Orson’s Belly – Dec. 27, 2016 – Lunch – San Francisco, CA.

Everything about this place screams old Hollywood, from the posters on the walls to the movies always being shown, the owner Gem studied film here in San Francisco, go figure.

Gem and his wife Cigdem are originally from Istanbul, Turkey, so the food reflects their roots. It’s really a neighborhood hang, with great coffee and lovely lunch items, a real find in this usually sleepy area. Orsen’s Belly is community based with seventy-five percent of its customers living within a few blacks away.

They play jazz, while the movie on the wall has the sound turned off. The day I was there they were playing one of my favorite movies, Babette’s Feast from 1987. The décor is industrial with red, green and black metal chairs, wood floors, and many movie posters on the walls.

This coming Friday will be their 7 month anniversary, and business is doing really good. They also host a lot of fun events that they host.

Here’s what I tried:

Breakfast:

Turkish breakfast – feta, organic hard boiled eggs, black olives, cucumber, tomatoes, honey, jam, pita bread. Having been to Turkey I knew just what this was supposed to be and its even better then I remember.

Bagel Sandwiches:

Smoked salmon, house made goat cheese yogurt sauce, cucumber, tomato, and chives. You get lots of salmon and the cheese yogurt sauce is just delightful.

Haigs hummus, spinach, cherry tomato, radish, olive oil, and French Brittany fleur de sel, just the basics but they work so well together.

Tuna melt with Swiss cheese, the tuna is not too dressed, and the Swiss cheese works so well, I loved this lunch item.

Salads:

Veggie Cobb, with romaine, avocado, organic hard-boiled egg, feta, agave-roasted chickpeas, vegetarian Worcestershire dressing. The chickpeas really make this salad wonderful, and so does the very flavorful dressing, for a healthier lunch choice this is the one.

Organic tomato soup, rich and creamy but at the same time no too heavy, a wonderful full-bodied soup.

Wine:
Chardonnay, Cannonball, 2013, a nice buttery wine, and will go great with the smoked salmon.

Sauvignon Blanc, Spy Valley, Marlborough, 2015, I liked this wine with the Turkish breakfast, it went especially well with the sweet honey.

Zinfandel Manifesto Lodi 2014, this wine for me worked with the tomato soup, a perfect combo.

Le Petite Pemere, Sonoma 2014, I liked this wine with the Humus, it brought out a more robust flavor in the humus that is normally tasted.

No nonsense, just great food, and it doesn’t hurt that it has a very whimsical atmosphere. In a nutshell, when you’re in the Upper Richmond area of San Francisco try Orson’s Belly.

Orson’s Belly
1737 Balboa Ave.,
San Francisco, CA, 94121
http://www.orsonsbelly.com/

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Mescolanza – Dinner – Monday Dec. 26, 2016 – San Francisco, CA.

Geary Blvd. in San Francisco has many ethnic restaurants, it is a sleepy area, but jammed packed with delightfully creative dining. Simple, yet elegant, Mescolanza does not disappoint. Chef Rueben decided what I should try and he did a great job of giving me some nice tastings off the menu. Mescolanza is a cozy Italian restaurant nestled in the Richmond District of San Francisco, known for its northern Italian menu.

Their décor is simple and elegant, with 2 dining rooms, a mural of the Trevi fountain in Italy adorns the second dining room, and café chair and tables work just perfectly as a backdrop for this delicious food. Festive chopping blocks are wall art, there are wooden floors and blue ceilings with round drop lighting fixtures, making for nice soft lighting, all done with the utmost taste. The bay windows add that only in San Francisco touch. The music they play is Italian opera.

The customers are families, dates, and locals, all very sophisticated. The night I was there they had a private 21st birthday party with a special menu, all of those guests looked like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves.

They can host dinners with special menus, wine events or private tastings, plus a devoted kitchen and chef for any event. The Trevi room can accommodate up to 30 people for private parties such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and business luncheons. The room is available on any day or night of the week and can be closed off from the main room with heavy curtains providing for a more intimate setting.

Owner and Chef Ruben and wife Maria Macedo, purchased Mescolanza from the previous owners back in November 1998. Ruben has worked at the restaurant since it opened in 1987, beginning as the pizza cook. It is not unusual for Ruben and Maria to begin their day with a trip to the produce market in the morning, do all the prep work in the early afternoon, work in the kitchen while the restaurant is open, and even do all the cleanup after everyone else has gone home.

Long before he bought Mescolanza, he was hired at the restaurant as a maintenance worker. Yet, during that time, he quietly dreamt of ideas for new dishes that could potentially help the restaurant. Rueben has a strong work ethic, so he worked hard as a janitor until he was promoted to working in the pantry. A short time later, he found himself training in the kitchen as a pizza chef.

Suddenly in 1998 an unexpected opportunity presented itself, and he purchased the business. Ever since that purchase he has always made sure that Mescolanza offers only the best quality of organic produce, wild fish, and hormone free poultry.

At the end of 2014, he lost the lease for his original location on Clement Street, and was forced to relocate. It was a very painful experience for them because the future of their restaurant was uncertain, and they faced tremendous hardships looking for a new location. Even after they found one just a few blocks away, there were many construction delays, which in turn, delayed their re-opening. Now, thanks to the loyalty of their customers and to their employees who have stuck by their side through the toughest of times. Today, they are extremely happy and grateful to continue serving their new and returning customers for a long time to come.

Here’s what I tried:

Stuzzichini/Starters:

Melanzane Alla Griglia grilled eggplant, bruschetta, a nice array of flavors and the eggplant is cooked perfectly.

Carpaccio thinly sliced raw beef capers, red onions, mustard paste, shaved Parmesan cheese, and bruschetta. Very tender and moist, a great dish.

Insalate/Salad:

Insalata Caprese, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil. The tomato was ripe and delicious with the accompaniment of the cheese, it is one of my favorites.

Carciofi Con Gamberetti, artichoke bottom, baby shrimp. This item is a little gem, I love artichoke hearts and stuffed with shrimp, what could be better.

Pasta:

Linguine Alle Vongole Veraci fresh clams, garlic, tomato, cream. What I loved about this dish is that it is in a very mild cream sauce, but with lots of garlic, pretty unusual.

Ravioli Di Verdure, artichoke filled ravioli, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and butter, a nice well balanced dish, with just the right amount of seasonings.

Special for the week: Ravioli with seafood and artichoke, creamy tomato sauce, bell peppers, peas, topped with pecorino shavings. It came with a light red sauce and the peas were the highlight for me.

Piatti Forti/Entrees:

Vitello Marsala, shallots, mushrooms and Marsala wine. Super tender veal with a delightful sauce full of fragrant mushroom, a real winner.

Pesce Del Giorno, fresh salmon with seasonal vegetables. This could be the greatest salmon, with a firm but tender cut, and an amazing crispy layer on the top, can’t say enough about this lovely dish!

Wines:

Sauvignon Blanc Sempre Vive, this is a great pairing with the artichoke and shrimp salad.

Chardonnay, San Simeon, I would drink this wine with the linguine and clams; it is well balanced and not too buttery to distract from the serious garlic flavors in the clam sauce.

Merlot delle Venezie, Cesari, this wine would work well with the salmon or the veal.

Wine of the night: Bogle, Phantom. I liked this wine with the Carpaccio; a nice jammy texture went great with the beef.

In Ruben’s own words, “I’ve worked in many different Italian restaurants since the early 80’s to make ends meet, and I have always thought constantly of ways that I could improve my life and consequentially my work.

Chef Reuben calls one of the biggest and most important events, was when Mescolanza were featured on Check Please Bay Area.

Their mission is simple: to serve delicious, affordable food that guests will want to return to week after week.

Next time you’re in the mood for honest Italian with no frills and great ingredients try coming to Mescolanza, it will make you happy and realize that in this case less is absolutely more.

Mescolanza
3750 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco, CA. 94118
http://www.mescolanza.net
* Note some content was taken off of their website.

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Revival Bar and Kitchen – Dinner Dec. 23, 2017- Berkeley CA.

I flew from Los Angeles to Oakland, had a real Bart adventure getting to the restaurant, and arrived at the restaurant at 8:30 PM with only an hour before the kitchen would shut down. That did not stop their wonderful staff from giving me everything I asked for to taste.

The restaurant is in downtown Berkeley, and literally you walk out of the Bart station and it’s across the street. It really felt like a few days before Christmas, with everything at the restaurant decked out as well as the street out side. The temperature helped as well, I think it got down to 28 degrees in most places in the Bay Area that night.

Here’s what I tried:

Drinks:

Moroccan Mule with Zubrowka bison grass vodka, mahia fig eau de vie, ras el hanout bitters, mint green tea, lemon, honey, Blenheim ginger ale. This is a very effervescent cocktail, with a kick, but goes down real easy.

Mean Tangerine Aperol, with square one bergamot vodka, elderflower, and lemon. Served in an old school gimlet glass, with great orange flavor a real keeper.

Soup:

This Evening’s Soup, Parsnip Ginger Soup, with Chili oil, fried sun choke. The presentation was colorful, but the minute you taste this soup you will be very happy!

Salad:

Pear and Persimmon, with cucumber, pecorino, fennel, candied pecan. This is a seriously delicious salad, so light and refreshing.

Starters:

Beef-Ricotta Meatballs, with kabocha coulis, bacon and arugula. They serve you 3 big meatballs that have a wonderful taste and will keep you wanting more.

Mains:

Lamb Mixed Grill Roasted Brussels sprouts + sun choke, faro, chard, gremolata, celery root puree. It is a very grand presentation, with a large lamb bone as the centerpiece; the rest is left to your taste buds, which I know will be very content.

Swordfish with zucchini ribbons, butternut squash puree, and mandarin relish. This dish is so pretty, the colors and the proportions re just wonderfully placed.

Duck Breast with alubia bean succotash, parsnip veloute, and fried sun choke. The smoky flavor really stands out, but perhaps not as crispy as I would like.

Mushroom–Ricotta Cannelloni with beech and maitake mushroom, arugula, cauliflower béchamel. The mushrooms are wild with an amazing cream sauce.

Sides:

Lollipop kale with garlic, pecorino, and fried shallot. This is a very healthy experience; the little shallot rings are very sweet.

Cauliflower with gremolata, and sunflower seeds. A nice rendition of a very popular vegetable dish, truly a winner.

Dessert:

Almond Chocolat Torte, Candied almonds, caramel sauce, crème Chantilly. The caramel sauce is the highlight and the chocolate torte did not disappoint.

Pumpkin Beignets spiced sugar quince, really inventive and wonderful.

Cranberry Apple Spice Sorbet, a nice refreshing palate cleanser and end to a marvelous experience.

Wine:

Oro Paz, Sauvignon Blanc, 2015, Luchsinger Vineyard, Lake County. Peach rounded out flavors, I would do this wine with the Pear and Persimmon salad.

The Gardener Riesling, 2013, Scintillia Vineyards, Carneros, a bit on the fruity side, but would be a great match with the cauliflower.

Matias, Chardonnay, 2014, Santa Lucia Highlands. A perfect blend of fruit with a nice buttery nuance, great pairing with the Swordfish.

Shebang, Zinfandel Blend, NV, California. I love a good Zin and this one was right up there, try this wine with the great lamb grill.

Purple Hands, Pinot Noir, 2015, Willamette Valley. I liked this wine with the Mushroom–Ricotta Cannelloni, its adds to the overall mushroom goodness.

Saracina Malbec 2012 Skid Row Vineyards, Mendocino, I thought this wine paired nicely with the Beef-Ricotta Meatballs.

It’s a very lively interior, with a nice warm flow. The bar is equally inviting, a kind of Cheers vibe. The can offer private dining and parties, such as bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, holiday parties, academic events, their party room can accommodate 40 guests.

Revival is using, many local producers for some best-of-season foods in their kitchen. They are preparing 100% grass fed organic lamb from Emigh Ranch, humanely raised beef from Cream CO. meats, the best sustainably sourced seafood from Water 2 Table, Frog Hollow apples, and the abundant produce of Happy Boy Farms.

Revival serves thoughtfully crafted artisan cocktails utilizing fresh ingredients and premium spirits. Their cocktail menu is a mix of modern interpretations of classic cocktails and innovative seasonal concoctions. The spirits list has been carefully selected, with a focus on smaller craft distillers. Their wine list is lively and international, featuring the best of the old world and the new. They focus on smaller wineries that practice organic and biodyamic growing, and make the most of being near wine country, and near by producers.

Revival is open for brunch, and ready to serve Berkeley’s downtown community. With local, consciously raised meats, best-of-season produce, and fresh house-baked artisan breads. Bar master Pete has assembled a growing list of truly original, expertly balanced cocktails to accompany your meal. From his Hot ‘n Bloody, to the whiskey-based Dixie Buck, these cocktails are a few steps beyond the usual brunch booze suspects. They go down easy, deliver serious endorphins, and taste fabulous.

Revival Bar and Kitchen serves a menu of truly local, seasonal delights, well sourced and minimally processed, designed to satisfy, replenish, and inspire. They are open for dinner, weekend brunch, a lively happy hour, and late night bites on Friday and Saturday. Revival Bar and Kitchen is adventurous, approachable California-style cuisine.

Revival Bar & Kitchen
2102 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704
revivalbarandkitchen.com
(510) 549-9950
* Note some content was taken off of their website.

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The King and I – December 15, 2016 – The Pantages Theater – Hollywood

This is a Rogers and Hammerstein musical at its best, traditional and in all of its original glory. The gorgeous costumes, sets, and actors, are truly a feast for your eyes! An amazing production that should be seen by all!

Cast members include: Laura Michelle Kelly (as Anna Leonowens), Jose LLana (as King of Siam), Joan Almedilla (as Lady Thiang), Manna Nichols (as Tuptim), Anthony Chan (as Prince Chulalongkorn), Graham Montgomery (as Louis Leonowens), Brian Rivera (as Kralahome), Baylen Thomas (as Captain Orton & Sir Edward Ramsey), and Heather Botts (u/s Anna). The ensemble of actors and dancers are equally brilliant!

The production’s costumes are out of this world, it’s as if you are stepping into an ancient world of Siam, regal, nonetheless. The dancing is fantastic and utilizes many unique props to enhance the characters. For instance, large Buddha pieces and ornamental Thai style head pieces are part of the excitement.

“The King and I” has fascinating storyline dealing with customs and traditions. In the story line, the King’s main goal is for SIam to be progressive and modern by getting rid of old customs and traditions. But the King himself, is one of the last people to change. One of the issues is with the treatment of women, perhaps best described as slavery. The King is a male chauvinist at it’s truest form and has no idea how women are treated in other countries. Luckily, Anna is there to teach the children of Siam, and the King, to do away with the old traditions. There is much dissension between the two of them, but as the story unfolds their fondness for each other becomes the main lesson. It is a wonderful lesson in love and power, it pretty much will stick with you for a long time.

Both the singing and acting in “The King and I” are remarkable. Laura Michelle Kelly has a sort of Julie Andrews’s quality to her voice– she brought the house down every time she sang. Jose Llana and Joan Almedilla did an incredible job as well. The songs “Hello, Young Lovers,” “Getting to Know You,” “Something Wonderful,” and “Shall We Dance,” were each given great arrangements with perfect vocal tenacity. I believe that there is no better music and lyrics than with Rogers and Hammerstein– so much talent in those two.

“The King and I” is based on the novel “Anna and The King of Siam” by Margaret London. The choreography was by Christopfer Gattelli– based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins, and directed by Bartlett Sher.

There was a lot of action on the Red Carpet before the show too. The red carpet attendees included: Hillary Hickman “In My Mother’s Arms,” Carly Hughes “American Housewife,” Mary Hollis Inboden “The Real O’Neals,” Shirley Jones “The Partridge Family,” Max Landis “Chronicle,” Eva LaRue “CSI: Miami,” Dawnn Lewis “ A Different World,” Ashley Liao “Fuller House,” Kate Linder “The Young and the Restless,” Greg Louganis “Entourage,” Barbara Luna “The King and I” Original Broadway Cast, Masiela Lusha “George Lopez,” Armand Mastroianni Director, Katherine McNamara “ShadowHunters,” William R. Morris “Falcon Crest,” Ryan Newman “Monster House,” Ann Robinson “War of the Worlds,” Sara Rue “Less Than Perfect,” Gabrielle Ruiz “My Crazy Ex- Girlfriend,” Benjamin and Matthew Royer “Best Friends Whenever,” Olivia Sanabia “Just Add Magic,” Sherri Saum “The Fosters,” Matt Shively “The Real O’Neals,” Vincent Spano “Alive,” Hal Sparks “Lab Rats,” Haley Tau “Bella and the Bulldogs,” Gina Torres “Suits,” Forrest Wheeler “Fresh Off The Boat,” Bebe Wood “The Real O’Neals,” Bradley Pierce “Beauty and the Beast,” Aubrey Anderson-Emmons “Modern Family,” Ashley Argota “The Fosters,” Dante Basco “Hook,” Luna Blaise “Fresh Off the Boat,” Soni Bringas “Fuller House,” Barbara Chase “9 to 5,” Francois Chau “Rescue Dawn,” Camille Chen “Two Broke Girls,” Ian Chen “Fresh Off the Boat,” Brock Ciarlelli ”The Middle,” Darius Cottrell “American Sniper,” Denise Crosby “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Patrika Darbo “Days of Our Lives,” Giselle Eisenberg “Life in Pieces,” Joey Fatone “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” Jesse Tyler Ferguson “Modern Family,” Lou and Carla Ferrigno “The Incredible Hulk,” and Daniel Franzese “Mean Girls.”

Of course the history of The Pantages Theater is a miracle in itself, with all of its ornate decoration, it adds beauty to any show being offered there.

For an upbeat evening of dancing, singing and entertainment, go see “The King and I.” It will lift your spirits and make you believe that a great musical is well worth seeing.

The King and I
The Pantages Theater
6233 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 468-1770
hollywoodpantages.com

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Wilde Wine Bar and Restaurant – Dinner – Saturday Dec. 10, 2016 – Hollywood, CA.

Wilde Wine Bar and Restaurant – Dinner Saturday Dec. 10, 2016 – Hollywood, CA. This is a great location, on La Brea in a very hipster area, with lots of art galleries on every block. This used to be a wine bar that I wrote about as well, 3 twenty wine lounge. The transformation is astounding, going from high tech, to down right chic romantic, a place you really want to come and try.

This was on of those tastings where I was unable to choose a lot to taste, I had a limited budget, but I thought I picked some good choices, now its up to you to come in and try the rest!

Here’s what I tried:

To Share:

Eggplant – Cutlet Parmesan, with house made tomatoes sauce and Parmesan. The eggplant is cut very thin, and the tomato sauce is super rich. Done really simple this dish shines, it is delicate yet very Italian, a great way to start.

Plates:

Cast Iron New York Strip Steak, 10oz. with au proivre sauce, cress and fries. The fries were just the bomb, but not heavy, super light and crispy. The steak is very large, you can share this with a guest, the sauce is very French, with ample amount of pepper.

Local Sea Bass Filet, ‘nicoise” sautéed with olives, capers, parsley and Meyers lemon. Flaky moist fish, this sea bass hit all the right notes. The vegetables are equally terrific, cooked just enough, they tended to be crispy. I just loved the subtlety of flavors and the way it was presented, a true winner.

Dessert:

Chocolate Cake, they give you a small piece but it really is enough. Delicate, and light with very robust chocolate flavor, it makes a nice finish to my great meal.

Wines:

House Sauvignon Blanc, Olas, 2013. This is a very drinkable wine and it is their house wine, I would recommend this with the Sea Bass, nice and light with a fruit forward balance and nice delicate flavors.

Barbera, Cantine Valpane, Italy, 2013, this is the wine to drink with the steak; it is dry and very Italian.

Pinot Noir, Challen, Ca. 2013, for me I loved this wine with the chocolate cake, it adds a great deal of jammy nuances to the great chocolate flavors.

The interior is just lovely, with its great romantic lighting, and the best crystal chandelier ever. Impeccably appointed, 1500-square-foot dining room is warm, sexy and sophisticated, offering comfortable bar and lounge-style seating as well as more formal table settings. There is lots of fresh artwork to look at, very often they have art work up from a local gallery.

Wilde has been opened since April 2015, and it has really taken off. They offer uncomplicated European-American dishes, good old-fashioned hospitality and an award- winning wine list. They want to offer each customer making a feeling of a relaxing evening at home or an invitation to a good friend’s house for dinner, Wilde has earned an unheard-of, near-perfect rating on Yelp. Wilde makes every effort to eliminate the intimidation, snobbery and high price tags many people often associate with wine, you can taste numerous types, each with their own special characteristics. Wilde recently earned the #1 spot on Open Table’s Diners Choice Awards for the Restaurant with the “Most Notable Wine List” in the entire Los Angeles area for two consecutive months (October and November 2015

They do lots of events and have a very fun Sunday night’s “Fried Chicken & Bubbles” which is often fully booked in advance.

About The Owners:

Lorna Donohoe, owner and General Manager, she left a successful marketing career to open Wilde Wine Bar & Restaurant and focus on her lifelong love of wine, food and entertaining. She was previously head of global marketing at Playboy Enterprises, overseeing the repositioning of one of America’s most iconic brands, and has also worked with such high-profile companies as Conde Nast Publications, along with a host of other leading lifestyle, fashion and designer brands.

Nader Naderi, Executive Chef and Owner, began his culinary career at a young age in London’s Earls Court and went on to open two successful restaurants in Los Angeles. In 2001, he left the restaurant business and launched a hugely successful fashion company, The Great China Wall, and later consulted for designer denim brands such as Wrangler, Seven for All Mankind, Koral and others. In 2015, he returned to his culinary roots, opening Wilde Wine Bar and Restaurant with wife and business partner Lorna Donohoe. Of his cooking philosophy, Naderi says: “When I was working as a chef in Italy and Europe, the food was simple, no more than three or four ingredients and paired with simple wines that let the food speak for itself. There has been this huge trend for over-complicated, over-seasoned dishes, fusions and so many ingredients that one can barely taste what the dish is. Our local customers and catering clients continually express their appreciation that the food at Wilde is farm-to-table, organic orsustainable, simply prepared with just a few ingredients.”

There is so much potential here to become the most fashionable local wine bar on La Brea, I know once you come in and experience the cozy romantic warmth the way that I did you too will be hooked.

Wilde Wine Bar and Restaurant
320 S. la Brea Ave.
los Angeles, CA 90036

http://wildela.com/

*Note some content was taken off of their website.

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LA Weekly Sips and Sweets – Dec. 2, 2016

The Petersen Museum is a great reason to get out and explore this fantastic event. This is the perfect backdrop for yummy desserts, cocktails and some savories dishes. You will enjoy your decadent experience amidst some of the most collectable cars in the world. Festive, and fun, LA Weekly puts on a great pre-holiday event. With 21 bakers, 22 bartenders and over 30 vendors, truly a holiday eating, drinking and shopping extravaganza! VIP’s were treated to an hour of tastings before the general public came in at 8pm. In its third year, the annual holiday party features over 15 of the city’s top bakers, over 20 of LA’s most respected mixologists and more local LA artisanal craftspeople. Curated by the LA Weekly’s own food critic Besha Rodell and Katherine Spiers, with a portion of this year’s event proceeds benefits Food Forward Brand.

About the Petersen: Founded on June 11, 1994 by magazine publisher Robert E. Petersen, and his wife Margie, the Petersen Automotive Museum is owned and operated by the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation. Previously located within the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the museum is permanently housed in a historic department store originally designed by Welton Becket. The building opened in 1962 as a short-lived U.S. branch of Seibu Department Stores, before operating as an Ohrbach’s department store from 1965 to 1986. Six years after Ohrbach’s closed, Robert Petersen selected the largely windowless site as an ideal space for a museum, where artifacts could be displayed without harmful exposure to the ultraviolet radiation of direct sunlight.

In 2015, the museum underwent an extensive $90 million renovation. The building’s façade was redesigned by the architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, while designers at The Scenic Route configured interior spaces to accommodate changing exhibits that are intended to encourage repeated visits. The exterior features a stainless-steel ribbon assembly, made of 100 tons of 14-gauge type 304 steel in 308 sections, 25 supports and 140,000 custom stainless-steel screws. The remodeled museum opened to the public on December 7, 2015.

Sips and Sweets Vendors:

Cocktails Presented by: Hendrick’s Gin, Tullamore DEW Whiskey, Reyka Vodka, Milagro Tequila, Sailor, Jerry Rum, and Monkey Shoulder.

Bartenders: The Roger Room, The Pikey, The Lucques Group, The Bar at Belcampo Santa Monica, Sotto, Red O Santa Monica, Sassafras, Sonny’s Hideaway, Miro, Momed Atwater Vollage, Otium, LekurLips, Lock & Key, Lost Property, E.P. & L. P, Guelaguetza, Hyperion Public, Bar Toscana, Nerano, Birch, Accomplice, 71Above, and 1886 Bar and The Raymond.

Sweets: Alexander Steak House, Bearclaw Kitchen, Beverly Hills Beignet, Choctal Single Origin Ice Cream, Cobblermania, Copenhagen Pastry, Crème Caramel LA, Enjoyer, Mascarpone Cheesecake, Mc Connell’s Fine Ice Cream, Mercedes Binge Desserts, Nickel Diner, Ococoa, Salt & Straw, Street Churros, The Broadway Baker, The Gourmandise School, Waffling Around, Wanderlust Creamery, Westbound, and WP24 by Wolfgang Puck.

Savories: Banh Oui, Big Mozz, Burritos La Palma, Cheezus, Chinese Laundry Truck, Elvio’s Chimichurri. And Mama Musubi.

Entertainment: Bridges, On the first floor: DJ Stylus. On the second floor: Cuffin, DJ Haylow, and DJ Val the Vandle. On the third floor: Motown on Mondays LA., MOMLA, Featuring The MOM LA Players, EXPO, MONALISA, C-MINUS, SLOEPOKE. On the rooftop: Dave & Buster’s Presents DJ Hydroe.

Next year come one come all and fast track yourself into the holiday spirit, you will be glad you made the trip!

Petersen Automotive Museum

6060 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, 90036

petersen.org/

laweekly.com/sips-and-sweets/2016

Photo Credit: Catrine Karl

 

* Note some content was taken off of event presenter’s websites.

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Stay at Bella Cristia – November 14, 2016 – La Quinta, CA.

Bella Cristia is in La Quinta, California, better known as Gem of the Desert. La Quinta has many outdoor activities and special events throughout the year, along with plenty of sunshine. La Quinta is pretty much, a resort town, filled with premiere golf courses. There are plenty of beautiful open spaces, with its lush vegetation, mountains, flowers and fresh clean air. All of these wonderful things come with a stay any where in La Quinta, what doesn’t come with a stay in La Quinta is the personal touch that Innkeepers Leah and Patrick lend to this very peaceful environment. Their homespun attitude and attention to detail will make you want to come back to Bella Crotsia time and time again.

Another amazing thing that happens when you walk in the door at Bella Cristia is the overwhelming presence of Leah’s daughter Cristia, the bed and breakfasts namesake. What seems to be a very horrific story, one that will stick with you while you look into Leah’s beautiful eyes during your heartfelt conversations about life, will end up warming your heart and teaching you a lot about the human spirit and love. During my stay Leah was about to commemorate the 9th year of her daughters passing. Cristia passed away in Nov. of 2007, on a brisk fall morning in a car accident. Her passing was very quick and not something any of her family ever thought would have happened. When you talk to Leah about her daughter she has nothing but love and respect for Cristia, but you can also feel the shock of a life-gone way to soon. Leah discussed with me the after life, and all of her very detailed dreams about Cristia after she passed. You can just feel her daughter everywhere in their lovely bed and breakfast. There was time when Leah could not talk about her loss, but she feels in a cathartic way it helps her with her tragedy by keeping Cristia in her thoughts every day. For me I am very attuned to after life and consider myself a bit psychic, you would have to be open for this kind of telepathic activity to be able to embrace it. I am sure if you just came to relax and did not broach the subject it would just feel like a wonderful stay at a hidden oasis in La Quinta. Although Leah feels that everyone who stays at Bella Cristia was brought there by divine intervention, some kind of spiritual journey. She learns from each and every guest and their own different types of life situations, and wants to be of service to other parents who may be hurting. She has had some guests who lost children in similar types of accidents and relishes the fact they found their way to her and that she can heal herself and her guests by sharing their experiences. I would say that Leah’s rock is her husband and partner Patrick, who has also had his own struggles, surviving cancer a few years back. Patrick is the chef; he whips up a delicious breakfast before he goes off to work at The La Quinta Chamber of Commerce every day. This powerful duo has some much love to give, with all of their tragedies you are rest assured that you will be in the lap of luxury at Bella Cristia, with every attention to detail taken care of. The elegance surrounds you, with all of Patrick’s and Leah’s little touches. I felt really blessed that some thing brought me to them and that I was elevated to a better understanding of how love can conquer all.

And then there is Dusty Rose and Wanda, their fantastic pooches, who both have their own wonderful personalities. Wanda is a Seeing Eye dog poodle and Dusty Rose a service Labradoodle. They will greet you when you enter and find time to give you lots of love throughout your stay.

The house has two fantastic suites that have their own entrances, with large flat screen TV’s jazucci’s bath tubs, all of the luxurious amenities you would need to have a nice tranquil vacation. I stayed in the The Meiomi Suite. The Meiomi suite is a beautiful room named after one of Leah and Patrick’s favorite wines, a Pinot Noir out of Napa Valley. This room is decorated with an elegant Spanish feel. During the cool season, you can sit by the fireplace, gaze through the French Doors and take in the magnificent view of the Santa Rosa Mountains. Bella Cristia is designed and operated for an adult clientele, so leave the kids at home, no one under 21 years of age is allowed.

Patrick serves a very tasty breakfast, using the healthiest freshest ingredients. I had a sausage frittata served in a mini iron skillet, homemade blueberry scones, this dish was very delicious, and kept me energized until lunch. They use organic food and farm grown when available. They also will accommodate anyone with a special food request, or food allergies.

Their décor is cozy, not too over done. Their beds are extremely comfortable. There are little nick knacks as well as large pieces of furniture and art. At night they enhance the pool with midnight blue lighting, that changes colors. Everything here is sophisticated elegance. They also have cruiser bikes so you can get some exercise while your out site seeing.

Leah and Patrick’s story will restore your faith in mankind, and make you truly appreciate the little things in life that you might be taking for granted. Their resiliency and ability to face life’s tragedies head on will give you a new reason to value your own circumstances. What ever the occasion you will be forever touched by Leah and Patrick’s, hospitality, warmth, and grace!

Bella Cristia a Bed & Breakfast
78705 Avenida La Torres
La Quinta, CA 92253
760-275-2119


www.bellacristia.com/

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Italian Festival – Palm Desert – Nov. 13, 2016

In the beautiful Rancho Mirage Community Park, on a gorgeous warm fall day, eating all kinds of fantastic Italian food at The Italian Festival, and enjoying every minute of it. This was all to benefit the desert charity; Desert Arc, which in itself is a great reason to venture out to this festive event. The Italian Festival is everyone’s ticket to Italy in the desert.

Desert Arc History:

Desert Arc was founded in 1959 by a group of parents who wanted to expand the horizons of their developmentally disabled children’s lives with educational programs and recreational services. In 1969, property was purchased in Palm Desert, and a vocational training workshop program for disabled adults was established. In 1983, program operations were moved when the first phase of the current facility was built on donated property to provide expanded programs for more than 50 mentally and physically disabled adults. In 1999, Desert Arc constructed its 26,000-square-foot building at the Palm Desert Campus where vocational training and employment is provided to clients through the operation of on-site businesses. Desert Arc also added two satellite locations one in the Town of Yucca Valley and more recently a fully operational recycle center in the City of Indio. Today, Desert Arc serves 600+ clients. Desert Arc serves adults 18 and older with developmental disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, epilepsy, and other medical conditions. Many have multiple disabilities and 99% are low income and receive Social Security and Medicare benefits. Currently Desert Arc has more than 650 clients enrolled in various programs. In total, 900 clients are enrolled in all programs throughout the Coachella Valley and the Morongo Basis, and offers services to clients as far west as Temecula and as far east as Blythe. The client base of Desert Arc is growing at an average of 3-5% per year.

With the goal of helping each client live as independently as possible, a broad array of programs and services tailored to the unique needs of each client are offered. They include: vocational training; job development; job placement and employment; independent living support with 24 hour emergency assistance; hot meals and nutrition; transportation; support and training for self help and independent living; case management and personalized coordination of client services; advocacy for client needs and community integration.

Their Mission is to enhance the quality of life and create opportunities for people with disabilities.

The food vendors included: Fantasy Springs Casino, Mario’s Italian Kitchen, Castelli’s Restaurant, Fisherman’s Market and Grill, Liveri’s of Palm Springs, Irresistirollz, Desert Arc Kitchen, Agape Church, La Donne Cucina Italiana, Funnel Frenzy, Pizzeria Villagio, Beach Bar Italian Ice, Matteo Pasquini Espresso Bar. I tried delicious a meatball sandwich, a great Caesar Salad, and a perfect calamari fritti, my favorites. There were delightful food demonstrations, puppet show, face painting, arts and crafts, display of vintage Itlain cars, cake decorating contest, and of course live music.

All I can say what a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Palm Desert. Some of my friends showed up and fun was had by all!

http://www.desertarc.org/about

* Note some content was taken from their website.

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Lunch at Mitch’s on El Paseo – Palm Desert – Saturday – November 12, 2016

Mitch’s on El Paseo is a concept developed by long-time restaurateur, Mitch Epstein, who brings his 31 years in the restaurant business to team up with respected sushi master and chef, James Holder – who was raised in Japan as the son of an American serviceman and a Japanese mother, and remembers learning to ‘cut fish’ (as he calls it) when he was 13, in his village of Hiyama. Mitch’s serves strictly Prime seafood and steaks with every dish a dramatic presentation.

Sushi Master James Holder began his professional career at several high-end sushi restaurants in San Diego, including playing an integral role in the opening of UTC’s celebrated Café Japengo. During his tenure, Café Japengo was awarded the California Restaurants Association Gold Medallion Award for “Best Sushi” eight years in a row. Born and raised in Japan, Holder started making sushi at the age of 13 with his mother in his hometown of Hiyama. He is currently Chef/Partner at Valentino’s lounge in Chula Vista and at Mitch’s on El Paseo in Palm Desert, which was recently voted one of 10best.com’s “Ten Best Restaurants in the Desert.”

The location of Mitch’s, the former Augusta Restaurant at the corner of Portola and El Paseo on the East end of the famed avenue, sets an exquisite dining scene with a multitude of windows showcasing the spectacular mountain views and an expansive lawn and lush landscaping in the back of the restaurant. Accommodating 275 people on upper and lower levels as well as picturesque patios, Mitch’s also has two distinctive bars with flat screen TVs, eye-catching wall art and fire pits.

Here’s what I tried:

Cocktails:

‘Super Dave Osborne’ Margarita with Reposado Tequila, splash orange liquor, fresh squeezed lime juice with a splash of house made sour mix, topped with Grand Marnier. Big huge zest tangy flavors, this is a great margarita.

Cucumber & Raspberry Mule, with muddled cucumbers and raspberries, Russian Vodka, Bundaberg Ginger Beer and a twist of lime then topped Lindermanns Framboise. If you like a good mule then this is the cocktail for you.

Sushi:

Eel Avocado Cucumber roll, just what the doctor ordered, in its entire rich splendor.

Spicy Scallops handroll, with spicy crab, cucumber. There are a lot of scallops in this roll and the sauce is to die for.

Shrimp Tempura hand roll, with snow crab, avocado; everything in it makes this hand roll extremely delicious.

808 Roll, with shrimp tempura, snow crab, avocado, cucumber rolled & topped with spicy tuna, crunchy flakes and macadamia Nuts. My kind of roll, shrimp tempura with the crunchy flakes and macadamia nut, it is just perfection.

Starters:

Hot:

Lump and Snow Crab Cakes with corn remoulade, spicy aioli, micro greens. There are big huge chunks of crab; with the spicy aioli you can’t go wrong.

Creamy Shrimp and lobster, shrimp and lobster lightly tempura, miso lime aioli. Served in a large martini glass with shaved carrot, this is a great way to start your wonderful dining experience.

Cold:

Yellowtail Sashimi Jalapeno Yuzu, sliced hamachi, sliced jalapeno, yuzu, ponzu sauce, habanero tobiko. This dish has a kick so beware, but their fish is just so fresh it makes for one exceptional appitizer.

Honeymoon Oysters, 4 Pcs. Pacific Oysters, ½ shell, tobiko & salmon caviar, sea urchin, lemon ponzu sauce. I had to eat all 4 of these, they have the most unusual pairing possible, oysters with sea urchin and caviar, all of my favorite foods. I would order this hands down again here any chance I get!

Soups:

Asian Clam Miso, very subtle but the extraordinary fresh clams make all the different in the world.

Salads:

Pistachio Crusted Salmon, oven roasted Alaskan salmon, pistachio pesto crusted, with fresh mixed greens, honey dijon vinaigrette. The salmon is delicate but crunchy, with an amazing flavor.

Lobster, shrimp, avocado, served in a bread bowl made of poppadum (Indian Bread) with lobster claw meat and grilled shrimp In a mango vinaigrette with fresh avocado. One of my all time favorite seafood salads, especially the way they housed it in a poppadum, truly unique.

Lunch:

Shrimp & Lobster Linguine, with black tiger shrimp, lobster, heirloom tomato, garlic slices, basil, in olive oil. This is a simple dish but the fish itself is remarkable. I can’t get enough of the shell fish in this pasta.

Kobe Burger, 1/2 lb. Ground Wagu Beef, on a brioche bun, sweet cornichon sauce, cheddar cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, shoestring truffle fries with Parmesan Cheese. You can really taste the difference between this meat and any other regular type of hamburger. It is worth every dime extra to try Kobe/Wagu beef.

Sake Marinated Black Cod, sake miso marinated cod baked, quinoa, brown rice. The cod is just so tender with a great hint of miso and sake, a stellar choice as an entree.

Sides:

Grilled Asparagus, these are big huge spears and grilled to perfection.

Truffle Fries with Parmesan Cheese. The combination of truffle and fries is always going to be terrific and these don’t disappoint.

Desserts:

Fuji Apple Tart, Fuji apple, sweet butter, roasted tart with vanilla gelato. The star of this dessert is the crust, buttery and flaky, just wonderful.

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulée with fresh seasonal berries. A nice departure from many of the crème brulee’s I have tried, just a bit creamier.

Here are the wines I tried:

Chardonnay Rombauer, Napa Valley, CA. A very smooth yet buttery wine, with lots of well-intentioned components. I would try this with the lobster and shrimp creamy appetizer.

Chardonnay Jordan, Alexander Valley, CA. A perfect match with the shrimp and lobster linguine, a hint of garlic, this is a great marriage of flavors.

Chardonnay, Ferrari-Carano, “Tre Terre” Russian River, CA. I loved this selection with the salmon, it is balanced and subtle, but will add a nice creaminess to this dish.

Zinfandel XYZIN, “Old Vines” CA. This is a no-brainer, hello Kobe burger, truly the right combination.

David Mc Ghee, who is responsible for their fantastic wine list worked at Pacifica 4 years with Mitch Epstein, his knowledge helped me make some great wine decisions.

The music is mostly adult contemporary with some classic rock mixed in, with a music satellite station playing Stevie Nicks, Hall & Oates, Jeff Lynne, and others.

The décor is very desert with lots of modern touches. Some very cool design elements include: ceiling with herb and floral sketches, and brass copper etched flowers, also the crystal oblong chandeliers are very artsy.

My charming waiter David, who is from Colorado Springs, has been in the desert since 2014. He also has a day job, but moonlights at Mitch’s as a waiter. He was very eager to please!

Mitch’s is going on its 5th season. There are 3 areas to indulge your senses, upstairs, patio, and the main dining room, the patio is bigger then the main room. Mitch’s on El Paseo Prime Seafood is open seven days a week from 11:30 am to 10 pm, serving Lunch and Dinner, as well as daily Happy Hour specials including a range of menu items such as sashimi, sliders, featured wines and sake, martinis and other cocktails. In December and January they have live music Friday and Saturday nights.

What your going to get at Mitch’s on El Paseo is the best seafood that you have ever tasted, with a nice Asian twist. Everything here is fresh, fresh fresh. All of the little attention to details is astounding. Every dish is perfect in its presentation and lovely to eat.

Mitch’s on El Paseo Prime Seafood
73951 El Paseo
Palm Desert, CA 92260
760.779.9200
http://mitchsonelpaseo.com/

*note some content was taken off of their website.

 

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Dinner – Il Corso – Nov. 11, 2016 – Palm Desert

In the very hip neighborhood of El Paseo in Palm Desert, there is an Italian restaurant like no other. Il Corso is known for using only the freshest ingredients in their menu items. Once you try the food here, you will have to include it in your weekly dining out list.

Il Corso uses local products and fresh fish, from many Coachella Valley farms. They serve many of their dishes table side with an old school type-rolling cart. All of their bread, pizza and pasta are made fresh everyday.

Here is what I tried:

Antipasti:

Fiori di Zucchine Ripiene, Zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta cheese served with tomato basil. These were individual little flowers, and the flavors were so remarkable, I just loved this dish.

Aragosta Catalana, with Lobster chunks, mache, green onions, cherry tomatoes, and a citrus dressing, nice pieces of lobster done with a simple dressing.

Zuppe E Insalate:

Zuppa Toscana, Mixed vegetable, beans and black kale soup, its like Jewish penicillin, but in an Italian style soup.

Butternut Squash Soup, this soup is so creamy, buttery and smooth, just a wonderful blending of delicious ingredients.

Paste e Risotti:

Pappardelle Ragu e Fungi, with homemade ribbon pasta and a veal, mushroom ragu. With its robust mushroom flavors, and full bodied ragu, the rich and glorious pasta made this dish amazing. What can I say, it is absolutely my favorite pasta dish of the night!

Tagliatelle All’Emiliana, with flat noodles with peas, ham, mushrooms, creamy tomato sauce. A very mellow rendition of this Italian pasta staple. But its subtle flavors really hit home with me.

Ravioli di Ricotta e Spinach is homemade ravioli in a spinach ricotta sauce. The raviolis are huge with amazing filling! I would definitely recommend this dish as well.

Spaghetti alla Pescatore, spaghetti with mixed seafood in a tomato sauce. The pasta was packed with lots of fresh seafood, with a nice array of aromas and flavors, a perfect combination.

Pesce e Carne:

Branzino, Mediterranean Sea Bass with cherry tomatoes, olives, potatoes, and white wine. Served tableside with the freshest fish and delicate accompaniments made this dish another favorite.

Costoletta D’Agnello alla Griglia, Grilled Lamb chops with rosemary served with roasted potatoes. The lamp was cooked medium rare and the meat was fall of the bone tender, with great rosemary flavors.

Dessert:

Chocolate Pizza, this dessert was created especially for my tasting and was just the perfect amount of fresh berries, with a nutella topping and a light crust.

Cocktails:

Ananas Martini with Van Gogh Pineapple, fresh pineapple cubes, honey syrup, fresh lemon juice. This is a sweet refreshing cocktail with a nice zest of lemon.

Romana Lemon Drop Martini with Ketel One Citroen, Cointreau, Limoncello Liqueur, simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice. A very good example of how a lemon drop should be: not too sweet and not too sour.

Spring Lemonade: Square One Botanical vodka, Mt. Elderflowerl with fresh lemon, mint leaves sweet and sour, soda water. It’s more of an effervescent drink, but still great!

Wine:

Chardonnay ’15, The Crossing, Flora Springs, Napa. This is my favorite wine I tasted. It has such an amazing balance of buttery and creamy nuances. This wine will go great with any seafood dish.

Chardonnay ’15, Hanaiali’I, Napa, is a similar to the Flora Springs, but with a more fruity tone. I would do this wine with the butternut squash soup.

Chardonnay Res. ’14, Mer Soleil, Sta. Barbara. I have had this wine before, and it went great with the Branzino.

Montepulciano ’14, Fantini, Italy. Such a glorious wine with all of its rich earthy flavors, it went great with the mushroom pasta.

Zinfandel ’12, Magnolia Hill, Amador County, this is the wine to drink with lamb! It enhances all of the rosemary without overpowering any of the lovely meaty goodness.

Barbaresco, Villadoria ’12, Piemonte, this wine went great with most of the pastas with tomato based sauces.

Il Corso was totally packed on the Friday evening that I was there. The restaurant was newly built from the floor up, with its high ceilings, brick wall, wood floors, round drop cardboard light fixtures, and open kitchen. It is a very grand interior, very similar to a large Tuscan country villa.

The clientele at Il Corso is very diverse: young and old people, golfers, families and couples, wanting to enjoy an upscale experience.

Chef Mario Marfia, from Palermo and Developer John Wessman meld their talents to bring a unique Italian dining experience to El Paseo in Palm Desert. They offer genuine Italian hospitality, authentic Italian dishes including: homemade pastas, gourmet wood oven pizza, seafood, and roasted leg of veal. Chef Mario also prepares nightly specials from all over Italy.

Chef Mario was born in Sicily and learned his skills working as Chef in the Mediterranean. He uses those cultural influences to prepare unique and special dishes each everyday. His son Claudio, oversees the day-to-day operation and makes sure that everyone is happy, with the restaurant service and overall hospitality.

Claudio’s mother Marika is of Dutch descent from Zaandam, Holland. She told her son never to give up, and to never sugar coat anything, she is a tough cookie. Like any other mother, Marika only wants the best for her son, and the family business. Claudio has lunch with his mother everyday at Il Corso, and he says, “my mom always decides what we will eat for lunch!”

I just loved the Italian ambiance, the authentic traditional and newer style dishes that Il Corso has to offer.

Monday through Sunday Pasta & Pizza Bar
Fine Dining: 11:30pam – 11pm
Bar: 11:30 -1:00 AM

Il Corso
73520 El Paseo Suite B
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Complementary Valet Parking
Reservation: 760.341.6700
http://www.ilcorsopd.com/

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