Jose Iturbi Foundation Event – The Hollywood Museum – September 19, 2023 – Hollywood, CA.

The José Iturbi Foundation Presents “From Hollywood To The World: The Rediscovered Recordings by Pianist and Conductor José Iturbi”, #19439836502), the commemorative 16-CD, and 188-page box set/coffee table book, produced by Donelle Dadigan, Michael Feinstein, and Robert Russ (Sony Classical Records). In Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, a GRAMMY Voters Party. José Iturbi was the first musician to sell 1 million copies of a record and he received his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to commemorate this milestone.

This night was so special, with its beautiful exhibits at The Hollywood Museum, was the backdrop to many heartfelt speeches about Jose Iturbi and the glamourous history that Donelle Dadigan recalled for this remarkable audience. It’s always a pleasure to be in this amazing historic building, there is so much to see, couple that with tonight’s activities and you have a recipe for sheer enjoyment and transformation. Some great stories were told between the 3 panelists – Donelle Dadigan, Michael Feinstein, and Charles Fox, and the gracious host, Leonard Maltin. You almost felt like you were let inside this amazing world of piano playing geniuses, with Jose Iturbi being at the center of all of the attention. My personal favorite was Donelle describing meeting Mr. Sinner alongside Jose Iturbi, AKA, Frank Sinatra. Then her meeting him again later in life and him recalling this little girl who was Jose Iturbi’s Goddaughter.

Guests and participants included, Michael Feinstein (Multi-Grammy nominated singer and pianist), Diane Warren (Grammy and Honorary Oscar-winning songwriter), Charles Fox (Multi-award-winning composer and songwriter), Leonard Maltin (Film historian and moderator), Richard Montañez (subject of Flamin’ Hot), Mike Stoller (award winning songwriter/Smokey Joe’s Café), Erin Murphy (Bewitched), Joel Diamond (award winning music producer), Candace Wakefield (8X Grammy winner), Raheem Norris (Grammy Nominee), Carol Connors (composer, writer, Gonna Fly Now from Rocky), Allan Rich (Oscar nominated composer, songwriter), Joel Diamond (award winning music producer), David Longoria (Trumpet player, singer, song writer, music producer), Rickey Minor (Musical Director/Conductor ), Michele Lee (Wicked/Seesaw/How To Succeed In Business/Knotts Landing), Roslyn Kind (Recording Artist), Carolyn Hennesy (Cabaret Singer/GH/True Blood), Kym Karath (Sound of Music), Geoffrey Mark (Grammy Nominated).

This special project has been submitted for Grammy consideration in the following categories:
Producers: Michael Feinstein, Robert Russ, Donelle Dadigan
Engineers: Nancy Conforti, Jennifer Nulsen, Andreas K. Meyer

Author: Michael Feinstein
Producers: Michael Feinstein, Robert Russ, Donelle Dadigan
Designer: Donelle Dadigan/Michael Feinstein/(EC:KO) Communications /Jochen Rudelt/Marvin J Deitz.

About The Hollywood Museum:

The Hollywood Museum, the official museum of Hollywood, has the most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world. The museum, featuring four floors of breathtaking exhibits, is home to more than 10,000 authentic show biz treasures – one-of-a-kind costumes, props, photographs, scripts, stars’ car collections and personal artifacts, posters, and vintage memorabilia from favorite films and TV shows. The museum also showcases the history of Hollywood and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Exhibits at The Hollywood Museum:

See hundreds of costumes on display, including Marilyn Monroe’s million dollar dress, Elvis’ personal bathrobe, I Love Lucy, Superman, Star Trek, Transformers, Glee, High School Musical, Michael Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, plus Rocky’s boxing gloves, Sopranos, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Beyoncé… See Lucy, Judy, Kate and all the greats! Plus the Rat Pack, Jurassic Park, Baywatch, Jaws, Planet of the Apes, The Flintstones, Harry Potter, Miley Cyrus, George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt and Angelina

The Hollywood Museum is housed in the historic Max Factor Building. Where Max Factor, Hollywood’s Makeup King, created the looks of Hollywood’s Golden Era stars including Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Garland, Mae West, Jean Harlow & Marilyn Monroe and all your favorite stars…from the Silents through the 1970’s… Don’t forget to visit Max Factor’s world-famous makeup rooms and see where Hollywood’s greatest stars got their “look”. See where Marilyn Monroe became a blonde and Lucille Ball a famous redhead! Visit the largest collection of costumes, props, posters, and photographs Hollywood has to offer!

I’m so honored to be part of this extended family; I have been invited to many events at The Hollywood Museum. To always be included with all these historic music legends, to be continually educated on past music stories. Such a wonderful way to spend the evening, such a treat!

Thanks, to Harlan and Roger, for always sending me out those fabulous press releases, I am forever grateful!!

The Hollywood Museum in the Historic Max Factor Bldg.

1660 N. Highland Ave.

LA. CA. 90028

*Note Some Content Was Taken Off Of Their Website.

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2 Visits – Topanga Social – August & September – Topanga Westfield Mall – Canoga Park, CA.

What I like about Topanga Social is that it’s a food hall but with some novel menu items from some of Los Angeles’ most talked about restaurants. It opened in May 2023, and has been gaining new customers ever since. You pretty much can get everything your heart desires under one roof, a true gastronomic destination.  

A joint creative venture between dining and hospitality global leader Earl Enterprises and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), Topanga Social boasts brand-new concepts and first-ever outposts of LA’s hottest pop-ups alongside some of the most celebrated and entrepreneurial names in the region’s restaurant scene, an indoor/outdoor cocktail garden, three full-service bars, a “speakeasy” style secret arcade, live entertainment, a private event space, and more.

The whole place is very fun and friendly, all the food stalls are open with their offerings pretty much in plain sight. There is an upstairs with new establishments, but I didn’t venture that far. The first floor was enough for me. There was no way to eat all this yummy food in 1 visit, so I invited some guests and did it in 2 visits, as well as many doggie bags were taken home!

Here’s What I tried:

First Visit:

Temaki – Seaweed has amassed a large following due to their imaginative handrolls, creative take on traditional Japanese sushi, and a variety of exotic fish. Seaweed was named after its high-quality seaweed, sourced exclusively for the restaurant from the Ariake Sea in Japan. The founder, Armen Momjian, brought his ideas to life in 2019 with the first installment of Seaweed in Koreatown and Chef Jesse Herek joined Seaweed in 2020. Under the guidance and leadership of Momjian, Seaweed has brought its take of Japanese sushi to a new generation of sushi eaters.

I got a huge array of sushi, so many of the rolls were very fresh, my favorite was their glazed crispy shrimp, and crunchy shrimp cakes. The blue crab rolls were also delicious, chalk full of crab. I was able to order many items, and I was really amazed at how fresh and flavorful everything was.  So even if you’re at a mall/food hall type setting you can get upscale Sushi at Temaki, it was one of my favorite places!

Monster Dumplings – Born and raised in New York City, Chef/owner Perry Cheung relocated to San Francisco in 2004 to pursue a culinary education and career and moved to LA in 2011. Cheung opened Dumpling Monster February 2019 in West Hollywood, featuring an extensive dumpling menu featuring fresh, tender juicy dumplings with fillings made from hormone free meats. Cheung has appeared and won on The Esquire channels Knife Fight and Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay. During his free time, he enjoys traveling and exploring cuisines from different parts of the world.

They served 1 of each dumpling, all were very tasty. There were many to choose from, I had the: Chicken, Pork, Vegan Veggie, Pork, and Shrimp.

Maneatingplant – is a plant-based restaurant concept born in Los Angeles, California in the summer of 2018. Partners and chefs Candice Tzeng and Phil Kwan co-created Maneatingplant with the desire to share the authentic flavors and nostalgic memories of their roots that span from Taiwan and Japan to Hong Kong and Malaysia.

I was very pleasantly surprised at these tasty options for vegans.

Sichuan Shroom Steamies with mushrooms, Sichuan sauce, chili oil, and scallions. Their potstickers had very aromatic mushrooms, with a spicy sauce.

Fried Shroom Bao with lotus steamed bao bun, beer battered king oyster mushrooms, cashew hoisin, chili oil, pickled chilis, and herbs. In a very sweet sauce, this is a very hearty dish.

Garlic Noodles, with fresh noodles, confit garlic sauce, shallot jam, shitake, Chinese broccoli, pickled mustard greens, crispy shallot, and herbs. The garlic noodles are so delicious, with all kinds of vegetables, a perfect vegan option. I really loved everything I tried; it makes you want to be a vegan.

B Sweet – Barb Batiste is the owner and founder of B Sweet Catering. Raised in an extremely close-knit Filipino family, she recalls the weekend gatherings at her parent’s home and being the one to cook all the food and desserts. From pies, to cookies, to layered cakes, she wowed everyone. B Sweet was created to bring back the homemade taste in cakes, cookies, pies, and many other pastries. This young company has an unmatched level of quality in its products, and it clearly shows not only through its presentation but also in its taste. Their dedication to quality and customer satisfaction is incomparable to those larger companies. If your palette is craving mouthwatering and heartwarming baked goods, B Sweet offers the best selection available.

Fruity Pebbles – Tres Leches Cake, made with their confetti cake base, this one is like a party in your mouth, and everyone’s invited!

Bread Pudding Glazed Donut, another incredible dessert item.

Strawberry Shortcake, I just loved the very intense strawberry flavor.

Ube Love, such a wonderful dessert, just amazing!

Mini Kabob – The Martirosyan family, owners of Mini Kabob, embody the mom-and-pop business with a new addition to their team, their son, Armen Martirosyan. The three work together in a collective effort to execute Armenian kabob with the greatest passion. Mini Kabob isn’t just another business in Los Angeles, it has become a destination point, a place where people have and will continually come to enjoy the presence of home cooked Armenian with Egyptian influenced meals by the Martirosyan family.

Kabob Plate with hummus, rice, chicken and beef, onions and peppers, the chicken was succulent, and the hummus was very good, hints of garlic, very smooth and comforting.

Margarita Garden – A lush garden oasis located just steps away from the main Topanga Social entrance, The Margarita Garden evokes feelings of a mini get-away. Sip your favorite cocktail – of course we recommend one of our many flavors of Margarita, on the rocks or frozen, while enjoying our menu of snacks and small plates that perfectly accompany your beverage of choice. The Margarita Garden, with its tropical surroundings, live music, and craft cocktails, is the perfect spot to recharge before, during or after a day of shopping. The outdoor scene is super fun, lots of guests enjoying their libations and partying down!

I was served an array of margaritas; all were nicely blended and very drinkable.

Second Visit:

Amboy, – Chef Alvin Cailan’s career spans a multitude of successes culminating in his current role as a preeminent authority on hamburgers. His career began in the kitchens of Michelin starred chefs Matt Lightner and David Lefebre. From there he garnered national and international acclaim with his craft casual Eggslut concept. In the beginning of 2020, Alvin opened Amboy Quality Meats & Delicious Burgers, the in-demand Los Angeles burger shop that quickly amassed a loyal customer following.

Amboy Classic Double Toasted Sesame-Seeded Bun, 2 classic thinly smashed patties, American cheese, caramelized onions, pickles, and burger sauce. I really like the classic double, it’s juicy and had some nice, caramelized onions, to perk up my taste buds.

Crispy Cheeseburger, two smashed patties, crispy cheddar cheese, burger sauce, pickles, toasted bun. The crisp cheese is what this burger is all about.

Burrata House – Founded in 2019 as a restaurant featuring authentic, accessible to-go products, Burrata House is now a well-rounded Italian experience. The mission of Burrata House is to curate an Italian experience focused on authenticity, simplicity, portability, and affordability. The iconic old-world tastes come through in every bite, but the aspirational, Italian DNA of Burrata House is drenched in a new-world attitude.

Truffle Parma & Burrata Panini, made with prosciutto di Parma, burrata, caramelized onions, and truffle cream. This is the menu item to have here, it’s rich and so delicious. I would order this every time.

Pesto Pasta, an all-time favorite made with fresh basil olive oil, nuts, and parmesan cheese. It’s a good pasta dish, but I was stuck on the panini.

Pomodoro Pasta, A delicate, Italian tomato sauce – not to be confused with marinara. If you’re in the mood for pasta then have at it, but I just loved the panini.

Smoked Salmon & Burrata Bowl, made with smoked salmon, spring mix, burrata, quinoa, arugula, cherry tomatoes, caper & dill sauce. For the health conscious this salad type bowl was so unique and flavorful. Who ever heard of pairing smoked salmon with Burrata, but somehow it works.

Dtown Pizza – Growing up in Michigan, a native of the Detroit suburbs, Ryan Ososky spent a lot of time cooking with his grandparents honing his baking, grilling and pierogi making skills. Growing up eating square pan pizza every weekend, Ryan created his chef-driven premium version of the Detroit style pizza that has become Dtown Pizzeria. Ryan and Dtown Pizzeria were recognized in the 2021 International Pizza Competition in Las Vegas winning 1st place and World Champion in the pan division.

Street Corn Pizza, with smoked summer corn, serrano aioli, parmesan, scallions, and grilled limes. My Mother was from Detroit, but I never heard of these square deep-dish types of pizza before. If you’re from Detroit and are home sick then this is the pizza for you, if you’re not from Detroit you should try it anyway. I loved the street corn pizza because I am a corn lover through and through.

The Goomba Pepperoni, with pepperoni and parmesan. It is a very filling pizza with lots of pepperoni, if you’re a pepperoni lover then you must try this pizza.

Fat Sal’s – Fat Sal’s is the brainchild of 2 friends from New York City, Josh Stone and Sal Capek. In 2010, the two realized that they couldn’t get the food they were looking for in Los Angeles, so they opened their own restaurant, serving over-the-top sandwiches, fries, burgers, and shakes in a fun and hip environment.

Fat Sal, thinly sliced ribeye steak, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, fries, brown gravy, and mayo, on a garlic hero. This sandwich just oozes with goodness, it’s huge, so share with a few friends.

Turkey Club, oven-roasted turkey breast, crisp bacon, avocado, shredded lettuce, tomato, and mayo, on a hero. I know this sandwich sounds boring but honestly it is truly my kind of hero.

Candy Store – Tom Hoeck is a successful entrepreneur and founder of, an ecommerce store based in Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and has been running the business for the past 15 years. He is passionate about providing customers with the best possible experience, and his store specializes in offering a wide variety of high-quality candy and snacks. I was able to take some yummies home and will try it out when needed! Many were old time candies that I remember as a child.

Garden Creations – At Garden Creations, we are committed to serving our guests freshly prepared salads and soups, offering healthy meal choices. Using locally sourced ingredients, our salads feature a wide range of fresh California-grown produce, and our rotating variety of hot and chilled soups are a perfect accompaniment. With an endless selection of add-ins, you will enjoy your perfect salad, with an option to top with a protein. Enjoy a delicious and nourishing meal, created by you, at Garden Creations.

I had them make two different salads so I could sample some of their ingredients. These salads are so fresh, if you want to skip all the fried stuff at Topanga Social then just go have them make you one of these delicious salads, it was very tasty.

Jay Birds – “Chef Jay” Bogsinske, originally from the South Side of Chicago, found early culinary influences from his mother and grandmother who were known in the neighborhood for their uniquely delicious cookie recipes. Chef Jay’s early journey in the culinary world continued at his uncle’s pizzeria were learned the art of Italian cuisine. Now in LA, as Director of Culinary for Wild Thyme Restaurant Group, Chef Jay created menus and facilitated the launches of Jay Bird’s Nashville Hot Chicken, Shorebird Restaurant, Molé, Stagecoach Country Roadhouse, and Kai Modern Japanese Bistro.

Chicken Sandwich & Spicy Fries, chicken breast, spiced with your choice of heat, topped with coleslaw, comeback sauce, dill pickles. Served with spicy fries and one sauce. The chicken is super tender, and the fries were crispy, and delectable.

Two Tenders & Waffles (Chicken & Waffles) two tenders spiced with your choice of heat, served on sliced bread with dill pickles, two waffles, maple syrup, butter & Comeback Sauce. A super good version of this Southern staple.

Katsu Sando – Katsu Sando in Japanese means “cutlet sandwich” and traditionally consists of panko-breaded and deep-fried chicken, pork, beef, or vegetables served between two slices of fluffy white bread. Our chef, Daniel Son, became obsessed with katsu sandos while he was training at Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokyo, Japan. At Katsu Sando, our vision is to serve the ultimate katsu sandwich while staying honest with traditional techniques. We source the finest ingredients, our own crafted Honey Shokupan bread, and never cut any corners.

Katsu honey walnut shrimp, mushroom, Wagyu curry, scratched-made magical potato salad, fukujinzuke (pickled radish and eggplant crunchy relish), California hikari steamed rice. Loved the large shrimp, and their sauce is out of this world.

Chicken Katsu Sando, Jidori chicken breast katsu, yuzu-kosho miso slaw, katsu sauce, honey milk bread. Another great menu item.

Poke Me – Is run by a team of long-time residents of Los Angeles and well-seasoned entrepreneurs with decades of experience in the restaurant industry. Customers can select sashimi grade fish delivered 6 days a week, enjoyed in a bowl or poke burrito, then choose from any ten of the house-made sauces. Named QSR magazine “Top 40 fast casuals in America” as well as countless other accolades and awards, the momentum will surely not stop for Poke Me.

I tried 2 different bowls with different items, both were wonderful, and their sauces add a very special nuance to each bowl.

Rock & Reilly – Opened its first location in LA on the Sunset Strip in 2011, and its legend has grown from there. At Rock & Reilly’s we believe there is a bit of Irish in all of us—and that is something to celebrate! Come by and enjoy your favorite pub fare along with a wide assortment of hand-selected Irish whiskey, an extensive beer and wine list and cocktails to savor with friends.

Vodka Martini, Wines, Rickshaw Chardonnay Monterey CA,

Girard Chardonnay Russian River Valley. The wines were very good, and paired so nicely with many of my food items, and the martini was served in a coupe glass, and went down very easily.

Shrimp Daddy – Two couples, Dan Tran + June Quan & Anna Wang + Jeremy Tu, with a mutual love for food and Hawaii served their first garlic butter shrimp boat out of a tent in November 2016. For the past 6 years, their home has been Smorgasburg LA and serving at various events like Coachella, 626 Night Market, third party deliveries, and private catering. Topanga Social will be their first brick and mortar where they will be expanding and innovating their menu.”

I had their two offerings, the shrimp boat, and the shrimp plate, and the shrimp in both is just very high-end and super flavorful, I would suggest these dishes every time.

Tail O’ The Pup – Our team is dedicated to creating tasty dogs, snacks, shakes, and more that satisfy modern tastes while honoring Tail o’ the Pup’s history. We work tirelessly to source high quality ingredients and develop house-made recipes with our guests in mind, and we are proud to feature a diverse menu featuring vegetarian and gluten free options. This is the same historical hot dog stand that was in Los Angeles for many years and was just resurrected in West Hollywood on Santa Monica.

1976 Pup, classic pup, ketchup, and house mustard. A pop in your mouth hot dog that rivels many other brands.

Chicago Pup, sweet relish, dill pickle spear, raw onions, diced tomato, sliced sport peppers, house mustard, and poppy seeds. All our pups are 100% beef. I have been to Chicago and tried this famous dog, with this dog you do not have to get on a plane, and it’s got some much fun accompaniments.

Onion Rings, I love my onion rings, and these were the bomb, really terrific.

About Topanga Social:

The overall design of Topanga Social’s multi-unit 55,000+ square foot, 700 seat indoor plus 80 seat al fresco dining space, is helmed by the award-winning global design firm AvroKO in close consultation with the Topanga Social team. International architectural firm PGAL acted as the Architect of Record for the hall’s food units. Special attention was given to creating a dedicated space for each food and beverage partner that reflects their brand in an authentic way so that the guests take away a distinct experience from any brand they visit within Topanga Social. The hall’s shared kitchen space was created by Architects Orange.

“It is such a thrill to see Topanga Social come to life in this brilliant repurposing of prime real estate. We have brought together an incredible assemblage of talent, chefs, and brands that, until now, were available mostly in Los Angeles, but starting Thursday, will be easily accessible for the residents of the city’s San Fernando Valley,” said Robert Earl, Founder of Earl Enterprises. “Careful thought has gone into the curation for Topanga Social, paying homage to the local food scene. Each partner brings their impeccable credentials, whether a storied institution or a newer, highly acclaimed brand. The space is designed to be welcoming all year-round, for both indoor dining and al fresco in the garden. It is a place to visit again and again, for a quick pre-movie bite, a leisurely meal, or any sort of gathering. Topanga Social offers food and beverage options for every mood, and all tastes. Thanks to the collaborative partnership with the visionary team at Westfield, we are very proud to unveil Topanga Social.”

“We are so proud to bring world class dining and entertainment to the San Fernando Valley in a way that’s never been done before. We are especially appreciative of the partnership with Earl Enterprises and everyone who worked to make the vision of Topanga Social a reality,” said Geoff Mason, Executive Vice President, Operating Management and Development at URW. “From the culinary geniuses to the construction teams and everyone in between, Topanga Social has been a labor of love that represents our commitment to the local community. It also serves as a prime example of how Westfield is reimagining its centers—from a traditional to a bespoke experience—with the addition of chef-led, market-defining dining.”

Inspired and first-of-its-kind multifaceted food service platform sets Topanga Social apart from the pack in the realm of tech innovation. In addition to traditional ordering at all restaurant’s counters, diners will have the ability to choose menu items from multiple brands at once using seamless aggregate ordering via the Topanga Social app (Android & Apple), at the numerous large touch screen ordering stations throughout the dining area, and from QR codes available at all tables throughout the space.

About Earl Enterprises:

Earl Enterprises provides marketing and operations expertise in the restaurant, lodging and hospitality sectors. Along with Planet Hollywood and its affiliates, Earl Enterprises oversees marketing strategies and operations for 200 restaurants in 32 states and internationally including Buca di Beppo, Planet Hollywood, Bertucci’s, Earl of Sandwich, Brio Italian Grille, Bravo Italian Kitchen, TooJay’s, Chicken Guy!, Café Hollywood, Seaside on the Pier, Rock & Reilly’s, The Breakfast Club, and other brands. Under the leadership of acclaimed restaurateur Robert Earl, Earl Enterprises’ global success is due much in part to Earl’s expertise in creating, developing, and revitalizing brands along with his unique celebrity relationships and uncanny trend forecasting ability.

About Westfield Topanga:

As the San Fernando Valley’s fashionable front door to cutting-edge shopping, entertainment, and social experiences, Westfield Topanga is a lifestyle destination unlike any other. Westfield Topanga’s one-of-a-kind lineup includes best-in-class luxury boutiques, iconic global brands, and local favorites in a sophisticated indoor space.

Located in the booming Warner Center district in North Los Angeles, Westfield Topanga encompasses more than 240 shops, restaurants, and personal service providers across 1.6 million square feet. Notable brands include Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Target, Golden Goose, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Ferragamo, Saint Laurent, Apple, Peloton, Tesla, Lululemon, and more. Popular restaurant offerings include The Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Gyu Kaku, and Shake Shack.

This new dining and entertainment district opened in 2023, transforming a former department store into a must-visit destination and further establishing Westfield Topanga as the perfect place for locals and visitors to shop, eat, and play. Global luxury retailer Hermès anchors the 180,000-square-foot space along with the artisan-crafted home furnishings retailer Arhaus; Pinstripes, a Chicago-based dining and entertainment concept; a full-service AMC DINE-IN theatre; and Topanga Social, a beautifully designed, chef-driven food hall encompassing more than 20 eateries.

Topanga Social is LA’s newest coveted food lover’s journey. The adventurous new food hall brings together some of the most buzz-worthy Los Angeles eateries, bars, and recognized names in LA’s culinary space, all within the new dining, entertainment, and luxury retail district at Westfield Topanga in the San Fernando Valley. Los Angeles has proven to be one of the most inspired, entrepreneurial, and diverse food cities in the world, and Topanga Social represents Los Angeles food culture at its best.

They have many events, including football specials and happy hour, plus lots of Instagram moments. You must look on their calendar online to see more. Topanga Social is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening with a date or friends, you can have a beach day and come here afterwards for fun, food, and libations. It’s 27 of LA’s hottest food and beverage concepts in a one-stop microcosm. All very welcoming and has everything you could want from a dining, drinking experience. So, make it a destination trip, and enjoy all the bounty that Topanga Social has to offer.

Topanga Social

6600 Topanga Blvd.

Canoga Park, CA.


IG @eatplaytopangasocial


Monday 11 AM – 9 PM

Tuesday 11 AM – 9 PM

Wednesday 11 AM – 9 PM

Thursday 11 AM – 9 PM

Friday 11 AM – 11 PM

Saturday 11 AM – 11 PM

Sunday 11AM – 11PM

*Note some content was taken off of their website.

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Dinner – The Overland – September 10, 2023 – Redlands, CA.

What I love about this new hipster place is their focus, it’s all about music and LP’s. Yes, that right – vinyl. They have state of the art equipment and walls of albums, both new and old. It’s just a miracle that this concept became the new fun spot to go to in Redlands, CA. But that’s not all. This whole area has the new Arrow train taking both commuters and locals to and from San Bernardino to four different stations in and around the area. The Arrow train came in last October to bridge the mileage gap from Union Station to Redlands. So now the whole area is following suit with a grand resurgence. Many new restaurants are under construction, but The Overland came out as the first one to open with this newfound destination, Downtown Redlands. Owner Bryan Bruce saw this opportunity and jumped on it, also owning a restaurant across the street – Aroi Mak Mak, I will be reviewing later in the month. Bryan’s insight is so great, if any restaurateur asked me for an up and coming area to start a new restaurant I would tell them absolutely near the train station in Redlands, the new train destination spot. I just love the whole concept and am so happy to be part of this new fun area.

Redlands has quite the history – Redlands – known in 1900 as “The City of Millionaires” and later as “The City of Beautiful Homes”, welcomes you!  Founded in 1881 and incorporated in 1888, Redlands is a quintessential “big town” with a “small town” feel. For much of its history Redlands was the “Washington Navel Orange Growing Capital of the World” with the citrus industry as the focus of its economy. There are many well-known landmarks, including their beautiful Victorians, Missions, Parks, and University. Redlands Bowl and the Mission Gables Bowl House – The Redlands Bowl in Smiley Park can actually trace its heritage back to the King of Spain in 1769.  Kimberly Crest House and Gardens – Built in 1897, the “castle” is a picturesque French chateau-style historical house museum.   In 1963 Kimberly Crest was donated to the people of the City of Redlands by Mary Kimberly-Shirk, daughter of J. Alfred Kimberly (co-founder of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation). Morey Mansion – This beautiful Victorian home has been dubbed “America’s Favorite Victorian House” and has appeared in countless commercials, television shows, and movies.

About The Overland:  The Overland is a new cocktail bar located in Redlands, CA, at the original Chamber of Commerce in the historic Santa Fe Depot. The district is centered on Redlands’ Santa Fe Railway depot, which was established in 1888. The nationally registered district is centered around the current station building, a Classical Revival structure, built in 1909–10 to replace the original depot built in 1888. The Pacific Electric Red Car trolley service, the Redlands Line, ran past the mainline Santa Fe station on Orange Street between 1903 and 1936. This station lost passenger service in 1938. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 29, 1991, and the California Points of Historical Interest.

The buildings surrounding the station represent many of the important components of the city’s economy, particularly the orange packing industry. Several packing houses remain from the city’s heyday as an orange packing center, forming one of the largest remaining groups of orange packing houses in the Inland Empire. A number of the other buildings were used by growers’ associations and other groups in the citrus industry. The district also includes three buildings from the city’s historic Chinatown, which thrived from the 1880s through the 1920s after Chinese immigrants came to Redlands to build the railroad.  The depot was purchased from Krikorian Premier Theaters founder George Krikorian by Property One LLC, a real estate development company with ties to Esri executives in September 2017. With new ownership and a name change to Redlands Railway District LLC, the depot was restored and integrated with the adjacent Redlands–Downtown Arrow rail station in 2022. Redlands Railway District LLC is currently redeveloping the surrounding properties as the “Redlands Packing House District” with shops and restaurants. Set to open by 2024.

The Overland is an equal parts cocktail lounge, small bites restaurant, and vinyl record listening space. The Overland focuses on seasonal and local citrus within the cocktail program while also offering a wide range of natural wine, beer and small plates from the kitchen.

The Overland finds its inspiration from its monthly publication dating back to the late 1800s, known as the Overland Monthly. The magazine romanticized the west coast of America and would often take a more literary and intellectual stance than many other magazines of its time. Poets, Writers, and Dreamers alike would submit stories and poems, often showcasing the natural beauty of California and its wildlife.

It is their desire to pay respect and homage to California in this same manner, focusing on native flora and fauna while also being conscious of our environmental footprint. Using conventional tap systems within their cocktail program, they will reduce their water usage by up to 50% of that of traditional bars and restaurants. Being conscious of their local environment while showcasing its natural beauty is at the foundation of who they are and what they are all about.

Here’s What I Tried:


North Country Spritz, Melon Aperitif, Elderflower, Mint, Prosecco, and Seltzer. A very thirst-quenching drink, with a nice mellow nuance.

Land O’ Dreams, Blanco Tequila, White Rum, Sotol, Smoked Pineapple, Purple Corn, Coconut, and Lime. Served in a coupe glass, it makes it look like an old-time cocktail, but super tasty.

Future Lover, Blanco Tequila, Mezcal, Maraschino, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, and N/A IPA. This is a very smokey cocktail, with nice tropical flavors.

Past Life, Vodka, Absinthe, Rooibos Tea, Honey, Lemon, and Mint. This was my favorite cocktail, its a bit sweet, but went down super easy, I would order this every time.

Spirit Free – Non-Alcoholic Takes on Old Faves:

Polar Bear’s Toenails, Watermelon, Cucumber, Amass Riverine, Lime, love the name and love the flavors.

Queens Highway, Beets, Pineapple, Orange, Lemon, this is a very sweet and a refreshing healthy cocktail.


Tostada, Japanese Maitake Mushroom, Amarillo Bean Purée, Salsa Macha, Tomatoes, and Pickled Onions & Greens. A very nice well-rounded dish, with lots of yummy flavors, this one is a keeper.

Oysters, Clarified Tomato, Chive Oil, and Girl & Dug Farm Gooseberries. I just wish I could have gotten more; they give you 2 and you really want 12. They are super fresh, just delightful.

Mushroom, Grilled Mushrooms, Coconut Curry, Confit Tomato, and Chickpeas & Greens. I loved the subtle curry flavors and the big juicy mushroom cluster, just heavenly.

Papa’s, Confit Fingerling Potatoes, Calabrian Chile Aioli, Chive Oil, Pickled Thai Chilies, and Herbs. So many potatoes, so little time. Beautifully cooked with a great marriage of ingredients, for the potato lover a must have.

Creole Arancini, Panko Fried Arborio Rice, Okra, and Mushrooms w/ Creole Spiced Aioli. These are spicy with a capital S, for the spicy aficionado’s, order these.

Crab Pasta, House Made Spaghetti, Crab Gravy, and Herbs. The lingering flavors of crab, and the fresh pasta is really one that I would want to order ever time.

Half Bird, Jerk Chicken w/ Pickled Veggies. This menu item is just so delicious, the seasonings and the tenderness of the chicken is wonderfully scrumptious.

Their local purveyors are; Goodie Farm, Girl & Dug Farm, Masienda, Jacinto Farms, 4 Star Seafood & Provisions, Rocker Bros., and Small Hold Mushrooms.

The Overland does not have any dessert menu, so be forewarned. That means you can eat more, and not have to save room for dessert, or walk down the street to get ice cream nearby.

My server Megan Florez was very personable, giving me her background and that she loves her job. She grew up nearby in Beaumont. She describes the type of people that are frequenting The Overland, young, locals, but also dates, pretty much all ages. Thursdays through Sundays they have a DJ spinning all kinds of great music. She says, “It’s a Hi-Fi listening space”. I personally am so glad this type of activity has come back in a big way. There are no flat screen TVs, so it’s really all about the music, and not being distracted visually. Old school vibe with a very new concept, and people talking to each other, without large sports screens taking up the air.

The interior is very sleek, with 70’s type colors, its focus is their high-tech turntables and albums that adorn the bar walls. Their outdoor area is large and faces the Arrow train depot, it also has patio misters for those hot steamy days that Redlands can have.

For all that The Overland is, it will make you remember an era gone by, but at the same time, let you know that it is not forgotten. As a matter of fact, vinyl is now more mainstream than it was back in its heyday. Long lasting recordings that sound better and can be the center of a fun evening. With great food, DJ spinning, and a genuinely cool atmosphere, what more could you want?

The Overland

347 Orange St.
Redlands, CA. 92374

Mon. – Thurs. 4 p.m. – 12 a.m.
Fri. 4 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Sat. 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Sun. 10 a.m. – 12 a.m.

*Note some content was taken off their website.

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Dinner – September 7, 2023 – Manna Café – Los Angeles, CA.

This is truly a neighborhood gem, with its cozy vibes, and great atmosphere. But the food will really make you rethink your current dining choices. Manna Café is just that good.

Manna is food, according to the Bible, an edible substance which God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert during the 40-year period following the Exodus and prior to the conquest of Canaan.

I came to their grand opening and met owner Jonny Kalmanson and his partner/brother in-law; Sommelier – Isaac Anzaruth. It’s truly a family affair with Isaac’s father Israh there as well, and part of the business. Isaac also has a wine import export company called Alloro Vino. So, with his broad knowledge of wine, you are going to get some beautiful pairing possibilities. Their grand opening was so nice, and I was able to taste some delicious fare. The items were off their current menu: Small Plates – Crazy Wife – Chicken Wings with fish sauce caramel, chili, and basil. Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs with horseradish, and smoked trout row. Pasta: “Esquite” Mac and Cheese, with roasted corn, Fiscalini cheddar, jalapenos, and corn puree. Plates: Herb Roasted Brisket with izakaya mashed potato salad. Desserts: Chocolate Espresso Mousse with whipped cream. The takeaway for me was their “Esquite” Mac and Cheese, that really got me excited. So, I had to come in and taste their other menu items that I did not try at their opening.

It’s housed in a brand-new building across from CBS studios and The Grove/Farmers Market, in the Fairfax District. It’s really an old Jewish area that has now emerged as a hipster, artsy section of Los Angeles. The architectural elements are both organic and modern. With lots of wood, modern wood picnic tables, turquoise chairs, orange outside umbrellas, low hanging GE type vintage light fixtures, earthy colors, but with a very comforting dining area. You can tell that much thought was put into the design, and what would fit in this already established business community.

The gal sitting next to me, Olivia, lives close by and just says that their Vanilla Latte is the best she’s ever had. She was with her gorgeous French bulldog Gordy. She had their watermelon salad, which she just loves. Manna Café is very pet friendly, they just love anyone who comes with their beloved fur baby.

Here’s what I tried:

Dinner Menu:


Warm Arugula Salad, with braised artichokes, brown butter, vinaigrette, parmesan, and crispy sage. This salad is so delicious, with its perfect marriage of ingredients. The braised artichokes are very abundant, and they add some terrific texture as well as flavor to this must have salad. Manna’s portions are huge, you will not go away hungry.


Pasta Bolognese, with beef ragu, baby spinach, and cherry tomatoes. I make my own Bolognese sauce, so I know what it takes to make a good sauce. In this delectable sauce they use both dried and raw beef as well as carrots, with large pappardelle noodles, onions, chicken liver, and cream. It’s a comfort menu item at its finest. I would order this scrumptious pasta dish every time.

Eggplant and Mushroom parmesan, with thin sliced portobello mushrooms, roasted eggplant, tomato, and garlicky breadcrumbs. This is very rich and hearty, and makes you remember your Italian grandmother’s hearty tomato gravy. The presentation is very pleasing to the eye, with the portobello mushroom placed in the middle of the iron skillet, right from the oven to my table.


The Manna Burger, with herbed wagyu, lettuce, ripe tomato, brie, smashed avocado, sweet roasted onions, salt, and vinegar chips.   The secret to this burger is their remarkable garlic aioli dressing. The burger is huge with all these creative accoutrements. The large piece of brie and the chips are very innovative. I don’t think I’ve ever had a burger with these types of condiments. Another fantastic menu item.

Roasted California Halibut in Parchment, with zucchini blossoms, and lemon caper. This looks like an art piece that belongs in a gallery. But once it’s in your mouth you too will be completely surprised. There are so many flavors to take in. The fish is cooked to perfection, with amazing garlic croutons, just simply wonderful.

Prime Hanger Steak, with tom yum mushroom, and green peppercorn vinaigrette. The tom yum mushrooms will blow your hair back, and the steak is super tender. The green peppercorns just pop in your mouth. If you’re a meat eater, then you must try this dish.


Lemon Verbena Crème Brulee, incredibly refreshing and delightful. The consistency of this dessert is so precise, its thick and gorgeous.

White Chocolate Tiramisu, with organic cocoa. I have had many Tiramisus, but this one is very special with its French brandy lingering in my palate, as well as the decadent white chocolate topping, so save room for it.

Butterscotch Pudding, with crema Mexicana, and boysenberry jam. I love anything butterscotch, and this desert did not disappoint.

Talk about culinary excellence with Chef Brian Hill at the helm, a James Beard award nominee, he really pulls out all of the stops. There are so many amazing nuances in his cooking, from preparation, to the marriage of his ingredients, to presentation. All in full glorious view of the diner’s experience. His concept is very simple with Manna Café – “Interesting Comfort Food”, with an emphasis on “Neighborhood Dining”. His experience is far reaching from working with the Hans Rockenwagner consortium, to the Dear Jane and Dear John establishments in the Los Angeles, Marina Del Rey area. Brian Hill is very inventive, good ingredients and a knowledge of how things marry together is what it’s all about for him. He is a hard worker, he’s at Manna from morning until the last dinner service is served. When he sleeps, I don’t know, it seems like he lives and breathes Manna Café.

What you’re going to get at Manna Café is a neighborhood familiar place feel, to come and imbibe for breakfast, lunch, or dinner with a lush gastronomic experience. As well as their staff is so welcoming, manager Paula Lopez made me feel so at home. No two dishes are the same here, all the menu items are individually different. Nothing overlaps any dish, all unique and specific to its description. The goodness abounds in everything that goes in your mouth. My experience was quite the surprise, when Manna catches on there will be waits and lines to get in, it’s just that good. Run, don’t walk to Manna Café; you will be so happy you did.

Manna Café

101 S. Fairfax Ave.

Los Angeles, CA. 90036

They serve dinner from 5:30-9:00 pm, otherwise they have daytime hours for lunch and coffee.

*Some Content Was Taken Off Their Website.

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Late Lunch – Pink’s Hot Dogs – August 7, 2023 – Hollywood, CA.

What can you say about Pink’s Hot Dogs that hasn’t already been said. My visit was encapsulated by a couple that traveled from Bakersfield to enjoy their bi-monthly food craving. Gabriel and Sarah just come from Bakersfield with no other reason in mind than to do their famous combo late lunch. I asked them, is there something else you are doing while you’re in Los Angeles, and they said no we just come here for Pink’s. Gabriel gets a chili dog with sauerkraut and adds bacon fries on the top. It’s a monster size meal that he eats in about 5 minutes. His girlfriend Sarah, doesn’t partake, she gets her own delicate meal, a simple Pink’s hot dog. I asked them if they had anything comparable there in Bakersfield, and they told me no. So, for them the road trip is a pleasure and a delight. Richard Pink was guiding me in my Pink’s late lunch journey, when Gabriel and Sarah found out he was the owner, to them he could have been Tom Cruise. They were so excited to take a photo with him, and couldn’t believe their luck that Richard Pink was sitting at the next table. In their eyes he is a huge celebrity – but wait a minute – he actually is!!

Richard Pink has been running Pink’s since his mom and pop retired in 1985, he is a marketing wiz, and Pink’s Hot Dogs has profited from all of his ingenious ideas. He met me with a smile and told me he was going to hook me up with all the new menu items, as well as some oldies, but goodies. He is a true leader, and takes care of all of his employees. Quite a few of his employees have been there for twenty years or more. His business is a joy to him, and he would not want it any other way. He does get help from his wife, Gloria, and sister, Beverly, both always there to greet you with a smile. They are usually wearing some sort of Pink clothing, as well as Pink’s Hot Dog purses. They relish, no pun intended, in their iconic Hot Dog Stand!!

I met the family back in 2012 at The Concern Cancer event at The Paramount Lot and they invited me in for a tasting back then. This past Concern Cancer event, this year, I was saying hello and they had a visitor while I was there, Giada De Laurentis. I got to meet her and take a photo with her. Richard told me that they have a dog named after her. He invited me in again to try their new menu items, boy was I glad he did! And I tried the Giada De Laurentis dog, yum!!

About Pink’s:

Pink’s Hot Dogs, Inc., a Hollywood landmark since 1939, this hot dog stand serves over 2000 hot dogs and 200 hamburgers a day. Pink’s was started in 1939 by Richard’s parents, Paul and Betty Pink, with a pushcart they purchased for $50, which money they borrowed from Betty’s mother. The land on which the pushcart stood was leased by Paul and Betty for $15 per month. Hot dogs at that time were 10 cents and cokes were a nickel. Pink’s offered curb service and was lucky to sell 100 hot dogs a day.

In 1941, the landlord raised their rent from $15 to $25 per month, a 67% increase, and Paul and Betty were forced to either give up or find a way to acquire the property. Paul and Betty, with little collateral but lots of conviction in the potential success of their hot dog stand, convinced Bank of America to loan them $4,000 to purchase the land, which fortunately the landlord was willing to sell. They added a cover to the pushcart, allowing them to also grill hamburgers, and it remained until 1946. The menu was simple: A chili dog and a hamburger. The price of the hot dog in 1946 was 25 cents.

At that time, Paul and Betty scraped together enough savings to build the small hot dog stand building that sits near the corner of La Brea and Melrose today. The location included parking for about 25 cars and eventually the indoor and patio seating expanded to accommodate 80 customers.

Paul & Betty also were raising two children, Beverly, and Richard. In order to afford living expenses, it was necessary for Paul and Betty to find another source of income, so they opened in 1958 a flower store next door to Pink’s Hot Dog stand. The flower store thrived for 10 years due to the talent of Betty in the design of flower arrangements, which she learned working part time for her brother, a florist, while she was also running Pink’s with Paul.

Paul and Betty operated the hot dog stand, starting with 4 employees and expanding over time to 10 and 20 and now Pink’s has a staff of about 30 employees. In 1985 at the age of 73 and 75, Paul and Betty retired. At that point, Richard, his wife, Gloria, and sister, Beverly, took over the operation of Pink’s. Since that time, the family has created over 40 combinations of hot dogs and a dozen varieties of hamburgers to satisfy the variety of tastes of its patrons. Pink’s, located near major Hollywood studios like Paramount, Universal and Disney, started to attract upcoming and established movie and TV stars. Pink’s celebrity wall of fame in the dining room started as a place for aspiring actors to hang their photos to be discovered by producers and directors who were known to dine at Pink’s. Today, Pink’s dining room is filled with over 200 photos of celebrities with signed endorsements of their enjoyment of Pink’s Hot Dogs.

Due to Pink’s unique menu, its historic age for an LA restaurant (83 years) and its celebrity patrons, it has now been featured in movies, TV shows, the food channel, the travel channel, and travel books. As the Pink’s name grew, large restaurant operators came to the family wanting to license the Pink’s name and products in various amusement parks, hotels, arenas and county fairs. Pink’s now has 8 locations including the Original at 709 N. La Brea (Hollywood), Universal City Walk (Hollywood), Raging Waters (San Dimas), Los Angeles and Orange County Fairs, Wisconsin, Oahu, and the Philippines. Pink’s also has an active catering business.

Pink’s attributes its longevity and its success to the tastiness of its hot dogs, which snap when you bite into them, it’s never ending hot dog menu combinations, its loyal long-term staff of over 24, many of whom have been with Pink’s for over ten years, its unique 1946 open kitchen curb side stand and relaxed dining room and patio seating, its Hollywood location and atmosphere, its appearances nationwide in movies and TV and its commitment to the community through its chili dogs for charity program. Pink’s is often referred to as “A Hollywood Legend Since 1939” but the Pink family likes to say “We are the little hot dog stand that could.”

Here’s What I Tried:


“Magic” Mushroom – Double Burger, with Grilled mushrooms, 2 burgers, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo.

“JAWS” – The BIG one – Poli-bacon chili cheeseburger, one grilled Polish dog, hamburger, 3 strips of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo.


The Brando Dog – 9″ stretch dog, mustard, onions, chili, and shredded cheddar cheese.

Lord of the Rings Dog – 9″ stretch dog, yummy BBQ sauce, topped with onion rings.

Poli – Bacon Burrito Dog – Big flour tortilla wrapped around 1 Polish hot dog (mild or spicy), cheddar cheese, 3 slices of bacon, chili, and onions.

Martha Stewart Dog – 9″ stretch dog, relish, onions, 3 strips of bacon, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut, and sour cream.

LA Street Dog – 9″ stretch dog topped with 3 strips of bacon, sauteed peppers and onions, mayo, ketchup, and jalapeños.

Philly Cheesesteak Dog – 9″ stretch dog with grilled steak, grilled peppers and onions, American and Swiss cheese.

Giada De Laurentiis Dog – 9″ stretch dog, sauteed peppers, onions, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, and shredded mozzarella cheese — That’s Italian!

Carl Reiner Dog – 9″ stretch dog, topped with mustard, and sauerkraut.

Reuben Pastrami Dog – 9″ stretch dog with Pastrami, mustard, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut.

El Cucuy Dog – 12″ jalapeno dog, mayo, mustard, ketchup, grilled onions, jalapenos, and bacon.



Onion Rings.

Holee Molee Fries, topped with nacho cheese and guacamole.

Cup of Coleslaw.

Cup of Ranch Dressing Dip.

Cup of Barbecue Sauce.

Cup of Chili.


Coconut Cake, with coconut frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Cake, with chocolate frosting.

I just loved the BBQ sauce – dipped onion rings on the Lord of the Rings, and loved the Mushroom Burger, the Philly Cheesesteak Dog, and the Rueben Pastrami Dog. All of the other food items are delectable, but these are my go-to’s. I would recommend trying a few dogs and a mushroom burger, alongside a cup of chili, coleslaw, ranch dressing, onion rings, and fries.  The coconut cake is amazing as well, save room for dessert!! Whatever is your fancy you will be astounded by the freshness and great quality that Pink’s always offers. The best part is the dogs snap at every bite, if you know what I mean, you know!

I asked Richard how he keeps so young; he was eating a hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut when I asked him. He told me that he loves the food at Pink’s, but he also told me that he eats lots of salads and will have a double turkey burger without the bun. So even if you’re a bit health conscious you can tailor one of their menu items to be what your diet will allow. But when in Rome do as they do and enjoy the dog with all of the fixings!  You can go to the gym or diet afterwards, but Pink’s is worth every bite!

I know you’re probably asking how can she eat that much, as always I had some guests join me to enjoy my lovely food bounty. And there were many doggy bags to be taken home.

All I can say is why try to change a good thing. Pink’s knows their customers and has been firmly planted in Los Angeles pop culture for a long time. Pink’s has the Hollywood stars all a buzz as well, as you can tell from all of their photos inside the stand. They are a destination spot for locals, Pink lovers, and tourists – from around the world. Make no mistakes, Pink’s is an iconic landmark, people come from far and wide just to indulge. It’s just a must try when in the city of Angels. You too will become a hooked Pink’s Hot Dog customer. The lines are always around the corner, so get in line, talk to your fellow Pink’s fans and delight in their art of hot dogs – the way it’s meant to be enjoyed!!

Pink’s Hot Dogs

709 N. La Brea

Los Angeles, CA 90038


*Note some content was taken off of their website.

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Les Misérables – The Hollywood Pantages Theater – August 3, 2023 – Hollywood, CA.

When I was in high school, I had an English class that everyone knew about.  You would be reading the Victor Hugo book, Les Misérables and discuss it for the whole semester. Most students did not like this class or the teacher and tried not to get roped into this class. I had to take it; I had no way out. So instead of doing my assignment and reading the book, I did not and faked the class. I avoided being called out in class but had to write a few essays with the book as the subject matter. I somehow muddled through and got a B in the class. The first time I saw the musical was in San Francisco, soon after graduating from High School and living in The City by The Bay. I was so disgusted with myself; I just couldn’t believe that I had missed a chance to be delighted and enlightened by Victor Hugo’s wonderful work. The simplest analogy, a man goes to prison for stealing a loaf of bread and it sets the tone for all his life’s lessons going forward. A simple yet beautiful story with so much to learn about love, life, giving back, and righting wrongs. So, I guess it’s my own coming of age story. My cheating my high school education as well as myself. This is why I have seen this show 6 times. It helps me with my guilty conscious and realization that you really can’t be a fraud, and you have to do the work, it’s only hurting yourself.

Now I have seen a total of 6 productions of this spectacular show. Les Misérables – The world’s most popular musical. San Francisco, London, twice in New York, and twice in Los Angeles. This new touring production was astounding. From the sets to the arrangements, the costumes, the talent, all being fresh and spectacular. But for me it’s the music that tugs at my heartstrings. I listened to the music before I went and cried. That tells you something, so of course during the live show my tears started early on in Act One. I even warned my guest that there would be tears and brought Kleenex with me in my purse. The story of sacrifice and redemption is all you will ever need to know about Les Misérables.

Nick Cartell hits it out of the park, his voice is so smooth and heartfelt, all I can say is – wow! The other cast members were also amazing, Preston Truman Boyd – Javert, Hayley Dortch – Fontaine, Addie Morales – Cossette, and the rest, but for me – Nick is the star of this show.

About the show: Cameron Mackintosh’s acclaimed production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award-winning musical phenomenon, LES MISÉRABLES, will play six weeks in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre from August 1 – September 10, 2023, with tickets available at and, or by phone at (800) 982-2787. The show will then play two weeks in Costa Mesa at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts from September 19 -October 1, 2023, with tickets available at and by phone at 1-714-556-2787.   Cameron Mackintosh said, “The phenomenon of Les Misérables never fails to astound me.  No show in history has been able to continually reinvent itself and remain a contemporary musical attracting new generations of brilliant new talent, many of whom go on to international stardom. No show in the world has ever demonstrated the survival of the human spirit better than Les Miz, and it’s time to let the people sing again. We are all thrilled to be Bringing Her Home to you.”   The Los Angeles cast, celebrated tour alums Nick Cartell and Preston Truman Boyd return to the barricades to portray the fugitive ‘Jean Valjean’ and ‘Inspector Javert,’ respectively. They are joined by Matt Crowle as ‘Thénardier,’ Christina Rose Hall as ‘Madame Thénardier,’ Haley Dortch as ‘Fantine,’ Devin Archer as  ‘Enjolras,’ Christine Heesun Hwang as ‘Éponine,’ Gregory Lee Rodriguez as ‘Marius’ and Addie Morales as ‘Cosette.’ Vivian Atencio and Cora Jane Messer alternate in the role of ‘Little Cosette/Young Éponine.’ Henry Kirk and Milo Maharlika alternate in the role of ‘Gavroche.’   The touring ensemble includes Kyle Adams, Daniel Gerard Bittner, Ciaran Bowling, Jenna Burns, Julie Cardia, Ben Cherington, Steve Czarnecki, Kelsey Denae, Arianne DiCerbo, Genevieve Ellis, David Young Fernandez, Michelle Beth Herman, Randy Jeter, Daelynn Carter Jorif, Olivia J. Lu, Eden Mau, Andrew Marks Maughan, Benjamin H. Moore, Nicole Morris, Ashley Dawn Mortensen, Sofie Nesanelis, Tim Quartier, Julia Ellen Richardson, Ethan Rogers, Christopher Robin Sapp, Emily Somé, Christopher James Tamayo, Kyle Timson, Hazel Vogel and J.T. Wood.   The Costa Mesa cast will be announced at a later date.   ★★★★★ “This reborn dream of a production looks and sounds fresher than ever. Sends shivers of excitement racing down the spine – You emerge feeling stirred and exhilarated.” – Daily Telegraph   “One of the greatest musicals ever created.” –  Chicago Tribune   “The defining musical of the last 50 years.” – Broadway World   ★★★★★ “The mighty Les Mis is still revolutionary.” –  Daily Mail   “Les Mis for the 21st Century.” – The Huffington Post
Set against the backdrop of 19th century France, LES MISÉRABLES tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice, and redemption – a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. This epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history.   Boublil & Schönberg’s magnificent score of LES MISÉRABLES includes the classic songs “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” “Bring Him Home,” “Do You Hear The People Sing?,” “One Day More,” “Master of the House” and many more.  Seen by over 130 million people worldwide in 53 countries, 438 cities and 22 languages, LES MISÉRABLES is undisputedly still one of the world’s most popular musicals.   To date, LES MISÉRABLES remains the 6th longest-running Broadway production of all time.   Since Cameron Mackintosh first conceived this acclaimed new production of LES MISÉRABLES in 2009 to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary, it has taken the world by storm continuing to enjoy record-breaking runs in countries including North America, Australia, Japan, Korea, France and Spain. It is currently on stage in London’s West End and on tour in The Netherlands and Belgium with a new tour of Japan in 2024. The most recent North American production toured from 2017 to March 2020, playing 94 engagements until the production was halted due to the global pandemic.   Cameron Mackintosh’s production of LES MISÉRABLES is written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg and is based on the novel by Victor Hugo. It has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, additional material by James Fenton and adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Orchestrations are by Stephen Metcalfe, Christopher Jahnke and Stephen Brooker with original orchestrations by John Cameron. The production is directed by James Powell and Laurence Connor, designed by Matt Kinley inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, with costumes by Andreane Neofitou, additional costume designs by Christine Rowland and Paul Wills, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter, projections realized by Finn Ross, Jonathon Lyle and Fifty Nine Productions, musical staging by Geoffrey Garratt, music supervision by Stephen Brooker and James Moore, and casting by Tara Rubin Casting.   The LES MISÉRABLES tour stage management team is led by Ryan W. Gardner with Claire Farrokh, Reed Jones and Tiffanie Lane. The LES MISÉRABLES associate director is Corey Agnew, musical staging associate is Jesse Robb, resident director is Richard Barth and music direction is by Brian Eads. The company management team is Chris Danner and Elle Aghabala.  

Besides being a phenomenon, this show deserves all of the love and respect, and should be seen as much as possible. In its various incarnations, the music lives on, and the story is so iconic, it’s a great example of how a show can survive through many years of celebrating it. Run, don’t walk to see this show, you too will leave with a whole new outlook on this perfect story.  

Broadway in Hollywood
The Hollywood Pantages Theater
6233 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood, CA. 90028
*Note some content was taken off of their website.      
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July 8, 2023 – 48th Annual – Concern Foundation Block Party – Land Before Time – The Extinction of Cancer – Paramount Studios Backlot – Hollywood, CA.

This event has so many fantastic things to choose from – to have a spectacular evening. From Restaurants, to entertainment, silent auctions, wine, celebrities, and fantastic friends. Everyone is imbibing and just enjoying all of what the wonderful Los Angeles food community has to offer.

This year they were honoring The Kallick Family with a lifetime achievement award, as well as special salute to Cedars Sinai Cancer for their groundbreaking work of conquering cancer.

Some of the restaurants and alcohol brands participating: Factors, Taisho, Niku Nashi, Casita, Firefly, Pitchoun, The Hideaway, A.O.C., Emporium Thai, La Boheme, H&H Brazilian Steakhouse, Lavo, Fresh Brothers, Dulan’s, 1212 Santa Monica, Lavo, Nobu, Tao Group, Maria’s Italian Kitchen, Fogo de Chao, Leona’s Sushi, Pink’s, Casita Sherman Oaks, Gyu-Kaku, STK, Tito’s, Josh, and so many more. All offering their finest take on regional Los Angeles cuisine.

Some of my favorites were the BBQ meat that went into their tacos at Hideaway, Tao – lobster wontons, Factors – corn beef sandwich, Firefly – mushroom pasta, Lavo – spinach ravioli with shaved truffles, Emporium  Thai – vegetable curry, La Boheme – vegan zucchini blossoms, Nobu – yellowtail hand roll, Pitchoun – quiche, Gyu – Kaku – marinated meat, and of course Pink’s famous hot dogs. All of the food was incredible, with so much variety, they did a great job with choosing restaurants.

This event is such a staple in all of the charity events held in the greater Los Angeles area. But what sets this one apart is the community feeling, people having a great time, but with a wonderful cause!!

Concern Foundation Block Party

Paramount Studios Back Lot

5555 Melrose Ave                

Los Angeles, CA 90038

New York Backlot

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June 14, 2023 – Tina – Broadway in Hollywood – The Tina Turner Musical – The Hollywood Pantages Theater – Hollywood, CA.

Another great night at Broadway in Hollywood. This show captures all of the ups and downs of Tina Turner’s life as well as a lot more than what the film “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, showed us back in 1993. It’s all so timely seeing that Tina Turner just passed away on May 24th, this year. She helped develop this show and she would have been very proud to see its opening in Hollywood!

An uplifting comeback story like no other, TINA–The Tina Turner Musical is the inspiring journey of a woman who broke barriers and became the Queen of Rock n’ Roll. Set to the pulse-pounding soundtrack of her most beloved hits, this electrifying sensation will send you soaring to the rafters.

One of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, Tina Turner won 12 Grammy Awards and her live shows were seen by millions, with more concert tickets sold than any other solo performer in music history.

Featuring her much loved songs, TINA–The Tina Turner Musical is written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Hall and directed by the internationally acclaimed Phyllida Lloyd, choreographer Anthony Van Laast. Book by Katori Hall, with Frank Ketelaar, and Kees Prins. The cast is so fantastic, the part of Tina Turner is split between 2 stellar performers, Naomi Rodgers, and Zurin Villanueva. Other standout performers included: Roderick Lawrence – Ike, Carla R. Stewart – Gran Georgeann, and Roz White – Zelma. I am so sure that each and every performer is just exhausted after all of the energy they emit onstage during their shows.

The sets were done to perfection, by Mark Thompson. There were a lot of visual graphics and amazing lighting by lighting designer, Bruno Poet. The costumes and wigs lent itself to each era of Tina’s amazing career, done by Campbell Young Associates. The music and orchestra added to everything that was Tina Turner’s music, led by music conductor and music director, Annie Shuttlesworth.

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical is everything you would expect it to be and more. It’s sad and uplifting, with great dancing and singing performances. My advice would be to get tickets immediately, it’s going to be a nightly sell out. This show will make you realize what an icon Tina Turner was, and how losing her is bittersweet, but her music and place in music history will live on.

The Hollywood Pantages Theater

6233 Hollywood Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA. 90028
















Website for Pantages Theatre / Broadway In Hollywood

Note: Some Content was taken Off of Their Website

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Santuari – Dinner – June 4, 2023 – Toluca Lake, CA

This is such a great find. So unique, gorgeous, and sexy fine dining at its best. It is located right across from Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. There is much history here, and Santuari provides a safe and inviting respite from all of the Hollywood madness. Santuari means sanctuary or shrine, and they have done a great job using the name to make everyone who enters find peace and luxury from its astounding interiors and vibe.

The interiors are separated into 3 rooms: the main dining room, the green room, and the patio. Each room is unique and each with a different feel. The main room boasts very rustic chandeliers with big white half-moon banquets, Moroccan arches, a stonewall, with a very grand fireplace. The green room has a nice cozy feel, with lots of Mediterranean light fixtures, and a gorgeous green mural adorns one wall. The patio looks out onto the tennis courts. When the restaurant is open there is no tennis being played in the immediate court outside due to balls that might come onto the patio and could be a potential health hazard. There are other courts that are still being used though if you want to watch some tennis games. With ambient music is very low and sexy, it enhanced my culinary journey.

My host Sean Anderson came from Alexander’s in Pasadena, which I just reviewed. He also helped open Elevate and Takami sushi bar in Downtown Los Angeles. He has a wealth of culinary knowledge and guided me threw my wonderful tasting. Chef Seth Greenberg makes all his menu items from scratch. He gets his produce from Santa Monica farmers twice a week. You can tell that everything is made every day. The flavor profiles are complex but super fresh. My server Ariella Dos Santos was very accommodating, her smile lit up my night. She said “Y’all”, and I knew she was from the South. Hailingfrom Austin Texas she is a dancer and another great staff member at Santuari. Then T.J. Norton introduced himself, he was laughing every time he would visit the neighboring table. His personality was very infectious, all in a very good way. He is a sketch comic actor, and you can tell that he really loves his job.

Here’s What I tried:


Vodka Martini is my go-to cocktail and this one did not disappoint. Their martini glasses are a big part of this cocktail experience.

Pining For You, with Tequila, Pineapple Jalapeno and Ginger Tepache, Lime, Agave, Yellow Chartreuse, and Lime Ginger Bitters. The marriage of all these ingredients is what really makes this drink pop.

Hot Small:

Mushroom and Polenta with white wine-braised mushroom, Ansel Mills polenta, herbs, and garlic. There is a variety of mushrooms, each one had a different taste, and the polenta round out the perfect flavors.

Parmesan Truffle Fries, with garlic aioli, a very pungent dipping sauce that adds to the overall wonderful experience.

Blue Crab Fettuccine, with a Mascarpone butter citrus sauce, this was not on the menu, it’s a chef special, and it is for sure very special. I just can’t say enough about this house-made fettuccine dish.

Cold Small:

Delta Asparagus with grilled and raw, shaved mushrooms, porcini bream, and smoked egg yolk. The two ways that the asparagus is presented are very creative, light, a healthy starter. The asparagus is grilled on a specialized Binchotan Charcoal Grill, it really made the flavor of the asparagus better.

Albacore Crudo with sashimi grade tuna, kluge caviar ponzu, green onion, and chili crisp. My favorite part of this dish is the caviar, it just melts in your mouth.


Hokkaido Scallops with little potatoes, lemon, and herbs. These scallops are so sweet and succedent, just the perfect scallop dish. They are specially farmed in cold water, so they are usually plumper and sweeter than your typical scallop.  Hokkaido Scallops hail from the renowned northern Hokkaido region of Japan. Seafood connoisseurs consider Hokkaido, Japan a holy place when it comes to fresh seafood. In fact, this area benefits from nutrient and plankton-rich water, allowing the scallops to thrive. 

Roasted Colorado Lamb Loin, with shaved fennel, Tokyo turnips, cucumber, olives, citrus, red wine, and olive reduction. The lamb is served medium rare and it is succulent and moist, with the reduction sauce, it makes for one incredible main dish.


Chocolate Budino, with Chantilly cream, sea salt, and honeycomb crumble. This dessert is just so delightful, the honeycomb is really the biggest surprise, crunchy sweet, it’s amazing!!

Strawberry Shortcake, sweet buttermilk biscuit, lemon curd, whipped cream. The strawberries are super sweet and luscious, and the lemon curd with knock your socks off, what a spectacular way to end my astonishing meal.


Mercat, Brut Nature, Cava, Penedes, Spain. Enchanting,sparkling wine that started my dining adventure.

Granbazan,  Etiqueta Verde Albarino, Rias Biaxas, Spain. A fruity wine that went great with the albacore crudo and the caviar.

Au Bon Climat, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, CA, 2017. This is a creamy wine that hit all the right notes with the blue crab fettuccine.

Mary Taylor, Malbec, Cahors France, 2018 is a unique wine. Most Malbecs are from Argentina, so I really loved this grassy mouth feel, it was so delicious with the mushroom polenta.

Fortune, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA, 2019, I would drink this wine with red meat, it added an overall fruit-forward flavor to the lamb.

In the 1970’s Santuari was a private tennis club. Seeing that it was so close to many of the most important television studios you would see Hollywood royalty; Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Clint Eastwood, and Farrah Fawcett playing tennis, and indulging in everything this tennis club had to offer at the time. Santuari offers an event space for weddings, birthday parties, baby showers, and any type of private event that you can think of.

Santuari is one of the best dining adventures I have had in a long time. Every detail is taken care of, uniqueness of its location and design really makes for a truly one-of-a-kind experience. The food will match up with the best of its Los Angeles restaurants’ competition. It’s just that good.


6711 Forest Lawn Dr.

Los Angeles, CA. 90068


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Dinner – May 15, 2023 – Alexander’s Steakhouse – Pasadena, CA.

A truly magical experience, a one-of-a-kind dinner, with the most marvelous food, and wine pairing. The thing about Alexander’s is that every part of the meal is unique and spectacular. Everything is prepared with the utmost care, from the presentation to the ingredients. Opening in June of 2015, it weathered Covid, and a recent fire, and has come back as one of the most popular dining establishments in Pasadena.

The interior is both Craftsman and Asian design, with gorgeous lighting, screened partitions, and high ceilings, that enhance all the glitz and glamour of their special Spring Omakase menu.

Here’s What I Tried:

Their breadbasket is otherworldly with 3 different kinds of butter, one served inside a very clean marrow bone, just incredible.                                                                                    

Land & Sea, with Kaluga Caviar, A5 Wagyu Nigiri, and Hamachi shot paired with Rivarey Rioja Rose Spain, 2018. The Hamachi Shot, with avocado, dashi, ponzu, radish, and sprouts. It is done in layers with the top having a crunchy texture – rice balls, add to the whole dish being very smart. The Wagyu has Jonah crab, koji rice, and wasabi. It is both super tasty and inventive. It was one of my favorites of the night. My dinner started with a nice glass of Grandial Blanc de Blancs Brut.

Gazpacho; it’s a sweet soup of tomatoes and raspberry mist, with an avocado mouse, rock island shrimps, and diced Fresno chili peppers. One-of-a-kind flavors make this one simply delectable.

Harry’s Berries Strawberries with Brillat Savarin Cheese, Belgian Endive, and Santa Barbara pistachios. Paired with Pinot Grigio Ferrante Sicily, Italy, 2021. Everything is so fresh, the strawberries are sweet and firm, and with the wine – it all melts in your mouth.

Grilled Hokkaido Scallops with Passion Fruit Szechuan Dressing, paired with Macon-Villages, Louis Jadot Burgundy, France 2019. The scallops are cooked to perfection, with the Louis Jadot wine, it’s just pure delight in my mouth.

Grilled Duck with Cauliflower. Paired with Pinot Noir Miroballi Santa Rita Hills, 2013. The duck is cooked rare, and the cauliflower adds to the overall mouth-watering feel.

A5 Kagoshima New York, Lobster stuffed Zucchini Flower, and Jimmy Nardello Pepper Sauce are paired with Cabernet Sauvignon C 3 Wine Co. Napa Valley, California 2015. This is surf and turf at its best. I just can’t say enough about the A5 Kagoshima steak, it was like butter. This menu item also came with 6 different salts meant for the steak, each one was amazing, but you really don’t need anything for the steak, it’s just that good.

The story behind the Jimmy Nardello pepper.

The story of the pepper goes back nearly 150 years, to Connecticut in the year 1887. Well, really, it goes back before that. Chiles were native to the Americas and were “discovered” in the late 15th century by invading Spaniards. The Spaniards, in turn, brought them back to Europe. The chiles they found had of course been growing in Central and South America for thousands of years. The “peppers” they “discovered” came back to Europe and spread around the world. Different varieties became incredibly popular in different parts of the Mediterranean, Asia, and Africa. Because they grow well in the Mediterranean climate, poor people who couldn’t afford black pepper could grow them and add some spice to their diet. It’s hard to imagine Spain, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia, etc. without peppers, but up until about 300 years ago, that was the reality. The same goes for the cooking of the countries of Africa and Asia. Look at how critical chiles are to the cooking of Korea! If you want a taste test, take a trip to Miss Kim!

The reason the story of Jimmy Nardello Peppers starts in 1887 is because that’s when the seeds for this pepper came to the United States. Jimmy Nardello’s mother, Angella Nardello, brought them from her hometown of Ruoto in the Basilicata region of southern Italy. They ended up in the town of Naugatuck, near New Haven, in Connecticut. The town is known for being the original home of the Goodyear Rubber Company, Keds Sneakers, and Naugahyde. But for me, by far, its biggest claim to fame is the Jimmy Nardello pepper. 

After arriving in the U.S., the Nardellos, like nearly every poor Italian family of that era, started a garden. Signora Nardello planted the special pepper seeds she’d smuggled in on the ship and she grew them and a wide range of other vegetables for her whole life. Mr. and Mrs. Nardello had 11 kids—Jimmy was fourth in line. Jimmy loved gardening. He lived a long good life, passing away in 1987. Before he died, he donated some of his mom’s special pepper seeds to Seed Savers. Twenty years later, in 2005, Jimmy Nardello Peppers was honored with a spot on the Slow Food Ark.


Crepe Cake, Matcha, Pistachio, Murray’s Farms Cherries. Paired with Barbadillo Cream Sherry Spain, NV. What a great way to end this incredible event.

My host Ryan Goldfarb was very charming and had so much knowledge about everything involved in my tasting. From the wine to the cow, he is an encyclopedia when it comes to all Alexanders has to offer. He says, “We care about our customers, and we do what it takes to make their experience memorable.” Chef Richard Archuleta is one of the best Chefs around, and he really cares about his fellow workers and his customers. On my tasting night, Shawn Kuo was Chef de Cuisine. Rounding out the very sweet staff was captain Jayse O’Brien, who kept my evening in check, with his very lovely demeanor. I can understand how their staff is so loyal and approachable. During their recent fire, they managed to keep their staff paid for four and a half months while the repairs were being done.

The Alexander’s Experience, where traditional American steakhouse meets a global palate. A world of refined influences finds its way into each unique, yet familiar dish. This is where comfort crosses into new and exciting offerings. A meal that makes a long-lasting impression.

I was just so impressed, loving every minute of my glorious tasting. When you have the opportunity to go to Alexander’s you too will be very satisfied. A truly remarkable culinary experience.

Alexander’s Steakhouse

Plaza Las Fuentes

111 N Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

(626) 486-1111

*Note some content was taken off of their website.

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