February 21, 2018 – Dinner – Montresor – Studio City, CA.

In a very hipster strip on Ventura Blvd., right across the street from my Gym, is the best French restaurant in all of Los Angeles, a hidden gem amongst lots of well-known establishments. But look no further; this is the place to go to try a new take on luxurious French cuisine.

Lisa Long is one of the owners; she was the same gal that helped me with my culinary journey at The Flats in Beverly Hills. She is very hands-on, making sure every part of your experience will be excellent. The new Studio City spot, only in operation for a week, is brought to us by co-owners Lisa Long (who’s also a partner in La Loggia Ristorante and the Flats), and designer Ann Booth Luly, who conceptualized the space.

Designer Ann Booth Luly also owns the retail store Hoity Toity in Studio City; she did a remarkable job of making the interiors elegant, whimsical and friendly. The interior is filled with lots of Art Nouveau/Louis XIV accents and furniture. There are different chairs at every table, Edwardian, Victorian, Rococo and every single one unique and individual. Not overdone, but very tasteful, there is a lot to look at.

Michelin-Star Chef Paul Shoemaker is at the helm, “I like to take a classic dish and have a little fun, give it some flair and get playful,” Shoemaker says, “I want to create something different, that stands out amongst the classics.” For now, the menu is a brief list of 15 or so items, total, but there will most likely be more to come. Trained in the kitchens of Chef Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, and Per Se, as well as Alain Ducasse. Shoemaker has brought technique-driven cooking and a Southern California sensibility to Providence, Water Grill, his own Savory, and Firefly, not to mention, Joe Pytka’s Bastide, where in less than six months he earned a Michelin Star, classic-meets-modern French. I tried his lovely food at a tasting at INTRO Art Gallery & Chef’s Table, a while back and was extremely impressed, described as a multi-course sensory explosion. A different venue; but the same attention to detail and enjoyment in every bite.

I also recognized host James Saliba from La Loggia Restaurant, he made everyone feel completely at home.

Here’s what I tried:

They give you a lovely bread plate with Black Truffle whipped butter and these very small but mighty rolls that have more truffle and butter inside, yum!

Appetizers:

French Onion Soup with Gruyere, and baguette croutons, a bit on the sweet side, but truly an amazing rendition of my favorite French soup. The cheese and croutons add to the overall wonderful experience of this creative soup.

Foie Gras Torchon, Black cherry, Moscato, and brioche. Ok, this is not an appetizer; this is an event. All of the little fruit jellies and sauces that accompany this Foie Gras. I had this with my champagne and every bite just melted in my mouth. Wow, truly outstanding. So happy that Foie Gras is back on everyone’s menus, for a while it was illegal to serve in California.

Crab Cake with Meyer lemon gastrique, remoulade, and frisee. The crab cake itself is so flavorful, with very meaty fresh crab, and the remoulade sauce was incredible.

Entrees:

Rhode Island Black Bass, with Artichokes, tomato, and saffron jus. The fish is tender and moist with the wonderful saffron jus, this is a keeper.

Lamb Loin, with mixed grains, bloomsdale spinach, and Cipollini onions. The lamb was served medium rare, each bite was soft and delightful, no need for a knife it was just like butter. Sensational!!

Dessert:

Butterscotch Panna Cotta with Expresso ice cream, and almond brittle. The perfect flavor profile for me, especially with the butterscotch and almond brittle. I just loved this desert.

Mixed Berry & Honeycomb, Pistachios, and Chantilly cream. This is a very decadent way to eat berries, but so fantastic, a great end to my beautiful experience.

Wines:

Ascension Silver – Blend, Napa, I loved this wine with the crab cake, it was not over powering, a nice pairing.

Franciscan – Chardonnay, Napa, this is my kind of wine, filled with buttery goodness. This wine should be paired with the Bass; it lends itself to the nice saffron jus.

Upper Cut – Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, this wine took me very much by surprise, with its creamy chocolate taste, it was so delicious with the lamb.

Seghesio Family Vineyards – Zinfandel, Sonoma. I used to be a wine club member, they have the best Zinfandel on the planet and with the lamb it was a real no-brainer.

Beer:

Belgian & French:

Gulden Draak – Dark Triple Ale, rich dark flavors, a great beer to go with the onion soup.

No need to hop on a plane to go on vacation for Parisian cuisine when you’ve got it right here in Studio City. It’s about as good as it gets.

At the end of the day I do these reviews because I love the culinary experience. It’s really all about the food and how it makes you feel in the moment. Montresor didn’t disappoint, with so many culinary choices it’s hard to figure out what to try. But for me this was one of the best tastings I have done in a very long time, truly!! Montresor is French for “My Treasure”, and after you try the food here you will feel like you found your culinary treasure, I know I did!

Montrésor
11266 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
818.760.7081
www.Montresor.la

*Note Some Text was Taken off of Their Website

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dinner Xi’an – Feb. 16, 2018 – Beverly Hills, CA.

What can I say about Xi’an that hasn’t been said before; elegant, wonderful, delicious, and perfect. Yes, this is Chinese food at its best, and you can tell by all of the laughter and smiles, guests were really enjoying themselves.

Xi’An (translated as ‘Western Peace’) was one of the oldest cities in China and a bustling ancient capital of China. It is also known for the ending of the legendary Silk Road, which for 1600 years was the seat of dynastic power, a sub-provincial city located in the center of the Guanzhong Plain in Northwestern China.

What I really adore about Xi’an is owner Vicky Mense, she is such a fashionista and very hands on. Originally from Taiwan, she made Los Angeles her home in 1984. Vicki really makes you feel very relaxed. Her personality and beauty are very welcoming, she is a staple here on Canon Drive. Besides her thriving business, Vicky has lots to be thankful for. Her past involvement has included Chairwoman for the Chamber in 2008, board member for 2 years, and VP of Vocational Service for 2 terms of the Beverly Hills Rotary Club. Then she became board member for The Maple Counseling Center, as well as for Beverly Hills Global Partners, Inc. Currently, she serves on the Chamber’s Executive Board, chairs the Committee for Asian Business Connection, and is also board member of the Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau. Vicky also spearheads the Asian Liaison Committee, a spinoff committee of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce that focuses on reeling in businesses and organizations from Asian nations to prospects in the Beverly Hills and Los Angeles communities.

Vicky talks about her 2 employees Tao and Cece, who have been with her the longest, “Tao is the Yang. Tao has been with me from my previous business, which I opened 23 years ago, and sold before opening Xi’an. Cece has been with me since the first day I opened Xi’an. They’re an integral part of the success of Xi’an restaurant. I could not have done it without their devotion, passion, enthusiasm, and customer service.”

Vicky about Xi’an, “I think Xi’an really symbolizes a very typical local restaurant. Even though Beverly Hills is famous worldwide, you will get a flavor of how intimate a community we really are, how the people in Beverly Hills eat, live, and enjoy life! We are offering really delicious food, reasonable prices, a beautiful sidewalk patio– we are so blessed that LA weather affords us the luxury to dine outdoors!”

I was honored with Tao doing my service on my visit, he is no-nonsense and can carve a Peking duck faster than you can say Beverly Hills.

Here’s What I Tried:

Appetizers:

Soft Shell Crab Sushi Roll, a very artistic endeavor, with the little crab legs popping out from the sushi roll, just the perfect beginning.

Cool Lettuce Cups with Miso Black Cod. These were so fantastic, the cod is cubed into little pieces and the flavor is out of this world.

Mu Shu Vegetable with Pork. This is always a great choice, with the nice veggies and the egg with the pork it has a nice texture and the tasty bites are amazing as well.

Noodles:

Pan Fried Noodles, Semi-crisp noodles topped with sautéed shrimp and chicken with mixed vegetables. There is a lot more veggies and protein then noodles, so you could potentially order this as a main dish, it’s just that good.

Seafood:

Treasure from the Sea, Shrimp and scallops in a black bean sauce sautéed with snow peas and fresh basil. A real treat, lots of shrimp and scallops make for one superb dish.

Duck:

Peking duck, the perfect roasted duck with crispy golden brown skin and succulent meat, wrapped in 4 thin pancakes at your table. This for me is always very decadent and Xi’an does it to perfection, the sauce, the pancakes, and the duck, just exceptional.

It’s the kind of place that will treat everyone equally, even if you’re a celebrity, you’re still part of the family. It’s not that you’ll go unnoticed, rather than a hidden law that you’re not going to be bothered. The night I came Jay Leno and his lovely wife Mavis stopped in for some orange chicken, which you could tell was his favorite. I dropped by the table to say hi and even got to take a selfie with Jay. He is a very nice man!

The interior is very welcoming, with elegant mirrors and wall sconces, the little touches of Chinese décor add to the overall homey feeling. There are red lanterns that enhance the ambiance as well. They have a private dining room; the exclusive Shoji Room, with its walls of sliding doors, offers you the option of having celebrations or meetings in complete privacy. The Shoji Room can seat up to 28 people while Xi’an’s main dining room and outdoor patio can accommodate larger parties and functions.

Above all Xi’an is a family restaurant, meaning everyone knows each other, it is super friendly, and if you’re not part of the family you soon will be!

Hours:
Monday – Wednesday: 11:30 AM – 10:00 PM
Friday: 11:30 AM – 10:30 PM
Saturday: 12:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sunday: 5:00 PM. – 10:00 PM

Xi’an
362 N Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA
(310) 275-3345
http://www.xian90210.com/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunday – February 10, 2018 – St. Supery Wine Tasting – Beverly Hills, CA.

This is by far a great way to spend an afternoon. I had 3 friends go with me so 4 total all together. We all had different flights. Each one magnificent, they also provided some cheese and sliced baguettes. You can totally understand why their wine is such a successful brand in Napa. This whole extravaganza took place in Beverly Hills on Rodeo Dr., quite the new thing; winery tasting rooms are coming to Southern California.

St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery is a 100% Estate Grown, Napa Valley sustainable farmed winery. They are located in the renowned Rutherford growing region in the heart of Napa Valley. “Our vineyards and winery are certified Napa Green. We are proud to be recognized for our exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and estate red and white blends. All of our wines are estate grown, produced and bottled”.

I tried the Featured Wine Flight, which is a combo of white and reds: 2016 Dollaride estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, 2016 Napa Valley Estate Virtu, 2013 Rutherford Estate Vineyard Merlot, and 2013 Napa Valley Estate Elu. My favorite was the 2013 Estate Elu, with its lovely chocolate creamy nuances; you could pair this with a great filet mignon or even a burger. It was just so warm and inviting, I just loved all of its hearty characteristics. I also tried an extra taste, the 2015 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Chardonnay, creamy, with vanilla and caramel flavors; you would want this delicate chardonnay with scallops, shrimp and or lobster.

My guests had these 2 fights: White Wine Flight, taste through a selection of 100% estate grown Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay wines that each have their own unique characteristics defined by their winemaking style from 100% stainless steel fermentation to a combination of oak and stainless steel. 2016 Napa Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc, 2016 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, 2016 Napa Valley Estate Oak Free Chardonnay, and 2015 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Chardonnay. Red Wine Flight: This is the ultimate Cabaret Sauvignon experience with a tasting of four wines from our diverse, 100% estate, certified Napa Green Rutherford and Dollarhide vineyards of St. Supery. 2013 Napa Valley Estate Elu, 2013 Dollarhide Elevation, 2013 Rutherford Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2013 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

In 2015 St. Supéry’s neighbor Chanel purchased the winery; and this fantastic pop-up tasting salon is on the ground floor of the building next door to the Chanel boutique. The three-story building was previously home of the Lladro porcelain store before Ladro moved down the street. The 1,000-square-foot space has large glass windows looking out onto Rodeo Drive; a high ceiling that covers the three-story building, and a huge striking staircase right in the middle.

Reminiscent of a French parlor; so elegant, with seating for 62 people. You can be served at the large marble bar or at bistro tables. St. Supéry wine bottles are displayed throughout the space. Barrels brought down from the winery are in the hallway, as well as soil samples from the winery’s Dollarhide and Rutherford Estate Vineyards.

St. Supéry Beverly Hills Tasting Salon is scheduled to be open for one year. They officially opened their doors of the pop-up tasting salon on Oct. 14, 2017.

Casual, elegant, truly a great find on Rodeo Drive, or anywhere for that matter! Next time you would like a perfect wine tasting afternoon try St. Supery!

Hours are Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.

St. Supery Tasting Room
408 N. Rodeo Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 786-7864
http://www.stsupery.com/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

February 3, 2018 – Late Lunch – Fred’s at Barneys in Beverly Hills, CA.

This is, by far the most charming dining establishment in all of Los Angeles. What a gem. Named after the son of Barney Pressman, Fred Pressman, it’s a real find. A very welcomed change from the old Barney Greengrass, Fred’s is now family owned, with delectable fare all day long. How could you go wrong with Cooperate Chef – Mark Strausman and Executive Chef – Emmanuel Pradet calling all of the culinary shots. You have a first class view, with unbelievably delicious food all right here in Beverly Hills. What more could you ask for?

Emma Coxall, the general manager and my gracious host, was so kind to make all of this happen for me. I was originally invited to a film premiere after party at Fred’s and met Emma at that time. That party was so lovely, I would encourage anyone to book this venue for any kind of event. Emma is truly an inspiration, she came from Scarpetta in Beverly Hills, as their assistant general manager, and so she has quite the pedigree. She just makes you feel right at home! My waiter, Michael, was quick and no nonsense, but got the job done in a very professional way. Also, Waleed the maître de, came from The Beverly Hills Polo Lounge and The Montage in Beverly Hills. He just smiles at you and you are having a better day then before!

The interiors are very plush, with some nice velvet club chairs and monochromatic theme, and cool ambient background music. With marble tabletops, and marble speckled floors, it is very simple elegance; a perfect backdrop for my amazing late lunch.

Of course there would be celebrities here, because it is very low key and no one would ever go crazy seeing a big star, it’s just that kind of place. When I walked in Jennifer Anniston was taking a bathroom break from her table right next to mine, she said hello to me while her bodyguard looked on carefully, lol.

Here’s What I Had:

Cocktails:

Trouble Maker – Belvedere vodka, Bonal, strawberry, cucumber, and lime. If you have too many of these you will become a troublemaker and believe me, it is not difficult.

Blackberry Margarita – Casamigos Blanco tequila, Cointreau, Crème Yvette with muddled blackberries. This is the way to go for the tequila enthusiast; creamy, rich and just the right amount of alcohol makes this a delightful cocktail.

Appetizers:

Crab Cakes- Served with a pasilla pepper coulis, this also comes with homemade potato chips which is just amazing, but the shrimp are spectacular as well.

Winter Salad- Wild arugula, quinoa, butternut squash, dried cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds and red sorrel, tossed in a balsamic Dijon honey vinaigrette with grilled salmon. The grains are sweet and the salmon was cooked to perfection. For a healthy filling lunch, this is the way to go.

Grilled Shrimp with Lime and Ginger – Served with a mixed green salad. The shrimps pop in your mouth and have a great delicate lime and ginger seasoning; wow so fantastic.

Salads:

Lobster Cobb Salad – Romaine hearts, organic watercress, wild arugula, hardboiled egg, scallions, tarragon, Point Reyes blue cheese crumble, avocado, bacon and warm fingerling potatoes – Tossed in creamy tarragon and lemon dressing. Shear decadence, with lots of lobster. You feel like a princess, yum.

Pasta:

Linguine alle Vongole – Baby clams, olive oil, garlic, and a touch of tomato; more like fettuccine noodles and the clams are everywhere. A great rendition of this Italian staple.

Mediterranean Seafood Pasta – Spaghetti, shrimp, Scallop, baby artichoke, English pea, roasted bell pepper, Saffron sauce. They use huge diver scallops and the artichoke adds a nice rounded texture. I loved this pasta.

Main Courses:

Grilled New York Steak and Frites – Served with house-made café de Paris butter, the steak is tender and perfect, and the truffle fries are off the charts.

Week-end In Beverly Hills:

New York Fish Platter – Nova lox, white fish salad and sturgeon with Mark’s house-made bagels and assorted cream cheeses, served with sliced tomato and red onion. This is delivered with lots of smoked fish and these cute little mini bagels; a great way to enjoy a weekend brunch.

Side Dishes:

Sautéed Garlic Spinach – Lots of garlic in this nice side dish and healthy, too.

Sautéed Garlic Broccoli – Plump broccoli, perfectly cooked with great flavor.

Roasted Brussels sprouts with Bacon – Of course this would be my favorite, with the tasty bacon bits.

Deserts:

Almond Cake – This is a nice and light cake with a great presentation.

Apple Tart Tatin – With salted caramel ice cream, the apples are caramelized and it is served with a caramel sauce; so delicious.

White Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding, with roasted banana ice cream. I just love this sweet fluffy desert, and their homemade roasted banana ice cream that went with it.

Wine:

Champagne, Veuve Clicquot, Rose, France. This is an elegant light champagne. Treat yourself; it is worth every cent.

Zinfandel, Easton, Sierra Foothills. This cherry, jammy, wine goes great with the rare steak; it just hits all of the right notes.

Chardonnay, Dutton Goldfield, Russian River. This is a luscious buttery Chardonnay. It went great with the crab cakes, the shrimp, and the seafood pasta.

All and all, my experience was just lovely; they really make you feel like a queen. Everything is designed with your gastronomic pleasure in mind and they succeeded with flying colors.

Imagine you can shop at Barney’s and then indulge in some of the most creative cuisine in all of Los Angeles. The food is just that good. Next time you’re in Beverly Hills you just got to come and dine at Fred’s. No need for a special occasion, just get here!

Fred’s Beverly Hills
9570 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Sun: 11 AM – 6 PM
Mon – Sat: 11 AM – 7 PM
Phone: 310.777.5877
https://www.barneys.com/store/freds-

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

January 31, 2018 – The XX Project – Making a Model with Yolanda Hadid – Lifetime – Estrella – West Hollywood, CA.

I am a huge fan of Yolanda Hadid; she is a mentor to me. Her struggles have been huge, going through a divorce from David Foster and having lyme disease, but through it all she has managed to keep her dignity and pursue her dreams. Her two daughters, Bella and Gigi, are super models; as well as her son model Anwar, all from the guidance and love of their dear mother. Yolanda also manages both of them and you can tell that she doesn’t put up with any BS. Yolanda was a part of 4 seasons of Real House Wives of Beverly Hills and during that time, she became bedridden with Lyme disease. To me, her bravery and willingness to show her real story, was beyond brilliant, but truly it was her real life. After 7 years she is well enough to start her own business, going back to her roots with the show “Making a Model,” on Lifetime. It’s a competition story of sorts, but to me it’s more of a basic training on how to be a super model from the best, Yolanda Hadid.

The episode that I saw was the beginnings of the competition where Yolanda does hair makeovers and gets these girls ready for their first audition/interview with the IMG agency, which is the biggest modeling agency in the world. To Yolanda’s dismay, the girls didn’t do their research and neither did their mothers. When they were each asked whom their favorite photographer is, none of them had answers, including their mothers. Yolanda is whipping them all into shape; she has the wisdom and discipline to make them all a success stories. But her basic message was that of empowerment and that a pretty face could only take you so far. You need to be educated, well spoken, and have some life experience. She says that demanding respect is a huge part; by looking into someone’s eyes and firmly shaking their hand, you will always seal the deal.

We were also able to experience a casual Q & A, moderated by Marcy Medina, West Coast Bureau Chief of WWD, in which the audience participated, giving us even greater knowledge of how powerful Yolanda really is. She is an amazing force, having survived Lyme disease and then teaching all of these kids her secrets about this crazy modeling business. But because Yolanda is so grounded, we see a practical view of how these girls can achieve their goals the same way as Yolanda and her kids have done throughout their lives.

About The XX Project:

The XX Project is a women’s business community to empower and influence for leadership and partnership.

Women tend to think of other women as competitors rather than allies, but together, we are stronger. The XX Project maximizes your network and leverages your skills to empower yours, and one another’s business. It provides a support network in both personal and professional endeavors.

The XX Project is a network of top female leaders across all industries that come together and share their empowerment stories and strategies, giving participants the motivation and spark to affect change in their own lives.

Michelle Edgar / Founder & CEO – Michelle Edgar founded The XX Project over 4 years ago and has made it part of her everyday life to inspire and empower women in business through this network and platform by providing women with resources and tools to enhance their lives. She is an agent at ICM Partners in Global Branded Entertainment and Concerts. Michelle’s expertise and focus is securing partnerships for ICM Partners’ artists across all genres of music.

As an executive in the music business for over five years, Michelle has previously worked at FRUKT, KIDinaKORNER, Red Light Management, and Warner Bros Records, focusing on strategic partnerships and artist development. She has worked on campaigns for the likes of Imagine Dragons, The Black Keys, Skylar Grey, Theophilus London, Gary Clark Jr., Steve Angello, Miguel, and Mariah Carey.

Michelle also founded Music Unites: a non-profit organization funding sustainable music education programs in under served public schools. The organization launched the Music Unites Academy program in partnership with the Compton Unified School District. Her love for music stems from her training as a concert pianist at The Manhattan School of Music and Northwestern University.

About “Making a Model”:

In the cutthroat world of modeling, every aspiring beauty needs support, guidance, and sometimes a nudge down the runway. On “Making a Model with Yolanda Hadid,” premiering Thursday, January 11 at 10pm ET/PT, former model and television personality Yolanda Hadid (“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”) brings her expertise to the forefront as she coaches aspiring teen models to succeed on and off the catwalk. As the mother and agent to fashion’s “IT” girls Gigi and Bella, and model son Anwar, Yolanda and her trusted team of experts will put the girls, and their “momagers”, through an intensive eight week training program, focused on the physical, mental, and emotional wellness that it takes to build a sustainable brand.

The eight-episode series follows six young aspiring models and their mothers as they travel to New York City, shack up under one roof, and pursue their dreams of becoming a supermodel. Each week, Yolanda puts the girls and their moms through a series of lessons and assignments designed to not only test their modeling agility, but also the strength of their mother-daughter relationship. With a $5,000 weekly prize on the line to put towards their future careers, only one girl will be left standing to win a management contract with Yolanda’s company and the potential opportunity to be represented by IMG Models in New York. Yolanda’s daughters Gigi and Bella Hadid, designers Tommy Hilfiger and Nicole Miller, and supermodels Devon Windsor and Alek Wek, make special appearances through the season. “Making a Model with Yolanda Hadid” is produced by Hudsun Media for Lifetime. Michael Rourke, Christopher Spry, Sean Rankine, and Yolanda Hadid executive produce. Mary Donahue and Mioshi Hill executive produce for Lifetime.

Model-Mother teams include:

Breanna (13) and Jessica Bunevacz – Los Angeles, California. Lilyan (15) and Kat Cole – Coalgate, Oklahoma. Carrington (16) and Lisa Durham – Los Angeles, California. Mikayla (16) and Karen Gilles – Chicago, Illinois. (add space after period) Makenzie (14) and Teresa Rooney – Fishers, Indiana. Athena (13) and Diana Katoanga – Portland, Oregon.

“Making a Model with Yolanda Hadid” joins Lifetime’s robust roster of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle series which include the Emmy® nominated series, “Project Runway,” “Project Runway All Stars,” makeup and hair competition series “American Beauty Star” with host Adriana Lima, and the competition series, “Glam Masters,” executive produced by Kim Kardashian West. A+E Networks is also an investment partner in BeautyCon, a destination for generation Z and millennials in the beauty space.

The evening was capped off by a nice reception with great libations and good appetizers, and being able to mix and mingle with all of the people involved in the evening’s festivities, was equally gratifying.

http://thexxproject.com

http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/making-a-model-with-yolanda-hadid

* Note some content was taken off of their websites.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Art – Film Premiere – January 19, 2018 – Fine Arts Theater – Beverly Hills, CA.

Having gone to art school I totally get the whole theme and genre of this fantastic romp into a coming of age character. Anyone that knows Laurie Simmons prolific career as a photographic artist understands that she is super creative and whimsical. From her vignettes to her miniature dolls she always has a sense of humor. Her first film and directorial debut, has that exact quality, a laugh out loud journey into an independent woman’s life, as she realizes her dream, and meets some interesting people along the way.

The premise in a nutshell: A 65-year-old single artist living in New York City has a good life: a stable teaching job, successful friends, and a loyal, aging dog named Bing. As her dream of a respectable place in the art world becomes more elusive, her frustration with her lack of recognition feels alarmingly urgent.

Picking up a camera, she starts to reenact old films, reinventing her identity and slowly enlisting the people around her to collaborate: a recent widower Frank (Robert Clohessy), a divorcee lawyer John (John Rothman) and young actor Tom (Josh Safdie). Parker Posey plays Tom’s less-than-enthusiastic girlfriend. Ellie then regains her creativity, remembering who she is and why it is that she creates. With ‘My Art,’ Simmons wants to show women her age that they can still live in the moment.

As they say the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, the amazing actress, writer, director, producer Lena Dunham is her daughter and makes a quick cameo in the film. After seeing the film and listening to their Q&A you understand why Lena Dunham has such a brilliant career; Girls on HBO is over now, but during its run it provided the viewer with a bold, brave look at sexuality, body image and her much cherished friends. Lena gets her bravery and creative edge from her Mothers experience and art.

Simmons wrote and directed “My Art,” There are lots of similarities between her character Ellie Shine and Laurie Simmons, but she wrote Ellie as a character for this movie, and makes it very clear that she is not Ellie in real life.

About Laurie Simmons:

Laurie Simmons is a successful, internationally recognized artist — her work is at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney.

Laurie Simmons was born in Long Island, New York. She received a B.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1971 and later moved to New York where she currently lives.

Since the mid 1970s, Simmons has staged scenes for her camera with dolls,
ventriloquist dummies, objects on legs and occasionally people, to create “images with intensely psychological subtexts”. Simmons’ first mature works, shot in 1976, were black and white images taken in a doll house, un-peopled variations on each room in the house, particularly the bathroom, using sunlight and different angles to create a “dazzling, dreamlike stage set”. Simmons had her first solo show at Artists Space, a non-profit gallery in New York, in 1979, showing the “Early Color Interiors”. A few months after this, she exhibited work at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. In 1980, Simmons began showing at the gallery Metro Pictures in New York. In the early 1980s, she created the series “Color-Coordinated Interiors”, which used Japanese dolls called Teenettes, monochrome toys of women who Simmons photographed in front of rear projection images of interior decorated rooms. Simmons had a mid-career retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1997. In 2001, Simmons designed, with architect Peter Wheelwright, an interactive modernist doll house called the “Kaleidoscope House”. The house was decorated with miniature artwork and furniture by contemporary artists and designers. Also in 2001, Simmons began her “Instant Decorator” series, which was based on a 1976 interior decorating book of the same name, that provided templates of household rooms for the client to fill with swatches of fabric and paint samples. In 2008, Simmons collaborated with designer ‘Thakoon Panichgul’ to create fabrics for his Spring 2009 line. Simmons also used objects on legs in her series, “Walking & Lying Objects”, from the late 1980s.

Simmons starred in a feature-length film by her daughter, Lena Dunham, called Tiny Furniture (2010), which was filmed in 2009 and was featured at the South by Southwest film festival in 2010. The film won the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature.

This is a film to see, it is an exciting journey for the characters and the viewer.

My Art
http://www.lauriesimmons.net/photographs/
http://www.lauriesimmons.net/films/

* Note some content was taken off of their website

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dinner – January 18, 2018 – Raum Mitr – Los Angeles, CA.

This is a very trendy neighborhood, and has always been that way. There are lots of different types of restaurants and food to choose from. Finally there is a fantastic Thai restaurant that is fresh with amazing flavors. Everything that I tried was different, each one with unique profiles.

The atmosphere is no nonsense, a perfect backdrop for this delicious street style Thai food. They purposely don’t use fish sauce or MSG; everything is super fresh and made completely with non-processed ingredients.

Here’s’ What I tried:

Appetizer:

Crying Tiger Beef, Grilled Thai marinated beef with Jeaw sauce (Thai spicy lime sauce). Sometimes this dish can be similar to eating beef jerky; their rendition is grilled medium rare, a real treat.

Chicken Satay, grilled marinated chicken with peanut sauce and cucumber salad. The chicken is super tender ad the peanut sauce adds the right amount of light, exotic flavors.

Corn Fritters, Corn fritter patties served with cucumber sauce, with peanuts. They deep-fry these little darlings and the corn pops in your mouth. Super different but super special, this appetizer is a true winner.

Soups and Salad:

Tom Yum soup, shrimp in veggie based soup flavored with mushroom, lemongrass, lime juice and chili. This is a nice and light soup that will tantalize your taste buds.

Larb, chicken with red onion, green onion, mint, cilantro, and and roasted rice chili powder. I like this salad, it is very refreshing and leaves a nice flavor in your mouth.

Noodles:

Pad Woon Sen, pan fried glass noodle, shrimp, egg (optional), tomato, onion, green onion and cabbage in special house sauce. I just love these noodles and the seasoning has just the right amount of everything.

Rice:

Prik Khing Fried Rice, with vegan chicken, fried rice in Thai curry with green bean, green and red bell peppers and special house sauce. The Thai curry made all the difference in the world as far as a great fried rice dish.

Entrée:

Yellow Curry, vegan beef in yellow curry based soup with carrots and potatoes. Their vegan meats are so delicious, for the vegan it is really a great substitution for meat.

It’s Truly a Hell’s Chicken, with chicken, pan fried with Thai herb in spicy house sauce. This dish is supposed to be super spicy I asked for mine not too much spice and it was still very spicy. I love the fried basil on top and the chicken is lightly breaded.

Crispy Roasted Duck, crispy fried duck with plum sauce sided with steamed egg noodle and spinach. You just have to try this dish is it very decadent but really tasty.

Dessert:

Fresh Coconut Ice cream, made from real coconut. This is the way to end your meal, super refreshing and a great palate cleanser, just save room.

Ruam Mitr means gathering of friends, and you can tell that this family-run operation is a great way to have dinner with your family or friends. Husband and wife team, owners Pat and Birdie, are new at this business. Ruam Mitr has only been opened for 7 months, having taken over the previous vegan Thai food restaurant. Pat and Birdie want their menu to be able to accommodate many different types of food restrictions including vegan, gluten fee, and meat eaters. They just want everyone to know that there are great vegan options as well as everything in between.

My dining experience was truly unexpected, with every delicious dish I was blown away. For sure my new favorite Thai spot in my neighborhood.

Ruam Mitr
7168 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Mon – Fri: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m. | 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sat – Sun: 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Phone: +1323 696 5425
http://www.ruammitr.com

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Terra Cotta – Dinner – December 28, 2017 – Los Angeles, CA.

This is such a great space with lots of rich mid-city history. I remember back in the 90’s it was one of my favorite restaurant bars called The Atlas. Enjoying a great show at The Wiltern and then coming here to this space was always a joy. This new incarnation has been going strong now for 4-months, making Terra Cotta less formal and more hipster casual. The interior is completely different but the cool vibes still remain.

Their customers are young instagramming influencers. Enjoying their libations and each other’s company. When I was there I saw a table of 12 – 20’s something’s having a marvelous time. Eating their amazing cuisine, drinking some exotic cocktails and laughing hysterically. A Thursday night out for these beautiful young ladies, doing selfies and instagram the whole time. The backdrop for these photos is truly elegant, with their gorgeous 3-teired chandeliers and their industrial cage style tables, everywhere you look it is a feast for your eyes.

The interior is very sexy, with deep dark wood floors, a very industrial yet elegant interior. They have a small stage that is in the center of the room; they will be doing jazz and comedy nights in the near future. But you can see that with the right entertainment it could set the tone for some very hip nights.

Here’s What I Tried:

Cocktails:

Soju Mojito, with mint, lime, soju, and Club soda. A great cocktail, and you don’t miss the rum at all.

Marquee, vodka, aperol, simple syrup, strawberries, and lemon peel. This drink is light but the combination of ingredients makes for one special cocktail.

Palomita, tequila, grapefruit, lime, agave, sage and soda. A bit tangy, but the great tequila cuts through any weird favors.

Martini, in a coupe glass with 2 olives. Of course my drink of choice, this one was very elegant.

Taylor Nigh made sure I knew about their cocktail program, which is outstanding. He is the bar manager and created their lovely bar menu. It is such a beautiful bar, there is really a lot to work with here.

Wines:

Fess Parker, Chardonnay, 2016, Santa Barbara, fruity, yet oaky, it was great with any of the seafood dishes.

Barolo Pajana, 2008 Nebbiolo, Piedmont Italy. One of my favorite Italian wines, paired with the skewers for a nice balance.

Skewers:

Large, with 2 grilled short rib patty skewer, 1 spicy pork skewer, 1 salt pork skewer, 1 spicy chicken skewed, veggie skewer, Elote, and crunchy salsa. My server David Paez made sure all of these terrific meats were sliced and diced with his trusty scissor, he made it look really beautiful.

Protein:

BBQ Ribs with a delightful sauce, these babies melt in your mouth.

Tapas:

Hamakama, crispy on the outside, smoky flaky yellow tail on the inside.

Honey Butter Squid, with a peanut glaze, a nice fragrant menu item.

Popcorn Shrimp, one of my favorite things I tried, with a nice aioli style sauce drizzled on the glorious shrimp, served on a bed of coleslaw.

Raw:

Oysters on the half shell, so fresh and perfect, just loved these little darlings.

Chicken:

Spatchcock Chicken, prepared with crispy skin with Korean style piled radishes and coleslaw. A great rendition of a fried chicken style dish.

Rice:

Avocado Mentaiko Rice, this rice comes in a tin box, my server presented it to me then covered it back up and shook it before he served it. Worth the wait, all of the nice ingredients including a raw egg, truly another favorite of mine at Terra Cotta.

Noodles:

Spicy Seafood Pasta, with a tomato sauce. This is a spicy pasta but not too over done and the fresh clams, calamari are just amazing. This is an Italian twist in this otherwise Asian Fusion style restaurant, a dish not to be missed.

To Share:

Yuzu Clams with Bacon, these clams pops in your mouth, super fresh with the smoky bacon rounding out the flavor profile.

Flatbread Pizza:

Apple wood Smoked Bacon & Chives, this is a very different pizza for me, it had lots of fresh onions of top, still very delicious.

Dessert:

The Makgeolli, with fresh bananas ice cream, this is a great way to cap off your evening.

About The Wiltern Theater:

The building itself houses the Wiltern Theater as well as Terra Cotta. Originally built in 1931 in Los Angeles, the Wiltern was designed by architect Stiles O. Clements of Morgan, Walls & Clements, the city’s oldest architectural firm. The Wiltern Theatre was originally designed as a vaudeville theater and initially opened as the Warner Brothers Western Theater, the flagship for the theater chain. In 1956, the building and theater were sold to the Franklin Life Insurance Company of Springfield, Illinois. The Los Angeles chapter of the American Theater Organ Enthusiasts worked to restore the theater’s 37-rank Kimball pipe organ, reputed to be the largest one in Los Angeles at the time, and held recitals there through the late 1960s and into the mid-1970s. Through the intervention of a group of local preservationists, the group saved the complex from being demolished on two occasions in the late 1970s when the owners filed for demolition permits. (The preservation of the Wiltern was one of the Los Angeles Conservancy’s first victories in its fight to preserve the architectural heritage of the City.)

In 1981, the Wiltern was purchased by developer Wayne Ratkovich who worked with architect Brenda Levin to restore both the theater and the office building to their former glory. The magnificent interior of The Wiltern evokes a period of elegance and style simply not found anywhere in today’s modern venues. The entrance is set back among colorful terrazzo paving, and its art deco design contains decorative tile work along with colorful murals. The most dramatic element of the overall design is the sunburst on the ceiling of the auditorium, with each ray representing its own art deco skyscraper. The venue offers the perfect vibe and shape for a variety of events.

Terra Cotta is the newest restaurant venture from 6th Avenue restaurant group. Their menu draws inspiration on a global scale of Korean elements, but also Japanese, Latin American, and other regional influences.

There is some thing for everyone here, that is what is so great about Terra Cotta, but don’t let the name fool you, most of the cuisine is not Italian but wonderful Asian fusion. Your taste buds will dance just like mine did, with so much great flavors how could you go wrong.

Terra Cotta is open for dinner 7 days/week with happy hour from 5 to 8pm, and a late night menu available until 2am most nights, bar only.

Terra Cotta – aka “TC”
3760 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Koreatown, Wilshire Center
(213) 365-1077
http://www.terracottala.com
* Note some content was taken off of various websites

I want to give a shout out to Christina Fulton for being so kind to set this up for me with her clients!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trattoria Cattaneo – Dinner – December 21, 2017 – Santa Rosa, CA.

Coming to Trattoria Cattaneo is like you landed in your Italian Auntie’s home for the freshest, most delicious authentic Italian food you have ever tasted. All of their recipes are family inspired, brought down from generations. The ingredients and quality is amazing, and all of this in a little tuck away neighborhood, Bennett Valley in Santa Rosa.

Owner Ricardo and his wife Chef Julie will greet you as well as one of their sons who will serve you. So it really is a family run Mom and Pop type of an establishment. You really feel the close-knit warmth of their family.

Here’s What I Tried:

They start you off with homemade fresh baked focaccia with a nice olive tapenade.

Bruschetta, with it’s balsamic reduction, this starter will make you beg for more.

Spinach Salad, with bacon, walnuts, feta cheese, and raspberry-balsamic vinaigrette. Sweet and sour, with a nice crunchy edge from the walnuts, a true winner.

Garlic Potato Pureed Soup, luscious texture, velvety smooth and delicious overall flavor.

Gnocchi, Chef Julie kicks ass on this one, with a great creamy sauce and the gnocchi’s just float in your mouth.

Steamed Clams white wine, garlic, chili flakes, basil, fresh tomatoes. I just loved the freshness of the clams coupled with the garlic and heat.

Lasagna Meat Lasagna, with Bolognese sauce veal cannelloni in marinara sauce. Big hearty flavors, with lots of meat delivers a great rendition of this famous Italian staple.

Linguini Carbonara pancetta and bacon cooked in chicken stock, olive oil, onions and parmesan cheese, tossed linguini, finished off with an egg yolk, another perfect pasta dish.

Tortellini alla Romano, cheese tortellinii in a rich garlic cream sauce with peas and diced prosciutto. I used to get this at E’ Angelo’s in Mill Valley back in the 80’s and the is where Chef Julie used to work, so it is a great memory, and very delicious.

Papardelle alla Salsciccia, with homemade Italian sausage, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, garlic, and chili flakes, cooked together and tossed over fresh papardelle pasta. When you get some of the sausage in your mouth with the wide noodles you too will have to give this 2 huge thumbs up.

Seafood Cioppino, with prawns, bay shrimp, scallops, salmon, calamari, clams, and mussels, in a spicy marinara sauce. This is right up there with any of the finest Cioppino’s I have ever tried, with rich bold tomato flavors and the freshest seafood.

Dessert:

Teramisu, Chef Julie is asked to make this dessert for all of the city functions and food fairs, and after you try it you will understand why. It is an Italian staple, but under Chef Julie’s guidance it becomes something from another delicious planet.

The Wines I Tried:

Riva Leone Gavi, a nice Italian white, fruity and subtle, it will go great with any of the white sauce pasta, or seafood dishes.

Red Sasseo, 2015, Primitivo Salento, like a rich Zinfandel, with all of the jammy flavors, went great with the red sauces.

Mantanzas Creek. 2013, Merlot, Sonoma County, a nice bold wine, I would pair this with the papardelle and sausage.

Trattoria Cattaneo is a quaint Italian restaurant with a homey neighborhood vibe. The walls are decorated with old photographs of Italy and a large mural of the Italian coast. Trattoria Cattaneo’s menu is made up of primarily classic Italian dishes. Appetizers include bruschetta, caprese, polenta and ever rotating soup of the day. The specialties of the house include several pasta dishes like homemade gnocchi, meat lasagna, linguine vongole and a chicken Alfredo. Trattoria Cattaneo’s also offers a build-your-own pasta option where guests get to pick their noodle, sauce, and protein.

This is the kind of place that someone has to bring you to, they don’t have a website and rely on their Facebook presence for their reviews. For me this is super refreshing seeing how the Internet has taken over any word of mouth advertising.

If you live in the neighborhood or are passing through Santa Rosa this is a must do dining spot. I would even say to make it a destination meal, its just that good.

Trattoria Cattaneo
2700 Yulupa Ave.
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
https://www.facebook.com/Trattoria-Cattaneo-115641031791697/

Note: This review was 2 month after the devastating wild fires that were up on the hill super close to the restaurant. I heard some very scary stories while I as there, and having lived close by I know about the hearts and souls of Sonoma County people. I have to say I was so proud at how quickly most of this are has recovered, and want to give a huge shout out to the first responders. Some of the people I talked to said their homes had been saved due to the hard work from the fire fighters. I am very thankful for this community and how everyone pulled together, especially their astounding
spirit and bravery.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Re-Visit New Delhi Dec. 20, 2017 San Francisco, CA. Dinner

I came here back in 2011 and tried one of the best Indian restaurants ever. With so many exotic spices, each and every dish has its own flavor wheel, all made with authentic Indian seasonings, truly one amazing experience

Named one of the finest Indian Restaurants in the US by New York Times and featured on the Galloping Gourmet TV Show, New Delhi is the place to dine. Decorated like a Maharajah’s private banquet room, the restaurant serves cuisine made from recipes culled from the royal Indian menus dating back 300 to 400 years using the freshest local ingredients. Chef and owner, Ranjan Dey, star of PBS show – “MY INDIA” creates daily specials with his six gourmet spice blends, available nation wide in gourmet specialty stores. He started his career in the food business at the age of 14 at Calcutta’s Park Hotel as a vegetable cutter. After finishing high school, he graduated from Institute of Catering Technology, Hotel Management and Applied Nutrition. But during all this, he kept his part-time evening job in different hotels. He then worked at the Grand and Great Eastern Hotels in Calcutta before he moving to New Delhi where he worked in Akbar and Janpath Hotels. Prior to moving to Hong Kong, Ranjan spent two years as a senior Chef in the kitchens of the Maurya Sheraton Hotel in New Delhi.

New Delhi Restaurant was established in 1988 and opened by San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos, on Nov 20th, 1988. Since then many famous politicians have crossed its threshold from Lt. Governor Pete Wilson, Ex Gov. Jerry Brown, others like the late Milton Marks, Wille Brown and many more. In 1990 it became established as the Indian Cultural and Culinary headquarters when President Bill Clinton met all the Indians of the Bay Area to listen to their issues. Their famous front bar, since its inception in 1988 the New Delhi Bar has been the favorite hot spot for many working in the downtown restaurant and hotel trade. It remains open up to 2 am. They are famous for our two happy hours; the first at 5 pm and the second at 11 pm. This is because not everybody works 9-5 pm and the restaurant staff usually end the evening shifts about 11pm at night. This is definitely the place for fresh scoop in the restaurant and hotel industry in downtown San Francisco.

“When you’re looking for a relaxing meal filled with exciting, stimulating aromas and flavors try the New Delhi and don’t forget the bartender makes Bombay Gin Martini” -SF Bay Guardian.

New Delhi Restaurant and Chef Owner Ranjan Dey has received numerous awards and gold medals for excellence in Indian cuisine and spice blends. His restaurant is also a favorite spot of many Indian celebrities, on any given day you may be dining next to spiritual guru like Dr. Deepak Chopra.

Here’s What I Tried:

Cocktails:

New Delhi Sunset, An exotic combination of vodka, sparkling lemonade, pomegranate syrup and a dash of grapefruit juice. Effervescent and refreshing, filled with a floral nuance.

Lychee Martini, A tropical delight with infused vodka, pretty much my favorite, and it is sweet but packed with a nice rounded vodka flavor.

Mango Martini, Alphonso mango puree and pomegranate syrup. This has such a rich smooth texture, really fantastic.

Murky Bengali Martini, Shaken with infused vodka, spiced tamarind and served with the biggest olive you have ever seen! They are imported directly from City of Olives, Jalpaiguri in Bengal, India. These unpitted giant olives are pickled in spicy vinegar with ghost chili in-house and cured for twenty-one days for a tasty perfect murky moment. A must try when your at New Delhi, it just hits the spot.

Appetizers:

Samosa, crispy turnovers filled with lightly spiced potatoes and green peas. What can I say except for simply the best samosa ever.

Papadums, lentil wafers with cumin and pepper studs. This is one of my favorites appetizers, its just crispy goodness.

Assorted Tandoori Platter, Combination of chicken tikka, seekh keebab and tandoori prawn. A great start, it has a bit of everything you would want to try from the tandoori oven.

Coconut Cilantro Goan Kofta, A vegetarian house specialty made with mushroom and soya bits in delicious coconut cilantro gravy. There is something so special about this dish, and I had never tried it before. I just loved it.

House Specialties:

Kerelan Pepper Chicken, with creamy coconut chicken in onion gravy with black pepper, curry leaves and whole mustard. Another great dish with a terrific array of spices and just the right amount of sauce.

Murg Akbari, an exotic preparation of chicken with cashews, raisins and grated paneer, simmered in a creamy sauce. It was a favorite of the Mughal ruler of India, Emperor Akbar (1542-1605). This is a recreation of the original recipe dating back to the 16th century. The cashews and raisins add a good amount of texture and sweetness.

Curries:

Prawn Masala, big juicy pieces of prawn cooked in a light sauce. Being the shrimp lover I just had to try this one and it didn’t disappoint.

Lamb Vindaloo, with spicy hot lamb or chicken curry with potatoes. Be forewarned this one packs a punch, very spicy but truly a winner. After every bite the spice will last and get deeper.

Vegetable Side Dishes:

Spiced Vegetables Curry, with a combination of cauliflower, beans, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes and potatoes in a medium sauce. This dish will give you the freshest vegetables in a perfect curry sauce.

Mattar Paneer, with homemade soft cheese and green peas simmered with delicate spices. Always a favorite of mine, it has subtle flavors that go well with the rest of the curry dishes.

Raitha, homemade yogurt churned with cucumber flakes and studded with roasted cumin. This dish was sweet with a pickled type of flavor; it will cool your palate down from all of the heat.

Rice and Breads:

Vegetable Pullao, Saffron flavored rice cooked with seasonal vegetables. Done correctly there is nothing better then good basmati rice and at New Delhi they really know how to make delicious rice.

Garlic Nan, with fresh-spiced garlic and cilantro. This has lots of garlic, and the bread is soft and inviting.

Dessert:

They gave me 2 different desserts and both were a great way to end my glorious meal.

Wine:

Chardonnay, barrel fermented wine in American oak. A nose of tasty vanilla and butter with flavors of ripe pear, apple and spice. A long terrific finish. This is a lovely, buttery wine that paired nicely with the shrimp masala.

Zinfandel, deep rich black fruit on the nose, wild berry and spice on the palate. This wine went great with any of the curry dishes, as well as the lamb dish, it has a big bold flavor that matches up well with the spicy curries.

The interior is very romantic and elegant, with lots of exotic details. The bar is very lovely as well, but the dining room is where you want to have your taste buds experience all of this bounty and all of their amazing spices. What more could you ask for, delicious, Indian fine dining with all of the bells and whistles.

This is specialized Indian food at its best, for those that have never tried Indian food then here is your chance. Skip all the rest and try the best!!

New Delhi Restaurant and Bar
160 Ellis St.
San Francisco, CA.
94102
http://www.newdelhirestaurant.com
*Some text was taken off of their website

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment