Tag Archives: Nick Dimengo

My First Time: BLVD 16 at Hotel Palomar

| August 19, 2014

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It may have been the glam of Los Angeles or the ideal location on Wilshire Boulevard, but something about BLVD 16 was just right.

Located in Hotel Palomar—a Kimpton property—BLVD 16 certainly has all of the bells and whistles that a first-time visitor to the city would expect, but the service, prices and, most importantly, the cuisine is what separates it from other trendy places in the area.

Rather than trying to keep up with the Jones’, BLVD 16 holds true to itself in serving what they describe as, “farm-to-fabulous” food, offering a bevy of options in a perfectly designed setting.

Not over-the-top fancy or too dim, BLVD 16 hits on every level, with menu prices that are affordable for a table of two or a large party.

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Since they serve Caffe Vita, I wanted to check this place out—and it surpassed all of my expectations.

Making a stop in for brunch this past Sunday, I was immediately overwhelmed by the depth of the menu, with selections for those who like their first meal of the day either light, hearty or sweet.

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As a vegetarian, my eyes—and stomach—got big for the Egg White Scramble, which consisted of roasted tomato, spinach and mushrooms, which joined a cup of Vita coffee to help pick me up.

At the first bite, I knew I made the right choice, as the flavor hit about every taste bud in my mouth. The eggs were cooked perfectly and the fresh veggies complemented them just right.

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Shawn Jennings—Vita’s Digital Media Manager— and I were so focused on our food that any form of conversation was limited, with Shawn ordering the Acai and Tropical Fruit Bowl.

Scarfing down our plates in a matter of minutes, we eventually talked about how impressed we both were with both the city of L.A. and the friendliness of everyone at BLVD 16.

After overhearing our conversation about surfing after breakfast, our server gave his suggestions as to where the best spots to go are—and pleaded to try and come with us following his shift.

Just as we were set to pay and say thanks to everyone we met, a surprise dessert came out to us, on the house!

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Serving a German Chocolate Cake to two guys is never a bad idea—even if it is just after breakfast—as the dessert was gone in minutes.

Making our way out of the hotel, both Shawn and I were thoroughly impressed with our experience, agreeing that we’d have to come back during our next visit to the city.

BLVD 16 might not have the star-studded appeal that other restaurants in the city have, but if you’re looking for a place where you can get great food, drinks, service and actually hold down a conversation, BLVD 16 is one of the best spots in town.

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8 Things We Saw on Day Three of CHBP

| August 2, 2014

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The final day of any music festival is always the most difficult.

Running off emotional and physical highs from all of the fun, while also trying to maintain some sort of energy level to enjoy the acts on that day can be difficult, but, hopefully, adrenaline—and coffee—will get you through.

After (barely) making it through the first two days of this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party, here are the final things that I was able to see, completing a raucous weekend that couldn’t have gone any better.

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8. Viv’s Ice Pops

Just as she did on Saturday, seven-year old Viv found herself setup just outside other food trucks besides Poquito’s, serving Vita Cold Brew and Six Strawberries ice pops.

With all of the money raised benefitting Virginia Buck—a young girl whose dream is to visit Disneyland—Viv sold over $956 worth of treats, and, with Vita matching, was able to raise a total of $1,912 for Virginia, who is battling Juvenile Huntington’s Disease.

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7. Nick Dimengo’s Adventures

For all of you following along all weekend, as Vita’s Storyteller, I had quite the journey ahead of me at Block Party.

Giving up my mind, body and soul, I had our fans choose my adventure through social media by tagging #VitaCHBP in response to choices we gave.

Looking in the mirror and seeing my Richard Simmons outfit, while taking three tequila shots and chowing down on three slices of pizza was not one of my high points in life—but I would do it all over again.

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6. A Tattoo Artist

If you didn’t already know, Vita likes to be irreverent. That’s why we hired a tattoo artist to give out free ink during our Midnight Supper, allowing guests to get something meaningful—or regretful—tatted on themselves.

I have to admit, this was one of the most unique things Vita had going on at the supper.

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Courtesy of Ben Lindbloom

5. Brent Amaker

Although his band didn’t perform at Block Party, the lead singer of Brent Amaker & The Rodeo did come hang out with us all weekend.

Whether it was sharing a story or three with us at Via Tribunali during the headliners each night or singing on stage with various artists during our Midnight Supper, Brent Amaker seemed to be everywhere.

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4. The War on Drugs

Before taking the Main Stage and playing their big set, The War on Drugs performed on our Bean Room stage, doing a 30-minute show that included a handful of songs.

It may have been a private show, but you couldn’t tell by the flood of people in attendance, who sang and danced to the band’s bluesy rock n’ roll beats.

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3. Raz Simone

Hands-down, one of the best performances of the entire weekend—and that’s saying something.

Not only did Raz Simone kill it by hitting the Vera Stage with his unique sounds, but then he won my personal, “Performer of the Festival” Award by getting the crowd involved, rapping between them as they huddle around him, and then walked across their hands while spitting his lyrics.

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Courtesy of Ben Lindbloom

2. An Artist Collaboration

At the aforementioned Midnight Supper that Caffe Vita hosted, we didn’t just get one or two artists up on stage to perform. Instead, we were lucky enough to get a group of them, with some of Seattle’s finest musicians taking our Bean Room stage and collaborating on a number of different songs.

If that wasn’t enough, the mega-group got the entire audience involved, with guests singing each word to the popular songs they were performing.

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1.  The Last One Standing

At the end of it all, there was only one—and it happened to be Gretchen walking the vacant streets of Capitol Hill.

After three days of listening to great music and mingling amongst the crowds, there she was, wandering around as workers began the cleaning up process—which began at about 3:30am.

My First Time: Coastal Kitchen

| July 18, 2014

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One of the best parts about working with Caffe Vita is having the opportunity to visit our amazing customers. You know, the ones who love our coffee so much that they share it with customers who come into their establishments.

And continuing with the “My First Time” series, I made my way towards Coastal Kitchen on 15th Avenue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Described as a “quintessential neighborhood fish house,” Coastal Kitchen features a diverse menu, which includes Caffe Vita’s Caffe Del Sol, Novacella Decaf and Caffe Luna coffee.

I had heard great things about their Blunch menu—yes, a combination of breakfast and lunch—and figured I just had to try it for myself.

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Heading with Vita’s Marketing Director Gretchen—who was just as excited as I was to check out the “Blunch” offerings—we strolled through sun-filled streets to the hip, flourishing 15th Avenue, which has seen an influx of chef-inspired restaurants and cozy little bars over the past few years.

Upon walking into Coastal Kitchen, I instantly compared it to by Grandmother’s favorite diner.

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Coastal Kitchen’s Cobb Salad waiting to be picked up and eaten up.

Exposed kitchen on one side with a bar top and rotating chairs for guests to sit on. The bar is on the opposite side of the restaurant, a mere 30 feet from where the chefs are working their magic on the many options offered.

But as we were led to our booth by the host, one thing became very clear—Coastal Kitchen is not your average diner.

After opening its doors for the first time in 1983, Coastal Kitchen has stood the test of time, recently upgrading its digs with a renovation back in 2012 that saw the restaurant add, as I described it, “a Northeastern, Cape Cod-like feel,” to the inside of the place.

Looking at the menu on this specific day, I noticed that it mentioned the featured coastal region was Brazil, which, I assume, meant the menu was inspired by dishes in the beautiful South American country—I wish I had asked, but was too hungry to think about it.

As mentioned earlier, one of the things we had heard so much about—besides the well-known oysters—was Blunch, so we just had to dig into that specific section of the menu.

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Gretchen’s Croque Madame and a side of fruit.

With no time to waste, Gretchen ordered herself the Croque Madame, while I stuck with my vegetarianism and went for the Goat Cheese Scramble.

While waiting for our food, Gretchen and I swapped stories about weekend successes and failures, including her plan to pack and move all day tomorrow. We also found ourselves discussing all of the great art hanging on the restaurant walls.

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The conversation instantly turned into one that made us realize that, while we hope we’re talented at something, the artists who painted what was shown had to be someone with more skill in their pinky finger than we had—I’m only slightly exaggerating, of course.

While some breakfast spots may be either too bashful or too overzealous when it comes to the portions, Coastal Kitchen does it just right, giving patrons enough to fill their appetite without feeling too stuffed.

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My Goat Cheese Scramble before absolutely devouring every bite.

Another thing I appreciated, though small and a bit elementary, was that the chefs had already melted the butter on my four, warm slices of bread. Sure, that sounds silly, but I want to eat my meal, not put it together, so I applaud the little things.

Continuing our conversation in the buzzing atmosphere, the restaurant was busy but not overcrowded. The service was great—with refills and accommodating questions just at the right time—and really made us feel welcome.

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For those looking for a great spot to recover from a nasty night out, a regular brunch spot or for one of the best places in Seattle to get oysters and fresh seafood, Coastal Kitchen is a spot worth trying a few times, because it’s great.

The one regret I have? Not trying any of that seafood—but I’ll be back soon to remedy that.

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