Yesterday, a friend of a friend introduced me to Dr. Midori Kotani. She is an extraordinary woman who, in addition to being a leading researcher within her field in Japan, has also just opened a Japanese bakery in Phnom Penh.
In Phnom Penh I am staying with Kanary from CWSG and her family, including The Grandma, who will always let me know if I have put on weight. She is the sweetest old lady, and she is spoiling me with fresh fruit and delicious food. I do not speak Khmer and she does not speak English, but none of us care, so you will often find us having long conversations without understanding a word of what the other person says.
Friday night we met with my friend from Paris. He wanted the place we were going to be a surprise, so he did not give us an exact address, but just told us to show up on this street in the northern part of Paris at 8pm.
We have been looking for something bigger for a while, and right now, the prices to rent in Dubai are at an all-time low, so when our lease was about to expire, we decided not to extend. Moving has almost become an annual ritual for us, and during our 8 years in Dubai, we have been living in 6 different apartments. In Dubai you sign a lease for one year at a time, and you typically pay the entire amount all at once, or with two cheques, each with 50 percent of the amount.
Last week I joined April for a couple of days in Paris, and what a wonderful trip it was! We had both been to Paris several times before, so none of us felt like sightseeing. Instead we spent our time relaxing in the city’s beautiful parks, drinking café au lait and eating delicious French food.
In Paris we stayed at Hôtel d’Orsay that April had been recommended by a friend. It was the nicest little hotel with the most friendly and sweet staff. The hotel is centrally located, but on a quiet street, so we did not hear any noise from the street in our room. There were lots of cute cafes in the area, which by the way looked exactly like Paris looks in movies of the more romantic kind.
Our room was tiny, and I think it was only meant for one person. We asked if we could upgrade to a bigger room for a fee, but they were fully booked, so it was not possible. Though the room size did not really matter after all, as we spent most of our time out in the city.
The staff was really amazing, and they always had time to chat. We had not done much research before we went, but the staff was really helpful with advice on restaurants and suggestions on things to see in the area. They somehow seemed to know the names of everybody staying at the hotel, and every time I passed by the reception, I was greeted with a “Bonjour Ms. Moeller”. On the weekend we were out with a friend of mine from Paris and came home very late. So late that the guy at the front desk jokingly called us “the 3am girls”:)
The pharmacies in Paris are a great place for shopping, as they carry all the French skin care brands such as Àvene, La Roche-Posay and Bioderma at prices much cheaper than in New York and Denmark. April also went to an antique market one of the days and she bought a beautiful old handbag, a pin and a painting. When I saw the little treasures she returned with, I regretted that I did not also go.
The last evening in Paris we went to see the light show at the Eiffel Tower. The show is only once each hour, and we missed the 11pm show with a few minutes, so we had to wait until midnight, but it was worth it. What a beautiful sight! Au revoir Paris, I will be back soon, that is for sure.
April and I went to visit Rikke and Magnus in Helsingborg, and we had some wonderful days packed with Swedish summer, prinsess tårta (a special Swedish cake that Rikke and I just love) and pink G&Ts.
On our last night in Sweden, we went for dinner at Pålsjö Krog, which is a cozy restaurant right on the beach in Helsingborg. The restaurant is very popular during the summer months, and we called in last minute to book a table. I don’t know how she did it, but somehow Rikke managed not only to get us a table: She got us the best table in the restaurant, right by the window with a full view of the water.
The food was great, and of that light, delicious kind that you feel like on a warm summer night. April and I shared a steak tartare starter and Rikke and Magnus had the Toast Skagen (a special kind of super tasty shrimp salad that Sweden is famous for). I had chanterelle risotto as a main course, and it came with so many chanterelles, that it took several mouthfuls for me to get to the rice. The others had different kinds of fish dishes, and they all claimed that it was better than my risotto, but I honestly doubt that. A truly wonderful evening at a very nice restaurant.
LA is warm and sunny, and the city’s restaurants are blessed with a year-round supply of high-quality fresh produce. This is reflected in the menus which are packed with sun-ripened organic fruit and vegetables, and there is something for most palates and wallets.
Most people arrive to the restaurants by car, as almost all places offer valet parking, but it can be pricey ($15-20). If you want a glass of wine with your meal, then Uber or Lyft are often better and cheaper options.
Down below I have listed some of my favorite LA restaurants. These are places I have dined at several times, and that I would recommend to friends who ask me about dining tips in LA. The restaurants are not the cheapest places to dine, (around $40-$50 + beverages for a meal) but they are all really nice places with good food and service. Consider booking a table in advance.
Really, really nice restaurant down in Venice. Even though I usually stay in WeHo when I visit LA, I always make sure to come by Gjelina. Everything that leaves their kitchen is delicious, and I have yet to order something that I do not like. Changes and modifications are not allowed so forget about asking for dressing on the side (just ask Victoria Beckham). The patio is where everybody wants a table.
Really good vegan Mexican restaurant in bright, airy settings. Mexican without meat? Don’t worry. Gracias Madre really knows how to juggle the plant-based ingredients, and the dishes are just as (and even more) tasty and filling as at any other Mexican restaurant.
Italian classics with a touch of California. My sister Trine loves their selection of cheese, and I love their pasta (made in-house, of course) and the trendy, rustic décor. On Mondays it is happy hour all night.
E.P. & L.P.
One of those places that seems too trendy for its own good, but once you are inside, the nice staff and delicious food will most likely win you over, so if you don’t mind loud music and a 20-something hipster crowd, you would definitely want to add E.P. & L.P. to your list. E.P. is the restaurant and L.P. is the rooftop bar, and in addition, they also have a semi-private bar called Frankie’s. The food at E.P. is predominantly Asian fusion dishes, and the restaurant is particularly good at Thai-inspired food. The rooftop bar is wonderful, and a cocktail up there is a great way to start or end the evening.
Some might say that The Ivy is an overpriced tourist trap, but the restaurant is a real LA classic, and Sunday brunch at The Ivy is something that you would want to do at least once in your life. Even though there may be a lot of tourists from time to time, The Ivy also has a loyal clientele of rich and famous Angelenos (just check out their valet parking Sunday around brunch time). The food is good, and the service is surprisingly warm and friendly. For brunch you are greeted with a complimentary glass of champagne, and fresh baked scones with jam. Try to get one of the tables on the patio outside.
L & E Oyster Bar
L & E Oyster Bar is a cozy oyster-shack tucked away in a residential area in Silverlake. It is not the cheapest place to get your oyster fix, but the quality and the selection does not fail to impress. During happy hour, the bar one stair up from the restaurant offers a dozen of oysters for $32 and drinks at a reduced price. A perfect place for date night.
Katana is a sushi/robata (Japanese grill) restaurant right in the middle of all the Sunset Boulevard action. It is a great place to start a night out and the Friday night vibe is definitely more nightclub than restaurant, so make sure to dress accordingly. On weekends, Katana is open until midnight, and after dinner, most people stay for a drink or two in the bar, but if you want to go somewhere else, SkyBar is just across the street. Everybody wants to sit outside, and only once, I have managed to score one of those most-wanted tables overlooking Sunset Boulevard, but it is worth giving a try. If they still have spicy tuna on crispy rice, it is a must-order. Super tasty!
Eveleigh is partly tucked away in what feels like a secret garden on Sunset Boulevard. I dined there for the first time in 2012 and even though a lot of things have happened since then, both regarding food (what happened to the Mexican corn on cob) and the price level (it has become more expensive), Eveleigh is still one of those places that I always come back to. Like most of the restaurants on this list, the focus at Eveleigh is on locally sourced ingredients and a menu that changes with the season. Eveleigh also has a good selection of plant-based dishes, so it is a good place to bring your vegetarian friends.
Dani Barker is a Canadian actress/writer/producer, who has made a career as a moviemaker in New York. Some of you might know Dani from Starvival, which was a popular YouTube show that she did in the beginning of her career.