Dinner – July 29, 2021 – Stella’s Italian – Dana Point, CA.

In my travels there is always going to be one experience that stands out Stella’s Italian is this and more. Festive, fun, delicious are just some of the descriptions I can offer up, oh and did I say GREAT service. The night I was dining Rob was gracing us with his musical riffs. He did so many songs from so many popular artists but with his own spin on everything. A much added plus to my overall delightful dinner. Ricardo books 3 different artists for their evening music, Rochelle, Gary and Rob, they all add different talent to each night they perform.

When I was deciding where to go in this area I called and spoke to manager Ricardo Huacuz, he said sure come in. He was so kind, taking care of my every need. He just said try everything and anything, enjoy yourself. Owner Marcello Rey was also very accommodating, they all made me feel very special. My server Gage Giurato was another gem; having studied at University of Florence, he is moviestar handsome and took care of me like I was family. I just can’t say enough about every aspect of my tasting.  If I lived close by I would be here a few nights a week, but I am still going to try to make it in once a month! Then there are the cocktails and the incredible food, wow!

Ricardo says this restaurant would be nothing without his kitchen staff: Chef Tony Jauregui – he is new, Sergio Rodriguez worked here for 14 years, Joshua Hernandez for 3 years, and Rosa Rosalez for 5 years. All, he says, are the backbone to this establishment, and some of them don’t speak English but they can read enough to follow the recipes and create stunning menu items. Ricardo says, “You can great food anywhere but at Stella’s you get great service as well,” he likes the balance between his kitchen staff and his servers both doing excellent jobs.

During the pandemic Stella’s survived by doing seventy five percent of their orders Togo, by locals who call Stella’s their favorite restaurant in this area. Their support kept Stella’s Italian afloat, and now they are back to full capacity with indoor seating.

Here is What I tried:

Cocktails:

Traditional Vodka Martini, all of their Martin’s are served in a proper glass, this Martini was icy cold with great mellow Vodka flavor…. life is good.

Cosmopolitan, a nice rendition of this very popular cocktail.

French Martini, ok so I am here to say that surprises do happen, in the form of this cocktail. I have never had a French Martini, it is just so smooth and so delightful, for sure my new favorite drink. It has fresh raspberries, with Chambord, champagne and cherries on top.

Orange Peach Drop Martini, different, but still could not stop enjoying my French Martini. All of these cocktails were thought up by mixologist Mike, he is a real master.

They serve an olive tapenade with their lovely bread; it is a great way to start my glorious dinner.

Primo:

Capesante all’ Arrabbiata Seared jumbo fresh scallops, arrabbiata sauce and arugula salad. These little darlings are covered in sauce, but the scallops are plump and pop in your mouth, oh so delicious.

Scampi Adriatico Jumbo shrimp, breaded Adriatic style, grilled with garlic, parsley chile flakes and olive oil. Served over braised cabbage sautéed with leeks and dried apricots. The shrimp are plump and flavorful; with the cabbage and apricots make this a very unique appetizer.

Salads:

Caesar Salad, Chopped romaine, creamy reggiano dressing, white anchovy, and crouton. A very good rendition of this Italian staple. The croutons have an anchovy on each which added a nice visual touch.

Pizza:

Pizza Astarita Italian sweet sausage, house made meatballs, imported salami, fresh oregano, mozzarella and tomato sauce.

Pizza Bianco Mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, ricotta di bufala, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. They split the pizza in half so I got to try both pizza’s in one. It had a perfect crispy crust. They have an authentic 1200-degree pizza oven, so you know it is going to be great Neapolitan style pizza.

Pasta:

Penne Con Porcini e Prosciutto, penne pasta with spicy tomato, prosciutto, porcini mushrooms. This would be my go to dish. It has special nuances of porcini and the prosciutto adds just the right amount of salt, truly a big winner for me.

Fettuccine Bolognese, fettuccine pasta topped with Stella’s famous meat sauce and house made meatballs. This pasta does not disappoint, it is old world with lots of hearty meat.

Specials:

Lobster Ravioli, a nice mellow sauce with shrimp pieces in the mix. One of the best lobster ravioli I have ever had.

Cioppino, with calamari, salmon, shrimp, mussels and clams. The tomato sauce was rich and fragrant with a bit of a kick, so wonderful.

Desert:

Pistachio Pie, lovely pie, chock-full of rich pistachio flavors.

Wine:

Chardonnay – Cakebread Cellars, a nice balance for any of the seafood dishes.

Chardonnay – Giovanni Rosso, creamy, buttery, a wonderful combo with the scallops and shrimp.

Barborella – Daou, this wine is just spectacular, it goes with any of the red sauces.

Stella’s Italian has been a fixture in Dana Point since 2007, it has had 3 different owners, but the locals love this dining experience and are faithful through and through. From their New York style bar to their high style Italian dining room, or their heated patio, everything you need is under one roof.

Whatever the occasion this place is a must the next time you’re close by. It is the real deal, fine authentic creative Italian cuisine in a

close-knit community. It is friendly and elegant, exactly what you would want to experience for a nice night out on the town, or a casual lunch, either way high-tail it to Stella’s Italian in Dana Point and you too will be glad you did.

Stella means star in Italian – it is just that – incandescent and radiant.

Stella’s Italian

17 Monarch Bay Plaza

Dana Point, CA 92629

949-234-1679

https://www.stellasitalian.com/
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Lunch – Rooftop Lounge – July 29, 2021- Laguna Beach, CA.

All I have to say about this hipster dining spot is The View, The View, and The View!!! Come here for the view and enjoy their wonderful food.

Here is what I tried:

Appetizers:

Mezze Mediterranean Red pepper hummus, figs, prosciutto, Casreivetrano olives, Cherry Tomatoes, artichoke hearts, romaine, grapes, burrata, and naan bread. This is a full meal; it’s got some much going on – but all amazing.

Wild Mushroom Flatbread, roasted garlic, burrata, arugula, truffle oil, and balsamic reduction. A wonderful, hearty flatbread, with very scrumptious mushroom flavors.

Fried Coconut Shrimp, chili lime sauce. This was my favorite menu item, the shrimp is crispy and has a nice coconut coating, this is a must have.

Hamachi Crudo Pacific yellowtail, cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, and yuzu vinaigrette. This fish is very fresh and the accompaniments are just what the doctor ordered.

Salads:

Baby Spinach Salad hard boiled eggs, goat cheese, croutons, bacon and Caesar dressing. I loved this salad; it has everything you would want in a spinach salad.

Burgers:

La Casa Smash Burger all beef patty, white cheddar, bacon jam pickle, romaine, smoky chipotle mayonnaisse a toasted brioche roll. A thick meaty patty makes for one very satisfying burger.

They play old school R & B hits, the customers vary, tourists, locals, dates, people who just want a cocktail and a panoramic view. Whatever the case it is a must go to when you’re in Laguna Beach.

You’re really in the best spot in all of Laguna Beach, without a care in the world, the Rooftop Lounge will keep your spirits in tow and make you wonder why you just don’t reserve a table every weekend?

Rooftop Lounge

1289 S. Coast Highway, 4th Floor

Laguna Beach, CA. 92651

949-497-2446

Rooftoploungelaguna.com

Photo Credit:  Photography by Lanning Gold

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Dinner – Comedor – July 28, 2021 – Laguna Beach, CA.

Located inside the La Casa del Camino Hotel, lies a beautiful Spanish oasis with delectable Latin food.  There is an indoor / outdoor casual ambiance, with lovely regional Spanish cuisine. My server Camille was wonderful, always pleasant and smiling. Dean my mixologist was very accommodating, making me a few special secret drinks to try!

Here’s What I tried:

Tapas:

Pan con Tomato, toasted rustic bread brushed with tomato. A nice way to start my glorious dining experience.

Crab cakes red pepper sauce, nice and light, beautifully served.

Gambas al ajillo, prawns with garlic, Aleppo, dry sherry butter sauce, sourdough toast points. This is very rich with nice shrimp gravy, which worked so well with the bread.

Mains:

Rossejatde Fideos vermicelli, lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels cooked in a seafood broth. A very different take on this, but super inventive and delicious.

Miso Glazed Salmon, coconut forbidden rice, curried tomato vinaigrette, herbs persillade. The salmon is super tender and flaky, a nice menu option.

Dessert:

Crème Brulee a la mode, a sweet way to end my evening.

A soothing interior with some special art, it just gives you comfort like you’re eating in a friend or a family member’s home. It is elegant and different, with some new fresh seasonings that I have never had, and a great flair for creativity.  Comedor is just what the doctor ordered.

About Comedor:

La Casa Del Camino is a historic Spanish Revival 1930’s iconic property in Laguna Beach. At the core of the concept lies the importance of the dining room, and its role throughout time of bringing people together.
The dining room table has always been a place with a connection and emphasis on what matters most, family and friends.  Comedor is your dining room and an experience that evokes the nostalgia and familiarity a dining room gathering with your friends and family is all about. The dining room has always served as a focal point of connectivity and love of food. Bringing people together around the dining room table to nourish our bodies and souls. Food is the great connector, something we all have in common. Nostalgia, family, community, in every culture.

Comedor is Spanish for the dining room/dining room table.

Dinner Wed- Sunday 5-11 PM.

Happy Hour Monday – Thursday 5-7:30 PM.

Comedor

La Casa Del Camino

1289 S Coast Hwy,

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Phone(949) 497-6029

https://www.comedorlaguna.com/

Photo Credit:  Lanning Gold

* Some content was taken off of their website.

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July 28 & July 29, 2021 – La Casa Del Camino – Hotel Stay – Laguna Beach

I met general Manager Phelton Calhoun at an Oscar gift suite in Hollywood this past April.  He was so kind to invite me to his property for a stay. Even though I was so grateful for this opportunity he had no rooms with Ocean views, but he promised me another stay in a few months with Ocean views. That being said, I am going to tell you about my overall experience.  The hotel is in a perfect spot in the very picturesque town of Laguna Beach. You pretty much can get anywhere once you’re there. They have a Trolley that is free and runs through all parts of Laguna Beach and to any spots that you would want to see. They have free parking in a lot that is down the street, so my advice is to park your car once you are there and take the trolley to see all of the things Laguna Beach has to offer. You can walk a very short distance down the stairs to the beach that is situated right behind La Casa Del Camino Hotel.  Phelton also gave me 2 gift cards to both of their restaurants, which you will see in separate tasting posts.

There are two different rooms styles, mine was the Spanish style guest rooms, next time I will opt for the more modern surf rooms, with oceanfront views. My stay was very relaxing, with the beach right there and all the shopping you could ever want, picturesque beauty abounds and art is everywhere with many tasty food options, what more could you want.

Some History:

January 26th, 2020 marked the ninety-first (91st) anniversary of the opening of one of Laguna Beach’s most historic and unique buildings, La Casa del Camino hotel. For three generations, Laguna Beach residents and visitors from around the world have enjoyed the spectacular views and unique charm that can be found only at La Casa del Camino.

In terms of pure drama, La Casa del Camino offers more than any other landmark in the city. From graceful arches and rustic wooden balconies that capture the Spanish revival style, to the soaring views of the Laguna village and Riviera coastline, La Casa del Camino brings it together like nowhere else. Take a step back in time and explore the rich, storied past of Laguna Beach’s most iconic hotel.

La Casa del Camino was envisioned by its builder, local artist and City Councilman William W. Riddell as a spectacular destination along a spectacular stretch of sand at the heart of Laguna Beach. In Riddell’s eyes this would a place not only for travelers to rest, but a place for the community to gather, a place for art to be appreciated, a place where business and social clubs would flourish and help create a local landmark to proclaim to the world that Laguna Beach was now a destination, not just a stop along the way.

https://lacasadelcamino.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/LaCasadelCaminoHistoryBook.pdf

The hotel has so much history and has been kept up really well. They are pet friendly and will supply you with beach equipment if needed.  Some amenities include: beautiful hand-carved furnishings, flat-screen TV, in-room desk, portable air conditioner, WiFi, mini-fridge, in-room safe, convenient USB hubs, high quality terry, and bath amenities.

If you’re looking for a quick getaway near Los Angeles, then this hotel will provide a much needed respite from city life. As well as giving you a bird’s eye view of the ocean from just about everywhere. It is historic, quaint, and elegant, it checks all of the boxes. So next time you’re wondering where you can take a weekend or midweek vacation close by consider La Casa Del Camino. It does not have to be a special occasion, coming here will provide memories, that will stick with you for a very long time.

La Casa Del Camino

1289 S Coast Hwy,

Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Phone(949) 497-6029

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Dinner – Arth Bar + Kitchen – July 27, 2021 – Culver City CA.

My favorite mentor, wonderful friend, and restaurant publicist, Lawrence Moore set this up for me. Arth has only been open for two weeks. One of its owners is a twenty-seven-year-old miracle. Owning and operating Arth, as well as working as an engineer at Boeing, he does it all. Smart, funny, witty, and very successful, Mihir Lad introduces modern Indian cuisine in a whole new way. Mihir’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to become founder and partner of Arth Bar + Kitchen. Dedicated and ambitious, he spent time researching and observing how to start a successful restaurant. Mihir is a leader, he runs a tight ship. His partner and executive Chef Sagar Ghosh’s creative flair and culinary techniques stem from being trained by some of the world’s most renowned chefs, including India’s most well-known chefs and hospitality experts, paired with pure talent. He spent time in kitchens in some of the finest restaurants in Kolkata, Pune, Miami, New York, Buena Park, and Tustin. In his most recent venture, Chef Ghosh served as the executive chef at Master Indian Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s premier Indian fine dining restaurant, The Yellow Chili located in Tustin, CA. Chef Ghosh made sure that Arth Bar + Kitchen highlighted their open kitchen by featuring a chef counter and one of L.A.’s only fully visible Tandoor Ovens. Guests can watch the show as he prepares each dish, Ghosh’s premier experience combined with his optimal use of authentic spices that he makes himself. His creative masterpieces are in every dish, with sublime flavors, he covets modern Indian Cuisine at its best. The two of them are a perfect combination, Lad showed me his creative vision, and a personal passion to deliver the best possible experience to every guest that visits Arth Bar + Kitchen. But the true star of this show is their food; one bite and you will know what I am talking about!

The interior is very inviting, kind of part brasserie, part modern-day bar and grill, everything you would want from an Indian eatery in the best part of Culver City. Interior Designer Atithi Prajapati who focused on creating a light and contemporary atmosphere mixed with wood tones and warm touches of India, also features a full bar, chef counter, open kitchen, dining room, and two patios.

Here’s What I tried:

Cocktails:

Peppered Ana Rosh Beluga Transatlantic, Vanilla Liquor, Fresh Pineapple, Kal Mirch, Angostura Bitters, and Candied Chile. By far my favorite cocktail of the night. It is rich and smooth, just delectably wonderful.

East India Trading Company, with Bacardi White Rum, Vanilla Liqueur, Lychee, Pan Leaf, Eucalyptus Bitters, and Soda water. Interesting flavors, will quench any thirst for sure.

Mira Meets Pedro with Nosatras Reposado Tequila, Cointreau, Tamarind, Spicy Bitters, Jal Jeera, Himalayan Salt and Indian Chile. A bit of a kick, but you can’t go wrong with the very high-end Nosatras Reposado Tequila.

Small Plates:

Fiery Prawn Koliwada, fisherman style crispy prawn morsels. These are big meaty prawns, and the mint sauce is the perfect accompaniment.

Chicken Bites, crispy South Indian style fried chicken. These little darlings are a great way to start your culinary adventure.

From The Tandoor:

Classic Tandoori Murgh, whole char-grilled roast chicken. Another outstanding menu item, with lots of beautiful seasonings.

Saloni Macchi – Wild Caught Chilean Seabass in velvety labneh marinade. This dish is just so good, you have to order this. The fish is buttery and falls apart; it will make you very happy.

Mains:

Lobster Moilee Lobster cooked in sweet coconut milk, turmeric and curry leaves, this sauce is otherworldly. It will change your life, its just that good.

Lamb Kosha Slow cooked Australian lamb leg in onion tomato Masala. A nice fragrant sauce and the lamb is very tender.

Sides:

Basmati Rice, the grains fall individually on your plate and add so much to all of the gravy in each dish.

Bread Basket Garlic Naan & butter Naan. It’s crispy, soft, fragrant, just great dipping bread.

Desserts:

Gulabo Rose Petal Compote, stuffed in fried dough balls soaked in rose syrup. The compote is soft and fluffy with such a divine floral flavor.

Mango Chambord Kulfi, Indian style Chambord liqueur and mango ice cream. The Chambord lends itself to enhancing this super-charged dessert, just fantastic.

Assorted Cannoli, Kesar Elaichishrikhand, butterscotch, and chocolate. I love the butterscotch Cannoli; all of them are very inventive and delicious.

Wines:

Joseph Drouhin St. Veran Chardonnay, Burgundy France, 2019, grassy, creamy, this wine added so much to all of the seafood dishes, especially the lobster.

Bouchaine Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2018, one of my favorites – it did not disappoint with the lobster as well.

You know this place will be fully packed as soon as everyone catches on to this new unique take on Indian Food. Arth offers delicious Modern Indian cuisine with specialty cocktails that will blow your hair back. The concept is very needed in this fun neighborhood in the heart of Culver City; it will revitalize the downtown area.

Arth – meaning: Sense, goal, purpose or essence.

Arth Bar + Kitchen open every Monday through Sunday from 11:30 am to 10:30 pm. For more information or reservations, please visit www.ArthLA.com or call Arth Bar + Kitchen directly at 424.603.4155.

Facebook @arthbarandkitchen and Instagram @arthbarandkitchen

Arth Bar + Kitchen

9531 Culver Boulevard

Culver City, CA  90232

424.603.4155

www.ArthLA.com

* Some content was taken from their website and press release.

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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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