United States

daring greatly image brene brownBrene Brown’s book: Daring Greatly takes its title from a quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Independence Writing Contest

Share what makes your feel fantastic and free in Summer! Enter the Independence Travel Writing Contest. Click here to learn more and enter this 8th writing contest.

Winners from the Inspiration Contest will be announced in July. Thank you to everyone who has participated in all my contests!

YouTube Channel:

Thank you for watching my WSGT YouTube channel which is now over 337,000+ views! Enjoy movies from Los Angeles, Bermuda,  Puerto Rico, Palau, Guam, Hawaii, India as well as Bali and Lombok  Indonesia,  Southern Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), and Nepal.  To find all 352 Videos: click here for the WSGT YouTube Channel. I am over 1000 followers on Pinterest, and up to 700+ subscribers on YouTube!

katilin at guinness
Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe at The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland Photo Credit: ABC


Watching Kaitlyn Bristowe at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin  last week reminded me how much I loved my trip to Ireland in March 2015.

VIDEOGuinness Storehouse in Dublin–The Bachelorette was here 2015!

Have you always wanted to travel to Ireland? I loved seeing Newgrange with Brendan Vacations. This historic site which is sometimes called Baby Stonehenge is over 5000 years old! It is 1000 years older than the pyramids.

Staying in Dublin at the Brooks Hotel and participating in the St. Patrick’s Day parade was incredible. I wrote about Whiskey Tasting and visiting Wicklow for USA Today 10best. Exploring 50 Shades of Green in Ireland was fantastic.  Kaitlyn , this year’s Bachelorette, and I had both always wanted to see the Irish countryside. I want to go back to discover the sites of the Game of Thrones Tour and see more of this wonderful country.

Where was Kaitlyn Bristowe?

She had a private date at the TOP of the storehouse in the Gravity® Bar

The highest point of the building, you can sit in the Gravity bar and enjoying breathtaking 360° views of Dublin and beyond.

Shawn showed her pictures in the area where you can learn to pull the Perfect Pint

I learned to pull the perfect pint on the fourth floor and “graduated” with my very own certificate, exclusive to the Storehouse, for mastering the craft of the perfect pint.

I think she missed the Connoisseur Bar

But you should reserve this most exclusive Guinness tasting experience in the world in this luxurious and private bar, discretely tucked away from the main attraction.  While in the Connoisseur Bar, you can learn about the tastes, traditions and stories of these four popular variants – Draught, Original, Foreign Extra Stout and Black Lager.  Plan for an hour and a half with up to sixteen special guests–there is an additional charge for this private experience.

There is so much to see and do in Ireland. Here are some highlights of my journey–more videos and stories to be published soon!



Golden Road Brewing is in a secluded, out-of-the-way spot in Los Angeles. As I pulled up through a quiet, industrial area, I was shocked to see the place was packed with people! Hundreds were gathered in their large bar and their two outdoor seating areas on Wednesday afternoon! Their massive, delicious beer selection and great atmosphere might be the reason most people were there, but I came to try their new pairing with Follow Your Heart vegan cheeses. Golden Road is currently working to develop fun, vegan recipes that pair well with their beers.


The Head Brewer, Victor Novak, explained to me how beer and cheese are actually more compatible in flavor than wine and cheese. This has apparently been proven at many taste testings. He passionately explains how he carefully paired each appetizer (made with Follow Your Heart vegan cheese) with his Golden Road beers. While the partnership is still in the works, there will soon be plenty of (delicious) vegan options at Golden Road.

Here are some of my favorite beers and appetizers to try:


Beers to try:

-Golden Road Hefeweizen– Refreshing and perfect! My favorite beer of the day. They paired it with their mozzarella sticks!

-Heal the Bay IPA- This is an excellent summer citrus beer, which benefits cleaning up the beaches in Los Angeles.

-Black House Nitro Coffee Stout- I would drink this for breakfast if it wasn’t alcoholic! Delicious, rich, coffee perfection.


Appetizers to try:

-Mozzarella sticks – Melty and delicious, made with Follow Your Heart Garden Herb Cheese, and paired with their Golden Road Hefeweizen.

-Classic Grilled Cheese – A perfect classic, made with Follow Your Heart American Cheese, and paired with their Point the Way IPA.

-Tomato Caprese Melt – A yummy Italian treat, made with Follow Your Heart Mozzarella Cheese, and paired with Golden Road Saison Citron.


If you think the bar is a blast, consider hosting an event in their private room, Chloe’s! They will also be opening a beer and food counter in Grand Central Market late this summer and will be serving vegan pierogi! And late this year, they are opening a tasting room in Anaheim.


Last night I experienced #ClicquotMail at Shore Bar, one of the happening and welcoming bars in the H.Wood Group in Santa Monica. Tonight join in by mailing a postcard and tasting the 2004 La Grande Dame sourced from top 8 grand cru vineyards in the Champagne region of France at Fig and Olive. Veuve Clicquot has been my favorite champagne since I worked on Princess Cruises.

Veuve Clicquot and their yellow mail truck is coming to a city near you on a cross country tour to share their story honoring Madam Clicquot and her letter writing style behind the business. I love that they are inspiring people to mail my postcards and share their feelings.

Who would you send your postcard to?

Find the stop on the tour near you:

The Veuve Clicquot National Tour will be en route this summer to a city near you! We’ll be traveling nearly 15,000 miles, visiting more than 20 cities, and hosting parties at hip venues along the way.

Whether poolside or curbside, at each event you’ll experience a bit of Clicquot magic, complete with live music, lawn games, a photobooth, letter writing station, champagne features, food pairings, and more.

Our vehicle of choice? A giant Clicquot Yellow mailbox, inspired by our mailbox gifting offer, available at your local wine shop. Spot our trailer on the road or at a party and let us know using #clicquotmail.

More H.Wood Group Venues to discover: I love the Nice Guy in West Hollywood.

Champagne delivered @veuveclicquot en route @shorebar_sm #clicquotmail

A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

Wish you were here! @veuveclicquot @shorebar_sm #clicquotmail writing postcards! A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

2 Lisa Wendy Veuve Clicquot June 2015 photobooth

The Los Angeles Athletic Club recently revealed the Blue Room, a new, hidden lounge on the club’s fourth floor.

LAAC was founded in 1880, but moved to its present spot on 7th and Olive in downtown L.A. in 1912. It currently serves as a boutique hotel, a gym, a restaurant, a lounge, a meeting and work space and a trove of history. In 1913, an all-male social club known as the Uplifters Club formed and frequently met in a lounge then known as the Blue Room. Members included Clark Gable, Walt Disney and L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz. Jokingly, the club was sometimes referred to as the “cup lifters” more than uplifters and as such, the club moved out of LAAC in 1920, buying their own ranch to avoid prohibition.


There was a secret stairwell in the LAAC, however, that worked for sneaky drinking during Prohibition, but had been forgotten about for the past several decades. It was during renovations to the club that it was discovered once more, walled away. It was decided that the stairs would again serve a purpose: a way to access the new Blue Room.


To get into the clandestine Blue Room, you’ll first need to find the bookcase that opens to that stairway. And while it’s 2015—which means you don’t have to be a man these days to kick back with a classic cocktail here—you do have to be a member. (Or if you’re lucky like yours truly, invited.)


Designed by Timothy Oulton, this stately lounge has a number of regal design points, including shimmering chandeliers and leather furniture. There’s also a tower of books, three large glass vases holding various hard candies and toffees, a crate of vintage playing cards, and walls hung with ephemera from the Club’s history and vintage sporting equipment.


Anglophiles will appreciate a couch emblazoned with the Union Jack and The Who’s logo painted on a silver locker bank. Incorporating nods to England is something of an Oulton design aesthetic, along with flags from other nations. If you’re curious to see other spots Oulton’s made lovely, you can check out their Instagram here.


A bank of lockers can be found in the back of the lounge. Guests can use these lockers to house their own boozy bottles, and LAAC has a partnership with one spirit in particular: The Macallan, a single malt Scotch whiskey.



For Blue Room‘s inauguration, bartenders mixed craft cocktails while a DJ played oldies and British Invasion tracks, and in another corner, a shoe shine stand had been set up. I stopped by the bar area downstairs as I arrived a bit early and while I missed out on the Macallan cocktails, I did get a rather interesting concoction: smoky mescal, pear and egg white made a unique blend of flavors with a frothy texture. It’s not too sweet, but it’s still very smooth.


The Blue Room is only one of the LAAC’s recent or planned renovations. They previously renovated the hotel rooms, opened new spots for eating and imbibing, and they’ll be adding a salt cave to the spa.


Membership at LAAC ranges from $109-173 and includes access to the club’s fitness facilities, restaurants, bars, discount stays the boutique hotel and of course, a chance to experience the Blue Room for yourself.





daring greatly image brene brownIn Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene Brown states: “Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage.” I realized after reading her books and listening to her talks that I am doing enough. When my focus is on Courage, Compassion and Connection as my goals, I remember that I am good enough.

The last year and a half has been a rollercoaster ride returning to America and getting divorced. I have felt like a failure and I have felt so very sad. For a long time, I thought about closing down We Said Go Travel. I just was not sure why I was doing it or if it was worth the time and effort.

I have really appreciated how people have shared their inspiring stories in my eight travel writing contests. The Summer 2015 Independence Travel Writing Contest is open and I hope that you will consider entering, reading or sharing the articles. Over 1700 writers from 75 countries have participated since I started the contest in January 2013.

In Daring Greatly Brown says: “We have to be able to talk about how we feel, what we need and desire, and we have to be able to listen with an open heart and an open mind.” I have found trusted friends who I can share my story with and who do not judge me. Brown says: “The most valuable and important things in my life came to me when I cultivated the courage to be vulnerable, imperfect, and self-compassionate…it is a long journey from “What will people think?” to “I am enough.” That journey begins with shame resilience, self-compassion, and owning our stories.” I hope you will share one of your stories of freedom in my summer contest.

Vulnerability-BrenneBrownAs Brown says, “Much of the beauty of light owes its existence to the dark. The most powerful moments of our lives happen when we string together the small flickers of light created by courage, compassion, and connection and see them shine in the darkness of our struggles.”

Remember, “Hope happens when: We have the ability to set realistic goals (I know where I want to go). We are able to figure out how to achieve those goals, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes (I know how to get there, I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again). We believe in ourselves (I can do this!). So, hope is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and believing in our own abilities. Hope is Plan B.”

The title of her book comes from this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

I recommend you watch Brene Brown’s TED talk or read one of her books. I hope you will choose to share your story on We Said Go Travel.

blue brene brown

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The Natural Gemstone of the United States


In the protective confines of my household, even a straightforward, five-minute walk to my music class requires strict accompaniment by a parent, much to my utter distaste. However, having been denizens of India for over thirty years, my parents and their motivations are understandable, and I respect their underlying rationale, regardless of how much I hold it in contempt. Nevertheless, I still dislike crossing the street with my fingers interlocked with my mothers’, or calling my father after a two minute jaunt, or periodically updating my family by hourly text messages or missed calls if I’m outside the sheltered enclosure of my residence. Yet, I abide by their rules because a small, surrendering part of my mind agrees with them, and appreciates my family’s concern for my well-being.

And so, for the ten years of my life spent in Bangalore- a crowded, metropolitan city of southern India, enveloped by the impenetrable cloak of pollution and unhindered development- I lived a life of absolute dependence, which I gradually grew to be accustomed to. I accepted my way of living- until I turned sixteen, and my family and I took a trip to Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

A wooden cabin, in the midst of nature at its purest and most unfettered- akin to the versions of the woods and cottages one pictures in fairy tales. Simple ways of living, miles and miles away from the clamorous sounds of civilization, automobiles, and other symptoms of the technological advancements that plague humanity. Clear, refreshing, invigorating air. Green canopies of leaves shielding the ground from the sparkling rays of sunlight emanating from the golden orb hanging from the tapestry of the azure sky. Billows of eddying mist clouding our vision, accentuating the aura of enigma owned by the trees, the soil, the heavens. A sudden, newfound sense of independence blossoming in my soul, crashing down in implacable waves, sending sprays of anticipation relentlessly beating against my mind and heart.

As I trudged up and down the trails of Shenandoah, I was struck by the sense of familiarity my surroundings bestowed upon my spirits. Unlike in Bangalore, where everyone is a stranger, people here greeted each other as one does to an old friend. Contrary to my usual, reticent self, I found myself talking, asking people about their experiences, their countries of origin, and immensely surprising myself in the process. And after nights of thoughtful ruminating, I realized the reason behind my unexpected affability- nature. The untainted squalls, knolls of critters and quaint ambiance had given my soul the rare gifts of appreciation and gratitude. And much to my delight, my movements gradually became more autonomous- I was permitted to hike up paths in solitude, take short excursions to the restaurant just to bask in the warmth of a hot cup of tea, roam about idly… and it occurred to me that I wasn’t the only one who was changed by the sheer beauty of Shenandoah. Being an avid poet, I found tides of feelings, emotions and words lapping against my mind’s eye, subsequently eliciting a new found passion in what is most important to me. Rather than having to assiduously struggle for sources of inspiration, inspiration cascaded down as rain, instilling in me a powerful desire to pen down my experiences as I lived them- whether they were viewing a spider forming its web, the sight of rainbows of butterflies pirouetting with the breeze, light drizzles falling as tears, the exhilarating view from the peak of the highest hill… For the first time, I was free to be myself, free to imagine, free to dream as I had never done before. Away from the imprisoning banalities of populated cities and in the heart of nature at its proudest and most picturesque, I saw myself as an ambitious teenager with an innately independent spirit, with an urge to travel and to escape the old and enter the new. And if this park embodied the beauties of a fairy tale, who knew what other unacknowledged treasures the world boasts of?

All in all, it is fair to say that my stay at Shenandoah National Park was the most enlightening of all the trips I’ve ever been on. It imparted confidence to a person who had lived a life of dependence, gifted liberation to a young girl who had kept her wrath of emotions under the hood of inhibition, and also gave her a sense of identity- as a girl with an unappeasable fancy to explore, to discover, and to add to the magic of nature that the earth possesses.

About the Author:

Richa Gupta is a sixteen year old girl living in Bangalore, India, who has an avid interest in creative writing, poetry and travelling. She loves visiting new places and penning down her experiences in the form of creative non fiction and short stories. She plans to publish a book of her poems and short stories before long.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.


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Not Like the Movies in the USA

After I send him this picture, he emails back: “Wait a minute! You live in this cabin?! No way you live in this out-of-some-movie cabin?! No way! Okay, can I be your friend?! Please? Please? Okay, I am overwhelmed with this! You should write something romantic out there.”

            Of course, in reality, my little cabin has nothing remotely cinematic about it. Compost toilet, perennial mice, flies, a water system that has broken down every winter for seven years and counting, so that many months of each year are devoted to “hauling water,” a new chore unfamiliar to me in my previous existence as a city-dwelling professor living on every grid that exists.

            Some of my old colleagues came to visit, and uniformly agreed, “I could never live out here,” and I knew they weren’t talking about the compost toilet, because they hadn’t yet entered the cabin.

            But my beloved, also a writer, was thrilled when he actually visited. “I bet I could finally finish something I started out there,” he said, imagining life off the grid not as a hassle, not as an interminable drive over excessively wash-boarded roads away from what some call “civilization,” but another reality entirely. A place where one can “hear oneself think.”

            Pronghorn antelope roam the meadows, sometimes seating themselves at the edges of the road, taking in the morning sun-warmed dirt. Every summer one male, cast off by his group, searches for a new herd. His horns sometimes appear over the crest of the hill a mile from the cabin. He is my sentinel, alerting me to the nearness of home. Surely it’s not the same youngster each of these seven years, but I sense a similar melancholy in these boys. Cast out, seeking community. Perhaps some of my visitors feel the same when they come to this wide open space without trees. Perhaps they feel cast out of someplace else rather than welcome to this vast land.

            Never in my life had I imagined living without trees! I moved here from the excessively verdant Pacific Northwest, where moisture drips incessantly, moss burgeons across rooftops and sidewalks, and the forest overwhelms the trees.

            No obvious shelter here, no deterrent to the relentless wind that sweeps the acreage, picking up lightweight rocking chairs from the deck and smashing them, piecemeal, onto the scrub. And yet, there’s something elemental about that openness to sky and cloud and weather of every kind. The hawks glide the thermals and sometimes land for a kill: mice or voles or moles or prairie dogs. Out here, you have to make peace with the critters, or you’ll never survive a year.

            Inside, the walls are adorned with my son’s drawings, Aboriginal prints from Pitjantjatjara, bark cloth from Fiji, and hundreds of Crayola-colored bundles of yarn for rugmaking, which also help to pad the uninsulated half-log cabin. Yet the wind can blow them through the cracks and hurl them onto the floor, lift the curtains from the glass with numbing velocity.

            What will we look forward to out those single-paned windows? Spectacular cloudscapes, storms that linger in summer, casting hail on the nasturtium flourishing in pots lining the deck. This year, mice gobbled my germinating buds – inside!

            New problems announce themselves regularly, and one has to be fertile in creating solutions. Nature is in charge here, not people. I prefer it that way. He likes the coyotes infiltrating the night silence, and the way unexplained lights pierce the dark. Looking ahead to winter, our fantasies of being snowed in bode well for when the roads slick up, and drifts lace the ridges, when we human beings are really, truly, out of control.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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The first site that we hit is the 33-foot witch. She looms over the abandoned nursery with her red eyes, pointy nose and flaking grey skin.

“Why is this even here?” my husband asks.

“I think they put her up for Halloween and never took her down,” I say.

“This is horrible,” he says, but he takes a picture and we get back in my parents’ car.

“Are you ready for ‘Giant eagle that flaps its wings’?” my dad asks.

I grew up on Long Island but left over a decade ago to move to the UK, and I’m rediscovering it via the Roadside America app, which promises to unlock ‘offbeat’ attractions. My father downloaded it the day before and we spent a lot of time narrowing down our options. The app has a surprising number of grave-related sites, including the grave of Nixon’s dog Checkers and a historic graveyard in the parking lot of a Home Depot, but we have bigger things in mind. Literally. We are only planning to see things that are stupidly large for no reason.

The eagle has a 20-foot wingspan, but it seems small compared to the witch. Also, we have missed it flapping its wings by about three minutes, since it only flaps on the hour. Disappointed, we walk across the street to the next attraction on our list, a large bust of Hercules draped in a sleeping lion from a 19th century ship. I poke at his delicate tufts of painted armpit hair. He is in better condition than the witch and slightly more impressive than the non-flapping eagle, but we’re eager to move on to what we’re sure will be the highlight of our trip – the giant rooftop hotdog.

The rooftop hotdog captured my imagination as soon as I heard about it. Suddenly, I couldn’t believe that I’d gotten this far in life without seeing a giant rooftop hotdog. As a vegetarian I don’t even eat hot dogs, yet I am excited about seeing a very, very big one. It is the most American thing I can imagine.

We find the hot dog on top of Hot Diggety Dogs, with the back end on the roof and the front end held up by a yellow pole. It it indeed giant, and had a stripe of yellow mustard painted across the top. The sign in front promises the world’s best hot dogs, but the shop is surprisingly empty. My husband gets a hot dog and pronounces it “just okay,” but the fried pickles that I order are a revelation. The breading slides off and they burn my fingers but I continue to eat them, dunking them into a mysterious cream sauce with great enthusiasm.

On the way home we stop at one last attraction, temptingly described as ‘Rooster pulls buggy, spits water.’ We spot it in front of a poultry market – a giant metal rooster attached to an Amish-style buggy. He is flanked by two normal-sized roosters, one of which has fallen over thanks to a broken leg. We wait for him to spit water but he doesn’t. Still, he is amazingly large.

“You need to see The Big Duck sometime,” my father says on the drive home, referring to a shop in the shape of a 30-foot tall duck that was built in the 1930s to sell poultry.

It occurs to me, perhaps for the first time, that I’m lucky to be from Long Island, a place where people don’t seem to ask “Why?” but instead “Why not?” I feel at home amongst these big, weird things that serve no practical purpose.

“I can’t wait,” I say.

About the Author: Katie Lee is an ‘Americanish’ writer who grew up on Long Island but has been living in Britain for the past 11 years.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

One advantage that some restaurants have over others is their ability to deliver food.  Sometimes people just don’t want to miss the game they’re watching and want their food to be delivered instead.  It is for this reason why delivery services are increasingly becoming popular around the country.  One fantastic delivery service that has set itself apart from the rest of the field is a company called Munchery.

What is Munchery?  Munchery is a chef-driven food delivery service featuring a roster of in-house chefs.  These chefs cook up fresh dinners that are delivered right to people’s doors, which makes answering the question of, “What’s for dinner?” much easier to answer.  Chefs that have worked at restaurants such as Patina, Hatfield’s, Craft and the ACE Hotel cook up a variety of main dishes that are made with seasonal, high-quality ingredients.

These meals as well as sides and salads range in price of $8-$12,  and kid’s meals starting at $6.  The menu highlights include Shrimp Alfredo Bucatini with shrimp sautéed with wine, garlic, and chili flakes, and tossed with butternut squash, sun-dried tomatoes, Swiss chard, roasted walnuts, and a parmesan cream sauce; Char-Grilled Atlantic Salmon with horseradish-flavored crushed potatoes, jumbo asparagus, and lemon; and Posole Roja with slow-cooked pork, red chiles, hominy, and served with Cotija cheese, lime, cilantro, avocado, radish, and tortilla garnishes. Since consumers today are becoming increasingly aware of the environment, Munchery caters to the needs of these people, as well as the habitat we live in.  The meals that are delivered can easily be heated in biodegradable containers that are microwave and oven safe.   On top of this, all the meals arrive fully cooked and chilled to maintain maximum freshness.

So, how do you order from Munchery? Customers can order through their mobile app (iOS and Android) or online for either “on-demand” or “schedule-ahead” delivery, available seven days a week from 4-9 p.m.  This is especially helpful for planning ahead as you can give them up to a week’s notice of what you need.  Know you’re going to have somebody over in the near future but don’t want (or don’t know how) to cook?  Order through Munchery and let them do all the work for you.  On top of this, deliveries can be tracked on their mobile map for up-to-date arrival times.

Most companies that offer this kind of service require you to sign up for a subscription and have a minimum order amount.  Not with Munchery.  Munchery does not need any kind of subscription and there is no minimum limit that you need to order.  Instead of ordering unwanted items that might go to waste just to fulfill the minimum order, only order what you know you can eat.

This service hit the Los Angeles area on May 18th and has been a huge success since.   They publicly launched in Westside neighborhoods and cities including Santa Monica, Venice, Palms, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Marina Del Rey, Mar Vista, Westwood, and parts of West Los Angeles.  They’ll quickly expand into other areas of the city (West Hollywood, Downtown, Crenshaw, etc.) by the end of summer. Don’t know what to eat?  Just call up Munchery and they will have a fresh, delicious, chef-cooked-meal at your doorsteps before you know it!