Late Lunch – Marmalade Café – Sept. 14, 2019 – Santa Monica, CA.

When my friend Lenny Rosenberg invited me to come taste his new venture, I jumped at the chance. He owned Lenny’s Deli on Westwood Blvd., which I reviewed a while back. So he brings his genius along with some amazing deli items. All the food was stellar and hit it way out of the park for me.

Here’s What I Tried:

Soup:

Matzo Ball, this is Jewish penicillin at it’s finest, they scored 100 on this is my book.

Curry Chicken, spicy, sweet and savory, just amazing.

Asparagus Puree, lots of pure asparagus flavors, a delicious heart warming soup.

I can always tell how the food is going to be from the soup, they have it covered in spades!!

Breakfast:

Smoked Scottish Salmon Platter, with a toasted bagel, cream cheese, red onion, capers, tomato, and cucumber. This menu item is straight from the deli, a great accomplishment.

Sandwich:

Classic Club, with slow roasted turkey breast, smoked bacon, tomato, lettuce, and mayo. This reminds me of the tennis club I used to go to as a child, they had a big meaty club, and this one was even better.

Wrap:

Southwest BBQ Chicken Wrap, BBQ chicken breast with avocado, corn, black beans, tomato, cilantro, onion, jack and cheddar cheese, and romaine. The chicken is sweet from the BBQ sauce, so I just loved it.

Hot Sandwiches:

Marmalade Cheeseburger, Fresh ground beef, with bacon, avocado, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and mayo on a brioche bun. This burger is piled so high, it’s hard to fit in your mouth, but once you do all of the glorious flavors explode, what a burger!

Salad:

Hollywood Cobb: with diced chicken, cucumber, tomato, eggs, Swiss, provolone, blue cheese, smoked bacon and avocado on romaine with lemon Dijon dressing. Another one of my favorites, it’s got all the right ingredients, cut the right way, just perfect. Also it’s Gluten-free.

Marmalade House, with organic mixed greens with cherry tomatoes spiced candied walnuts, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. The best part of this salad is the super sweet cherry tomatoes and the candied pecans.

Tacos:

Halibut Grilled Tacos, with shredded cabbage, avocado crema and pico de gallo. The halibut is very fresh and they really pile it on, another great menu item.

Entrees:

Linguini Bolognese, with slow cooked Bolognese sauce tossed with linguini and Parmesan cheese. The sauce is so authentic, right up there with the best Italian restaurants that I have reviewed, really a keeper.

Ginger Sesame Grilled Salmon, sustainably raised British Columbia salmon grilled and served with sesame ginger glaze, steamed vegetables and Yukon gold mashed potatoes. The salmon is thick and juicy, cooked to perfection. The glaze adds to the over all lusciousness of this meal.

Dessert:

Chocolate Flourless Cake, Pecan Square, and Lemon Square. Part Marmalade has many food cases, all with very tempting delights, but the dessert section will really make your mouth water. There’s a bold selection of homemade desserts, you just can’t go wrong. My three were outstanding.

About Marmalade Café:

Over 20 years ago, three young entrepreneurs with a passion for food and a desire to make customers happy, came together with a simple idea: serve fresh, high quality, eclectic California inspired food for busy Angelino’s. They would cook for those too busy to cook. In 1990 the original Marmalade Cafe opened on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. The 1,400 square foot store with limited seating featured a full bakery and cases of fresh salads and entrees for diners on the go. Marmalade Cafe was an instant success and was quickly adopted by the community. Less than three years later, in response to an increasing number of appeals for a full dining experience at Marmalade Cafe, founders Selwyn Yosslowitz, Robert Burns Jr. and Bonnie Burns opened the first full service Marmalade Cafe in Malibu. With only 100 seats, Marmalade Cafe Malibu quickly became a cornerstone in the eclectic Malibu community. This constant demand for the fresh California cuisine characteristic of Marmalade Cafe led to the restaurant’s expansion into major Los Angeles communities.

Each cafe is unique in design and décor. Adorned with Americana antiques, personally found and placed by Bonnie Burns, every Marmalade Cafe exudes a warm & cozy neighborhood cafe ambiance.

Marmalade Cafe was embraced by the Santa Monica locals who loved their fresh baked goods and healthy fare served in a charming setting. Since that time, the Marmalade Family has grown to include a vibrant, full-service catering company. At the heart of our business, they are a friendly neighborhood gathering where the food is delicious and our warm service is genuine.

It’s quite a comfortable atmosphere; with people hanging out at they’re outside tables, with their friends, dogs, in the cool fall breeze. The interior has community tables which adds to the overall vibe, casual, but charming. It’s more of a marketplace then a classic dining establishment, but the food is so wonderful, you will just want to see for yourself. For me it was just what the Doctor ordered!

With seven locations, Farmers Market, El Segundo, Calabasas, Malibu, Sherman Oaks, West Lake Village, and Santa Monica, there is no excuse not to go try some magnificent food.

Marmalade Café
710 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA
(310) 395-9196
http://marmaladecatering.com
Lenny Rosenberg (@LennyRosenberg) | Twitter
* Note some content was taken off of their website.

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First Ladies High Tea – Saturday, September 14, 2019, The Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA.

Hats, hats and more hats, all the finest. With so much glamour and finery I felt like I was in church and not at a big huge Hollywood event. But that truly is the beauty of this glorious day. This is High Tea with all of the fixings, done by the great catering there at The Beverly Hilton. What more could you ask for.

First Ladies High Tea an event that was created by L.A. Focus to honor the role of women in the community, and women of faith, with particular respect to the influence and impact they have in the lives of our youth. In light of that vision, the tea provides scholarships awards to at-risk girls

Legendary Actress Marla Gibbs will receive the Legacy Award. Gibbs is best known for her work on CBS’s The Jefferson. Honorees include; LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn, Erica Campbell, Grammy-winner of Mary Mary, R&B music artist and radio host, Actress Essence Atkins, starring in OWN’s Ambitions, and renowned Dr. Kristi Funk, MD, breast cancer surgeon. LA Focus honors First ladies honorees are: Melinda Campbell from First AME Pasadena, Junita Edwards from Pasadena Community Christian Fellowship and Barbara Hendricks from Church of the Living God. An amazing performance by multi Award winning Anthony Brown & Group therAPy. Co-Hosts will be Actress Wendy Raquel Williams starring in ABC’s Grand Hotel and Apostle Beverly “BAM” Crawford, Pastor, Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church.

Truly a wonderful event, filled with spirit and love, I was healed!! I go every year and always have the most elevated experience.

The Beverly Hilton Hotel
9876 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

@Firstladieshightea

* Note some content was taken off of press release.

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Late Lunch – Baby Blues BBQ – Labor Day – September 2, 2019 – Venice, CA.

There used to be a location down the street from me in West Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd. that closed a while back. I finally made it out to their very fun Venice location right in the heart of this cool and artsy community!  And let me tell you…they did not disappoint! If you’re looking for authentic Southern BBQ then this is your place. For the kind of mouth-watering BBQ that you’d normally find in cities like Texas or Memphis-look no further! Baby Blues will satisfy all of your Southern BBQ cravings.

In 2008 Guy Fieri of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” paid a visit to the Venice location. He did a great segment about co-owners Danny Fischer and Rick Mac Cathay opening Baby Blues BBQ in 2006. These East Coast transplants called their Southern California styled BBQ, Hybrid BBQ. Whatever you call it, their 16 hour smoked BBQ ribs are off-the-bone delicious! 

Here’s what I had:

Starters:

Suicide King- Two slices of fresh baked cornbread topped with your choice of meat, cotija cheese, a dab of remoulade and BBQ sauce. I just can’t say enough about this starter. You just have to try it. Decadent…but what the heck!

The Sauces: 

BBQ- Mild vinegar based.

SWEET- Tangy BBQ-molasses.

XXX- Habanero, serrano, and poblano peppers with pineapple, raspberry, and mango.

HOT- Medium flavored “Buffalo”-style with a hint of ginger.

They are all gluten free and homemade-just amazing.

Sandwiches:

Sliced Brisket Sandwich- On Soft Roll with coleslaw. This brisket is so tender! It has a nice flavor and the coleslaw on top just pulls the whole sandwich together.

Burger:

Bacon-Blue Stuffed Burger – A half-pound of prime chuck hand-blended with blue cheese and maple bacon into a patty, served with lingonberry mustard. The meat is so lovely with the best flavor, with the blue cheese; it’s just off the charts.

Platters:

Memphis Style Ribs – Square cut, long-bone pork ribs, rubbed top to bottom with a blend of dry spices, slow smoked then grilled and lightly basted with our house BBQ sauce. These come to you hot and juicy. They are simple wonderful.

Regional Classics:

Sliced Brisket- Black Angus beef, pepper crusted, slow smoked for 14 hours and hand carved to order. This meat is flaky, light and  so moist. It is just the best of the best!

Smoked Chicken – Natural and hormone-free chicken. Because a happy chicken is a tasty chicken.   They serve up a moist and delicious ler and thigh.

Combos:

Blue Devil- Your choice of 4 different meats with an additional fixin’.

I chose Sliced Brisket, Catfish, Shrimp and Baby Back Ribs. 

Baby Back Ribs- Prime cut pork ribs dry rubbed, slow smoked then grilled and brushed with their house BBQ sauce. 

Grilled Shrimp – Black tiger shrimp, marinated and grilled. Topped with a New Orleans style remoulade. 

Gulf Coast Catfish – a catfish filet seasoned with Cajun spices and blackened in a cast iron skillet. Topped with remoulade. The shrimp is grilled to perfection. The Catfish is just fantastic. The ribs are falling off the bone, tender, light and so yummy.

Fixins:

Collard Greens, Mac N Cheese – 4 cheeses, Baked Beans, Cornbread, and Cole Slaw. My favorite was the Mac N Cheese- super creamy with very large elbow noodles. Really terrific!

Desserts:

Banana Pudding- their house specialty! Served with vanilla wafers, it’s truly a dessert symphony of wonderfulness.

Key Lime Pie- by far my favorite Key Lime pie of all times! Sweet and creamy with just a hint of lime. Just amazing!

Chocolate Pie- if you love chocolate you will have to try this pie.

Beverages: 

Beers: Bud Light…truly the drink to have with BBQ. It quenches your thirst and cools your palate.

Wine: House red or House white, both were great for house wines and went great with the various menu items.

Luckily, I was able to get my BBQ fix on Labor Day itself, so, no backyard party for me and I would not have had it any other way. They play great music that adds to the overall atmosphere with The Rolling Stones, country banjo music and Southern Rock all setting the tone.

Baby Blues BBQ’s interior makes you feel like you are somewhere in the South. Its rustic with lots of great art on the walls. All meant to make you feel like you are in someone’s home or backyard. It’s Casual, rustic, with a great beach feel. Lots of couples and “dudes” drinking beer and eating BBQ. 

Next time you’re hankering for amazing BBQ, try Baby Blues BBQ.  You will be happy that I suggested it. They have 3 locations in Los Angeles: Venice Beach, Echo Park, K-town and locations in San Francisco and Philadelphia. I just loved all of their Smokey delicious flavors!

Baby Blues BBQ

444 Lincoln Blvd.

Venice, CA.

www.babybluesbbq.com

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Lunch – Saturday – August 24, 2019 – Le Pain Quotidien – Westwood, CA.

It’s super busy and very close to UCLA. Students, families and people working on their laptops sip coffee and share banter. No matter the reason for your visit this restaurant has all of their bases covered to leave you very satisfied! 

There was a huge private party table in the middle of the restaurant that made this place super noisy. I was happy to discover and to share the air space with the USC Entrepreneurial Group having a networking mixer. Their table had lots of yummy food items and many took home doggie bags. 

Here’s What I Tried:

Beverages:

Classic Lemonade-a great thirst-quenching version.

Essential Green Juicekale, cucumber, spinach, celery, romaine, lime and parsley. This is a very healthy juice that lacks anything sweet; but, will put you in the right place. 

Cappuccino-A great no nonsense coffee drink served in their classic coffee type bowls. 

Breakfast and Brunch:

Skillet Eggs:

Avocado and Crisp Onion with eggs served sunnyside up to add a great yoke flavor. I really loved the crisp onion! 

Bacon! Lots of pieces of bacon and scallion with eggs cooked to perfection. Be careful! The skillet of super hot! 

Salad:

Grilled Chicken Cobb: Organic chicken, avocado, bacon, organic hard-boiled egg, blue cheese, tomato, seasonal greens, and smoked tea vinaigrette. By far, my favorite item of the day. It has everything that usually goes into a Cobb salad with an elegant small chop for the vegetables and an amazing dressing. This would be my go-to salad here. 

Tartine: 

Open faced sandwich on organic whole-wheat sourdough. 

Sample: 

Roasted Turkey and Avocado: radish, cucumber, arugula, and vinaigrette. 

Smoked Salmon, avocado, scallions, and dill. 

Ham and Gryuere Cheese. 

Each one was done with amazing details and the bread is just so terrific. 

I was also given some nice pastries and wonderful mini tart dessert items. They list calories on their menu as well which is good for calorie watchers. 

The interior is simple but practical with lots of blonde wood everywhere: the floors, the chair and their tables. There is a huge map of the world on one wall. The display cases show off all of their wonderful pastry items. 

There are 22 locations in Los Angeles, and 270 around the world.

Le Pain Quotidien means “The Daily Bread”, if I could, I would eat their bread everyday, it is just that good!

Le Pain Quotidien

1122 S. Gayley Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90024

www.lepainquotidien.com

 

 

 

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Dinner – Emilia – August 14, 2019 – Beverly Hills, CA.

This place is bright, cheery and the Italian cuisine is exceptional! All the things you crave here in Beverly Hills. They are the new kid on the block bound to end up with all of the huge success stories of great Italian eateries in Los Angeles! 

This location used to be called The Larder on Burton Way. I never ate there; so, I know nothing about it. This building is relatively new so you can see all of the great design work in the architecture. The interior of Emilia doesn’t disappoint. It’s modern, cozy and just has good vibes all the way around. The interior is elegant and modern with light green panelled walls, light colored wood floors, white marble top tables and a wraparound patio. The Bar area is fun and part of it is against the wall with art by Miro. There are high ceilings, brown leather club bar stools, white ball light fixtures, white ball lights strung outside, and nice big windows facing out to Burton Way. 

Here’s What I Tried:

Something To Share:

Tortellini Emiliani con Crema di Parmigiano, Housemade traditional tortellini filled with prosciutto di Parma and served in a light Parmigiano-Reggiano sauce. These are bite-sized mini tortellini, but so flavorful and juicy. 

Tagliata di Tonno, Seared tuna thinly sliced and topped with toasted pistachio, drizzled with Italian EVOO and lemon. This is a super protein-packed appetizer that is light and flawless. 

Insalate:

Insalata di Carciofi, Fresh baby artichoke and hearts of palm salad with toasted walnuts, topped with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, arugula and an EVOO and lemon dressing. Nice and fluffy with good crunch, but the cheese on top sealed the deal for me. 

Insalata di Cesare, Classic Caesar salad with butter lettuce and garlic croutons, topped with 24-month aged Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese. A nice rendition of this very special classic.

Paste & Risotto:

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, Handmade tagliatelle with a traditional beef and pork Bolognese ragù. This pasta is so delightful, just the right consistency, and the sauce is otherworldly. Italian menus in Italy never have huge plates of pasta; it is just a small plate, which for me is so ideal!

Risotto agli Asparagi, Acquarello Carnaroli rice, with fresh asparagus, crispy prosciutto and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The very subtle flavor of the asparagus is in every bite, but the super creamy risotto is just the perfect balance.

I Secondi:

Filetto di Manzo al Pepe, Grilled beef tenderloin with a green pepper sauce, served with sautéed oyster mushrooms. The beef is cooked delicately rare and the sauce is deep and luscious, an excellent choice.

Sogliola alla Mugnaia, Fresh Dover sole baked with a lemon and caper sauce, served with sautéed broccolini. The presentation is to show you the whole fish on a platter after it is cooked, but fileted and delicate. The flavor once you have it in your mouth is equally exciting and delicious. What a treat.

Contorni:

Grilled oyster mushrooms, these are grilled with super great flavor, so delicious.

Medley organic vegetables, colorful and tasty, cooked to perfection.

Dessert:

Tiramisu, served in a glass cup, delicate and all consuming, you must have to try this.

Chocolate Cake, this is a rich bold chocolate delicacy.

Pinna Cotta, is bright and fruity, I just loved this dessert.

Wines:

Ferrari, Brut, Trentino Alto Adige, Chardonnay, NV. In Italy they make wine that is grassy and herbal as opposed to our super buttery oaky Chardonnays, and some how it matches the flavors of the food, this wine went great with the beautiful dover sole.

Lunae, Colli di Luni Vermentino, Toscana, 2016. This wine can go with any of the pastas or salads; it has some bright notes and did round out the acids in their dishes.

Planeta, Chardonnay, Sicilia, 2016. A nice light Chardonnay that I loved with the asparagus risotto.

Giovanni Almondo, Nebbiolo Langhe, Langhe, Piemonte, 2017. A super charged red wine that enhanced the flavors of the steak all the way around.

My waiter, Raffaelle Mazzarella, was so accommodating and so sweet…did I say extremely handsome as well? Don’t let a handsome face fool you.  He is such a nice person having moved from Puglia, Italy and only working at their sister restaurant, Amici. I suggested that he take up acting because at some point someone will discover him. He just set the tone for a very elegant evening. 

Seems like the word has gotten out about Emilia with families, locals, dates, the fifty-something crowd and double daters out the night I was there.  It was a nice full house. Everyone was enjoying themselves and taking in this new spectacular restaurant. Emilia has only been open for 6 weeks. 

I just love the old school vegetable crudité on ice on the tablea special treat. There is upbeat music like Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston to fill the air space. Something about this place just makes you feel good and as if you are somewhere in Florence or Milan…it’s just that authentic! I just loved the whole experience. I’ll be back! 

Emilia
8500 Burton way
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Emiliasla.com

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Dinner – The Upper West – August 1, 2019 – Santa Monica, CA.

Chef Nick Shipp is a real darling and super talented man. He has been at the helm here at The Upper West for a while. Upper West opened up in 2010. I came to their grand opening then and in 2014 I did a fabulous review of The Upper West. Well I am here to tell you that the food has only gotten better! It was delicious back then but the little nuances have increased and everything I tasted tonight was exceptional and spectacular. 

About Upper West: 

The Upper West has been locally owned and operated since 2010. The Upper West’s ever-changing menu draws inspiration from around the world while maintaining eclectic flavors of their very own. 

The bar offers a nightly happy hour from 5-7pm and all night happy hour every Monday serving refreshing craft cocktails, handcrafted beer and a unique array of small bites. Some of the local favorite happy hour small bites are: braised pork belly lettuce wraps, sausage and goat cheese quesadillas and lamb nachitos. 

What makes The Upper West so special is that their Ingredients are sourced locally from the Santa Monica Farmers market as well as local farmers such as Weiser Farms, Niman Ranch, Jimenez Family Farm, and Harries Berries. 

The interior is lively and organically pleasing. Big, tall-trussed ceilings add to the overall charm. Simplicity is the backdrop to their outstanding food. One of the interior highlights is that every season of the year the wall art changes with works from local artists.  You too will find it an enchanting and inviting place to: meet for a first date, host private corporate events, celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, holiday festivities, rehearsal dinners or to have a simple family dinner.  The real star of the show; however, is their amazing food! 

The Upper West values community involvement as well as participating and supporting local charities in Santa Monica such as LLS, Breast Cancer Awareness, Venice Family Clinic, Planned Parenthood and the local schools. 

My waiter was the very handsome TJ who was filled with only good vibes. He was as efficient as he was fun. The night I came the place was packed but TJ managed to take good care of me by check-in timely and serving my evening’s meal with elegance and grace.  

Jen and James a very handsome young couple were sitting next to me. They offered up a taste of the Smoked Blue Cheese Chips-super yum! A must have on my next visit.  James really knew the menu and they had a blast eating all of their favorites. You could tell that they were regulars. 

There is a patio where they play great old films. That night, the iconic, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was playing.  

 

Here’s what I tried: 

Cocktails: 

The Westsider, with Belvedere Vodka, fresh pomegranate, Gifffard PampleMousse, and Rose Cava. A pungent drink, full of action packed ingredients that are guaranteed to blow your hair back. It’s refreshing and delicious. 

Strawberry Fields, with Vodka, strawberry, basil, and lemonade. If you’re in the mood for a sweet cocktail then this would be for you. A nice way to start my experience. 

Cucumber Martini Wheatley Vodka, cucumber, mint, and lemon. This would be my go-to drink. It’s elegant and a perfect thirst quencher. I just loved it. 

Soup: 

Sweet Corn Soup, with a veggie fritter. My rule of thumb is that you can always tell so much about a restaurant by their soup. This one is a true winner. Rich corn flavors with a nice creamy edge-just perfect. 

Appetizers: 

Ivette’s Spicy Salmon Crunchy Rice, with freeze dried soy sauce, wasabi tobiko, avocado puree, lime, jalapeno, and baby shiso. This appetizer is very Asian inspired with lush umami flavors-simply wonderful. 

Chargrilled Octopus, with gigande bean, potato salad, orange, yuzu aioli, and smoked roe. One huge tentacle may seem like a prehistoric presentation; however, once you get past that you are in heaven! The flavors blend and your taste buds dance, just amazing. 

“Baby” Baby Back Ribs, with lemongrass bbq sauce, pickled peppers, cilantro, and grilled pineapple. Too bad this is appetizer size; I could eat a whole entree plate of this. They ribs are succulent, tender and flavorful, a real treat. 

Entrees: 

Coffee Crusted Red Wattle Pork Tenderloin, with goat cheese mashed potatoes, roasted jalapeno applesauce, and citrus demi. The pork is super tender, but the real star for me is the goat cheese mashed potatoes. The combination of the potatoes and the pork is super dope. 

Prime Flatiron Steak, with McDaniel smoked bacon, and Gorgonzola slaw. This steak is super smoky, which I just loved and the slaw added the right crunch, a nice unique steak from all the typical steaks at dining establishments. 

Sides: 

Wild Mushrooms, with garlic, leeks, farro, and dried fig. I can’t say enough about these little darlings-super delicious. 

Grilled Sweet Corn, with avocado butter, Cotija cheese, and smoked paprika. This side dish has a Latin twist. It packs some unique flavors into one big side dish. 

Dessert: 

Key Lime Tart, with blueberry jam, coconut basil sorbet, and lavender whipped cream. This is something that The Upper West is known for and you can see why once you dive into this luxurious new take on a real southern classic, you too will be hooked. 

Chocolate Mousse Crunch Cake, with peanut butter ice cream, roasted marshmallow, and strawberry puree. If you’re a chocolate lover then this dessert is for you, and the ice cream is off the charts. 

Wine: 

Chardonnay, Magnolia, Russian River Valley, CA., 2015. This is not a super buttery wine, but its enables the other flavors of the food to shine. I would do this wine with the Octopus. 

Sauvignon Blanc, Les 7 Hommes, Sancerre, France, 2018. This is a grassy herbal wine; it went great with the salmon crunchy rice. 

Seven Hills, Walla Walla Valley, Washington CA., 2014, a perfect combo with the flat iron steak. 

Pinot Noir Purple Hands, Willamette Valley, OR, 2017. A nice light Pinot that can be paired easily with the glorious ribs. 

Chef Nick Shipp is eager to accommodate. He was raised in Fort Worth, Texas. The “Funkytown” native began his cooking career at the early age of 15 and later attended the Culinary Institute of Dallas. Moving west to SoCal, he became immersed in the Wolfgang Puck franchise. Shipp’s culinary peers have chosen him to be in the inaugural edition of the Best Chefs of America 2013. His regional cuisine at The Upper West is creative and inspiring. Some menu items have been on since the beginning, and some others are a work in progress. Your taste buds will enjoy Chef Nicks Shipps blending and subtle nuances with every bite, has been described by food critics as a “mad scientist, where no two dining experiences are ever alike.” 

Every month, Chef Nick gets to show off his culinary talents with a special pairing dinner co-hosted by select liquor brands who will walk you through each of the individual tasting notes in accompaniment with each course. They offer whiskey, gin, and wine dinners, with a small intimate group, and everyone always has a great time! 

Next time you’re looking for a great meal and a fun environment try The Upper West. It’s a hidden gem in a super cool part of Santa Monica. Almost as if you were somewhere in Manhattan or San Francisco without the plane fare.
Quotes on their walls: 

“There is no sincerer love then love of a food”, George Bernard Shaw.

“Whiskey is for drinking, water is for floating”, Mark Twain.
The Upper West
3321 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
310-586.1111
www.theupperwest.com

* Note some content was taken off of their website.

This review is dedicated to Leslie Paonessa, she was a true fixture at The Upper West – enjoying her happy hours very regularly, and they even named a cocktail after her. To me she was a dear friend, The Upper West had her memorial, and they closed the restaurant for her remembrance. Chef Nick said some very sweet words about her as well. She will be very missed, cheers Leslie.

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LA Westside Food & Wine Festival – Sunday – July 21- Culver City, CA.

The 4th Edition of the Annual LA Westside Food & Wine Festival is a celebration of Food, Wine, Beer, Spirits, Entertainment, Music, Activities and much more to benefit The Westside Food Bank.  The Annual Festival returned to the Courtyard by Marriott LA Westside and filled the Ballroom, Patio, and back parking lot with an exciting blend of new and returning exhibitors.

It was a nice sunny day in Los Angeles and this year the turn out was off the charts. This event really blew up…very exciting!

Here’s who all was there:

Food: STK Steakhouse, Fifty One Chinese Kitchen (Food & Alcohol), The Tuck Room Tavern, Panini Kabob Grill, Le Pain Quotidien, LaRocco’s Pizzeria, Jimmy John’s, New School of Cooking, All American Gumbo, Entertainment Friends and Sacred Occasions Events, Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, Love Catering, Flame Broiler, Farm Fresh to you, Oil & Vinegar, Kind Bars, chocoMe original Artisan Chocolate, Hannah’s Chocolate Bananas, and Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Liquor/Drinks: Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards, Riboli Wines, Vista del Mar Winery, VeroVino Wines, PRP Wine International, Harajuku Taproom Beer and Sake, Calidad Beer, Morandell Spirits/Cocktails (Bettie Page Spicy Rum, Nuda Tequila, 1010 Dakiri, Mojito, Pina Colada, Whisky Chocolate, Whisky Coconut, Dark Rum), Broken Shed Vodka, Uncle Nearest Whiskey, Boochcraft Kombucha, Vita Coco Coconut Water, Suro Cha Tea, Vital Proteins Collagen Water, Purity Organic, Morning Recover, The KOPU Water Company Inc, and Asante Tea.

It was so great to experience an interactive music virtual reality world, photo booth, DJ and Live Jazz Group, a strolling magician, dancing, and great silent auction. Also, part of the festivities was a Blackjack Tournament and psychic Tiffani Rose. Fun was had by all!

A portion of the proceeds from the Westside Food and Wine Festival benefit the Westside Food Bank. Their mission is to end hunger in our communities by providing access to free and nutritious food through food acquisition and distribution. Find out more at http://wsfb.org

Media Sponsors: Yelp, Culver City Chamber of Commerce, The Argonaut, Culver City News, Coast to Coast Newspaper, LA Art Party.

There was a big growth spurt this year and  there are 2 festivals a year-summer and fall. I am sure that the fall festival, Oct. 13th, 2019, will be just as big and fabulous so get your tickets now. You simply don’t want to miss out.

LA Westside Food & Wine Festival

Swingentertainment.com
elliot@swingentertainment.com

 

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July 18, 2019 – Jose Iturbi Foundation – LA Philharmonic Celebrates Gustavo Dudamel 10 Year Anniversary – Hollywood Bowl – Hollywood, CA.

I have been to the Hollywood Bowl numerous times but never like this. The evening started off with valet parking right up against the backside of the Bowl with a lovely reception on the right side of the stage in the special events tent. There was amazing food and drink with lots of fun conversation. I really felt honored and blessed to be part of this annual event. Thank you so much Harlan Boll and Donelle Dadigan.

Donelle Dadigan is quite the angel and gives so much of herself day to day. She is the founder of the Jose Iturbi Foundation-Mr. Iturbi being her Godfather. She talked about all of the great things that he did in his lifetime and how he affected her life and career. She pointed out many of the people in the audience as well as their musical background. There were many celebrities in tow. Some political figures were there as well and gave the Foundation much deserved proclamations. This part of the evening was just so special-all under one tent for The Joe Iturbi Foundation and Gustavo Dudamel’s 10-year anniversary.

Celebrated fans and supporters of The José Iturbi Foundation scheduled to attend as special guests of Co-Founder and President, Donelle Dadigan, include: Burt Ward (Robin/BATMAN); Susan Olsen (Brady Bunch); Geri Jewell (Facts of Life and HBOs Deadwood); Roslyn Kind; (Critically acclaimed Recording Artist), Lee Purcell (Multi-Emmy nominee); Donna Pescow (Multi-Emmy and Golden Globe nominee); Composer Charles Fox (2x Emmy, 2x Golden Globe & 2x Academy Award nominee & Grammy winner); George Chakiris (Academy Award & Golden Globe winner); Lainie Kazan (Tony winner/My Big Fat Greek Wedding), as well as the stars of Knots Landing (Celebrating its 40th Anniversary later this year), Emmy nominee, Joan Van Ark; Emmy winner, Donna Mills; Emmy & Tony winner, Michelle Lee.

Among the special guests of the Jose’ Iturbi Foundation that offered remarks were: CHARLES FOX (Emmy and Grammy winning Composer): “What a fantastic night of music at Hollywood Bowl last night for the Jose’ Iturbi Foundation. Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil were extraordinary as usual with Khatia Buniatishvili was as exciting as it was beautiful and superbly performed. For several of the highlights from film music, a number of very talented members of YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) sat in for some of the Philharmonic members on a number of chairs and played beautifully. The Jose’ Iturbi foundation has been for many years a major contributor and great factor in young musicians’ lives in helping them achieve their dreams.  Bravo for a great night”.

Lainie Kazan (TONY Winner/My Big Fat Greek Wedding): “I have so much respect for Jose Iturbi and even more so, when I see what his Goddaughter, Donelle Dadigan, is doing with the foundation that bares his name.”

Joan Van Ark (Knots Landing): “O-o-o-o-oh what a night! Dinner and a stirring concert performance under and with the stars . . . all for a chance to inspire and empower young artists to follow their dreams for a career in classical music  by supporting the Jose Iturbi Foundation. Totally unforgettable.”

Donna Pescow  (Saturday Night Fever/Angie? Carol of the Bells): “It was a magical evening at the Hollywood Bowl last night celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the brilliant Gustavo Dudamel. The extraordinary concert pianist Khatia Buniatishvili performed and the evening was sponsored by the Jose Iturbi Foundation.  What a spectacular night of music, inspiration and joy! There were fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl last night both on stage and off. It was a celebration of the LA Philharmonics Gustavo Dudamels 10th anniversary as conductor, the glorious Khatia Buniatishvili performed and it was all sponsored by the Jose Iturbi Foundation whose work continues the great mans legacy. It was joyous!”

Susan Olsen (Brady Bunch): “I am a movie soundtrack geek! So I was in heaven!!! I had just been googling Bernard Hermann earlier that evening!”

Lee Purcell (Valley Girl/Carol of the Bells): “What a wonderful evening we had with the Jose Iturbi Foundation at the Hollywood Bowl celebrating Gustavo Dudamels 10th Anniversary as the conductor of the LA Phil. with pianist Khatia Buniatishvili brilliantly playing Tchaikovsky 1st, the Youth Orchestra LA, and the glorious fireworks-it was truly a night to remember!”

Michele Lee (TONY Winner/Knots Landing): “Just spectacular.  What could be more appropriate? Celebrating the classic music of the past at The Hollywood Bowl, while supporting the future of classical music with the Jose’ Iturbi Foundation.”

Geri Jewell (Facts of Life/Deadwood): “As Donelle pointed out, I have an unusual history with regard to music.  I used to play the organ at my father’s funeral home. I loved to play and it instilled an early appreciation for the importance and the effect music has on an audience. Although often overlooked, because you cant see the music, it sets a tone for a gathering and any scene in a movie or on a TV series.”

Roslyn Kind (Critically Acclaimed Singer) “Music is such an extremely important part of my entire families life.  It is all around us, not only in our films and TV shows, but in our daily life.  It defines us. Supporting the efforts of The Jose Iturbi Foundation is paramount to our future as a human race.”

This Special Concert celebrating Gustavo Dudemel 10 year anniversary with the LA Philharmonic as Music Director and conductor. Gustavo Dudamel Conducts Rachmaninoff with the Piano solo by Khatia Buniatishvili. The program was wonderful and Khatia is one of the Seven Wonders of the World!

The Evenings Music Program:
Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30.
Allegro ma non tanto.
Intermezzo: Adagio.
Finale: Alla breve.
Piano solo Khatia Buniatishvili.
Iconic Selections from Hollywood’s Golden Age:
Korngold – “March of the Merry Men”, from The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Herrmann – Suite from Vertigo, Prelude, The Nightmare, Scene d’Amour.
Steiner – Suite from Casablanca.
Waxman – Sunset Blvd. Suite, Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, YOLA National Institute.
Mancini – The Pink panther Theme, Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, YOLA National Institute.

With Gustavo at the helm of the LA Phil excitement abounds. He just ignites his orchestra and everything around him. What a treat to be a part of this huge honor for him!

José Iturbi Foundation: The José Iturbi Foundation was created in 1985 by Marion Seabury and Donelle Dadigan. This not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization was founded in memory of concert great, José Iturbi. The Foundation is dedicated to continuing the legacy of José Iturbi, to fulfill his wish to make classical music accessible and enjoyable to people of all ages and walks of life, and to fulfill his desire of bringing to the public’s attention today’s greatest emerging talents and prize-winning classical musicians. The José Iturbi Foundation has fulfilled his mission by sponsoring blockbuster concerts, holding international musical competitions, and showcasing professional classical music artists in the making.

José Iturbi Biography: José Iturbi was recognized as the world’s greatest classical pianist during the 1930’s – 1970’s. José Iturbi was the world’s most popular classical musician from the 1930’s until his death.

Iturbi’s talent was recognized at an early age. He started piano lessons at age 3, and graduated with first prize honors from the Valencia Music Conservatory at 14 years old. Iturbi received a scholarship to study at the Paris Music Conservatory where he spent his days as a serious student and his nights playing in a Paris café in return for one meal a day, a space to sleep in the café store room after hours, and a few francs. Iturbi always tried to find ways to make ends meet. No matter how difficult times were Iturbi was determined to remain in the greatest cultural center of Europe – Paris.

In 1913, Iturbi graduated from the Paris Music Conservatory with the first of all first prize honors. He then held the chair of Professor of Piano Virtuosity at the Geneva Conservatory of Music in Switzerland (a post once held by Franz Liszt) for six years until his concert engagements became too numerous to permit his required teaching schedule.

Throughout his long career, José Iturbi concertized to adoring fans and sold-out audiences in every corner of the world. It was commonplace at Iturbi’s concerts for the overflow audience to be seated on stage. This remained his standard from the 1920’s and for the next five decades through the 1970’s! Excitement always accompanied Iturbi on his concert tours!

What a glorious evening under the stars. Elegant, sophisticated and wonderful-just what the doctor ordered on a crisp summer night in Hollywood.

http://www.joseiturbifoundation.org
https://www.hollywoodbowl.com/

(I dedicate this review to my late dear friend Oscar Vazquez; he was from Barquisimeto, Venezuela, same as Gustavo Dudamel.Oscar is very missed, but always in all of our hearts.)

* Some content was taken off of their website.

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Saturday – July 13, 2019 – Concern Foundation’s 45th Annual Block – California Dreaming to Conquer Cancer – Paramount Studios

The evening started early, while the sun was up and very bright, but by the time sunset hits the colors change and you guaranteed to have the time of your life at the Concern Block party, I know I did.

Concern Foundation for cancer research hosted it’s 45th Annual block Party on the back a lot Paramount Studio in Hollywood on Saturday July 13th 2019 featuring multiple stages of live entertainment, casino style games, live and silent auctions, and food, desserts and beverages from over 70 of Los Angele’s best restaurant and caterers. This year, in honor of their lifetime of contribution and effort in support of the concern foundation, Judy Carroll, Lexy & John Carroll& the Carroll Family with the lifetime Giving Award. The event was led by the concern office staff and a team of volunteers and designed once again by john Fredenzi of town and Country Event Rentals.

For the 15th Year in row, concern helped celebrate the Best of LA 2019 in Los Angeles Magazine, and featured lounges, photo booths, food stations, DJ dancing, and much more. The magazine also donates $25,000 each year to Concern to help further the mission.

Here are the vendors involved:

Food & Drinks: Tasty bites: 1212 Santa Monica, Atmosphere Mar Vista, Bar Hayama, Bertha Mae’s Brownie co., Beyond Meat, Bistro Jolie, Button Mash, Buzz Bar, Café Del Ray, California Sushi Academy, Casablanca Restaurant & Catering, Castle’s Creole + Southern Catering, DeLuscious Cookies & Milk, Dylan’s Soul Food on Crenshaw, El Floridita Cuban Supper Club, Factor’s Famous Deli, Farm Fresh to You, Fatamorgana Gelato, Fogo de Chao, Fresh Brother’s, Gluten Free Goddess, Gyu-Kaku, Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill & Jazz, Jayde’s Market, Just Jans, KIND Snacks, La Boheme, Maria’s Italian Kitchen, Marmalade Café & Catering Santa Monica, Mychals, Oak Smoke, BBQ, Ocean Prime Beverly Hills, Pink’s Famous Hot Dog, Porta Via, Samba Brazilian Steakhouse, SITK (someone’s in the kitchen), SLAB, STK Los Angeles, Stonefire Grill, Tavern LA, The Fry Grill, The Grill on the Alley, The Pie Hole, The Urban Oven, Torelli Trattoria, and Wurstkuche.

Cocktails & Refreshment: Asahi Beer U.S.A, Beauty and the Bar, Bulletproof, Buzzbox, Coke Products, Don Francisco’s Coffee, Don Q, Dulce Vida Tequila, Health-Ade Kombucha, Macallan Nude Tequila, Pasquini Espresso Co., Reed’s Ginger Brews, Suja Life, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Trader Joe’s, UPTIME, Weaver’s Coffee and tea.

The Garagiste Wine Festival Micro Winery Testing: Ascension Cellars, Cloak And Dagger, Dewitt Vineyard, Dusty Nabor Wines, Hoi Polloi Winery, Marin’s Vineyard, Montague Russe, Powicana Farms, and RF Wines.

I had a few favorites restaurants that I really enjoyed! Gyu-kaku did a Japanese BBQ beef that was out of this world. Bistro Jolie did a very nice vegetable tart with a fresh basil leaf on top, 1212 did an amazing fried oyster deviled egg, so rich and creamy one of my favorites. La Boheme served a delicious shrimp and scallop Ceviche that was very refreshing. Oaksmoke BBQ had a great smoky brisket, delicious. And of course Pinks had turkey dogs, vegan dogs and jumbo beef dogs, all with choice of their famous chili. Factors had their delicious beef pastrami. Fogo de Chao served their amazing beef, which was succulent and tender. The sushi at Bar Hayama was well worth the long wait; their crab roll was so delicious with real crab. You have to get here early because by 8:30 PM most of the food stalls are packing up their gear for another day.

The backlot streets was filled with over 75 food and beverage vendors under the direction of Nancy Eisenstadt, with plenty of musical and interactive entertainment featuring the Tom Nolan Band and D’ City Sound & Events. Throughout the venue guest enjoyed a photo studio, lounges and SPA services provided by the Beauty Bus Foundation.

One of the highlights of the evening was The Silent Auction and live auction under the direction of this year’s auction chairs Lynne Fox, Bettina Tendler O’Mara, Wendi Nogradi, and Courtney Teller. Live and silent auction items and packages include one-of-a-kind opportunities, concert and event tickets, restaurants, staycations, golf packages and so many other wonderful items donated friends throughout the community.

Starting from a simple idea back in the early 70’s and watching it become a reality with thousands of moving parts is the one thing that sets Concern’s signature Block Party apart from most other organizations in this city. It takes a tremendous team comprised of three generations of volunteers all working together each year and this year’s Block Party is one most successful fundraising event yet.

Paramount Studios
Hollywood 5555 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

https://www.concernfoundation.org/block-party.html
https://www.concernfoundation.org/
#ConcernBlockParty
#ConcernNow
* Note some content was taken from their website.

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LA Westside Food & Wine Festival – Sunday – July 21 – 3-7PM

The 4th Edition of the Annual LA Westside Food & Wine Festival benefiting The Westside Food Bank will be a celebration of Food, Wine, Beer, Spirits, Entertainment, Music, Activities and much more.

DATE: July 21st, 2019

3PM-7PM ENTRY for VIP

4PM-7PM Entry for General Admission

The Annual Festival returns to the Courtyard by Marriott LA Westside Ballroom, Patio, and back parking lot with an exciting blend of new and returning exhibitors.
Your all inclusive Food/Drink ticket allows you to roam the entire event tasting and sampling premium wines, beer, spirits, and gourmet bites from the following confirmed restaurants, caterers, liquor and drink purveyors. More Coming!

Food: STK Steakhouse, Fifty One Chinese Kitchen (Food & Alcohol), The Tuck Room Tavern, Panini Kabob Grill, Le Pain Quotidien, LaRocco’s Pizzeria, Jimmy John’s, New School of Cooking, All American Gumbo, Entertainment Friends and Sacred Occasions Events, Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, Love Catering, Flame Broiler, Farm Fresh to you, Oil & Vinegar, Kind Bars, chocoMe original Artisan Chocolate, Hannah’s Chocolate Bananas,Nothing Bundt Cakes.

Liquor/Drinks: Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards, Riboli Wines, Vista del Mar Winery, VeroVino Wines, PRP Wine International, Harajuku Taproom Beer and Sake, Calidad Beer, Morandell Spirits/Cocktails (Bettie Page Spicy Rum, Nuda Tequila, 1010 Dakiri, Mojito, Pina Colada, Whisky Chocolate, Whisky Coconut, Dark Rum), Broken Shed Vodka, Uncle Nearest Whiskey, Boochcraft Kombucha, Vita Coco Coconut Water, Suro Cha Tea, Vital Proteins Collagen Water, Purity Organic, Morning Recover,The KOPU Water Company Inc, Asante Tea.

Experience an interactive music virtual reality world, photo booth, DJ and Live Jazz Group, a strolling magician, dancing, silent auction and more.

Blackjack Tournament with $10 buy-in! Win comp tickets to the October 13th LA Westside Food & Wine Festival!

Psychic Tiffani Rose (Small variable fee).

A portion of the proceeds from the Westside Food and Wine Festival benefit the Westside Food Bank.

Their mission is to end hunger in our communities by providing access to free and nutritious food through food acquisition and distribution. Find out more at http://wsfb.org

Currently a Limited number of all inclusive early bird general admission tickets are $50 and all inclusive early bird VIP tickets are $75.

Media Sponsors: Yelp, Culver City Chamber of Commerce, The Argonaut, Culver City News, Coast to Coast Newspaper, LA Art Party.

Event is Rain or Shine. Everyone must bring valid ID.
No refunds. Tickets are transferable to another person for July 21st if you email elliot@swingentertainment.com at least 24 hrs before the event.

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