Dinner – EIGHT4NINE Restaurant & Lounge, May 12th, 2017

It is such a pleasure to have this kind of restaurant in Palm Springs, where any type of food can be ordered. Extravagant and versatile are just a few words that describe my fantastic experience at EIGHT4NINE restaurant.

Conveniently located in the heart of the fashionable Uptown Design District, EIGHT4NINE is steps away from countless specialty shops and boutiques that offer midcentury modern, retro, and vintage furnishings, home décor, clothing, books, and gifts.

Prior to its extravagant grand opening in September 2015, EIGHT4NINE Restaurant and Lounge was a large historic building that formerly served as Palm Springs’ first U.S. Post Office. Today, the cavernous 1954 building has been elegantly transported into a minimalist modern space with striking crisp white interior punctuated with strategically placed hot pink accents.

Here’s what I tried:

Featured Cocktails:

The Prickly Pear, Milagro silver, fresh lime, and agave nectar, desert pear syrup, served on the rocks with fresh lime. A pleasant change of pace from the other tequila type of cocktail I usually order.

House Dirty Martinis, perfect just the way I like it!

Garden and Land Beginnings:

Olive oil bread made in house, with an herbed butter, pair salad, with fresh shaved, wine-poached, and oven-roasted pear, treviso, St. agur blue cheese, toasted hazelnut, spiced pear vinaigrette. Gluten free. Light and refreshing, this salad makes your palate come alive.

Crab and Corn Chowder with Dungeness crab, sweet corn, apple wood bacon. A gorgeous presentation with a drizzle of olive oil on the top, so elegant.

Sea Beginnings:

Grilled Scallops, Sweet corn and English pea succotash, mascarpone, fresh basil and mint. An attractive array of ideal elements made for one delightful dish.

Charred Octopus, Spanish chorizo, fried farm egg, arbequina olive oil, balsamic. This dish was highly recommended and a lot of restaurants are offering this excellent experience. EIGHT4NINE’s was equally amazing.

Barbecued Oysters, Six grilled oysters, applejack barbeque sauce. Gluten free. The smokiness of these darlings made for one exceptional plate.

Sea Mains:

Lobster Mac and Cheese, Maine lobster, maccheroni al torchio, Gruyere, Beecher’s white cheddar and parmigiana reggiano, Pernod, chile and fennel pangratata, greens. Nice big chunks of lobster with a crawfish on the top as a condiment, really terrific.

Sourdough-crusted Chilean Sea bass, Dungeness crab-stuffed piquillo pepper, saffron aioli, greens. This dish will make you forget about any Sea bass that came before, it is juicy, tender and astonishing.

Lobster Tails, just the best lobster served with carrot sand butter, wow!!

Farm Mains:

Smoked Portobello Mushrooms Pappardelle, Fresh egg pasta, roasted forest mushrooms, piquillo pepper cream, parmigiana reggiano. These mushroom are extremely smoky, so much so that they take over all of the taste in this dish, so be warned.

Land Mains:

Beef Tenderloin, All natural filet of beef, truffled potato planks, St. agur blue cheese and red wine reduction. Gluten free. This is a very large big dish, with all of the bell and whistles its stunning to look at.

Honey-glazed Duck Breast, with Hoisin peach, Sichuan pepper, ginger, sesame rice cake, baby bok choy. The Hosin peach made all of the difference in the world, I just loved the elegant way its presented.

House-Made Dessert:

EIGHT4NINE Layer Cake, Pastry Chef’s choice of the day, an enormous piece of lovely cake. Make sure you share with your other diners.

Branini Toffee S’mores Fondue, House-made Marshmellow, House-made marshmallows with locally made Brandini Toffee chunks, Callebout chocolate, graham crackers, mix berries, This is a very sticky dessert choice and more of a candy than a dessert, but what a spectacle.

Wines:

Sauvignon Blanc, 200 Gainey, Santa Ynez, a nice pleasant citrus style Sauvignon Blanc. I liked this wine with the crab and corn chowder.

Chardonnay, Sonoma Cutrer, Russian river ranches. This is a big buttery Chardonnay; any of the shellfish dishes would be great with this.

Newton Chardonnay 2015 Sonoma. You have to drink this with the Sea bass or the Lobster Tails, it adds to the overall butter texture in the fish.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Michael David, “Freakshow” Lodi, this is a big hearty wine that you can drink with Beef Tenderloin.

Smith & Hook, Central Coast, Interesting Reds, Zinfandel – Artezin, Mendocino, this pairs well with the duck breast and its Asian nuances.

Zinfandel, Bianchi, Central Coast, I loved this wine with the smokiness in the mushroom papardelle

Kaiken Blend, 2015, Terroir Series. This blend works great with the barbequed oysters.

About the Staff:

EIGHT4NINE Restaurant & Lounge is owned and operated by Willie Rhine and John Paschal.

Willie Rhine is a 23-year-old resident of Palm Springs, who started his career in the restaurant business at the acclaimed Le Vallauris Restaurant in Palm Springs, and later managed two of the busiest and most successful restaurants in the Palm Springs Valley.

John Paschal has been in the desert for fifteen years. John is proud and grateful that his only career has been in photography and he is still going strong after almost 40 years in the business which includes photo shoots with Brad Pitt, Eva Longoria, KTLA News Team Billboards. This also includes cast photos of T.V. shows such as “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “The Young and the Restless.” Paschal opened Snapshot Palm Springs Studios, which has transformed into a top event space in the desert that hosts parties for major corporations and private clients.

EIGHT4NINE offers Happy Hour cocktails and menu items all day every day. The elegant and spacious lounge features a backlit onyx bar, which makes a dramatic statement. The lounge with its chic and swanky atmosphere is the perfect Happy Hour prescription for fun. The lounge comprises furnishings that offer maximum comfort to entice guests to linger on comfortable bar stools and white patent leather Louis XIV ghost chairs, as well as low and high cocktail tables to suit your mood.

Their singular goal is to provide the best dining experience possible, whether you’re looking for an intimate dinner for two or just want to celebrate life’s special moments with hundreds of friends.

Open Table says (based on over 5,000,000 actual reviews): “When looking for a place to dine out, why not snag a spot at the hottest place in town? The #OpenTable100 Hottest Restaurant in America list highlights hip, new restaurants, hot spots, celebrity chefs and avant-garde restaurants.
We determined the list of honorees after analyzing over five million reviews of more than 20,000 restaurants across the country — all submitted by verified diners.”

EIGHT4NINE’s tempting menu is the perfect counterpoint to the understated white décor. The eclectic and colorful menu selections feature a fusion of comfort food, ethnic influences, and bold originality that are reflected in the menu’s superb culinary creations. To see and be seen, EIGHT4NINE is the perfect place to tap into the community’s pulse point. It has become known as a vital part of the community for hosting numerous high profile charity events and fundraising receptions.

The eclectic menu features a celebration of West Coast Modern American Cuisine, which focuses on both presentation and flavors.

Chef Chuck Courtney brings his impressive culinary experience from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, as well as Northern and Southern California to EIGHT4NINE. During his successful career he has received media coverage in numerous high-profile publications: Bon Appétit Magazine, Wine Spectator magazine, the New York Times, Diablo Magazine and The Contra Costa Times. His cuisine incorporates the diversity of West Coast culinary influences, while utilizing the freshest specialty produce, seafood and meats available. All dishes are prepared from scratch, reflecting each dish’s specific ethnic origins with Chef’s individual creative flair. Albert Gonzalez heads the team that has created the exquisite dessert selection.

In the true Palm Springs fashion of some things being over the top, and yes EIGHT4NINE is over the top, but the hoopla will just make you want to come back for more!!

EIGHT4NINE
849 N Palm Canyon Dr,
Palm Springs, California 92262
(760) 325-8490
http://eight4nine.com/
* Some Content was taken off of their website

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Dish Creative Cuisine – Dinner – May 11th 2017 – Palm Springs, CA.

A gorgeous restaurant right on Palm Canyon in the design district also referred to as “Uptown”. This place oozes sexiness, elegance and fun. You can tell that everyone comes in to Dish with the same thing in mind, a gastronomic experience, and that is what you’ll get and more!

Chef/ owner Joane Garcia Colson grew up in Colorado and is a former lawyer. Chef Joane is classically trained and continually stays abreast of the newest culinary developments and techniques, utilizing her combined training, experience, creativity and knowledge at Dish. She is passionate about food and wine, creating new dishes, and sharing with others. Joane is dedicated to providing her guests with a superior experience, presenting food that both surprises and satisfies all the senses. She creates and develops the menu, emphasizing flavor, both new and unfamiliar. Joane believes in using seasonal ingredients and strives to source and obtain the best local products available. She is constantly working on new dishes and believes in changing the menu frequently to take advantage of seasonal produce and organic products, as they are available. Joane opened Dish on October 1st in 2012 and used her talents to make dining at Dish more than a regular dinner but an experience.

Here’s What I Tried:

Signature Cocktails:

Their full bar features classic and craft cocktails using fresh juices, fruits, herbs, house-made cola, house-made ginger beer, shrubs and cordials.

Bon Vivant, with Crater Lake vodka, Pomegranate Juice, cranberry juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and tonic. They present this cocktail with it bubbling and then a long tube releases the Crater Vodka, the whole presentation is like a magic trick. Now you see the vodka now you don’t!

Dirty Martini, from James Bond, this martini really made an impression.

Desert Sunrise, with Titos vodka, aperol, orange, grapefruit, lime, agave, and grapefruit bitters. A very smooth thirst quenching experience, with all of the lovely citrus flavors.

There was a nice variety of amuse-bouche: a small complimentary appetizer offered, Orancini with mushroom and cream sauce. Zucchini Fritter, potato cake with tzatziki Sauce. Zucchini Ribbon held together with a chive, crostini with avocado and goat cheese, and butternut orange spiced sorbet. These little gems were all terrific, be careful not to eat too much otherwise you won’t have room for all of the first and second courses.

Conversation Starters:

Grapefruit Crab and Avocado Salad, with local grapefruit, avocado, crab, arugula, and a dash of citrus vinaigrette. Chef Joane made the choice for me to try this salad, she made the right call. The crab is sweet and fresh and works well with the sweet grapefruit.

Grilled Brie, with warm blackberry, ginger and jalapeno chutney, crostini. This would be something you would make as a party platter, but here it’s done with such attention to detail that you too will fall in love with it.

Cauliflower, walnut basil pesto, mascarpone, and Romano. A dieters heaven, with very little calories and so wonderful.

Main Topics:

Brandt Farms Beef Tenderloin (7 oz.), bourbon smoked black pepper crusted, spinach, rustic smashed caramelized shallot potatoes, mushrooms, and red wine demi glaze. The presentation of every dish is like a sculpture; so many wonderful things to look at and the dollops of the various sauces are off the charts.

Diver Scallops, hazelnut crusted, parsnip puree, sautéed shaved Brussels sprouts, bacon and apple, and apple gastrique. These were by far my top favorite scallops dish ever and I have tried lots.

Maple and Balsamic Glazed New Zealand Lamb Chops, with thyme, almonds, couscous with feta and mint, pomegranate seeds, and zucchini. The combination of all of these components and the beautiful medium rare lamb chops were just exquisite.

Wines:

Sauvignon Blanc, Justin – Paso Robles, the perfect choice for the brie with its nice peachy taste.

Orogeny, Chardonnay – Russian River, I would try this wine with the grapefruit crab salad, it just works!

Raeburn, Chardonnay – Russian River, it’s got to be the scallops as the star of the show, paired with this amazing wine.

Zinfandel, Concrete Old Vine Zinfandel – Lodi, I just love a great Zinfandel with lamb chops, it really goes great together, with the same sensibility.

Cabernet, Daou Cabernet – Paso Robles, a real winner with the beef tenderloin.

Interesting Reds, Michael David Inkblot – Petite Verdot – Lodi, this wine works great with the lamb as well.

Dessert:

Deconstructed banana Crème Pie, with caramelized bananas, so delicious, fresh and inventive.

Cracker Jack Sundae with Cracker Jack popcorn gelato, such a great refreshing desert, very creative, I just loved it.

There is a Private Chef’s room that is exclusive, and intimate. It is separate from the main dining room with a private back entrance, adjacent to the kitchen featuring a wall of glass so guests can watch the Chefs in action. The Chef’s tasting and themed dinners are offered and are available for private parties.

At Dish, they pride themselves in creating new and exciting contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis and focus on flavor. They use exceptional ingredients including the best available local and organic products whenever possible. At Dish, they believe that food should nurture not only the body, but also the mind and spirit as well. The intimate dining room encourages the enjoyment of their modern cuisine, conversation and connection.

Dish was Winner of Diners Choice, 2015, Open Table. Happy Hour is Tuesday – Sunday from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Late Night Happy Hour from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Join Dish at the After Dark “Speakeasy” night with Keisha D. every Saturday night from 10:00pm till midnight, and try their Speakeasy special cocktails.

This place pulled out all of the stops, I just loved how every dish was a work of art, and that the interior is elegant but subtle, using modern décor, but is still comfy and inviting. For me Dish has everything a diner could want: marvelous food, a very sexy enticing atmosphere, paying major attention to detail and a great wine selection. What more could you want?

Dish Creative Cuisine
Uptown Design District
1107 North Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262

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L’Olivo Italian Bistro – Dinner May 10, 2017, Palm Springs, CA.

Located right on Palm Canyon, L’Olivo will get your taste buds going. You will love all the Italian authentic dishes, with L’Olivo being super conveniently located right in downtown Palm Springs.

Taken over 4 months ago by Sal Zavala from original owners Roger and Maggie, L’Olivo was founded in 2009. Some of Sal’s family is from Spain, his father was from Michoacan Mexico and had lived in The Coachella valley for most of his life. Sal got the recipes from the past owner, but added his own take on these great dishes. Most of Sal’s family is working with him at L’Olivo, Aunts Claudia, Marcelia, and Clema. His uncle Jose is the chef, who before this worked at many of the best Desert restaurants, including Trilussa.

Sal wants my readers to know that when you come to L’Olivo you will be taken care of like family with their unique Italian cuisine. He says it’s a mixture of modern with all of the traditional recipes as well. Interior is light and airy, he wants everyone to feel this inviting atmosphere.
Here’s what I tried:

Appetizers:

Scampi, with prawns, lemon, garlic, olive oil, and Pinot Grigio. They serve huge size prawns in all of its garlicky goodness.

Beef Carpaccio, thin slices of filet mignon, virgin olive oil, lemon, arugula. This is tangy and bitter; but the combination is just wonderful.

Bruschetta with tomato, basil, virgin olive oil, garlic crostini, a great staple in Italian cuisine and this version does not disappoint.

Pizza:

Chicken Pesto, fresh pesto, mozzarella, diced chicken, a small pie, but cooked to perfection.

Pollo Carbonara, signature carbonara, mozzarella, basil, and this pizza is different but equally delicious.

Salad:

L’Olivo Cobb, with romaine lettuce, chicken, tomato, boiled egg, bacon, avocado, Gorgonzola crumbles, and Italian vinaigrette. I like this salad because of it cold crisp romaine and of course, the bacon.

Iceberg Wedge with tomato, bacon, red onion, and Gorgonzola dressing. I really was amazed at how replacing blue cheese with Gorgonzola made such a huge difference.

Almond Spinach, Organic spinach, California mushrooms, sliced almonds, Italian vinaigrette. A truly healthy option, that hit all the right notes.

Pasta:

Carbonara, Signature carbonara, parmigiana, black pepper. This pasta was just ok; I would skip it and move on to the mushroom ravioli instead.

Vodka Rose, with Vodka cream sauce, pancetta bacon, and tomato sauce hints. This pasta did not have enough sauce for my liking; I would order the Frutti Di Mare instead.

Frutti Di Mare, with Mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, salmon, marinara broth. This would be my go-to pasta here, the seafood was very fresh and the sauce was perfect.

Ravioli Di Scampi with lemon, garlic, olive oil, pinot grigio, a bit too tangy for my liking, but someone else may just love this robust flavor.

Ravioli Di Funghi, with California mushrooms, Marsala cream wine sauce. By far my favorite pasta of the night, super creamy with great mushroom flavor.

Mains:

Pork Chop, 12 oz. grilled chop, California mushrooms, Marsala wine sauce. A very thick pork chop with scrumptious sauce, a good choice.

Chicken, Polo Al Gorgonzola, Chicken breast, California mushrooms, spinach, Gorgonzola crumbles, Marsala cream sauce. Another fantastic menu item!

Dessert:

Torta Della Nonna, pastry cream, hint of lemon, pine nuts, almonds, powdered sugar. All I can say is just save some room!

Torta Al Cioccolato, moist rich chocolate cake, dark chocolate frosting, dark chocolate flakes. For the chocolate lover this is the desert for you.

Wines:

Robert Mondavi Private Selection, Sauvignon Blanc, California, a perfect wine with the scampi, fresh and fruity with some peach nuances, blended nicely.

Stemmari, Chardonnay, Terre Siciliane, Sicily, Italy. I like this wine with the Frutti De Mare, all the rich seafood goodness picked up the buttery quality in this wine.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection, Chardonnay, California. Enjoy this wine with any of the salads as well as the mushroom ravioli.

Red Wines:

Stemmari, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sicilia, Sicily, Italy. A big bold beautiful wine, for me it worked with either pizza.

Trapiche, Malbec, “Oak Cast”, Mendoza, Argentina. I liked this wine with the chicken and the Marsala sauce.

Ravenswood, Zinfandel, “Old Vine”, Lodi, California. This wine was a great pair with the beef Carpaccio.

Summerland, Merlot, Paso Robles, California, this is the wine to drink with the pork chop.

They offer fresh hand made daily pasta, and in house daily baked bread, pizza by the slices and individual with a variety of toppings. They also have gluten free pizza.

There are so many great places to eat in Palm Springs and it’s hard to decide but L’Olivio is a great choice for lunch or dinner. Excellent home made fresh Italian food and service. Lets get the word out; L’Olivo promises to be one of the finer Italian go to places in The Coachella Valley.

L’Olivo Italian Bistro
333 N Palm Canyon Dr, Ste. 105
Palm Springs, CA 92262
lolivoitalianbistro.com

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Dinner – May 9, 2017 – Pizzeria Villagio Italian Kitchen – Palm Desert, CA.

On the outskirts of town in Palm Desert is a mall with some great stores and Pizzeria Villagio, being the main attraction. Pizzeria Villagio Italian Kitchen delivers a menu of Italian-American favorites. It is bright, lively and would be a great place for any local’s or tourists to try some very authentic Italian Food. That is a huge plus because there are no more seasonal visitors, they now come year round.

Pizzeria Villagio first opened its doors in 2011, celebrating its seminal, pizza-centric, concept with the Coachella Valley. Over the years, Pizzeria Villagio has attracted a wonderfully broad array of guests and palates. They continue this evolution with their new menu featuring beautiful Neapolitan-style pizzas along with many other Italian-American standards and the addition of their flame-roasted Rotisserie dishes. Villagio Italian Kitchen serves up authentic Italian classics, Neapolitan-style pizzas, salads, flame-roasted Rotisserie and a hearty array of appetizers. The restaurant underwent a renovation in late 2015 offering two different experiences – a New York pizzeria theme on one side, and chic modern décor on the other side with a full bar at the restaurant’s coreGuests can enjoy their dinners in big red booths, with the bars flat screens TV’s showing reality TV. There is an open kitchen and skyline photos of NY and LA. You are right in the groove with the Frank Sinatra station being played, as well as all of with the rat pack photos.

Villagio also features a party room that seats 36, and offers catering services. No event is too big or too small; from rotary club meeting, prom parties, women’s groups, graduation, to birthday parties.

The restaurant is open daily at 11:00 a.m. for lunch and dinner, with Happy Hour from 4:00-6:00 p.m. daily except Wednesdays which feature All Night Happy Hour.

Here is what I tried:

Cocktails:

Dirty Martini, vodka, olive brine, dry vermouth, and blue cheese olives. Now this, my friend is the way a martini is supposed to taste, just fantastic.

Pomegranate Martini, with pear vodka, pama liqueur, and cranberry juice. This is a very sweet and smooth martini, it went down very well.

Appetizers:

Garlic Shrimp and Spicy Sausage, with grilled ciabatta, scampi sauce, and fresh herbs. I was told that this is a go to Happy Hour dish, but I loved it just the same.

Calamari Fritti, with crispy calamari, lemon, Pomodoro, spicy aioli. lightly breaded, and a very good start to a wonderful meal.

Salads:

Caesar Salad with smoked bacon, crisp romaine, Caesar dressing, and Parmesan crisps. I just loved the bacon in this salad.

Turkey Smoked bacon, with marinated tomato, pesto aioli, and Villagio bread. You could really do this as a main course, it is very hearty.

Pasta:

Meat Lasagna, house made traditional lasagna, all natural ground beef, mozzarella, rich Bolognese. Served casserole style, it has all of the rich Italian sauce that you would think of in lasagna.

Spaghetti Carbonara, with smoked bacon, onions, parmesan, sunny-side egg. This is done in the traditional manner, with nice Al Dente pasta.

Linguini and Clams, with linguini pasta, fresh clams, garlic, fresh parsley, and white wine sauce. One of my favorite dishes here at Villagio’s.

Entrees:

Chicken Marsala, with chicken breast, mushrooms and Marsala sauce, served with mashed red potatoes. Super creamy with big bold Marsala flavors.

Chicken Piccata, sautéed chicken breast, caper garlic and butter sauce, served with spaghetti Pomodoro. This is a nice version of this well-known dish.

Salmon Ripieno, roasted salmon stuffed with red and yellow peppers, garlic and spinach. Served with rosemary potatoes, finished with basil roasted peppers and white wine sauce. If you’re a salmon lover like I am then honestly I would skip this dish, there are better things to have.

Pizza:

Villagio Burrata with fresh Burrata, tomato sauce, basil, and olive oil. Their pizzas are the stars of the show, each one pulled out with the cheese sizzling from their pizza oven. Loved that the burrata was cooked but still had its overall integrity.

Quattro Formaggio with mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, gorgonzola, arugula. This pizza has a good balance between the cheese and the spicy arugula.

Sides:

Broccolini, this has nice garlic infused flavor and is still crispy.

Mashed Potatoes, mother’s milk, and comfort food at its best.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, super delicious and crispy.

Desserts:

Lemoncello Cake with ladyfingers layered with tangy lemon mascarpone mousse, dusted with powdered sugar and a strawberry. Topped with a shot of lemoncello liqueur. You can taste the bitterness of the Lemoncello, but that is what makes this cake so great.

Wine:

Chardonnay, Franciscan Estate, Napa Valley, CA. The perfect wine for the clams with all of its vanilla, buttery nuances.

Chardonnay, Francis Coppola, Napa Valley, CA. For me this was a great pair with the shrimp, sausage dish, and the sausages were a bit spicy so this pairing balanced out the acid.

Zinfandel, Ravenswood, Mendocino County, CA. I would pair this wine with any thing that has a red sauce; it is very fruity but a really great Zin.

Cabernet, Liberty School, Paso Robles, CA. This wine works great with the chicken piccata or the lasagna.

I met then manager Paul Vega at The Italian Festival last November and he invited me in for a tasting. When I called and got the new manager Charles Thomas he said that Paul no longer works here but he is his best friend so whatever Paul was going to do for you I can accommodate you as well. Charles worked at CPK before this job. He was very gracious and made me feel like a queen, offering me up anything that I wanted. My server Cassandra has worked at Villagio since Nov. 2016, before that she worked at Red Lobster, she had a great shining personality.

“We know how hungry tourists can get spending the day at the pool, so we thought this would be a real win-win – especially for our neighboring hotels that don’t have their own dining services on property,” said Steven Gilfenbain, owner of Villagio Italian Kitchen. “We believe we’re the only restaurant offering delivery service via bicycle in the Coachella Valley, so it’s a unique way for us to boost our business, environmentally-friendly way to serve visitors as well.” Poolside delivery on the Villagio Italian Kitchen delivery bicycle is a pilot program, and the restaurant hopes to be able to expand it to other hotels and businesses in the corridor of Cook Street between Frank Sinatra and Gerald Ford. Because the Palm Desert campuses of UC Riverside and Cal State San Bernardino are also located near the restaurant, Gilfenbain sees opportunity for expanded bike delivery to college students, as well. “It’s great to have the Palm Desert Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites on board for this venture,” “And they’re excited. They see the value in what we bring to their guest experience, while continuing to support our restaurant. We get a number of orders from hotel employees, as well.”

There are so many unique eating establishments in The Coachella Valley. Don’t let this strip mall façade fool you, Villagio Pizzeria is a keeper. From it delicious fresh foods to the staffs amazing hospitality, you will enjoy every minute of your dining experience. Villagio won Best of the Best Pizza and Italian food 2017 in Palm Springs Life Magazine.
Their saying, “Born in Italy, Raised in America”.

Pizzeria Villagio Italian Kitchen
37029 Cook St.
Palm Desert, CA 92211
pizzeriavillagio.com
* Note some content was taken off of their website

 

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Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn – Palm Springs, California, Stay – May 9 & 10, 2017

This was one of the most fun hotel stays I have ever done. With its kitschy edge, Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn brings you back to a time that is long forgotten. For me, because I lived through this time period, all of the fun décor and vibe is like putting on an old comfortable pair of shoes, it just fits! There were so many reminders of my Grandmother, and my childhood, that you’re flabbergasted from the mere sight of all of its kitchyness.

My room, The Liberace Room had a light fixture that reminded me of my grandmother’s apartment, the very fun Chandelier lamp complete with a silk shade sat on the dining table. The tile in the bathroom is the same the tile that I have as well. The room has pictures of Elvis and Liberace, a figurine type light fixtures, with high beam ceilings and white brick walls, you almost feel like you’re in a cabin. There is leopard carpet and a leopard bed spread, Patent leather tufted bar and matching old time bar stools. There was an O’keefe & Merritt vintage white stove and oven, just the same as I used to have. The linoleum in the kitchen is vintage lime green and yellow. A big swamp cooler, kept everything nice and cold as well as an overhead ceiling fan.

The kitchen is amazing, with all of the 1950’s glasses, plates, bowls, frying pans, things that remind me of my childhood, with a very small patio out the back door. There is an enclosed dressing area with a gold plated vanity and back splash. Also you can put your clothes in a huge wood armoire. The beige velvet fringed velvet club chair added some fun frivolity. I just loved all of the ornate Louis The Fourteenth types mirrors. A marlin in the bathroom and a velvet type painting of Elvis, completed the story.

The kidney shaped pool is very relaxing with all of the pink colored buildings and lots of covered awnings for a place to get away from the sun.

Ruby Montana herself is famous; she was in Tom Robbins book “Wild Ducks Flying Backward”, published on August 30, 2005. It is a collection of poems, short stories, essays, reviews, and other brief writings from Robbins’ career, and Ruby Montana is included in his great cast of characters.

Ruby Montana is not her given name, but she is about as unique as they come. Her famous Seattle shop Ruby Montana’s Pinto Pony was in business for 30 years in Pioneer Square, in Seattle, Washington. It looked like an old Western tack shop on the outside and a shrine to the 1950s on the inside. A huge 2500 Sq. Ft. store and a 1500 Sq. Ft. foot warehouse, Ruby was truly committed to bringing her fantasies to everyone’s life. After all she was the collector of ten thousand salt and peppershakers, known in Seattle for being the Queen of Kitsch. She founded the now-famous Spam Carving Contest in Pioneer Square, an idea she said came to her in a dream, and Seattle City Councilwoman Tina Podlodowski declared a “Ruby Montana Day” in 1998.

Growing up in Oklahoma, she liked to dress up like a cowgirl and collect stamps, rocks and even limbs from trees. Grandma Clementina was her mentor; she collected miniature pitchers, each one with its own fun story. Ruby was fascinated by objects that could tell their own individual stories. Her grandmother taught her a lot about enjoying life and being grateful, she says that her grandmother made her feel safe. She would often tell Ruby that thunders storms were magical, and that it was Gods way of talking, and not to fear them, sadly she passed away in 1982 at the young age of 82. Ruby carried on Clementina’s legacy by devoting herself to collecting, she calls it all “fantasmagorical”. In 1980, she opened Ruby Montana’s Pinto Pony in Seattle, which quickly established itself as one of this quirky city’s quirkiest shops. From Sofa’s to Pez dispensers, Ruby Montana’s Pinto Pony had something for everyone, and there was so much to look at. Making sure that everything in her store had its own remarkable history.

After many successful years in Seattle she moved to The Coachella Valley to run this six-unit resort with pool in the old part of Palm Springs, Old Las Palmas. Ruby Montana liked the fact that the property remained the same in the last 48 years, when she purchased the soon to become Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn she loved that it had good bones and high ceilings. It was originally was meant for a recreation facility for The Los Angeles Rams.

She’s still famous in her own way and people flock to check out her famous life style, many a photo shoot have happened at Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn. She loves the easy lifestyle, and how everyone embraces you no matter what your sexual orientation is.

You see Ruby believes that magic happens behind her gate at The Coral Sands Inn. She says, “It’s a vortex of wonderful energy, a bit of magic happens when you’re here”.

Rooms are not expensive, and for what you get in today’s hotel prices, Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn is a great bargain. Also, for $1750.00 a night you can take over the whole hotel, which includes her living quarters as well.

Ruby Montana found her new niche in Palm Springs, in the neighborhood where Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Dinah Shore once lived. She is the perfect hostess with the perfect venue to help folks see Palms Springs through her unique eyes. Ruby says, “I think Palm Springs is ready for me. It’s a pretty crazy community.” When asked how things have changed since she’s been in The Coachella Valley she says, after 17 years of being in this fantastic area  “It’s still Gay’s and Gray’s.”

Ruby Montana is a true cowgirl at heart, being that she is a quarter Cherokee, but don’t mistake her fun demeanor. She really is a businesswoman at her core, with six-rental properties in the Coachella Valley as well. Ruby has an empire of moneymaking investments, and has no room for retirement at present.

Even with all of the hoopla you feel like your home on the range, you’re coddled in the charm of the 50’s and treated like a princess. Everything you could want from a great hotel is here, look no further. I am truly a Coral Sands Inn believer, I will make this my stop to rest my weary head on one of the softest pillows ever, and bask in the knowledge that everything old is new again. Here at The Coral Sands Inn you don’t have to be stuck with old memories, you can make new ones in a familiar time. So shake up the martinis and put on the Victrola, Frank Sinatra is waiting to be heard, and you too will be grinnin like a weasel in a hen house.

Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn
210 W Stevens Rd.
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 325-4900
coralsandspalmsprings.com

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Masters of Taste – Sunday May 7, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA.

This was an interesting day to say the least. The weather was very iffy with thunderstorms predicted. I got to this wonderful event at 3:30 PM, doors were opening at 4:00 PM. I managed to get around the whole perimeter of the rose bowl and taste all of the amazing cuisine by 5:30 PM, and then the skies opened up with quite the punch. You could here thunder off in the distance, but really after the rain started you wanted to high-tail it out of there. I am sure many were cheated because of Mother Nature, but I felt satisfied that I was able to enjoy all of the fantastic offerings at The 2nd Annual Masters of Taste.

The 2nd Annual Masters of Taste will brought over 2,500 food and beverage enthusiasts together from all over Greater Los Angeles for one afternoon to celebrate this exhilarating festival, which included the finest fare from over 40 Culinary Masters and restaurants, delectable sweets prepared by L.A.’s top Sweet Masters, signature handcrafted cocktails and tastings from over 30 Beverage Masters, including L.A’s top bartenders and cocktail bars, local California wineries, local craft breweries, pressed juices, hand roasted coffee, live entertainment and much more. Stroll the 50-yard line as you feast on the finest fare from L.A.’s top chefs and restaurants. 100% of the proceeds from Masters of Taste 2017 go directly to benefit Union Station Homeless Services, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping homeless men; women and children rebuild their lives. Union Station is part of a premier group of human services agencies in Los Angeles County that are leading the way to end homelessness in our community and offers an array of services including street outreach, meals, shelter, housing, case management and career development. Last year, Masters of Taste 2016 raised over $435,000 for Union Station Homeless Services, and this year Masters of Taste hopes to grow that number to $560,000.

Some of this year’s Masters of Taste 2017 participating Culinary Masters and Restaurants include:

118 degrees – Chef Jenny Ross (Tarzana),Alexander’s Steakhouse – Chef Matt Bata (Pasadena), Bacchus Kitchen & Eatery and Claude & Co. – Chef Claud Beltran (Pasadena), Bone Kettle and Komodo – Chef Erwin Tjahyadi (Pasadena and Los Angeles), CAST at the Viceroy Santa Monica – Chef Larry Monaco (Santa Monica), Celestino – Chef Calogero Drago (Pasadena), Church & State and Spring – Chef Tony Esnault (Downtown Los Angeles), Crossings – Chef Lalo Sanchez (South Pasadena), HACHÉ LA – Chef Michael “Mick” Schepers (Silver Lake), HokePoke – Chef Lauren Haas (Downtown Los Angeles), Hamasaku – Chef Yoya Takahashi (Los Angeles), Hyperion Public – Chef Paddy Aubrey (Silver Lake and Studio City), INTRO Art Gallery & Chef’s Table – Chef Paul Shoemaker (North Hollywood), Little Beast – Chef Jose Perez (Eagle Rock), Magnolia House – Chef Evan Colter (Pasadena), Mama Lion – Chef Michael Hung (Koreatown), Mexikosher – Chef Katsuji Tanabi (Los Angeles), Milk & Honey – Chef Lulu Cai (Hollywood), Miro – Chef Gavin Mills (Downtown Los Angeles), Momed – Chef Alex Sarkissian (Beverly Hills and Atwater Village), Nerano – Chef Michele Lisi (Beverly Hills), Ramen Tatsunoya (Pasadena), SpireWorks – Chef Kuniko Yagi (Westwood Village and Eagle Rock), Redbird – Chef Neal Fraser (Downtown Los Angeles), The Raymond 1886 – Chef Tim Guiltinan (Pasadena), True Food Kitchen – Chef Phil Noresetter (Pasadena), and Venice Whaler – Chef Nick Liberato (Venice).

Sweet Masters: A select group of Los Angeles Top Sweet Masters will showcase an assortment of delectable desserts such as the gourmet single-origin chocolate and vanilla ice creams from Choctal, homemade premium sorbets from Helados Pops, the finest globally-procured cacao from Chocolate Stars USA, and much more from Café Dulce, Icy Rush, Lark Cake Shop, Magpies Softserve, Mignon Chocolate, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Sprinkles, Street Churros and The Dirty Cookie.

Brewmasters: Beverage Masters who specialize in barley and hops will be presenting top-notch ales, lagers, pilsners and more for guests to sample, sip and savor all throughout the event, including Southern California favorites Bootlegger’s Brewery, Indie Brewing Company, Iron triangle Brewing, MacLeod Ale Brewing Co., Three Weavers Brewing Company and 101 Cider House.

Wineries: A specially curated collection of Wine Masters will be showcasing their finest varietals including premium boutique winery Ascension Cellars, Antelope Valley’s Golden Star Vineyards, Jardesca, St. Helena’s Hall Wines, Anderson Valley’s Navarro Vineyards, San Antonio Winery in Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Barbara County’s Tercero Wines, Napa Valley’s Trinchero Family Estates and Vinemark Cellars.

Bars & Spirits: Some of L.A.’s top bartenders and cocktail bars will be creating first-rate craft cocktails, including Peter Lloyd-Jones and 1886 Bar, Garrett McKechnie of Downtown L.A.’s Bar Mattachine and Bar Manager Bethany Ham of the newly opened 1950s inspired hidden cocktail den Birds & Bees. Top brands showcasing their finest spirits will also include American Born Moonshine, Dulce Vida Tequila, Mezcal El Silencio, Glenlevit, Kikori Whiskey, Martell Blue Swift and ZYR Russian Vodka just to name a few.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages: A variety of premium non-alcoholic Beverage Masters will also be on hand for those who wish to hydrate, caffeinate or regenerate, featuring the “bevolutionary” Bai who will be presenting their antioxidant juices, teas and water infusions, Boxed Water, Califia Farms Juices and Cold Brew Coffees, Dry Sparkling, Kombucha Dog, Milk+T, cold-pressed juices from Nekter Juice Bar, Philz hand roasted customized blended Coffee, and all natural, refreshing beverages from Zico Coco Water.

Sponsors: Masters of Taste is made possible through the generous support of our sponsors, which include HomeStreet Bank, Judith L Chiara Foundation, Western Asset Management, Capital Group, Floe Financial Partners, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Bank of America, Femino Family Foundation, Goldstar, HKG LLP, Kauffman Wealth Management, MUFG Union, Tournament of Roses, Wells Fargo, Westport Construction, Citizens Business Bank, Hahn & Hahn, LLP, Hybrid Foundation, Massage Envy, Tsan Tsun Memorial Foundation, Westmount Asset Management, RE/Max, Arroyo Insurance Services, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, Individual FoodService, and California Linen Services.

I can’t say enough about this great event; it pulls together great food and drinks, letting everyone enjoy an experience that is not part of their daily adventures in Los Angeles. I am sure this annual event will get extremely popular, get your tickets now and become part of this growing foodie phenomenon.

For Promotional Images and the Masters of Taste Logo, please visit the Dropbox link below:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1qhpyalbvh0o5l8/AAAK-hm8tbKm470RDgqeEVFea?dl=0

For Masters of Taste Promotional Videos, please visit the Dropbox link below:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/uyqhquu3zf5pmeo/AAAdvxoPNTk_SYedg6U58xoMa?dl=0

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Masters of Taste

Follow Masters of Taste for the latest updates on:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MastersOfTaste
Twitter: @MastersofTaste
Instagram: @MastersofTaste

Masters of Taste
Pasadena Rose Bowl
1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena, CA 91103
Masters of Taste Direct Line: 626.791.6677
info@MastersofTasteLA.com
www.MastersofTasteLA.com

* Note some Content was taken off their website.

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LA Weekly – Burgers and Beer – Saturday, April 29

I went last year and was happy to be able to eat different kinds of burgers and drink beer. Last year they had a bit more then that, this years they stuck to strictly burgers and beer, so for the burger lover this was an excellent event. For me I had to pace myself, but was super excited to be able to try new restaurants that I had not tried before.

Here are the restaurants that were there:

American Heritage Fine Burgers And Cocktails, Baldoria, Belcampo Meat Co, Burger City Grill, Button Mash, by CHLOE,Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Four Six Four, Grill ‘Em All, Hinoki and the Bird, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Ladyface Ale Company, Lock & Key, Macheen, Mascarpone Cheesecake by Chef Turok, Myke’s Cafe, Pono Burger, Simmzy’s, Slater’s 50/50, Stout Burgers and Beers, The Pikey, The Upper West, Venice Whaler, WOLF.

My favorites were the lamb burger from Ladyface Ale Company, delicious lamb flavors cooked to perfection. They did some kind of miracle in their amazing burger from Hiniki and the Bird. The vegetarian burger from by Chloe was also fantastic. Myke’s always pulls out all of the stops, their burger was creative and delicious, Stout also had a nice hefty burger.

Beers:

101 Cider House, Absolution Brewing Company, Angel City Brewery, Arts District Brewing Company, Baja Brewing Company, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, Boomtown Brewery, Brewyard Beer Company, Brouwerij West, Claremont Craft Ales, Coronado Brewing Company, Dr. Jekylls, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Fireman’s Brew, Inc.,Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Golden Road Brewing, High Water Brewing Company, Homage Brewing, Indie Brewing Company,Iron Triangle Brewing, Kern River Brewing Company, Kombucha Dog Kona Brewing Co., Ladyface Ale Company, Lagunitas Brewing Co., MacLeod Ale Brewing Co., Noble Ale Works, Pizza Port Brewing Co., Santa Monica Brew Works, Scholb Premium Ales, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., St. Killian Importing, State Brewing Co., Strand Brewing Co., The Bruery, The Dudes’ Brewing Co., The Lost Abbey, Transplants Brewing Company, Wolf Creek Brewery.

What a great way to spend an afternoon, perfect Los Angeles weather and did I mention that I took the expo line to this fun event. No traffic, just letting some one else do the driving.

I look forward to this event every year, its no nonsense, just great burgers with thirst quenching beers and a warm Saturday afternoon in the most famous structure in all of Los Angeles.

https://burgersandbeer.laweekly.com/burgers/

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Ladyface Ale Companie / Alehouse & Brasserie – Lunch May 1, 2017

My brother, his wife and my 2 nephews live about 10 minutes as the crow flies from Ladyface Alehouse. I met owner Cyrena Nouzille at the LA Weekly Burgers and Beer event a few days prior where they made one of my favorites of the day, lamb burgers. She let me come in a do a tasting a few days after that event. Boy was I in for some great down home food and house made beers to match. It is a very friendly scene. If you lived close by you would want to be a regular. What a find, just down the street from my brothers in Agoura, I am truly hooked.

Named after Ladyface Mountain, with all park lands around the restaurant, and the Santa Monica Mountains right out the window. Ladyface Ale Companie is a brewery and restaurant, with award-winning Ales, hand-crafted on-site seasonally-inspired European bistro-style menu. It has a full bar, outdoor patio, with scenic views. August 8th will be 8 years that they have been in business.

The interior is very rustic and interesting, exposed air ducts, ceiling fans, long tables and communal benches. Long full bar with 2 flat screen TV’s for sports viewing. You can tell that Ladyface is close to the beach with all of its funky charm. It is off of Kanan Road, 12 miles to the beach from Agoura. The gorgeous ladies on the walls are painted by owner Cyrena Nouzille’s mother, each one a true masterpiece. The music also helps to make the atmosphere fun and lively with Blues, Country and Classic Rock.

The retail store is filled with lots of fun goodies, included jewelry made by Cyrena with recycled bottle caps. She grew up in the gift business so her merchandising came very easy, filled with food products, t-shirts, hats, etc. You can find something to take home with you for sure!

Her husband Jean-Luc was born in Paris and they lived there for a while. When Cyrena opened Ladyface she wanted to reflect French food in its simplicity and beauty.

Ladyface caters to tourists checking out the local beer scene. There is much completion in this area with 5 local breweries. They also have lots of bicyclist that stop in after a long ride for a much deserved Ale of their choice, and believe me there are lots to choose from. The concept is really terrific with all of its house made ales’ and brasserie type food, a delicious treat for your eyes and soul.

Accolades include: L.A. Weekly 2012 & 2013 Best Brewery in Los Angeles, RateBeer.com Best Brewpub 2011 & 2012 (Ranked Top 20 in the world, 4th in California.), Agoura Hills’ 2015 Business of the Year, Senator Fran Pavely awarded Ladyface as the California 27th District’s Small Business of the Year.

Here’s What I Tried:

Starters and Sides:

Sweet potato fries, they give you lots of sweet fries in your order, they are not greasy, and they seem to be a pretty healthy pleasure.

French onion soup beer stock, with toasted sourdough, and Gruyère cheese. It has a very robust flavor, except for the cheese I am told is totally vegetarian, so a truly great option.

Salads:

The New Salad & Gluten-free, with frisée lettuce and baby spinach, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, dried cranberries, shaved parsnips, candied pecans, and sage-cider vinaigrette. This is a basic and simple salad, but it’s great for the health conscious customer.

Duck Confit, with frisée lettuce, arugula, figs, bacon, sherry vinaigrette, and a sunny-side up free-range egg. OK, this is my new drug of choice. The egg oozes its yoke all over the duck and the lettuce with just the right amount of vinaigrette. Wow what a delicious salad.

Small Plates to Share:

Oysters, on the half shell, with Ladyface ale mignonette. Surprisingly these oysters were super fresh and tasted like the sea.

Mac and Cheese, with salt and vinegar, potato chip crust, everything you would want in a mac and cheese and more.

Sandwiches:

Grilled Sausage, with house-made bierwurst (made w/ Ladyface ale), soft roll, jardinier greens. They make their sausages daily, if you’re a sausage lover then you got to try this dish and of course pair it with the ale of your choice.

The Ladyface Burger, dry-aged, grass-fed, free-range beef, caramelized onions, bacon, fried egg, brioche bun, cheddar, and greens. What a burger, first of all it is huge, hard to fit in your mouth but the combination of all the things that go on this burger will just make you want to come back for more.

Larger Plates:

Moules-Frites, with Pacific Northwest Mediterranean mussels, grilled baguette, Pommes Frites. The mussels have loads of flavor and a nice rich broth; this is a very French dish.

Bouillabaisse, with lobster and potato broth, broiled local rock cod, shellfish, grilled baguette, and Rouille. The presentation is amazing; all of the fish is fresh and delightful. The sauce or broth is equally delicious.

Ales:

LA Blonde, 5.3% ABV, Belgian-style blond ale

LA Grisette, 5.3% ABV, Belgian farmhouse wheat

Picture City Porter no growlers, 6.9% ABV, American Robust Coffee Porter (Nitro), Silver Medal, 2011 Los Angeles International Beer Competition

Eclectic Ales seasonal and special releases:

Cataclysm IPA no growlers, 10.6% ABV, Imperial Oatmeal IPA

Each ale is very unique with its different characteristics. If you’re an ale connoisseur then you really need to try out many of their fantastic house made ales

Chardonnay, Canyon Road, California, this is a very buttery wine that went great with any of the seafood dishes.

Zinfandel, Rancho Zabaco, California, this wine has lots of berry goodness and would work with any of the meat dishes.

Ladyface Ale Companies is the Conejo Valley’s first microbrewery creating hand-crafted, award-winning ales on-site, including innovative, globally-inspired seasonal and barrel-aged releases for its brewpub and other craft beer establishments throughout Southern California. Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie features its ales in many recipes with a menu rooted in French/Belgian country dishes with American tavern classics.

I really can’t say enough about my experience, it was warm, inviting with everything really delicious that I tried. I am so glad that I have my new go to restaurant in Agoura Hills.

Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie
‪29281 Agoura Rd
Agoura Hills, CA 91301-2597
http://www.ladyfaceale.com
* Note some content was taken off of their website

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Leonardo’s Cucina Italiana – Lunch – April 27th 2017 – Santa Ynez, CA.

Leonardo is as nice as he is handsome, you just can’t believe that a man like him still exists. He exudes class and elegance. But can be extremely chatty and friendly, go figure. What ever he is or is not no one really cares, because the first time a fork enters your mouth with his lovely cuisine like me you will be hooked. I came for lunch on my last day in Santa Ynez valley; his restaurant was pretty crowded for a Thursday lunch at noon. The menu has all of my favorite authentic Italian dishes, all with a bit of a twist. Each one better then the next and all hand made by his little brother Giorgio. Yes, here it is all in the family, but distinctly Italian and really fantastic.

Here’s what I tried:

Lentil soup with sausage, kind of like Jewish penicillin but Italian style, wonderful flavors makes this another one of the best as far as lentil soup go.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana, baked Parmesan eggplant, light and fluffy with lots of cheese, this is one of the best ever.

Tagliolini alla Bolognese, with fresh housemade pasta in classic meat sauce. It is really a feat to make a good Bolognese and Leonardo’s is truly stellar.

Spaghetti alle Vongole, spaghetti in a white wine clam sauce. Delicate and subtle but with a nice amount of garlic, a great rendition of this Italian staple.

Gnocchi alla Campana, housemade gnocchi with tomato sauce, basil, and scamorza. Another wonderful menu item, you just can’t go wrong.

Grilled Ahi tuna served over mixed greens with tomatoes, green beans, red onions, green beans, potato, hard-boiled egg, Kalamata olives and lemon vinaigrette. For the lighter lunch, the tuna is so fresh and cooked rare, this is a lovely salad.

Salmon, done with lemon and capers. Super fresh salmon and the serving is small but perfect.

I tried 2 lovely wines as well, that were pared perfectly with my fish and red sauces, but because it was lunch tasting and I was driving back to Los Angeles I didn’t really partake in a large selection of wines. I have to go back and do the dinner menu along with their brilliant selection of wines.

They have photos of the movie The Godfather, as well as a series of Marcello Mastroianni photos in the women’s bathroom. I heard Sofia Loren is in the men’s room, but I did not venture in there.

Experience the authentic, family style Italian cuisine. Leonardo will take you to Cariati, a small town of few thousand people, mostly fishermen and carpenters, in Calabria, Italy. Join him and experience the warm atmosphere of his childhood when getting together at the dinner table was always a feast.

Leonardo’s Ristorante & Pizzeria is located in Solvang, just few miles north of Santa Barbara, California. Leonardo invites you to taste a great variety of classic Italian dishes as well as his interpretations and his new, unique recipes.

Leonardo’s Ristorante & Pizzeria will charm you with its family style atmosphere, where a pizza oven is always burning, an open kitchen will spark your curiosity, and everybody will greet you with a big smile.

Leonardo’s
632 Alamo Pintado Road
Solvang, CA, 93463
*note some content was taken off of their website.

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Succulent Café Wine Charcuterie – Dinner – April 26th, 2017

Here is another delightful experience to add on to my tasting journey. From the outside, it looks like any other Danish-type restaurant here in Solvang, but what you don’t see is the deliciousness of all the menu items. They have been there for 6 years and it’s truly one of the best restaurants in the valley.

The staff will warm your heart, they are casual but want you to enjoy a great dining experience.

Here’s What I Tried:

Starters:

Crispy Brussels sprouts, shredded Grana Padano, Applewood smoked bacon, fig balsamic reduction. I tried many of these Brussels sprout dishes in my tastings, but these were uniquely special. The bacon and sweet fig balsamic was a great combination.

Bacon Wrapped Diver Scallops, with Tabasco aioli, greens, vinaigrette. What a perfect way to start a delicious meal. These scallops are so delicate, with the wonderful taste of bacon wrapped around the scallops like little presents.

Sautee of Shitake Mushrooms with Madeira, herbs and toast. This is a very fragrant dish as the earthy mushrooms are the real stars of the show.

Mains:

Seafood Pasta with its rich wonderful garlic flavor. This is an exquisite pasta dish, very fresh seafood, all of the wonders of the sea in one dish.

Country-Style Meatloaf, with buttermilk mash, succotash, bacon gravy bacon crumbles and chives. A very hearty meatloaf, with a great white gravy, just what the doctor ordered.

Three Little Pigs, with bacon wrapped pork tenderloin, creamed spinach, potato cakes, and sweet vermouth pork jus. A very innovative dish, with savory pork flavor, simply terrific.

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Rack of Lamb*, Crispy potato-asparagus hash, yellow pepper sauce. Big juicy lamb chops with a great inspiring sauce.

Salmon. Nice big wild caught salmon with rice pilaf and fresh vegetables. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned.

Desert:

An ice cream sundae with chocolate covered bacon and lots of caramel sauce, amazing!!!

Wine’s I tried:

Prosecco. This is a light effervescent prosecco, pair it with the scallops. Trust me, you cannot go wrong.

Storm, Sauvignon Blanc. This was a perfect combination with the garlic packed seafood pasta.

Melville Chardonnay. This is a no brainer. Try it with the salmon.

Stolpman, Syrah. Try this divine wine alongside the Rack of lamb, it’s jammy, round chewy consistency will blow your hair back.

Additionally, they serve Mini buttermilk biscuits with jam (strawberry preserves) as their bread, it is top-notch.

The interior is fully decorated with pigs. There’s a sculpture of three little pigs on the wall and the ambient background music is very simple and calm. This serves as a backdrop for their scrumptious food. Did I mention that they love dogs and are pet friendly.

In the Santa Ynez valley there’s an incredible number of fun surprises that await you and Succulent Café is one of them. You’ll just have to come here and experience it for yourself to truly understand what I’m talking about.

Succulent Café Wine Charcuterie

1555 Mission Dr.
Solvang CA 93463
(805) 691-9444

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