Win Free Sharky’s For a Year!

To celebrate its new Get It Naked and Power Plates menus, Sharky’s is giving away free food for a year to a lucky Instagram or Facebook user! Enter soon because the contest closes on January 31!

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Take a photo at Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill between January 1, 2016-January 31, 2016 and tag #SharkysShare and @SharkysSocial via Facebook or Instagram for your photograph to be entered into the drawing. Here are the official rules.

The winner will get almost a thousand dollars worth of Sharky’s meal certificates for the year, for Power Plates or Get It Naked menu items. Both are nutritionally sound, lower fat, lower calorie and still highly flavorful meal options and a great way to incorporate healthier options into your lifestyle. Check these nutritional powerhouse items out at www.sharkys.com.

Eatsa at The Village at Topanga – The Future of Lunch?

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The hustle and bustle of the holiday season may take you to the The Village in Woodland Hills, the new outdoor mall on Topanga Canyon. If you’re hungry, pop into Eatsa and check it out: it’s a fully automated little indentation in the Topanga side of things that makes healthy, delicious food to go.

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When I visited last week, staff were on hand to educate passersby about this unique little eatery. Here’s how it works.

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Order your food from the iPad – you can select from a number of creatively designed quinoa bowls or salads, or build your own. I chose the Burrito Bowl – Guacamole, Salsa Fresca, Queso Mexicano, Asada Portabello, Grilled Corn, Warm Lemon-Herb Toasted Quinoa, Tortilla Chips, Seasoned Pinto Beans, but because everything is customizable I removed the queso, since I wanted to be dairy-free.

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Then I ordered a beverage too, eatsa’s popular cucumber and melon soda, that only has 9 grams of sugar per serving. Why not? You swipe your card alongside the screen to pay. Then your name shows up on a screen on the back wall above the food cubbies.

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When your meal is ready, the screen on the door of a cubby flashes your name and number, saying “Tap twice to open.” Then the door opens upward like a garage door, and voila! Your meal is revealed.

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Utensils and napkins are available in slots in the wall on the right. Tables for enjoying your meal are arranged outside, or you can take your food to go. There will be an app that you can use to order in advance, and then you can just go quickly pick up your food, parking in the special eatsa spaces out front.

While it is conceivable that this entire transaction can take place without looking at or speaking to a human, the local eatsa manager and other staff were lovely and helpful. So what about the food?

Well, as a recent convert into the quinoa-loving crow (I have a Pinterest board devoted to it, and I make this recipe several times a month), I told eatsa CEO Tim Young that I am the choir he is preaching to. Fast food doesn’t have to be unhealthy, he believes. (Or expensive. The bowls start at $6.95 each.) Eatsa serves up bowls made with nutritious ingredients. My burrito bowl was delicious and I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture of it before I shook up the ingredients to combine them. So here is the eatsa photo:

bowl_burritoAll of the dishes are displayed on the iPad for you to see before you select. I was in the mood for guacamole that day, I guess. It was a combination of foods that I hadn’t thought of before and I LOVED it! Can’t wait to bring my kids, because they’ll dig the iPad ordering process, and my husband will definitely compare it to the Jetsons-type predictions of the future. Well, here it is. The future is now.

eatsa
at The Village at Westfield Topanga
6320 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Woodland Hills
eatsa.com

Let It Snow and Mercato at Four Seasons Westlake

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For a luxurious holiday getaway, look no further than the Four Seasons Westlake Village. If you stay there on Friday or Saturday night over the next few weekends, your family can enjoy its Winter Wonderland, as well as a gourmet Italian buffet dinner and dessert at Mercato, the market-style dining experience.

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Let It Snow has turned into a wonderland of winter-themed activities for families. Once you go through the portal to Let It Snow, Olaf and the Minions greet you for a photo op! Then follow the signs to the fun activity stations set up along the Look Out outdoor bar area:

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Holiday train rides
Hot chocolate and coffee station
S’mores at the fire pit (helpful elves are standing by)
Santa’s house – visit Santa, take a pic, and get a candy cane
Cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus
Pizza, adult beverages, and snacks for purchase
Ice skating!

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There is a small ice skating rink set up downstairs just outside the indoor pool. It’s a fascinating construction – made with fiberglass panels, skaters glide along on the skates provided and when they fall (because they will, let’s be honest) there is no cold ice to hurt or freeze them! My kids loved this and wanted to go back for more after dinner! Plan your visit well, because this is a popular activity, but staff keeps the line moving with skater time limits so everyone gets a turn.

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The activities make for a fun evening, and the icing on top is the festive sprinkle of snow that happens about every 15 minutes.

Let It Snow tickets are available to overnight guests who purchase the Winter Wonderland package. But Mercato Italiano, the bustling Italian evening in the hotels lobby restaurant, is open to anyone.

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At this buffet, we enjoyed the top-notch customer service we can always expect from the Four Seasons. We started with drinks – a Paso Creek merlot for me, and a Ladyface Alehouse dark amber for my husband. The kids loved their lemonade and chocolate milk served in “fancy glasses.” Warm bread is served with Ojai Olive Oil and balsamic vinegar, another local favorite.

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Servers recommended that we start with the antipasto side of the buffet, which actually turned out to be my favorite. The marinated mushrooms and artichoke salad, and the bruschetta, were good enough to bring me back for seconds, even after I had tried the entrees! Then we moved on to pasta, which was the kids’ favorite (of course), and I liked that there was a gluten free penne to try.

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The star of the entree section, for my husband, was the seafood cioppino, with mussels, clams, shrimp and crab. For me it was the lasagna. For the kids, well, it was making pizza with Chef Jim!

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For dessert, gelato flavors included pumpkin cheesecake and toffee crunch to pair with delicious custards and pastries. You’ll have to make sure to leave room though. It’s easy to indulge here! Reservations are wise, and cost is $31-50 per person.

My family enjoyed Let It Snow as guests, along with complimentary dining at Mercato Italiano, to facilitate this feature. All opinions are my own. And my husband’s and children’s.