Jodi Jackson’s Hollywood Santa Barbara Getaway Weekend July 14 – July 20th, 2011:

Olio E Limone Dinner:

This well established restaurant in the heart of downtown near State street has all the bells and whistles Olio L Limone means oil and lemon, and they bottle their own olive oil. This oil is bottled in Sicily, which blends three local olive varieties picked by hand from 100-year old trees-Nocellara, (a slightly fruity eating olive), Cerasuola, (a full-bodied and light green olive), and Biancolilla, (for distinctive color and fruity fragrance). The color is green with yellowish tints and it is has a lightly spicy olive, almond and green tomato flavor. The dinner was amazingly paired with 3 three wines: 2008 Babcock Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, 2007 Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Valle Reale and 2008 Justin, Santa Barbara County Cabernet Sauvignon. I started with a warm Insalata di Mare Tiepida Warm, Garlic Seafood salad- mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp and scallops with lemon-white wine sauce very fresh and very flagrant. Next was Timballo di Melanzane con Purea di Pomodoro, Eggplant Soufflé, with goat cheese center and fresh tomato-basil sauce. An interesting take on an old standard, eggplant but in a soufflé. Great flavors and great texture, but at the same time very light and fluffy. On to Primi’s: Pappardelle al Sugo di Quaglie e Funghi, Wide-ribbon pasta with tomato, quail, sausage and mushroom ragù. For me very reminiscent of Ragus and Pappardelle that I had when I was in Tuscany. Italian comfort food, with a very yummy smoky flavor. I highly recommend this pasta. The Ravioli d’Anatra ai Funghi – Porcini Housemade duck ravioli with creamy porcini mushroom sauce was everything you would want out of a creamy mushroom sauce. Woodsy yet vibrantly subtle. This one is another winner. A house favorite, Tortelloni di Spinaci al Burro e Salvia – Homemade spinach and ricotta-filled tortelloni, tomato sauce and fresh sage butter. Maybe the Porchini ravioli just stole my heart away; this was good but was not willing to trade bits for my ravioli. The Risotto al Nero did Sepia – Arborio rice, shrimp, scallops, calamari and squid ink was just that a risotto with black squid ink. I know this is a must have amongst the foodies, but for me the color takes away from the flavor, presentation is everything and this one did not cut it. On to the secondi: Costata di Manzo alle Erbe – Herb-roasted rib-eye steak served with roasted potatoes and vegetables. The Steak was cooked to perfection; the accompaniments were of the hook as well. What a great main course. Then the Costolette d’Agnello con Balsamico e Menta – New Zealand lamb chops with balsamic vinegar reduction sauce were skillfully done. The sauce sweet yet sour, delivers the kind of punch you would expect from a Balsamic vinaigrette reduction. The lamb is very tender and a so delicious, an absolute must have. Crème Brule for desert, super creamy and rich, a temptation worth every calorie. These are the great wines that I paired with my dinner: 2008 Babcock Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, 2007 Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Valle Reale, 2008 Justin, Santa Barbara County Cabernet Sauvignon, The Chardonnay was great with all the seafood dishes, and of course the 2 reds were amazing with the mushroom ravioli and the steak and lamb. Wonderful dinner, this restaurant is a great way to spend the evening.

Lunch Summerland Beach Café:

When you meet Jeff the owner you think he is about 25 years old only to find out that he has been the proprietor of this no nonsense wonderful café for 19 years. What ever they put in the food to keep Jeff looking like he is still 25 is working. He offered up his outstanding menu to me the whole 7 days I was there. I managed to take him up on his offer twice and was always satisfied. My first visit I tried The Spinach Salad, called the T.T.F.N., the original O.P. spinach salad with fresh mushrooms, bacon, chopped eggs, toasted sesame seeds, and warm bacon dressing. This salad very reminiscent to salads from the 70’s, very hearty with this groovy warm bacon dressing, with real bacon. I am possessed by this salad. I managed to take some of this dressing back to Los Angeles, and used it very gingerly on my boring salads for about of week. Who knows maybe they can UPS me some in the future. I also am a true onion ringaholic, I have had the best and the worst. These were the best, so much beer batter, cooked golden brown, with a thick cut ring, it really aims to please and it does. The Clam Chowder is full of fresh clams and has a very mellow cream broth, in the true tradition of clam chowder, with just a little more attention to the clam flavor. The fish and chips were moist and crunchy; the same batter for the onion rings works perfectly in this English staple. My second visit I had the May Lambert Sandwich, a Summerland tradition: oven roasted turkey, thick-cut bacon, tomato, and cheddar cheese grilled on sourdough. I was told that this sandwich was part of the original owners menu. Simple but hearty, very good lunchtime sandwich. I also could not resist tasting the Cheeseburger in Paradise their basic burger, with your choice of cheddar, jack, Swiss, or jalapeno cheese. Cooked to perfection, very juicy and flavorful, a must have for hamburger lovers. The Summerland Beach Café offers up home-style cooking, beautiful portions. Ocean breezes, outdoor patios, and friendly service. This 1893 Victorian house at the beach serves breakfast and lunch all day, every day, a great part of the neighborhood, worth a visit.

Dinner Brophy Brothers:

This fun, lively harbor restaurant has the freshest fish you ever going to have. Both the Ventura and Santa Barbara offer up the same kind of fare; fresh, wholesome, and the best seafood ever. You can choose your spot – the full-length bars facing the views and the clam bar, or a window and lean in, or a table inside or out. Wherever you choose to park yourselves, you’ll be thrilled by their sustainable seafood, fresh seafood different menu everyday, clam chowder and fresh crusty sourdough bread! Brophy Bros is proud to have received every Best Seafood Restaurant in Santa Barbara and Best Clam Chowder in Santa Barbara award from the Santa Barbara Independent and News Press for the past 22 years. Brophy’s has also been awarded the Best Seafood Restaurant for as long as it’s been awarded. My dinner started with Beer Boiled Shrimp and Garlic Baked Clams, both cooked to perfection and nicely seasoned. They gave me small portion of the steamed clams in broth, which really made me want more, it was so good. The Local Wild King Salmon Grilled and served with a garlic and basil cream sauce was by far the best thing I tasted, the sauce was so unique and inviting. The Scampi Jumbo shrimp sautéed with white wine, lemon, garlic and a dash of tomato was also delicious and could stand up top the richness of the salmon accompaniment. The best part about Brophy Bros besides the food is the fun atmosphere and the great wait staff, they are fun and very accommodating. If your looking for delicious seafood right out of the Ocean this is your place!

Sunday July 17th
Shell Café Lunch:

Lovely Shelly the namesake of Shell Restaurant was gracious and considerate. I tried quite a few menu items: 2 different soups, cobb salad, crab melt with cheddar cheese on grilled sour dough bread, French dip roasted tri-tip with hot au jus on fresh baguette, Barcliff & Bair Club Oven-roasted turkey breast, thick-cut bacon, avocado, mozzarella cheese, mustard, mayo, roma tomato, & lettuce on sourdough. Quesadillas, Pasilla Quesadilla, Cheddar cheese, fire- roasted Pasilla chilies, avocado & salsa. All of the sandwiches can be ordered whole or half, all very filling. Once again I am a big fan of a good salad, and their cobb salad was by far my favorite menu item. The ranch dressing is outstanding and the ingredients in the salad were all A-1. I will be visiting just to be able to taste that terrific salad again.

Ca Dario Dinner:

This unassuming restaurant is a great find, filled with tidbits of Italy. Chef Dario is on the line in the very hot, very fast kitchen. Chef Dario was born in Italy and as a child spent a lot of time with his grandparents learning about the passion of Italian food. He began his career as an apprentice in several kitchens in Italy, England and Switzerland, and eventually landed U.S.A restaurant. He worked in Prego, Beverly Hills, and Chianti Cucina on Melrose; he helped open Prego in Irvine, Ca’Brea, Farfalla in Aspen and L.A. He finally finally ended up in beautiful Santa Barbara where he was executive chef at Pane e Vino in Montecito and later became a partner at Trattoria Via Vai, Bucatini, Ca’Dario Ristorante, Enoteca Primo and Tre Lune in Montecito. Chef Dario gave me the choice of doing his own tasting for me and I jumped at that great opportunity. He stared with GRIGLIATA D’ASPARAGI, Grilled asparagus, wrapped with pancetta, Parmesan, balsamic vinegar (When available), MOZZARELLA E POMODORI, Buffalo mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil and oregano. CARCIOFO RIPIENO, Cold steamed artichoke, stuffed with artichoke hearts and bread, topped with chopped tomatoes, garlic and basil. Then went to PRIMI, PAPPARDELLE ALLA BOSCAIOLA, Flat ribbon pasta with porcini mushrooms, pancetta, and light tomato cream sauce. RAVIOLI AL BURRO E SALVIA, Pasta pillows filled with spinach and ricotta with browned butter and sage sauce. ZITI AL RAGÙ DI OLIVE E CAPPERI, Short tube pasta with ragout of olives, capers, fresh tomato, chili flakes and pecorino cheese. The secondi consisted of: SELLA D’AGNELLO, Grilled rack of lamb with roasted shaved garlic, olive oil, fine herbs, homemade sausage and grilled eggplant. Everything was fantastic! Chef Dario served me just the right amount of food, he could do no wrong, and a great variety, I am sure I will return again and again.

Killer BBQ Dinner:

Killer Bar BBQ is Santa Barbara’s newest BBQ and Sports Bar. They have authentic BBQ food and all of their meats are smoked fresh every day. They make all of their BBQ sauces from scratch as well as all of our side dishes. Killer BBQ offers many kinds of beer on tap and a full bar. While you are eating, you can enjoy your favorite sports team on any of our eight 52″ HD plasma TVs. This place guarantees to be a very fun and exciting place in a very cool area of Santa Barbara. BBQ Chicken Salad, smoked chicken – wonderful flavors all melted together by the smoky BBQ and ranch dressing. The Corn, black beans, tomatoes, smoked gouda, make for a nice taste treat in your mouth, an explosion of color. This will be a go to Salad for me. BBQ Brisket – very tender and succulent, with big Bar BBQ punch. Hot Links St Louis – a little too spicy for my taste buds, but heat lovers will get into its oh so hot intensity. Cut Memphis Style ribs- by far the best ribs on the planet, they fall off the bone into your watering mouth, which great seasoning and hot tones. I will be craving this dish for a long time. 1/2 rack baby back ribs- not quite as tender at the Memphis, but again baby backers will get into the swing of these as well. Sweet potato fries, Memphis style ribs, potato puffs. Everything explodes in your mouth with try BBQ flavor, 2 big thumbs up.

Lunch Café Luna:

Cafe Luna is a great fun lunch spot with a great outside patio and an outdoor pizza oven. A very popular place for Summerland locals. They have great menu items, most popular are the breakfasts. I was there on Taco Tuesday, where the special is tacos. I had that and the Cubano sandwich, with a side of tabouli. Renaud’s homemade cookies and cappucino. Skip the tacos and head straight for The Cubano sandwich, is the most amazing sandwich I have eaten in a long time. The bread is fantastic and the melty cheese adds so much with a great chipotle mayonnaise. Highly recommend this great little charming café. Breakfast is served 7am-12pm, and lunch 11am – 4pm.

Red’s Tapas Bar:

The decor is very hip and sleek, like James Bond meets Charlie Chan in the industrial part of SB. There is live music and the crowd is young and fun. The night we were there the owner served us up some very simple but nice cheese plates and bruschetta. All were paired very nicely with the great wines they serve. Their wine list is very complete and offers up all of the best that Santa Barbara has to offer with a few hidden gems along the way. The wines are local and not mainstream, ones that you would not find unless you came to Reds. This place is great for some small appetizers and wine, make sure you have dinner plans after this, because Red’s will really wet your appetite for more and their tapas menu is extremely yummy, but very limited.

Dinner at 3Twenty Wine Lounge – Dec. 29th, 2011

As you can see from all of my blogs I have been to some outstanding restaurants, places with great food and fantastic wine. However, I have never experienced anything like “3Twenty Wine Lounge” before. This is a brand new, very exciting concept of all things food and wine, especially the wine. Owner and sommelier Edgar Poureshagh has created an environment that is the closest thing to Disneyland for adult wine lovers as you can get. You basically get an all access pass to experience… all the rides! Translation, you receive a credit card that is loaded with as much money as you want and use it to get amazing wine tastes from all over the globe.
These wine are poured from dispensaries called Enomatic machines and are made in Sienna, Italy. They are handcrafted and take up to 6 months for delivery. The Enomatic’s come with argon gas lines that go from the machine to the kitchen; this is inert gas that does not react with the wine so the grape never touches oxygen, other then when you pour it. Also, Enomatic only lets you drink 1.75 ounces on each pour. Ninous, Edgar’s father has this great method of changing the bottles without ever touching them, you have to see to believe. Another amazing thing here is that the remaining ends of the bottles, (a little less than two ounces) are put on customer’s tables as an added gift. And these are not just any wines! They are vinted from wineries that are family run, boutique, and amazing. Some are way too expensive to buy a bottle so Edgar lets the customer taste an ultra high end wine that, due to the price, would not normally be consumed. As if that were not enough, the food menu is off the hook. Chef Nicole Ball is dishing up exciting flavors that are all perfectly paired with these uncommon wines. Edgar will only suggest what will be good with a certain food, he prefers the customer explore the wine kiosks themselves. Edgars mantra is he wants to demystify wine by serving wines that are rare, and somewhat pricey, but at The 3Twenty Wine Lounge, tasting prices enable patrons to try these expensive wines.

The décor is simple but very functional. Designed by George Kelly of Kelly Architects, who has designed some notable restaurants around the Los Angeles area. There is a monthly changing art show that adorns the interior walls; Evalynn J. Alu was the current artist. Everything is nicely appointed and adds to the charm of this great interactive concept.

These are the wines that I tried:
Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc, ZD Caneros Chardonnay Sonoma 2010, Lioco Chardonnay 2009, Finca Jakue Txakolina (Talai Berry) Basque Spain 2009, Cakebread Savignon Blanc, Alois Lagedan Mullen Thurgau Dolomiti, Alto Adige Ita 2010, Stolpman Estate Syrah, Santa Ynez 2009, Peachy Canyon Westside Zinfandel 2008, Paso Robles, Caymus Special Select Cabernet Savignon, Napa Valley, Seghesio Home Ranch Zinfandel, Sonoma, Col D’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino, Tuscany, Peay La Bruma Syrah Sonoma California, Starlane Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Ynez 2006, Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino Tuscany 2006, Argiano Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany 2005.

Here’s are the menu items tasted:
Burrata, olive tapenade, and garlic confit, a great blending in my mouth. This paired well with the ZD Chardonnay. Assortment of 4 cheeses; triple cream brie, Humboldt fog, palit Basque, Amadeus, pecans, and quince paste, paired nicely with the not too acidic Lioco Chardonnay. Both cheese plates served with great bread from the local bakery The Bread Bar. The Butternut squash soup with lardon bacon was wonderful. The Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc was great addition to the bacon flavor, nicely subtle. You usually get this soup around Thanksgiving, and its usually sweet. The lardon gave it a smoldering bacon flavor. The Salad with arugula, treviso, shaved parmesan, and pine nuts, was a nice refresher in my palate. The special Smoked Fish with wild caviar, also great with the ZD Chadonnay. The caviar was not salty and so fresh. Served with organic cream cheese and delicately sliced red onions. Pea and pecorino bruschetta with bacon, you can really taste the fresh pea essence. Tiger prawns, with bacon, arugula, and paprika oil, the shrimp is succulent and moist, a real taste treat. Paired with Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc, the wine let me taste the prawns and added a nice sweetness. White truffle fries, with all the goodness of fine truffles. Braised lamb over a crostini, lots of slow cooked flavor.
Col D’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino was an amazing accompaniment to the lamb with all of its full-bodied glory and nice hint of licorice. Halibut, olive and parsley pesto was done with precision and finesse. The Finca Jakue Txakolina (Talai Berry) had a nice sparkle and matched the tanginess of the terrific pesto. The Diver scallops with roast asparagus and basil, another great accomplishment paired with the Caymus Special Select Cabernet Savignon. I know seafood with a strong red like this, well this wine you could pair with a shoe, the most amazing wine on the planet!! The Skillet steak with roquefort butter, excellent crust and flavors. The Peay La Bruma Syrah Sonoma worked well with the rich Roquefort butter, with its bold, full-bodied texture. California Roast chicken leg, corn, with kale and tomato, by far my most favorite dish. True comfort food with nice crispy cooked skin. The Seghesio Zinfandel Home Ranch, Sonoma was a nice blend of cherries and forward fruit, enhancing the natural chicken aroma.

Flat out, there was no food or wine that I did not love. This place rocks! Great venue to have a Birthday party, family gathering, or just meet up with friends. Totally worth the price of wine and food. The 3Twenty Wine Lounge will bring you to your knees!
320 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, California 90036

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Brunch at Playa December 10, 2011

Tamales are to Christmas as latkes are to Hanukah, a rich tradition!
Jewish or Mexican, it’s all the same. I was very surprised when I got
an invite to a tamale demonstration at Chef John Sedlar’s new
restaurant Playa.

One of my first big jobs in Los Angeles in the early 90’s was Special
Events Manager at Bill Board Live, with the now renown John Sedlar
as Chef, boy has he come along way since then. Winning Best Chef
in Los Angeles in 2011, and opening up both Rivera and Playa this
year. He has been touted as the most innovative chef when it comes
to all things Latin Cuisine, and I absolutely agree! I was so
fortunate to do a brunch tasting and witness a tamale demonstration
by Chef Kevin Luzande all on the same day. I learned how to build
and cook a tamale, as well as create a variety of fillings. Truly a great
learning experience. I was even given a goody bag that had fresh
masa to make my own tamales at home.

John Sedlar’s apprenticeship to legendary French chef Jean
Bertranou of L’Ermitage in Los Angeles, is where he mastered classic
techniques while evolving his own approach to cooking. Next he
opened St. Estephe restaurant in Manhattan Beach, and it was here
where he became known as the Father of Modern Southwest
Cuisine, also the title of his first acclaimed cookbook. He has won
numerous awards and acknowledgments that include selection
among the Top Ten Chefs in America, and the First Annual Culinary
Arts Hall of Fame Award, and a place on Food and Wine magazine’s
Honor Roll of American Chefs. He is also the creator and founder of
the first Latino food museum in the United States called Museo 26.
For sure a culinary force to be reckoned with.

Here is what I tried:
Maize Cake Semilla with burrata, arugula salad, and salsa verde.
Maize Cake Jewish with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and caper
berry. Flan De Elote with quinoa and flora de calabaza. Niman Ranch
applewood-smoked bacon. Anson farms Organic Blue Corn Muffins,
with almond butter. Duck Hash with Weiser farm fingerlings and
peppers, 63-degree eggs. Eggs Benedict with English muffins, jamon
and chipotle béarnaise. Huevos Polenta with lardons, rajas,
calabacitas, queso cotija. Croque Senor with chorizo, epazote,
quesos, chipoltes en adobo. Tamal with cracked-corn masa, pulled
pork and Sunnyside-up egg. Waffle de jalapenos confitados with
piloncillo-pepita salsa.

Karen, the gracious bartender made me some specialty cocktails;
Cork County Bubbles with Powers Irish Whisky, Lemon Juice,
Chartreuse, Honey and Roderer Champaign. Wonderful combination
of flavors, with a kick. Then she made me a Vodka Bloody Mary, by
far the best Bloody Mary ever, with so many fresh ingredients I could
not name them all.

My favorite dishes were:
Maize Cake Jewish with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and caper
berry. A perfect gathering of delectable food on one plate. The
Salmon was so fresh, moist and tender. Truly an art piece with the
3 fried purple onions on top, adding to the sculpture effect. Flan De
Elote with quinoa and flora de calabaza. Not what you would expect,
the flan is a sweet corn flan, but very creamy and rich, placed inside
a red corn husk bowl, very artistic, great presentation. Niman Ranch
applewood-smoked bacon had so much good smoky pork flavor, and
real thick slices, amazingly perfect. Anson farms Organic Blue Corn Muffins,
with almond butter. The butter adds a sweetness that is already in the
muffins. The purple color with its crisp outside and extra moist texture inside,
a great brunch starter. Duck Hash with Weiser farm fingerlings and
peppers, 63-degree eggs, the duck is so tender, the potatoes are
perfect as well. They have a machine that sits on the bar that really
arouses your curiosity, called a Sous Vide. This contraption provides
you with a 63 degree egg, that is the same temperature and consistency
all the way around. So the yoke is the same texture as the white, it makes
for a really smooth and creamy experience. Eggs Benedict with English
muffins, jamon and chipotle béarnaise. Never had Eggs Benedict like
this before, the Chipotle Béarnaise adds a whole other dimension that
you can’t find in Hollandaise sauce. It is smoky and sweet with lots of
subtle flavors. Huevos Polenta with lardons, rajas, calabacitas, queso
cotija. The lardoons is what makes this dish so good; it is a form of bacon
and adds a crackly texture with every bite. Waffle de jalapenos confitados
with piloncillo-pepita salsa. What can I say about this lovely work of art?
I am not a big waffle fan, but this one will change your life. The waffle
itself is sweet and salty, the accompaniments are so incredible. Candied
jalapeno peppers, that are sweet but hot, killer dark syrup, and then
there’s the crispy parmesan pumpkin seed tower that is meant to be
eaten with every bite of waffle. It’s all one fantastic symphony of flavors
that will really be savored and worshiped. This is Modern Latin Cuisine at it’s best.

The wines that were paired with my magnificent brunch were:
Featured Wine Blue Plate, Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg, CA 2010,
worked well with all the egg dishes. Chardonnay Carlos Basso, Don
Fincas, Mendoza, Argentina 2010, very oaky floral and smooth, went
great with the waffle.Temparnillo, Marques De Concordia Rioja,
Spain 2003, very peppery, leathery, with hints of tobacco, so good
with the applewood-smoked bacon. Pinot Noir, Don Rodolfo Cafayate
Valley, Argentina 2009, terrific combo with the duck hash, not too
powerful, lets the flavors speak for themselves.

All in all, every dish is a work of art; the attention to detail is huge.
There are no dress rehearsals here, theater at its best, but with food,
and the stage is set. There is so much complexity, with each nuance,
each eyeful of creativity, and it works. With its very attentive staff, this
place really aims to please. Not your average brunch fare as it is
done with such an artful eye, and exciting new flavors. Next time you
have a brunch outing with friends or family, come here and expect to
be completely satisfied… you will not be disappointed! 7360 Beverly Boulevard; 323-933-5300

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Nonna of Italy Dinner – Dec. 13, 2011

When I was in Italy in 2006 I enjoyed so much bounty, but nothing
was better then having the great hospitality of my appointed Italian
Grandma Nonna. I was with my friend Jeanne and her daughter
Elena when they visited their Nonna, Renata Chiavacchi, so by proxy
she became my official Nonna while I was visiting Lucca, Italy. Since
that time Renata has passed away and I have never had another
Italian Grandmother, until now! Look no further, Nonna of Italy on
Sunset in West Hollywood is the replacement for any of your
Grandmothers cooking. With it’s great food and homey atmosphere
you are guaranteed fond memories of your Nonna.

The ambiance is very elegant and comfortable. With a brilliant red
Chandelier, and red candles. Very handsome floor to ceiling wine cabinet kept at 65 degrees, for red wines. The huge windows on Sunset reveal the slick bar and fantastic pizza oven. I was there on a cold and breezy night in autumn, but you could see that a warm balmy nite would be perfect for their outdoor patio.

I was in very good hands with manager Oscar Rios. He was born in
Mexico City and came to Los Angeles where he worked for Wolfgang
Puck and Michael’s Restaurant. A very warm and engaging
personality, he is the perfect presence for this big room.

Here are some of the delectable foods I had that night:

Focacia with Olive oil with basil and sliced garlic. Mushroom Soup with Portabella, Crimini, Porcini mushrooms, and red wine. Warm Shrimp Salad, Special Wild Shrimp salad with Arugula. Roasted Capreses Beet Salad with balsamic basil oil. Tartara di Tonno Sashimi grade Hawaiian ahi tuna with avocado, red onion, extra virgin olive oil. Pizza Pera e Prosciutto, Prosciutto, mozzarella, and Asian pear. Pizza Americana, Tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni. Pasta Rigatoni Napolitana Rigatoni, chicken and shiitake mushroom, herbs de Provence, and parmesan. Pasta Ravioli di Riccotta e Spinacci, Spinach and ricotta ravioli, butter, sage, and parmesan. Pasta Spaghetti Vongole Saltate, Spaghetti, sautéed manila clams, garlic, chopped cherry tomato, parsley, white wine. Pasta Linguini, Scampi, Linguini, Hawaiian prawns, arrabiata or pomodoro sauce. Entrée Branzino alla Griglia, Grilled filet of Mediterranean Sea Bass, roasted potatoes and broccolini, white wine, Meyer lemon sauce. Ossobuco, all day braised Veal Ossobuco, gold whipped potato, roasted beets. Filet Mignon. Cozze e Vongole, Spanish black mussels, manila clams, spicy tomato broth, garlic, parsley, and extra virgin oil.

My favorite food items were:
The Mushroom Soup with Portabella, Crimini, Porcini mushrooms, and red wine. So smooth and creamy with lots of rich meaty mushroom flavor. The Warm Shrimp Salad was very good and garlicky, with the shrimp cooked and served warm on top of the salad. Pizza Pera e Prosciutto, Prosciutto, mozzarella, and Asian pear. Pizza Americana, Tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni. Both pizza’s were incredible, cooked in Nonna’s fantastic pizza oven. Highly recommend all of the pizza here which I tried previously at a book signing event! Cozze e Vongole had a great light tomatoe sauce, it had just the right amount of flavor and the seafood was cooked tender and light. Pasta Rigatoni Napolitana very tradional, with great shitake mushroom and chicken flavor. Pasta Spaghetti Vongole Saltate had a nice red sauce with great clam flavor. Pasta Ravioli di Riccotta e Spinacci, Spinach and ricotta ravioli, butter, sage, and parmesan, very savory and creamy. Pasta Linguini Scampi presented with a very large split shrimp on the top and a generous amount of butter flied shrimp in this nice soothing sauce, a wonderful take on this great staple. Entrée Ossobuco is like mothers milk, a must have, so worth every bite. When they say “all day” braised, they mean it, it falls of the glorious bone. The Filet Mignon is so tender and flavorful, another must have dish.

Here are the delicious wines I tried:

Spumanti Prosecco, Chardonnay Chateau St. Michelle Columbia
Valley, Sauvignon Blanc Honig Napa 2010, Fruili Latisana , Zellina
Pinot Grigio. Primitivo Del Salento Passion 2006, Chianti Classico
Piegaia 2006. The Chardonnay paired great with all of the fish dishes,
added just the right amount of acidity that added to the great flavors.
The 2 reds paired great with the Filet and The Chocolate Fonant. It
added another dimension of flavor, without taking away from the
great Filet flavor.

The 2 deserts were extremely yummy and a nice way to end a
fantastic meal; Apple Tarte, Chocolate Fonant.

Overall, the food is exceptional, this is what I call a sleeper, not a lot
of people know about this great place that serves outstanding food.
With all the Italian restaurants in Los Angeles, this one can keep up
with the best of the best. 9255 W Sunset Blvd # 100 West Hollywood, CA 90069-3311(310) 270-4455

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TiroVino Wine Bar Dinner Tasting – Dec. 19th, 2011

Forget Tuscany, stay in Los Angeles! This place has the best
Pappardelle since the famed restaurant Erasmo in Ponte A Moriano
Lucca, Italy. TiroVino is serving up a melt in your mouth, succulent
Pappardelle with wild boar ragu that will bring all of those authentic
Italian food memories back to life. I’m not kidding! Book a flight to
TiroVino Wine Bar in the heart of trendy Melrose Avenue, you don’t want to miss out!

The atmosphere is Contempary Italian Chic, sporting a 1940’s
theatrical lighting fixture over a common table, complete with
wing back chairs. Old Hollywood black and white photos of
Robert De Niro, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren and other famous Italian film stars grace the walls. Maricio, the owner, loved the book “Opera Medica”, so he tore the pages out and made wallpaper for the photo area and ceiling above the bar. The interior is very slick, and simple but with lots of Italian accents. There is an Al Fresco patio that has wonderful Old Italian movies playing on the wall. This is a great refuge in a bustling city.

Sevy, my very handsome and gracious wine expert, served me some
great wines paired with delicious Italian treats. Pescatora seafood soup of calamari, clams, shrimp and cod in a garlic tomato wine broth. The seafood is cooked to perfection, with amazing tomato flavor. Arancini, a traditional crispy rice croquette filled with braised beef, green peas and mozzarella cheese, melts in your mouth. Mele e Finicchi, fennel and apples, greens, mustard wine vinegarette. Fennel salad, very refreshing with its sweet citrus
dressing. Fava beans tossed with toasted Walnuts and Tuscan
Pecorino, nice cheese flavor, very good. Pizza Rustica, tomato, mozzarella, and Italian sausage, mushroom. The crust on these pizza’s are magnificent, light and crispy. Pizza Capricciosa, tomato, mozzarella, artichokes, and ham, this pizza was even better the next day. Pappardelle, with braised wild boar, so amazing, brings tears to my eyes. The Cod was very tender and fresh with great capers and thinly sliced seared garlic served on a lovely bed of sautéed spinach.

For desert the Amaretto cookies soaked in espresso coffee covered
with mascarpone cream was stupendous. This is a Tiramisu without
the typical lady fingers which makes this dish so rich and smooth.
It has just the right amount of everything.

A lot of the wine tastes were really too small to make sense of. In my
opinion wine is alive and grows in your glass, in your mouth and
when you pair it with food. I tried a lot of great wines here but could
only make comments on a few. Here’s all the wines tasted:

Cortese, Pio Cesare, Gavi di Gavi 2009, Sauvignon Blanc, Cantina Cortaccia 2010, Toscana Chardonnay, Corte alla Flora,Giuggiolo, Bianca Toscano, 2009, Marche Verdicchio, Bucci, Classico, Castello di Jesi 2008, Chardonnay, Planeta 2007, Barbera Fontatafredda, Briccotondo Barbera d’ Alba 2010, Barbera Nebbiolo, Merlot Stefano Farina Le Brune, Langhe Rosso 2006, Dolcetto, Stefano Farina , Dolcetto di Diano d’ Alba 2009, Nebbiolo, Oddero, Barolo 2006,
Corvina Blend, Masi, Valpolicella Classico, Bonacosta 2008,
Supertuscan, Sangiovese/Merlot, Castello di Meleto, IGT 2007,
Negroamaro Malvasia Nero Rivera, Salentino 2007,
Calabria Gaglioppo, Statti, Lamezia Terme, IGT 2009,
Nero d’Avola, Planeta, Santa Cecilia 2006.

These are the wines that I really loved and paired nicely the dishes

Toscana Chardonnay, Corte alla Flora, Giuggiolo, Bianca Toscano
2009, very smokey, fruity, paired great with the salads and the cod.
Supertuscan, Sangiovese/Merlot, Castello di Meleto, IGT 2007 was
very rich and full bodied, paired great with the papardelle and wild
boar, brought out the wine flavors in the meat. Corvina Blend, Masi,
Valpolicella Classico, Bonacosta 2008 is super dry, nice ruby color,
has rasberrie and tabacco flavors, paired great with Pizza’s.

This place serves up some traditional Italian fare, with a little modern
twist. An absolute find, and a must try in a city filled with lots and lots
of great Italian restaurants.
7166 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90046

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Dinner at The Hill – Dec. 28th, 2011

The Hill Bar and Grill is located in the same building as The Saban
Theater, which is an art deco staple in Beverly Hills. Originally, the
Saban opened it’s door in 1930 as The Fox Wilshire Theater and was
designed by renowned theater architect Charles S. Lee, who also
designed The Los Angeles and The Tower Theaters, both in
downtown Los Angeles. The Hill Bar and Grill is right next door to the theater and has all the same art deco adornments. The interior has been newly redesigned by tattoo artist Zoey Gingles. It still has its original tin ceiling, but everything else takes on a new modern flair. Near the bar are these very cool photos of women that are inspired from all things tango. The music is also very cool, Classic Rock all the way, Led Zeppelin, Jim Morrison, and Neal Young played in my very attentive ears. Also, for a small space it appears to be very expansive.

Job, (pronounced Hope) Servin, is the Chef and proprietor. He is very
hands on in the kitchen, creating hearty neighborhood food.
Wolfgang Puck once paid him the greatest compliment, when
Wolfgang visited him at The Red Rock restaurant on Sunset back in
2005. Job did not know who he was, and after eating Job’s Chicken
Ravioli, Wolfgang popped his head into the kitchen and told Job he
liked what he was doing. He came back the next day and brought Job
a signed copy of one of his many cookbooks. Job was completely
surprised when he saw who the author was.

Job’s parents hail from Acapulco, also where Job was born, and Zihuatanejo. Before opening The Hill, Job was the King of Sunset
Blvd, where he worked at Thunder Road House, Red Rock, Le Petit
Four, and Carney’s. He wanted to open his own restaurant that would
be a fun happy neighborhood place.

This is what I tasted:

Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Sauce,
Beef Skewers with Peanut Sauce, Minestrone Soup, Chicken
Vegetable Soup, Cobb Salad, Warm Spinach Salad, Hill Burger,
Surf and Turf Burger, French Fries, California Pizza, Fish and Chips,
Salmon, NY Steak, Philly Cheese Steak, Lobster and Shrimp Ravioli
My favorites were:

The Chicken Strips with Honey Mustard Sauce, the chicken is crispy
fried and very succulent with great sweet honey mustard sauce. Beef Skewers with Peanut Sauce, like steak on a stick, very flavorful. The
Chicken Vegetable Soup had great flavor with nice strips of tender
chicken, kind of like Jewish penicillin, the way my Grandmother Tillie
used to make. The Warm Spinach Salad had warm wilted spinach, with sliced hard-boiled, bacon, and artichoke with a balsamic bacon
reduction sauce, I will be craving this salad now. The Surf and Turf Burger had amazing lobster pieces with quickly blanched skinny asparagus spears and meat which is cooked medium rare. This burger is very juicy, quite the combo, perfect explosion of flavors in your mouth. It is The Hill’s signature dish and gets a lot of accolades from me. The Fish and Chips are very moist with a great beer batter, one of there highly talked about dishes. The NY Steak was cooked perfectly with lots of pepper to make a nice crust served with mashed potatoes and gravy, which is equally yummy.

Here are the great wines that I tried:

Red Wine – Siena, Farrari-Carano, 2009, Sonoma County,
Sangiovese, with hints of black cherry, raspberry, cinnamon,
butterscotch and caramel. This wine is so perfect with the NY Steak,
it brought out all the fragrant berries, but did not take away from the
rich steak flavor. Napa Cellar Pinot Noir paired well with the Warm
Spinach Salad, and provided just the right balance but not too much
acidity. White Wine, Casa Lapostolle Chardonnay, Chilean Wine was perfect with the Surf and Turf Burger, as well as the Fish and Chips. This wine had enough buttery flavors to stand up to the meat as well as the lobster. The Greystone Chardonnay almost had a Sauvignon Blanc like taste to it, with a lot of tangy fruit.

The Hill is very cozy and has great atmosphere, what was Job’s dream is now a big success. A 1930’s glamour bar, right in the hearty of Beverly Hills. The next time you’re in the Beverly Hills – Wilshire area, pop in for some fine happy flavors at The Hill Bar and Grill.
8442 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA. 90211 (323) 951-1112

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