Inspired Fridays

Posted on July 22, 2011 by Comments Off


  • Gilt Taste’s featured product is a picnic in a very cool box. Imagine if you curated an outdoor event and sent your guests out to dine with these nifty little (eco-friendly) sets?
  • Portlanders don’t just think of ice cream in terms of vanilla and chocolate. New scoop shop location Salt & Straw features fun flavors like Pear & Blue Cheese, Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper and Melon with Coppa.  Yum!
  • Here’s an organizing must have that we totally want and mostly NEED to buy. Are we type-A or what?
  • We can’t wait to hold a private event at Chef Tyler Florence’s new flagship restaurant, the Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco. Their private dining room features a pool table that  transforms into a dining table when folks are ready to eat.  Awesome.
  • We’re  totally obsessed with popcorn right now and are certain this is going to be the latest and greatest in next season’s catering trends. For home application, give something like Penzeys Seasonings a try. The cheese option is especially amazing (especially if you add pepper).

Tips & Tricks: Review Phones

Posted on January 20, 2011 by Comments Off

We’re an innovation communications agency, and that means working with companies who offer the latest & greatest across all facets of technology.  Of these, the cell phone is the most prolific, and our colleagues are always on the road coordinating reviews, seeding devices and hosting happy hours with phones as the main event. 

Below are some tips, tricks and good old reminders to put in your pocket as you head out to San Francisco or New York with phones in tow.  Print out this tip sheet and use it next time your packing list includes multiple mobile phones.

Pre-Event is KEY

  • Have your engineering team scope out the venue for network capacity, signal strength.  Nothing is worse than being in a really awesome venue without cell service.
  • From the pros on the HTC team: before review events, make sure to log information from each phone (HEX ID or IMEI numbers) and assign each device with a number that helps track which phone goes to which influential. Best to assign numbers in black sharpie on the outside of the box – for easy spotting.  By doing this, all your onsite contact needs to do is find the box with the corresponding number and hand it out.  
    • *This also helps for future purposes in case an influential calls you with questions about the phone – that way you can quickly look up what device that influential has and begin troubleshooting.

Try to do as much in the office as possible – when you are onsite, you will likely be running around too much to remember the little details.

Onsite checklist

  • Charge all phones the night before.  A dead cell phone during a press meeting is never good.
  • Always pack extra devices.  Whether you keep these in your hotel room (if it’s nearby, of course) or under one of the catering tables, keeping one on hand prevents you from having to turn away the super influential blogger who’s other commitment was just canceled.   

                      *It’s a good idea to pack all review devices into a carry-on.  Not every airline is as diligent as Alaska Airlines’ 20-minute baggage guarantee, which isn’t fool-proof itself.*

  • Ensure that you have at least 2-3 surge protectors on hand; the venue should be able to provide if you ask beforehand. 
  • Extra chargers.  Just like devices and surge protectors, never come without them.  Never expect that the phone you charged overnight will hold the charge after all that gaming, Facebooking and emailing.
  • If you need to download applications or update ROMs, bring USB hubs.  This will help you update multiple devices at once, rather than making you go one by one.


In short, be prepared!  If the phone dies, needs updates or is going home with the #1 device reviewer of all time, ensure that you have a plan for it. 

We’d love to hear more from the pros: you! What would you add to this list?

Michael Mina coming to Seattle

Posted on August 18, 2010 by Comments Off

Seattle definitely has a place on the map when it comes to eating.  Ethan Stowell, Tom Douglas, Chef in the Hat (Thierry Rautureau) run culinary empires around here.  Add Michael Mina to the list next Spring.

Bringing the Burgundy, France-inspired magic from his San Francisco enterprise RN74, Mina is planning to set up Seattle’s RN74 shop at the corner of 4th & Pike in downtown Seattle. 

It’s an interesting location for Mina.  The space is in the Joshua Green Building, a historical landmark that is being restored from the inside out.  While the restaurant alone is a big draw (Michael Mina’s food is a must-try for me), I’m also interested to see that “out” part.  The corner of 4th & Pike isn’t the fanciest of downtown Seattle locations.  Witness: Businesses in the vicinity have closed up these locations (RIP: Sharper Image & Ben Bridge), and the bus stop outside of RN74’s promised location is constantly packed with interesting patrons headed on the Metro routes to Capitol Hill.  Fast forward to nighttime – dinner time – and the crowd just gets more colorful. 

That said, with just a short walk to Westlake Center, Pike Place Market – straddling the city’s financial district and retail core, there is a lot of promise for this corner.


photo courtesy of  Joshua Green Building

future site of RN74


Back to inside …



photos courtesy of  michael mina



Mina is expected to import much of the menu and the Euro-rail styling (check out the fabulous railway time tables in the top photo above, and in detail below!) from his San Francisco location, with the requisite local twist.  The wine list will offer a selection of wines from Washington and Oregon, but will stay true to its namesake, the winegrowing area on Burgundy’s Route Nationale 74, which is said to be home to some of the greatest vineyards in the world. 

As for the food, his San Francisco menu could certainly be infused with Pacific Northwest fare.  Perhaps the cheese selection might give some credit to Washington’s fledgling artisan cheese industry and feature creamery goodness from the Washington State Cheesemakers Association, or perhaps beef from sea breeze farm or  Baron Farms will show up on the menu. 


hello railway time tables!  GENIUS.

photo courtesy of michael mina


Whatever appears on the plate is sure to be good.  Mina’s accolades are long and impressive.   Mark your calendars for March 2011.  Cannot wait to try & taste what Mina has in store for Seattle!

Top 5 Sites for Top Cities

Posted on July 15, 2010 by Comments Off

With all of the social media sites, friends’ blogs and daily emails directing you to the latest and greatest items and ideas, we are on information overload. It seems everyone is a self-professed foodie, fashionista, techie, or (fill in the blank) guru and want to share their expertise with you.  So how do you decide which sites are the best resources? 

Each of us have a few “go to” sites that help us filter through the options and provide us with some quick ideas. When I am planning an event, it is important for me to learn about the city and culture where the event will take place. I look for information on the local venues, vendors and of course… food.  I particularly enjoy websites and emails that are city specific so I can pick up some helpful tips and discounts when visiting the area.  

Here are my Top 5 Sites for Top Cities:

 1)    Tasting Table – This site covers New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C.  Since TT also has a national edition, they often cover other cities as well.

Tasting Table is a free daily email that delivers the best of food and drink culture to adventurous eaters everywhere. Each weekday, we send our subscribers one delicious idea about dining, wine, cocktails, cooking or restaurant personalities. We feed you only first-hand recommendations that we have tested thoroughly ourselves—one bite at a time.

In our local editions in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington D.C., we’ll alert you to a must-try dish at a forgotten restaurant, a hot new bar that deserves its buzz, under-appreciated cook shops and neighborhood food purveyors who may otherwise go unnoticed.


2)    Blackboard Eats – Currently, this site offers restaurant discounts for New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  I have a feeling this will expand to more cities because the discounts offered are great and easy to use.  When there is a discount available, you receive an email with the details. If you are interested in the deal, simply click on the email that day and receive the code. Bring the code to the restaurant and enjoy the deal!

BlackboardEats is a free e-mail and website delivering exclusive deals on restaurants handpicked by seasoned food editors. We also highlight the best food-related specials LA, NY and SF have to offer, including prix fixe discounts, tasting events, weekly dinner bargains and more.

Unlike other sites that focus on the newest openings, BlackboardEats features both hot spots and hidden gems—some of which are new, some of which have been around for years. And we cover everything from the fancy to the no-frills…just as long as the place rocks.



3)    The Daily Sip – This website is focuses on the wine industry… and what’s an event without wine?!  The emails are quick reads and I like that they feature different wine regions.

Think “Daily Candy” meets “US Weekly” of the wine industry. Start your day with insider tips on truly delicious wines, behind-the-scenes stories from winemakers, Celebrity Sips, insider special offers, and much more. Each short email features a winemaker, region, wine, chef or celebrity, or gadget. No one stops after just one sip.



4)    Great Places – Check out this website and blog for some venue ideas and trends. While venues open and close often this is a good starting place to look through venue ideas in different cities, including New York, Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago and more.


5)   Groupon While I have never actually purchased a coupon through the site, I think it has some great offers in most major cities. Just make sure to read the fine print. For example, if you buy a coupon for a hair salon and you are already a customer there, they may not let you use the deal.  (Also, check out Lifebooker for NYC beauty deals!) 

Groupon features a daily deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in a variety of cities across the U.S., Canada, Europe and soon beyond.



 Happy Exploring!

The Best Grilled Cheese in the West

Posted on May 26, 2010 by Comments Off

Nothing beats a grilled cheese sandwich. In my opinion, paired with a cup of soup, it’s the perfect meal for a cold, rainy NW day.

I got to thinking about the grilled cheese yesterday, after UrbanDaddy  posted about a new restaurant in San Francisco – the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. The restaurant was started by a seven-time award winner of the Grilled Cheese Invitational (yes, this is real. No, you already missed it for 2010.).

And while I’ll definitely be taking a field trip to the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen the next time I’m in San Fracisco, I thought I’d share my current list of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’ve ever had.

Hog Island Oyster's masterpiece. Image from Flickr.

San FranciscoHog Island Oysters may not seem like the most likely location to have a great grilled cheese, but it is. Located in the Ferry Building, Hog Island makes the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich – Fromage Blanc, Mezzo Secoo & Cave Aged Gruyere from Cowgirl Creamery with Acme Bread Company ciabatta. Paired with an Anchor Steam and a view of the bay – this is quiet possibly the recipe for a perfect afternoon.

Seattle – While Pike Place Market’s DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine just won the grilled cheese honors at the Seattle Cheese Festival (yes, it exists. Sorry, you *just* missed it.), my top pick goes to another Pike Place location. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese may seem like an obvious choice, but I just love their grilled cheese.  They feature Beecher’s Flagship, Just Jack and World Flavor cheeseson locally produced
rustic artisan bread. Yum!

Portland's Grilled Cheese Grill. Image by Road Food.

Portland – Portland’s a bit tough, because there are SO many good places to get a grilled cheese (yes, a bit biased).  I suppose I’d have to pick the Grilled Cheese Grill, located on NE Alberta. Not only is it too darn cute (it’s a little compound of school buses that have been turned into indoor seating), but their sandwiches are just good. I know it’s boring, but I always stick to the Kindergartner - with white bread and cheddar cheese (if you’re feeling particularly old school, you can even order American cheese).

I know I’m missing a lot of good locations, so if you have a favorite, fill us in!

My Top Five Dishes

Posted on February 16, 2010 by Comments Off

I agree with Wendy – picking your top five dishes is hard! I struggled with this for a few reasons – first, I went to so many amazing restaurants across the country this year that I was a little overwhelmed by where to begin; next, I was tempted to only pick things closer to home (comfort food factor?); and finally, because what makes something a dish? Does a scoop of ice cream count? If so, I’ll need to revise. :)

1. Miso Marinated Black Cod – Heathman Restaurant & Bar, Portland
As a frequent visitor to the Heathman Restaurant, I’ve always seen this on the menu but never tried it. One taste and I knew that overlooking this dish had been a critical error. The miso glaze on the cod is almost sweet – combined with the slightly garlicky buckwheat soba noodles this dish is close to perfection.

2. Heirloom Beets– Eleven Madison Park, New York
“Salad” may be a loose term when describing these beets. The presentation is gorgeous – it’s a little work of art. The Lynnhaven Farm Chevre Frais an almost an ethereal foam, the rye crumble adding the needed crunch and contrast, and the nasturtium leaves just the right amount of pepper.

Image: Food in Houston

3. Poached Eggs & Toast – Blue Bottle Café, San Francisco
I know this is a really ordinary dish to put on my top 5, but this is SO good. A thick slice of Acme toast, a local / organic poached egg, local creamery butter. I can’t explain what BB does to set this dish apart – but I would fly to San Francisco just to have it. Their coffee is good, too. :)

Image: Flickr

4. Crispy Gnocchi – Lovely Hula Hands, Portland
I hesitated to even put this on here, considering Lovely Hula Hands closed 12/31. But seeing as how this dish inspired many a visit, I had to add it to the list. The menu at LHH changed weekly, which meant the variations on the gnocchi did as well. I’ve had it with chicken sage sausage, with short ribs, with seasonal vegetables. In any incarnation, it was just incredible. Now that their pizza joint, Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty, is open I’m hoping they’ll add it to the “salads and such” portion of the menu.

5. Steamed Pork Bun – Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York
Again, another really simple thing done well. Pork belly, pickled cucumbers, scallions, hoisin sauce – all wrapped taco-style in a soft, spongey bun. YUM.

Image: Snackish

Target Pops Up for the Holidays

Posted on January 12, 2010 by Comments Off

I stumbled upon LA event planner David Stark’s Sketchbook blog last week.  He has a great post about his company’s work with Target on pop up stores in major metro markets over the holidays.  The concept behind these stores is quite cool – check it out below:

From the post:
We ADORE creating pop-up stores, and a week or so ago, we pulled off an ambitious retail feat that I am proud to share!  We opened three different stores,  in three different cities, New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, all on the same day!  Target is well known for innovative thinking and for essentially inventing the pop-up store model, but these were not typical shops where you go inside, walk aisles, and try on clothes.  Rather, our TARGET TO GO shops were one part roadside ice-cream stand, one part, drive through, and all parts fun. 

Target pop up store under NYC's Highline

The concept was simple:  A menu board showcased 50 numbered gift items for the entire family.  You marched up to the window, ordered by item number, and then quickly, a satchel of pre-wrapped gifts was handed right to you!  FAST.  EASY.  FABULOUS.

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