Late Lunch – May 30, 2021 – Mario’s La Traviata – Long Beach, CA.

I had my list of restaurants I wanted to try in Long Beach, but my fingers did the walking to my first call, which was La Traviata, and when owner Mario Nasab answered the phone, he was so welcoming. He said yes please come in and try my food, I can’t wait to meet you. Well – Mario is just the most charming, fun loving person, it is just so worth it to go to La Traviata just to meet him. He wants to celebrate life and have all of his loyal customers do the same. Mario is a world traveler and has lived in many places, including London. I could hear a very faint British. And his soothing voice which has many sexy accents rolled into one will make you want to come back for more. The food, well that is the cherry on top, its remarkable. Such a wonderful experience, run don’t walk to this stylist piece of heaven in Long Beach, California.

Chef Jose Trinidad has been with Mario for the whole ride, when they opened this great establishment 25 years ago. La Traviata is housed in The Willmore building. The Willmore was designed in the Renaissance Revival style by Fisher, Lake and Traver, the architects of The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It was originally designed as a U-shaped structure. However, only one wing was completed. The building is designed in the Renaissance Revival and Beaux-Arts styles. Built in 1925 by the Trewitt-Shields Company, the structure has an L shape with a ten-story wing and an eleven-story wing. The building’s current name honors William E. Willmore, developer of a forerunner to Long Beach, Willmore City, and namesake of the Willmore neighborhood. Mario loves his restaurants location, and has seen many changes come to his neighborhood; he says right now it on an upswing.

The interiors are very lovely, Mario commissioned the chandeliers in 1996, and there are 10 in both the main dining room and the banquet room. The banquet room is large and can house many different kind of events, conventions, with everything all under one roof.

Here is what I tried:

Cocktail: 

Bloody Mary, a great way to start off my dining experience, with just the right amount of spice and everything nice.

La Trav Wedge – brunch item – romaine spears, poached shrimp, lime gremolata, blistered corn, citrus aioli. The dressing alone will blow your hair back, sweet, pungent, delicious. The shrimp are huge and just delightful, a great rendition of this fantastic steakhouse staple.

Mozzarella Caprese, with Heirloom tomatoes, mixed greens, olive caponata, and basil aioli. Their presentation is all that, and it is a super fresh scrumptious appetizer.

Truffled Mushroom Polenta, brunch item – with creamy polenta, truffled assorted mushrooms fricassee, poached egg, parmesan fricca. This is a terrific brunch item; the truffled mushroom adds so much to this dish.

Mushroom Strudel, with Phyllo pastry, spinach, Gruyere cheese, and raspberry Syrah reduction. The Syrah reduction is everything! 

Calamari Fritti with deep-fried, with marinara sauce. A good portion with nice sauce, a great appetizer.

Lobster Tortelli, Porcini cream sauce, parmesan, and truffle oil. The tortelli are so soft and supple, the truffles and mushroom just add another layer to the sauce.

Linguini mare with mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp and scallops, with tomato or white wine sauce. The fish is super fresh and the marriage of ingredients is just superb.

Filet Mignon, with glazed carrots, sautéed spinach, brown butter potato puree, cognac green peppercorn sauce. This steak was super tender and the cognac sauce really got my attention, simply fantastic.

‘LA Trav Chilean Sea Bass, with Mizo glazed, tobiko caviar, jasmine rice, seasonal vegetables. The most delicate and moist fish ever, yum!

Rack of Lamb, with fingerling potatoes, cranberries, grilled asparagus, pomegranate mint reduction. The lamb is so tender and succulent, wow just spectacular.

Desert:

Chocolate Mint Gelato, rich, creamy, with lots of chocolate chips, goes great with my other dessert items.

Cream Brulee, A creamy custard presented in a traditional ceramic ramekin. Hand-made in house. So creamy and delicious a great way to end my glorious meal.

Grandmother Cake, with pastry cream with a hint of lemon on a base of short pastry covered with pine nuts almonds and powdered sugar. A perfect desert with great lemon flavor.

Wines:

Chardonnay, Battaglini, smooth creamy went great with the seafood pasta.

Sauvignon Blanc, Hayes Valley, I liked this wine with the Sea Bass, it added a nice complexity.

Cabernet Sauvignon – Benzinger, this wine was just an added pleasure to both the lamb and the steak.

La Traviiata has had to close for many months due to Covid last year and this year, Mario says without the board for The Willmore Building he would have totally gone under. They helped him with rent forgiveness and other things to get his business up and running again when Covid restrictions were lifted.

The food is too die for, the ambiance is classy and fun. Mario provides a great attitude about life and everything that he brings to the table. He knows this part of Long Beach well, he helped to start L’ Opera, a restaurant not far away and lives a few minutes form La Traviata. Mario talks about his daughter with great pride and he is helping her learn the business so when he is ready he will pass the torch. He has a huge wealth of restaurant knowledge and really truly wants everyone to enjoy themself. His favorite expression, “ Every Year is a good Year”.

About La Traviata:

La Traviata is one of the best-kept secrets of Long Beach Italian food! La Trav serves an award winning Nuevo Italian menu in our Dining Room, and has the friendliest Bar in town! Join us for live music at the Piano or Patio on Thursday and Fridays or host your events in our Spectacular Lounge. Have a Sunday Funday with us and enjoy our flavorful Brunch in Long Beach CA with mimosas or bloody marys.

La Traviata is named for the famous Italian Opera of the same name that tells the story of found and lost love. It was scandalous in its day. Create some of your own excitement with them.

La Traviata

301 N Cedar Ave.

Long Beach, CA. 90802

(562) 432.8022

Dinner – Wed. – Sunday – 5pm -9pm

Brunch – Sunday – 10am-2pm

https://www.latraviata301.com/
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Wood & Vine – Dinner – May 24, 2021 – Hollywood, CA.

Originally I was going to take my Mom to a post Birthday celebration, but as life goes the angels took her away on May 5th, 2021. So instead we toasted to my Mom’s amazing life and had a celebration along with some of the best food and drinks I have had in a very long time. Of course it is a sad time, but I am doing what my Mom would have wanted me to do and that is ENJOY LIFE!!

Wood & Vine is just the best-hidden gem in Hollywood. It’s lovely cool patio always has old time films playing on the patio wall, and even though it is Al Fresco, it still is an enclosed patio. You could be anywhere, Manhattan, Italy – it is just has that kind of global vibe.

Here’s what I tried:

Cocktails:

Accomplice, Tito’s Vodka, strawberry, lemon and champagne. It’s truly effervescent and will quench any thirst.

Magnolia, Rain organic cucumber vodka, muddled, cucumber, lime, ginger, and honey ginger syrup. A nice refreshing cocktail. What a great way to start the evening.

Tequila Mockingbird, El Destilador Blanco Tequila, lime, agave, blackberries, and basil. This by far was my favorite cocktail of the night. Long lingering sweet tropical juices, make for one elegant drink.

Mezcalpel with Bazal Ensemble Mezcal, pineapple, lime, agave, and jalapeno. My adorable efficient server Nick said we should try this. It is one of those drinks that you should only try if you like the flavor of Mezcal, it is not for everyone.

Wine:

Pinot Noir – Annabelle, 2016, Oakville. A nice rounded out flavorful wine, this is a great pairing with the linguini and shrimp, and all of those luscious tomatoes.

Chardonnay, La Follette, 2015, Sonoma. I would pair this with the popcorn shrimp, it added an over creaminess to the spice in the shrimp.

Chardonnay, Valravn, 2017, Sonoma. The perfect wine with the scallops, period.

Zinfandel, Dasbe, 2018, Sonoma. I adore a good Zin, this one did not disappoint.

Cabernet, Obsidian Ridge, 2016, Napa. This is the kind of Cabernet that needs a big steak or in my case short ribs, its tobacco; cheery essence will make any steak taste better.

To Start:

Spinach Artichoke Dip, artichoke hearts, spinach, cream, three cheeses, spices, and warm crostini. A great filling shared starter with nice artichoke flavor.

Tuna Tartare, seared yellow fin, sweet chill sauce, diced mango, over fresh cucumber soup with chives. The sweetness of the mango is everything, just loved this.

Fried Ricotta, panko breaded, house tomato sauce and chives. This dish is for anyone that likes Italian styled food, it has great texture and the sauce was out of this world.

Popcorn Shrimp, spicy fried shrimp, spicy tartar sauce. I just could not get enough of this, love love – loved it!

To Share:

Linguini and Shrimp, fresh tomato sauce and Parmesan. My Grandfather used to take me to a restaurant called Sarantinos in my old neighborhood and this dish was exactly the same as what I use to order there, so it brought back very fond childhood memories. This would be my go to dish for sure here at Wood & Vine.

Chilean Sea bass herbed risotto and lobster sauce. This dish was all about the sauce, very delicious.

Braised Short Rib, slow cooked beef, Yukon mashed potatoes, mushroom and petite carrots, with red wine sauce and chives. For the comfort food lover this is it. Just wonderful.

Pan-Seared Scallops with pureed lentils, and crispy pancetta. The scallops pop in your mouth and the pancetta adds an over all saltiness that just works perfectly.

Farm Raised Canadian Mussels, spring onions, pancetta, Korean chili flakes, in a spicy white wine sauce. These little darlings are spicy, but fresh and plump, a great menu option.

Burger and fries, a big hearty meaty burger and the fries were super tasty.

Sides:

Shell and cheese, aged cheddar and Chez-its. This dish is so rich and creamy and the Chez-Its just add another layer.

Crispy Brussels with sweet chili sauce. Crispy, golden, just the perfect side dish.

Dessert:

Norma’s Magical Donut holes, cinnamon and sugar dusted with vanilla sauce. A must have dessert item, period, end of story.

Butterscotch, maple ice cream, and sweet thyme crumbles. This is my all time favorite, got to have it.

I have done tastings here before, but there was something very special about this one. Wally is always so sweet and accommodating, and he knew my sadness about my Mom, so he came over and gave me a huge hug. Perhaps my Mom was watching over this dinner and making everything just tastes a little bit better. But whatever the reason Wood & Vine is a place to go to often and enjoy. You feel like family walking in the door, and they really try to pull out all of the stops for the best dining experience. I am so glad that they reopened and I am here to say get in your cars or your Ubers and go out to dinner and enjoy their perfect patio dining experience.

Wood & Vine

The Taft Building

6280 Hollywood Blvd.

Hollywood, CA.

(323)334-3360

https://www.woodandvine.com

* Dedicated to my Loving Mother, Lois Jackson Cohen – Forever in Our Hearts.

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Screening “Becoming ICONIC” – Jonathan Baker’s House – May 21, 2021 – Beverly Hills, CA.

What a great afternoon I had today, beautiful breeze with 2 gorgeous golden retriever pooches, and the Icon himself – Jonathan Baker. Checking out his documentary “Becoming ICONIC”, that I saw once on my laptop and ¾ on his big screen in his screening room at his house. His screening room is fully equipped with comfortable adjustable lounge chairs and licorice. Jonathan is a throw back from the 70’s but with a fresh fun twist, but he is a one mighty promotion machine. Super young outlook on life, but claims that he was just a bit late or early for most of the major historic movements in his lifetime. But Jonathan Baker is a true storyteller. He is emotional about his life and his family, and his friendships with Hugh Hefner and Warren Beatty. Jonathan is all things and really knows how to get his point across. Writer, director, producer, actor, like I said before, a talent from another time period where everything is contained by him and his elegant wisdom. He is movie star handsome with a timeless quality about him. I was completely taken by him, he really had my attention, and I know I am just gushing….

The documentary “Becoming ICONIC” – originally released in 2018, directed by Neal Thibedeau, completely held my attention, it was entertaining without being too Hollywood. He has some great interviews with amazing cast members from his directorial debut “Inconceivable,” as well as other very notable Hollywood Icons; Jodi Foster, Taylor Hackford, Adrian Lyne, John Badham, Michael Bay, Nicolas Cage, and Faye Dunaway. There is a twist in the doc, but it doesn’t take away from all of information that you as the viewer will get about Hollywood, studio execs, and what it is to be a first time director. This doc should be viewed by all students and first time filmmaker/directors for the first hand knowledge of what kind of backbone and stamina you need to be able to pull off a major successful theatrical release.

The screening and luncheon was held at his most tasteful home, which used to be the party house that once belonged to Warren Beatty. The home got a bit on the tamer side when he was married to Annette Bening, who lived there with him until they sold it to Jonathan. Jonathan made offers to Warren about the house for many years, Warren told him he had never sold any property and just was not sure how to do it. Jonathan wore him down and the rest is history. Except for the fact that Jonathan changed everything to a modern glamorous hillside palace, with an amazing outdoor area and stylish interiors.

Jonathan is so down to earth; he is kind and just wants to be a creative storyteller at the end of the day. He says he just wants to be “Recognized for The Breath of The Journey”. There is a Zen spirit about him that is otherworldly and yet he manages to be able to make every one relate to him and his stories, he is just relevant without trying.

I was told that his chef prepared the lunch that we had, which was lovely; grilled salmon, mashed potatoes, guacamole, quesadilla and salsa, so delicious, flavorful and healthy. You can tell that Jonathan is really into health, he is very thin and super stylish.

All of this from a man who Has a tomb stone with his name on in next to Marilynn Monroe in Westwood, CA. – that says “Stay Tuned” on it. He is the only living person in the cemetery.

About Jonathan Baker:

Jonathan Baker has always been enthralled by smart storytelling and larger-than-life figures, taking inspiration from greats like Ernest Hemingway to guide his own sensibilities as a writer, producer, director and adventurer. Studying film in his native New York City and at USC in his undergraduate years, Jonathan Baker began his entertainment industry career as a writer, director and producer of projects such as Through Scavullo’s Eyes, a Warner Bros. documentary on controversial fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo; Dorf on Golf, a sports spoof with Tim Conway; and Dirty Tennis, a comedy starring Dick Van Patten, Nicolette Sheridan and Bruce Jenner that aired on HBO and Cinemax, winning the VSDA and the New York Film Festival Award for Best Comedy Video of the Year. More recently he founded Baker Entertainment Group, a multimedia development and production company based in Hollywood.

Baker is also a successful entrepreneur who grew a start-up venture, SkinSpa, into the leading full-service day spa in the U.S. before selling that brand

in 2011. While focusing on Baker Entertainment Group and his evolving work as a film director, he remains active in the personal care field and has currently developed a new signature brand, Jonathan Baker EST 1962, which introduces its first line of many pure aromatherapy products. Jonathan’s men casual clothing line is due out next.

Filmography: FATE, American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally, Force of Nature, Survive the Night, Inconceivable Dirty Tennis Dorf on Golf, producer credit. Fate, Inconceivable, both director credit. IMDb Mini Biography By: Baker Entertainment Group

“I can wave my hand and make the impossible happen”, Jonathan Baker.

* Some content taken off the internet.

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9th Annual Evening to Foster Dreams – Virtual Gala – CASA LA – May 13, 2021

Casa of Los Angeles does such great work, I am so happy to be a supporter and be able to talk about this wonderful event.

I was sent a fun swag bag, full of lovely gifts and then tuned into the Gala. Always I am wanting to lend support I bid on 2 nice size silent auction items that I won, so for me giving to this amazing cause and then being able to take something away is everything.

Help CASA/LA ensure that every child in the child welfare system receives the support and vital services they need to have the opportunity to thrive.

Ashley and Topher Grace did a fine entertaining job of hosting this event. They never seemed to lose any energy throughput the telecast. This year they are honoring Erin Foster, Peter Gianinni, Jacqueline Dolan, and Larry Gilson.

See list of Benefactors, Advocates, Advocates plus, Ally plus, Ally, Friends, Sponsors, and Media sponsors.

BENEFACTOR
Harriet Zaretsky and Steve Henry
Martha and Bruce Karsh
ADVOCATE PLUS
Carolyn and Lou Lucido
ADVOCATE
Cathy and Larry Gilson
Susie and Bruce Herron
Dr. Wendy Smith and Barry Meyer
Deena and Ed Nahmias
PepsiCo
PricewaterhouseCoopers
ALLY PLUS
Johnny Carson Foundation
ALLY
Judy and Tom Beckmen
Beverly Hills Rotary
Build-A-Bear Foundation
Mary and Jean Dekernion
Jacqueline Dolan
Selman Breitman LLP
The Western Project
Skechers
Jennifer Hinman
Pacific Premier Bank
Tito’s Vodka
SPONSOR
Marilyn and Steve Bloom
Klopert & Ravden LLP
KPMG
Lori Kozak
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Observatory
Anna and Ray Randall
California Community Foundation
City National Bank
Frandzel Robins Bloom & Csato
Preferred Bank
Alicia Miñana and Robert Lovelace
Optimist Studios
Emma Ludbrook
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
Allyson Pfeifer
Elizabeth Zaillian
Pat Trendacosta
Reyes Coca Cola Bottling
The Office of Supervisor Hilda L. Solis
The Office of Supervisor Kathryn Barger
FRIEND
Central City Association
Elizabeth and Glen Friedman
Gensler
Stephanie Luh
Dayna Rodriguez
Jean and Robert Youngquist
Renne and Bruce Bilson
Sally Howell
Glenn Jaffe
Andrew Goldberg and Dr. Andrea Kasowitz
Haptor Barrett
Erica Hanson and Ike Barinholtz
Daniel Bruckner
Marilyn Kading Martinez
Joan and Marshall August
MEDIA SPONSORS
Los Angeles Magazine
WINE SPONSORS
Austin
Bev
Hope Family Wines

I can’t wait for this event to be back at The Beverly Hilton next year, but for now super happy with this great virtual Gala.

CASA of Los Angeles
https://casala.org/

About CASA LA:

CASA of Los Angeles improves the lives of children in the dependency system by pairing them with trained volunteer advocates.

Nowhere in the nation is the problem greater than in Los Angeles County, where 30,000 children who have been abused or neglected are under the jurisdiction of the Dependency Court. One-third of these children are age 0-5; infants and toddlers are the fastest growing group of abused children. CASA/LA provided one-on-one advocacy to 1,124 children in FY2018, in addition to 3,276 children with day-of-court assistance through Shelter Care.

CASA/LA alleviates the feelings of abandonment and alienation that scar these young lives by harnessing the compassion and generosity of caring adults who can and do have an enormous impact on the development of the child at all ages. The genius of the CASA model is that it effectively capitalizes on a huge reservoir of caring by mobilizing it in service to children. CASA makes the crucial connection—one caring adult to one child in need—that can be the turning point in a life that has been disrupted. Our most significant accomplishments happen every day—when an overlooked opportunity is found, a service is secured or an adult connection is made that will help to keep a child safe and give him or her an opportunity to succeed in life.

The volunteers get to know the children and their circumstances, show them that someone cares, advocate for their best interests (including making recommendations to the Court), encourage them to grow to their fullest potential, and become involved in key issues in their life, especially permanent placement, and school, health, and mental health issues.

A CASA volunteer is often the sole consistent adult anchor for foster children. Children frequently remark how important it are to them that these tireless advocates are the only people in “the system” who are not paid to assist them. CASA volunteers give a voice to a child who cannot speak up for herself or himself and are frequently viewed as mentors or guides.

Judges typically assign CASA volunteers their most difficult and complex cases: children with prior maltreatment or contact with child welfare, cases of extreme abuse or neglect, or those where there is a great level of risk of further abuse and neglect. Many children assigned to CASA have learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and significant emotional and mental health problems.

Children in the dependency court system face substantial obstacles in receiving the basic care that all children need: emotional support, parental guidance, and a stable and loving caregiver. More than that, they often lack appropriate education and vocational training, medical care, and the counseling they need to grow into productive adults.

Many children remain in foster care for years, and are moved around to many different placements. Studies have demonstrated that children who have experienced abuse and neglect are at significantly higher risk for academic failure, chronic delinquency, homelessness, adult criminal behavior, antisocial personality, and addictions. Moreover, as a child’s length of time in and out-of-home care increases, the probability of such negative outcome increases. CASA volunteers are instrumental in shortening the time that the child is in the dependency system (achieving either re-unification or adoption), while simultaneously assuring that the child’s needs are met.

The CASA program is a proven, reliable and economic model of support that has meant the difference between success and failure in thousands of children. Many more children would thrive if they had the intensive intervention of a CASA volunteer.

CASA of Los Angeles is a member of the National CASA Association and the California CASA Association.

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Kimberly Dawn – Record Release Party at The Mint – March 12, 2021 – Los Angeles, CA.

What a relief going to hear live music and having a proper martini in a proper martini glass at my go to hang. This night was so special, like pre Covid, bit with a slight twist. Singer Songwriter Kimberly Dawn was performing in the Mint’s green room, which is right upstairs from the outdoor patio. She was performing for a live audience seated in the patio, but her show was shown on a large screen in the patio, as well as being live streamed on many platforms. This party was for her release of her single, “The Bottle”. A novel idea – that totally worked, and the best part is you get to be out amongst people being socially distant, wearing masks and being safe. This is all happening under the stars with heat lamps in tow, everyone was eating and drinking and enjoying their almost normal evening.

Kimberly Dawn recently released her latest single ’93 where 1990’s nostalgia lives on and invites listeners to escape the day-to-day whirlwind of modern life and relive the hidden magic of a decade filled with simple joys of low-tech connection. There were some celebrity sightings, like Cedric the Entertainer, and a few others, but the night was chilly, with a fresh breeze blowing through the air. A country super star entertained while everyone was getting their live music on!!

About Kimberly Dawn:
Kimberly Dawn is a country singer/ songwriter using her natural talent for storytelling and music to express an authentic message of perseverance, humility, courage, and resilience. Through original songs like “Cadillac Lovers” and “Slow Dancin’ in the Dark” – nominated for Best Country Song at the 2019 Hollywood Music in Media Awards – the Canadian-born musician shares timeless stories of real-life triumph in the never-ending struggle to find bold purpose and powerful self-love. As a mother of four, Dawn’s personal journey toward creating inner strength and balance on the road to living out her passion is one to which many women can relate, and one that she feels particularly suited to tell. “All through growing up, raising a family, and finding myself, music got me past the most difficult times. If my song gives someone else strength to get through the day, then I’ve done what I set out to do.” Dawn earned her stripes opening for Wilson Phillips in 2015, along with performances at Los Angeles’ House of Blues and celebrity red-carpet charity events. She has also featured on popular podcasts such as Stripdt Down with Ali Levine and All About You. Don’t miss her popular singles, “Nashville” (released February of 2020) and ‘93 (set to drop September 24th), along with a weekly blog where she shares the inspirational experiences behind the music. Get a daily dose of Kimberly Dawn now on Spotify and follow along with 50,000 fans on Instagram @OfficialKimberlyDawn.

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King and Queens – Late Lunch – March 1, 2021 – Palm Springs, CA.

The Village opened in 1996, offering wonderful food and live bands 7 nights a week, until 2am. Owners Tareef and his sister Roula opened with the idea of pure enjoyment for every customer. But back then, 25 years ago, it was a different time, now with Covid, they like so many other establishments have had to pivot. No Live music inside for quite some time, but they have managed to turn their night club vibe into patio outdoor dining with live entertainment on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Late in 2017 they added a new business partner, David Mariner, also the general manager, he ran some of the best night clubs in the desert, so his expertise would lend itself to starting a new path for The Village.

Like many restaurants in Coachella Valley they have had their challenges. With closures in March and then again in December, finally some of the covid restrictions have lifted and they are able to do patio service again. Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce has created Park-lets, which are patios that go out into the street. King and Queen’s has adhered to all CDC restrictions and is very safe for outdoor dining.

Chef George has had a lot of history with this space, he started as a dishwasher here in 1999, but his culinary career took him to many cities to work after that, but somehow he found his way back, and is so happy he did. He is very close with the owner Tareef, and really likes being part of all of their culinary planning. George says their food is Continental, lots of different food items from many different places. He says, “King and Queens, is a fun place with great food, come for the food stay for the ambience”. Chef George is originally from Guatemala, and has most of his family still there. He has a heart of gold and made my dining experience so great!

Their Philosophy: Celebrating world cultures and diversity, we thrive on it and welcome everyone from all walks of life with open arms. Their goal is to have a melting pot everyday.

The Village is all part of a few other restaurants – other restaurants include: Ojos Locos, Pirates Cove, Whiskey Dicks, The Loft and their food truck.

Here’s What I Tried:

Martini’s – Lemon Drop, Regular, Cosmopolitan, and all drinks were served in proper martini glasses, which I love. Each one had its own nuances, and each one was very drinkable and good. I didn’t try any wine, but Kings and Queens prides themselves on having 24 different beers on tap.

Sharable and Classics:

Hummus and Pita, the hummus is very flavorful, with green onion in the mix, and the pita is delicate but delightful.

Sharable Pretzels, with sea salt, IPA Mustard, and cheese sauce. This presentation is over the top, it comes upright in a pretzel contraption, and the sauces are excellent.

Parmesan Brussels sprouts, with smoke bacon, garlic, brown sugar, fresh cilantro, breadcrumbs, and Caesar dressing. These little darlings are so special, and truly could be eaten as a meal. The cheese and the breadcrumbs make it very hearty.

Truffle Mac & Cheese, with mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, Parmesan, bacon, crispy breadcrumbs, and truffle oil. Oh my goodness, just spectacular, all I can say.

Pork baby Back Ribs, with Korean Pepper and Kimchi. These are full of Korean flavor and the Kimchi is hot but adds an overall punch to this great menu item.

Entrée Salad:

Gorgonzola chicken, Asian pear Salad, with Gorgonzola cheese, grilled chicken, spring mix, sliced pear, crusted walnuts, and a fat free raspberry vinaigrette. Another stellar menu item, a must have.

From the Grill:

King Burger, with Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, bacon, house sauce, cilantro, lettuce and tomatoes. This is a very large meaty burger, with all of the fixings, cut it in half and share with your dining companion.

Signature Pizzas – 12”:

The Coachella, with Basil Pesto Sauce, Mozzarella Cheese, Chicken, Roasted Bell Peppers, Fresh Basil, Balsamic Glaze. The crust alone will make you come back for more, and the marriage of all these wonderful ingredients will blow your hair back.

Entrees:

Fettuccine Al George, with shrimp, cherry tomatoes, crushed red peppers, Parmesan Cream, Basil, and Truffle Oil. Chef George said I had to try this, he was right. Just a really perfect pasta dish.

10 oz. Rib eye Steak, with Brandy Peppercorn sauce, roasted potatoes, and mixed vegetables. The steak is super tender and the sauce is sweet and peppery. The vegetables and potatoes are the best accompaniment.

Sides:

Coleslaw, this is a no nonsense coleslaw, and it hit the spot.

French fries, big thick fries with a hint of secret seasoning, just the bomb.

Dessert:

Deep Fried Twinkie, I have heard about this dessert but never tried it, it is amazing, and the raspberry sauce is terrific as well.

Double Fudge Brownie. This dessert is meant to be shared. It is huge and super tasty, enjoy!

So for me The Village has always been my go to spot for dancing and live music when I am in Palm Springs. Now that Covid has stopped all of that, The Village has managed to recreate itself, and has done a great job. The food at King’s and Queen’s is fantastic, and the outdoor dining is super fun. There are lots of people watching and sunshine, what more could you want?

The Village

King and Queen’s

266 S. Palm Canyon

Palm Springs, CA 92262

760-323-3265

www.thevillagepalmsprings.com

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Casa Blanca – Dinner – February 28, 2021 – Desert Hot Springs, CA.

This for me was a great experience. Located super close to the hotel and the downtown area of Desert Hot Springs, Casa Blanca has lots of yummy food and libations in a very colorful and spirited setting. If you’re looking for good Mexican cuisine with all of the bells and whistles this is your place. This would be my go-to place for Happy Hour and Dinner if I lived nearby. Also to my surprise the ding was inside, not patio. I was a bit taken aback but was assured that it was safe, so I dived in.

Here’s What I tried:

Margarita:

Regular, served in a proper margarita glass, this cocktail is huge and delicious.

Mango, with nice pieces of Mangos in this huge glass, this is a very light and refreshing cocktail.

Appetizers:

Guacamole, with fresh avocado, onions, cilantro, and secret their ingredients. Their chips are to die for and this creamy guacamole offers a nice accompaniment to their crunchy tortilla chips.

Casa Blanca Sampler, A sampler platter, with beef rolled taquitos. Meat quesadillas, jalapeno peppers, chili relleno, enchilada, sour cream and guacamole. It’s got a little bit of everything. The presentation is super cool, served up in a big white platter, with everything separated out. This is a nice way to start my meal.

Entrees:

Hard Shell Beef Taco, I ordered this as a side dish and it did not disappoint, nice crunchy outer shell with great beef flavor on the inside, a true keeper.

Shrimp Fajita served with sizzling, bell pepper, onion, tomato, with corn or flour tortillas. This came to my table hot and sizzling, the shrimp is plump and the vegetables are super tasty.

7 Mares, & seas soup. Shrimp, halibut, scallops, crab legs, clams, fish, octopus, with celery, carrots, potatoes, and chayote. This is to me Jewish Penicillin done Latin style. The super fresh seafood and the nice tomato broth, all a perfect blend of flavors, another must have menu item for me.

Sides:

Beans and Rice. They must put in a chicken broth, because these are super rich and have a great homespun flavor.

You can tell there are many regulars that are indulging their exotic senses. There are many Mexican places to eat in Desert Hot Springs. Casa Blanca has 2 other locations, Cathedral City and Palm Desert.

This location opened in 1996, and in 2006 was the opening of The Cathedral City location, the Palm Desert location after that. Owner, Mr. De Leon, migrated from Jalisco Mexico in 1990. He brought with him the rich traditions of his homeland, authentic Mexican and Seafood cuisine. The servings are huge and this real Mexican fare is bringing his loyal customers back time and time again.

The interior is full of color, but done in a very fun way. You feel light and joyous being inside and the staff is so helpful, all in all it was a treat for my senses and my taste buds, just loved their great Mexican flavors.

Casa Blanca

66370 Pierson Blvd.
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240

(760) 251-5922

Desert Hot Springs, CA.

casablancamenu.com

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El Morocco Inn & Day Spa – Stay Feb. 28, 2021 and March 1, 2021 – Desert Hot Springs, CA.

My first stay here was in April of 2019, when life was so different, you could be free and not have to worry about all of the little germs called covid; getting into your lungs. But I have to say with all of that crazy stuff in the past year, coming to El Morocco Inn & Day Spa will make all of your worries and safety concerns just melt away. They have done a stellar job of sanitizing and keeping all of the CDC regulations up to par. That being said, high tail it out to Desert Hot Springs El Morocco Inn & Day Spa and enjoy a much needed trip to Shangri-La or in this case Morocco.

Think 1942 American romantic drama starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid in the controlled city of Casablanca. El Morocco Inn is all about Morocco and CasaBlanca, from its looped screening of the film in the TV lounge room, to its décor all over the property. What you don’t figure out until after you are bathing your troubles away in one of the hot mineral baths is that this décor will enhance your overall experience. The spiritual new-age background music adds to the incredible heightened mood. One thing you will be guaranteed of for sure is that once you enter the compound, all of your stress will be left outside of the wooden gate.

The grounds are very charming as well. There are lots of hammocks and little nooks to meditate. There are fabrics flowing off of every available area, which in the wind adds an extra sexiness. There are canopied sofas, a fire pit surrounded by Moroccan leather poufs on prayer rugs. The guest rooms are painted in Blue, Called Majorelle Blue, and a color named for French artist, Jacques Majorelle. This blue signifies warding off evil spirits, supposedly they are attracted by the color but will linger and not enter. So much attention to detail, all contributes to why you feel so exhilarated staying at The Morocco Inn & Day Spa. The overall ambiance is fun and welcoming, one that makes El Morocco Inn & Day Spa so unique and special.

People come here from all over, my trip there were like-minded people, as well as Shamans and healers. Folks are just drawn to this very therapeutic space. From the restorative healing baths to the alternative holistic medicine discussions, El Morocco Inn & Day Spa will reset your mind, spirit and body.

They usually have a happy hour and self serve continental breakfast, but during covid they cut out the happy hour and gave you a menu planner for your breakfast. In the morning you pick up your very cute blue bag in their refrigerator and all of your breakfast items are individually wrapped and secured for your enjoyment. They still have their coffee presses but now they are individually portioned with coffee, so all you have to do is add water. I sat out by the pool and had my coffee and breakfast, a truly terrific way to start your day.

My room was on the first floor and very close to the mineral baths. The bed is super comfy, and their small but cute kitchen gives you everything you need if you want to stay in and chill. The motif aligns itself with the rest of the Inn with Moroccan details, which for me was very soothing. Many of the ornate features were brought directly from Morocco. I just love all the arches, jewel tones, and creative ways they make being in Morocco right here in Desert Hot Springs.

Robert, who arranged my stay this time and the last time was extremely accommodating, he is just so sweet. Anything your heart desires he will make happen. He is one stand up guy! But El Morocco Inn has had some tough times as most hotels in the great Coachella Valley. With closures, lock downs and everything in between most are super lucky they have weathered the storm of this pandemic and are back on track. El Morocco Innhad to completely close down two times during the pandemic and for months at a time. Now reopened and gorgeous there is no reason not to come here.

Desert Hot Springs is off the beaten path, but something not to be missed. It’s about 25 minutes away from Palm Springs, worth the drive, in a very quiet low-key area. The hills are all part of the San Andreas Fault, and they release minerals so all of the hotels are privileged to have mineral baths that are great for healing any ailments. After 1 day of soaking in the baths my body felt great, all of my aches and pains were literally gone.

A truly amazing romantic getaway, but not just for lovers, it can be a nice time by yourself as this hotel is quiet and rejuvenating. Whatever the occasion, I would make your next trip a very memorable one by trying a nice spot, The El Morocco Inn & Day Spa.

El Morocco Inn & Day Spa
66810 4th Street
Desert Hot Springs, CA. 92240
760-288-2527
www.elmoroccoinn.com

 

 

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Sea Fresh Ojai – Dinner – February 22, 2021 – Ojai, CA.

This is a very popular spot; lots of local and tourists alike, but everyone knows that Sea Fresh Ojai is the place to get the freshest seafood in Ojai.

For me it did not disappoint. Hands down the best sushi I have ever had. Each piece was, with the freshness of the sea, just like it had just been plucked from the ocean.

From what I could hear at other customers tables every knows the family that runs this restaurant, people talk about Mayra as if she were a member of their own family, that is the level of comfort you feel at Sea Fresh.

Here’s What I Tried:

Cocktails:

Martini’s – Regular Traditional With Vodka and 2 Olives, Lori’s Lemon Drop, and Cosmopolitan. They were all served in a modern type of a martini glass. Mimi the fantastic bartender had some great stories to tell and the perfect ways to infuse her fun takes on these 3 cocktails. What a nice way to start my evening dining experience.

Sushi:

Unagi – Fresh Water Eel – The eel sauce has just the right amount of sweetened, and the piece itself was just huge, tender and fragrant, a lovely piece of sushi.

Giant Scallops, that are glistening and have such a delicate flavor of the ocean, a sure fire winner for me.

Hamachi – Yellow Tail, once again just so fresh, I just do not know how they are able to serve these huge pieces of fish and that they are so incredibly fresh.

Sea Fresh Roll with scallops, with hot and cold tuna, cucumber and sprouts, topped with avocado and salmon with spicy ponzu sauce.

So if you are new to this dining spot you would not know that the real star of this show is their sushi. I loved everything I tried, but when I come back I will order the bulk of my dinner on the sushi side of the menu, it is just the best sushi you will ever have.
Here’s What I Tried:

Oysters Rockefeller, spinach topped with béchamel sauce. Mayra the owner said I had to try these little darlings and boy was she right, such a nice creamy version of this awe inspired dish.

New England Clam Chowder, it has lots of potatoes and clams and it very rich and creamy, perfect chowder.

Steamed Clams, clam broth with drawn butter served with crusty bread they serve small clams with a nice clear broth, a very simple and light dish.

Sea Fresh Cioppino, hearty tomato fish stock, selection of shell fish and fish served with crusty bread. This is a very traditional staple amongst the San Francisco Italian restaurants in North Beach. This Cioppino was right up there with the best of them, a nice tomatoes infused soup with lots of fresh fish scallops, shrimps, and King Crab, just stupendous.

Ala Carte Alaskan King Crab legs and claws. These lovely crab legs are steamed and served with drawn butter. They come right out of their shell and are super sweet, just delicious.

Dessert:

Chocolate Brownie A la Mode, with vanilla ice cream. Super rich, super chocolate and super yum!

Wines:

Chardonnay, Trefethen, Napa Valley. A nice oaked, buttery, creamy wine just was spectacular with the crab legs.

Chardonnay, Napa Cellars, Napa Valley. This wine is more of a blank canvas with what ever food item you are trying it will open up and be a good accompaniment, but of course any seafood item are the best with this wine.

They get their fish fresh everyday from their local fish market, delivered everyday except for Sundays. Sea Fresh will be in business 36 years in August. Mayra’s husband Bill Sutton is a commercial fisherman, and brother Gus Garcia is the other partner, and it is a tight knit Cuban family. Mayra has been told she should put some Cuban items on the menu, but she says no. It would be too much work to change stuff up now, and why change a good thing. She has 50 employees at this location and it is hard for her to keep up. They also have an Oxnard location, it is her son and daughter in-law that are her partners there, so she is one busy gal.

Some History: In 1985, Sea Fresh began serving up the freshest catch available from the Pacific Coast, and from around the world. Proud owners Bill & Mayra, along with Gus (Mayra’s brother), opened their first Sea Fresh in Ojai, California.

In 2012, a long awaited change occurred, a complete remodel of “the original” Ojai restaurant. The continued support and encouragement from the local community is truly what made the transformation possible.

But their story began long before that. Bill’s love for the ocean began at the ripe old age of four, when his dad took him on a fishing trip. As he got a little older, his mom would drop him off at the pier in Redondo Beach. Bill would bring his catch home, and with a little red wagon in tow, sold his catch to local neighbors. At 15 he started working on a sport boat called The Pursuit. The time spent on The Pursuit would satisfy his love for the ocean until he graduated high school. He was then able to fish commercially on a full time basis. In 1973 Bill & Mayra were married, and in 1977, built and launched The Aurelia, their 42 foot fishing boat.

Bill and Mayra have two kids, Chris and Janelle. As the children grew closer to school age, they decided to move the family out of the big city, in search of a small town to raise the family. So, in 1981, they moved to beautiful Ojai. Mayra’s parents and brother Gus soon followed.

Bill still fishes daily, weather permitting, and supplies the restaurants with the highest quality seafood caught locally. They believe that everyone will love fish if it’s truly fresh.

There Oxnard location is a bit more casual with counter ordering and outdoors seating. They had a horrible thing happen a while back when the restaurant burned down to the ground, so when they rebuilt they decided to do a different model of service that they felt was smarter for them given their circumstances.

What I can say about Sea Fresh Ojai is – try it, you too will be a big fan!!

Sea Fresh Ojai
533 E. Ojai Avenue
Ojai, CA 93023
(805) 646-7747
www.seafreshseafood.com
“Our boat To You”

* Note – Some Content was taken off of their website.

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Home Kitchen of Ojai – Lunch – February 22, 2021 – Ojai CA.

Located in a shopping center, this unassuming restaurant will make you want to be a breakfast or lunch regular, it’s just that good. Owner, Hector Orozco, made me feel super special and had what I should try in mind when I arrived. Hector comes from a long line of restaurant owners and workers and has been in Central California since coming from Mexico – 11 years ago. Hey don’t mess with perfection was my inner mantra on that day, and I was right. Hector showed me his super farm fresh organic eggs that he gets locally and uses for all of his egg dishes. Those eggs will make any taste buds happy and a fan of Home Restaurant in Ojai.

Here’s What I Tried:

Crepe, you have to ask, but a complimentary crepe comes with anything that you order, but you have to know about this perk to ask for it.

HKO Burger with bacon, Green chilies, Swiss cheese, onions, tomato, lettuce and avocado. This hamburger, piled super high, this is a burger you won’t forget for a very long time. It completely hit the spot.

Ojai Panini, Hector said I should try this one as well, so I did and he was right. Nice melting cheese with nice grilled bread, you just can’t miss. With ham and Turkey, Chipotle Aioli, Pepper Jack Cheese, Onions and tomatoes.

Chilaquiles, a big wonderful breakfast item with 2 sunny side eggs on top, just loved this dish. Tortilla chips covered in house made salsa topped with Mexican Quesos, onions, sour cream, served with eggs and potatoes.

Sweet potato Fries, cooked to perfection – my go to fries!

Small bowl of fruit, a very nice array of fresh fruit, a good side to enjoy with your breakfast.

Small side salad, it is crisp and delicious, try it with their ranch dressing.

This location used to be Egg and Potatoes, and Hector was pretty much talked into taking over ownership from the past chef who was his buddy, but he told me he is super happy he did. Server, Marin is the one who has really seen it all; she has been at this location through many of its past incarnations. She helped Hector get up and running, seeing how she worked at their past restaurants at this location. Marin has also been an Ojai resident for 38 years. Most customers are local; people driving by, and some tourists, everyone enjoying themselves, and their delicious food. Their goal is to leave their customers with a happy heart and a full belly.

HOME KITCHEN OF OJAI
1103 Maricopa Hwy.
Ojai, California 93023
(805) 646-5346

https://homekitchenofojai.com/

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