Here Challenge, the ultimate cold-weather training experience, that was held in Chicago the week of December 8, 2015.

Text, Photo and Video Credit: Millard Sports and Nike

I’ve been to Bottega Louie several times while living in Los Angeles and it never fails that there’s a long wait, but worth it (this time 1.5 hours). But, once you get past that hustle and bustle you are in for a delicious treat in this Italian restaurant in the Brockman Building at the corner of 7th and Grand in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles.

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Plus it looks very ritzy and fancy, but you’d be surprised that it’s reasonably prized.

Floor-to-ceiling windows put the whole shebang that is Bottega Louie on full display: gray-veined marble floors, bare white walls, imposing pillars and a ceiling high enough that Cirque du Soleil trapeze artists could do their act. There’s a roaring wood oven where pizzas are freshly made at your request, the market up front with many sweet goodies (their macaroons are to die for in my opinion), gleaming open kitchen where the cooks make food into art pieces (you’ll be mouthwatering) and the bar area near the front serves creditably as a cocktail lounge, a wine bar and a café.

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Credit: (at)TinaTastesLA on #Instagram

It’s believed that this is the most successful of the dozens of restaurants that opened in downtown back in 2009. Bottega Louie is a project of investors Keat Bollenbach and Daniel Flores, with a kitchen run by Sam Marvin, a Patina veteran whose mid-’90s Melrose café Modada was credited with jump starting the fondue revival, among other things, and who guided the past few years of Le Dome. The restaurant is designed down to the colors of the macaroons in the bakery case and the typeface on the butcher paper. (credit: Jonathan Gold, LA Weekly)

This dining gem serves mostly American-Italian classics, like stuffed artichokes, fried calamari, and clams oreganata, sliced steak, eggplant parmesan, and crisply sautéed branzino drizzled with a sauce fragrant with anchovies, garlic and olive oil. Though, two of my all-time favorite pizzas are the crisp-edged Neapolitan-style and Artichoke pizzas that come out of the big wood-burning oven.

This was my first time I visited Bottega Louie for brunch so an order of the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes served with Vermont Maple Syrup was a must! They were delicious as expected. Look Below!

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As you exit the Bottega Louie you’ll be drawn to some of their pastries, sweets, cakes and of course macaroons (yes, I hand-picked a box of them to go).

Bottega Louie is an easy place to be happy with a lot of noise and people!

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Have you been thinking of making a vacation to Hawaii and just haven’t made the time for it? Maybe it’s not in your budget? Or maybe don’t know how or where to start planning? Stop making excuses and make it happen! You only live once and you will never regret going. I hope my travel experience in this post makes you book your airfare and hotel as soon as you are done reading and viewing my pictures here and in my photo album on Facebook!

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So let’s begin with what I experienced in paradise. The initial reason why my gf and I booked this this trip was to accompany some friends on their special destination wedding (thank you #NissNegritoWedding) and the timing was perfect with both of our schedules to stay 10 extra days! Woohooo. We’re happy we did and it still wasn’t enough to experience the island at its fullest.

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Our adventure began the Thursday before we flew out with packing one suitcase for both of us. The maximum weight was 40lbs on that same suitcase where we would both pack our clothes for 10 days. Don’t know how, but we made it happen. We flew on Allegiant Airlines because the airfare was pretty economic, (paid $820 for 2 round-trip plane tickets—not bad right?) but we later found out that the catch was that they charge for everything to make-up for their cheap airfare. Adding an extra luggage would cost more and they even charge for carry-ons. We avoided all those charges. We like to be smart travelers and rather spend money on fancy dinners or fun activities on the island.

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We arrived to Oahu on Friday around 2:30 p.m. and settled into our hotel, which by the way was pretty inexpensive and we had a small kitchen to continue with our healthy eating habits as much as possible. No, we didn’t miss out on the authentic Hawaiian food either! We stayed across the street from the Hilton-Hawaiian Village — a pretty central location to restaurants, shops, beach and the marina. As soon as we settled-in we went for food because we were starving and immediately after did grocery shopping for the week. We realized how expensive food can be, but oh well it was part of the adventure. We did our groceries at a local Food Pantry store, which are very common in Hawaii.

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As mentioned earlier although we were on vacation, we wanted to stick to our healthy eating habits as much as possible. Such was the case that I even carried my Body Beast workout DVD’s. And we also went for jogs along the beach.

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The first night we walked around the Hawaiian Village in the evening, grabbed coffee and hung out in a lagoon while fireworks were fired in the area. To our understanding the Hilton- Hawaiian Village has a fireworks show every Friday and that was pretty cool. Not too shabby for a grand welcome! Lol

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On Saturday we woke up early and went for a jog along the beach to explore Waikiki. We explored the area and gained an understanding of our surroundings and even the transit system. We made it back to the hotel and had breakfast that we cooked in our room. I worked out and got ready for our friend’s wedding later that day in Waimanalo Beach.

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We made it to beautiful Waimanalo Beach where the ceremony took place literally 20 feet from the ocean and then were bused to the Aston Waikiki with a beautiful night view of the skyline and beach. Such an honor to be part of this experience with my beautiful gf!

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We made it to the after party at RumFire at the Sheraton. Great venue, music, food and view by the way.

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On Sunday we had breakfast at home and we hiked to Manoa Falls! This was a great place to hike with a trail that led you to a beautiful waterfall. Guess what? We dipped in the pool there at the base of the waterfall. But, it was seriously a jungle in there, nonetheless this adventure has extraordinary views.

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We walked home from the hike, ate and then worked out at home. I took a much needed nap and then we went to dinner to the Waikiki area to a Thai restaurant. I won’t mention the name of the restaurant because it was decent food, I’ve had better in Los Angeles.

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On Monday we had breakfast at home once again and this day we set on the adventure to hike Diamond Head Crater so we did! The views at the top of the crater were amazing with the ocean on one side and Waikiki hotels and skyline on the other. The hike to the top of the crater is a medium hike I would say. Very recommended and once you get to the peak there’s a flight of narrow stairs worth the climb. You all should do it!

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We made it back home that afternoon and went straight to enjoy the beach in Waikiki.

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After laying out in the sand for hours and swimming in the ocean we made it back to the jacuzzi and we stayed-in for dinner. Though we opted for a delicious macadamia and coconut ice cream.

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We knew even before we went on this trip that we wanted to explore Northshore so we booked an island tour that took us to the north part of the island. We visited the famous Halona Blowhole, Nu’uanu Pali Overlook, and Dole Plantation and had their famous dole whip. We passed Haleiwa, some north shore beaches and the final destination was the Polynesian Cultural Center where we visited authentic villages and mingled with natives from six Pacific cultures. Guess what? We had a fresh cold coconut there and added Tajin! Lol

At the PCC we enjoyed a Luau, love the food, and watched their Breath of Life show. Amazing show by the way that you all should check out. I won’t spoil it by giving you details.

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On Wednesday we had breakfast at home and made it out to Pearl Harbor on the city’s transit. Unfortunately, we were not able to do much at Pearl Harbor because the boats were not traveling to the different destinations due to high winds. We did the tours at the base of the memorial and watched films. This was our historical educational component of our trip. Check!

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We headed to the beach again.

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We had dinner at the Tropics restaurant and made it to the famous ice cream we had loved days before.

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On Thursday we went snorkeling with marine life in Hanauma Bay. In the afternoon we went to a secluded beach area in Waikiki where we enjoyed the best sunset. We had dinner at a delicious restaurant called Heavenly where their food is organic and comes from the farms in Hawaii. Everything there was locally grown. We learned from our waiter that this was a chain of three locally-grown product restaurants and she recommended we go to another one called Goofy. We walked around Waikiki at night that evening and loved the nightlife.

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By Friday we were approaching the end of our vacation and we wanted to drive to Northshore on our own and make it a road trip. We rented a car and drove to the Spitting Caves, Koko Head Lookout, and hiked Makapuu Point Light House trail and enjoyed more beautiful views.

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Then we drove off to Kailua Beach to eat the famous Pancakes smothered with Macadamia Nut Sauce at Boots and Kimo’s. The wait in line to be seated was an hour, so be prepared. We went to Kailua Beach and hands down this was my favorite beach on the island with white sand and the water crystal blue clear. We continued driving toward Northshore and stopped at the famous Giovanny’s Shrimp Truck to eat a lot of shrimp. We continued driving to Laie Beach Park and stopped to look at the high waves and surfers there.

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We ended at Waimea Bay and went into the Waimea Waterfall! Wow, another amazing experience. Hiked for less than a mile and arrived to this beautiful waterfall and at the bottom there’s a huge pool to swim!

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After this hike we headed back to Honolulu. We missed not stopping at Matsumoto shaved Ice in Haleiwa, but that will be next time.


We got home and got ready for dinner at Goofy –literally down the street where we were staying. Such good food too. We had a Pesto Pasta and Caesar Salad. We had the Crème Brule for dessert and purple sweet potatoes– delicious! I had never had them before. The waiter there then recommended us to go to Aloha Table for dinner.

Saturday was our chill day. We made it to breakfast at Goofy once again because it was so good for dinner. We had their famous omelet, sweet potatoes again, French toast and bowl of acai. My first time having acai and it was amazing as well. We made it to the beach for one last time to watch the sunset for the last time since we were taking off early the next day. At night we made it to Aloha Table for dinner, which by the way had the best service. The manager came out to greet us and we had a great conversation with him! Shout-out to him for making us feel so welcome on our last day. Mahalo! We continued the night at RumFire for some dancing.

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Fast-forward! We were back to reality the following day by 5 p.m. when we had landed at LAX.

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Vacation was over, but we were already talking about our next trip, which will more than likely be another island. Stay tuned for our next trip and adventures.

Without a doubt this was a great-fun vacation in paradise where we did so much with our busy itinerary. We loved it and cannot wait to get back.

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In terms of staying fit we were able to pull it off the first several days on the island, but we compensated the remainder of the week with the walking, swimming, jogging and hiking we did around the island.

If you want to learn more about tips on places to visit, restaurants to eat or simply want to hear more about our trip find me on my social media. You can find me in all platforms (at)gusjournalist. Overall our budget was $3,200 for both of us and we stayed well within that range on this 10-day vacation.

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So what are you waiting for? Did I convince you to book now and go! I hope so…

I think everyone should get to visit Hawaii and its paradise because it will make you a better person for experiencing all its natural wonders.

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To view my Hawaii 2015 photo album visit my Facebook page. 

Are you looking for a short and extremely relaxing getaway close to home in Southern California then I have the best recommendation for you!

I was pleasantly surprised with this trip by my gf to The Ranch at Bandy Canyon as my 27th birthday gift. I think it was an exceptional gift because it wasn’t like she went to the store — bought me something, wrapped it and that was it. It was a great feeling to see all the thought and detail she put into surprising me with a perfect getaway/road trip to this gem that sits in the San Pascual Valley (Escondido area) in Southern California. She knows how much I love nature, hiking, cabin-life, getaways and horses so she saw all things included in this secluded rustic location and got us there.

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We arrived on a sunny Sunday afternoon after many guests had departed from a wedding reception the previous day. The venue is popular for wedding celebrations and a beautiful one too. This is one we may consider for ours!

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Also, summer camps, picnics and children’s birthday celebrations take place at the site with an array of fun activities that will keep your child and their friends entertained.

Even before you enter the ranch and you drive on a windy uphill road you begin to notice how peaceful and disconnected from society you can get to be. It’s a great feeling and one that everyone needs to live every once in a while. As you approach the ranch there’s no reception and Wi-Fi at the grounds is weak, but I am telling you now so that you are prepared. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with disconnecting from society and social media every once in a while. Get ready for re-charging those internal batteries in your system.

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Giant eucalyptus trees line-up the road as you drive into The Ranch at Bandy Canyon and as soon as we checked-in the gal that greeted us was super welcoming and accommodating to our needs. She guided us to our nicely furnished cabin and handed us a basket of food (muffins and fruit) and wine for our stay.

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We settled into our cabin and then ventured out to the grounds and explored on our own in a 20-30 minute walk. The ranch is fairly small so you can walk through it in 10 minutes, but with capturing different corners of this beautiful place we took longer. There’s a stream that runs through the ranch, a pool and jacuzzi, a lodge which is the oldest building in Escondido. There is a piano, a fireplace and lots of room to enjoy people’s company. I overheard that they will be transforming the lodge into a restaurant which I think will be great because currently there’s no restaurant in the grounds. Recently I saw they opened a much needed General Store that offers coffee bar, snacks, drinks and souvenirs.

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There’s a patio area we loved as well that is great for an outdoor reception with a fountain in the middle of the courtyard and with a fireplace where we enjoyed s’mores in the middle of the night.

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My favorite area of the ranch were the stables with the horses for sure. We walked there and hung out with my favorite animals. I love horses! We didn’t have the chance to ride them, but it was still great to see them.

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We went back to our cabin and got ready for dinner that day. We went to a nearby restaurant called Cordiano Winery outside the ranch that overlooked some vineyards and mountains. We had some delicious pizza cooked in the oven and wine.

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We watched the sunset and that was an unforgettable experience.

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We made it back to our cabin and took a dip in the pool late at night. We had the entire pool and jacuzzi to ourselves so that was very relaxing.

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We heard nature at its finest accompanied by a full moon and the stars shined bright that night. This was an experience we don’t usually get to live with all the hustle and bustle in Los Angeles and The Ranch at Bandy Canyon supported this exuberant view. Thank you!

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We woke up the next day and ate some of the goodies that were given to us in the basket, we sat in the patio overlooking the ranch, heard birds chirping and drank coffee.

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We took another morning stroll around the grounds. This time we got on the swing and the hammocks to relax some more. When was the last time you got on a hammock?

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As you can see you’ll do a lot of nature walks and disconnecting while visiting this place and don’t expect to do something major, but that’s the beauty of this place that you simply get to relax because nowadays that’s a luxury.

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We checked-out of the ranch and we drove to two California missions on our way back to Los Angeles. We also made pit stops at the Oceanside and San Clemente piers.

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Our fun getaway came to an end too soon, but it was the perfect one to spend quality time and celebrate another successful year.

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If you are looking for a fun place to escape with your significant other that will be inexpensive and worthwhile take a look at The Ranch at Bandy Canyon and their cottages so that you can pay a visit for a weekend escape.

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To see more images of this trip, visit my photo album on my Facebook. 

To learn more visit: http://bandycanyon.com/

Mexico joined the eighth annual Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE as culinary destination of the year. As a Mexican that’s exciting! The festival took place from October 15 – 18, 2015 and it was recently recognized as the #3 food and restaurant industry event in the U.S. by BizBash for the third year in a row. Designated as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, Mexican cuisine has been making an indelible mark on the world as countless chefs and gourmands continue to redefine the meaning and expression of Mexican cooking. YUMMY!

Chefs Margarita Carrillo & Arnie Marcella presented a dish inspited by their trip to Guadalajara at the Mexican Pavillion inside the NYCFWW

Mexico’s gastronomy has never been more exciting than it is today, making it a great fit for its culinary destination of the year distinction at the festival. Thought-provoking chefs, boundary-pushing artisans and innovative creators are changing the landscape and contributing to an unparalleled gastronomic movement in a country where food is central to its culture. Its lively markets and street food, rich flavors with thousands of years of history, combined with modern and innovative cooking techniques are taking the country’s cuisine to new heights.

Chef Elena Reygadas

The tastes, smells and textures of Mexico’s modern gastronomy will came to life during the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival to not only delight the palate, but also inspire a journey through all of Mexico. From winemaking regions of Baja California to the coffee fields of the south, to cheese production in the north to the mole of Oaxaca and the mouthwatering cochinita pibil of Yucatan, there’s something to discover in every corner.

Mexico’s presence at the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival highlighted the country’s visionary gastronomic movement, which includes a focus on fresh ingredients. The festival offered the opportunity for collaboration between top Mexican and American chefs to create and interpret dishes, exploring bold new culinary territory.

Dish by Chef Enrique Olvera

The most representative flavors of Mexican gastronomy were featured at three key events at the Festival with the participation of celebrated chefs.

1. Mexican Pavilion. Mexico hosted a special pavilion at the Festival’s signature Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite featuring Samsung® Culinary Demonstrations presented by MasterCard at Pier 94. Mexican and American chefs teamed up at the pavilion to offer a collaborative interpretation of Mexican flavors.

Duck Tortas inspired by Chef Jehangir Mehta's visit to Puebla, Mexico

2. Mexico’s Dinner with Enrique Olvera and Jordi Roca. Enrique Olvera, whose restaurant Pujol in Mexico City is ranked No. 16 in the world, welcomed renowned pastry Chef Jordi Roca to his New York City restaurant, Cosme, for this special dinner. Roca is the youngest of three brothers who oversee seminal Catalan restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, ranked No. 1 in the world, in Girona, Spain.

3. Tacos & Tequila was presented by Mexico hosted by Aarón Sánchez. Host of hit Food Network shows Chopped and Taco Trip, Aarón Sánchez was joined by top chefs presenting creative taco interpretations at Urbo, a culinary multi-plex located in the heart of Manhattan.

One of the dishes by Chef Enrique Olvera

During September and October, Mexico will also host special tours for top chefs across the most important cities in the country. Tours will highlight Mexico’s flourishing gastronomic scene and foster collaborative relationships between participating American and Mexican chefs.

Text Credit: H+M Communications and EsteeEatz

I am firm believer that every once in a while we should disconnect from our daily routine to enjoy the moment, not take pictures and not log into social media and that’s exactly what happened this past weekend while visiting Palm Desert as I enjoyed the pool with that 100+ degree weather. Yikes!

Although it wasn’t a long enough weekend and it flew by, it felt great to be back in the office on this Monday morning with a splash of re-loaded energy.

While at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Villas I celebrated my brother in law’s birthday, soaked up some sun, relaxed and dined at Shogun Restaurant on Saturday, which by the way has delicious food and service (and we found out there’s one in Pasadena). We had our own personal chef cook the in food front of our table. Yummy!

We were at the resort for about 24 hours and while I didn’t take pictures (you’ll have to do research for yourself), but know that it’s a great place to visit if you are looking for some golf, jog on the grounds, pool time and simply disconnect like I mentioned earlier. I really took my mindset of disconnecting seriously and didn’t take pictures for visuals on this post. Sorry!

The villas are spacious and have their own kitchen, living room, bedroom, laundry service and large bathroom. If you’d like to cook like we did for breakfast on Sunday you can do so and sit by the porch area overlooking the lavish green golf grounds, palm trees and mountains.

On our way back to Los Angeles we stopped at Cabazon outlets and did some minor damage. Lol

We ended the weekend by continuing the birthday celebration in Redondo Beach, Calif. at Samba Brazilian Steakhouse overlooking the beach and eating over 18 different meats that were prepared that same day.

By the way Happy Birthday Bruh!

And stay tuned for my next #AVivirLATrip where I promise to snap some pictures for you.

Going to Miami is always bound to be fun times! This was my second-time visiting there and I must admit that I think I had more fun the first time around that I visited in 2008.

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Actually I will take it back I had a blast this second time around, but I think I overstayed my stay there and money allocated for this trip’s fun activities started to run out. Lol Also, when you visit a place for the first time you are in awe of everything so I think that was the case for my second visit where some things got old or I had already done. Plus having a $90 large margarita one night didn’t help my bank account much either. Yes, that happened on Ocean Drive. Lol

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I decided to go on this South Beach trip in the middle of when I had purchased my very first home and I had already spent so much money in upgrades and renovation to the house that I really shouldn’t have gone on this bachelor trip with all my buddies. But, hey I made the best out of it and I enjoyed it while it lasted. I created some pretty sick memories with all of them.

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I recall arriving on a Thursday and stayed until the following Saturday, a total of 9 days. My buddies and I stayed in a rental condominium at The Congress right in the middle of Ocean Drive, where all the partying, loud music and epicenter of tourism takes place.

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From spending countless hours on the beach because it was humid and diving in the pool I enjoyed the day’s hot weather and cooled down in the mid-afternoon to re-energize for some late night outing that turned into early morning. As you all know if you’ve been to Miami you are walking back to your hotel room around 4 a.m. from the clubs.

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While on the trip I put in some physical activity because I made sure to jog on the beach and I won’t forget one day I got rained on, but 10 minutes after the sun shined brighter than ever. I was told that was typical Miami weather for you.

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I enjoyed going to Nikki Beach Club one night, though the crowd was rather younger and I did feel a bit out of place, another night we went to the famous Mango’s Tropical Cafe where you’ll hear some good Top 40 Spanish music. Another day we ventured out into the Brickell Downtown Miami area and visited Blue Martini, an upscale Florida bar, where they had live music and bomb mojitos! I would go back just for those.

One day we strolled on Lincoln Road, which has hundreds of stores, restaurants and cafes on the open-aire and another day we hung out on Española Way where we had a great lunch at a restaurant called Oh Mexico. I missed my Mexican food. Lol

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I couldn’t come back to California without saying that I visited the southernmost point in the U.S., which is located in Key West, Florida so my buddies and I made it a point to take a 2-hour bus ride through the everglades and through all the Florida Keys to arrive to that destination. I highly recommend this fun adventure to anyone visiting Miami because it simply is a great experience to get out into this calm area where you can do so many aquatic activities and leave the touristy Ocean Drive, which can get old sometimes.

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The island is super relaxing, there’s private beach areas and there’s so much you can do there. We didn’t spend a whole day there and I would go back just to stay in Key West.

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While we were in Key West we took a tour of the area and did parasailing, which I loved and that was my first time doing that. It’s an adrenaline rush to be so high up in the sky and getting pulled by a rope that is tied to a boat. That sure was an item off my bucket list. Next is a Hot Air Ballon Ride or Skydiving! You will get wet so take an extra pair of clothes. We ate lunch at a very good Cuban restaurant there and just to let you know Cuba is only 90 miles away from the island so there’s a lot of that influence everywhere.

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We returned to busy Ocean Drive that evening and seeing how it was our last night there we enjoyed the night scene some more and stayed locally.

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Early the next day I was in the pool, soaking some sun and by mid-afternoon I was flying back to California!

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I would visit Miami in a heartbeat, it’s one of my favorite places, I love the scene, the people, and the Cuban influence and for that matter the mixture of diversity and the great food.

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South Beach is a lot of fun and you should visit at least once!

This post was written in collaboration with Carmen Melgoza from #LatinoFitClub

The Kia Sorento 2016 boasts itself with a lot of style and luxury. I recently had the opportunity to drive it for a week in different environments and I already feel like doing an upgrade on my own car. I loved how it drove in the highway, streets, beach, city and freeways. I currently drive a 2013 Kia Soul and I loved all the great amenities and upgrades the Sorento has compared to my car. Don’t be surprised if I do an upgrade!

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During our most recent road trip to California’s Central Coast- Carmel by the Sea my girl and I had the amazing opportunity of driving this upscale SUV. Many would say it resembles a minivan, but I would strongly disagree because I feel that Kia has done a very good job in making the notable difference. They have worked hard to revamp their car lineup and have luxury meet affordability. The body is elegant and its balanced proportions inside and out give it a premium look and feel.

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We felt like we drove on the freeway with a lot of style and never felt like we were driving a minivan like some others describe the SUV. I have nothing against minivans, but I feel that they are for a family and my girl and I are still young with no kids so we would not drive a minivan at the moment.

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Everyone that has visited Carmel knows that it’s a fancy and romantic town by the sea with beautiful million dollar homes and luxury brand cars driving around the downtown area, but we felt no less with our very own white elegant Kia Sorento 2016 that we had the pleasure of driving for a whole week.

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We had the opportunity of driving a 2016 Sorento that came with all the upgrades and without a doubt there are several amenities that grabbed my attention right off the bat. I loved the panoramic sun roof w/ power sunshade, standard 12V power outlet, the camera feature inside the car, the functionality of opening your car with the touch of your thumb just as long as the key was nearby and the button option to close the trunk door.

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During a road trip there are times when your hands are full of stuff and the Sorento’s upgrades always made it easy to get in-and-out of the car. We traveled four days and being comfortable in the car was always a priority—we certainly feel we received that with the Kia Sorento.

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Thanks to the vehicle we were able to visit Point Lobos State Natural Reserve where we hiked for half a day, had a delicious picnic with good friends and enjoyed the beautiful natural scenery. We fell in love with this place. With a $10.00 parking fee we were able to enjoy this crown jewel and also known as the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world.

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And to talk about comfortability and space — the Sorento has both. The three rows of seats can sit up to 8 passengers and if you do not need all the seats you can make great use of the large back space, which made it perfect for our road trip. I had never seen a trunk space this large and I am thinking it’s a must have vehicle for long trips or moving furniture/items.

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After our hike in Point Lobos we drove off to the downtown area in Carmel where we enjoyed strolling through some of the shops, fine dining, galleries and beach.

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As I mentioned earlier the sun roof extended all the way to the last row of seats and all passengers get the benefit of some natural sunlight. I loved this feature!

We all have seen the vehicle reverse camera in cars, but I was surprised to see the front, side and top camera in the Sorento. When driving in narrow streets and finding parking in busy areas these camera features came in very handy, especially in downtown Carmel and Monterey.

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We continued our trip by visiting Monterey and we devoured some of their delicious clam chowder and the cold weather was perfect for this! The views from the restaurant were great too.

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We continued our trip in the Kia Sorento by paying a visit to Mission San Carlos Borroméo del Río Carmelo, which by the way is extremely beautiful and holds so much history about California. My girl and I have a life goal of visiting all the California missions and so far we’ve been to 4 of them together. That countdown continues. Lol

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The mileage on the Kia Sorento was great. We filled up two tanks during our trip and that second tank got us back home to Los Angeles. The Sorento gets you about 22 miles per gallon combined, which is very good for a car this size.

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My girl was part of this amazing experience and she wanted to add the following:

“La Kia Sorento hizo el viaje mucho más cómodo, un carro súper futurístico y puedo decir que lo que más disfrute fue el “quema cocos” y claro el sistema de seguridad que esta SUV ofrece como  la cámara tanto frontal (así es, esta tiene una cámara por delante y no solo por detrás como algunos otros vehículos) y cámara lateral, en fin son varios los detalles que me gustaron de esta SUV. Así que si en un futuro cercano esta en mis planes cambiar de un carro a una SUV ya tengo esta opción”, dijo Carmen.

Our mini road trip would not have been possible without #DriveKia and Kia. We continue to be very appreciative of the support and trust that was given to us when fully experiencing their elegant SUV. Thanks to our friends at Drive Shop for making this experience a reality. If we’d have to rate our experience and vehicle we’d happily give it a 10+ because we rode in comfort, elegance while never jeopardizing affordability.

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc., and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CambioConfiable #CollectiveBias

It’s the norm that people start driving when they are young and in high school, but that was not the case for me. I grew up using public transportation and asking for rides from my family and friends up until I was 24 years old. For reasons out of my control I was not able to get a driver’s license until my mid-twenties so you can all imagine how much I value driving and having a car nowadays. It’s something that I do not take for granted and I feel grateful daily when I sit in my car before I start my day.

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I went off to college and Graduate school using public transportation in the cities that I lived in. I became a connoisseur of reading bus schedules, train and metro maps. It takes a lot to really comprehend those documents. Lol Although at times it was frustrating and hectic to ride in public transportation because it was not the best service in some cities and inconvenient I feel that I was able to explore a city more for all the times I got lost. I’ve lived in San Jose, CA, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, CA and I am pretty well versed in each cities’ geography and finding myself around those big cities.

You can all imagine a 24-year-old receiving his driver’s license as soon as graduating with a Master’s degree, I felt like a 16-year-old passing the driving exam and then being handed his first car keys by his parents. Only in this case I worked hard for my first car keys. Although the road I’ve traveled hasn’t always been the one I had planned, I’ve taken many detours and at times dead-ends, but my perseverance has always lived in me and I can honestly say that a lot I’ve done has been through hard work, dedication and thanks to my faithful supporters.

Immediately after graduating with my Master’s degree I was blessed enough to start my first official job opportunity, saved money for a down payment and I purchased my very first brand new car at 25 years old. I bought a black 2013 Kia Soul, which I named “Alma Negra”. Why? It’s a Soul and in Spanish that translate to Alma and it’s black and that in Spanish translate to Negra.

Although I didn’t start driving until later in life my father and older siblings never missed an opportunity to show me how to drive, (they were my instructors). I come from a humble Latino family so there was no extra cash to hire an official instructor to show me “how to drive.” Not only did they show me how to drive, but also taught me some of the simplest car hacks that every person should know how to do in one of their most important assets in life – their vehicle. Plus car maintenance can be expensive so its best if you know how to replace the oil, replace wind-shield wipers and perform a thorough car wash to have your car shining like new always.

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Imagine life without your car? Yeah, it would be pretty miserable I am sure since we depend on it so much. I don’t believe that driving a car is a privilege nor a luxury where only some can reap the benefits and instead I strongly believe that it’s a necessity that everyone should be able to have access to.

Think about it — you use your car to transport you from point A to point B, C, D and so forth daily such as work, errands, doctor visits, emergencies, school, food and groceries. And other times it can take you on an adventure to visit a friend, family or fun road trips, which I am the biggest fan of.

How about all the fun dates you’ve been on and your car has been your biggest ally in this because you had to pick up the girl you were trying to impress and a woman can tell a lot by how a man takes care of his car. Right ladies? So to save you some time and that special girl from running away from you follow my simple car hacks so that you have a healthy car.

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When changing your own oil there are several things you should know about the car such as year, model, make, and engine displacement size and oil type. You’ll find all of this information in your vehicle’s user manual. Once you’ve figured all this out I recommend you use Quaker State Oil for your car and although they have different varieties such as advanced durability motor oil (green bottle), ultimate durability-full synthetic motor oil (red bottle) and defy-high mileage motor oil (gold bottle) you will know which one to use by completing your research that I mentioned earlier.

Visit your nearest Walmart to purchase the oil products your car needs for its next oil change and get ready to get down and dirty. You’ll find the oil products in the Auto section of the store. Don’t be scared of the process because in the end you’ll be saving yourself money, it will give you confidence in knowing how to change your cars’ oil and durability because you’ll know you’ve chosen the best product.

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Here are the simple steps to take to change your car oil:

  1. Start by warming up your engine for 2-3 minutes so the gook gets churned up and can flow out of the engine easily. Don’t let the engine turn hot, only warm or else you won’t be able to work on it.
  2. Drain the Oil into a container. The drain plug is located at the bottom of the engine. You’ll have to crawl or need to use a jack.
  3. Remove and replace the oil filter. Empty the oil from the filter into a container.
  4. Wipe around the area where the oil was drained.
  5. Refill your oil with a funnel.
  6. Screw the new filter into the engine where the old one was.
  7. Run the engine for 30 to 60 seconds and shut off the engine and wait 5 to 10 minutes for the oil to settle.
  8. Check oil level and once it’s at appropriate level take the car for a test drive.
  9. Once you return and the level is still at “FULL” at the dipstick you’re all set. You’ve completed your successful oil change and you know for a fact that it’s going to be reliable until the next oil change because you did it with your own hands. It’s very IMPORTANT that you dispose of the oil in an approved facility. IMG_5611

You should always feel pride when driving your car and there are some simple car hacks that can make you feel empowered by knowing that your car is at its best when you’re behind the wheel. For instance my car is almost 3 years old and to me it still looks pretty new and I want it to stay like that because I plan on keeping it for many years to come. When I become a father, one day, I want to ride my kids in it. I have taken such great care of it with Quaker State Oil products and implementing the simple verbal maintenance check-list I always received from my father.

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I want to help you maintain your car reliability and durability so follow these simple tricks and I am sure you’ll be enjoying your ride for years.

Tips:

  1. Read the vehicles owner’s manual thoroughly so that you understand the cars different functions and warnings your car gives you.
  2. Vacuum and clean everything periodically and even if that means scrubbing. This tips always reminds me of my older brother because he has always stressed this on me since he’s a perfectionist and always has his car extra-clean.
  3. Fix and clean the cockpit area and dashboard since that is the area where you usually spend the majority of time and the area that you end up touching the most.
  4. Clean the headlights. Make the dull and yellowed lights clear with toothpaste. Yes, you read that right it works and my dad taught me that lesson.
  5. Always have an air-freshener in your car to invite good scent. Nothing beats a clean and smell-good car.
  6. Tidy up the trunk so that you can keep items organized, easy to find and so that things are not traveling all over the place when you’re driving.
  7. Restore the interior with olive oil. Yes, mom taught me this lesson. All you need to do is dab olive oil on a rag and rub in circular motion.
  8. Wash car frequently to help the paint last longer and minimize the time it spends parked under the sun.
  9. And always keep an eye on your wheels and tires because everything your car does it does it through the tires. IMG_5612

I want to hear about your Walmart experience when purchasing the Quaker State Oil Products or when you visit their Auto Center for your oil change. Share with me in the comments section how you take care of your vehicle so that I can implement some of your car hacks on my “Alma Negra”?

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