at the prompting of friends, i decided it's time to start sharing the discoveries i make. they'll take all kinds of shapes and forms. dining. sweets. books. music. art. you name it, if it's good or interesting or scrumptious or lovely, i'll try to share it. so each week, check in and see what i've discovered in the last seven days. and for good measure i'll occasionally throw in something i've discovered a while ago and continue to enjoy.
- sprinkles. the most ridiculous concept in sweet goods ever. a store that sells cupcakes. that's it. cupcakes for you. cupcakes for your dog. and shots of frosting. for those of us who don't like cupcakes but do like frosting. it's also ridiculously overpriced--$3.25 for a single cupcake. that didn't stop my friends and i from buying half a dozen to sample. i recommend the funkier varieties--pumpkin with cinnamon frosting, chai with chai frosting, ginger with lemon cream cheese frosting. you can pass on the basics--chocolate and vanilla in all of their varieties. i make better basics at home. if you must have a chocolate one, get the red velvet.
- chocolate. so i did a chocolate night with friends this week. we sampled a pound of see's candies, five different chocolate bars, and three varieties of chocolate ice cream. the discovery was lindt's white chocolate coconut bar. it was tasty. hands down the best white chocolate i've ever tasted. it was so good, in fact, that a friend who likes neither white chocolate nor coconut liked it best of the bars available that night. and if you're up for something a bit trippy, try a nice dark chocolate with either peppercorn or chili pepper.
- kean. i'm always on the lookout for a new cafe. and my standards are rather high. i want not only excellent hot cocoa (something that is nearly impossible to find), some herbal tea options, and decent snacks, but also a relaxing environment. somewhere i can sit and study for hours. i found a lovely new alternative this week. kean. at the intersection of irvine and 17th street at the edge of costa mesa and newport beach. they not only have your standard hot cocoa, but also mayan spiced and mexican spiced hot cocoa. and they not only have herbal teas, but also herbal iced tea (something i've never found before, though i've often wanted it) and herbal chai (another rarety). and they make italian cream sodas. pair it with tasty food and the sustenance side of the equation is met. on top of it all, they have a lovely atmosphere complete with comfy chairs, friendly employees, and live music in the evening on the weekends. and they give their coffee grounds to customers to use as fertilizer. goodness in all its possible cafe forms. for you coffee drinkers out there, i'm sure their coffee is as good as it gets. and it's an independent. long live the independent coffee house.
- dickens. so i was browsing barnes & noble last night (a pasttime for me; i just can't walk through those doors without committing myself to a perusal of the bargains). i had gone in to buy sibelius' 5th symphony (which is gorgeous) for my dad for his birthday and on my way out i made my obligatory stop by the bargain shelves. only to discover beautiful hardbound reprints of the nonesuch series of dickens novels. nonesuch was a press active during the early half of the 20th century. they printed hardbound copies of literature that attempted to combine the quality of a fine press and the affordability of a mass market printer. these use dickens' final text and the illustrations he chose himself to accompany his novels. the original set included 24 books. i only purchased 4 and i don't know how many B&N is selling, but they're only $6.98 each.
- thai. thai nakorn, to be exact. on garden grove boulevard between harbor and fairview. go. you won't regret it. it's worth the drive down harbor to eat this incredibly delicious food. and it's not expensive. i have far too many favorites to list them all, but some suggestions: beef panang curry(i have never, ever, even at ruth's chris steak house, had beef this tender; it practically melts in your mouth), barbequed catfish (incredible fish, amazing sauce), pad thai (the best i've eaten anywhere), beef with chili and basil. if there's a thai dish you want, they probably have it. and if it's not on the menu, they'll probably make it for you anyway. for dessert try the sweet sticky rice with mango, the coconut ice cream, the coconut custard (cooked in the coconut), or the fried banana. or you could be weird like me and get the coconut ice cream served on top of the sweet sticky rice. it makes me hungry just thinking about all of this deliciousness. do yourself a favor and go. right now if possible.
- disney hall. to experience mahler's third. this friday, saturday, and sunday. not only is this the most gorgeous venue, anywhere, this symphony is an amazing experience. the first movement is longer than the entirety of beethoven's 5th. the work as a whole embodies all of creation, from the beginning to the angels. it uses not only an immense orchestra (nine double basses; there aren't many composers who call for that many double basses), but also a mezzo-soprano soloist, a women's chorus, and a boys' chorus. exquisitely passionate. if you get the chance go. if you're a student, you can try for a $10 rush ticket beginning two hours before the performance.