Category: Food & Wine

Food News – Kura Sushi & O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

Food News – Kura Sushi & O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar


Omakase Sashimi Set

Omakase Sashimi Set

Kura Sushi

West Hollywood

Kura Sushi has been around for over a decade, serving fresh fish flown in direct from Tokyo’s best fish market. A family business, Chef Daniel Son, transports diners to the streets of Japan with his Chef’s Omakase menu. Located in a strip mall in the heart of West Hollywood, Kura is a sushi purist’s nirvana offering a traditional Japanese experience.

Kura Sushi

8162 Sunset Blvd

West Hollywood, CA 90046

(323) 656-6347

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar, Ryan Tanaka 2016

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar, Ryan Tanaka 2016

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

A taste of Sicily arrived in Santa Monica when O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar, opened on the corner of Ocean Ave. and Olympic Dr., one block from the Santa Monica Pier. O+O offers modern Sicilian cuisine with a California flair, serving lighter versions of traditional Italian dishes including pizzas, meatballs, salads, meats and fish made with local farmer’s market ingredients. The new neighborhood restaurant and bar also features an outdoor patio, handcrafted cocktails, wines on tap and an extensive wine list of Italian and California varieties in a sleek urban setting.

“I’ve always dreamed of opening a restaurant in Santa Monica because of its ever growing food culture, accessibility to the local markets and seaside location,” said Owner and Executive Chef Georgi Yaneff. “When developing the concept, I took my experience with global cuisine to create dishes that combine classic and current flavors and my deep love for Sicily.”

O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

1705 Ocean Ave

Santa Monica, CA 90401

(424) 272-8700

Bettolino – Redondo Beach

Bettolino – Redondo Beach



Bettolino, a family-owned modern Italian Kitchen has opened at Riviera Village in Redondo Beach. Brother and sister, Vince Giuliano and Andreanna Giuliano Liguore, opened the restaurant with the mantra “We don’t come to the table to eat, we come to eat together.” Michelin Star winning Executive Chef Fabio Ugoletti has recently moved to the South Bay from Florence, Italy. He moved here to open Bettolino, bringing his award-winning techniques and Italian accent to the menu.

Growing up in a South Bay food family, Vince and Andreanna spent their childhood at their parent’s restaurant, Gaetano’s, working alongside them in the kitchen and front of house. “My parents opened Gaetano’s when I was 8 years old and I spent more time there than at home,” Says Andreanna Giuliano Liguore. “Bettolino is a place that we hope our late father would be proud of. It offers everything he stood for — great food, comfortable ambiance and family.”

Vince and Andreanna come from a long list of restauranteurs, their grandparents started the deli Giuliano’s in Gardena, CA, inspiring Vince and Andreanna’s parents, Steve and Dori, to open Gaetano’s Deli in 1993, which eventually transformed into Gaetano’s Restaurant. In 2010, Vince moved to Italy to attend Apicius Culinary Institute in Florence. While there, Vince became close friends with his teacher Chef Fabio Ugoletti, a culinary icon with more than 25 years in the food industry. After Vince met Fabio in class, he persuaded Fabio to visit California and consult for Gaetano’s, before ultimately deciding to move his family from Italy to California to open Bettolino.

Bettolino’s dinner menu features authentic homemade pastas including dishes such as Lasagnetta, with fresh pasta with a hint of cocoa powder, Porcini mushrooms, fresh herbs, lamb ragu, and parmesan; Stracetti, with fresh pasta squares, salmon, asparagus, snap peas, fresh herbs, and white wine sauce; and Ravioli del Plin with chicken and herb stuffed pasta, crimini mushrooms, shrimp, and cream sauce.

211 Palos Verdes Boulevard

Redondo Beach, California


California’s Artisan Cheese Festival

California’s Artisan Cheese Festival

Cheese from the Sunday Marketplace event Photo by: Derrick Story

Cheese from the Sunday Marketplace event
Photo by: Derrick Story


March 20 – 22, 2015

Sonoma County’s bounty is no mystery, but wouldn’t an insider’s tour be great? Last April, I eagerly attended the 8th Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival. I was new to the bay area and love cheese. My co-pilot husband — not a cheese person — was a bit weary of our venture. To my husband’s delight, the festival incorporates a diverse collection of the best artisan’s in Sonoma and neighboring areas, not just for cheeseheads. Be sure to register for the 2015 festival and enjoy a weekend adventure in Sonoma you have never experienced; farm tours, seminars, tastings, pairings, competitions, and markets mesmerize you at the Sonoma Cheese Festival!

Sonoma purveyors of artisanal products are committed to placing value in each aspect of their artful trade. These talented craftspeople open their doors and hearts to share what makes their life enviable. You will leave wanting to cash in your city loft for a plot of hilly land. As the artisans impart valuable cocktail party knowledge on affinage, terroirs, and pinotage, you’ll find yourself with a strong desire for the simple life. Take a break and live life Sonoma style for the weekend!

Farm Tours Photo by: Derrick Story

Farm Tours
Photo by: Derrick Story

Be quick to reserve your farm excursions, last year these intimate visits filled up quickly. Also, be experimental and go outside your comfort zone at the Grand Tasting and Best in Cheese Competition, Saturday evening. As the live band serenaded, I sampled superb cider from Devoto Orchards, robust vintages from Black Kite Cellars, and almost twenty paired chef and artisan teams’ dishes, highlighting…. you guessed it, cheese! The dishes ranged from exotic to comfort food. I specifically enjoyed the Petaluma Pie Company’s “Cuban Sandwich Pie” with Central Coast Creamery Holey Cow, Slow Roast Pork, Ham, Pickles & Mustard, and The Duck Club Restaurant’s Raclette with Valley Ford Highway One, Local Dungeness Crab, Pickled Shallots, Fingerling Potatoes and Chives.

If you are unable to attend the upcoming event, be sure to check out and create a tour through the gorgeous Sonoma landscape to a selection of over twenty artisanal cheese makers.

Successful, Fun & Kind: Ricardo Zarate & Paiche In Marina Del Rey

Successful, Fun & Kind: Ricardo Zarate & Paiche In Marina Del Rey

Uni Shrimp Toast

Uni Shrimp Toast

Ricardo Zarate is a lively chef who has been blessed with success. Currently operating three establishments in Los Angeles, Ricardo and his team recently expanded their reach up to Santa Barbara with the opening of Blue Tavern in November 2013. Ricardo’s food is classic fusion, not trendy fusion, but more rooted in the history of his own culinary experience.

From a young age Ricardo wanted to be a chef. He was born and raised in Lima, Peru, and was a part of a large family, cooking with his mother and sisters. He started at what he hoped to be a culinary school in Peru, but ended up learning about restaurant and hotel business administration. Needless to say, he was not enthralled. He was interested in learning how to cook, not how to run a business, although perhaps some of that early education in business is a factor in his current day success.

While lamenting with a friend about his inability to get a culinary education in Peru, his friend suggested that he move to London. His friend said that there were many restaurants and cooking schools in London, plus Ricardo had a brother living in London so it seemed like a good plan. After having the good fortune of an easy encounter with the visa officials, Ricardo was on his way and experienced full immersion into the British culture, including learning English. Ricardo says, “It was a fantastic experience, very hard. I learned a lot about myself. I got to study and became a chef.



It was in London where he studied Japanese cuisine and developed his knowledge and skill in executing this genre. It became his specialty and eventually led him to our fair city, Los Angeles.

There was one downside to living in London: the weather. Ricardo is a child of South America and was used to a temperate climate. He was prepared to spend the rest of his life in London when a consulting opportunity in Los Angeles brought him back to the sun. After living in the rain for 13 years, he was ready for some

Vitamin D. The consulting gig gave Ricardo eight months of living in downtown L.A., and he was hooked. He did have to go back to London for a few years, but in 2007 he made his way to Los Angeles as a permanent resident.

We chatted with Ricardo in September 2013 at the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival.

LAX: You’ve had enormous success.
Ricardo: Yeah, I’m very pleased with that.

LAX: Where do you like to eat in L.A?
Ricardo: My favorite cuisine is Japanese. I love Japanese food because of the simplicity and because it is very authentic to its roots. There’s not much influence from other cuisines. It’s very clean. I go to a lot of Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles such as Sushi Gen located downtown. I also love the Little Osaka neighborhood on Sawtelle. It’s close to where I live.

Paiche Interior

Paiche Interior


LAX: What else are you working on?
Ricardo: Right now we’ve opened three restaurants. I have a concept that I’m hoping to launch in the New Year. I’m a big believer in the next step in America. I believe that fast food is going to disappear, traditional fast food concepts, like McDonalds.

LAX: Do you think In-N-Out is going to go away? [Interrupts]
Ricardo: I don’t know about In-N-Out. But traditional fast food restaurants are either going to go away or have to make a tremendous change. People are more conscientious about what they put in their mouths. But the fast part of the fast food concept is not going to disappear because the society in which we live, people have to eat fast and we have to eat out because nobody is cooking at home. So I am trying to develop a fast food Peruvian concept — something that’s sustainable.

LAX: Do you ever feel like you’ve got too much? When is it enough?
Ricardo: I don’t know. I always ask this question. You know, this is what I dreamt of. This is my dream come true. When I opened up a restaurant, my business, this is what I said to my staff, “When I was young, I dreamt of opening a restaurant. Now this is my dream and you happen to be living in my dream. So when you are inside of my restaurant, please respect my dream because one day it’s going to be your dream.” I’m living my dream now.

LAX: Are you working a ton? How many hours a week do you work?
Ricardo: I don’t know.

LAX: Do you have a life outside work?
Ricardo: Yeah, I do, a lot actually, but I’m having fun. I’m not consumed by my job; I’m not trying to rush to get something done. I’m doing this because it’s what I love. I’m at a space in my life where everything is growing, opportunities come and we want to do the next step. We are not rushing because I want to grow sustainably. But I don’t know what is the limit.

LAX: What do you do for fun?
Ricardo: I like volleyball, I used to play a lot but I stopped because I got too busy. I like cooking a lot in my free time. To be honest, I happen to cook more now, at home, than before. Because before I was spending more time stuck in the kitchen and now we are building up a company and I am learning more about myself.



Named after the large, ancient fish of the Upper Amazon, Paiche is a relatively new restaurant for Ricardo and his team located in Marina Del Rey. It’s very close to the airport, just around the bend from where Lincoln hits MDR, on the east side of Lincoln in a new property development. The big draw of the restaurant is the quality of the cuisine. It’s a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese and the execution is practically flawless.

We especially enjoyed the ensalada de quinoa, which you mix at the table before consuming. The dish has a ton of shimenji mushrooms and crunchy quinoa. The quinoa becomes crunchy after a quick second in the deep fryer; it adds a wonderful texture and excitement to the healthy dish. Who would have thought that quinoa could be exciting? For a heartier dish order the grilled pacu ribs. They are made of fish meat but have the look and feel of a huge spare rib. The delectable meat falls apart in your mouth and it’s coated in a lime and miso sauce that will have you wiping the plate. Our only complaint was of the uni shrimp toast with rocoto honey sauce, which looks and sounds amazing but the flavor wasn’t there. Everything else was exquisite.

The cocktails are equally delicious. They are part of an evolving drinks menu presented by Deysi Alvarez. The pisco sour is a hit and goes down a little too quickly and the maracuya caipirinha is especially fun, served with muddled passion fruit.

Poolside Brunch

Poolside Brunch


Cabana at Mr. C

Cabana at Mr. C

Enjoying a poolside brunch is a rite de passage in Los Angeles. We enjoy lazy Sundays devoted to the ingestion of vast amounts of calories while sipping on delicious cocktails and basking in the California sun. There are many places to go for a great Sunday brunch, and we have here some favorites to share with you.

Mr. C Yacht Club Brunch

The consummate hosts have done it again with a Sunday brunch pool party featuring exquisite cocktails, groovy tunes and delicious bites. With D.J.’s such as Beefowl, Bobby French and Devin Lucien, Mr. C Yacht Club Brunch brings the party back to life under the bright sun of Beverly Hills. Hipsters and Europeans converge to offer plenty of fascinating people watching. And, if you need a new outfit to fit in with the scene, then there’s a pop up shop featuring designs curated by Shay Todd. Loved the bikinis.

The food is delicious but our favorite part of Mr. C Yacht Club Brunch is the cocktails. The proprietors of Mr. C — Ignazio and Maggio Cipriani — are fourth generation members of the family that actually invented the Bellini. Their grandfather, Giuseppe Cipriani, invented the Bellini at his bar, Harry’s, in Venice, Italy. Since this is a family tradition, you’ll want to ease into your Sunday with a pitcher of Bellinis.

The brunch menu is a mix of healthy and hearty, including eggs benedict with smoked salmon, Venetian frittata and tuna tartar.

Fig Restaurant taco bar

Fig Restaurant taco bar

Fig Restaurant

Fig Restaurant, located in the blissful, pool area of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica is known for their Sunday brunch where guests enjoy a $3 taco bar as well as Kegs & Eggs. In addition to heartier fare, Fig also offers some of the healthiest breakfast options in town by using 90% local and organic ingredients. Los Angeles native, Chef Ray Garcia, lists the fruits and vegetables that are in peak season on the menu to help us understand what we should be eating according to the season.

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica poolside cocktail cart

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica poolside cocktail cart

Everything on the menu at Fig is bursting with flavor — even the egg white, broccoli frittata. If you feel like pairing spicy Bloody Marys with the taco bar or prefer unique twists on traditional breakfast favorites like the bacon waffle á la mode which features Trockenbeerenauslese syrup and bacon ice-cream, there’s something for everyone. After brunch, toddle on over to the Miramar Pool Club for a hand crafted cocktail from their poolside cocktail cart service. The afternoons are filled with locals enjoying the final hours of the weekend.

Poolside Brunch Guide

Mr. C Yacht Club
Sunday 12PM – 5PM
Reservations Required

Fig Restaurant &
Miramar Pool Club
Brunch served 11AM – 2PM

The Roof on Wilshire
Saturday & Sunday
Brunch served 11AM – 3PM

Poolside at Viceroy
Saturday & Sunday
Brunch served 11AM – 2PM

Hotel Shangra-La
Saturday & Sunday
Brunch served 9AM – 3PM

Beverly Hills Hotel, The Cabana Cafe
Winter Hours 10AM – 5PM
Breakfast and Lunch served all day

Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills
Saturday & Sunday
Brunch served 11AM – 4PM

Sunset Tower Hotel
Saturday & Sunday
Brunch served 11AM – 3PM

The London Hotel
Saturday & Sunday
Brunch served 11AM – 4PM

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

Arista Winery

Arista Winery


The beauty of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is that while you have a grand time enjoying delicious food and wine in the Sonoma countryside, you are also contributing to the betterment of the youth of Sonoma County. The annual event is in the fifteenth year and the organizers and supporters have more than got it right! Every year, over Labor Day Weekend, Sonoma County welcomes thousands to enjoy Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. The extravaganza offers a variety of events from Chef Dinners and BBQs to the massive food and wine-tasting event that is Taste of Sonoma. The weekend cumulates with the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction where millions of dollars are raised to help promote literacy to the county’s youth.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is a joint venture between the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance and the Sonoma County Vintners. The event has three honorary chairs representing vintner, grower and food community. This years honorary chairs were Sondra Bernstein as the Honorary Culinary Chair, Matt Gallo representing the vintners and Phil Coturri rounding out the growers.

To be a part of the festivities next year you should start planning now. The events are spread around throughout the county. The best place to make yourself at home for the weekend is the historic, recently renovated Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. They’ve kept the Spanish style charm but paired it with advanced lighting and the latest technology in wine storage. You can book a private room off the side of the main lobby and be served from their 100+ bottle collection of wine. The rooms facing the front of the property seem to be the most spacious with big closets, huge beds and comfortable bathrooms with rain showers.

If you are interested in grabbing a picnic, you should visit The Girl & The Fig, a restaurant and catering company, owned by Sondra Bernstein, the Culinary chair of the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. Sondra employs around 200 people in Sonoma County, and also contributes greatly to the farming community at large. She’s a force for good and has perfected the wine country picnic basket. If you like a salami sandwich or prefer to go vegan, she’s got the sandwich for you. Add homemade pasta or potato salad and homemade lavender lemon bars for the perfect, most delicious lunch. Her picnic packs are ideal for keeping spirits up while wine tasting throughout the county.

Kate McMurray

Kate McMurray

Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch

One of the highlights of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend is the Taste of Sonoma, held every year at MacMurray Ranch — the beautiful and enormous ranch that was once owned by Hollywood legend, Fred MacMurray. For those of you who are too young to remember, Fred MacMurray was very popular movie star, working on over 100 films. He and Bob Hope were best friends. In addition to his film work, he was also a nature lover. When he wasn’t working on set he was spending time in his favorite fishing hole up in the middle of the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. A visit to the ranch is like going back to the wild, wild West but unfortunately for us and fortunately for the ranch, it is only open for Taste of Sonoma so this is your chance to eat, drink and enjoy a spectacular part of the world.

Kate MacMurray (Fred and June’s daughter) sold MacMurray Ranch to the Gallo Family. The MacMurrays and the Gallos worked out a plan to maintain the quaint history of the Ranch while also producing grapes in previously unused pastures. They also launched a MacMurray Ranch wine label producing delightful Pinot Noir.

Taste of Sonoma

Taste of Sonoma

Taste of Sonoma is one long day of massive indulgence. The MacMurray Ranch is transformed from a charming ranch set in the peaceful alcoves of the Russian River Valley, to a mass of visitors who enjoy the setting with acres of food and wine tastings. Over two thousand people attend Taste of Sonoma but it’s not too crowded as the Ranch is enormous and, if smaller is more preferable for you, there are special VIP experiences.

Sonoma Starlight Supper Club at Francis Ford Coppola Winery

The great filmmaker, Francisco Ford Coppola —lover of fun and adventure — has built a beautiful winery in the heart of the Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. At this winery, guests can enjoy a day at the pool, wine tasting, delicious dining, bocce ball and more. If movie paraphernalia excites you then you’ll be glad to know that you can also check out the desk used in The Godfather: Part II.

On the Friday of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend the winery is transformed into a major party called Sonoma Starlight Supper Club with 30 different brands of wine tastings, loads of food and live entertainment. The best time was had enjoying pizza made onsite at the enormous outdoor pizza oven paired with some of the most interesting wines of the county.

The party is set around their gorgeous pool and offers a quite magical setting. In addition to pizza, culinary options include a cheese table, salads, and a main course table featuring chicken and a plethora of side dish options.

Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction at Chateau St. Jean

The weekend cumulates in the main event: the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction held at the stunningly beautiful Chateau St. Jean estate on Sunday afternoon. Each year there is a theme and it was Sonoma Samba. We were greeted by women dressed in traditional Brazilian Carnival gear, think elaborate head dresses, skimpy outfits with lots and lots of flair. The auction raises a great deal of money, $1.4M to be exact.

Six hundred people gathered under a large tent on the main lawn to enjoy the flavors of Sonoma County while bidding on exciting auction lots. The largest grossing lot of the day, which was also the highest grossing lot in the 21-year history of the Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, was “Fund the Future” presented by Kaiser Permanente. The lot raised $691,250, which will be divided between the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation’s Summer Reading Academy, Schools of Hope (United Way of the Wine Country) and Pasitos Playgroups (Community Action Partnership).

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were donated to “Fund the Future” by Sonoma County vintners: Joe Anderson of Benovia Winery, the Gallo Family and Katie Jackson of Jackson Family Wines each donated $75,000. Tom Klein, owner of Rodney Strong Wine Estates, made a commitment of $150,000 over three years. Some of the top lots of the day included the Gallo Family and MacMurray Ranch Barn Dance BBQ ($125,000), the Buena Vista/Deloach and Boisset Family Wines Thermador Kitchen and Dinner Party with Jean-Charles Boisset ($55,000), the Kosta Brown World Cup Soccer Trip to Brazil ($44,000) and the Ram’s Gate Trip to Scotland ($40,000).

The Sonoma Wine Country Weekend has become the regions largest and most fun charity event, celebrating the flavors of the community and the people who bring those flavors on to the plate and into the wine glass.It’s a sad fact that more than half of Sonoma County’s third graders current read below grade level but this is a significant way to combat crippling illiteracy, and give Sonoma County’s disadvantaged youth a chance at a brighter future.

Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival

Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival

Under the Modern Moon event held at The Modern Honolulu

Under the Modern Moon event held at The Modern Honolulu

The Hawai’i Food and Wine Festival is an exciting weekend overflowing with epicurean delights. The point of the festival is to highlight Hawai’i flavors and cuisine that are unique to the region, with the hope of introducing mainland chefs to the vast array of raw materials that are available in Hawai’i. The nation’s leading chefs, mixologists and winemakers descend upon Oahu to work their magic on local ingredients, (and those of us who get to taste them!). The festival featured some of our favorite chefs from Los Angeles and New York, including Nancy Silverton, Celestino Drago, Sang Yoon, Ricardo Zarate and Jim Meehan. The international coalition of chefs, bar craftspeople and winemakers turned Hawaiian raw material into incredible works of edible art.

Jim Meehan and Chandra Lucariello

Jim Meehan and Chandra Lucariello

The weekend is filled with educational events and evenings full of sampling exquisite food, wine and cocktails. The event that best sums up the mission of the festival was a Saturday afternoon event called Pa’ina on the Pier. This event aimed to showcase the flavors and purveyors of unique Hawaiian grown food. It was inspiring for us mainlanders to be able to learn more about the exceptional flavors of Hawai’i. From Kona coffee to the ripest, most richly colored mangos to beef to tuna for the ubiquitous poke dishes throughout the islands. This was literally a food paradise. We sampled coffee, grass fed beef, chocolate, cheese, spices and more. We learned about finger limes, which taste like lime but look and feel like caviar. If you really want to impress your friends and family, feed them a dish with finger lime, perhaps use as a garnish for seared tuna. What you expect and what you taste are delightfully distinct.

We had the good fortune of running into some of our favorite local chefs and got to know a few that we hadn’t met before. Los Angeles dining veterans Nancy Silverton and Celestino Drago were on hand and we reminisced with Celestino about his original space in Santa Monica. He assured that he was doing great business at his downtown and Beverly Hills locations. Nancy is busy expanding her Osteria Mozza empire.  Her next location will be in downtown San Diego. She’s excited for the mellow vibe of that city. We also chatted with L.A. based chefs Ricardo Zarate and Sang Yoon. Sang had us cracking up with his stories of being kicked out of cooking school….twice, and how after years of success at Father’s Office and the successful launch of Lukshon in Culver City, he is still not sure if his parents are proud of him. Ricardo Zarate is also a hoot, and we can’t wait to try his new Peruvian restaurant in Marina Del Rey, named Paiche. He is such a happy person. It’s no wonder that he’s so successful.

The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival is an absolute blast. If your annual travel plans include a visit to Hawaii then why not line up your timing with next year’s festival happening August 31 – September 7, 2014?  You’ll have a grand time.

Ain’t No Party Like a Palisades Party

Ain’t No Party Like a Palisades Party

Delicious cocktails from SHOREbar

Delicious cocktails from SHOREbar

In the sleepy neighborhood of Pacific Palisades, it can be challenging to find fun and exciting nightlife after 10PM. That changed last summer when SHOREbar opened in the Santa Monica Canyon. The area was already host to terrific restaurants such as Giorgio Baldi, Sam’s on the Beach and The Hungry Cat.  Nevertheless, irrespective of all the amazing food available in the Canyon, it was hard to find a nice place to grab a cocktail at 11PM, let alone go dancing! Using top quality fresh ingredients, the bartenders at SHOREbar are eager to prepare your favorite drink. They have artisan whiskey and multiple small batch tequilas and mescals. It’s a happy place for a cocktail connoisseur.

SHOREbar is the brainchild of nightlife entrepreneurs, H.wood. They are the folks behind Las Palmas nightclub and the famous taco stand in West Hollywood, Bootsy Bellows, and the soon to be re-opened Beverly.  H.wood is comprised of three central partners, John Terzian, Brian Toll, and Adam Koral. All three men are well-bred L.A. locals who have used their private club and private school social networks to create exclusive Hollywood hotspots. All three partners grew up in the area and were — like all of us — painfully aware that the area lacked a quality watering hole. Their move west from Hollywood and West Hollywood is based on their decision to get back to their geographical roots and wanting to be located near their main clientele.

Curtis and Mauricio, the bartenders at SHOREbar. Photo by Trish Jochen

Curtis and Mauricio, the bartenders at SHOREbar. Photo by Trish Jochen

The space had been operating as The Hideout for the previous five years, and it was not appealing to the local crowd. The previous owners of the space approached them after they had been highly recommended by mutual friends.  The partners felt that the space had the potential to be something special and so they took it over and opened up SHOREbar.

On offer at SHOREbar is a private membership, which allows guests a separate and private space, located upstairs from the main bar. Membership is offered to their network of friends, colleagues, and new guests. It is designed as a special space for those who love to go out but who would rather not be among strangers. The company felt that it was the perfect place for their special clients, as many of them live in the Palisades and Santa Monica area. Generally they are very wealthy and need a place to have a drink and talk at the same time. Thus the partners wanted to offer something similar to the private beach clubs in the area such as the Bel Air Bay Club, the Jonathan Club and the Beach Club, but with a more relaxed, party atmosphere. The space resembles a beautiful living room, with TV, and a private bar serving high-end cocktails. Members have their own locker with a key in which they mostly keep their alcohol or favorite hat!

Local DJs, who rotate throughout all of the H.wood venues, get the party started sat SHOREbar. There are Djs playing Thursdays through Saturdays, holidays and special occasions. They play fun, party music and the crown has been known to get a little wild. While there is no official dance floor, the space directly in front of the DJ booth is usually a good place to get down. The smoking patio in the back is made especially fun with a photo booth to capture the moment and the beachy vibe is apropos to the area. What we love best about SHOREbar is that they took a spot that was underutilized and created a clean, happy, fun bar serving delicious drinks using the best possible ingredients by a happy, friendly staff.

112 W Channel Rd
Santa Monica, CA 90402
(310) 429-1851

Along the Sonoma Wine Road

Along the Sonoma Wine Road

photo by Frank DiMarco

photo by Frank DiMarco

Story and photos by Frank DiMarco

You’re a wine lover. You have arrived in a wine-growing region full of hundreds of wineries, big and small. What do you do? How do you choose which ones to visit in the time you have? Sure, research is great and fun, but for many of us more casual winery aficionados, it would be wonderful to have some help creating a stress-free itinerary. And guidance is most welcome when visiting The Sonoma County of Northern California.

With so many wineries in the region (including the Alexander, Dry Creek, Green and Russian River valleys and the Chalk Hill and Rockpile districts), someone had to come along to help manage the experience for visitors who might otherwise find visiting 150 wineries a bit overwhelming. Not only that, but vetting through the countless lodgings can be arduous as well. Thankfully, The Wine Road folks are here to help!

When we had the opportunity to let The Wine Road set up an itinerary for us, what followed was one of the best and varied three days of wine education and tasting we’d experienced.

photo by Frank DiMarco

photo by Frank DiMarco

Some of the highlights:

There was Dr. Stew Lauterbach up on a ladder in his unpretentious tasting room in the Windsor, CA countryside. As he took a plug out of the top of a barrel and siphoned out a sample of his delicious 2010 Pinot Noir, it was clear that this smiling ER doctor was having a lot of fun with his winemaking passion.

The same was true as the charismatic Bill Myers grilled some fresh salmon and expounded on his love of wine making in the Alexander Valley, home of his beautiful Mediterranean-style White Oak Winery and Tasting Room. The White Oak Chardonnay is remarkable. These folks are having too much fun!

And while all this fun is going on, they are making world-class wine. In fact, along the Sonoma Wine Road, there seem to be a huge number of winemakers, in facilities large and small, enjoying a robust relationship with the earth, the vines, and sharing their passionate interests with their visitors.

A tip of the hat to Virginia Morgan and David Cooper at their quaint Yoakim Bridge Vineyards and Winery, near Healdsburg, for serving up their “Hearts and Minds” meatballs while we tasted their 2008 Dry Creek Cabernet and 2009 Dry Creek Zinfandel. This outgoing, charming couple met at a cooking school and took the big leap and founded a winery because, well, the passion is there for them as well.

Some of the wineries have huge production, but some, like Lauterbach, produce less than 500 cases a year and the Yoakim Bridge folks, a relatively modest 2500 cases.

We visited B&B’s such as The Honor Mansion, run for 18 years by Steve and Cathi Fowler, complete with croquet, putting green, and inviting bocce ball courts beyond the huge pool. Honor House is the only 4-Diamond property in Healdsburg and the Fowlers work hard to make sure their guests really understand and feel the value of their stays.

Another gem to visit in Healdsburg is Richard and Kae Rosenburg’s Grape Leaf Inn, complete with a cozy “speakeasy” wine tasting room downstairs and, like The Honor Mansion, very good value and excellent customer service standards.

Space does not permit a full-blown list of the wineries on our Wine Road itinerary, but one more stop deserving mention is Everett Ridge Vineyards and Winery, sited on a lovely slope above Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg. Three generations of the remarkable Sterling family run this engaging operation, producing about 15,000 cases of superb wines annually. The family story is epic. When you visit, be sure to ask how the “Diablita” label got its name.

Let’s face it, you need two or three days to cover the Sonoma County wineries in a quality, memory-making way. You’ll learn a lot about wine and the personalities of the winemakers. The tasting room staffs are throwbacks to an age of courtesy; they are well informed, sharing their knowledge with pride and generosity. The commitment to sustainable agriculture here is notable, and the desire to preserve the region in agrarian and viticulture endeavors is strong and pervasive throughout the valley.

With the Santa Rosa Airport offering service to major cities and SFO just a little over an hour south, the Sonoma County is a convenient destination and The Wine Road is a best bet to make your visit memorable.







Like many West Coast diners, I have really enjoyed the growing locavore movement’s focus on locally grown and raised ingredients. Depending on the area where you live and the season, you can see a rather dynamic menu. I was excited, therefore, when I was invited to join Chef Ray Garcia of FIG in Santa Monica for a walking tour of the nearby farmers market to meet local growers and explore. To my delight and surprise the ingredients we picked up that morning wound up as one of the plates I enjoyed at that night’s dinner. Hard to find a better example of direct farm to table!

All of the patrons of Chef Ray’s FIG have to thank a small and somewhat bitter group of government lawyers who convinced their college intern that the life of a practicing law could be filled with monotony, drudgery and a lack creativity. Chef Ray then turned to culinary school and honed his kitchen studies in some of the top restaurants in Los Angeles. In taking over the Fairmont Miramar’s somewhat plain hotel restaurant, his mission was to transform it into a destination which would even attract sophisticated local diners. On a very busy recent Saturday night it was clear that he succeeded: approximately 250 covers, with the vast majority from outside the hotel.

The menu has a heavy focus on dishes built around maximizing the flavors from seasonal ingredients and lists what ingredients are freshest, as well as the next incoming peak ingredients. It includes crowd pleasing regular offerings, such as the 32 day dry-aged beef from a ranch near San Diego…however we opted for an adventure: a small box on the left side of the menu with a hand drawn rooster caricature invites you to order something called “feed me”. This literally takes the menu out of your hands and into the imagination of Chef Ray. Depending on the number of guests in your party you will have an increasing multitude of different plates brought out for each of the four courses you will enjoy. The items that we enjoyed showed an incredible diversity of flavor building, technique and the kitchen’s focus on utilizing components in their prime.

Complementing the food is a serious line-up of inhouse mixologist creations. I love that people are again discovering and appreciating “brown drinks” the mixology team at FIG continue to push their craft in new directions. My Old Fashioned White Manhattan with FIG’s own barrel-aged whiskey, one of FIG’s line-up of barrel-aged cocktails was the perfect start to dinner. Nice wine list, but get yourself one of the signature cocktails. These guys are pros.

Those of you who have read of some of my previous culinary tales know that I like to explore all things food related here and abroad. I can tell you without reservation that Chef Ray’s fantastic meal challenged my taste buds and reminded me of just how much diversity we can find in our own backyard here in Los Angeles. When preparing a chef’s menu, the kitchen always has a delicate task of ensuring a proper build up of flavors and “load-balancing” to ensure the guests can eat throughout all the courses. What was particularly remarkable about our dinner was that none of the four of us could agree on our favorite plate — every course brought debate and discussion. Everyone did agree, however, that the multiple items served during each course were in varying degrees delicious, playful, serious, challenging, easy-going, advanced, simple, but above all, well-executed. Chef Ray started us out with a pan-seared quinoa with marcona almonds, apples and vegetables tied together with an orange blossom honey-based drizzle. While this may sound basic, throwing all of those flavors together is difficult to balance and it really showed off the staff’s creativity, playfulness and confidence. Simple poached chicken with peas did the impossible, namely elevating chicken to stand alongside red meat as a signature element of the dinner. Monterey Jack cheese curds, fingerling potatoes, garlic scapes and a ham hock broth (the first three ingredients from our sojourn to the farmers market) brought comfort food smiles to the table. The thinly sliced and perfectly cooked beef tongue with tomatillo salsa showed the chef’s willingness to take risks and, again, strong technique. Poached egg on morels, asparagus and truffle…Kampachi collar… agnelloti stuffed with sweet potatoes…red bean risotto…all the flavors standing alone yet connected. Our “feed me” trip was a whirlwind of favors and transformed a dinner into an unforgettable experience.

So often it seems that after enjoying a fabulous meal, dessert arrives and falls flat. In this case we were stunned by the complicated simplicity: fresh-from-the-farm glazed carrots with a carrot sorbet and a heavenly passionfruit semifreddo with blackberry coulis were so good, I simply ignored the gorgeous chocolate tart. Vegetables and fruit for dessert caused me to walk away from chocolate!?! Yes, it’s true: I turned into the most inhospitable dining companion by encircling the semifreddo with my arms and fended off spoons and forks from the left and the right.

L.A.’s dining scene is diverse and competitive, but for a meal and an experience, you will want to include FIG in your “must try” dining rotation. It’s the perfect complement to a nice day exploring Santa Monica…and that knowledgeable shopper next to you conversing with the farmer? He might just be picking out what you’ll be eating that night.



Tortilla Republic offers a modern take on Mexican cuisine, featuring farm-fresh ingredients and organic products when available, free of lard and processed additives. The opening of Tortilla Republic follows the recent August opening of its sister restaurant, also named Tortilla Republic in Kauai, Hawaii. Tortilla Republic offers a polished aesthetic, from the woven equipale chairs to the hand-blown glassware, each design element was custom made for Tortilla Republic. The 125-seat restaurant features an outdoor patio with succulents draped down the walls and lots of natural light.  The main dining room houses a white onyx bar framed with art by LA-based contemporary artist Paul Robinson, thatched ceiling and glass tequila wall showcasing the multitude of unique, rare tequilas the restaurant serves.

Kenny’s Korner: Colicchio & Sons

Kenny’s Korner: Colicchio & Sons


The main dining room at Colicchio & Sons. Photo by Mark Jordon.

A West Chelsea favorite, named by Zagat as one of New York’s 8 Best Restaurants for Dining at the Bar, Colicchio & Sons Tap Room offers a chic, slightly more casual venue inside the overall elegance of Tom Colicchio’s sophisticated New York establishment.

Colicchio & Sons and Craft, which received its second three-star review from The New York Times in September 2011 overlooks 10th Avenue and West 15th Street. Boasting floor to ceiling windows offering spectacular views of the High Line and the Hudson River, and a delectably distinctive menu offering an unparalleled fine dining experience.

In the main dining room, perfect for both private dining and larger special events, Colicchio & Sons offers four course menus featuring Dinner, Dessert and Cheese with wine pairings. Wine selections include champagnes, whites, sakes, roses and reds each available by the glass or the bottle, and rich cheese selections from the US, Spain, England, France and Switzerland. In addition to the main dining rooms a la carte menu, two tasting menus were recently added to the dining selections along with Tom’s Classics, seven course tasting menu.  Lunch, dinner and weekend brunch menus are available in the Tap Room, aptly named considering Colicchio & Sons has nearly two dozen domestics on tap including NY’s own Art of Darkness.

The only thing more difficult than deciding whether to enjoy this dining experience with a special someone or a special group will be deciding what to order. The chefs at Colicchio & Sons were hand selected and have combined their individual tastes, talents and training to offer a menu of unimaginable indulgences.

Butter poached oysters with celery room tagliatelle, photo by Mark Jordan.

Main Dining Room selections include roasted octopus or green asparagus risotto and coddled egg. Dinner menu second courses include roasted and braised red wattle pork or 30-day dry-aged sirloin or ribeye served with butterball potatoes, spring onion, hen of the weeks, creamed spinach or lardons.

A gourmet taleggio, prosciutto, baby leek and soffritto pizza or a spinach salad with strawberries and machego; or truly original dishes such as roasted bone marrow, boudin noir or crispy pork belly with gnocchi and smoked maple jus are but a small sampling of the Tap Room Menu selections.

Brunch favorites include brioche pain perdu maple syrup and bourbon butter, a delicious twist on the classic BLT-that includes oven roasted tomato lemon mayo and fried egg. For those who fancy seafood, a crispy jumbo softshell crab focaccia and pickled shallots. If brunch is not complete without traditional breakfast offerings, ricotta pancakes with vanilla rose whipped cream, candied pistachios, rhubarb and honey butter are certain to enchant the palate.

Indisputably captivating Colicchio & Sons fare stands unfailingly unique even down to the desserts. Crafted for the connoisseur, choices include banana cream doughnuts, milk chocolate panna cotta, and rhubarb napoleon. For those who crave an upgrade, carrot cake torte honey mascarpone, with carrot sorbet and caramel ice cream. Yes, even the ice cream and sorbet selection is decadent with enticing flavors like gianduja, rosemary, hubiscus-lime and blood orange.

Colicchio & Sons is part of the well renowned Craft restaurants family which includes Craft — New York, Los Angeles and Dallas; Craft Bar -— New York; Craft Steak — Las Vegas and Foxwoods and Riverpark in New York. More than just the offering of amazing restaurants, the Craft family gives back to the community. Tom Colicchio, who received the award for Outstanding Chef from the James Beard Foundation in 2010, also serves on the Board of Children of Bellevue since 1995. The Craft family hosts the annual City Harvest fundraising competition, the annual chef’s dinner -— in support of FOHL Friends of the High Line, and in 2012 hosted “What’s On The Table?” a United Way fundraising event co- sponsored by Vanity Fair. Craft restaurants are also credited with collectively raising over $800,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand an organization dedicated to raising awareness of childhood cancer.

A trophy for New York, Colicchio & Sons has embraced the elegance, sophistication and spirit of fine dining; artfully created a menu of masterpieces, and continues to generously support the betterment efforts of many neighborhood and national non-profit organizations. An opulent experience is promised.

Colicchio & Sons
Located at 85 Tenth Avenue, New York,10011

Pasadena Dining

Pasadena Dining

Café Santorini

By Jessica Turner


Located in a historic brick building in Old Town Pasadena’s One Colorado Center, Café Santorini provides discerning diners with a delicious taste of the Mediterranean. Its menu is not strictly Greek, though you’ll find platters overflowing with an abundance of stuffed grape leaves, tabouleh, Hallumi cheese, soujouk sausage, babaganoush, pita, olives, and other favorites from the isles.

Guests should be sure to ask for a table on the restaurant’s extensive patio, adorned with a canopy of festive white lights that recalls the romance of a traditional seaside Greek dining establishment (though here, you’ll be high above bustling crowds of Old Town shoppers, rather than the Aegean.)

Our meal started with a sublime spicy tuna tartare: a tower of diced Ahi tuna spiced with Moroccan harissa and seaweed, layered with avocado and garnished with daikon sprouts and a wasabi aioli. Standouts among the mezze (Mediterranean appetizers) were fried kubbe, little “footballs” of seasoned ground beef and pine nuts encrusted with bulgar wheat and served with tzatziki, and cheese borek, a dish consisting of light, flaky filo pastry stuffed with feta, mozzarella cheese, mint and parsley.

For the main course, Café Santorini dishes up a variety of pizzas baked to perfection in their wood-fired oven. There are also pasta and risotto dishes, including a delectable risotto with black mussels, shrimp and clams mingled with spinach, red onions and a creamy red curry sauce.

No Mediterranean restaurant worth its salt would be without lamb on the menu, and here the braised lamb shank is done just right — fork-tender, served with a mushroom and sun-dried tomato sauce that together is melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

Café Santorin’s staff is welcoming, efficient and knowledgeable. Our waiter took the time to describe our dishes in detail and chose the perfect wine to accompany our meal. (Though on a hot night you may want to opt for their white Sangria… fruity but not too sweet, and with just enough “kick”!)

Café Santorini
64 West Union Street
Pasadena, CA 91103



Villa Sorriso, a spacious oasis in Pasadena’s bustling Old Town shopping district, is a fine place to refuel and relax with girlfriends after a shopping spree, enjoy a romantic dinner for two, stage a special event, or hit the nightclub scene (at Cielo, Villa Sorriso’s Saturday-night spot, featuring outdoor dancing, lounge areas, dinner & bottle service for the 21+ crowd.)

The menu is full of Italian favorites, including salads, pastas, pizzas, roasted and grilled meats and fish. For starters, try the homemade crab cakes, served with a lobster crème sauce and topped with a mango pico de gallo. The garlic-roasted mussels are melt-in-your-mouth perfection, as is the carpaccio.

A di Mare salad with shrimp, calamari, scallops, black mussels, manila clams, fennel, Belgian endive, roma tomatoes, and fresh basil served over a bed of mixed baby greens in a balsamic Dijon vinaigrette makes a delicious light luncheon or dinner entrée.

For pasta, penne alla vodka, a Sorriso favorite, is a good bet, as is the rigatoni tossed with Italian sausage, mushrooms, shallots, garlic and crushed red pepper in a white wine sauce. Pizza lovers will enjoy the classic margherita pie, or the shrimp and goat cheese pizza with sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and a basil pesto sauce.

The grilled New Zealand Lamb, served with Israeli couscous, sautéed garlic spinach and a Pinot Noir sauce is excellent, and veal osso buco in a port-wine and vegetable reduction sauces served with saffron risotto is a hearty and comforting dish.

Villa Sorriso is known for its selection of classic and signature martinis. Be sure to ask to try the Marilyn Monroe, the WOK N ROLL, and the Desperate House Wife!  For wine lovers, there is an extensive selection of Californian and Italian vintages.

Villa Sorriso
168 W. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105

Café 140 South, formerly the Crocodile Café, is a gem among the dining establishments that line Pasadena’s fashionable South Lake Avenue district. Owned by hometown restaurateurs extraordinaire the Smith Brothers (Arroyo Chop House, Parkway Grill), Café 140 serves up California cuisine in a comfortable, elegant atmosphere that is at once old school in charm and modern in its dedication to fresh, seasonal fare and superb service.

The menu at Café 140 South is both familiar and inventive. Boasting burgers, wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes and an array of mouth-watering entrees, there is something here for every taste. A grilled artichoke appetizer is a particular standout; its smoky, oakwood-infused flavor is nicely accompanied by a creamy, slightly acidic remoulade. On the burger menu, the Café 140 Special Burger (a custom blend of brisket and short rib ground fresh daily, topped with blue cheese), Kobe Burger (with smoked Gouda and prosciutto ham) or the California Burger (topped with avocado, smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and arugula) are all best bets.

The wood-fired, handcrafted pizzas at Café 140 are positively scrumptious:  the Wild Boar Italian Sausage pizza with smoked mozzarella, wood-roasted onions, and scallions is hearty and flavorful, while the Prosciutto and Arugula pizza with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil oil and lemon oil is light and bursting with the aromas of farm-fresh produce.

Dinner entrees include a Marinated Oakwood Grilled Chicken with tomato balsamic vinaigrette, herb-roasted potatoes, and sautéed spinach, a Stout-Braised Short Rib in a Samuel Smith Stout reduction, and Grilled Ahi Tuna with black sesame crust, stir-fried vegetables, Asian spice rice and sweet ginger chili glaze.  For dessert, one must order the “Killer” carrot cake — if you dare!

An extensive wine list and friendly, helpful servers ensure that dinner or lunch at Café 140 South will be a memorable one — be sure to bring your appetite!

Café 140 South
140 South Lake Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101

The Winemaker for a New Generation, Austin Hope of Paso Robles’ Hope Family Wines

The Winemaker for a New Generation, Austin Hope of Paso Robles’ Hope Family Wines

Austin Hope

There’s a saying called “living the dream” and it has to do with living. If you find yourself successful doing something you love then you are “living the dream”. If you add freedom and the ability to make money to that equation then you are “living the American dream”.  Third generation farmer and first generation vintner Austin Hope is living the American Dream. He manages his family’s winery in the beautiful oak tree dotted, rolling hills of Paso Robles in the Central Coast of California: a heavenly location.  What better place to live the dream?

An industry veteran and still under the age of 40, Austin is a vibrant, active, mass of energy.  He’s on the move with new ideas in an industry that doesn’t move quite as fast. By default, most winemakers are hip, but they do tend to be older, technical and well, a bit more rotund!  Austin’s interests are varied: he hunts, practices Pilates, he is a mad chef, and he’s a huge fan of live music and will catch a show any chance he can.  He’s also a family man who spends time with his two daughters when not on the road promoting his wares. He lives this wonderful life in idyllic Paso Robles in a home on the estate vineyard, with his parent’s house just over the bluff. As easy as it would be to be envious about Austin’s life, you just can’t be anything but happy for him.  This is because he is  down to earth and knows exactly where he came from, so you end up soaking him up and savoring him. He’s worked hard at his craft – in the winery, vineyard and in the market over the last fifteen years to build the family’s business.

Making a living off the land has been part of his family’s tradition for three generations. His grandfather was a farmer and beer distributor in Bakersfield.

Austin’s parents moved the family from Bakersfield to Paso Robles in the late 1970s and started planting grapes and apples. At the time, the region was just developing and wasn’t the viticulture powerhouse that it is today. Austin started helping with the family business at age 8, by hoeing weeds in the vineyard as part of his weekly chores. His father, Chuck Hope, is considered one of the pioneering grape growers in the

Paso Robles grapes

region, noted for raising the bar in the vineyards for higher quality fruit. In the 80s the family started doing business with legendary winemaker Chuck Wagner of Caymus Vineyards. They began growing and selling Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for his Liberty School label. This was the start of an important partnership between the Hope family and Wagner family that has blossomed into a strong and healthy friendship.

In the mid 90s, while studying Fruit Science at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Austin travelled to Napa to work under Chuck Wagner. Working with Chuck was instrumental to Austin’s development as a winemaker. “That was probably my “a-ha” moment,” says Austin. “I realized that I not only wanted to grow grapes, but to manage our own label to bring our fruit directly to the market,” he says. Upon his graduation he began making wine with the family grapes.  Eventually the Hope family took over the Liberty School label from Chuck Wagner and began producing the wine in Paso Robles. In addition to Liberty School, the Hopes launched Treana in 1996 and two years later, Austin became the official winemaker for the brand.

Hope Family Wines, as it is known today, is fueled by Austin and his colleagues, many who have been with him since the beginning. They are a fantastic group; making great wine at affordable prices with 5 distinct brands: Liberty School, Treana, Austin Hope, Candor and Troublemaker.

Treana Vineyard

Over the past 15 years, Austin has grown the business from producing around 20,000 cases a year to over 300,000. Helping Austin is his good friend and high school buddy Jason “JC” Diefenderfer. JC came on board to help design and build the winery’s crush facility back in 1997. JC never got around to leaving after the facility was completed, and now works as a winemaker with Austin.  Austin, JC and their team are proud to source grapes from over 50 local vineyards in Paso Robles and the Central Coast for the Liberty School brand.

Austin likes to live in the moment and buck tradition. In 2009, Austin released a free iPhone app called WineDJ to pair his Liberty School wines with music. The latest example is how the company released the newest wine brand – Troublemaker. The winery created a hilarious, must-see video, a parody of TV show The Office and used social media to help launch the new wine. By using their website, YouTube channel, Twitter and Facebook, they were able to get the video seen by thousands who, otherwise, wouldn’t have watched a wine video ( After seeing the video you’ll get a good idea of the camaraderie and spirit of the group in addition to understanding the new wine. Troublemaker is also interesting because it’s a multi-vintage wine, another technique that Austin believes in. Blend 3 is 55% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, and 5% Petite Sirah, from the 2009 and 2010 vintages.

Richard Carlton Hacker, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the pleasures of wines, whiskies, pipe smoking, and cigars, has known Austin for the past decade. He says that what’s been really impressive to see in Austin’s development as a winemaker and businessman is his focus and

Hope Family Wines

understanding of what will and will not work with the wine produced in Paso Robles. Says Richard, “Austin has gotten a very finite vision of what he wants to do with the winery”. By working with local family vineyards, making quality wines, and building brands that offer great value – year after year, Austin and his team continue to stay relevant in the exploding Paso Robles wine scene.

For over 30 years, they’ve helped build the ‘Paso’ brand and that’s something Austin is very proud of. Along the way, he’s managing to live the dream. “People tend to have this dream that it’s easy to run a winery, but there’s still a lot of hard work, sacrifice and risk,” Austin says, “we just try to have fun along the way.” I’m glad he is, because the wines are delicious.

Martins West Pub – REDWOOD CITY

Martins West Pub – REDWOOD CITY

Martins West Pub in Redwood City

Sometimes you know when you arrive at a new place you feel almost pre-destined to like it. Just like the plating of your food is important to your enjoyment, a restaurant has to set the right mood from the moment you enter. This month’s restaurant is right out of gastropub central casting. It’s in a refurbished historical space with sophisticated (yet classic) food, some of the best cocktails you’ll find.

Location: Redwood City, California, about a half hour drive South of San Francisco in Silicon Valley.

Style of Food: Contemporary spin on traditional Scottish pub fare using seasonal ingredients.

Chef: Michael Dotson: “We have a Chef-driven menu which highlights the best of the season ­— local and fresh. We serve a contemporary interpretation on classic European techniques and recipes while paying an homage to history. My cooking is driven by the many cultures which in turn have influenced the cuisine of modern Europe, as well as the beautiful ingredients that Northern California has to offer.”

Must-Have-Dishes: Scottish Eggs off the Pub Snacks menu — Quail egg, battered and fried. ‘Nuff said. You will need a cholesterol test the next day, as you will not be able to stop at only one order. While the menu changes often, two staple items are the Ale Battered Fish & Chips and the Prather Ranch Organic Beef Burger.

Must-Have Drink: Martins is on the short-list of must visit places in Silicon Valley for those who love good cocktails. Their Moscow Mule is a local favorite, but trust me you will not go wrong with any of their signature drinks, such as a Pimm’s Punch or Lone Wolf…of course, you may find it difficult to make it past the perfectly poured pint of Guinness on tap.

Must-Have-Server: You can always find co-owner Moira Beveridge out front with a smile. Her career in the restaurant business is on full display, even if she hides her diploma from the California Culinary Academy and her recently awarded sommelier pin.

Seat-to-Request: Grab one of the tall bar tables in the front of the house and enjoy the sophisticated bar vibe.

More Information:

Bonus: Martins is located in the historic Alhambra Theater, which first opened in 1896 — don’t worry, the team completely refinished the wood and brick interior, keeping the best of the old and pairing it with modern amenities. They used only reclaimed materials, reflecting their strong commitment to sustainability.