Category: Food & Wine

Culina – A Taste of Modern Italian

Culina – A Taste of Modern Italian

Culina at Four Seasons in Los Angeles

It’s time for new a beginning and new traditions for the local Los Angeles residents.  This summer, take the time to experience Culina at Four Seasons in Los Angeles.  Designed specifically for Los Angeles, the creators of Culina broke away from the Four Seasons French luxury hotels to provide a whole new dining experience. The textured-wood tables and the modern décor provide a complete change of scenery.

The Culina establishment boasts a 2,000-sq.ft. outdoor patio with a long firepit; a VIP lounge; and a large wine room that is visible through decorated glass etched with Italian words and phrases.

The menu is created and ever evolving by Chef Victor Casanova along with the help from a tasting panel. The Cobb salad is very unique and is not assembled with a standard green medley. Instead it is arranged with grains, vegetables, and truffle pasta. Barely scratching the surface of the epicurean delight for modern Italian is the first original crudo bar. This is the first of its kind to grace us in the city of angels. The Larry Flynt’s salad is a signature dish and was created for the publication mogul because he dines there so often. With yellowtail and tuna, to salmon dipped in ginger oil, to the sweet selection of desserts and choice wines, Culina is a new favorite place to call home-away-from-home.

Tasting Panels are premiered the 2nd Saturday of each month. The class is 2.5 hours long and upon adjourning the course guests are served their dish with a glass of paired wine.
300 South Doheny Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 860-4000
www.culinarestaurant.com

Bliss 525

Bliss 525

Bliss 525 in Long Beach

Classical Yet Casual Italian-Style

Located just a few blocks from the breezy Pacific, Bliss 525 is a romantically stylish, multi-level blend of neighborhood bar/restaurant and a special event space that fits in perfectly with Downtown Long Beach’s artsy, East Village. Bliss 525 has a classical yet casual Italian-style ambiance, a full bar with a lovely selection of fine wines and a menu with an eclectic fusion of “California comfort cuisine” offering a variety of culinary selections to satisfy everyday foodies and distinguished food critics, alike. Bliss 525 is the perfect place in Long Beach to drop in for a quick after-work cocktail, a casual lunch with friends, or a memorable fine dining experience.

Bliss525 is currently open daily, serving lunch, dinner, cocktails, and Special occasions. Bliss 525 is a perfect place to host all types of events from business meetings and birthday parties, to Bridal showers and Wedding ceremonies. Bliss 525 has a great vibe, extraordinary customer service and is looking forward to seeing you next time you visit Long Beach.
525 E. Broadway,
Long Beach, CA 90802,
(562) 495-7292,
www.bliss525.com

Bouchon Beverly Hills

Bouchon Beverly Hills

Photo by Noel Barnhurst

Bouchon Bistro opened in Beverly Hills last year to great fanfare celebrating the return of Thomas Keller, chef extraordinaire, to Los Angeles. Thomas Keller is a true restaurateur legend and a visit to his most famous restaurant, The French Laundry, in Yountville will turn you into a dedicated fan of his work. The art of cooking takes on new meaning when he steps into the kitchen. His Bouchon restaurants were the inspiration for the 2007 Disney film, Ratatouille, about the scrawny, yet ambitious rat who dreamed of culinary stardom.

Chef Thomas Keller is fastidious in his methods. The kitchen in Beverly Hills is the most impressive and well-organized kitchen that we had ever seen. It is enormous and is cooking nirvana with a huge galley in between several cooking stations. Even the walk-in refrigerators are über impressive with every item separated and labeled. Their revolutionary method of handling incoming food is legendary for their precise way of breaking down, organizing, and storing the supply of ingredients. There’s a video feed to the Yountville Bouchon so that the chefs can video conference whenever they need. This is a very impressive establishment headed by one of the best chefs in the United States.

Photo by Noel Barnhurst

Bouchon Bistro is located right in the heart of Beverly Hills on Canon, near Wilshire. It’s in the new building complex that also houses the Montage. We found it easy to get to with tons of public parking underground or valet available. The restaurant faces an adorable park that separates Bouchon from the Montage. You can sit next to the park on the patio of the Bouchon Bar – located on the first floor, or you can look down on the park from the balcony of the main dining room located on the second floor. The décor is French bistro style with high ceilings, mosaic tile floors and brass accents throughout. The atmosphere is warm, elegant yet cozy. In true French bistro style, guests can feel relaxed in this casual setting, free to enjoy conversations and friendships.

The food at Bouchon is beyond delicious and you will not be disappointed if you enlist the help of Head Sommelier, Alex Weil for you wine selections. We started with the Petit Plateau – a tower of fresh shellfish including lobster, crab, oysters, shrimp and mussels. The presentation and quality was spot-on and only made better with Champagne, Aubry, Brut MV. It was certainly a wonderful start to this extraordinary meal. For our salad course, we chose Salade d’Asperges and the Salade de Concombre. The asparagus salad included soft-poached hen egg and white anchovy vinaigrette. The cucumber salad was light and refreshing with pickled cucumbers and a kumquat confit. For this course, Alex brought out a Sauvignon Blanc from The Ojai Vineyard, Santa Ynez, “McGinley Ranch” to pair with the asparagus salad and a Vouvray Sec, Francois Chidaine, “Les Argiles” 2009 for the cucumber salad. We also tried the Soupe à l’Oignon which came paired with a Bourgogne Blanc, Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet “Clos du Chateau” 2009 and a Fino Sherry, Lustau.

We were then faced with the grueling decision regarding our main course.  It had been a culinary delight, so far, and we didn’t know how they would top an already first rate meal.  We selected three dishes to share in our group that included sausage, lamb and salmon. The Boudin Blanc consisted of white sausage made with veal and served with potato purée & poached prunes. The Gigot D’Agneau was a traditional roast lamb dish with spring vegetables and the Salmon was served on a bed of clams and chorizo. At this point, Alex poured their house red, a Vin de Carafe, Pinot Noir, Paul Lato, Santa Barbara County 2009, which they have specifically made to serve as their bistro style table wine. He then served some Bourgevil, Pierre et Catherine Breton, “Trinch” 2009, which was my personal favorite. Every dish was spectacular and we managed to finish nearly every bite. After much debate, we voted the salmon as the evening’s favorite.

Photo by Noel Barnhurst

Much eye rolling and tummy patting heralded our next course. We knew we had to try some of the desserts that have helped to make Bouchon famous. The one that you’ve really got to try is the Ile Flottante – meringue with vanilla creme anglaise, almond & caramel. It was light, sugary and delicious. We also tried the Pot de Crème, the Tarte au Citron and the macaroons. For our dessert course, Alex poured us Pinot Gris, Meyer Fonne “Cuvee Eloi” 2004, which went perfectly with the lemon tart.

We left with a renewed sense of appreciation for French cuisine and we thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. We got to know General Manager, Steven Cook who is from Oxford, England and has led the restaurant for about a year. He wasn’t part of the opening team but he has a great high-end corporate pedigree. The new assistant manager is Pablo Kovacs who came over from BOA. Thomas Keller comes in town every few weeks and works fundraisers where guests enjoy wine and culinary specialties served at various food stations created by Chef de Cuisine, Rory Herrmann. Rory is super sweet and an excellent chef. Guests can also interact with Chef Keller, enjoy tours of that amazing kitchen and watch cooking demonstrations.

The restaurant is doing very well and has been a hit with the local Beverly Hills crowd. They are exceeding growth expectations as they continue to receive rave reviews. Recently, they hosted a fried chicken night, similar to ones they do at Ad Hoc in Yountville. They had no idea how fried chicken, served family style would go over in Beverly Hills but the night was a blow-out success. Look for more innovative ideas from this ingenious group.

In Celebration…Cigars

In Celebration…Cigars

Whether it’s a gift for a graduation or for welcoming a new life to the world, there is nothing better than celebrating with a robust, flavorful cigar. Camacho cigars come in many styles with a diverse selection of tastes and strengths to satisfy the most discerning pallet or the casual cigar smoker.
After fleeing Cuba in 1961, Simon Camacho created the brand in Miami using the finest Central American tobacco. Now owned by the Eiroa family, the company continues with the same high standards. Christian Eiroa, the President of Camacho, is dedicated to producing the best cigars while nurturing his up and coming family business and its employees.

Sonoma County’s popular CigarBQ Food and Wine fundraiser will be held July 8-10 and will include a golf tournament and a tasting event. They will offer cigars provided by Camacho and others, as well as some of Northern California’s best wines and cuisine. The friendly and outgoing Camacho staff will be on hand to educate and answer questions relating to their brands and the simple enjoyment of cigars. Visit www.camachocigars.com or www.cigarbq.com to learn more about these savory cigars and the fundraiser.

Frappe Vino by d’marie Inc.

Frappe Vino by d’marie Inc.

Frappe Vino by d’marie

Taking the summer, adult beverage to the next level ­— slushy- style. Frappe Vino contains all natural ingredients and turns wine (or any alcohol for that matter) into a delicious, frozen, slushy-drink. Simply combine one packet of Frappe Vino to your favorite bottle of wine and add some water in a freezer-safe container, then place in the freezer. Best results are obtained if prepared the evening before (3-5 hours of uninterrupted freeze time).
This is the perfect addition to a summer BBQ, cocktail party or to enjoy any day while attempting to beat the heat. Frappe Vino makes a great hostess gift and will be the hit of the next party.
Visit www.dmarieinc.com for additional Frappe Vino recipes using a variety of liquors.

Malibu Inn Grand Opening Party

Malibu Inn Grand Opening Party

Malibu Inn


Thursday night marked the official grand opening of The Malibu Inn, an establishment that’s been a part of California culture since the 1920′s. With a new re-vamped look that blends rock-n-roll style with surfer cool, the restaurant hopes to continue to attract the California Beach crowd as it’s done for so many years. Located across the street from the iconic Malibu Fishing Pier the party kicked in to full swing immediately with body painted ladies, bar dancers, tasty food and flowing drinks. A few celebrities popped by the Inn to celebrate including actor Gerard Butler, “Malibu Prince” Body Jenner, pro surfer Pascal Stansfield and fashion stylist George Blodwell. Gavin Rossdale was the main guest as he provided party-goers with a set featuring acoustic songs from both his solo albums and his rock band Bush.

Now boasting itself as a restaurant & bar that offers live entertainment, the spacious design is divided into several sections. The main dining room, seperates bar area, outdoor patio, billiards room and a few VIP rooms that can be reserved for special occasions. New owners Alex and Steven Hakim (yes they’re brothers) enlisted the help of Andrew Alford to help create the vintage feel they were aiming for. Although much of the Inn’s artwork is preserved and original, Alford added a few twists, like a 60′s VW bug turned photo booth, to keep it fresh and new. The billiards room blends a mural painted by 70′s street artists with restored sections completed by Venice street artists, one chandelier is adorned with keys left by guests over the past 90 years and the wallpaper in the restrooms… well that you’ll just have to see for yourself! Wooden saloon style doors split the main dining area from the bar (perhaps in a nod to Neil Young’s time of ownership, then named “Crazy Horse Saloon”) while the custom made leather chairs and wooden table in the smaller private room make you want to light a cigar and playing a few rounds of Texas hold ‘em with the guys. A total “Men’s Smoking Lounge” vibe if you will. It’s these kind of special details from Alford, flowing throughout the building, that keep the Malibu Inn rooted in it’s “cool hang out” experience. But if you need some fresh “sea air” or are looking to enjoy and evening cocktail (the signature is The PainKiller), head to the outdoor terrace where you’ll find a warm ocean breeze, serene waterfall and strings of twinkling white lights.

The Hakim brothers also wanted the new focus of the Malibu Inn to be on the food itself. They consulted with Top Chef alum Angelo Sosa and Aaron Ziegler, now the executive chef, working hard to create variations of classic American dishes. Menu finds include popcorn shrimp, pulled pork sliders, deep fried PB&J, baby back ribs and of course – fish tacos. Another can’t miss dish? The cleverly named “Smack and Cheese.” Another addition to the Inn – breakfast and brunch dishes that will be everyday. May we suggest pairing your mimosa with the B{E}LT sandwich or homemade biscuits and gravy? Along with the delicious food, live entertainment is next on the list of crowd pleasers. In a music club that once housed Eric Clapton and Tom Petty on the stage, the Malibu Inn wants a place to showcase local talent as it used to do 40 years ago. The owners hope to line up musical performers each week providing the locals with a spot that offers a one-two punch and embodies their new slogan: “Vintage Mood. Epic Feel”

So if you’re cruising up the PCH head over to The Malibu Inn to try some appetizing bites and hear the best music the beaches have to offer. We’re positive you won’t be disappointed.

Food Topic Review:

The iconic Malibu Inn has re-opened with the best happy hour, treats, and views on the PCH! Under the ownership of business visionaries and brothers, Alex and Steven Hakim, with recognized industry veterans Kelley Jones and Frank Tucker as the management company, the collective team has breathed new life into the seaside destination. With Top Chef All-Stars alum and restaurateurs Angelo Sosa collaborating in crafting a simple and delicious American menu, the Malibu Inn is dishing out great eats to match killer cocktails. Also adding his eccentric flair to the hotspot is award-winning interior designer Andrew Alford who brought back to life the rock-n-roll interior— from custom furniture to the restored 1966 Volkswagon Beetle located on the patio (the Bug has been converted into a photo booth). Make sure to check out the wall paper in the bathroom, write on the stall, for old times sake, with a piece of chalk left in each stall. Malibu Inn is open daily serving lunch, dinner and late food from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. (310) 456-1160 • www.themalibuinn.com

Stonehill Tavern – The St. Regis Monarch Beach

Stonehill Tavern – The St. Regis Monarch Beach

Offering tavern fare in a casual yet sophisticated setting, with many of the menu items designed to be shared, Michael Mina presents his acclaimed approach to homestyle favorites. A highlight of the menu is a “Snacks & Finger Foods” section with Classic Cheese Fondue ($16), Local Fish and Chips ($9), Lobster Fritters ($15) and BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders ($8).

Stonehill Tavern

Under the direction of Wine Director Rajat Parr, Stonehill Tavern features a wine selection of 400 to 500 bottles with a focus on boutique producers in the California wine regions. Stonehill Tavern’s cocktail menu is a tip of the hat to classic American cocktails, rejuvenated with modern day sensibility. (949) 234-3318 • www.stregismb.com

The Village Pub – WOODSIDE

The Village Pub – WOODSIDE

The Village Pub

Location: Woodside, California (approximately 40 minutes South of San Francisco, near Stanford University)

Style of Food: Farm-to-Table, “Approachable-but-Refined” French cuisine with a California perspective.

Chef: Dmitry Elperin: “The restaurant couples classical French cooking techniques with seasonal ingredients. We have access to some of the best locally-sourced organic ingredients in the world. This includes our own farm located in the hills above Woodside, where we grow ingredients especially for us.”

Must-Have-Dishes: Anything cooked over the almond wood fired grill — especially the rack of pork (brined for 48 hours before firing); Heirloom tomato salad prepared table-side; honey almond cake with blood orange sorbet.

Must-Have Drink: The proprietary Bourbon, Woodside Partners Reserve, distilled and bottled in partnership with Kentucky’s Old Rip Van Winkle.

Must-Have-Server: Ask for Melody — a Michelin-starred establishment has to have a star in the front of the house as well.

Seat-to-Request: During winter, ask for one of the booths next to the hearth; during summer, request to sit outside on the Veranda.

More Information: www.thevillagepub.net
Curriculum Vitae: Just awarded its third consecutive Michelin Star.

Welcome to Napa Valley

Welcome to Napa Valley

Hot Springs in Calistoga

Ah, Napa Valley – that magical place that feels so far away but is really quite close. There’s a lot going on there these days, and, no, it’s not just about the grapes. Art, cuisine and green trends take the lead and here’s a recap of what’s going on in Napa Valley….

The Adult Spa Pool at Solage

Accommodations

Solage Calistoga
On the site of what used to be a 22-acre horse pasture now sits the Solage. The Solage is a spa hotel with that relaxed Calistoga attitude. The rooms are studio style with modern, elegant décor and include patios and organic amenities. While the property is family friendly with plenty to do with the kids, it can also be relaxing and romantic. The jewel of the Solage is its award-winning spa. The spa is perfect for couples, a solitary recharge or a gaggle of women or men. The 20,000 square-foot facilities offer geo-thermal mineral waters and mud bath treatments or you can opt for a more physical experience and enjoy fitness classes that range from yoga to spinning. After a grueling day of spa treatments and wine tasting you can refuel at Solbar – easily the hottest restaurant in Napa Valley right now.

Bardessono
This $65M property is one of the most expensive developments in Napa Valley and is Leed Platinum Certified. To give you some perspective, there are three hotels ON EARTH that are Leed Platinum Certified. The rooms are high tech with automated “turn down” functions that know when you are not in the room so the room goes into hibernation mode to conserve energy. Located in the heart of Yountville, this property is also a spa lover’s destination. The rooms feature bathrooms that are about the size of the bedroom and are designed for in-room spa treatments. The rooms feature private patios and have an enormous bathtub that you can slip right into after your in-room massage. If you only get to check out one thing at Bardessono, then you must try the bathrooms in the lobby – they feature high tech Japanese washlets with lots of interesting options including angle and temperature of the seat.

The Carneros Inn
Staying at the Carneros Inn feels like staying in a small, rural, agricultural based town – which technically it is. Each unit is a stand-alone cottage with loads of outdoor space including an outdoor shower, soaking tub and fire pit. Inside is just as nice with ultra-comfy bedding and wood-burning stoves. The extensive property screams for exploration and includes the must-try breakfast joint, The Boon Fly Café – a local favorite. They also have a quaint market stocked with cheeses and wine, perfect to enjoy in all of your outdoor space. Beware of critters though, as our cheese was snatched when we went inside for a moment. Also onsite is their luxurious spa with open-air treatment rooms.

Art + Wine + Cuisine + Green

Clos Pegase
From the moment of arrival on property at Clos Pegase you feel as though you are somewhere magical. The grounds are spotted with huge sculptures and the entire property includes over 1000 works of original art. The outdoor sculptures include works from Henry Moore and Cesar Baldachini. If you really want to experience something special, then plan a private dinner in one of their caves. You will literally be dining in the mountain surrounded by beautiful art and barrels of wine. Or you can spend an idyllic afternoon sipping their wine while enjoying a self-guided tour of their stunning collection of art.

Carlo Marchiori
Carlo is a very prolific Italian artist who works with acrylics, watercolors, ceramics and bronze sculptures – he’s also a world-renowned muralist and you’ll see his murals all over Calistoga. In the summer, he opens up his home, the Palladian Villa, to guests to enjoy his frescoes, grounds and gardens. He also had a gallery in Calistoga filled with additional pieces that vary from dark to whimsical depending on his mood. A true artist and a lovely man, he is a delightful character.

Lee Youngman Galleries
Located right on the main strip in Calistoga is Lee Youngman Galleries, which has been in business since 1985.  The gallery includes work of local (as in bay area) prominent artists and features original oils, watercolors, pastels, graphite and sculptures. Lee is the daughter of California painter, Ralph Love and married to artist Paul Youngman. She has a terrific eye and you’ll enjoy a visit to her gallery and perhaps plan your next artistic investment.

The Culinary Institute of America

Greystone - Culinary Institute of America

You must include a visit to The Culinary Institute of America into your dining schedule. The Wine Spectator Restaurant is a fantastic place to dine and the building cannot be missed. Called “Greystone”, it was part of the Christian Brothers collection of properties and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Tomorrow’s James Beard Award winners now learn their craft at CIA and you get to enjoy the education while dining. The Institute also offers classes for regular people who want to discover new cooking skills as well as cooking demonstrations and tasting classes. Their retail store, called Spice Islands Marketplace, has everything you could possibly want in your dream kitchen.

Hall Winery
If you want to feel good while sipping wine then stop by Hall Winery for a tasting. We don’t mean feel good like you always feel when sipping wine; we mean the added bonus of  supporting people who are good to our earth. Hall Winery has some of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable practices of any winery. Their winery is the first in California to earn LEED Gold Certification using water flow technology, solar power and local and recycled materials.

Hurley’s Restaurant
While in Napa Valley, be sure to enjoy a meal at Hurley’s in Yountville. The restaurant is where the vintners eat and it’s more approachable than some of the other restaurants in the area. He introduced us to a delightful Charboro wine from local winemaker, Jacob Franklin. Bob is a great guy comes from a big Irish Catholic family and thus is a fantastic host.             Hurley has been steady in serving incredibly fresh, local, simple but spectacular food for guests for nearly a decade.

Yountville Art Walk
The city of Yountville has recently installed several outdoor sculptures and have developed an art walk for visitors and locals to enjoy or even purchase if they desire. Portions of the sales benefit the Yountville Arts fund and other creative centered activities and events. Now with over 30 sculptures throughout town, including pieces from internationally known artist, Gordon Huether, visitors can meander about and enjoy the sights. The art is all publicly accessible and some of the sculptures are placed in hotel courtyards, near the post office and the town hall.

The Hess Collection

The entrance to Hess Visitor Center AKA Heaven on Earth

Located a bit outside of the main highway is a wonderful building filled with all that is good in life including wine, art and food. Hess is worth a stop in any event, however you can take the experience to a whole new level by calling ahead to book the “Tour of the Palate.”  includes a guided tour of The Hess Collection Contemporary Art Museum followed by a tasting menu paired with their current wine releases prepared by executive chef, Chad Hendrickson. We enjoyed fennel dusted day boat scallop citrus scented butternut squash soup with the 2008 Collection Su’skol Chardonnay followed by pan roasted duck breast with sweet peppers, spring onions and fava beans and truffle wholegrain mustard vinaigrette paired with the 2008 Sequana Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir. Our final course was a grilled beef tenderloin with celery root puree, estate rainbow chard, bloomsdale spinach and royal trumpet mushrooms paired with the 2006 Collection Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a very special experience and is open to the public.

Oxbow Public Market
Located in the heart of downtown Napa is the Oxbow Public Market, which is a really fun venue, filled with all that your stomach could desire. Tuesday nights are “locals night” and the place gets packed. It’s set up like an upscale indoor farmers market with a cheese shop over here, a wine bar over there and various other culinary delights.  From Venezuelan and Latin style cuisine to artisanal charcuterie to environmentally responsible seafood, there is something for everyone and the place is bursting with energy. It’s great to see this kind of activity in downtown Napa.

Bartender’s Choice – Erik Lorincz

Bartender’s Choice – Erik Lorincz

Erik Lorincz shares with us his top choices for bars in Los Angeles.

Varnish - The Bar

While attending a private master mixology class at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, we got to know Erik Lorincz. He’s the 2010 Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year and currently works at London’s famed Savoy Hotel.
Erik is the head bartender at the hotel’s American Bar and made a rare appearance in Los Angeles. Of course, he was eager to hit the town after the mixology class and so we asked him where he went and which bars were his favorites.
Says Erik, “Varnish was my top place I have visited in L.A.”, but he’s sure there are many more reasons to come back!!

Varnish

Erik’s Top Bar Picks for Los Angeles:

THE VARNISH
118 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 622-9999
PALIHOUSE
8465 Holloway Drive
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(323) 327-9702

ROGER ROOM
370 North La Cienega
Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 854-1300

TRADER VIC’S
800 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 785-3330

TONGA HUT
12808 Victory Boulevard
North Hollywood, CA 91606
(818) 769-0708

GOLDEN GOPHER
417 West 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 614-8001

LIBRARY BAR
630 West 6th St # 116A
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(213) 614-0053

TIKI TI
4427 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 669-9381

THE PENTHOUSE @ THE HUNTLEY HOTEL
1111 Second Street,
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 393-8080

BAR MARMONT
8221 Sunset Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 656-1010

Food Fest

Food Fest

The scene on the Paramount lot, at the end of the joyous day guests enjoyed a concert.

The Los Angeles Times Celebration of Food & Wine was the perfect end of summer fiesta. While slightly, err rather, gluttonous, what better way to experience the joy of community than breaking bread with your fellow Los Angeles brethren? Set on the large and fun Paramount Studios, the scene was an explosion of sensory delight. While the majority of the vendors were food and wine related, there were all types of folks peddling their wares from financial advisors and psychics (one and the same, really) to every different type of food cart imaginable to the VIP section where a $125 ticket could get you tastings from twenty-five different top-notch local restaurants and more sips of wine than one should ever mix at one time in a single stomach. If you could tear yourself away from experiencing the wine, beer, liquor and food then you could learn a thing or two at the various speaking panels and cooking demonstrations. The delightful day was wrapped up with a concert by indie favorite, She and Him. For it’s first year, this event was incredibly well done and should have a permanent spot on your annual calendar of culinary adventures.

Above and below:
The scene on the Paramount lot, at the end of the joyous day guests enjoyed a concert.

Photo credit: Nancy McBrewer.

Left to right, top to bottom: Mark Peel of Campanile and Tar Pit, Winemaker Robert Sinskey, Ivan Kane of Café Was, David LeFevre of Water Grill, Neal Fraser of Grace Restaurant and BLD, Sam Elias of Sam’s by the Beach, The wood burning oven on the pizza bus, Ramiro Arvizu and Jaime Martin delCampo of La Casita Mexicana. Photo credit: Nancy McBrewer.

The colorful characters of Palate Food + Wine in Glendale. Photo credit: Nancy McBrewer.

Café del Rey

Café del Rey

Café del Rey Reggatta room

A surefire bet for an unparalleled mix of delectable cuisine with a serene nautical view is Café del Rey. Twenty minutes from LAX, this celebrated restaurant is a perfect choice for lunch, dinner, brunch, meetings, social gatherings or simply a quiet and romantic cocktail by the fire.

At the casually elegant Cafe del Rey, innovative California-Mediterranean cuisine shines in a contemporary, open dining room with views of the harbor from just about every table. Each coastal inspired, exotic dish is served on oversized plates that mirror the graceful curves of the ocean.

The beauty and serenity of the marina offers the opportunity for Executive Chef, Jason Niederkorn, to constantly be inspired. Mr. Niederkorn’s uses food and wine as his medium for artistic expression and his custom menus and unique dishes showcase his work. He has elevated dining on the water to an art form.

We suggest trying Dungeness Crab Cake with cucumber and charantais melon salad or Agnolotti of White Corn topped with a pork belly sliver, brown butter, Parmesan Reggiano and chives as a starter. For an entrée, try the Chateau Filet Steak, ravioli of crescenza, leeks, and black truffles and red wine sauce, a true innovation created by the Chef. For dessert, the Chocolate Bacon Cake (with bacon powder) served with smoked chocolate gelato was surprisingly delightful.

With the comfort of a favorite neighborhood restaurant, Cafe del Rey embraces their waterfront location and allows the panoramic views and ocean breeze to perfect each dining experience. The chef’s take on California-Mediterranean cuisine, exemplified by the details of each plate, makes each visit to Cafe del Rey a new adventure.

Café del Rey
4451 Admiralty Way,
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
310-823-6395
www.cafedelreymarina.com

Mendocino Farms

Mendocino Farms

Fine Dining in Between Two Slices of bread

Could this be possible? Fresh, seasonal, locally grown produce, tender and flavorful meats, creamy cheese, tangy herb spreads, homemade pickles, on crusty yet spongy artisan bread; are all the fixings to make a five-star restaurant main entrée but Mendocino Farms takes these ingredients and assembles a sensational sandwich. Brilliant!

We stopped by Mendocino Farms (Mendo for short) for lunch in Marina Del Rey to try for ourselves. Their approach to sandwiches IS truly different. Sean Krajewski, director of operations, gave us a tour and explained their revolutionary philosophy. He explained they try to reconstruct ‘Fine Dining’ entrees to the sandwich level and take classic regional sandwiches and give them a modern interpretation. In order to do this, they promote seasonally and locally grown ingredients bought from a local Farmer’s Market.

Mendocino Farms kitchen and bread bin

We tried four of the best seller and our top choice is The Three Little Piggies Panini. A monster sandwich with Kurobuta pork belly, cider braised carnitas, and applewood smoked bacon with chile aioli, jalapeno relish, mashed avocado, provolone cheese, pickled red onions, and shredded romaine, all pressed on ciabatta. Unique and delicious. The Prosciutto & Roasted Chicken, A Sandwich Study of Heat (Turkey Avocado) and the Drunk’n Goat in Paris were not far behind in the taste testing. You will have to visit one of the three locations to get the ingredients of these tasty Panini’s, or visit them online.

If you have the opportunity, ask a Mendo employee how to navigate through a local Farmer’s Market so you can start incorporating seasonal ingredients into your homemade sandwiches, salads and soups. Seasonal ingredients make the Mendo menu an ever changing and evolving list. Rest assured that your impression of Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market will not.

Mendocino Farms Market
4724 Admiralty Way,
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
310-822-2300
www.mendocinofarms.com

An Overnight Stay in Marina Del Rey, California

An Overnight Stay in Marina Del Rey, California

Marina Del Rey Marriott Lobby

Marina Del Rey Marriott

Marina Del Rey Marriott is changing the conventional perception of the hotel brand and attracting a different generation of customers. The 395-room hotel is “going boutique” with the modern redesign of its lobby in earth tones and the addition of sensual effects throughout; ambient and eclectic beats and glowing candles with the subtle aroma of citrus. Designed to appeal to the senses, Marina Del Rey Marriott provides a truly unique experience and is sure to please even the most well traveled guests.

Exceptional within its market, Marina Del Rey Marriott possesses a prime location overlooking the scenic yacht-filled bay. A private rooftop helicopter landing pad and the penthouse ballroom boasting breathtaking views are unique to this property. Guest rooms are designed with style, all overlooking the waters of Marina Del Rey or with views of the Malibu Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

“Glow,” one of the latest Southern California indoor/outdoor lounges, is rated one of the top ten hotel lounges in the US.

GLOW, a perfect hotspot alternative to the downtown hustle and bustle is rated as one of the top ten lounges in Los Angeles by Playboy Magazine. It is an open-air lounge where patrons will enjoy romantic fire pits, water features, deep amber lighting and a black-tented gazebo. Renowned local DJs often host. Premium bottle service and private VIP cabanas are among Glow’s signatures that make this bar an absolute “must-see” gem.
Don’t forget to try one of their signature cocktails such as a grapefruit jalapeno martini (Modern Spirits Grapefruit Honey Vodka, muddled jalapeno & agave, grapefruit juice, club soda) or the White Grape Martini, Coconut Lime Martini, Cucumber Gin Martini, Raspberry Limeade Martini, or Mangotini. You can catch their Happy Hour on Mondays thru Fridays 4:00pm-7:00pm with deals on select draft beer for $4, wine for $6, and appetizers for $6.

The Marriott Smoke-Free Hotel Policy

Marriott is committed to providing its guests and associates with a smoke-free environment, and is proud to boast one of the most comprehensive smoke-free hotel policies in the industry. This initiative includes guest rooms, public spaces and associate work areas. Since its introduction in 2006, the policy has been implemented in more than 2,300 properties throughout the United States and Canada including nearly 400,000 individual guest rooms. The continuing effort to comply with the smoke-free policy reinforces Marriott’s commitment to being an environmentally friendly company. Smoking is not permitted within hotel buildings themselves. Guests who smoke are
permitted to do so outside in designated areas.

Marina Del Rey Marriott
4100 Admiralty Way,
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
310-448-4890

Hotel Maya

Hotel Maya



If you’re traveling to Long Beach for business or with the family — or if you just have a very early flight out of Long Beach Airport (LGB) then consider booking a room at the Hotel Maya in Long Beach. It’s a fun hotel that is set up like a resort with several buildings. We loved the fire pits and poolside cabanas and the serene view of the harbor.

HOTEL MAYA
700 Queensway Drive
Long Beach, CA 90802
562.435.7676