Monday, December 30, 2019

Wilson’s Words of Wisdom: The #WilsonsGuide Blog in a Decade!

Right before the start of a brand new year, I loooove to recap all of the amazing highlights from the past 12 months. It’s a great way to take a trip down memory lane and relive so many wonderful memories that are easy to get lost amongst our everyday tasks and routines.

And, since we’re starting a brand new decade, that means it’s time to think of all the incredible moments from these past ten years, too!

As I started to make my sentimental list of milestones from the ‘10s it dawned on me: this #WilsonsGuide blog has also been around this entire decade! Born in 2010, there’s been a ton of great content each and every year, so I thought it would be fun to look at some of the most memorable posts from each year.

Take a look at the list below and here’s to another decade of eating, drinking and being merry to our heart’s content!

2010 – The genesis of it all: Smoothies @ Simply Wholesome
This blog all started with a smoothie. But not just any smoothie — it was a Thirst Quencher from Simply Wholesome on Slauson Ave. in the Baldwin Hills neighborhood. Ten years ago in my very first post, I described them as “little pieces of heaven poured into a big, frothy cup … bursting with sweet fruits, exotic juices, delectable ice creams and sherbets, and a modest scoop of protein powder.” I’m delighted to see these smoothies are still around, as this laid-back neighborhood café / natural health store still thriving and surviving, even featured on Insecure’s Season Three last year.

2011 – A-Frame celebrates one-year
Before there was his "Best Friend" restaurant in Vegas and right after he kicked off the Kogi Truck craze, Roy Choi opened up this Culver City restaurant with minimalist vibes in a former IHOP. While the menu of Asian-meets-American fusion has evolved over the years to now focus more on Hawaiian cuisine, the legendary “Chu-Don’t-Know-Mang” dessert with churros, chocolate milk and ice cream that first captured my attention is fortunately still around. Back in 2011, A-Frame was celebrating its one-year anniversary; I’ll look forward to observing its 10-year milestone in a couple of years, too.

2012 – Introducing… “Where to Travel!”
To indulge in my obsession with traveling, I launched a “Where to Travel” section on the #WilsonsGuide blog in 2012. Some posts have focused only on one cool place to visit (like checking out Mama’s Fish House in Maui), while other posts have offered all-around city guides (such as the top 12 things to do in Houston). All in all, there’s been 16 “Where To Travel” recommendations over the years: Brazil, Catalina Island, France, Hawaii (Maui and Oahu), Houston, Las Vegas, London, Los Cabos, Miami, Monterey, New Orleans, Oahu, Oakland, Palm Springs and Seattle. 

2013 – The year of the arts
It should come as no surprise that L.A. is home to some of the most incredible art in the world — whether that’s theatrical performances, museums, television shows or musical productions. 2013 seemed to have a lot of incredible artistic moments, captured in four unique #WilsonsGuide blog posts. Lorraine Hansberry’s To Be Young, Gifted and Black had a run at the David Schall Theatre  and the “LA Museum Season” promoted FREE access to 30 of the city’s most prominent and popular museums. Cirque du Soleil brought Totem to the South Bay. And finally, the "Get Your Phil: Dinner & Concert" Package offered an intimate night of dinner and classical music, at rotating DTLA restaurants and at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, respectively. 

2014 – Many firsts with Azla vegan in DTLA
It was to hard to pick only one big moment for 2014, as there were just so many. But ultimately, Azla vegan takes the spot for being the first Ethiopian restaurant outside of Little Ethiopia, the first vegan Ethiopian restaurant in DTLA, and, for having lots of inspiring #BlackGirlMagic running through its veins. This fast casual eatery is a family-owned business by the mother-daughter duo of marketing guru Nesanet and her mother chef Azla (its namesake). It  serves up colorful dishes that are varied, full of flavor and very filling. It’s located In Mercado La Paloma, a pretty cool incubator that helps entrepreneurs launch their own businesses. So thrilled to see that Azla is still around, celebrating six years of being in the same location!

2015 – Making the rounds at GRAMMY Awards week
One thrilling aspect of being in L.A. during award season is that while most of the world simply watches all of the action from their screens at home, we get the opportunity to hob knob with celebrities and bask in the excitement, thanks to all of the parties, events and soirees that happen leading up to and during the award shows. As a music fanatic, GRAMMY Awards week was always high on my list to check out. So starting in 2015, I documented my time running from intimate concerts produced by Essence to stopping by the official GRAMMY Gift Lounge, ogling over the talent gift bags filled with $25,000 worth of goodies.

2016 – The list of Top Black-Owned Restaurants, Bars, Lounges & Eateries launches
In Black History Month (February) of 2016, the #WilsonsGuide list of black-owned restaurants, bars, lounges and eateries was born. It’s a homage to the diverse, culinary contributions that so many amazing chefs and owners have made to L.A. Initially starting with 16 places, it’s grown to almost 40 over the past four years. From to Southern, BBQ and more, there’s such a range of eclectic and diverse options. Can’t wait to see what new restaurants will be added in the new decade, too.

2017 – Serving up sorbet at the Gelato Festival’s U.S. debut
Yours truly was asked to be a judge in the U.S. debut of the Gelato Festival, back in 2017. It was a tough job, but somebody had to sample the entries of the ten gelato makers who were competing to have a place at the upcoming 2021 Gelato Festival World Masters Final in Italy for the biggest title yet: World Champion. From blood orange to rose flavors, Jersey to Brazil, the diversity and creativity of gelato creation showed up strong. I had such a delightful time that I jumped at the chance to return as a judge in 2018.

2018 – Exploring L.A. Times' The Taste food & beverage festival
In 2018, I was invited to cover L.A. Times’ The Taste, which is literally like the granddaddy of all food festivals. Spanning three consecutive nights over Labor Day Weekend, this annual event is held on the Paramount Pictures lots in Hollywood. Hundreds of your favorite local restaurants and beverage brands hand out unlimited bite-sized samples of select dishes and drinks all night long, and there’s also cooking demos and educational discussions each evening. 2019 saw the 10th anniversary mark, and it doesn’t look like it will be slowing down anytime soon.

2019 – From L.A. … to the Bay!
A sudden move to the Bay had me contemplating hard what exactly the future held for this blog. Would I have to completely retire it, since I’d no longer be in L.A. as much? Would I drastically pivot to only showcasing places in the Bay? Fortunately, I found a happy medium, deciding to keep writing about the L.A. scene, all while expanding into NorCal. It’s been an adventure exploring Oakland, San Francisco, and Napa, and I can’t wait to continue discovering what else the Bay has to offer in 2020 and beyond!

I hope you've enjoyed this #WilsonsGuide blog as much as I've enjoyed putting it together, and I look forward to posting more soon in the New Year and the New Decade! 

- Miss Wilson 

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