Masters of Taste – May 6, 2018 – Pasadena Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA.

This is the 3rd year and I have to say each year keeps getting better and better! This year there were a lot more new restaurants with many different choices of food. I absolutely had some favorites, but all in all everything was simply delicious.

Here’s are all the folks that were there:

Culinary Masters:

Alexander’s Steakhouse, Ayara Luk, Bistro Mon Cheri, Bone Kettle, Bourbon Steak, Celestino Ristorante, Chaya, Chef Michael Hung, Church & State / Spring, Claud Beltran & Co. Bacchus Kitchen, Derive, Eat @ Rollin Joe’s, Fahrenheit LA, Garlic & Chives, Grill ‘Em All, Gus’s Barbecue, Jaffa, Kato Restaurant, LiOrient & Triple 8, Loquita, Lunasia Dim Sum House, M Café, Maestro, Maple, Mercado, Momed, Nerano, Pez Cantina, Poppy + Rose, Prince of Venice, Ramen Tatsunoya, Redbird, Sweet Greek, The Bellwether, The Flats / Montresor, The Raymond 1886, True Food Kitchen, Wax Paper, Wolfgang Puck Catering, and World Empanadas.

I loved the lumpia’s from Bone Kettle, a great rendition of this Filipino staple. The dim sum from Lunasia Dim Sum House was so wonderful; they had a lot of different ones to choose from. A truly delicious pasta from Nerano, with sausage and Orecchiette. Gus’s barbeque had an amazing corn bread that they served with their signature pulled pork BBQ. Another one of my favorites was the beet sauce ravioli from Celestino. The ramen from Ramen Tatsunoya was wonderful; it was served cold without any broth, but really flavorful. Poppy and Rose did a great fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy; super yummy. Kato did buckwheat and smoked ocean trout, with caviar on top of a tortilla style chip, very creative and inventive. Moncheri did a pot sticker that blew my hair back; delicious filling with great flavor. The Flats did a salmon mousse with Meyer lemon gelee and smoked crème fraiche, in a little plastic cup with very colorful layers. Wow. From Triple 8 they delivered a candied, Hong Style BBQ Pork that was out of this world. I really didn’t drink any alcohol, just a lot of water but from what I could tell there were lots of great wines being served and mixed cocktails were in abundance as well.

Beverage Masters:

American Born Whiskey, Angel City Brewery, Ascension Cellars, Bai, Boxed Water, Brewyard Beer Company, Buzzbox, Califia Farms, Chaya + Tequila Herradura Ultra, The Estates Group, DRY Sparkling Soda, Dulce Vida Tequila, Golden Star Vineyards, Groundwork Coffee, Hitching Post Winery, Honeydrop Beverages, Humm Kombucha, IMMORDL, Indie Brewing Company, Iron Triangle Brewing Company, Kieu Hoang Winery, Lincoln Beer Company, Lorimar Winery, MacLeod Ale Brewing, Magnolia House + SelvaRey Rum, Mt. Lowe Brewing Company, Navarro Vineyards, Nektar Juice Bar, Riboli Family Wines, Rutherford Wine, San Fernando Brewing, Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer, Sate Brewing Company, Sunset & Vinyl + Ki No Bi Kyoto Gin, The Raymond 1886, Woodford Reserve, Wrath Wines, Zico Coconut Water, and Zyr Vodka.

Sweet Masters:

Butter Cake Shoppe, Chocolate Stars USA, Crème Caramel, Fatamorgana Gelato, Helados Pops, Mignon Chocolate, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Porto’s Bakery, Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee, The Dolly Llama, and Zooies.

Sponsors:

2018 Gold Sponsors – Home Street Bank, Judith L. Chiara Foundation, Western Asset, and Woodford Reserve.

Silver Sponsors – John & Joy Beaty, Alan & Gail Maltun, Rhodes & Liz Trussell, Bart & Pam Wald, Kaiser Permanente, US Bank, and Capitol Group.

Bronze Sponsors – Thomas & Jodi Cassutt, Charlie & Rene Chiara, Terry & Teresa Krupczak, Hannah & Russel Kully, David & Janet Lazier, Jim & Cary Moore, Cathy Simms & Garrett Bell, Vickie & Alex Taylor, Union Bank, Bank of America, Universal Studios Hollywood, Westport Construction, Kauffman Wealth Management, Norton Rose Fulbrite, the James & Sue Femino Foundation, HKG, and Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Copper Sponsors – Nancy Gibbs, Margo & Ralph Kidushim, Sally Lash, Wendy Lees & Tom, Boyle, Don & Gloria Pitzer, Marie & John Queen, Goldrich Kest, Goldstar, and the Tsutayo Ichioka & Satsuki Nakoa Foundation.

Brass Sponsors – Congresswoman Judy Chu, William & Laura Olhasso, Shirley Schumacher & Gregory Goeckner, Grace Kim, Janie Steckenrider, The Bukata Family, Vicki & David Thompson, Arroyo, Citizens Business Bank, Edgewood Realty, Hahn & Hahn, Individual Food Service, Lawyer’s Title, Locke Lord LLP, Re/Max Elite Properties, TJ Maxx, and Westmount Asset Management.

Centerpiece Sponsor – ADP Foundation, Linen Sponsor – California Linen Services, Parking Sponsor – Pasadena Tournament of Roses, Gift Bag Sponsor – US Bank, Media Sponsors – Angeleno, Outlook, Pasadena Now, We Like L.A., and Yelp, and Community Partners – Lyft and Laemmle.

This was the menu from the Wolfgang Puck experience, which was a separate area that you had to sign up for to get a reservation. I was too full to even try to do a tasting, but I did walk around inside this area to check out all that was being made. Menu: Snap Peas, Caviar, Sesame Crème Fraiche, Crab, Seaweed, Black Garlic, Rib Cap, Papaya, Kroeung, Pineapple Guava, Chili, and Coconut Curd. WolfgangPuck.com, Rogue-expo.com.

A truly glorious day.  What could be better, under the sun at the iconic Rose Bowl with luscious food and drinks. Get your tickets for next year, you will be very happy you did!

Masters of Taste
https://mastersoftastela.com/
Rose Bowl
https://www.rosebowlstadium.com/
Rose Bowl Stadium
1001 Rose Bowl Drive
Pasadena, California 91103

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May 2018 – School of Rock The Musical – The Hollywood Pantages Theatre, Hollywood, CA.

Based on the cult film and with a rocking new score from Andrew Lloyd Webber, School of Rock follows slacker Dewey Finn as he turns a class of straight–A students into an all out rock band! Lead character, Dewey Finn, is a failed, wannabe rock star, he decides to earn an extra bit of cash by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. Finn gets the band to be part of a Battle of The Bands competition and has to sneak them out of school away from a parent’s night; the message of the whole show relies on this outcome.

The cast is brilliant, with subtle nuances; you learn what rock n roll is all about threw their eyes.

Cast:

Rob Colletti (Dewey), Lexie Dorsett Sharp (Rosalie), Matt Bittner (Ned), Emily Borromeo (Patty), Merritt David Janes (Dewey at certain performances), Olivia Bucknor (Shonelle, u/s Tomika), Grier Burke (Tomika), John Campione (Swing, u/s Ned), Patrick Clanton (Gabe Brown, Mr. Hamilton, Jeff Sanderson, Ensemble), Liam Fennecken (Bob, Mr. Sanford, Cop, Ensemble, u/s Dewey), Carson Hodges (Mason, u/s Lawrence), Elysia Jordan (Mrs. Hathaway, Ensemble, u/s Rosalie, Ms. Sheinkopf), Deidre Lang(Ms. Sheinkopf), Alyssa Emily Marvin (Marcy), Sinclair Mitchell (Snake, Mr. Mooneyham, Ensemble), Theo Mitchell-Penner (Lawrence), Vincent Molden (Zack), Gilberto Moretti-Hamilton (Freddy), Jameson Moss (Stanley, Mr. Williams, Ensemble, u/s Dewey), Iara Nemirovsky (Summer), Tim Shea, (Doug, Mr. Spencer, Ensemble, u/s Ned), Theodora Silverman (Katie), Cameron Trueblood (James, u/s Freddy), Gabriella Uhl (Sophie, u/s Tomika), Hernando Umana (Theo, u/s Ned), and Huxley Westemeier (Billy, u/s Lawrence).

Based on the Paramount movie by Mike White, Book by Julian Fellowes, Executive Producers: Nina Lannan and Madeleine Lloyd Webber, Director: Laurence Connor, Composer: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics: Glenn Slater, Choreography: JoAnn M. Hunter, Scenic – Costume Design: Anna Louizos, Lighting Design: Natasha Katz, Sound Design: Mick Potter, and Music supervision: John Rigby.

The sets are simple and easily moved, most of the action took place in these places on stage: The Olympic Powerhouse, Ned’s Apartment & Dewey’s bedroom, Rehearsal Space, Horace Green School – The Assembly Hall, The Music Room, The Faculty Lounge, Classrooms and Hallways, Students’ homes, The Palace Theatre – Onstage and offstage, and The Roadhouse.

The stage musical on Broadway and in the West End is produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who has also composed 14 new songs for the show, which additionally features all of the original songs from the movie. The composer’s numbers “You’re in the Band” and “Stick it to the Man” are well on their way to becoming rock solid standards, while the finale with “Teacher’s Pet” brings audiences to their feet, eight shows a week.

School of Rock, with its sensational live kids’ rock band, is a loving testimony to the transforming power of music. May the spirit of rock be with the schools and community theatres that pledge allegiance to Lloyd Webber’s newest hit!

It is nearly 50 years since my first musical JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT was premiered at a London school. A year later it received its USA debut at a college in Douglaston, Queens, New York. I can think of no better introduction to SCHOOL OF ROCK than to repeat what I wrote about JOSEPH so many years ago. SCHOOL OF ROCK is for everyone to take part in. It is a celebration of the empowering force of music. All of us in the creative team have had a fantastic time bringing the movie to the Broadway stage and we all hope that you have as much fun when you perform the show as we had when we put it together. Good luck and may the spirit of rock be with you.” Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Always one of my favorite venues to see Broadway shows, The Pantages Theater, with its own amazing history, the theater itself is an art deco paradise, with its ornate motif, you can truly get lost in the beauty of the décor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantages_Theatre_(Hollywood)

School of Rock is a two-hour, two-act musical – plus intermission, based on the hit movie. It’s the rough and tumble ride of loser Dewey Finn, who some how proves himself to be everyone’s hero by the end of the show. You feel sorry for him, but kind of know he will triumph in the end. The kids really steal the spotlight with their enormous talents; they rival all of the adult cast members, performers must currently be aged 18 or younger. They turn into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. It’s playing through May 27, 2018, so run to get your tickets now.

The Hollywood Pantages Theater

Hollywoodpantages.com

(323) 468-1770

6233 Hollywood Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90028

 

 

* Some content was taken off of their website

 

 

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May 2, 2018 – Launch of Wusah – Hills Penthouse – West Hollywood, CA.

This event was for the launch of Wusah, a new brand of the Cannabis wellness line of products brought to us by Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi, from Bravo’s “The Shahs of Sunset.” There were lots of other cast members from The Shahs of Sunset and other shows, along with other celebrities and athletes. All of this celebrating took place at the very cool Hills Penthouse in West Hollywood.

So imagine everyone there, except me, was imbibing in either a watermelon, pomegranate, mint juice that had CBD and THC called Refresh, as well as GG’s cannabis vape product. There were lots of very happy people but the whole vibe was very peaceful and mellow. Along with that, the extremely talented recording artist Aquile performed his original music, then out popped the feather clad Brazilian dancers.

Oh and did I mention the marijuana plants on every table that were parting gifts? Since Cannabis has become legal in California there are many fantastic events happening all over Hollywood and beyond. It’s a real business now so why not include this with the Hollywood elite and the reality TV world. Such a super fun evening, filled with merriment and glamour.

About Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi, taken off of the Bravo Website: http://www.bravotv.com/people/golnesa-gg-gharachedaghi

Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi: “I Have Found My Purpose Through Cannabis” Golnesa “GG” Gharachedaghi has provided an update on her latest business venture. The Shahs of Sunset friend, who has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, previously opened up to fans about her entrepreneurial plans.

Finally, we know what that “something” will be. On May 3, GG took to Instagram to share a major update on her business venture, which has been named WüSah. “Please welcome WüSah to the world!” she wrote. “I can’t believe it’s finally happened. I am so grateful for my journey! I believe I was given an autoimmune disease so I can make a difference. I have found that purpose through Cannabis. Many of you will mock me. Many of you will support me. I just hope you continue to follow me and watch the evolution of great healing take place using WüSah. I’m almost in remission y’all. I’m living proof this stuff works.”

“The first thing I made is a cold-pressed drink,” she said, showing off a prettily packaged bottle of a beverage called “Refresh.” Containing THC and CBD, the drink has a watermelon-pomegranate-mint flavor. The Shahs pal also showed off her vape pen, which contains a mild, antibacterial strain of cannabis. She also designed an inhaler as “a way to get your THC hit.” “I’m about to launch the coolest business ever and it’s so cool because it’s Cannabis. Cannabis is newly legalized in California and other states, and I’m going to bring you the best of it.” She went on to explain the products she intends to produce will help herself and others overcome the pain of auto immune diseases. “I’ve suffered for years with rheumatoid arthritis, and I’ve used Cannabis the last year and a half to get me closer to my remission,” she said. “Autoimmune diseases, epilepsy, insomnia, depression … I’m creating something for all of you guys.”

GG is so personable, she is just a lovely girl, I had a blast at her event!

Launch of Wusah
Hills Penthouse West Hollywood
8560 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood
www.hillspenthouse.com

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Food Bowl -May 1, 2018 – The Wiltern Theater – Los Angeles, CA.

The Power of Food was a great evening with José Andrés and friends celebrating the opening of LA Times Food Bowl. Los Angeles is a city rich in culture, food, community spirit, and resilience. This event is a conversation on the power of food and its impact in our communities, while showcasing rising sous chefs in a two-segment cook off. L.A. Kitchen brought four of Los Angeles’ best sous chefs together to showcase their culinary talent, creativity and ability to think on their feet. Inspired by Jose’s relief efforts in Puerto Rico, each chef was challenged to create a memorable dish out of everyday ingredients readily available in a disaster relief situation. The participating chefs were given the opportunity to join the World Central Kitchen chef relief team. There was a pre-event reception with dinner, drinks, and exhibitor tasters. L.A. Kitchen hosted this event and also provided dinner.

The evening was presented by World Central Kitchen founder, and 2018 James Beard Humanitarian Award recipient, José Andrés and Times restaurant critic, Jonathan Gold. Hosted by the L.A. Kitchen.

About the Celebrities:

José Andrés (Chef/Owner,ThinkFoodGroup, Somni, The Bazaar by José Andrés, Founder, World Central Kitchen and Board Chair, L.A. Kitchen), Jonathan Gold (Food Critic, LA Times), Robert Egger (Founder, L.A. Kitchen, DC Central Kitchen, Campus Kitchen), Zooey Deschanel (Actress & Founder, The Farm Project), Ron Finley (The Ron Finley Project), Nyesha Arrington (Executive Chef, Native LA), Tim Kilcoyne (Executive Chef, Scratch Sandwiches), AlexGranados (Sous Chef, Native LA), Manuel Villagomez (Sous Chef, Broken Spanish), and more to be announced!

José Andrés:

Named James Beard 2018 Humanitarian of the Year, José Andrés is an internationally recognized culinary innovator, author, educator, humanitarian, and the Chef/Owner of ThinkFoodGroup, Somni & two Michelin starred minibars by José Andrés. José is a committed advocate of food and hunger issues and is known for championing the role of chefs in the national debate on food policy. In 2012, Andrés formed World Central Kitchen, a non-profit that provides smart solutions to hunger and poverty by using the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies. Together with World Central Kitchen and #ChefsforPuertoRico, Andrés served over 3.3 million meals in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017. He has earned numerous awards including the 2015 National Humanities Medal. Andrés’ work includes his role as the Chair Emeritus of L.A. Kitchen, founded by Robert Egger; awards and distinctions including the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from International Association of Culinary Professionals and the 2015 National Humanities Medal.

Jonathan Gold:

Jonathan Gold is the restaurant critic for the Los Angeles Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2007 and was a finalist again in 2011. A Los Angeles native, he began writing the Counter Intelligence column for the L.A. Weekly in 1986, wrote about death metal and gangsta rap for Rolling Stone and Spin, among other places, and is delighted that he has managed to forge a career out of the professional eating of tacos.

Robert Egger:

Robert is the founder and CEO of L.A. Kitchen. He has been a leader in the food recovery/job training/social enterprise movement since 1989 when he founded the D.C. Central Kitchen, which he led for 24 years. Collectively, these businesses have used donated food to produce over 40 million meals that helped over 1,600 men and women gain full-time employment. Robert is an award winning author (Begging for Change, HarperCollins) and a sought after speaker on subjects ranging from innovation, leadership, the role of nonprofits, and social enterprise.

Ron Finley:

Armed with a shovel, some soil, and seeds, Ron Finley has come to be known as the “Gangsta Gardener” and his unexpected tactics have made him one of L.A.’s most widely known activists. Frustrated by his community’s lack of access to fresh, organic food, Finley inadvertently started a revolution when he turned the parkway in front of his South Central L.A. home into an edible garden in 2010. Ron’s goal was simple; bring healthy food to an area where there was none. This made him see first-hand how gardens build communities and change people’s lives. This experience blossomed into a quest to change how we eat, teaching youth that they have the capacity to design their own lives and transform culture. Based in LA, Ron founded The Ron Finley Project, which has ignited a horticultural revolution worldwide. He wants the world to know that if you change your food, you change your life!

Zooey Deschanel:

Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award and Grammy Award nominee and Critics’ Choice Award winner, Zooey Deschanel, is an entertainer in every sense of the word, bringing the classical leading lady back to the modern audience with her old-fashioned charm. Lauded as “timeless,” “vintage” and “ethereal,” Deschanel’s starring roles in “(500) Days of Summer”, opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and “Yes Man,” opposite Jim Carrey, cemented her place as a mainstream presence with a handle for nuance.

Zooey recently started The Farm Project with her husband Jacob Pechenik; an endeavor to help reconnect people to their food. Among other initiatives, they co-produced the show Your Food’s Roots along with ATTN: Media reaching over 20 million views, and growing.

This was a fun event with a real message about humanity and how people can survive in any situation, especially ones that are brought on by Mother Nature. The true gift of giving was what every celebrity was talking about, coming in many forms but all with the same message: to step up in times of unforeseen disasters and taking care of thy neighbor.

The Wiltern

3790 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90010

www.wiltern.com

*Note some content was taken off of current press release.

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Il Piccolo Verde – Dinner – April 27, 2018 – Brentwood, CA.

I was so excited to try this little neighborhood gem; nestled in a fantastic foodie area, with lots of charm, Il Piccolo Verde promises to be your new favorite Italian restaurant. They treated me like a queen and served me everything I requested, my experience was filled with mouth watering enjoyment!

It’s bright with lots of ambiance; just the perfect place to enjoy some fantastic regional Italian food right here in this little village called Brentwood.

Brentwood is one of the most sought after real estate in Los Angeles, with lots of celebrities buying up the million dollar properties, it is a very affluent neighborhood in the Westside of Los Angeles, California. The stars have a place with no paparazzi to enjoy a great home cooked meal. Well, I am here to say the Il Piccolo Verde is right up there with the best of Italian cuisine here in Los Angeles.

Jeff Kantor, aka DJ Gold Dust, has been with Il Piccolo Verde for the past 3 months. He is the managing partner and came from a lovely seaside area called Malibu. Jeff knows his way around restaurants and events, creating some very cool past events, where he was the DJ. Now he brings his expertise to Il Piccolo Verde. They have live jazz on Thursdays with some famous players; Robby Krieger, and David Marcus to name a few. On Fridays they have Karaoke until 3am. I’m going to have to come back with my singing voice in tow.

My server Eduardo Gomez from Mexico City had the best dimples, as well as the best demeanor. Eduardo made my experience great, with his no nonsense style.

Chef Pablo Merida, was just honored as Culinary Visionary at the Flavors of Los Angeles at Taglyan Center in Hollywood, he worked at Tutte Bene in Beverly Hills before this. His timeless classics will make you become a regular, it is just that good, and most of their customers are locals, go figure.

Owner Michael Schwartz, who is in real estate saw Il Piccolo Verde as a good business deal and decided to take it over in 2014, a great decision for him. The night I was dining his kids were keeping it real by eating just the basic pizza and spaghetti and meatballs. Michael says they always order the same thing every time; they just love their traditional favorites, so why change a good thing?  He is looking into opening another location in downtown Las Vegas.

Appetizers:

They start you out with delicious house made flat bread and black olive tapenade.

Melanzane – Baked eggplant parmigiana. This is a small portion because it’s an appetizer, it just makes you want to come back for more.

Calamari Friti – Fried calamari rings in a spicy marinara sauce. These little daring’s are light and crispy, no big long tentacles, just little bite size pieces of succulent breaded calamari.

Homemade Carrot Cauliflower with Tarragon Soup, and organic unrefined coconut
oil. I just loved this soup. It is thick and creamy but with no cream, what a concept.

Pablo’s Homemade Meatballs, the sauce is the best thing about this dish, a traditional red sauce, and the meatballs are the icing on the cake.

Salad:

Tre Colore – Arugula, endive, blue cheese and house vinaigrette. A light healthy way to start your dining experience. There is a very fresh nice mellow dressing.

Pizza:

Quattro Stagioni – tomato sauce, homemade mozzarella, artichoke hearts, prosciutto, olives, and mushrooms. This is a great pizza; they have a Caputo pizza oven, which came from Naples. This oven really makes a difference, the crust was thin and crispy with great flavor, a must have.

Pasta:

Pappardelle Mare e Monti – wide noodles with mushroom, spinach, clam, shrimp, and truffle oil. The clams just pooped in your mouth and the pappardelle noodles are luscious.

Arugula Aglio Olio – with sautéed arugula, garlic, shrimp, extra virgin olive oil with a touch of lemon juice. The sautéed arugula is something I had never tried before; you could mistake it for spinach. The bitter arugula flavors melt away when it is cooked, and the shrimp was cooked to perfection, a nice dish.

Gnocchi Alla Cardinale – Homemade potato dumpling with peas and prosciutto in a Parmesan cheese sauce. This is an outstanding dish, the cheese sauce the peas and prosciutto, all things I adore about this dish.  A great gnocchi that I would highly recommend.

Entrees:

Filet Mignon – 8 oz. prime cut filet mignon served with roasted potatoes and sautéed spinach. This is a melt in your mouth steak, perfectly cooked rare, tender and flavorful, just wonderful.

Fish and Crustacean:

Scampi Limone – Tiger shrimp with garlic, capers, and lemon white wine sauce with a side of mixed vegetables. These are huge shrimp served with lovely carrots. The flavors are astounding, with lots of garlic, parsley; it’s just the perfect scampi.

Side Dishes:

Mashed Potatoes, simple but tasty, these potatoes are a no-brainer with the beef.

Millet Verde, organic gluten free millet, cauliflower, carrots, Celtic sea salt, and organic unrefined coconut oil. A rich nice flavor, a great side option.

Spinach, healthy, smart a good side choice.

Dessert:

Crème Brûlée, a great rendition of this super popular dessert. Rich, flavorful just delightful. What a great ending to my truly fantastic dinner.

Wine:

House Selection Sparkling Wine, a great pairing with the calamari.

Talley Estate chardonnay 2015, Arroyo Grande, Central Coast-CA, Organic. A bright bold Chardonnay, I would pair this with any of the dishes that have shrimp.

CADE sauvignon Blanc 2016, Napa-CA. A very fruit forward, it was a good combination with the Tre Colore salad and the blue cheese.

Montepeloso “A Quo” Tuscana 2014, Tuscana-IT, Super Tuscan Cabernet, Blend, and biodynamic. Big hearty, jammy, cherry flavors, worked so great with the filet.

Adaptation Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa-CA, Second label from Stag’s Leap’s Odette. I can’t say enough about this wine; it’s a bit pricey, but worth every cent. I just love that at this tasting I got to try a new Cabernet that I truly fell in love with.

Kristine Morcos is their Sommelier, she picks boutique labels, and small purveyors. Their wine list is really user friendly; you can tell that their customers are well versed in all things wine.

Their Interiors are modern Italian, with orange and yellow walls. A small patio with hand painted blue-sky ceiling with heat lamps. The dining room has wood floors, and wooden modern chair and table clothes. They play mostly Italian music that adds to the overall appeal.

I am smitten, a great find in a very upscale neighborhood, with super friendly staff, that makes you feel right at home. The perfect combination!

Il Piccolo Verde
140 S Barrington Place
Los Angeles, CA 90049
310 472 4939
https://ilpiccoloverde.com

 

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La Dolce Vita – March 27, 2018 – Lunch – Oxnard, CA.

Located in the very popular Heritage Square is the one of the best Italian restaurants in Ventura County. Great food in a fun charming atmosphere is what La Dolce Vita has to offer.

They were located in Port Hueneme and moved to this location 5 years ago. All of the buildings in Heritage Square are historic landmarks and were moved from different locations in Ventura County.

This building is the Laurent – Mc Grath House, built in 1901.It is a Colonial Revival home primarily built for Martin Laurent and his wife. The basement, outdoor patio, south extension, and elevator are not original and were added for the use of a restaurant. Heritage Square began in 1985 as this vision preserves the historical and architectural uniqueness of turn-of-the-century Oxnard. It opened in 1991. Through the commitment of some of Oxnard’s, eleven homes, a church, water tower, pump house and storehouse have been moved to a single block and restored to their original condition. The original location was 403 South W. Woodley Road in Oxnard.

The interior is very charming, with yellow walls, cinnamon red ceiling, and café table and chairs. Nice art seascapes, still-life flower with a wrought iron wine cellar in the hallway. There are delicate small tables, the table lamps are different but all with the same lampshade. It is very quaint, with everything being very simple, the perfect backdrop for this spectacular Italian food. Classical, jazz is in the background, and it makes you feel very relaxed.

Here’s what I tried:

Starters:

Pumpkin Ravioli- topped with Gorgonzola cream sauce, sage, and walnuts. I would just order these by the dozen; the perfect cream accompanied by the lovely pumpkin ravioli, just made my heart melt.

Soup:

Grilled onion chowder- Marsala infused grilled onions in a sweet cream. Another feat of excellence. How did they come up with this concept? My taste buds were just dancing away, you don’t want this experience to end.

Salads:

Insalata di Spinachi – baby spinach with house raspberry vinaigrette, mandarin oranges, candied walnuts, and Gorgonzola. I can really say by this point in my meal I realized that everything here at La Dolce Vita is going to be stellar, and I was right. This salad is very simple, but the dressing is what made this stand out for me.

Pasta and Risotto:

Linguini Bolognese – with sausage and beef Bolognese with marinara and finished cream over linguini and topped with Parmesan. Nice linguine highlights this straightforward Bolognese sauce. Very meaty with great tomato flavor.

Linguini – With white clam sauce. There are lots of clams and you can tell it is a very simple sauce of clam juice, butter, garlic and, parsley. If there are other secrets in there I can’t tell, but I enjoyed this fantastic dish.

Seafood Linguini, lots of fresh seafood, scallops, shrimps, clams and mussels ad to the luscious flavor of this great pasta dish.

Lunch Plates:

Seared Ahi – served rare over jasmine rice with Asparagus topped with lemon aioli. The sesame seeds make all the difference in the world; they pop as you eat this perfectly seared Ahi Tuna. The sauce is very subtle but adds to the overall beauty of this dish.

Dessert:

Traditional Tiramisu with Espresso Sauce, simply spectacular!

Wines:

Pasqua Prosecco, Italy. A lovely light starter to my amazing meal. It went great with the grilled onion chowder.

Chardonnay, Cedar Brook, California- Light and fresh with hints of vanilla, butterscotch, and melon in the aroma. Straw-colored with a smooth, crisp finish.

Chardonnay, Santa Barbara Crossing, Santa Barbara County – Fruit forward with a clean crisp finish that lingers on the plate.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Picket Fence, Alexander Valley- French oak aging contributes vanilla, clove, and hazelnut aromas which create a unique foil for the robust, berry-driven fruit flavors.

Zinfandel, Haraszthy, Lodi- a very approachable wine exhibiting delicious cherry, black fruit flavors and a generous vibrant bouquet. This wine is almost like syrup, rich and elegant, a great addition with the Bolognese.

Owner Michelle Kinney comes from a restaurant business family. Her Mother owned this restaurant before she did. A Southern California native, Michelle went to high school in Arcadia. You can just tell from her no-nonsense personality that she takes great pride in making her customers happy.

La Dolce Vita has gotten their share of awards in these publications: Pacific Coast Business Times, Ventura County Stars, and Talk of the town.

Out of all of my Oxnard dining experiences this one was the best. Even if you want to take a day trip and not spend the night, it is worth the drive!
La Dolce Vita Restaurant – “The Sweet Life”

Heritage Square
740 South B. Street
Oxnard, CA. 93030
www.ladolcevitadmare.com
805-486-6878

 

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Coastal Bar and Grill – Dinner – March 26, 2018 – Oxnard, CA.

It is always nice to have a good restaurant at your hotel that you are staying in. One that is convenient, when you really don’t want to leave your comfort zone.

The dining room is sparse; the better choice here is to eat an early dinner when it is still warm outside on the outdoor patio.

Here’s What I Tried:

Mules:

Strawberry Smash- Grey goose, muddled strawberries, ginger beer, and lime. Lots of strawberry flavor; a nice bright mule.

Cactus- Grey goose, pineapple, orange, and ginger beer. I liked this cocktail better, it just had more flavors that I prefer.

Wines:

MacRostie Chardonnay- Sonoma Coast, CA, a great fruity chardonnay, with the ocean air it worked perfect with my fish and chips.

Meiomi – Pinot Noir- Sonoma Coast, CA. You get vanilla and cherry notes from this super big Pinot Noir. It went great with the Wedge salad, enhanced by the big lardon pieces.

Appetizers:

Soup De Jour – Bean and bacon, served with baguette. A bit on the salty side, but if you had a cold night and you wanted hot comfort soup, then this is what I would order.

Brussels Sprouts – bacon, balsamic, and Parmesan. A nice version of this always-welcoming, healthy option.

Mac N’ Cheese – Gruyere, jack cheese, and Neuske’s. Not one of my favorite mac n cheese dishes, but if you’re a fan perhaps it will be a winner for you.

Salads:

Caesar – a very basic salad, I would go with the wedge instead.

Wedge – blue cheese, lardon, crouton, and jalapeno ranch. A very unique wedge salad, with huge romaine wedges instead of classic iceberg. The lardon rocked my world.

Arugula – quinoa, sweet potato, date, and pepita vin. This is totally in my wheelhouse; I just loved this salad and would order it every time I dine at Coastal Grill.

Entrees:

Fish & Chips – Pacific cod, tartar, and lemon. The fish is crisp on the outside and mist in the inside. Being half British I know good fish and chips and this one is right up there.

Market Fish – Salmon, spinach, farro, and compound butter. I am going to be honest here, skip this salmon and get the fish and chips. Just do it.

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams:

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream – chocolate chunk and oat cookie. The vanilla is absolutely the way to go; very rich and creamy, and the brownie is off the charts.

Eureka Lemon & Marionberry Ice Cream – with a madeleine. So special and unique and the madeleine is otherworldly.

Though I wasn’t pleased with everything I tried, there were some choices that I did enjoy and recommended.

I would say if you stick with the items I loved then you would be in for a good meal.

Coastal Grill at Embassy Suites Oxnard

2101 Mandalay Rd.

Oxnard, CA 93035

 

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Island Packers – Whale Watching – March 26, 2018 – Oxnard, CA.

The Island Packers boat is very conveniently located at the Channel Island Harbor near the two restaurants that I visited the night before. It was a windy day and I originally wanted to go in the morning. The publicist for my trip, Janis Flippen, suggested that I go in the morning before the winds picked up. When I went to get my ticket they told me it would be very rough waters, like a washing machine. My guest opted not to go on this 3.5-hour trip. Well of course I was a bit nervous, but as a child I had my share of getting seasick being on fishing boats with my father, so I knew exactly what I was in for. We left the dock at 9:30 am with peaceful, easy, waters in the marina. Once we got out to sea we were tossed like around with severe water conditions. They told us many times before we took off of how to handle ourselves if we got sick. If you ask me, the power of suggestion probably got the best of many of the guests, but not me. I remember my father telling me always stay on deck, in the open air and keep your eyes focused on the horizon. I didn’t take any medicine and was a bit dizzy for a few minutes but my mind was not going to let this matter get me sick.

You get to see the oil platforms up close as well. We cruised by platform Gail, which is the tallest of all of the platforms in this area. Its very interesting stuff to see them super close.

By the time we got near the Santa Cruz Mountains, which are part of the Channel Islands, we had heard of many whale sighting’s the day before, but sadly we saw none. Many people’s faces were either sullen or gloomy from not seeing any sea life, or outright green from sickness.

I always see a silver lining, so for me just to be able to get so close to the Channel Islands was enough of an adventure. The Anacapa Island was so majestic and beautiful. We had a bird’s eye view of the lighthouse and the incredible rock formations.

On the way back, the boat did a sudden turn and one of the deck hands told me that they had spotted a whale. Finally we got our watch on!!

Everyone got to the bow of the boat, and surprisingly the water got calm, so we saw a dorsal fin whale dive back into the water. We all silently waited until the whale came back up so we could see their blowhole and get a better glimpse of this huge creature. What an astounding moment. Every minute of being on this boat was worth it.

I highly recommend going on this half-day adventure. Make sure you watch the weather and go on a day that is so not so rough, you will be happy you read my review and did your research.

About Channel Islands:

Channel Islands National Park is a United States national park that consists of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of the U.S. state of California, in the Pacific Ocean.

The Channel Islands itself attracts around 70,000 tourists a year, mostly during the summer. Visitors can travel to the islands via public boat or airplane transportation. Camping grounds are available on Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara Islands in the Channel Islands National Park. Attractions include whale watching, hikes, snorkeling, kayaking, and camping.

Whale watching is only from December 26th to mid-April, so there is still time to book your trip. I would highly recommend doing this great adventure. These majestic creatures are one of world’s greatest wonders, it is the most magical thing you will ever see.

http://islandpackers.com/
(805) 642-1393

 

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Dinner – March 25, 2018 – Moqueca Brazilian Cuisine – Oxnard, CA.

When you walk into Moqueca you are taken back to a tropical paradise with the smells of Brazilian home cooking. Moqueca means stew; the only reason to come here is to taste this glorious comfort food stew. I didn’t fool around; I ordered my favorite thing to put in my stew, lobster. All I can say is WOW!

The traditional cuisine of Espirito Santo’s State is closely related to its place, history, climate and economy. Espirito Santo is a small Brazilian state, located in the east portion of the southeast region of the country. Its coast has 250 miles of beautiful Atlantic Ocean’s beaches and rich forests. The weather is wet and tropical. The people are friendly and kind; they are known as “CAPIXABAS”. Vitoria, the State’s capital, is an island surrounded by beaches and mangrove swamp.

The most famous dish of Espirito Santo’s State is the “moqueca Capixaba”. Symbol of its regional cuisine and appreciated everywhere, the moqueca is known for its unique way of cooking and serving. The name “moqueca” designates exactly this way of preparation which is using a clay pot to cook the seafood and vegetables with no addition of water. The ingredients include the fish (or other seafood), onions, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, “urucum”, and “malagueta” pepper.

The moqueca is served on the same clay pot it was cooked, with the sides of white rice and “pirao”, a thick broth made from the moqueca and yucca flour. This unique version of the dish is a combination from the ancestries of both “sarcinelli” and “Reis” families.

Here’s What I Tried:

Brazilian Cocktails:

Carnaval – Leblon Cachaça, with pineapple juice and orange juice. This is a very drinkable cocktail; it makes you feel like you’re relaxing on a tropical island.

Acai Caipirinha “The Amazon Berry Cocktail”- Limes with a touch of fine sugar, Leblon Cachaça and Cedilla Acai liqueur. A bit on the strong side, but a very popular drink in Brazil.

Appetizers:

Lula Frita – Tender calamari rings lightly seasoned, deep fried and served with tartar sauce. These little darlings are cooked to perfection, with a great pungent tartar sauce.

Capa Santa Gratinada – Seasoned scallops in half shells crusted with Parmesan cheese and oven baked. This appetizer is a real delight; they are served in the shell and have the most fragrant flavor.

Coxinhas – Chicken filled turnover deep-fried and served with malgueta sauce. All I can say about these are interesting, but delicious.

Clay Pot Dishes:

Moqueca De Lagosta- Lobster Tails Moqueca – cooked in a clay pot with tomatoes, cilantro, coconut milk, onions and furculum essence, thickened with yucca cream. Served with a side of white rice. Ok, hands down the best thing on the menu. This is really fantastic. The lobster is tender and flavorful, 2 huge tails are served, and the stew just melts in your mouth.

Entrees:

Picanha Grelhada – Brazilian steak (10 oz. top sirloin cap C.A.B.) seasoned in rock salt, grilled and served with white rice, black beans and fried yucca. A good cut of meat with great seasoning makes for one wonderful entrée item.

Side Dishes:

Banana Frita – fried plantains. I just love these, they are sweet and crispy. A great side dish with all of the entrees.

Mandioca frita – Brazilian yucca fries. These were just ok, not something I would ever order again. They are like French fries but with out the great potato flavor.

Couve refogado – Sauteed collard greens. Another terrific side dish and very healthy.

Desserts:

Pudim De Caramelo – Brazilian caramel flan. A great way to end my remarkable meal.

Pave De Amendoim – Homemade chocolate-peanut cream layered with milk cookies. This dessert will blow your hair back, it is just that good!

Wine:

Chardonnay, Wente Vineyards, “Riva Ranch Reserve”, Arroyo Seco, CA. A nice well-balanced wine, it paired nicely with the lobster, of course!!

Zinfandel, Ravenswood, “Old Vine”, Lodi, CA. This wine has many berry flavors and is rich and perfect. Zinfandel and steak is always my go to.

Our server James Ramirez used to work at The Yard House, and was born in Ventura. He made my experience very nice with his charming demeanor.

Moqueca opened 10 years ago in 2008; its past incarnation was Sea Fresh Sushi. Fraught with bad luck the building burned 10-15 years ago. Since Moqueca has been there all of that has changed. Every customer leaves happy and the reviews of Moqueca have all been stellar. With a sister restaurant in Thousand Oaks, you don’t have to drive all the way to Oxnard. 1610 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. Suite J. – Thousand Oaks, CA 91632. – +1-805-230-3585

The décor is very tropical, with some great art pieces. There is an enclosed patio. A huge plus, you can see the sunset from the dining room. The music adds to the overall ambiance, with samba, and Brazil 66 playing in the background.

At Moqueca you will experience the true flavors of Brazil, with all of the authentic, colorful, spicy cuisine. Your taste buds will light up for the whole experience. This is great Brazilian food with all of the bells and whistles.

Moqueca Brazilian Cuisine
3550 S. Harbor Blvd.
Oxnard, CA.
805-204-0970
www.moquecarestaurant.com

* Note some content was taken off of their website.

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Waterside Restaurant & Wine Bar, Happy Hour – March 25, 2018 – Oxnard, CA.

My friend Gale had me meet her here for a fun filled happy hour listening to musician, singer, songwriter – Sean Wiggins, play some pretty fierce music.

I had contacted the manager about doing a tasting but didn’t hear back from him. When I went to speak with him he apologized and said he would send a few appetizers out to me.

This is what I tried:

Feta Delight lightly breaded, honey, sesame seeds. Almost like a dessert but a great appetizer item.

Fried Pita Chips with 3 different dips. All of the dips are differed and the chips are not oily; I just loved this.

Moussaka, layers of potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, fresh herbs, ground beef and pork, nutmeg, and Béchamel sauce. Its time to indulge your taste buds and this dish does the trick. Really fantastic, one of the best Moussaka’s ever!

The food was great and the ambiance is even better. Tony said I should come back and do a real tasting with all of the menu items; stay tuned.

The Waterside Restaurant and Bar
3500 Harbor Blvd.
Oxnard, CA. 93035
http://www.thewatersiderestaurantandwinebar.com

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