Meet Hotel Covell, A Creative Haven In Los Feliz

By Krista,



Traveling for a living means that I get to see some pretty incredible properties around the globe, so you can imagine my sense of hometown pride when I heard about the happs at the brand spankin’ new Hotel Covell in Los Feliz. This itsy bitsy boutique hotel is technically a B&B by official standards, as it only has 5 rooms. But man oh man, are they stunners.

Owner Dustin Lancaster is a first time hotelier, but he’s also one of my favorite restauranteurs in L.A.; he owns L&E Oyster Bar, Covell, El Condor, Hermosillo, Sidebar and Highland Park Brewery, which I adore. So when I caught wind of him opening above his great little wine bar on Hollywood Boulevard, I knew I was in for a treat.

I had major apartment envy touring the space while chatting with Dustin, and it gave me some inspiration for my own dream home. (Someday I will move out of this itsy bitsy 1920s Spanish apartment. My kitchen is just plain teensy, as you can see here.) For now, though, I’m setting a goal to just have a little staycation at this dreamy little property.

I plucked a few of my favorite detail shots from my feature on the hotel that I did for LAist below.


Like the Ace Hotel properties, each room comes decked out with a record player and some amazing vinyl.IMG_2312

The hotel’s theme is based off of a fictitious author named George Covell, and most rooms have great writing nooks. This one was my fave.


I mean this kitchen! The Heath Ceramics, the Chemex, copper strainer, the Bronner’s. I can’t even!

For more photos of this amazing space, and the full story on this stunning new property in one of L.A.’s coolest neighborhoods check out my story here.

How To Make Bone Broth, A Cross-Cultural Cure For What Ails You

By Krista,

Though grannies around the globe have been serving some form of bone broth to their ailing grandkids for ages, Marco Canora at Brodo in New York City and many other chefs are trying to turn this super concentrated stock into the new cold-pressed juice. Even in L.A., where the weather hardly ever gets below 70 degrees, it’s being served at restaurants like Asian Box, Villiage Tavern, and Belcampo Meats. So, naturally, I decided to do some research and figure out how to make my own at home.

Turns out those Cantonese and Italian grannies were on to something. By using a pressure cooker, I figured out how to make bone broth in just 2 hours instead of multiple days. Not bad eh?

Making bone broth does admittedly require quite a bit of high quality bones and meat, and that’s what makes it different from a stock — the fact that there’s a higher portion of meat and bones to liquid, as well as the fact that bone broth is made with plenty of seasonings, unlike stock. Those keeping paleo believe that bone broth fortified with a mix of bone marrow and other high-collagen parts is good for ailing joints, aiding in digestion and keeping your skin purdy. (The Huffington Post even sited it as one of the ways you can eat healthy while traveling the globe.)

While I can’t speak to the health values just yet, I will say that it’s rich and delicious, the perfect cure for what ails you during the cold winter months — especially when you add some minced ginger, garlic, honey, lemon juice, and sea salt into the mix.

You can read the proper recipe after the jump.

… Continue reading

Where To Eat In Phoenix + Scottsdale For The Super Bowl

By Krista,



Though Scottsdale, Arizona is often thought of as a resort destination with little more than golf courses and luxury properties, there’s a strong undercurrent of creativity in this Sonoran desert city that’s fueling a diverse food scene. The same energy that brought Frank Lloyd Wright and Paolo Soleri is inspiring a vibrant cadre of chefs, artisans, and purveyors to use the bounty of the region to make some seriously good eats. And the weather is perfect for a visit this time of year — especially if you’re heading out for the Super Bowl.

Here are some of my favorite eats in the area.

The Best New Restaurant + Bar Openings Around The Globe This January

By Krista,



To kick off the New Year, I launched a new column with Departures Magazine, which covers the absolutely essential F&B news from around the globe. There are a hefty amount of openings and events I covered in the first edition, but a few of the goings-on that I’m most looking forward to checking out are:

The new three-star Michelin chef Guy Savoy’s intimate oyster bar L’Huitrade in Paris, where he’s sourcing bivalves from local fisheries; the opening of chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone of the Parm/Torrisi/Carbone empire new coastal Italian concept Santina on NYC’s High Line; and critically acclaimed Tokyo-based Ivan Ramen finally taking online reservations for up to six people, meaning I can finally bypass the lines at their Clinton Street ramenya.

My to-do list for 2015 is getting bigger by the minute! You can take a peek at the full January’s edition here.

Wishing You A Very Homespun Holiday

By Krista,

This year I got really into the DIY holiday spirit and decked my apartment out with all sorts of homespun elements. Thankfully I was able to elicit the help of my favorite elves, Michael and Bento. All of these little projects were super simple to execute, meaning you still have time to add them into your repertoire before Christmas.

Here’s what we came up with.



To save on paper, we wrapped our gifts using scrap fabric from Mood and recycled brown bags paired with some great ribbon from both Pulp Paper Goods and Mood. The gift tags are from one of my favorite local graphic designers Emily McDowell, who I wrote about here.




I blinged out these pomegranates and pinecones with some of Krylon’s new chrome and glitter spray paints. You can read how I did that project here. I’ve also collected some seasonal release craft beer coasters over the years to pull out this time of year. Lord konws I love a good freebie, especially if it involves gnomes.




We made traditional German hexenhouse, or A-Frames, using a cool kit imported from Germany by Trader Joe’s. They were a steal at $7.99 each, and are insanely aromatic even weeks later. They were super simple to assemble and taste pretty darn great, too.



For my cookie platter this year, I used a few of my favorite recipes. First I started with my riff on James Beard’s bourbon spiced persimmon bread. I also used Martha Stewart’s technique for making swirled bark, but added stick pretzels, craisins, and macadamia nuts from Michael’s grandfather’s tree. I used the leftover white chocolate to do a white chocolate cranberry bark for a bit of color variation to the plate. I also did some white chocolate oatmeal cookies studded with pomegranate arils for a hit of tartness. Finally I whipped up a batch of Giada’s lemon ricotta cookies with a lemon zest glaze, which I discovered at the opening party of her new restaurant out in Vegas. They remind me of lemon bars, which are some of my favorite desserts, plus they add a bright hit of acid, which you rarely get on sweets during the holidays.



I made this tablescape using mismatched cocktail glasses and those blinged-out natural pieces I mentioned earlier. If you glazed over that one, don’t worry about it. You can read how I did it here.


I picked up this longhorn steer head from an artisan selling them on the side of the road in the hill country outside Austin. Michael disassembled the polished horns from the skull on the side of the road so we could pack it as checked luggage. Crafty guy! I then took these old poinsettia candleholders and slipped them on the horns for a festive flare. A little more exciting than the typical Santa hat skull, I reckon.




A big selling point of my teensy apartment was the faux fireplace and mantle with Spanish tiling — so much so that it made me overlook the miniature kitchen. I loved decking it out for the holidays with all my homespun accents.




The vintage bar cart makes a cameo next to the tree. This year I made a tree skirt out of an old Brazilian coffee jute sack that the folks at Blue Bottle DTLA so kindly donated to my cause. All I did was cut the seam to turn it into one large piece of fabric. I paired the rustic jute sack with a checkered tablecloth to match with my Soutwestern/Texas theme. (You can see more of the jute material in the photograph  of the wrapped presentes up at the top.)


kristamichaelchristmas crop


Now that we’re all decorated, I can enjoy what the holidays are truly about: spending time with your loved ones, in this case my two favorite guys: Michael and Bento.

We wish you all the merriest Christmas and a deliciously inspired New Year!

My Feminist Icon? Solo Female Travelers.

By Krista,



In my mind, feminism’s freshest face isn’t a pop star, but backpacker Cheryl Strayed, who’s portrayed in the awesome new film staring Reese Witherspoon, “Wild.”

Watching the movie, which is based on Strayed’ book that recounts her time on the Pacific Crest Trail, reminded me of my experience backpacking around the globe solo. There are lots of things that we as women face while on the road alone that men simply don’t have to deal with, which I talk about my Op-Ed with the LA Times:

“There were times, like Strayed, where I felt incredibly vulnerable simply because I was a woman traveling solo. Then there was the questioning, which I still get when traveling for work, namely regarding the whereabouts of my husband, followed by queries as to why a nice girl such as myself doesn’t have one at my age, and finally why on Earth would I ever travel alone? Then there were the warnings of how I could get robbed or raped, or worse yet, might never find said husband because I was too busy globetrotting…

To be fair, being on the road can be quite dangerous. I questioned myself, just as my family and friends back home did, when money was low or when life got lonely, or I was simply just dying for a hot shower or a warm bed to sleep in. And there are plenty of things I had to consider as a female on my own that a man would never have to worry about.

But those challenges weren’t an excuse to quit, or worse yet, to never start.”

You can read my full Op-Ed piece here. And travel on.


Turn Pomegranates Into A Festive, Affordable DIY Holiday Centerpiece

By Krista,


Remember good ol’ Sandra Lee? Much as I despise her packaged, cookie cutter approach to cooking, that lush was on to something. And I’m not just talking about her affinity for cocktails, though we do have that in common. What I dug about that batty old blonde was her emphasis on tablescaping.

Though she might have gone a bit too over-the-top for many of her themed episodes  — her offensive mess of a Kwanzaa cake makes me laugh to this day — there is plenty of merit to having a statement centerpiece with elements that visually guide you to it, especially during the holiday season.

For my tablescaping, I’m all about mixing colors, textures, and heights of organic materials to make to achieve a unique homespun look. I did two centerpieces for the winter holiday season: one for my steamer trunk coffee table (above) and another for my dining room table. Both of them use pomegranates, which I gave a special sheen by spraying with Krylon’s new Glitter Blast spray paint in Cherry. It leaves a sheer glittery sheen that reminds me of Dorothy’s slippers.

I also chromed out some pinecones in silver using Krylon’s Premium Metalic spray paints, and did a hammered bronze look for a handful of other pinecones. So you have glitter, chrome, and hammered all with a pretty evergreen trimmings that not only look great and add an organic pop, but also smell fantastic. I arranged them in a wire nesting bowl that my mom gave me for my birthday a few years back; no need to buy an entire new collection for the holidays. Use what you have and save that money for holiday shopping. (Have you seen my gift guide, BTW? If not, you can check it out here.)



For my dining room arrangement, I used a mirrored serving tray from Cost Plus that I’d been eyeing for the past few months as the base, then arranged varying colors of candles on top of mismatched cocktail glasses flipped upside down.

This cocktail glass candleholder trick is a great way to utilize mismatched glassware, because let’s be honest, there are times when things break, especially when there’s booze involved. The great thing is it creates varying heights, which is super important in creating a centerpiece and creating visual interest.

I interspersed those candles with more evergreen (noble fir, in case you’re curious, is my favorite type of tree), blinged out pomegranates, and chrome and hammered copper pinecones.

Since my dining room table table is teensy — as is my dining room — instead of placing the arrangement on a runner, I used a large Oaxacan wool placemat as the base. But you can use whatever you like: placemats, a festive charger, seconds from a fabric store, or even some used fabrics from Goodwill.

Again, use what you’ve got and if you’re lucky, you’ll have some cash leftover to get yourself something this holiday too. Because let’s be real, you’ve been a good kid this year.


My Holiday Gift Guide For Food, Travel, and Design Lovers

By Krista,



Still haven’t gotten your holiday shopping done? It’s okay, I haven’t either. But you needn’t fret. There’s plenty of time before Hanukkah and Christmas roll around.

From Will’s amazing leather weekenders to Emily McDowell’s quirky lettered creations and super sleekly designed modern water pitchers that use coconut husks to filter your H20, I’ve rounded up my favorite holiday gifts for your nearest and dearest. You can find my full list over at LAist, right this way.

How To Make Bourbon Spiced Persimmon Holiday Bread

By Krista,


I’m a total nerd when it comes to the holidays. The baking, the decorating, the gift giving, and general merry making are totally my thing.

And while I do love the bountiful produce that the local farmers markets offer in the spring and summer months, the winter has some goodies too. Pomegranates and persimmons, I think, are some of the greatest fruits this time of year. They’re greatly misunderstood, but once you get the courage to play with them, you’ll see how great their flavors can be.

Besides, anything with the name Simmons in it has to be good, right?

Let’s start with those Japanese persimmons. (I’ll show you some cool DIY projects I’ve been working on with the pomegranates later this week.)

This sweet orange fruit is actually native to China, which I just visited earlier this year, and is now grown widely in Japan, where it’s their national fruit. Persimmons are traditionally consumed on the Japanese New Year as a sign of prosperity and good luck in the year to come. (Hopefully eating these will give me the good fortune of traveling to Japan in 2015!)

I came up on some wonderful fuyu and hichaya persimmons after including them in a cute Thanksgiving centerpiece that I made, which you can see here

Fuyus are the persimmons you’ll find with a flat bottom, and are sweet when they are just slightly ripe. Hichayas, on the other hand, are incredibly tart and tannic until they are absolutely jelly-like ripe. I used 2 of each variety for this recipe, pureeing them together because the fuyus have a more solid texture.

Just like avocados, you can ripen both types of persimmons by putting them in a paper bag. Once they’re super tender to the touch, they’re ready for baking into this fantastic holiday bread, which tastes super toasted with a slathering of salted butter.

The reason I love this bread is twofold: first and foremost the recipe is adapted from the great James Beard, the godfather of American cooking; secondly, it uses my favorite spirit, bourbon. It also makes a wonderful holiday or host gift since the recipe makes 2 loves.

Here’s how it’s done.

Spiced Bourbon Persimmon Bread

Adapted from David Lebovitz and Beard on Bread

Makes two 9-inch loaves


3½ cups sifted flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 to 2½ cups sugar
1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Bulleit bourbon
2 cups persimmon puree (this comes from about 4 persimmons)
1 cup nuts (I used a mix of walnuts and pecans)
1 cup dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter 2 loaf pans, then dust with flour and tap out any excess.

Remove persimmon flesh from the skin and put into a food processor to puree. Set aside.

Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

Make a well in the center, then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree. After that’s mixed, add in the dried fruit and nuts. (I used much less in this recipe because I’m not nuts for nuts. The original recipe calls for double nuts and dried fruit that  I used here.)

Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

The bread will keep for about a week, if well-wrapped, at room temperature. It can also be frozen.

Video: Eating And Exploring Chengdu and Mount Emei in China’s Sichuan Province

By Krista,

You may remember earlier this year, my brother Danny and I had the privilege of doing our first international trip together, where we headed to China to explore some of the country’s distinct regional cooking. We both agreed that the highlight of the entire journey was exploring the Sichuan Province, where I found what have become my favorite markets in the world in small town called Emei.

Emei is most widely known for being the home to Mount Emei, or Emeishan, a massive misty mountain and UNESCO world heritage site that’s a pilgrimage site for Chinese Buddhists. It’s said to be a place of enlightenment, and I think that the street food and markets should be a rite of passage for food lovers too.

In our video above, Danny and I dive into the area’s deep cultural history through its food, and gain a deeper appreciation for the people who prepare it. Mapo tofu, kung pao chicken, street meat, hot pot, dumplings, and piping hot pork noodle soup are just a few of the dishes you’ll see, along with footage of Chengdu’s panda bear sanctuary, Emeishan, and the magnificent people of the Sichuan province.

Take a look, and prepare for your tastebuds to tingle.