Breakfast – December 15 – Southern Kitchen – Los Gatos, CA.

Owner Mike Williams really has a gem here in downtown Los Gatos. It is comfort food at its best. His family hails from Kentucky, so that is where the Southern influence of The Southern Kitchen comes from.

The interior is very homey, with brick walls, ceiling fans, wood floors, and an L shaped bar, all making this place very fun. There are mirror on one wall, and big roomy booths, with large plantation doors and shutters. Having been to New Orleans this year it is all-reminiscent of the South to me.

Lots of locals are waiting in line to get in outside, they have a coffee set-up out there as well as a list, so you know that they have been down this road many times before. It’s all-good, soon everyone will be delighted by their home cooked super yummy food. Southern Kitchen is local quality, farm fresh comfort food.

Located in the heart of beautiful downtown Los Gatos and family owned and operated for over 20 years. Dedicated to providing outstanding service, a welcoming environment and wholesome quality food with a touch of southern flavor. They have been a favorite destination for locals, tourists, and foodies from around the globe. Taste the quality and feel the love of Southern hospitality in Northern California.

Here’s What I tried:

A Sake Bloody Mary, with bacon as part of the condiments that are poked out of the drink with a straw.

Apricot French toast, it is super sweet and delicious, a real keeper.

Benedict, Nova Scotia, 2 poached eggs and smoked salmon on an English muffin with hollandaise sauce. What can I say, just try this, it is heavenly.

Crab Benedict 2 poached eggs, fresh crab, grilled shallots, and green onions, covered with cheese and salsa, with a lemon caper sauce. This one was my favorite, the crab is super fresh and you get lots of it, just amazing.

Signature Shrimp and Grits, creamy cheesy grits with grilled shrimp, bacon, sautéed onions, diced red bell pepper, and served with a side of corn bread. I had shrimp in grits on my trip to New Orleans earlier this year and this rendition is right up there.

Chicken & Waffle, sweet and savory Southern fried chicken on top of a large Belgian waffle, served with country gravy and syrup. A true craze, this dish hit all the perfect notes.

Biscuits and gravy, luscious, the gravy is one of the great wonders of the world. Michael’s grandfather Ray’s recipe handed down, to him is worth the trip alone.

Grass Fed Burger, Hamburger ½ lb. – grass fed patty, lettuce, tomatoes and pickle. With all the fixings, but what a beautiful burger.

There is a beautiful love story behind it all. Michael’s Mother Rose was the original owner, she passed away in 1993 and Serena, Mike’s soon to be wife, worked as a server there, they fell in love and soon she became Serena Williams, not to be confused with the tennis star Serena Williams. They have 2 children Nolan & Scarlett, who will be the namesake of their new restaurant project coming to the neighborhood very soon.

Southern Kitchen is just one of those staples that you must do when you’re in this adorable town.

Southern Kitchen
27 E. Main St.
Los Gatos, CA. 95032
southernkitchenlg.com
* Note some content was taken off of their website.

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Steamer’s of Los Gatos – Dinner – December 14, 2019 – Los Gatos, CA.

In a section of Los Gatos they call Old Town, Steamers is a great find in an area full of foodies. In it’s 34th year, it remains one of the best staples that Los Gatos has to offer. The interior is comfy, cozy, with a great esthetic, and lots of space to spread out in this nicely designed eating establishment.

The night I was there the dining room was filled to capacity and the rain didn’t stop anyone from enjoying his or her Saturday night out. People there were families, dates, large parties, Christmas gatherings, etc. The interior is very inviting with large columns and arches, an elegant feel, but in a super friendly atmosphere. The clients are understated old money, with lots of Tesla cars parked out front.

Owner Paul Matulich came from a long line of restaurateurs, and worked at a few local steakhouses’, he really knows his stuff and and he made me feel right at home.

Here’s What I tried:

Kettle One Martini, a proper martini done to perfection, with 2 delicious olives.

Steamers Clam Chowder, wow, one of the best chowders I have ever had! Big pieces of clam add to the overall wonderful flavor that this super creamy soup provides, it’s absolutely a keeper.

Chilled Topless Oysters, with champagne vinegar mignonette upon request. Super fresh and clean, these little darlings were just the right way to start my very extravagant meal.

Steamed Clams, with garlic, herbs, butter, white wine, natural broth, and gremolata. These clams were super plump and fresh with the most delectable garlic butter sauce; make sure you dip your bread in the luxurious sauce.

Crispy Prawns, Deep Fried Coconut Coated Prawns with sunomono salad of julienned carrots, and squash “noodles”. They butterfly these huge prawns so it makes for one filling dish, it is a great starter.

Steamer’s House Salad, with house dressing, and crumbled bleu cheese. People rave about this very popular salad and you can see why, it’s all about the super creamy dressing.

Steamers Linguine with house made linguine, large blue wild prawns, fresh Dungeness crab, mushrooms, and garlic lemon butter sauce. It is very rare to have house made fresh linguine at any restaurant. Not the normal freshly made pasta, usually ravioli, tagliatelle, but never linguine. This makes this dish so special. It is not a seasonal menu item, it is on the menu all year round and definitely a must have for me.

Pan Seared Scallops with risotto, wild mushroom, and shrimp saffron reduction. This is a gorgeous presentation, and the scallops are cooked rare, but very tender, all in all a great entrée.

New York Steak, with Blue Lake beans, mac-n-cheese, and whole grain mustard Béarnaise sauce. This is a huge steak that is so tender, you don’t need a knife to cut it and the grilled flavor is out of this world.

Dessert:

Tiramisu, a perfect little package, delicious and nice on the eyes.

Pumpkin Cheesecake, just the best for the season, who doesn’t want something pumpkin coupled with cheesecake, a true winner.

Caramel Popcorn, crunchy, sweet, a wonderful way to end my glorious experience.

Wine:

Chardonnay, Lloyd, 2017, Carneros, a great full body, creamy wine, that went perfect with the steamed clams.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Silver Oak, 2015, Alexander Valley, a bold beautiful wine, just the perfect pairing for the delicious New York steak.

A South Bay favorite since 1979, Steamers features swirling ceiling and glass details and a polished Hawaiian koa wood bar in a bright open atmosphere. The outdoor patio affords views of the Santa Cruz Mountains and the menu combines their always-popular seafood dishes with entrees of rotisserie chicken and chops along with great steaks. Lighter fare includes fresh salads, while the oyster bar provides a plentiful assortment of seafood appetizers as well as pizzas, fresh from their stone oven. Desserts are made fresh, on the premises, by Steamer’s pastry chef. A full bar and an extensive wine list round out the menu.

There is a nice outdoor patio with views of the Santa Cruz mountains, but the night I was there it was too cold to enjoy. I am sure in the spring and summer months it is a whole other scene, with people taking in the gorgeous night air here is Los Gatos. This dining establishment is not to be missed, it is just that fantastic.

“The Freshest fish. The best drinks.”
Steamer’s of Los Gatos
408 395-CRAB (2722)
31 University Ave.
Los Gatos, CA 95030
(669) 232-6012

steamers-restaurant.com

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Los Gatos Garden Inn – Stay – Dec. 14 – Dec. 8 – Los Gatos, CA.

Located smack dab in the heart of this sweet charming town named Los Gatos, aka – The Cats – with everything you would want from a small hotel. The room is well appointed and the location just can’t be beat. You can walk everywhere in this Silicon Valley foothill town.

This is where all of the millionaires live, but it is a super understated town. You will see many Tesla’s driving around town. When I lived in the Bay Area I would often go to Santa Cruz, which is right over the hill from Los Gatos. Back then Los Gatos was a Country Western town, with some bars, live music and funky restaurants. Things have really changed; Los Gatos has become the premiere eating, drinking, shopping, destination town. I just loved being able to explore this town for 4 nights and staying at The Los Gatos Garden Inn helped me maneuver the whole area super easily. There is a bus and light rail that was very simple to catch, the bus is a block away from the hotel, so you really don’t need a car in this area. I was able to get from my location to the bus and light rail while I was in town.

Hotel History:

Built in 1947 after WWII, once had a miniature golf course, this 28 room boutique inn is a historical landmark, with beautiful gardens and an unbeatable location in downtown Los Gatos. This landmark hotel, built in the Spanish Mission style, has beautiful Mosaic tiles fired in a local San Jose foundry. Visitors should note the colorful tiles in the entry, the stairways and the gazebo. We keep our guests coming back with our quaint clean rooms, our long standing staff that has strong roots in the community and some who have served in the hotel for over 20 years. We believe your stay at the Los Gatos will be your home away from home, with our friendly staff and amenities that fit long or short stays, business or vacation; we have accommodations to fit your needs.

Local legend has it that after marrying Marilyn Monroe in San Francisco, Joe DiMaggio eluded the paparazzi by laying low in Los Gatos on the way to their honeymoon. In an auto with “ Joe D” license plates, they “ raced out of San Francisco to avoid pursuing photographers.” The glamorous couple spent the night at the hotel now known as the Los Gatos Garden Inn on their way to Paso Robles.

Community Award:

Recognized by the Town of Los Gatos, Garden inn has been awarded for their consistent and loving gesture towards animals.Today and for almost 15 years now, the Garden Inn has been a daily favorite for many dogs and their owners who enjoy our dog treats and water bowl that helps make their daily walk more memorable. More local businesses have decided to join and serve the dog walking community along with us. Service pets are welcome here.

This is the place to stay when you’re in Los Gatos, spend your money on shopping, dining, etc. Really skip all the fancy places and stay at a place where you feel like you are home.

Los Gatos Garden Inn
46 E. Main St.
Los Gatos, CA. 95030
https://losgatosgardeninn.com

* Notes some content was taken from their website.

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December 5, 2019 – THE HOLLYWOOD MUSEUM – BACK TO THE FUTURE – TRILOGY: THE EXHIBIT – Hollywood, CA.

The exhibit, which consisted of three popular sections – Hill Valley from 1955, Hill Valley from 1985, and Hill Valley from 1885, will pay tribute to the film franchise. Rob Klein, a top BTTF collector and Special Guest Curator for this exhibit said, “ In my opinion these three films are the most perfect in Cinematic history, in fact Universal Studios wanted a 4th installment – however both Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis agreed that the trilogy should not be revisited as they felt they had created and produced a trilogy that could not get any better.”

Dadigan, who is also the Chair of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Hollywood Historic Trust, and Vice Chair of the California Film Commission said “We are beyond excited that fans of this movie franchise will be able to see original, costumes, props, along with the ever popular merchandise that fans of all ages loved to collect from all three films, and the Part 3 Hero DeLorean Time Machine as seen in the BTTF Part 3 – There are more than 350 artifacts in this special one of a kind exhibit, and many of these items have never been on public display before.”

Highlights from BACK TO THE FUTURE TRILOGY: THE EXHIBIT include Christopher Lloyd’s (Doc Brown) Robe from Parts 1 & 3, Michael J. Fox ( Marty McFly) Western Costume from Part 3, to Mary Steenburgen ( Clara) dress, & telescope from Part 3, the iconic Hero DeLorean Time machine Car in part 3, with more than 350 original screen matched artifacts , screen accurate replicas, iconic costumes, photos, posters and more are featured in this exhibit – The extensive exhibit will also feature much sought after collectibles from the time period that each film was released, along with several never before seen items.”

STARS That Attended:

Bob Gale ( BTTF creator, producer, writer), Charles Fleischer ( BTTF 2), Don Fullilove (Mayor Gordy Wilson BTTF 1&2) , Darlene Vogel ( Spike ,BTTF 2), Ricky Dean Logan ( Data & Needles Gang BTTF 2 &3), Donelle Dadigan (Founder, President The Hollywood Museum), Burt Ward ( Robin, Batman 66),The Pointer Sisters( Anita & Bonnie) , Margaret O’Brien ( Film Legend) , Renee Lawless ( Have and Have Nots), Natalia Safran( Annabelle Comes Home, Aquaman) , Rachel Mullins Lee Purcell (Carol of the Bells), Dee Wallace (ET), Lee Meriwether( Batman 66),Ro Brooks ( The Have and Have Nots), Roslyn Kind( Singer), Kate Linder ( Young & the Restless), George Chakiris( Oscar winner West Side Story) , Judy Tenuta, Ieva Georges ( Criminal Minds), Sofia Milos ( CSI Miami), Carolyn Hennessey ( GH,True Blood), Danny Arroyo, Gloria Garauya ( How to Get away with Murder), Stacia Gate, Patti Negri ( Good Witch), Dawn Wells( Gilligan’s Island), Jax Malcom, Rico Anderson (#Freerayshawn), Ilene Graff ( Mr. Belvadere),Geri Jewell( Facts of Life/ Deadwood), Ben Lanzarone ( Broadway Composer), Alice Amter ( Big Bang Theory), Adam Wiley( Pecket Fences), Brooklyn Robinson( mani), Bryson Robinson ( Pineapple), Darcy Donovan ( Modern Family), Diana Lansleen ( Y&R/ Days of our Lives), Elaine Ballace ( The Rich & The Ruthless), Geoffrey Mark ( Best Selling Author), Hunter Payton( Raven’s Home), Isabella Leon ( Disney Princess Club), Jailen Bates ( WITS Academy), Sean- Ryan Peterson ( Victor and Valention), Tracy Weisert ( The Neighbors/ Life in Pieces),Alyssa de Boisblanc, Kathleen Hughes, Jeremy Miller ( Growing Pains), and many others.

ABOUT THE HOLLYWOOD MUSEUM: The Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor Building is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation showcasing more than 10,000 Authentic Show Business Treasures, spotlighting 100 years of Hollywood history – from the Silents to Talkies, to Hollywood’s Golden Era, Film Noir, Television and its Pioneer Years, through the rebellious 60s, special effects 70s, evolving 80s, involved 90s, technological 2000s, and beyond to current day heartthrobs! The Hollywood Museum’s exhibits showcase the best in film, network and cable television, and new digital platforms featuring iconic and fan favorites! The Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor Building is the Official Museum of Hollywood and offers visitors the most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world – featuring the glamour of Hollywood legends and stars – past, present and in the making. The Hollywood Museum offers one-of-a-kind costumes, props, photographs, scripts, stars’ car collections, personal artifacts, posters, and memorabilia from favorite stars, films and TV shows. Located in the heart of Hollywood, at the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Highland Ave, just steps from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Museum has been named the #1 top tourist attraction in Hollywood by LA Weekly, and one of the “Top 10” Museums in LA by the LA Tourism and Convention Board and Trip Advisor.

Hollywood Museum
1660 N. Highland Ave. (at Hollywood Blvd.)
Los Angeles, CA 90028
www.TheHollywoodMuseum.com
FACEBOOK: Facebook.com/TheHollywoodMuseum
TWITTER: @HollywoodMuseum
INSTAGRAM: @HollywoodMuseum
* Note some content was taken off of their website.

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Violin Virtuoso – Eun Chong Ju – Released Her Highly Anticipated First Solo Digital Classical Album In October – 2019

DFW resident violinist Eun Chong Ju has released her highly anticipated first digital album. This album includes “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A Minor Op. 28” composed by French composer Camille Saint-Saens.

“This piece is famous for its fast tempo and brilliant technique. “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A Minor Op. 28” was originally dedicated to Pablo de Sarasate, the most virtuosic violinist in that period.” Said Eun Chong Ju. “I reinterpreted this piece by highlighting its warm and melodic parts along with advanced techniques. This album goes well with the autumn nights.”

When Ju wanted to record a perfect piece for the fall season, she paired up with her longtime friend and colleague, Min Kyung Kim for the piano accompaniment. Kim is a renowned pianist and an instructor at the Grayson College. The album was produced by her husband and manager, Daniel Kim, a long-time audio engineer in Dallas, Texas.

Violinist Eun Chong Ju graduated from Chungnam National University, South Korea with honors and received a full scholarship from Southern Methodist University in Texas. Since then Eun Chong Ju has been a member of numerous orchestras including; Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Richardson Symphony Orchestra, and now with Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Arlington, Garland Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Pops Orchestra. Eun Chong Ju has been the concertmaster in Chungnam National University Orchestra and KCC Orchestra. In addition, she was recognized in various competitions and prizes on the international stage; such as third place in the 2018 Grand Prize Virtuoso International Competition and third place in the 2019 Golden Classical Music Awards, and made her solo debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York this year. Eun Chong Ju is a member of Music Teachers National Association.

A native of South Korea, violinist Eun Chong Ju received her M.A in Music from Southern Methodist University and was invited to Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Ju relocated to Lewisville, Texas to start a family with her loving husband.

Eun Chong Ju has devoted her life to the violin. In the span of thirty years, she has relentlessly trained, performed in front of tens of thousands of audiences, and taught violin to many young musicians. Eun Chong Ju’s parents knew was musically gifted when she started composing music with her schoolteacher at the age of 5. Eun Chong Ju learned the violin right away after being encouraged by her Aunt. After years of dedication and support from her parents, she drove 5 hours round-trip to receive lessons from one of the top violinists in Korea, all of this furthering her road to success.

Eun Chong Ju is performing with Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra in 2019-2020 seasons. Upcoming concerts are on October 19, November 16, December 21, 2019 – January 18, February 15, March 21, April 18, May 9, 2020.

Genius, talented, unbelievable, Eun Chong Ju is a force to be reckoned with. She will give Itzhak Perlman and Lili Haydn a run for their money. Her star is shining brightly and soon everyone will know her!

Jodi Jackson’s Hollywood Asked Her These Questions:

What are your music inspirations?
ECJ: Two things: Nature and other musicians. I very much appreciate and enjoy nature and when I perform I think about the sights and the feelings I received from nature. I also enjoy listening to other great musicians as they inspire me to continue with my music.

What is your process of learning a new piece of music?
ECJ: I start from listening to other available recordings of the piece. Then, I add my interpretation of the music and make it my own.

How do you juggle your personal life and your music career?
ECJ: I think that’s the hardest thing for musicians. I can’t stop practicing until I am satisfied. But I need to cook for my family, teach my students, work out, etc. I usually set the timer when I practice and never think about Violin when I leave my practice room. It’s like there are two totally different people in my life.

How have your family helped you, and influenced you?
ECJ: My Aunt is a violinist in South Korea. So we all were influenced by her. There are two more violinists among my relatives. My parents loved music so they supported me very much.

How would you compare music is your home country to music in America?
ECJ: America is a country with people from various countries, cultures. I can say the variety is the most significant difference.

Who are your professional mentors?
ECJ: Fortunately, all my previous teachers were/are my mentors. It’s hard to name a specific person.

Who is your favorite violinist and why?
ECJ: Hilary Hahn – I recently I really enjoy listening to her because of her perfect technique and musicality. I can sense her strongest devotion to violin in her music.

Is there anyone you have ever been compared to?
ECJ: No – not that I can remember. I always compare myself to previous me from recordings. That’s how you get better.

What would you tell a young musician about the music business?
ECJ: It’s really narrow, rough road. Leave music as a hobby unless you love music so much so you don’t care where you play and how much you get paid.

Your first memory as a child of music?
ECJ: It was my aunt’s graduation recital when I was 5. It’s the earliest impactful memory of music I have.

Your first song that you heard as a child that you loved?
ECJ: My mother loved listening to Mozart and that the earliest recollection of music in my life. I think I loved id too.

Who are your favorite music artists?
ECJ: Yo-Yo Ma – I had the opportunity to play with Yo-Yo Ma at Chicago Civic orchestra. He had a very good understanding of his music and he was humble as well.

Who would you want to collaborate with?
ECJ: I’d like to collaborate with my college friends in South Korea. When we were studying music together I felt that we had a very strong musical connection with each other. I’d like to be able to collaborate with them again soon.

Pick one of your music pieces that might be personal and tell us a little about it?
ECJ: Prokofiev – Violin Concerto No 1: This piece is not sad at all but I saw my father crying after I performed this piece on a concert. I never asked him why but I remember this.

Tell us about your spiritual journey that pertains to your music?
ECJ: I grew up in a God-loving family. So my music is naturally very spiritual to me. I feel I’m able to add more and more spirituality in my music as I age and mature.

If you didn’t play classical music, would there be another genre that you would want to play?
ECJ: I think I would’ve been a jazz pianist if I didn’t focus on classical violin.

Where do you see your music going in the next 5 years?
ECJ: More recording, more concerts, and more teaching. I hope to be able to share my music with more people.

How do you feel about women’s empowerment?
ECJ: To me – there is a clear difference between men and women but the necessity of each gender is equally as important. So I think all men and women should be equally empowered by each other.

What’s the one thing that you want your fans to remember about you?
ECJ: I aspire to be a friend to all of my fans.

What do you do for relaxation?
ECJ: I like to take a walk. My husband knows this well – he will always ask me if I want to go take a walk after we have an argument.

What are your hobbies?
ECJ: Reading, Pilates, Walking.

What’s a charity that you want to be involved with and why?
ECJ: I hope I can use my talent in many ways. Music can move people’s hearts. I’d like to play and teach violin to students who do not have such opportunity in their lives.

What’s on your young bucket list?
ECJ: Traveling worldwide.

What the most important thing in your life?
ECJ: To live happily ever after, and God.

Anything else you would like to add?
ECJ: Thank you for the opportunity to share about my life and music!
Website: www.eunchongju.com
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4nJEQ7a8xmdIkc1idjCgge
Youtube: https://music.youtube.com/channel/UC-dSacJ3S5qp_KWW0_tXJjQ
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/eun-chong-ju/1477412429
Purchase Music: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/eunchongju

 

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800 Degrees – Dinner – November 24, 2019 – Westwood, California.

Lenny Rosenberg from Lenny’s and many other food related businesses, a true restaurant pioneer, took over this delicious pizza restaurant a few months back, he closed the restaurant and renovated it. He also made this restaurant different from their other ones that they have in Los Angeles. He really has the Midas touch, he is able to take an existing establishment and tweak it to be a bit extra. Always paying very close attention to the food, and making it super fantastic!

The day I was there, the customers were all over the map. Some locals, some students, but all enjoying their great-varied menu items and all having a blast.

Here’s What I tried:

Appetizers:

Meatballs- Grass-fed beef, ricotta, tomato, pecorino, and grilled bread. The combination of the meatball with the red sauce and the ricotta is otherworldly, I just loved this dish.

Burrata-Cherry tomato, pesto, wild arugula, and toasted ciabatta. The pesto was the best part for me, zesty and light, just terrific.

Wood fired Wings- Seasoned with Calabrian Chile, and creamy Gorgonzola dip. They did my wings on the sweet side because I asked for that, and they were delicious.

Salads:

Rotisserie Chicken Cobb-Roasted corn, smoky bacon, egg, Gorgonzola, avocado, cherry tomatoes, local greens, house made ranch. This is a huge salad with all the fixings, and the ranch is out of this world, and I loved the corn!

Bowls:

800 Kale + Quinoa- Quinoa tabbouleh, kale, avocado, cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumber, garbanzos, and tahini dressing. This is the bowl for me, with the tahini dressing; it’s just the bomb.

Sandwiches:

Wagyu French Dip- Oven-roasted roast beef, au jus, carmelized onions, arugula, and horseradish cream. This sandwich is super juicy with great flavor, another winner for me.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Melt- Rotisserie chicken & bacon on cheesy garlic bread, arugula, herb ranch, for the more healthier customer, delightful all the same.

Plates:

Grilled Salmon – Sides: Sweet corn & cherry tomato, shaved Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower rice. My favorite part of this dish was the shaved Brussels sprouts.

BBQ-Rotisserie chicken – succulent, moist, the best chicken ever!!

Specialty Pizzas:

Tartufo-Bianca with truffled pecorino, wild mushrooms, roasted garlic, and arugula. A fragrant wonderful light pizza, a great choice.

Carni- Molinari sausage, all-natural pepperoni, and rosemary ham. This pizza has a bit of everything, just perfect.

BBQ-Rotisserie chicken, BBQ sauce, smoked provolone, peppadews, red onions, and cilantro. I always love a great BBQ Chicken pizza, this one did not disappoint, and I just love their crust.

Desserts:

Mini Apple Pie, this pie is so cute, with great cinnamon flavor, super yum.

Lemon Square, with tangy lemon nuances, one of my favorites desserts!

I did try some of their wines that were house varietals, Black Oak – and all went great with the various food items.

800 Degrees History: When it first opened back in 2012, 800 Degrees Pizza brought Los Angeles a new kind of fast-casual Neapolitan pizza restaurant where pies would go into a wood fired oven for just a few minutes around $7 to $8. Now the world has seen plenty of these quick-fire pizza places using a Chipotle-style model of build-your-own dish, from Blaze to Pieology and beyond. 800 Degrees Wood fired Kitchen now has restaurants in LA, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Doha, Seoul, and Dubai. Former Michael Mina corporate chef and Anthony Carron first founded 800 Degrees with Adam Fleischman and Allen Ravert at this Westwood spot in January 2012. 800 Degrees has other Los Angeles locations; Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Downtown LA.

The décor is super fun and friendly and so is their staff. This is a must try when your in Westwood Village, if you’re a pizza lover you will be super happy that there is now a pizza joint that is worth recommending, and has some other terrific menu items for the whole family.

800 Degrees
10899 Lindbrook Drive.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
www.800degrees.com
@800degreesLA

800degrees.com
(310) 443-1911
Hours: Open Now 11:00 am-11:00 pm

 

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Make A Wish Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel – November 20, 2019 – Beverly Hills, CA.

Wish Gala 2019 Presented by Oaktree Capital, to benefit Make A Wish Greater Los Angeles. Such a great night of wonder and surprise, mixed in with all of these glorious wishes fulfilled!!! Featuring Grammy winner Chaka Khan, and Chris Connelly, ESPN Correspondent, plus Eddie Cibrian, LeAnn Rimes, Jason Lewis, and Tara Reid.

Their menu for the dinner was also amazing:

Quinoa salad, with Fresh Raspberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese. Grilled Filet and Grilled Salmon, with Yukon Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, Black Pepper Corn Sauce and Crispy Thyme. Desert: The Beverly Hilton Ice Cream Sandwich, with Strawberry Ice Cream on a Blondie.

A star-studded annual Wish Gala is Make-A-Wish Greater LA’s largest and most glamorous fundraising event. Raising more than $1 million annually, the Wish Gala helps grant hundreds of wishes for local children in the coming year. We hope you join us for this celebration of our mission, wish families, volunteers and you, our supporters. This year, we have much to celebrate as we recently granted our 10,000th wish in Los Angeles!

Paul and Jason co-founded the Real Estate Division to benefit Make-A-Wish Greater LA in 2012, which has now grown to over 400 members and raised over $2.4 million to grant wishes for children in LA. The Beverly Hilton Hotel and will once again bring together more than 800 celebrities, philanthropists, and industry leaders from real estate, finance, and entertainment. Make a Wish Foundation – Our mission is only possible with the passion and commitment of our community in the City of Angels. The benefit was held to raise funds to support wishes for children in the Greater LA area and also celebrated Nickelodeon and their work with the foundation.

About Make-A-Wish – Greater Los Angeles – Founded in 1983, Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles has granted 10,000 wishes to children in Los Angeles County. Annually in Los Angeles, the chapter grants over 200 wishes locally, and facilitates over 350 wishes for children from all over the world whose wish is to come to Los Angeles. Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles is part of Make-A-Wish America, a national organization that grants the wishes of children with critical illnesses. Make-A-Wish America is one of the world’s leading children’s charities, serving children in every community in the United States and its territories.

Beverly Hilton
9876 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills.

Make-A-Wish Greater Los Angeles
11390 W. Olympic Boulevard, Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90064

* Note Some Content Was taken Off Of Their Website.

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November 12, 2019 – Dinner – My Mother’s House – Italian Restaurant – Sun City Summerlin, Nevada

When I did my research about restaurants to try this trip I was drawn to My Mothers House Italian Restaurant. I called owner Laura on the phone and she was busy both times that I called her. But she said I don’t mean to be rude but I am right in the middle of business can you call me back tomorrow at this time. Normally I would just say ok they are not interested in me doing a tasting. But some how I felt a special pull that made me pursue this tasting. After tasting the food and hearing Michael and Laura’s enchanting story, I was all in.

Their restaurant is a little gem, in a world full of Italian restaurants that are trying to step up to the plate. They just have all of their bases covered. Mike Leonetti is a famous singer; he has had a couple of hit records. He performs at his restaurant many nights a week, as well as creates some of their signature dishes. Micheal professes his grandmother Julie, who was from Naples, taught him her family recipes. While Laura is the no nonsense business side, paying the bills making the orders, it’s really a match made in heaven. Laura a widower, was married for 35 years, she went with her daughter to a near by hang out called Siena and prince charming, Micheal Leonetti, stole her heart. Michael is the face and Laura is the business mind that makes this amazing restaurant run like clockwork. Both Michael and Laura know their place and both of them loving their parts. From the moment you walk in you can feel their love and the love they have for their restaurant. Michael is welcoming everyone by saying “ You Hungry” telling his super fun stories about his pals, Dean, Frank, Tony, etc. No joke, he has met and sometimes performed with all of them. He is the real deal. Perhaps an era gone by, but truly a place where you can enjoy Las Vegas at its finest. But not a place where you have to put on airs, no it’s a family style, a family run establishment where every one is welcome.

Now about the food, it’s authentic, fresh, and possibly the best Italian food you will find in Las Vegas. The unique flavors of everything I tasted was very special. Michael asked me a bit about what I like and he took it from there, he did a really great job. They only take reservations, and they are always packed.

Starters:

Their garlic bread with a side of red sauce is an amazing starter, make sure you ask for it!!

Shrimp Cocktail, big huge colossal shrimp served in a proper cocktail bowl, just terrific.

Brisket, Michael told me he had a best friend growing up in Philadelphia who was Jewish and he learned how to cook real Jewish food from him and his family. This brisket was deli style all the way, and melts in your mouth. He makes a French Onion soup for it to cook in; it takes 15 hours for the whole process.

Linguine Neapolitan in white clam sauce, baby fresh clams over linguini, with cherry stone clams on top. They give you so many clams I just didn’t know where to start, but once I got in, it was a glorious experience. Super fresh clams, with a very creamy garlic sauce, yum.

Blue Crab from Maryland, with white wine and garlic, for me these were the star of the show. Michael told me that everything he brought me were half orders, and they were big, I can’t imagine what the full orders looed like, but in any case you will have lots of food to take home. These beauties are fresh and flavorful, sweet meat you can only get from Blue Crab, a true winner.

Ravioli with sausage and meatball. These raviolis are cooked in house, and the meatballs and sausage were just superb. I loved this one as well.

Green Salad, this salad came with one of the dishes I was served, I know don’t know which one but it is light and refreshing, almost like a palate cleanser.

Lemoncello Delight, I have never in my 8 years of doing this job tasted a desert like this. It’s a frozen lemoncello with whipped cream, but the whole thing becomes frozen, what a treat, I am hooked.

Tiramisu, they do a super good rendition of this Italian staple dessert.

Key Lime Pie, their pastry chef Matt Byrge did a stellar job on this Southern Classic, I think it’s the candied limes that really make it super special.

Wine I tried: Chardonnay, Oak Vineyards Bishops Peak, 2013, of course this one went great with the seafood.

My adorable server Darlene Clayton, who had only been serving at My Mothers House for 2 weeks, used to be a professional model. She added to the glamour of the night with her exuberant personality.

Owners Laura and Mike Leonetti are gracious, kind and wonderful, if I lived near by I would be here a few nights a week, it’s just that kind of place. It’s an eating establishment that has a lot of heart; you can feel it in every bite. There is a great story about how Laura and Michael met in Living in the Sun, A Sun City magazine, I would highly recommend reading it.

Michael’s mission is simple, “I wanted this to be like what Vegas was,” said Leonetti, “Unfortunately, although there are wonderful restaurants in Las Vegas, they’re just restaurants. I wanted to do something a little different, bring back the way Vegas was, where people can come in and dine and hear phenomenal music.”

Leonetti opened My Mother’s House after a career as a lounge performer, beginning in 1972. He has worked at the Marina Hotel, Caesar’s Palace and MGM Grand. He learned to cook alongside his mother, Dolores, and grandmother, Julie, both deceased. Just like they did, Leonetti serves food on oversized plates good for sharing.

He still has the wooden spoon his grandmother used to hit him with when he acted up as a child. It hangs on the wall along with pictures of, who else, the Rat Pack, as well as other notables from Las Vegas’ heyday. He also has some of his gold records from his earlier days.

Michael is non-stop fun, telling jokes and stories a mile a minute. He says,” You can stop getting old, but it doesn’t mean you have to be old.” Truly a kid at heart, he will make you forget any troubles you had walking in the door.

Besides Michael Leonetti performing here, he has some other notable talent that books in here regularly. Gina Eckstein, Billy’s daughter, Dave De Costa and more. Check out their website for their calendar listings.

You won’t feel more at home anywhere in Las Vegas; it’s just the best of the best, and definetly a place to try. Next time you’re in Sun City Summerlin give My Mothers House a try, or even if you make it a destination evening, you will be so happy you did.

My Mother’s House – Italian Restaurant
9320 Sun City Blvd, Ste 100
Las Vegas, NV 89134
(702) 998-2820
mymothershouselv.com

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Mezzo Bistro and Wine – Dinner – November 10, 2019 – Las Vegas, Nevada

This restaurant is in a spot in Las Vegas that is away from the entire hustle and bustle of the strip. It’s in North Las Vegas, which is just booming. Pretty much the only place near Los Angeles where you can buy property for two hundred thousand US dollars. So needless to say many Californians are making the leap to Las Vegas, and in my small amount of time I can understand why. When you get away from the strip you feel, like you are in a great suburb that could be anywhere in America. The air is clean and beautiful dessert mountains surround it. I can really see Las Vegas being the next place for many Angelinos to be moving and buying properties. They need delicious food to go along with this notion. And Mezzo Bistro and Wine adds this is spades. Great food in the heart of this bedroom community that has grown by leaps and bound in the last 5 years.

Here’s What I Tried:

Starters:

Calamari, Lightly breaded squid served with spicy marinara and sliced pepperoncini, and it is soaked in buttermilk. Delicious seasoning and the zesty pepperoncini, is an Italian staple.

Risotto with mushrooms, with goat cheese and red wine reduction. The red wine reduction is enough for you to order this dish. It is sweet and there is a glaze underneath the creamy risotto, just try it.

Salads:

Italian Antipasto Salad, with Arcadia and iceberg lettuce mix, topped with imported meats and cheese with olives, tomatoes, fire roasted peppers, artichoke hearts and Italian dressing. This salad is so colorful and large, Truly a must have!

Caesar Salad, one of the best Caesar I have had in along time. Just a wonderful dressing and super crisp Romaine lettuce make this salad simply the best.

Pasta:

Gnocchi, with handcrafted potato dumplings, carbonara sauce, peas, pancetta, and grilled Shrimp. The sauce is creamy and delightful, and the shrimp are grilled with superb flavor, a great Gnocchi dish.

Seafood:

Frutti di Mare, with clams, mussels, calamari, shrimp and salmon. Sautéed with sherry wine, with fresh herbs, tossed in linguine. Another terrific menu item, with a kick that will blow your hair back.

Mezzo Specialties:

ÏFiletto Gorgonzola, Hand cut 8 oz. filet mignon, with a rich Gorgonzola cream sauce. Topped with crispy pancetta, served with garlic mash potatoes and grilled vegetables. The meat is super tender and the sauce is just out of this world. The mashed potatoes are equally to die for, amazing.

Sides:

Mushrooms, buttery button mushrooms oozing in butter, a great dish.

Wine’s:

Prosecco, Canti D.O.C, Veneto, IT, the best way to start my experience, it went great with the lovely calamari, and salads.

Chardonnay, La Crema Sonoma, CA.  I just love this wine with the shrimp in the gnocchi, a nice light, buttery wine.

Zinfandel, Fantom Bogle Vineyards, Old Vines, CA.  I always go for the Old Vines Zin, its my jam!  This wine was a no brainer with the steak.

Every Thursday they have new specials, their regulars know their menu and come in on Thursday just to taste the new specials. Mezzo Grill won the best of Las Vegas, Gold Winner, in 2018, Best Wine Bar, Las Vegas Review Journal. Mezzo Bistro and Wine opened on January 1, 2009, and has been a mainstay in North Las Vegas ever since.

The two owners Kelly and Sean are very user friendly. Sean was the one that scheduled my tasting. Sean is from Utica NY, he has all of his Italian family recipes in tow. What he brings to the table is a youthful outlook with his traditional old family recipes that makes Mezzo a real keeper.

It’s just the best neighborhood bistro that I have experienced in a long time. Next time your in North Las Vegas give Mezzo Bistro and Wine a try, you will be very glad you did.

Mezzo Bistro and Wine
4275 N Rancho Dr, Ste 130
Las Vegas, NV 89130
(702) 944-8880
mezzobistro.com

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October 28, 2019 – Dinner – Sorrento Ristorante – Little Italy – San Diego

What I truly loved about this special restaurant is the way they make you feel, from the moment you walk, in their treatment is outstanding, you just feel like royalty. The staff is not overly gushing about your experience, but they really do see that everything is flawless. The food, the ambiance, their stories, all picture perfect.

Sorrento’s Story: Former La Villa restaurant located in the heart of Little Italy in San Diego, Sorrento ristorante, bar e pizzeria opened in 2015. A newborn of the Mastellone family. (Au Revoir Bistro, Arrivederci, Piacere Mio, Solunto.) Typical Italian restaurant, Sorrento, has a casual ambiance, authentic Italian cuisine, and an atmosphere that transport’s you directly to the piazza Tasso in Sorrento, at the foothills of Mount Vesuvius in di Golfo di Napoli.

Here’s What I Tried:

Cocktails:

Martini, traditional, with a nice authentic martini glass, just loved the cocktail.

Mango Martini, this is a fruity drink, not for a real strong cocktail drinker. But for me, it hit the spot. Maurizio Pino made my lovely drinks, he did an amazing job.

Salads:

Caprese, a super delicious salad with nice fresh ripe tomatoes, a great way to start my meal.

Pera E Formaggio, Spinach, gorgonzola, red onions, mushrooms, pears, walnuts, and house vinaigrette. This salad would be my go to salad for sure. The combination of candied pecans and pears, with the cheese, is just fantastic.

Specials:

Cioppino, mussels, clams, calamari, tuna, salmon, shrimp, light tomato and white wine served with crostini. A very fragrant light broth filled with treasures from the sea, just delightful.

Lobster Ravioli, homemade pasta filled with succulent lobster and the sauce is thick, rich, and super creamy.

Lobster Tail Fra’ Diavola, spicy marinara sauce, tomato, and mushrooms, served with linguine. A very spicy dish, but guaranteed to be a real crowd pleaser. I just loved all of the super fresh lobster, and the great handmade pasta underneath it all.

Dessert:

Tiramisu, Ladyfingers, espresso, mascarpone cream, cocoa powder, a perfect ending to my very elegant dinner.

Chocolate Mousse Silky Chocolate Mousse, if you are a chocolate lover, like me, then this is your dessert.

Wine:

Tenute Silvio Nardi, Rosso Di Montalcino, 2016.

Il Briciato, Tenuta guado al Tasso, 2016. Both wines were elegant and paired perfect with my dishes, a true delight.

My very fun server Farbrizio Cammarota, has worked for five years at Sorrento’s. He was a restaurant manager and wedding planner in Florence before. He moved to America for his wife Chanel who is from Boston. He also worked at Arrivederci in the Hillcrest neighborhood before. He added just the right amount of knowledge and expertise he also paired my wines for the night and did an excellent job.

Jerry is Sorrento’s renowned pizza chef; he has been with the restaurant for 3 years. He says he has made more pizza at Sorrento then anyone else in the San Diego area. In 1980 he went to Italy to see how pizzas are made there. Jerry really takes pride in his exquisite pizza making; he says it’s a true art form.

I spoke with owner Lucio on the phone, and he was very welcoming, Lucio is partners with Antonio Mastellone, they own a few other dining establishments around town.

It has got a very inviting patio with a fountain in the middle. The inside has a big bar with lots of action. The whole place is designed very tasteful, you feel like you’re in Italy. The music is Italian pop, and Italian favorites, which totally makes the mood at Sorrento elevated. I would try this wonderful cuisine on your next trip to San Diego.

Sorrento Ristorante
1646 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101
619 546 0365
https://www.sorrentoristoranteandpizzeria.com

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