Saturday, November 14, 2015

Netflix & Sweat: Urban Sweat Lodging at Shape House

My lifelong dream has always been to somehow lose weight while laying down in front of a television. I had always placed that dream outside my realm of possibilities next to my dreams of winning Star Search and attending the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. That is until I heard about Shape House on the radio. I almost crashed my car when I heard that you can lose up to 1,000-1,200 calories laying down and sweating in 50 minutes. I immediately looked it up on Yelp and people were reporting that each sweat station is equipped with it's own TV with a fully loaded Roku. This is when I realized that contrary to what I had always believed, Jesus does listen to my prayers.

Since my pal, Jessie was going to be in town from San Francisco, I thought I would give her the full LA experience by making her partake in fad exercise. She also shares my opposition to movement and love for on demand television, so naturally this would be the perfect bonding activity us. I found a Groupon for $29 for one session, which is a great deal since it's normally $45 per session. We made our reservations through their website for the Pasadena location. I even called ahead to make sure they sat us next to each other and the nice woman on the phone said, "Okay, I have you guys next to each other, we can leave the curtain open so you guys can sweat together." So romantic. 

The website explicitly advised against consuming alcohol before and during the sweat, which was kind of a problem for us since we had brunch scheduled at Franklin and Company before our sweat session. Since I was scared of fainting or getting a nose bleed during our sweat, I insisted Jess and I just share a small daytime cocktail. 

And so we shared this elegant jar of bloody mary garnished with what looked like a deconstructed appetizer sampler from Applebee's. And possibly a glass of mimosa each. WHAT!? They were only $3. But I made sure I drank tons of water...

This is the exterior of the Pasadena Shape House location. "An urban sweat lodge" is a perfect description of this place.

The waiting area where we signed something on an iPad that I assumed was a waiver? Not sure, didn't read it. I was just struggling to use something as advanced as an iPad. 

The nice ladies at Shape House lent us sweats, large orange shirts and socks since we had neglected to bring an extra pair of clothing to sweat in. I honestly thought we would be in our underwear during the session, so I mistakenly wore a nice lace bra and panties. So much for that. 

After we got dressed in what looked like my grade school P.E. uniform, we were led to the dimly lit upstairs area where all the sweat stations are. We were helped into the sweat beds and given a large fancy glass of water. They taught me how to use the Roku and showed me the call button in case I needed more water or needed encouragement. Then they wrapped me up like a burrito in this heavy heated blanket thing. I'm gonna be honest, I was already sweating after I walked up the stairs, so I was sweating pretty profusely once I was secured inside the heated tortilla. 

There was a 4 minute introductory video and then I got to choose between Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO and like a million other streaming apps. It was fucking luxurious. I settled on Aziz Ansari's hilarious new show, Master of None. 

At first, the heat was kind of uncomfortable but I just drank water and focused on the television. I eventually got used to it and then it became pretty tolerable. I also did some fantasizing about cancelling my ClassPass membership because this was clearly a better workout for me. 

Every now and again, I would glance to my right to make sure that Jess was still alive. Just kidding, I was just treating myself to this hilarious sight. 

Time kind of flew by, but it progressively got hotter inside the burrito. According to the intro video, the last 20 minutes are supposed to me the most intense. I noticed the both of us had freed our arms from the blanket and were flailing our arms around above our heads because it was too hot toward the end. The ladies came back around with cool lavender towels, which I really needed and appreciated. 

After the sweat, they lead you to a recovery room downstairs where you can chill out and eat oranges.

Apparently Jess was on the verge of quitting throughout the entire sweat session and was a much more violent sweater than I was. I assume this is because I made her drink the majority of that hamburger cocktail. 

I asked her if she pissed herself, but she claims that this is just booty sweat. 

Overall, I thought urban sweat lodging was delightful. Everyone that worked there was really nice to us and made us feel comfortable and I literally burned hundreds (possibly thousands?) of calories while watching television. Shape House really turned this little lady's dreams into a reality. 

To reward ourselves for treating our bodies to such a detoxifying cardio session, we decided to get ice cream.

We hit up Cookies and Milk in South Pasadena for this delightful open face sandwich with taro salted caramel ice cream and a strawberry chip cookie. 

Stay tuned for all the other fat, non-calorie burning activities we did throughout the weekend. Why? Because it involves eating an extraordinary amount of dumplings!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Good Stuff: Odys + Penelope

I had a very titillating (it took me like three years to spell that word right even after I Googled it and apparently it has nothing to do with tits?) encounter with some food the other day. My friends and I randomly selected Odys + Penelope from some list of hot and new restaurants in L.A. and decided to give it a visit. I was pleased to see that it was located across the street from my old stomping grounds on La Brea, where I used to slang sneakers and expertly fold t-shirts so that tourists and Omarion could unfold them 10 seconds later. Back in my day, we didn't have such luxurious lunching options on the block and I was limited to Ralph's sandwiches and bean burritos (indigestion) from Chevron. So this place gets 9 stars alone for being located in an area that makes me nostalgic about frozen gas station burritos. 

So from what I gathered on the internet, Odys + Penelope is owned by the people that owned Hatfield's (never went there) and it is a churrasco/grill style place. 

There was no fucking way we weren't going to order the cheesy poofs. These were like the cheese breads from Fogo de Chao mixed with Red Lobster biscuits mixed with a croissant served with a sexy orange dipping sauce (smoked tomato romesco). 

These were the Grilled Wild White Prawns with Garlicky Buttered Potatoes....D-LISH!  

The Pork Belly Bolognese Pappardelle contained my two favorite things on earth: pork belly and fresh pasta. I carefully draped the pasta on my head like a wig and asked my friends if I looked pretty and when they all responded with "no", I asked the bolognese out on a date. (I am clearly running out of ways to describe how delicious food is.) 

My friend ordered the Oak Grilled Branzino, which I helped myself to when she went to the bathroom. It was an absolute masterpiece. 

This is the Slow Grilled Tri-Tip with Bearnaise and Charred Broccolini. My eyes rolled back in my head and got stuck there for a solid half hour the instant that beef with bearnaise hit my tongue. Yes, I looked like I needed medical attention, but that is just what I look like when I eat perfectly cooked red meat or when I look at Nick Jonas. 

I know what you're all wondering, "How does she take such professional looking photos?" The answer is poor lighting and an antique iPhone 5s with a camera lens covered with grease and carb debris. I can rent mine out to you for $100 a day. 

In conclusion, Odys + Penelope gets 10 stars from me. Or an A +. Do I have the authority to grant Michelin stars? If so, this gets 3. If I am not mistaken, this is exactly how Jonathan Gold reviews restaurants. The only difference is I am doing it better, so WATCH OUT, GOLD! I AM COMING FOR YOUR JOB. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Goodbye Summer, Hello Churro Ice Cream Sandwiches!

Since we don't experience any sort of seasonal climate changes here in L.A., the only way I know that summer is coming to an end is the sudden influx of events at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and the arrival of that evil Jezebel (The L.A. County Fair) with her alluring cabinet of fried curiosities. Who doesn't love turning up at the cemetery and/or the fair?! That's why I use these events to trick people into hanging out with me in public. 

My friends and I went to the Miguel concert at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. This cemetery doubles as a concert and outdoor movie venue in the summertime. Yes, it is creepy as fuck walking through all those grave sites and you run the risk of having a disturbed spirit follow you home, but I like to protect myself from this by stuffing my bra with crystals and cloves of garlic. If you were there, you may have recognized me there as the girl with the jagged boobs drinking from a bottle of sunscreen. 

As grownass women (lazy people), we opted to sit as far as possible because we cannot be bothered to stand up and had some serious snacking to do. It's also imperative to sit as far away from the stage as possible at a Miguel concert if you want to avoid getting your face kicked in when he attempts to do an aerial splits. 

The beauty of the cemetery is that you can B.Y.O everything...blankets, Cheetos, vodka minis, wine bottles, reefer, dog biscuits, cigars, Egg McMuff's, bulgogi, etc. My friend brought a fake sunscreen bottle as a concealed flask for our vodka. I saw this drinking tactic used on an episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and I've always thought it was genius. Even though you can drink openly here, it was still fun to drink from a sunscreen bottle and pretend that we were being sneaky. 

BEST CONCERT VENUE EVER. Shout out to Miguel for putting on a hell of a show and the friendly staff for humoring us and giving us a 30 ft ride to the porta potty's in a golf cart. 

They've finally started promoting my biopic at the local movie theater. I am so excited for its release!! 

Now for the L.A. County Fair. This is the perfect place to go if you can't decide between spending your Friday night at a Dave and Busters or a Big Lots. Lynard Skynard was performing at the Grandstand that evening, but my boyfriend and I were not chic enough to be ticketholders, so we went on the hunt for scary hybrid foods on sticks instead. 

Seeing a sign for "BIG FAT SAUSAGE" and "BACON WRAPPED PORK BELLY" resulted in a lot of uncontrollable weeping on my part, but I managed to hold it together long enough to offer these people all of the money in my bank account.

BACON WRAPPED PORK BELLY. I made the staff lineup so I could run through and high five everyone for doing such a wonderful job. Then we smothered this thing in BBQ sauce and shared it while riding the people mover, as I waved it around chanted, "PORK ON PORK ON PORK!" above the fairgrounds. Or actually, the only accurate part of what I just said was "we smothered this thing in BBQ sauce." 

I would lay on top of this if it didn't mean third degree burns and permanent grill marks on my face. 

I found an alarming amount of photos on my phone of this man posing with this smoker full of meat. I asked him if he wanted me to send him some so he could make one his Facebook profile picture but he told me to get lost. 

Next stop was this gelato barn for this beautiful creation...

A MINT CHIP GELATO CHURRO SANDWICH!!!!!! I had a full on anxiety attack when they asked me to choose a gelato flavor and I haven't quite recovered from not having chosen them all. I want these people to make me some churro ear muffs out of these buns because come wintertime, I'm gonna want me some edible headwear. 

All I wanted was a corn dog, so I bought this BACON CORN DOG. At this point, it was pointless to even order something with more bacon, as my mouth was already permanently coated with bacon grease from the bacon covered pork belly. Still finished it though...

The "Chi-Chee Fries" is pretty accurate because that's what it sounded like when I ordered these while having my third stroke of the evening. 

I was filled with disgust after all that eating and decided to ride the ferris wheel so that I could yell, "PACK YOUR SHIT AND LEAVE!" to the fair. Unfortunately, it listened. That's what happens when you hastily yell out hateful things you don't mean. Whatever, that bitch will be back next what the fair said about me as I was escorted out by security.  

If you think I learned my lesson or felt some kind of remorse after eating all that junk, you are sadly mistaken. My family and I went to Churro Borough in Los Feliz the next day and had my SECOND churro ice cream sandwich of the weekend. This one was kinda superior because they had horchata ice cream and the churro ear muffs were thinner and easier to eat. I need to go back for their milk shake and churro fries combo ASAP or like at least after I get a colonic. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Eating My Way Through Japan: OSAKA

The next stop on the Back Fat Express was Osaka.We had great expectations for Osaka since we heard many tales about all of their fried specialties and it's fame for their takoyaki (fried octopus dough balls).

But obviously, our first stop would be the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum. What kind of people would we be if we didn't pay homage to the founder and creator of Cup Noodles, Momofuku Ando?? We also heard a rumor about free admission and the opportunity to customize your own Cup Noodle, which is something every woman should take advantage of at least once in her life.

We began to notice that the majority of the museums visitors were children and the only other adults there were either employees or people accompanying children. I don't know who these children belonged to, but I do know neither belonged to anyone in our party, which would explain their impeccable style. I should probably alert The Sartorialist about them. 

Upon entering, we found a long majestic wall showcasing every Cup Noodle product ever produced. We spent around an hour furiously vogueing and holding an impromptu photoshoot in front of this wall. 

This Cup Noodle Drama theater showed a compelling educational film about the company's history. We watched about 5 seconds of this and walked out to look for a better photo op.

There was no shortage of groups of children on field trips. Please excuse my shameless photographing of strange children, I couldn't help it since they were the only other kind of people there. 

We finally approached the Cup Noodle customization line and we were met with yet another vending machine. For the low price of 300 yen, we got a styrofoam cup and access to a myriad of savory powders and dehydrated vegetables. My finger also insisted on making a cameo in this photo...that bitch. 

Filling the cup was a lengthy and somewhat stressful process. You surrender your cup to the young ladies screaming into their headsets at each station, where they manually crank on machines and fill your cup with noodles and such. I took the exotic/confused route and did a curry powder with bacon, fish cakes, green onions and red pepper. 

Once your cup is filled and sealed, they release you into a room full of cafeteria tables supplied with markers so that you can decorate your cup. As women in their late-twenties, we took this step very seriously. 

Again, this is an absolute must-see experience in Japan. That reminds me, I still have this in my pantry and need to see how much it tastes like an armpit considering the fucked up combo I chose.

Our next move was to the Osaka Owl Family Cafe. Yes, an OWL CAFE. This Japanese animal cafe trend was very alluring to us because we are all city dwellers whose interactions with animals are limited to yelling at our neighbors chihuahuas and cursing at seagulls that steal our corn dogs at the beach. 

I have to admit that it was upsetting to walk into a room full of beautiful owls and seeing them all chained down. I think my dumbass forgot that they are wild animals and thought they would be flying around freely and harmoniously amongst a room of strangers. As awful as I thought this was, I was already inside and could not resist the chance to contract bird flu on top of the fever I already had. I also had never met an owl before, so I figured this was my chance. 

This is Mimi and Momo. Mimi was delighted to share her head with Momo, the 10 lb owl who is clinging to her scalp for dear life with his claws. We all took turns placing owls of various sizes on our heads and and things got weird when I tried to make out with the largest one. Again, there is no reason to have owls and humans confined together in a room. 

We also encountered a species of alcohol that is extinct in America. The only alcoholic beverage on the menu at this place was ZIMA. I believe Smirnoff Ice's have long replaced Zima's as the pussiest drinks on the market since its departure from America, but it looks like Japanese owl cafes are still all about it. 

In conclusion, I would have preferred to have met an owl under more Harry Potter-esque circumstances where I would be gifted an owl that would deliver my mail, but once again, beggars can't be choosers. 

My friend Jess found a comprehensive list of must-eat places in Osaka on a blog that is much more informative and helpful than this one, which can be found here. We referenced this list as a guide to help us find the best fried goodies in the city. 

The first stop on The Great Takoyaki hunt was Creo-Ru

Cooking takoyakis is on the same level of difficulty as ice road trucking. It requires serious focus and and finesse to flip dozens of balls around with two tiny sticks. So hats off to all the takoyaki artisans around the country for their skill and dedication to making sure drunk folks have a delicious way to burn their mouths. 

Voila! Luscious octopus balls. I recall these being squishier and more gingery than the ones we had in Tokyo, but still delicious. 

After this snack, our fat asses walked directly over to Kimukatsu, where they are famous for their pork tonkatsu. 

Tonkatsu was pretty much the only thing on the menu, so we got three different kinds to sample: original, garlic and CHEESE. 

The special thing about this place is that they layer paper thin slices of pork on top of each other and delicately fry them. Look at how gorgeous those layers are. It's details like this that count the most when you are eating fried foods. 

THE CHEESE TONKATSU!! Look at that meltedass cheese peeking out from there. I believe this has the same allure that cleavage has on boob lovers. 

From there, we walked around 100 feet to Dotonbori Konamon Museum to get MORE TAKOYAKI. 

You cannot miss this place because there is a massive octopus attached to the front of it. 

Very talented people who are in my opinion eligible for canonization as saints. 

This was the final takoyaki of the trip. I don't know when I'll get to experience this again, but I challenge someone to open a takoyaki place here in LA. Probably on Sawtelle...SOMEONE?! PLEASE!!? 

And after that, the only thing I consumed was water, vitamin C, ibuprofen and heavy doses of cold medicine because I was sick as a dog. Japan, you almost killed me, but I love you. Keep being weird and cranking out some of the most delicious food on the planet. 

Love, Neko Lover (Cat Lover)