Discover more from The Rhubarb Society
Vol. 20 - Three Days In LA
and how to enter the 5k giveaway!
Happy Sunday, everyone! I am currently writing this week’s newsletter from the sky. I am 30 minutes into an 11-hour flight, with ‘Three Thousand Years of Longing’ playing in the background. Assuming you follow me on one of multiple social media platforms, you’ll know I was in LA this week for work. Between the first-class flight to LA and the result from the Oscars, I’m in an unusually good mood. This week’s newsletter will be unbelievably LA, from an LA diary to some of my favourite spots and a rundown of the Oscars. Despite hating public displays of affection, being painfully polite (even at my own expense), and believing that a stiff upper lip is best (as well as many other British-isms), I think there’s a small hidden pocket somewhere in my being that is very ‘LA’ so I will be embracing that in its entirety for this weeks issue. I also have to say THANK YOU TO ALL FIVE THOUSAND, AND SOMETHING OF YOU THAT ARE SUBSCRIBED. It’s crazy that it has been just over four months, and this community has already grown to this extent. To say thank you, I want to run a competition that anyone can enter for two of you to win a £100 (each, not shared, of course) gift card to any place of your choice. All you need to do is either comment below (with your IG username or email so I can contact you) or tag something TRS related in an Instagram story :) I heard your feedback on The Rhubarb Society Instagram, and a lot of you wanted merch to be part of the giveaway, and don’t worry; once that’s in place, there will be another giveaway to celebrate! With that, let’s begin…
A DIARY FROM FIRST CLASS
Want to know what flying First on BA is like from a girl who was drunk for most of it? Well, look no further.
6:30am - My car comes to pick me up nearly 4 hours before my flight time, and the driver is lovely but unusually chatty for this time in the morning. I make light small talk until the early morning, empty stomach-induced nausea kicks in, and the driver gets the hint. I make it to terminal 5 in record time.
7:10am - The first class check-in is at the very far end of T5, a shining beacon of seamless travel experiences. I walk past the gargantuan queue for security, and I would like to pretend that I didn’t feel slightly smug, but as much as I champion being humble, I also champion being honest. I go through the pearly gates to a well-lit hidden corner of check-in desks with no queues and a table offering a variety of drinks. My luggage is checked in minus 3 minutes, and I walk through to security, which is equally as well-lit and visually pleasing, with large wooden panels and oodles of space. Security takes less than 10 minutes, and it is one of the few times my luggage isn't stopped and searched. I guess the single-digit number on my ticket makes me look a little less suspicious. I walk through the First Class lounge (which is surprisingly busy) and through to the Concorde Room. So far, everyone has looked grumpy, middle-aged, and strangely dressed. At the entrance to the Concorde room, I am informed that there is a concierge and a luggage hold, and should I need anything, to consult either of them. I go through to dining, which has discreet, wooden and leather-enclosed booths with table service and a full menu. I have two breakfasts and watch the couple opposite me ignore one another in wealthy bliss. I leave, head to the bar, and ask the bartender for something citrusy. He makes me a very strong gin and grapefruit cocktail, and I realise it’s far too early to be on the sauce. I sit in front of a fire and plan both seating plans for my birthday whilst someone comes and tries to offer me another drink. I opt for sparkling water.
9:30am - I head to the gate and take the world’s longest shuttle bus to the plane. For some unknown reason, we are kept on the shuttle for 25 minutes, staring longingly at the plane steps, left to suffocate in some sort of weird morning coffee breath hotbox. We finally board, and I turn left (what a treat). I walk past a very sad-looking business class (British Airways isn’t what it used to be), and I’m greeted by name by one of the disturbingly chipper cabin crew. I’m offered champagne, and I accept because I wasn’t raised to turn down free champagne, and I settle into my seat. There are only eight seats in first, which you think would limit the chance of being surrounded by arseholes, but one man wearing an aviator jacket and sunglasses inside is already kicking off. He seems unhappy with his seat or the fact he had to wait on the shuttle bus (or a combination of the two) and talks loudly about why ‘he never flies commercial anymore because the money for first class isn’t worth it’. We get it, BTEC Top Gun; you fly privately. He somehow manages to work the fact that he’s a hedge fund manager into the conversation as well as a lot of other boring nonsense, and the attendant is so preoccupied with grinning through their teeth that they neglect the rest of us. We’re forced to do things by ourselves like normal people—such a tragedy. I have a nosy at my cubby and all of the various buttons and hidden compartments (including a miniature wardrobe to hang my jacket, a small vanity with a mirror and compartments and a bag storage section. I change into my Sunspel joggers (to match my half zip), which I’m grateful for because we end up sitting on the tarmac for an extra hour.
11:15am - We finally take off, and I rifle through the extensive and substantial menu. The choice is somewhat overwhelming (both for food and alcohol), and a crew member asks me what time I’d like my food. I decide I want some warm bread and canapes immediately to soak up the champagne, and then I ask for my starter and main to come in an hour. As I will come to learn on the remaining 11-hour flight, pretty much everything I ask for on the menu is something that they don’t have. My hopes of a cheese souffle are crushed, and I go for a carrot and ginger soup instead. My fold-out table is promptly laid with a cloth, cutlery, napkin (and various condiments). I am thrilled that my first of many cups of herbal tea is served in an actual mug. The soup is delicious, the lamb is okay, and a crew member keeps insisting on replacing my drink because my champagne looks warm. I oblige and also order an extra bottle of water so that I don’t become Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids. I also order the crepes suzette to help soak up the alcohol, and it’s delicious. After scrolling through the film collection on the rather slow handheld console, I decide to start with bodies, bodies, bodies. The console is sticky and slow, making choosing any form of media a bit of a task. I pause over this niche, 1% problem and decide to get over myself.
2pm - I ask a member of the crew to make my bed for me whilst I stretch my legs, and I return to a very cosy-looking set-up. I settle into the duvet and try not to think about whether this duvet was cleaned and how many other people have done this, and I set my laptop up on the table. I alternate between editing my Youtube and this newsletter and think about how this would feel like a nice afternoon of WFH if Rhubarb was lying across my legs. I also think about the fact that Rhubarb was supposed to come with me on this trip, and the idea of her flying first class as A) a dog and B) a three-year-old, cracks me up. I order a glass of Sauternes and a bowl of popcorn.
3pm - Another old man is kicking off because he’s not happy with his bed, food, or hairline. I’m not sure. Both cabin crew rush to his attention and continue to appease him in hushed tones. I eavesdrop as I eye up the ‘light bites’ section on the menu. It amuses me that this section includes a whole beef pie alongside crisps, popcorn and truffles. I take to IG to help me decide because I am a combination of drunk and bored, and everyone votes for pasta. Once one of the crew has a moment to breathe, I order the pasta, and I am informed for the third time on this flight that they don’t actually have this. I’m offered some sort of chickpea superfood salad instead, and I take it. Oceans 8 is playing happily in the background as I wait. Suddenly, James Corden, the living jumpscare, comes on screen, and I immediately turn it off. The superfood salad doesn’t seem so bad after that.
7pm - I decide to do my skincare for the umpteenth time, and I hope that spraying my little complimentary Elemis face mist annoys the grumpy old men in the cabin so that they complain and I can fight them. This desire seems induced by alcohol and boredom, much like many of my decisions on this flight. I continue photoshopping images of Rhubarb into my annoying plane updates on Instagram while thinking about what I will order for dinner. The evening selection is slightly smaller, so the chances of them not having what I want to order seems low. After waiting for 30 minutes for someone to make eye contact with me, I try my luck with the pasta again.
8pm - My pasta arrives, and I eat it whilst watching Little Miss Sunshine and pretending that Rhubarb is there with me. I wash this down with my ‘I don’t know what glass this is’ glass of sauternes and order the choccy mousse for pudding. The mousse is possibly the best mousse I’ve ever had, and every single strawberry on it is crispy, juicy, and filled with flavour. I try and nap, but after 20 minutes, I realise this is impossible, so I start to prep for our eventual landing by putting on a bit of make-up. I try to go to the bathroom to brush my teeth and spray some dry shampoo, but it’s occupied. I stand there for close to 15 minutes, making small talk with one of the crew who seems a tad frazzled, and as brits do, we discuss the weather. Suddenly, the door clicks open, and BTEC Top Gun/Mr hedgefund comes out with soggy hands and announces very loudly that the loo roll wasn’t in the holder properly and that they were out of towels. He continues to wave his soggy post-poo hands around until the woman gives him something to dry them with. Maybe if he had popped the loo roll back in the holder properly like a normal person, he could have also used some to dry his hands. I pause over this man’s need to announce everything loudly, from his job to his bowel movements, and it serves as a reminder as to why coming from money or making your own money is always preferable to dating and marrying rich arseholes.
9pm - As we prepare for landing, the crew have forgotten to put my bed and its bedding away, so I hover awkwardly, making uncomfortable eye contact with the various middle-aged people I just shared the same air with for 12 hours until one of the attendants is free to help. Mr poohands is accosting one of the crew again, but this time to chat in a disarmingly friendly manner about his plans in LA. Finally, someone is free to dissemble my bed, and the attendant in question cannot hide their impatience as they shove the duvet, its pillows and the sheets in the overhead compartment on top of my carry-on luggage. I assume it’s protocol and that when we finally land, they will help me remove all of the bedding and my hand luggage from the compartment. They don’t.
Okay, so I may have only been in LA for three days (one of them spent filming indoors), but, lord, did I keep myself busy. I will list everywhere I visited, both food and non-food related. Very simple.
FOOD AND DRINK
Gjelina - So this is the place I went to a few hours after landing, and admittedly I didn’t get a chance to order as much as I would have liked to (partly from exhaustion, but also because I had 749573 things to eat on the plane). I loved the vibe, it was cool, relaxed and atmospheric, and we sat at a long shared table (where I could spy on other people’s orders, and they all looked great). I shared a truffle mushroom pizza with my friend, and we had some wine. The food was fantastic, but the service was a little slow, and the bill seemed extortionate. For one pizza and three small glasses of wine, it was $99, which was a bit of a shock. The food and the vibe felt similar to Caravan in Fitzrovia (a dog-friendly favourite of mine).
Farmshop - Firstly, this is where I sat next to Zoe Kravitz, so it is already a firm favourite. This is in Brentwood Country Mart, and it is half restaurant, half grocery shop/coffee shop/bakery. Everyone around was very loud, very pretentious and very LA, which I loved. The two LA bros next to me spoke at length about how much money they were making in their tech start-ups. The food was insanely good, and everything is locally sourced. I went for a butternut squash cacio e pepe agnolotti, which was divine. When I had a little shop around afterwards, I also got an iced matcha and a snickerdoodle cookie which were both the best versions of matcha and a cookie you could hope for. I’d compare it to any decent Notting Hill restaurant.
Sweetgreen - If I were in LA longer, I’d eat here every day. It actually pains me that the UK’s salad game cannot compare. The salads are made with fresh produce, delivered in-store every day, and they have a huge selection of bowls. At first, it didn’t look like much, but wowwww, every mouthful was fucking good. They’ve nailed their dressings and the ratio of ingredients because there wasn’t a single bite that wasn’t crisp, fresh and perfectly seasoned. It’s also well-priced (for LA), with a decent-sized salad bowl being about $16. The closest I’ve had to it in London is Atis.
Bardonna - This is on Montana, which was described to me as ‘rich hippy mum central’. I went for breakfast, and the place was crawling with that exact description, as well as plenty of dogs in tow. I had the truffled avocado on toast with a fried egg. The avo on toast was very good, largely due to great seasoning and the small bread bites being crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The egg was very average. The menu was varied and well-priced, and it was one of the few streets I felt safe walking up and down. There were loads of people out with their dogs which was a contrast to near my hotel, where I walked for 10 minutes without seeing another person who wasn’t homeless or on drugs.
La La Land Kind Cafe - This was on the same street as Bardonna, and I immediately gravitated towards it. The cafe is also a charity that supports foster youth by offering them jobs and formal training. The food and drinks are all interesting (I had a ‘cookies and dream’ matcha), and the branding is wonderful. Drinks are given to you in yellow cups with positive affirmations, and even the drinks stopper is a little heart. Kind of cheesy, but also hard not to feel happy walking around with a yummy drink in a cheerful cup. The closest equivalent I could think of in London is something like Fair Shot Coffee, mainly for the charity aspect and the slightly LA-esque salad bowls but with very different branding.
Erewhon - I do not understand the $20 smoothie hype. To be fair, I didn’t try every flavour, but I had the mint choc chip one, and it was just ‘good’, nothing more than that. I’ve had better smoothies in Selfridges (and ones I make at home) for a fraction of the price. However, the grocery store itself is INSANE. I have never been so overwhelmed by produce and health offerings. It’s truly something. I love Organic Olivia for her herbal tinctures, and it seems like Erewhon has both its own brand as well as other brand dupes to offer. The store and the shelves are also immaculate.
Sugarfish - I was getting used to most places in LA being on the pricy side, so when the recommendations for Sugarfish came flooding in, and when I saw it was sushi, I prepared for it to be steep. I was pleasantly surprised to see the ‘Trust Me’ mini-tasting menu for only $30. The quality was fantastic, and if I were to compare that level of flavour and quality to the sushi we get in London, that meal should have been well into the three digits. I would definitely go back, 10/10.
Cobi’s - I went for dinner here with a group of friends, and our table wasn’t ready for 45 minutes after our reserved time, which was frustrating, but they gave us some complimentary natural wine whilst we waited. We sat outside in the cute, enclosed garden space and shared family-style dishes. The cuisine is a mix of South East Asian dishes, and it reminded me of a mix between Roti Chai and Dishoom. They had a fun shaved iced pandan pudding, and also a huge glass bowl of alcoholic winter spiced punch that we all shared. I’d recommend going with a group, and I’m glad I didn’t go alone, as it’s definitely something you have to share.
In n Out - I’d been waiting over a decade to eat here again after my first-ever trip to the West Coast in 2011. I had animal-style fries and a protein style double double. It wasn’t as good as I’d remembered and bigged up for the past ten years, but it was still good. I feel like you have to eat there at least once.
Proper Hotel Santa Monica - This is where I was staying, and it’s probably the best hotel I’ve been to. The interior is spotless. The attention to detail was immaculate (even down to the room service and the room cleaning). All of the staff were lovely and accommodating, and at one point, as I was walking out, the general manager stopped me and addressed me by name to ask how my stay was so far (I asked how she knew it was me, and apparently there was a photo of me attached to my booking?). The whole place just felt very zen, and when you have jetlag, there is nothing nicer than being able to go to an aesthetically pleasing room to sip on complimentary organic herbal teas from an iron drinks holder warmed by a naked flame. To top it all off, the hotel is dog friendly.
Brentwood Country Mart - This place feels like a wealthy toy town, filled with boutique stores and restaurants. After seeing Zoe Kravitz in the restaurant, I walked into a clothes store and saw Emerald Fennell. The post office is the COOLEST thing I’ve seen (and seemingly, Accidentally Wes Anderson inspired). It sells Smythson, for crying out loud. I also discovered a brand called Harding Lane which I really liked. I bought a cap and a keyring. Great for people watching and spending loads of cash.
Surya Spa - This was connected to my hotel and specialises in ayurvedic treatments. I booked in for an 8 am massage on my last day, not really knowing what to expect. The massage was painful at times (I asked for firm pressure, and she delivered), as well as very oily. It wasn’t necessarily relaxing, but it was restorative, which I loved. It also felt like she managed to unblock things that I didn’t know needed unblocking? When she was working on my back, it felt like she had dislodged something in my lungs, which was really weird.
Highway Cannabis - We went for a drive-by here after our In ‘n Out and just before I left for the airport, and man, was it weird. The way LA has made buying weed a luxury retail experience is wild to me. This store was light, airy, and streamlined, and the branding felt like a luxury beauty brand more than weed. There were gummy edibles, pre-rolled joints in slick packaging as well as vape and wellness sections. My friend was even given a free joint and some edibles for signing up for their loyalty programme. I bought some gummies in the hope it might help me regulate my sleep once I’m back in the UK—such a weird experience.
Abbot Kinney - This is where I did the bulk of my shopping and spent a good amount of time aimlessly strolling. There are lots of cool indie clothes stores here, and I bought from two brands I’d never heard of. CookMan, which is a brand designed by chefs. The brand is unisex, and I bought two pairs of trousers in size S, one cow print and one striped. I also came across a brand called Third Love that is known for their t-shirt bra, and as someone who pretty much exclusively wears white t-shirts, buying from them felt necessary. I’m glad I tried in-store because the sales assistant measured me at a 32C, and I ended up needing to buy a 32E. Considering I’ve spent a good chunk of my life wearing a 34C, I had no fucking clue what was happening. I also popped into MC2 Saint Barth as I’d seen this brand online and wanted to check it out in person. Another place I was desperate to try, but was fully booked, was Den Mother. A cute little outdoor oasis where you can have some reflexology and drink herbal tea.
everything, everywhere, all at the oscars
It’s been interesting to see and hear the mixed reactions over the Everything, Everywhere, All At Once sweep at this year’s Oscars. For those like me, who are avid fans and knew they were witnessing something special the first time they watched it, there were obviously feelings of elation, but I also feel like this was almost eclipsed by those of validation. Those close to me often come to me to discuss films they’ve recently seen, and when it came to EEAAO, a large handful of my friends kept asking me A) why I (and others) loved it so much and B) how it swept up during awards season. Their overarching theme was one of, ‘yeah, it was good, and I enjoyed it, but I just didn’t quite get it’. When you go online, these thoughts are echoed, with people calling it everything from overrated, messy and abysmal to liking it but not understanding it. I wondered if maybe a large part of my love for it was cultural and that expecting my non-Chinese friends, whose parents or grandparents weren’t immigrants, to understand it was presumptuous on my part. However, I know this isn’t true because, aside from people from all over, culturally and geographically, loving this film, it also diminishes its core message and reduces it to something specific. In reality, I think this film does a spectacular job of making the themes and topics that, on the surface, seem niche (Chinese immigrants who own a laundromat are a small % of viewers, I’m sure) a universal and relatable experience. So, why did I and so many others love this film? Firstly, it’s a nod to so many other great films, and those easter eggs make for great viewing as a film buff. Secondly, during a year of mediocre multiverse films with budgets 10 or 20 times bigger than EEAAO, The Daniels managed to craft and create something new, exciting and insane, entirely unlike anything that’s been seen in the industry for a while. To tell a story with this much heart, humour and insanity that is entirely original and technically brilliant whilst making it look effortless is a fucking feat. The whole film was edited by a small team who were self-taught, including both directors, and when you see what they accomplished versus a multiverse film like Dr Strange, which had a $ 200 million budget, it’s an accomplishment that’s hard to ignore. When was the last time you laughed until you cried and then cried until you couldn’t breathe on repeat in such a short space of time?
It’s easy to dismiss this film as silly. Sausage fingers? Statue buttplugs? Look, I get it. But it’s also entirely lazy to reduce this film to just that. There’s never been a more earnest exploration of what it means to be alive. In a world where we have everything at our fingertips through the touch of a phone, where our possibilities seem endless but always slightly out of reach, where we are all more connected than ever before but also lonelier, this film feels more poignant than ever. EEAAO manages to make you laugh and cry in succession through absurd visuals, bonkers storylines and effective dialogue. This is largely to do with the phenomenal performances from the cast. I heard an interview with Ke explaining how he hired a body coach to assign each character he plays an animal, learning to move like them so that Waymond and ‘Alpha Waymond’ could be separated physically as well as emotionally. To see this film, as well as the Chinese-dominated cast, be recognised in an industry that often pushes these stories aside adds another layer to the impact that this film already has and will continue to have. This may be biased on my part, but I have never been happier for two people I do not know. I think it can be hard to understand the effect it can have when you see people who look like you on a screen when you haven’t grown up without that representation. Ke and Michelle have not only broken records for Asians in the industry but are also giving long overdue representation to a new generation of Chinese men and women, boys and girls. Whilst I’m sad that films like The Banshees of Inisherin didn’t get a single win, stories like Banshees have been told and will continue to be told. EEAAO certainly feels like once in a lifetime.
A monthly section dedicated to the current discounts brands have given me. This time, I’ve added my favourite picks from each brand to provide you with inspiration if you’ve never heard of the brand or if you’re not sure what you want to try. As always, if there are any brands you’d like me to try and get a discount for, please let me know!
ESPA SKINCARE (‘TAMSIN’ FOR 15% OFF) - ESPA is fantastic for bringing the spa experience to your home. I like their silk pillowcases, and their candles are great value for money. I recently finished a jar of their bath salts which I liked more than I thought I would.
NOVELMART (‘RHUBARB15’ for 15% OFF) - So you all went crazy over my pink jeroboam hat, and this is where it’s from. Novelmart also saw that we’d hit 5k subscribers and offered to be part of the giveaway/give a discount to celebrate. They do food-themed merch, which is fun and makes for the perfect gift.
BYROTATION (‘TAMSIN15’ for 15% OFF) - Where I rent all of my clothes for events (including that purple Willy Wonka suit you guys loved). Please see examples of things rented below!
PERRICONE MD (‘TAMSIN’ FOR 20% OFF ALMOST EVERYTHING) - Most of you already know how I feel about this brand, and I know it’s expensive, but it really does work. My favourites are the neck serum (don’t be put off by the smell because it does its job well) and my cold plasma face serum. I also love their cold plasma sheet masks; this is a great entry product if you don’t want to spend a bomb!
BEAUTYPIE (‘TAMSINSENTME’ FOR £10 OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP) - I’ve been a member for years, and I love seeing how much they’ve grown as well as their offering. I think their candles are unbelievable, and the quality you get for the price is unmatched. However, more recently, I’ve loved their supplement offering, and I’ve burned through the gummies and their green powder. This serum is also an insane retinol/AHA powerhouse, and it’s SO good.
CHRISTOPHE ROBIN (‘TAMSIN’ FOR 20% OFF) - You guys know the drill by now, but it’s always worth reiterating. The salt scrub and the regenerating masks are the GOAT. Nothing makes my hair as soft as the regenerating range; it’s INSANE. Also, shoutout to the volumising mist because that’s the OG.
ILLAMASQUA (‘TAMSIN’ FOR 25% OFF) - I was introduced to these lipsticks on a brand trip last November, and they are so, so beautiful. I can’t vouch for any of their other makeup, but their antimatter lipstick range is fantastic.
IRIS AVENUE (TELL THEM RHUBARB SENT YOU FOR 10% OFF) - This is obviously very London-specific, but it is my favourite salon ever (also one of my favourite bars, too, weirdly). You can’t use this as a code online, but when you go to pay, just tell them you know Rhubarb, and they’ll give you the discount. Also, order a Pandan Latte.
And that’s all from the twentieth issue of The Rhubarb Society! If you’re keen to get ahead of next week’s segment of ‘The Club Corner’, or if you have a podcast topic you’d like me to discuss, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments below, via email or in my DMs. If there’s anyone you think would be an excellent fit for The Rhubarb Society, please do extend the invitation below.
Tamsin & Rhubarb