NOTE: Before I begin, I should note that everything that I mention regarding the new Teenage Mutant Ninjs Turtles Nickelodeon show is, at the moment, a MUTATION IN PROGRESS. Nothing yet is set in stone. Storylines and Voices can still be changed and replaced. Mutation In Progress, keep that in mind!
About a month ago, a representative for Nickelodeon contacted me regarding attending a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles preview event in Burbank, California. Now, I get a lot of emails, but this one was pretty far out there. And lets not forget, most of my emails pitch T-Shirts, not mutant turtles. Needless to say, I was curious and so I replied back (the email said I needed to reply within the day in order to be considered). The next day, I was informed that the following week I would be contacted by some Nickelodeon representatives to discuss the Turtles. Neat.
Turns out, Nickelodeon was recruiting TMNT fans throughout the country, to attend a fan preview event at their studios in Burbank, California. I figured, I wouldn’t be chosen considering that I’ve only just blogged about the turtles a few times on this blog and each time it was in regards to TMNT themed T-Shirts. In retrospect, though, and looking back at those videos and TMNT posts, I spoke pretty passionately about the turtles and growing up with them. Despite this, I thought I had no shot … I mean there must be tons of other more uber mega super Turtle fans out there. Like, serious, serious fans. I certainly would not be chosen.
I was chosen. The madness begins.
About a week before I was scheduled to fly out to Burbank for the even, I received the official invite to the event. Can you guess how they delivered it? As a pizza! That’s right, someone dropped off pizza to my home in a custom TMNT pizza box. It was a pretty good cheese pizza too! At this point, I’m pretty excited because they are obviously going all out for this event.
The day of my departure arrives. I had an early flight, and I’m out of Honolulu at 8am on March 29th. I arrived at LAX at around 4pm and I have a personal driver (arranged by Nickelodeon) waiting for me at baggage claim to drive me to my hotel. Nice.
I arrive in my room and lo and behold, what’s there waiting for me? Ninja Turtle stuff! It was more like a big, circular gift box (made to look like a manhole/sewer) filled with goodies to keep me occupied throughout the night. Inside were some pretty dope snacks, as well as a TMNT T-Shirt and a VISA Gift Card. Awesome!
The big day arrives. I really didn’t know what to expect. Should I wear a TMNT shirt or not? I came prepared with three. I am a T-Shirt blogger after all. I decided to go with Heroes In An Art Shell by John Hillier from Threadless. 8:30pm rolls along and all of the people that flew in for the event meet up in the lobby of the Hotel Amarano. We are then driven to the Nickelodeon Animation Studios.
After waiting in the transportation van for a bit, we are finally allowed to enter the NICK lot. I should note, that they really know how to build up the tension. As we were all waiting in the van, each and every one of us was boiling with excitement. We didn’t know what to expect!
We were then finally let in and are told that we needed to give up our cell phones and any recording devices during the event. Meaning, I unfortunately could not take any pictures whatsoever. This sucked. Plus, I kept reaching for my imaginary iPhone in my pants pocket throughout the day! Those imaginary phones can be such a distraction. Once we turned in our goods, we were treated to a pretty good breakfast spread of baked goods. All the while, we mingled with our fellow TMNT brothers and sisters. Now during this time, we were unknowingly being treated to some music that they were considering for the show. This included music from Handsome Boy Modeling School and DJ Shadow. Pretty good vibe so far.
We were then officially led inside the studios (breakfast was in the front courtyard) and brought into the official NICK gym. Of course, they converted the gym into something more like a TMNT fanboy’s dream man den. It was seriously cool. Imagine lot of green uplighting and barrel’s of oooze and TMNT paraphanilia. The room itself elicited a bunch of ooohhs and ahhhhs from many of us.
Once inside, we each took a seat. We were then introduced to the president of Nickelodeon Animation, Brown Johnson, who welcomed us to the studio. We were then each asked to introduce ourselves to the group. One-by-one uber turtle mega fan after another introduced themselves. It was pretty crazy. There were people there known for being Sexy April in the cosplay world to the current Guiness record holder for largest gathering of people dressed as Ninja Turtles. We had people there with Ninja Turtle Tattoos, large Turtle toy collection, and webmasters of the most popular TMNT fansites and forums. It was pretty insane that they were able to put together such a group of TMNT fans. I guess, thank you to Google and their amazing search engine?
After the introductions, we were then given a tour of the NICK Animation Studios by Rich Magallanes, Vice President Current Animation Series Production at Nickelodeon. We first stopped in on a live voice recording for Fanboy and Chum Chum. We then passed by the areas dedicated to shows such as Avatar and Sponge Bob Square Pants. All the while, passing by all of the awesome artwork that hang in the hallways. Speaking of the hallways, many of the walls are made of whiteboard to encourage people to doodle when they feel inspired. Neat!
Afte the tour, we were then treated to a little snack session. And by little, I mean they went all out. They were handing out smoothies and milkshakes for crying out loud.
Post snack session, we returned to the gym turned makeshift Turtle den. Now came the good stuff. We were now treated to a sneak peak of the pilot episode in animatic format. Think moving storyboard with the voices. This wasn’t the CGI stuff that they are promising for the actual show and again, they emphasized that this was a “Mutation In Progress”, meaning that what we were seeing, may not even make it to the final version of the show. Makes sense, if they had made up their mind then why would we be there in the first place. I watched the animatic intently, it was about 25 minutes long. I can tell you that the rendered images of the Turtles looked great. Again, the characters looked great and each were well defined.
Following the animatic presentation of the pilot, Playmates gave a short presentation of the new Turtles toy line that will be released in conjunction with the new TMNT series.
Following the Playmates presentation, we were then treated to yet another surprise. Up to this point, we had no idea who the voice actors were going to be. And we had no idea that we would be treated to a script reading by the actual cast. This was fucking awesome. I was excited. We were all stoked. One by one, they introduced some of the producers, writers and then voices for the show. Of note were Jason Biggs as Leonardo, and Ron Paulsen as Raphael. Meeting Jason Biggs was exciting, but meeting Ron Paulsen was epic (he was the voice of the original Raphael voice and even the voice of Pinky from Pinky and the Brain). Trust me when I say that during the script reading, we all had big smiles on our faces – we were all so excited to be there. I should note, however, that the voices have not yet been finalized. An official announcement of the TMNT voices should be coming from Nickelodeon shortly.
Lunch time. As expected, there was pizza and pasta, as well as some throwback snacks from our childhood … can you say dirt pudding cups with gummy worms. Seriously, we were all in 1980′s heaven at this point. What’s even better is that the voice actors hung around for lunch. Jason Biggs even stopped by my small table to chat, as did Ron Paulsen. They were both super cool, Ron even did a few of his vintage voices! I had lunch with Pinky from Pinky and the Brain! Crazy insane.
After lunch, the real work began. For the focus groups, we broke up into small groups of four. I’m not going to go into detail about what we specifically talked about, but I will say that we discussed both positives and negatives of the new series.
We ended the day with a nice Q&A session with the writers and developers of the show. These were all questions that we had handed back to them after seeing the animatic and prior to lunch.
And that was the day! After the Q&A, we were given a poster and thumb driver with some key art for the show. Following a group picture, I was then driven straight to LAX, and I was back in Hawaii at 8pm on March 3oth. This was one 24 hour trip that I will never forget.
So quickly, some things about the new show:
- The animation is top notch.
- The action sequences looked great.
- Not a big fan of the changes they made to April Oneil’s character. She’s 15/16ish and emo!
- No mention of the origin story, they made it a point not to tell us this.
- The renderings of Shredder looked badass (though he wasn’t in the trailer).
- Loved the dark tone.
- The city landscape look great, it just feels like New York.
- Splinter is big, agile and not crippled. He can fight!
- It was funny without being campy like the 1987 series.
- Didn’t hear cowabunga or turtle power once.
- Each of the turtles look slightly different (height and weight differed).
And that’s my roundup of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Preview Event at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios. It was seriously a great time, and I am so happy that I actually checked my email the day they initially sent me the invite (thanks to Philip Ross of the Pitch Agency for finding me)!
Here are some sites you should check out that are run by some of the TMNT preview event guests:
Go Green Machine
TMNT & Other Strangeness
Posted on 5 April '11 by Coty, under Travel. 8 Comments.
Day 5 T-Shirt: The Collaborate & Dream Series: Nicolo Nimor/Nick Automatic
Day 5 was the last day of our 2011 Los Angeles trip and we spent most of the time shopping, and you guessed it, eating! Our first shopping destination was Citadel Outlets. We first passed by Citadel on our way to Disneyland a few days prior. Let me tell, this outlet mall stands out because it really does look like a big medieval fortress. While we were there, we did some shopping but not as much as I had expected. I did pick up a few things from Billabong and Quicksilver (I usually stock up on shorts – a staple if you live in Hawaii) like I normally do. Though I was surprised that I left Nike and H&M empty handed. It’s okay, there’s always another time and another trip!
By the time we had finished shopping at Citadel it was midday and we were both quite hungry for some lunch. We decided to hit up a burger joint that had been on our itinerary a few days earlier but had decided to skip. The restaurant is called Umami Burger, and let me tell you, it is not to be missed. The flavors that you will get from these burgers are out-of-this-world good! And the onion rings, so delicious. I had my eyes set on the Triple Pork Burger (fresh ground pork, choriz0, and applewood smoked bacon with manchego cheese & pimenton aioli). Sounds nice and fatty, huh? I know, I was excited too! Unfortunately, they were out. What to do now? Two words: MANLY BURGER. This burger consists of beer-cheddar cheese, smoked salt onion rings, and bacon lardons. Good god did my mouth have an mouthgasm that day. Michelle had the signature Umami Burger and she swears that it was just as delicious. If you like burgers, try this place out!
Once we had our fill of the savory flavors of umami, we decided to do more … shopping! This time, we stopped by a little shop called Japan LA. It’s a small Japanese pop culture shop right off of Melrose Avenue. Think of it as Sanrio plus some. They’ve got a ton of Sanrio trinkets as well as other little Japanese oddities. It’s definitely a fun store. I hear they are nearly ready to move into a new, 4x bigger space, so if you’re into Japanese pop toys then you should definitely pay these guys a visit. One thing that I did notice during my visit to Japan LA were some Seibei goods. There were just a few Seibei tees and tanks left, but they did have the Make Me A Sandwich Dino tee!
You might see a pattern going on for Day 5: shop, eat, shop…so of course the next thing that we did was eat! we finally made it to the world famous Diddy Riese Cookies in Westwood, located near UCLA. Nothing in LA is cheap, except for Diddy Riese Cookies! You can score an awesome homemade ice-cream cookie sandwich for just $1.50. Insane? I’ll have two please! Needless to say, I left with two dozen cookies and my co-workers sure did enjoy them!
Now back to Melrose and back to shopping. This time we hit up a few stores, including Johnny Cupcakes (yes, again), Tokidoki, Urban Outfitters, and Paul Frank. Doesn’t it seem like all of the awesome store are in LA?
And finally, for our final dinner in Los Angeles, we decided to dine at Craft in West LA. Some of you might know Tom Colicchio from Top Chef, well, this is his restaurant. I’d say that Craft is casual fine dining. You don’t need to get too dressed up for it, but you definitely don’t want to walk in with shorts and a T-Shirt. I have to say that our Craft experience was pretty amazing. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was great, and the service was excellent. And although our server did initially forget our sparkling water, when she remembered, she immediately brought it to our table courtesy of the house. They do give you a lot of freebies (not on the menu), while you wait for your main entree, however, I failed to jot down any notes. They even served the both of us a complimentary arugula salad while we waited for our food (she brought it out because she said my chicken would take some time to cook). Ah yes, the chicken. Everything on the menu is ala carte, I ended up getting the Roasted Farm Chicken and Michelle had the Steelhead Salmon & Espelette. For sides we shared some potatoes gratin and broccoli. Thanks to Milk & Eggs Co. for the great suggestion!
Craft marked the ending to quite an eventful trip. We ate really good food every single day and we got to meet Mickey Mouse. Could things have been any better? Maybe. Would I have changed anything about this trip? Nah, it was awesomely perfect.
Posted on 20 January '11 by Coty, under Travel. No Comments.
Day 4 T-Shirt of Choice: Live While You Can by Dance Party Massacre
The main attraction for Day 4 was a trip to the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino – but more on that in a little bit. To kick start the day, we drove to Glendale and stopped over at Porto’s Bakery & Cafe. This not-so-little bakery came to us highly recommended by a couple of our friends, so of course, we had to check it out. Porto’s is known for their cheese rolls and potato ball, neither of which I have ever tasted. Needless to say, my taste buds were excited. They weren’t disappointed. The potato balls were quite filling, a bit dense, and very tasty. The cheese rolls were just downright amazingly good. I’m writing this post over a week since our visit to Porto’s and I can still taste those amazing cheese rolls. I want some right now.
After Porto’s we made a pit stop at Old Pasadena Town. This is a neat little place filled with a lot of big and small name shops. We of course had to stop over at Urban Outfitters (I so wish that we had one in Hawaii). Michelle loves to browse the trinkets whenever we stop at Urban Outfitters and I, of course, love to check out the clothes – T-Shirts specifically. Another stop we made while checking out Old Pasadena Town was Dots Cupcakes. We were both a little hesitant due to our lackluster Sprinkles experience a few days prior. Luckily, we had nothing to worry about. The cupcakes at Dots were amazingly good. So much better than Sprinkles and *possibly* a little better than Butter Lane in New York City. They looked amazing and tasted just as good as they looked. I had the Chocolate Mint and let me tell you, it’s to die for! Another plus about Dots is that you don’t need to wait in a ridiculous line like that found at Sprinkles in Beverly Hills. If you ever find yourself in Old Pasadena Town then be sure to stop by Dots Cupcakes.
With all that food in our tummies, Huntington Botanical Gardens was our next stop. I’ve been to a couple of Botanical Gardens, across a few states, and I have to say that this was probably the most impressive one thus far. It was beautiful. It was picturesque. It was serene. And it was huge! It was so big that we had to narrow our focus on a couple of specific parts of the garden. We decided to focus on the Japanese and Chinese Gardens. The view that you initially get when you reach the Japanese Garden is just stunning and totally worth the visit, in my opinion. I could imagine myself just coming here with a book and getting lost in my own imagination. There are a ton of photo taking opportunities, so when you visit, make sure that your camera’s memory card is free of space because you’ll definitely want to take a lot of photos. I’d highly recommend a visit here.
By the time that we had left the botanical gardens, the sun had just about set. We, however, weren’t done for the day. We decided to make a trip back to Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Why? Well, the first time that I was there, I spotted Godzilla’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I failed to take a photo, though, because of the crazy foot traffic. I regretted that decision and was able to convince Michelle to make a stop there once again. And yes, I found Godzilla’s star the second time around and I was sure to get my photo!
For dinner we were both craving some Italian food. Michelle spotted this one restaurant during a previous trip to Melrose Avenue called Osteria La Buca. The Yelp ratings were favorable so we decided to give it a shot and make it our dinner destination. Michelle had the linguini di mare and I went with the tagliatelle bolognese. One thing that’s great about Osteria La Buca is that they make all of their pasta in house. Whenever something is made by hand and from scratch, you can really tell the difference. I enjoyed Osteria La Buca and I imagine that If I lived in the area, I would make this restaurant one of the places that I’d dine at on a regular basis.
Posted on 18 January '11 by Coty, under Travel. 1 Comment.
Day 3 T-Shirt of Choice: FFB Eleprint by Fur Face Boy
On this day, we visited the happiest place on Earth: Disneyland. I haven’t been to the land of Mickey since I was about 8-9 years old, I can’t exactly remember how old I was. This was Michelle’s first time, so I was pretty excited for her. We had planned to start the day super early, 6 am early, so that we could have enough time to drive to Anaheim and arrive at Disneyland before opening (9 am). That didn’t happen. We woke up at around 9 am, and left our hotel at around 11:00 am. It turned out to be the perfect time to leave.
I’m sure that many of you have been to Disneyland already, so I won’t bore you with every little thing that we did there. However, I would like to point out a few observations.
1. Parking is super efficient. Seriously, why can’t the parking at my University be as efficient as Disneyland’s?
2. The Monte Cristo Sandwich at The Blue Bayou (New Orleans Square) is heavenly. It’s cheesy, meaty, sweet, and savory. TIP: One sandwich is big enough to split between two people. If you do choose to split, you can pay an extra $12 so that they plate it for two people and they’ll also add sides for each person.
3. Peter Pan’s Flight is way too short.
4. Someone randomly gave us fast passes to Space Mountain, so of course, we took advantage of those tickets. Man, I’m not a roller coaster guy because I nearly hurled on this ride! I’m not too sure how I didn’t end up with a seizure on this ride. The lights were cool though!
5. The 9 pm Fantasma show was a bit meh.
6. The Fireworks show that followed Fantasma was very whoa – it was impressive. TIP: It’s best seen on Mainstreet facing Snow White’s castle.
7. The beignets in New Orleans Square are good (but not as good as the beignet’s you’ll find in New Orleans), especially when paired with hot cocoa.
8. I finally got to ride the Submarine Voyage (since renamed Finding Nemo’s Submarine Voyage) after a 20 year wait! I remember as a kid wanting to go on this ride but no one wanted to go with me. Finally!
9. Favorite Ride? Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Mind. Seeing the big rolling of rock at the end was the icing on the cake.
We ended up leaving Disneyland at … gasp … closing! Neither of us thought that we’d stay until 11 pm. But time really does fly when you’re at Disneyland! The drive back to Los Angeles went by pretty quickly, and at the end of the hour long drive back, we awarded ourselves with a Los Angeles staple: Pink’s Hot Dogs.
By the time we arrived at Pink’s, we were both quite hungry. How hungry? Well to put things into perspective, I ordered a Mulhulland Drive (10 inch hot dog smothered with cheese, bacon and grilled onions), a signature chili dog, and an order of chili cheese fries on the side. The hot dogs were good, but I am not so sure that they were worth the wait in the cold. The next time that I am in LA and have to choose between Pink’s and Wurstküche, I’d probably pay a visit back to Wurstküche.
Posted on 10 January '11 by Coty, under Travel. No Comments.
Day 2 T-Shirt of Choice: American Apparel Black Sleeve Raglan Shirt and The Communist Party by Tom Burns (Threadless)
Our second day in Los Angeles started off with a hearty breakfast. We stopped by Griddle Cafe on Sunset Boulevard, but surprisingly, neither me or Michelle ordered their famous pancakes. We both settled on Eggs! The standard Eggs & Bacon (sausage for her) was all we needed to kick start a long and eventful day.
After breakfast, we drove to Warner Bros. Studio to go on a studio tour. Although there are a couple studio tours to choose from (go figure), we settled on the house that Bugs Bunny built. Some of the most iconic films ever made were shot at Warner Bros. studios. I’m a superhero fan so I was excited about going to Warner Bros., considering that Superman, Spider-Man, and the first three Batman films were shot at the studios that we visited.
First off, Warner Bros. studios is huge. It really is like a self sustaining city. They’ve got everything they need there, including a gas station and makeshift Home Depot. They’ve got medal, plastic and wood shops so that the sets can be constructed as needed. And of course, our tour guide pointed out the famous Warner Bros. water tower – you know, the same water tower that Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner live in. If you don’t know who Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner are, then you obviously did not grow up watching the Animaniacs!
The VIP studio tour lasted about 2.5 hours and was definitely a fun and informative experience. We saw a lot of cool stuff from movies and television shows that we both grew up loving. The only thing missing was a celebrity sighting. By the way, at the beginning of the tour they tell you the protocol for what to do if you spot a celebrity during the tour. They say that you can wave and say hello – but no pictures!
After the tour, we stopped for lunch at the closest In-N-Out Burger. I didn’t really expect In-N-Out to be very busy, considering that there are more than one location in the state. Boy, was I wrong! The parking lot was full, the drive thru was full and the inside of the restaurant was full. Once we placed our order, we had to stay vigilant for a table and seat – because there were none since they were all occupied. Eventually we got a table and were able to enjoy what many have called THE best burgers ever. I wasn’t that impressed. I mean seriously, the burgers at the Shake Shack (New York City), Hodad’s (San Diego) and even Teddy’s Bigger Burgers (Hawaii) are better than those at In-N-Out.
The next destination on our itinerary was Grauman’s Chinese Theater. This is the place where a lot of big Hollywood premieres take place and it’s also the place to go if you want to check out the Walk of Fame. We were worried a bit about where to find parking, but thanks to a tip on Yelp, we found out that we could park at the Hollywood & Highland center and get validated parking for just $2. Both the Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theater are right outside of this mall. As expected, the area covering the Walk of Fame was littered with tourists and fake superheroes. There was, however, a very convincing Maverick/Tom Cruise look-a-like, complete with full Top Gun attire. My one regret was that I failed to take a photo with Godzilla’s star on the Walk of Fame. It’s all I’ve been thinking about since we left Hollywood & Highland.
After Grauman’s Theater, I made my pilgrimage to the Johnny Cupcakes shoppe on Melrose Avenue. For some reason, Melrose at around 5:30 pm seemed really dead – not a whole lot of people around. When we arrived at Johnny Cupcakes, we were the only ones there, though people did trickle in a bit later. The shop itself is quite small – it seemed even smaller than Johnny’s Boston shoppe on Newbury Street. The first thing that you notice is the awesome themed decor – it really does look like a trendy bake shop. Of course, I ended up picking up a couple of tees, including a mint green store exclusive. I was also stoked to find that they had the Regal Tie in stock (I got the last one).
For dinner, we brought out the inner Andrew Zimmern in us because bizzare foods we did eat! Animal Restaurant is something that both Michelle and I have been looking forward to for some time now. They are known for their unusual menu. They’ve got things like veal brain, marrow bone, chicken liver, and rabbit. In fact, those were the things that we decided to order for dinner. Let me tell you, everything was good and prepared in such a way that nothing tasted too overwhelming for the palate. I thought my gag-reflex would kick into effect as soon as the veal brain entered my mouth – but it didn’t. Everything is surprisingly tasty and delicious. I want to try as many different foods as I can. I want to expand my palate. I want to have an open mind when it comes to food. Eating at Animal proves that I am serious about doing this.
As you can tell, Day 2 has thus far been a long day. And it’s not yet over! To end the night, we headed to the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club at Universal Studios to check out Jay and Silent Bob Get Old starring Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes. I’m a big fan of the various Smodcast podcasts, so I just had to check out this show. Like I told Michelle, the show is mostly a lot of babbling, rambling, and ranting that is laced with a lot of vulgarity and sex. Boy was I not disappointed. In fact, this might have been the greatest Jay and Silent Bob Get Old episode ever considering that Jay, in an effort to help explain the anatomy of a human vagina, pulled out and stretched one of his nut sacks. Needless to say, the show did not disappoint.
Posted on 9 January '11 by Coty, under Travel. No Comments.
This is the first of a couple day-by-day updates that I’ll be doing during my trip to Los Angeles. I thought it would be cool to keep you guys up to date on what I’m up to and what tees I’m wearing! If you want to check out the tee that I wore, just click on the orange links.
Day 1 T-Shirt of Choice: Moustardche! by Marcelo Jimenez (Threadless)
The one thing that I love more than T-Shirts is traveling! In my first trip of 2011, both Michelle and I travel 2551 from Honolulu to the movie capital of the world. The flight was relatively short, just 4 hours. We had the red eye, and so we left Honolulu at 10pm and arrived in Lost Angeles at around 5 am. We were both very, very tired. But we had to make the best of the time, since time is of course money!
Our first stop after picking up our rental car was to our hotel to unpack and freshen up! It also gave me a chance to throw on Moustardche! by Marcelo Jimenez. I thought that it was the perfect shirt considering what we were planning to have for lunch (but more on this in a bit). The main reason for the trip was so that Michelle could do some very specific shopping. So after we got her stuff done (which was the first thing that we did), we could start playing tourists and foodies.
Our first taste of Los Angeles was at Wurstküche Restaurant, located in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles. Our friend Ade, from Milk & Eggs Co., suggested Wurstküche as THE place to go for hot dogs in LA that isn’t a tourist trap (see Pink’s Hot Dogs). Wurstküche is known for their eclectic collection of sausages. They have rattlesnake, alligator, rabbit, and duck. But don’t worry, they also carry regular sausages as well. But the oridinary dogs are not what we came for. We came for the strange.
Sausage heaven indeed!
I ordered the Duck & Bacon sausage sandwich, while Michelle had the Alligator with Pork & Andouille. My sausage was to die for. Seriously, duck and bacon? How can anything get better than that? I also took a bite of Michelle’s alligator sausage – it had kick and it was good! My mention of Wurstküche would be remiss if I failed to mention their AMAZING belgian fries. These were the best fries ever. So good!
After Wurstküche, we of course had to clean our palate with some desert? Where to go for desert in Los Angeles? How about Sprinkles, the world’s first cupcake bakery. These guys started the cupcake trend. The line to Sprinkles was out the door. We ordered 3 cupcakes: Red Velvet, Banana, and the Black & White. You might remember that during our New York trip, we paid a visit to Butter Lane, as the per the suggestion of our favorite baking buddy, Carlos from Oven Fresh Dreams. I’d have to say that Butter Lane cupcakes dominates those from Sprinkles. Sprinkles cupcakes were very cake-y and dense, whereas the cupcakes at butterlane are a bit more light. Don’t get me wrong, the cupcakes were delicious but I just wish I lived closer to Butter Lane.
As you can see, the Red Velvet supply has been depleted!
OH and since we’re talking Sprinkles, I have to say that we had a crazy time finding this little cupcake bakery! It’ll take some time for me to get used to the LA roads. In getting lost, though, we did find ourselves in Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. All I could think about was that scene in Pretty Woman with Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) being snubbed in one of the high end boutique shops!
By this time, both I was 100% exhausted. The constant traffic takes a toll and that small car we rented is a bit cramped for my liking, making the driving experience that much more difficult. So we headed back to our hotel for a quick nap before dinner.
As you can tell, we love to eat. Whereas other people spend time shopping, we spend time finding and eating good food. For dinner, we walked 2 blocks to KOI restaurant. Apparently, a lot of celebrities stop by KOI. We didn’t see anyone of note. So KOI serves Japanese-inspired cuisine, so that means, lot’s of trendy sounding sushi rolls. To start, we had the Rock Shrimp Tempura and the Baked Crab Rolls. The crab rolls, I thought, were a bit of a miss. On the other hand, the Rock Shrimp Tempura was very tasty and delicious – I wanted more! As far as entrees, I had a Kobe style filet mignon that was prepared Topan-Yaki styled. I’m not sure why they say Kobe style because if it’s not Kobe beef, it’s not Kobe beef! It’s just beef. Despite this, the filet mignon was excellent. It’s melted in my mouth like butter. It was delectable and cooked perfectly for my tastes (which by the way is rare-medium).For desert we shared the signature KOI sundae. I’ll let the picture of the Sundae speak for itself!
And that was it for our first day! We ended the night a bit early, but hey, it was our first day and we were both so tired. Here’s looking forward to tomorrow’s adventures!
Posted on 8 January '11 by Coty, under Travel. 1 Comment.
I’ve been a fan of Jon Wye since he first contacted me in 2008 when I was just starting out with this blog. He was one of the first guys that saw potential in my website and he even sent me one of his custom leather belts for me to check out and review. I was a newbie to the blog scene back then and so it was a bit more difficult to get products to review than it is for me now. Needless to say, I was blown away by his generosity and by the fact that he was excited by my site and what I was doing.
Since then, I’ve been following the Jon Wye brand and have provided updates here whenever possible. The most exciting news from Jon Wye recently was the opening of his brick and mortar shop in the Flatiron district of New York City. It’s a little boutique that is located inside The Limelight, an old church that has been converted into a three story market space for fledgling creatives and entrepreneurs.
Jon Wye is known for his custom made leather belts and his store has every variety that you could ever want. It’s an eclectic style that will appease anyone who is looking for complimentary accessories that do not comply with the status quo. Jon Wye is much more than the status quo, he is original and his products inspire creativity.
Unfortunately, neither Jon nor his right hand man, Jeff, was there when I stopped by. However, the nice young lady that was manning the store was quite nice. I told her that I knew Jon and that I had blogged about his products in the past. She was more than happy to allow me to snap photos of his shop and I was more than happy to snap away.
The shop itself is amazing. I shouldn’t be too surprised considering Jon has an impeccable eye for detail and perfection. It’s a small space but it is pretty grand. There’s a fireplace in the shop and also a cheeky little painting of Jon that graces you as you walk up the steps to his shop. And of course, you’ll find all of his T-Shirts and belts neatfully displayed against the walls. Located on the top floor, it is as if the Jon Wye shop is the centerpiece of The Limelight. When you first enter the old church and then look up, the bold red and yellow Jon Wye insignia just captures you.
If you are ever in New York City and have any interest in T-Shirts and/or quality leather products, then Jon Wye is a must stop destination. Tell him that I said hi!
656 Avenue of the Americas
3rd Fl Limelight Marketplace
Manhattan, NY 10011
Posted on 20 August '10 by Coty, under T-Shirts, Travel. 2 Comments.
Day 7 T-Shirt of Choice: Refill Required by Glennz Tees / Origami Pigeon by Random Objects
NYC Neighborhoods Visited: Midtown West, Lower East Side, East Village, Theater District, Flatiron
Today was our last full day in New York City and it started early. very early. How early? 5 am early. Now you might be wondering what would compel two people already lacking in much needed sleep to wake up to 5 am. The answer: Foursquare. I was determined to earn my Today Show Newbie badge and the only way to do that was to be at Studio 1A in Rockefeller Center before 6 am. Possible? Absolutely! Out hotel is situated about a 5 minute walk away from Studio 1A and so quickly getting there was not an issue. The alarm went off at 5 am sharp, but we both hit the snooze the button. It went off again at 5:30 am, we jumped out of bed, quickly got ready and was out of the door by 5:35 am. By 5:40 we were at Studio 1A and I was able to score my Foursquare Today Show Newbie Badge! I was excited and tired as hell. And so instead of standing in line with the crazy Today Show fans, we decided to head back to the hotel to snooze off again. Hah!
After a slight blog disaster (it lasted a good 30 minutes before the problems were resolved), we decided to head back to the Lower East Side to experience the one and only Katz’s Delicatessen. Located on East Houston St., Katz is famous for their popular Pastrami on Rye Sandwich.
If you’ve seen When Harry Met Sally then you’re already familiar with Katz’s Delicatessen. It’s the place where Sally had the greatest orgasm ever. They even have a sign situated right above the table in which the infamous scene took place. Part of the Katz experience is simply getting your food. They have a weird system of ordering, but if it works for them, why change it? When you first enter Katz, you are given a ticket. You are then directed to one of 4 different areas of the counter. Depending on what you want, that is the area of the counter that you go to. We wanted our Pastrami Sandwich, and after initially go to the wrong line (the breakfast line), we headed to the sandwich line. Now, there was literally no one there when we went since we stopped by shortly after opening, but apparently, it gets super busy at peak lunch times. Our sandwich server was a little grumpy, but he did offer us samples of the meats while he made our sandwiches. The samples were so delicious and was a great prelude to the real deal. I ordered the classic Pastrami on Rye and Michelle had the Reuben on Rye. After you get your sandwich, you then go to one of the drink lines to grab your beverage. There’s one section for canned sodas, and another line for everything else. At each counter station, you give the helper your ticket and they serially tally your total charges. Interestingly, you don’t pay until after you finish eating. You bring your ticket to the front of the restaurant and pay the cashier before heading out the door full and satisfied.
The pastrami for me was the best I have ever had. I’m used to wet pastrami sandwiches, this was hardly that. The meat was tender, but it was not dripping like crazy with oil as I ate it. Also, the serving was huge (for me at least). I asked the server if the sandwich was big (we considered sharing one). Then, he flashed me the piece of bread he was using and then said “no, it’s not.” And that is why we ordered two separate sandwiches. But when we received our sandwiches (it took about 5 minutes for him to cut the meat and prep it) we noticed that they really do pack on the meat. If it’s a big and succulent pastrami that you’re looking for, then be sure to check out Katz’s Delicatessen. Meg Ryan would approve.
Though we couldn’t even finish our sandwiches from Katz’s, we headed down to Butter Lane for cupcakes, as suggested by Carlos of Oven Fresh Dreams. We arrived there right before they opened. Upon entering, we were greeted by trays of mouthwatering cupcakes. I decided on the Elvis (banana cupcake with a peanut butter frosting, topped with marshmallows) and Michelle had the Marco (chocolate cupcake with a maple pecan frosting). The cupcakes was so light and moist and the frosting was not overly sweet. One of the best cupcakes we’ve ever had!
Hey, that’s me sporting Origami Pigeon in front of Butter Lane! Be on the look out for this shirt to be featured in an upcoming episode of Co-Tee TV (I should know, because it’s already been filmed).
We then caught the subway back up to 5th avenue to check out the NBA Store. I’m a big basketball fan, but the prices were just a little too outrageous for me. Once we did our walk through, we headed back to Hotel Mela for some much needed rest and some shut eye. After 5 days in New York City, we were both very exhausted.
Feeling rejuvenated, we caught the subway back to the Lower East Side to pay a visit to Brian Shevlin of Year of the T-Shirt fame. He’s the guy that’s been wearing a different T-Shirt ever day in 2010 and posting his tees on his site on a daily basis. Brian runs a little art collective called Con Artist, with Con standing for Connected. It’s a place where artists can congregate, socialize, design and sell their goods and artwork. Con Artist is a little hole in the ground, literally. Two black doors are swung open from the sidewalk of Ludlow Street, inviting guests to come and take a peek at the artwork, as well as the vintage and new tees. Brian gave me a tour of his little art abode and I was thoroughly impressed and blown away by their quality of work. If you’re in the Lower East Side and you want to be inspired, then be sure to stop by Con Artist – tell Brian that Coty sent you!
Brian let me take a TON of photos of his gallery and workshop, and I will be posting those in the coming days in a separate post, so be sure to be on the lookout for that.
A few blocks away from Con Artist was our dinner destination. Boca Chica was highly recommended by Carlos of Oven Fresh Dreams (remember, we stopped by and visited him the day before) and so we just had to check it out. Tired of Italian, we were excited to tingle out tongues with Latin American cuisine. Carlos was right, Boca Chica was an awesome food experience – it was so good! We started off with plantain chips and bean dip (on the house) and Alitas De Pollo (grilled spicy, honeyed wings). The honeywings were so tender and spiced just right. For the entrees, Michelle had the Arroz Con Camarones (shrimp and yellow rice) and I had the Pollo Havanero (grilled chicken with almond, parsley, garlic sauce). The Pollo Havanero was delicious, and the sauce that was smothered over the chicken was perfect.
After dinner we made a pit stop at Trader Joe’s to pick up a few more goodies to bring back home and then we made one last ditch effort to taste the famous sticky buns from Amy’s Bread. When we visited Carlos at the Amy’s Bread on Bleaker St., they were unfortunately out of sticky buns. Lucky for us, they had one sticky bun left at Amy’s Bread in the Hell’s Kitchen area.
With our sticky bun curiosity put aside, we headed back to our hotel to pack up our things for our flight back to Honolulu, Hawaii. We made one last trip to the Shake Shack on 44th for a midnight snack. The Shack Burger hit the spot and was the perfect ending to a delightful and food-filled NYC experience.
In 5 days we did so much, experienced so much and tasted so much. The only thing left to wonder about New York is when we will be back. I Heart New York, that’s for sure.
Posted on 19 August '10 by Coty, under T-Shirts, Travel. 1 Comment.
Day 6 T-Shirt of Choice: Thirsty for Blood Hungry for Tacos by Seibei / Guilty Pleasures by Wotto for Tilteed
NYC Neighborhoods Visited: SOHO, Nolita, Theater District, West Village, and Flatiron.
We started our day off with a late morning subway ride to SOHO for lunch at the famous Lombardi’s Pizzeria. They are renown for being America’s first pizzeria and since we had a taste of Grimaldi’s the day before, we just had to tickle our tongues with a taste of Lombardi’s. Located on the corner of Mott St. and Mulberry St., we were surprised when we saw that Lombardi’s had no line. We had surely thought that this famed pizzeria would have a line shooting out of its door, considering that we waited nearly an hour before we were able to get a seat inside of Grimaldi’s yesterday. In any case, we blew off the no line to the face that we were there just little after 30 minutes from opening. And anyway, we were both hungry for good pizza so no line was a good thing!
I’ve argued with a bunch of hardcore Lombardi’s fan about the superiority of Grimaldi’s, but with no firsthand experience of Lombardi’s slice, I was a bit biased. We ordered the same pizza as we did at Lombardi’s (pepperoni, sausage, and mushrooms) but this time we also added spinach. Like Grimaldi’s you pay a bay price for either a small or a large and then pay extra for toppings of your choice.
So which was better, Grimaldi’s or Lombardi’s? My first thought was that they were very similar to one another. So similar that I could not choose a favorite between the two. But after a few minutes and my second slice, I had found a clear favorite. Grimaldi’s is indeed my favorite pizzeria in the state of New York. Hands down. The pepperoni had a spicier kick, the sausage was tastier and the cheese, oh my goodness the cheese at Grimaldi’s was thicker, cheesier, and there was just more of it overall. And let’s face it, more cheese is always a good thing. Plus, you’re eating a pie under the Brooklyn Bridge – that’s pretty freakin’ awesome. If you’re in New York, and have to choose between the two, I’d recommend that you cross the Brooklyn Bridge and have a taste of New York’s best, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.
After Grimaldi’s, we crossed the street and had a taste of Rice to Riches, a rice pudding specialty shop. The first thing you’ll notice is the colorful and chic decor and then you’ll notice the clever and witty sayings throughout the shop poking fun at skinny people. Rice to Riches is definitely not a place for the carbohydrate conscious. Both Michelle and I ordered a small serving each, I had the Sex, Drugs, andl Rocky Road topped with mixed nuts and Michelle had the Chocolate Chip Flirt. First note, the serving sizes are huge and a small is definitely big enough for two. The pudding is very rich and is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.
We then walked down Stage St. and stopped by American Apparel. They were having a sidewalk sale and we were able to pick up some great items for $8 a piece. I grabbed a couple of Raglans – yay!
A quick subway ride to 9th, between 15th and 16th Streets, and we were at Chelsea Market – home of the Food Network. On the bottom floor of this large building is a market that is scattered with a variety of different restaurants and open markets. I even scored a free gingerbread cookie by checking in at One Lucky Duck on Foursquare. Have I told you how much I love Foursquare?
Once we had our fill of Chelsea Market, we explored the Chelsea area quite a bit. And then we made our way to Jon Wye’s flagship shop on 47 W 20th Street. If you read this blog on a regular basis, then you know who Jon Wye is, since I have featured him multiple times on the blog and on Co-Tee TV. Jon Wye recently opened up a brick and mortar store. The shop is actually located inside of an old church that has been transformed into a three story market and gallery known as The Limelight. Unfortunately, Jon wasn’t in – he’s busy in DC working hard on his products at his factory. I did, however, have a chance to explore this shop and was thoroughly impressed by what I saw. I’ll be posting more photos of his shop in a separate post so be sure to check back for that.
The Museum of Sex on 5th Avenue was our next detonation. The tickets are priced at $17 a piece, however, I was a but underwhelmed. I expected more sex. Don’t get me wrong, the museum features three floors of sex exhibitions, but none really shocked or offended me. I was expecting to be shocked and offended. Not really. They currently features five difference exhibitions, Sex Lives of Animals and Rubbers were the the ones that I found to be the most interesting. Who knew a rhino’s dick was so huge.
By this time it was about 4pm, so we decided to head back to Times Square. Before heading to our hotel we made stops at the Hershey’s store and the M&M’s store. Both were a bit meh for me and just too crowded to even browse the products. I wanted some dark chocolate Kit Kats but was not willing to stand in line for it. If you’re in New York and have to choose between the two, then I’d suggest passing on Hershey’s (the store floor is small and crowded, and you can find most of the products at your local store anyway) and instead hit up the M&M store (it’s 3 floors big and the wall of M&M’s is impressive).
After a short pit stop at our hotel to freshen up, we hit the subway once again toward West Village to pay a visit to Carlos, also known in the T-Shirt universe for his baking and lifestyle collective, Oven Fresh Dreams. Carlos has released some limited edition tees in collaboration with Nicolo Nimor of Nick Automatic and Greg Abbott. Carlos invited us to stop by the bakery that he works at, Amy’s Bread. What’s awesome about this is that I actually had this planned on my itinerary, based on some suggestions that I had read prior to his invitation. How serendipitous of him to invite us there! He hooked us up with some excellent brownies and we even chatted a bit about NYC and the food scene. Not surprisingly, Carlos is a foodie, much like myself and Michelle! Cool dude. Support his brand Oven Fresh Dreams and if you’re ever in NYC, pay a visit to Amy’s Bread to treat yourself to something special.
The West Village area is filled with an amazing assortment of small restaurants. Carlos suggested one called Little Havana, so that’s where we planned to go. It was located right across the street from Amy’s Bread on Cornelia Street. But alas, it was closed. So what to do? Eat a New York hot dog, that’s what we did. Michelle spotted Gray’s Papaya, which she had learned about from a J-LO movie and I had heard about it on the Food Network (or was it the Travel Channel?). Needless to say, I had a few hot dogs and the flagship papaya drink. Simple hot dog, but still very good. You get a nice crunch from the encasing, which is the sign of a good hot dog.
Before heading back to the hotel we decided to stop by Ripley’s Believe it Or Not. I was a bit hesitant, because it seemed like a tourist trap to me. And for the most part, it was. I’m pretty sure that most of the museum’s artifacts were replicas. It’s okay, I still enjoyed looking at the bizarre and absurd. But at about $25 a ticket, I’d pass on it if given the chance to go again.
Posted on 18 August '10 by Coty, under T-Shirts, Travel. 2 Comments.
Day 5 T-Shirt of Choice: FFB Raglan by Fur Face Boy
NYC Neighborhoods Visited: Theater District, City Hall, Brooklyn Bridge, Union Square, and TriBeCa.
Today was a big day and long day. We kicked it off by crossing one big and long bridge – the Brooklyn Bridge! Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. It is 5,989 feet (1825 m) long and 85 feet (26 m) wide and it connects Manhattan to Brooklyn. This was my second time crossing the bridge so I knew what to expect, but this was Michelle’s first time. I kind of wish that I had timed the length of time it took us to cross the bridge.
Once we reached Brooklyn, we headed straight for Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. After getting lost for a little bit, we finally found this little pizza gem on Old Fulton St. The establishment has quite a storied history:
“Patsy Grimaldi, the founder of Grimaldi’s, learned to make pizza at his uncle Patsy Lancieri’s pizzeria (trained under pizza patriarch Gennaro Lombardi of Lombardi’s Pizzeria) in 1941 at age ten. He eventually opened his own restaurant, Patsy’s Pizzeria, in Brooklyn. Grimaldi originally planned to build it in Manhattan. However, he believed that coal-fired brick ovens produced the best pizza, and it was illegal to build new coal ovens in Manhattan. As a result, he moved to the current location at South Ferry, Brooklyn.”
We ordered a small pizza with pepperoni, italian sausage and mushrooms. My first bite reminded just how much I loved this place the first time I visited in 2007. Grimaldi’s is awesome and it will be one of those place that I will always visit whenever I visit New York. The crust is perfectly thin, the meats were nice and fresh and spiced perfectly, and the cheese was thick and plentiful. Mouthgasm? Hell yes. The amazing part is that the amount of time it takes to cook a Grimaldi’s pizza in their over 100 year old brick oven is faster than it takes a Pizza Hut to cook a pie in their modern ovens. Whenever I eat pizza, I will think of Grimaldi’s. Grimaldi’s is the real deal. If you want good pizza, you must pay a visit to the mecca of pizza, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.
Once we had our fill of Grimaldi’s, we headed toward Union Square so that Michelle could make a stop at Trader Joe’s. What’s awesome about Union Square is it’s commanding and engaging intersection. People come to union square to relax, sit, people watch, mingle and even play chess. And since it’s surrounded by shops, it’s the perfect place for tourists who want to escape the madness of Times Square.
Saddled by bags of Trader Joe’s nuts, we headed back to the hotel for a little rest. We needed that rest so that we wouldn’t fall asleep during our broadway experience – American Idiot! In factor, American Idiot was the entire reason why we began planning this trip. I am a huge fan of Green Day so I had been dying to see this musical by Billy Joe Armstrong, featuring music from the iconic 2004 Album, American Idiot and select songs from their latest album, 21st Century Breakdown.
The St. James Theater is the home of American Idiot and lucky for us, Hotel Mela is located a measly 3 minute walk away. We left the hotel at 7:30 pm for an 8 pm show and arrived in our seats with ample time to spare and take in the inspiring interior of the St. James Theater. Once the curtains went up, the madness started and it was complete rock and roll for 90 minutes. Non-stop punk and non-stop Green Day for 90 minutes. I loved it. I loved every burning second of this musical. I loved it so much that I want to see it again. The songs came alive right before my eyes and I was in Green Day heaven. Did I say I loved it? I loved it.
After waiting around a bit for the stars of the show to meet and greet, we jetted off to TriBeCa to dine at Ninja Restaurant. I had been itching to go there ever since I first heard Dan Trachtenburg and the rest of the Totally Rad Show crew talk about it in one of their past episodes. I was sold when Dan mentioned that Ninjas appear out of nowhere. Awesome.
When you first arrive at the unassuming front door, you are greeted by a host in a small room with an elevator. I don’t want to spoil the experience for those of you planning to pay a vista to Ninja Restaurant, but, I will say that the Totally Rad Show guys swear right – Ninja do appear out of nowhere. Oh, and if given a chance, take the secret yet dangerous path. You’ll love it. Michelle and I found ourselves still talking about it the day after. It was that fun.
The food at the Ninja Restaurant was okay compared to the Ninja experience. We had the Four Elements sushi (California roll topped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and eel) and the Spicy Tuna sushi to start. Being from Hawaii, we know good Sushi – this was just okay sushi. For the main entree, I had the Ninja Paella (orzo pasta with seasweed and miso marinated salmon, short-neck clams and veggies) and Michelle had the Poseidon’s Pot (a pot of mussels and calamari, steamed with white soy sauce and sake). The serving size of my entree was unexpectedly huge. Five large filets of salmon was the main attraction for my entree. The salmon was cooked well, but again, living in Hawaii, I’ve had better fish prepared and cooked much better. Still, the Ninja Restaurant is quite the experience. You’re even treated to a Ninja magic show prior to eating. Neat!
Posted on 18 August '10 by Coty, under T-Shirts, Travel. No Comments.