March 11, 2022 – Dinner – El Granjero Cantina – EGC – Los Angeles, CA

This is a newly opened colorful cantina, located right in the heart of the Fairfax district at The Original Farmers Market. At El Granjero Cantina, (meaning the farmer), the culinary team is giving diners an authentic Mexican cuisine experience influenced by Southern California farmers market ingredients. It’s is a lively, bright, inviting, indoor-outdoor seating experience.  Also it has a great patio in the common area on the plaza, between The Grove and The Farmers Markets, perfect for people watching. It is pronounced gran-heh-roh.

This space used to house Ulysses Village, which was a Greek restaurant, I tried their food there and was ok, but it never had the crowds that El Granjero Cantina seems to have. Now it is a far more a vivacious and intriguing space.

Owner John Moshay opened El Granjero Cantina in June of 2021. He also owns Fritzi Coop in the market, with partner/co-owner Neal Frazer from Redbird and Vibiana. I was greeted by, general manager Grace Etchegoven, who worked at the Melrose Italian staple restaurant, Pizzeria Mozza. She says, “I am really proud that we squeeze fresh lime juice for all of our cocktails as this is something that is very important to us, and it really helps us produce the best quality beverages we can provide.” The very creative mixologist, Toben Shea agrees, he is also from Redbird and Vibiana, and has created some delectable agave forward cocktail sensations. Tobin took classic cocktails, the Old Fashioned and the Mai Tai, and he put a tequila twist on them. He honors traditional agave-based spirits from Mexico with a specially curated list of Tequilas y Mezcal showcasing a special selection of Blanco Tequila, Reposado Tequila, Anejo Tequila, and Mezcal. To round out the wonderful culinary feel, Executive Chef Jenni Sklar adds some of her Latin twists, and fully embraces regional Mexican flavors. She worked at Lucques, Squirl, Son of a Gun, and Whoa Nelly Catering.  She says, “We make everything in-house from our pickles to our salsas, carnitas, and our tortillas. The tortillas are soft, pliable, full of moisture and fantastic flavor. The density reminds me of a tamale and every tortilla is handmade to order every time”. El Granjero Cantina’s tortillas are extremely special as Sklar spent months looking for the perfect blend of fresh corn masa and maseca (dry corn flour) to create a unique texture that resembles a flour tortilla.

Here’s What I Tried:

Cocktails:

Classic Margarita, tequila, lime and citrus agave. This cocktail is super thirst quenching, and goes down very easy.

Pomegranate Margarita, Verde mescal, Grand Marnier, grapefruit,and pomegranate lime. The perfectly sweet and sour cocktail, loved it.

Mai Tai, Anejo tequila, aged rum, lime, passion fruit and cinnamon. This was my favorite; I really enjoyed the marriage of all of the ingredients.

Lifesaver, Mezcal, Pisco, Fiero, lime, and pineapple syrup. For the mezcal lover this one will make you very happy.

Appetizers:

Guacamole, with smashed avocado, scallions, cilantro, and lime. Their Guacamole is so subtle, but it really makes you want to come back for more.

Fiesta Nachos, guajillo cheese sauce, Fresno chilies, black olives, onions, salsa verde, pico de gallo, with braised beef. A huge portion, make sure to share this delectable rendition of a Mexican staple.

Salad:

Caesar salad, with tomatillo chicken, romaine lettuce, cured egg yolk, sunflower seeds, and breadcrumbs. The sunflower seeds added an extra component that is just out of this world.

Quesadilla:

Hibiscus, with sautéed hibiscus flowers, onion, carnitas, and cheese. I really loved these quesadillas, unexpectedly sweet and the hibiscus adds a great texture.

Bowls:

Seared Fish, with Aji Verde, marinated kale, and pickled red onion. The fish was Mahi Mahi and is so tender and delectable, for sure this was one of my favorites

Tacos:

Dorado Tacos, with black bean puree, onion and cilantro, salsa macha, queso fresco. A crispy taco is my jam, this one did not disappoint!

El Granjero Cantina was designed by Amy Knoll Fraser who wanted to take full advantage of the existing architecture of the space and exposed joist of the ceiling. Fraser drew inspiration from many trips to Mexico City and she wanted the space to feel like a lively bustling cantina where the energy from the street outside gives back to the restaurant inside, spilling into each other. She saw the space as casual, but cosmopolitan and created a subtle division between the two with tall folding panel doors and dangling light fixtures meant to evoke lightning bugs in a jar creating a warmth that immediately attracts guests into the space. Fraser created bold pops of color throughout the restaurant which inspired the stripes running down the back bar and interior side wall and the bold and bright mural on the outside walls based on a traditional Mexican Otomi embroidery with a nod to Matisse cut outs. The chair design was created by Hee Welling inspired by refrigerator racks, and all the woodwork throughout the space was thoughtfully designed in hickory by John Moshay’s son designer Ned Moshay making this project a full family affair.

El Garnjero Cantina is just something new, fresh, and festive. The atmosphere will make you happy, and the food will complete this inventive experience, it is truly worth trying.

El Granjero Cantina is open every Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, and every Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm. El Granjero Cantina offers Happy Hour “All Day” every Monday and Tuesday, and every Wednesday through Friday from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

SocialMedia:  Facebook @ElGranjeroCantina and Instagram @elgranjerocantina

El Granjero Cantina

The Original Farmers Market

6333 W. 3rd Street, Stall 750

Los Angeles, CA 90036

T: 323.933.9211

www.CantinaLA.com

* Note some content was taken off of their website and press release.

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Dinner – March 8, 2022 – Puglia Italian Restaurant – Blue Jay, CA.

The air in the San Bernardino Mountains is intoxicating. It adds to the overall experience of everything you do, including the food and drinks. You do have to be a bit careful when you are just getting into town. The elevation is 5,203 feet, so you do feel a bit light headed and have to get used to the altitude. Drinking a lot of alcohol is not recommended, and of course drink tons of water is good for the altitude difference and avoiding altitude sickness. I really limited my wine consumption during my first night in the mountains. They did a mini tasting of some of their delightful Italian red wines, but I opted for an overall light and fruity white wine, which just went so well with all of my delicious menu items. My overall experience was just fantastic.

Puglia Restaurant is named after the Puglia region in Italy, and is in the southeast of Italy, just by the sea. Its history goes back to the ancient Greek culture. They produce the best olive oil (winner for more than 200 years of the #1 Olive Oil in the world).

Here’s What I Tried:

Arugula Caprese and Burrata, fresh cherry tomatoes, olives, pink salt, fresh Puglia Style Burrata cheese, balsamic glaze imported from Modena Italy and EVOO*. They serve a pretty large portion, so it is a great dish to share. The burrata melts in your mouth and the olives and tomatoes are an excellent addition.

Spaghetti Zito, shrimp pasta sautéed with white wine and olive oil, adding tomatoes, Italian parsley, and roasted garlic. It is very simple, but just what the doctor ordered.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana, fresh thin sliced eggplant, Italian imported fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, Grana Padano cheese, EVO* olive oil. This very well could be one of the best eggplant parmesans I have ever tasted. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but it is very very special and different from any other ones I have tasted.

Carbonara with bacon and Carbonara with zucchini, both are done as a table side show, and are the stars of the show for sure. They actually call it their Carbonara Show. They heat the already cooked spaghetti in a sauce pan table side and then it is tossed with egg, cheese in a hollowed out Pecorino Romano cheese wheel, so that the hot pasta catches some of the cheese in the cheese wheel and it blends with the other amazing ingredients, it is toped with guanciale. With the zucchini, which is, vegetarian, it is topped with very thinly sliced cooked zucchini and is just simply incredible. This dish is a staple in Rome, and it did not disappoint at Puglia’s in America!

Lamb Chops, 4 delicate lollipops with Italian seasoning, cooked to perfection, it doesn’t get any better then this dish.

Desert Special:

Tiramisu Flambé, another show done on your table. They light the Tiramisu on fire and the whole desert just becomes melted and delicious.

Wine:

Camarà Chardonnay, pale with notes of green apple and honeysuckle with a nice refreshing finish. This wine just went so great with everything I tasted.

There is no butter at all anywhere in the restaurant, and every ingredient is imported from Italy. Manager Davide Laera was my host and guide, he taught me so many things about Puglia, and beyond. It is just the best experience. Owner Antonello Zito is also a nutritionist, so everything is cooked with health in mind. He watched his Nonna cook starting at 8 years old; he has super fond memories in the kitchen as a child with his family. Puglia in Blue Jay is so successful that he just opened another restaurant called Palmina by Puglia in Palm Springs this past January, I am excited to do a tasting there soon.

There are also handmade products like red sauce for sale at the restaurant, I was so fortunate to be gifted one while I was there, and I can’t wait to try it.

The atmosphere is very inviting, part Chalet, and part Osteria, but all Italian. So much personality and charm goes into the dining experience at Puglia. The gal that started out my great experience was Erika from Palos Verdes, who has only been working at Puglia for 2 months; she was super enthusiastic about the food and life in general. I did bring some guests who were just awestruck by the food and allure. You just feel like you walked into a magical land of libation that will captivate and stay with you for a very long time. I highly recommend this lovely dining experience and say instead of getting on a plane to Rome, just drive up to the San Bernardino Mountains for the night. Book into a local hotel and enjoy the romance of Italy in Blue Jay California.

Puglia Restaurant

26848 Hwy 189

Blue Jay, CA.

https://www.pugliaitalianrestaurant.com/
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Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine – Feb. 18, 2022 – Lunch – Los Angeles, CA.

I met Erika and Sean at a super bowl event where they were serving their delicious jerk chicken legs. Sean invited me to come into his restaurant to try more food. The restaurant is located in a small neighborhood a few blocks away from Downtown formerly Staples Center, now Crypto Stadium. It’s on a corner and has a great tropical vibe. It’s a nice getaway in a very urban setting. Once inside Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine you will notice a small but very inviting dining room. The space has been completely redone since it housed Pupuseria Jiquilisco. I remember driving by and seeing this restaurant, it was not pleasing to the eye. Sean did some truly amazing work getting it to look as festive as it does, especially because he opened during the pandemic in August of 2021. It is simple but creative design at its best. There is a bamboo wall, upside down basket lamps, faux ivy garden wall, large black and white photos, and British soccer playing on a flat screen in the background.  It has an indoor-outdoor feel, with an open beam ceiling.

Since Sean opened, business has been booming. But, this is not typical Caribbean fare it’s really special. Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine  is one of the only Caribbean places in Los Angeles to offer Halal meats in their recipes. Halal means animals must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter and all blood is drained from the carcass. During the process, a Muslim will recite a dedication, known as Tamiya or Shahabad. Supermarkets selling halal products say they stun all animals before they are slaughtered, and the difference is that the halal meat it was blessed before the animal is killed. Sean says that he uses lemon and vinegar to wash the chicken and meat before cooking, he really believes that all of this adds to the complete taste, tenderness, and goodness of the various meats. Their meats are delicious and if this is their process then all the more power to them, really worth trying. It is all very specific and mindful, which to me adds to the overall feeling you get when you’re eating it.

Here’s What I Tried:

C’S Patties, these are like empanadas, and are so wonderful, the vegetables in the patties are very sweet corn, peppers, and onions. The meat is ground meat and is super flavorful. I tried both the Spicy Beef Pattie, and Vegetable Pattie.

C’S Sides:

C’s Fried Dumplings, these for sure are dippers, which should be used in all of the great sauces served.

Fried Plantains, when done right they are not super sweet and add a nice extra nuance to any meal, these were done to perfection.

C’S Basmati Rice, this rice will blow your hair back. I got parts of the secret ingredients after talking to Sean; clove, garlic, scallions, thyme, onion, coconut milk, allspice, red kidney beans and bay leaves. There is more then this but that’s all I was able to get out of Sean. It is just so exceptional, the aroma and nuances will make you come back for more.

Jasmine White Rice, great rice, perfectly cooked, pour some of the oxtail sauce on it and your good to go.

Entrees:

C’s Butter Bean & Oxtails, the oxtails are really tender and the sauce is otherworldly.

C’S Curry Shrimp, this curry is very light and comforting. It is not what you would think typical curry tastes like, Caribbean curry is much more resembling a delicate soup with unique subtle curry flavors.

C’s Original Jerk Rubbed Shrimp. This was my favorite dish. They get really good shrimp, that is wild caught. I would just order buckets of this, it is that good.

Jerk Salmon, delicious and tender, with amazing jerk flavor, a great menu item.

More Life Ital Stew Side, for the vegan, a really terrific healthy stew, I just loved the Okra. Sean used to be a pescatarian, but is now a Vegan, so he really puts so much effort into making this dish taste fantastic.

Juice:

Reggae Medley, this juice is full of many fruits, and will just quench your thirst, after some of the spicy foods.

Sean Romeo is the chief chef and bottle washer; he is very hands on to say the least. When I peeked around the corner to the kitchen there he was busy creating his memorable menu items. He had no formal training or experience. He would watch his grandmother, Audrey Romeo Rosemond Jackson, in the kitchen as a child. Sean credits his grandmothers delicious cooking to what he now calls his conscious kitchen. Not to be mistaken for Jamaican Caribbean cuisine, he is from Barbados, and his family is from Antigua. He agrees that there is a melting pot of Caribbean cuisine from many different countries, but Sean is very specific in that his cooking is more steeped in his Barbados roots. Sean is a real gentleman, and really loves his Caribbean food and traditions. You can tell just how passionate he really is about this place.  What keeps him going is seeing the gratification on his customers face. He’s a people person. It resonates in all of his dishes and the way he treats you when you walk in the door.

Sean moved to Los Angeles from Miami because he loved the tropical feel of Southern California. Sean loves his family, while I was eating his gorgeous son Taj decided to take a nap right next to me. He looks a lot like his dad.

From Cecilia’s Website: Innovators of Caribbean Cuisine in The Heart of Los Angeles. Introducing culture, lifestyle, and fine Caribbean cuisine to the diverse city of Los Angeles, California. They are the heartbeat and the rhythm of SoCal. Including: Zabiha Halal Meats, Wild Caught Seafood, Vegan Options. Los Angeles, California has a diverse community of residents and transients from the Caribbean. With a calling and demand to offer more to this bustling city, we launched LA’s first fine dining experience for Caribbean food and culture with a contemporary flair. We are a conscious kitchen, offering a variety for special dietary needs. We call ourselves innovators and specialists of Fine Caribbean Cuisine Dining, an element that’s been missing from LA’s foodie scene for some time. Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine as a family-owned restaurant with vision of restaurant owner S. Romeo. We offer more than cuisine, we bring the history, culture, and community to the rich culture of the Caribbean. With authentic flavors from the Caribbean, deeply rooted in the islands, guests from around the world flock to visit. Our chefs know the art of the Caribbean flavor. We are more than a dining experience, we are a lifestyle. Immerse.

Location:

Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine is an eclectic sample of Caribbean cuisine. We are the first Island restaurant to offer Zabiha Halal. Our desire is to bring the taste of the West Indies to Los Angeles. Nestled two blocks away from LA Live and are conveniently located in DTLA, close to the 110 freeway. The island connection runs deep at Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine with our friendly staff.

Experience:

Come be transported from the vibes of our space. You’ll be whisked away by earth tones, bamboo, and plenty of foliage when you walk through our doors. The sweet sounds of reggae, calypso, and soca will also mesmerize your eardrums while the vibrant aromas of curry and jerk engulf your sense of smell. Visuals in the backdrop of carnival, dancehall streaming alongside walls full of paintings depicting Caribbean culture. Our patio dining doesn’t fall short. Sit and enjoy the DTLA skyline with Lady Saw and Horsemouth as your backsplash while catching a glimpse of our authentic jerk pan in action. Our aesthetic beats of love and our understanding is that of social consciousness. Seafood is always wild-caught and sustainable and our farm to table always organic.

Staff Includes; Sean Romeo – Group-Chef & Owner, Ronaldo Nichols – Prep Cook, Jerry Cantrell – Cook, Danny Delgado – Dish/Prep.

Cecilia’s Caribbean Cuisine

1403 W. 11th St.

Los Angeles, CA. 90015

213-205-8363

https://ceciliasdtla.com/
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Caffe Pinguini – Re-Visit – January 9, 2022 – Playa Del Rey, CA.

This restaurant is a hidden gem, its location is at the beach, and if you don’t live near by, you have to hear about it from a friend. But once you do, you too will be a fan. I am glad to say that I am spreading the word, Caffe Pinguini is simply authentic, very fresh, and amazing Italian food on the West side. It is so worth a trip to take in this fantastical creative cuisine.

Both owners Tony and Enrico are from Rome, and worked in the restaurant business in Santa Monica at Café Del Fini for many years. Caffe Pinguini has been in operation since 1997, and they have managed to keep the food very authentic, and most of their recipes are what you would get in an Osteria in Rome.

There is a nice large outdoor patio if you’re concerned with being safe during this pandemic, also the indoor area is very charming, quaint, and romantic. They ask for vaccination upon entry. The staff is super accommodating and friendly. It’s all great vibes with great food – what more could you want?

Here’s What I Tried:

Starters:

Trio Di Bruschetta, assortment of bruschetta. There are three Bruschetta’s served, olive tapenade, peppers, and tomatoes, all of them unique and the perfect way to start your great meal.

Smoked Mozzarella with Shitake Mushrooms, slices of smoked mozzarella broiled and topped with sautéed shitake mushrooms. I am a true mushroom lover; this dish has so many lovely long slices of shitake mushrooms. It’s just a great combination of cheese and fragrant mushrooms.

Soup:

Tortellini In Brodo, four cheese ravioli and ground Italian sausage in a savory chicken broth. This is Italian penicillin, its very soothing, absolutely comfort food.

Salad:

Shrimp Salad, with grilled shrimp, served with mixed greens and garlic in an olive oil and lemon dressing. This salad is light and refreshing, you really taste the ingredients with a very minimal amount of really great dressing.

Pasta:

Fettuccine Contadina, with fettuccine pasta with green peas, mushrooms, and pancetta, in a light creamy sauce. The marriage of the peas, pancetta, and creamy sauce is just the best pasta – in my opinion.

Linguine Pesto, with linguine pasta with basil, minced pine nuts and garlic. This dish is just so simple but it has such a unique flavor that really entices ones taste buds.

Risotto Al Funghi, with risotto with mixed wild mushrooms. The mushroom flavor permeates this super wonderful dish, if your a mushroom lover, like I am, this dish is a must try.

Special:

Special Homemade Spaghetti with Lobster Tail. The homemade spaghetti is so delicious, it is done like square shaped pasta instead of round and the sauce is subtle but super flavorful.  The lobster tail is fresh and succulent, a really amazing dish.

Desert:

Crème Brulee, rich and creamy, just the best way to end my fantastic experience.

Wines:

Chardonnay, Black Stallion, Napa Valley, 2019. A creamy, buttery, rich Chardonnay, that paired with the Lobster Spaghetti so perfectly. It sets the stage for your taste buds to really indulge in the flavor of the lobster.

Contesa, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, a bold red Italian wine, next time your at a nice Italian restaurant order this with any of the red sauces, it will add to the overall experience. 

My dinner was such a wonderful experience; I was truly made to feel like a queen. The ambiance, the food, the service was all-exceptional.

Owner Tony was so kind to allow me to come in and try his delightful cuisine again.  The second time was even better than the first. There are many locals that come on a regular basis. If I lived close by I would for sure be in once a week, it is just that good!

Caffe Pinguini

6935 Pacific Ave.

Playa Del Rey, CA.

310-306-0117

https://caffepinguini.com/
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The Palm – December 18, 2021 – Los Gatos. CA.

Owner Tony is just so gracious, but on my lucky tasting night his son Simon Vincent Loeffler, 18 years young, was at the helm, he showed me a great dining experience.

I asked Simon why people should try The Palms, he said, “People should come try their delicious cuisine because everything is thought out, its all in the details and service, all the little things.

Their customers are locals, and they do big events, large banquets.

Chef Sergio and Oscar call this type of cuisine Pacific Islander meets Meditereanean. Their menu changes seasonally, they try to do new creative things on their menu, they will have new additions soon.

Cocktail:

Figet About It, with Ketel one vodka, house fig jam, blackberry, fresh citrus. This cocktail is very pretty to look at as well as being very drinkable, just terrific.

Wines:

Seghesio Zinfandel, Sonoma County, CA 2018, I used to be a wine club member with this astounding winery. It went so great with the Rib Eye.

Rombauer Chardonnay, Carneros, CA 2019, a must have with the scallops.

Here’s What I tried:

Starters:

Edamame with salt and pepper or spiced garlic ponzu, these little darlings were just amazing, healthy and perfect, a great starter.

Coconut Pacific Prawns, with toasted coconut, and sweet firecracker sauce.  These are out of this world, just try them.

Fried Rice with Hawaiian teriyaki, mixed vegetables, egg, scallions, sriracha. They make really great fried rice; you can add a protein to it as well.

Monterey Bay Calamari, with fritto misto, carrots, jalapeño, micro cilantro, and cilantro jalapeño aioli. They fry up the jalapeno peppers, this adds another level to this highly recommended appetizer.

Salads:

The Wedge Salad, with bacon, diced onions, mixed cherry tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, and chipotle blue cheese dressing. A very crispy wedge of lettuce with the bacon, it makes for one delicious salad.

Asian Chopped Salad, with Napa cabbage, iceberg, carrot, mandarins, almonds, green onion, sesame, crispy wontons, and peanut vinaigrette. This is what you would want from a chopped Asian salad, all these great ingredients.

Mains:

Chilean Sea Bass, with sautéed carrots, Maui onions, snow peas, cremini mushrooms, bok choy, lipstick peppers, peppered miso ginger broth, udon noodles, and micro cilantro. This was my favorite dish of this tasting. The noodles are large with great subtle flavors, and the fish was flaky and moist, just spectacular.

Seared Alaskan Sea Scallops, with wild mushroom Parmesan risotto, ginger beurre blanc, and crispy leeks. The risotto is quite the surprise; it is creamy with a lovely cheese flavor. The scallops were cooked with a nice crust, they did not disapoint.

16 OZ. Rib Eye, with certified Angus beef, butter mashed potatoes, and grilled broccolini. The steak is very flavorful with the gravy, it hit all of the right tasting notes.

Dessert:

Key Lime Pie, graham cracker crust and whipped cream. This pie has the perfect lime flavors, with a nice creamy rich texture.

Hula Pie cookies and cream, coffee ice cream, Oreo cookie crust, whipped cream, sugared almonds, and chocolate drizzle. There is so much going on with this terrific desert. I would order this every time.

Part of my trip to Los Gatos was to find out how these establishments faired during Covid, Simon tells me that The Palm did good business during Covid, mostly take out, but you could sit outside with your take out, enough so to stay in business and thrive. Thank goodness.

They have lots of outdoor seating in the summer time with live music Thursdays.  As well as Simon’s Mom hired a DJ for every other Sunday. The food got better since the last time I was here, if that is possible, because in 2019 it was also stunning. When you’re in Los Gatos there are so many dining options, but The Palms is one of the best ones. So make it part of your dining experience when you are in Los Gatos, CA.

The Palms – A Pacific Rim

115 N. Santa Cruz Ave.

Los Gatos, Ca. 95039

408-402-3811

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Paesano Italian Restaurant – December 17, 2021 – San Jose, CA.

I got right off the plane in San Jose and came direct to Paesano for lunch. The crowd is really happening here, lots of regular customers, enjoying their lunch hour and Christmas celebrations. Owner Giuseppe is as kind and generous as he was the last time I was here. My lunch was delicious, and Giuseppe was very welcoming, this is my favorite restaurant in the area. It is a place that you must try!

Here’s What I Tried:

Cocktail:

Martini, a traditional Vodka Martini in a traditional Vodka Martini glass, what more could you want.

Wine:

Chardonnay J. Lohr, a nice creamy Chardonnay, it paired great with the seafood dishes.

Appetizers:

Guazzetto Clams and Mussels with garlic, olive oil, white wine and marinara sauce. The shellfish is super fresh and the sauce is nice and light, a true winner, and I ate the whole dish.

Pasta:

Fettuccine Alla Moda, this was my favorite pasta, nice porcini mushrooms fill this pasta with a wonderful fragrant flavor, just spectacular.

Spaghetti Tutto Mare with shrimp and scallops and white wine in a marinara sauce. The shrimp and scallops are perfectly cooked and they pop in your mouth, another delectable pasta dish.

Panini:

Panini Eggplant Parmesan with small green salad, this is a no nonsense lunch item, and the salad is so refreshing.

This dining establishment is so special, everything homemade and all so delicious. If your looking for great Italian cuisine make Paesano part of your lunch or dinner repertoire.

Paesano Ristorante Italiano

350 Julia St. Bldg. 1

San Jose CA 95110

408 888-9815 https://paesano

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Sarah’s Southern Kitchen Coffee Shop – Lunch – December 18, 2021- Los Gatos, CA.

Last time I was here in Los Gatos I met Mike Williams and Sarah was working at The Southern Café as his wonderful employee. Tis restaurant has been serving great food for over 20 years. Sarah Williams took over as owner in July of 2021. Past owner Mike Williams, not related, worked at the restaurant his late mother founded 30 years ago. 2020 with the pandemic, nearly ruined Mike financially. Before the pandemic, him and his wife were on the verge of opening Nolan Rose, a family restaurant named for their children, in the former Le Boulanger location a couple blocks down East Main Street. When the project fell through, the couple made the difficult decision to leave town, and Sarah became the new owner. The restaurant has the same amount of locals and the same great food from before.

Someone should write a screenplay about this historic landmark. Everyone knows each other. The very fun waitress Debbie commiserates with every customer. Joe a regular who was scheduled to have a surgery was the star of the show at the counter, a past Vietnam Veteran; he lives close by and comes in all the time. The gentlemen sitting next to me ended up picking up Joes tab for his breakfast and to go order. He didn’t want Joe to know about his taking care of his meal, but I saw Joe’s look on his face, he was touched and shocked, it was quite the moment for me to witness, a great Christmas surprise. He left before Joe knew he paid Anyway this is what this place id all about, a true staple in Downtown Los Gatos.

Here’s What I Tried:

Grass-Fed Burger Steak & Eggs, the burger was cooked medium rare and was very tasty, the eggs were fluffy and light, a delicious breakfast.

Homemade Biscuits with Gravy, the gravy is just so creamy and full of meat, just amazing.

You too can experience this terrific local breakfast / lunch spot and be part of this everyday neighborhood occurrence.

Sarah’s Southern Kitchen Coffee Shop

Open Seven Days A Week

Monday-Friday 7AM-2PM

Saturday & Sunday 7AM-2: 30PM

27 East Main Street * Los Gatos * CA 95030

(Not affiliated with any other Southern Kitchen)

(408) 354-7515

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10-TIME TONY AWARD-WINNING BEST MUSICAL The Band’s Visit CELEBRATES L.A. PREMIERE IN HOLLYWOOD AT THE DOLBY THEATRE • NOVEMBER 30, 2021 – Hollywood, CA.

THE BAND’S VISIT, part of the Broadway in Hollywood, featuring music and lyrics by Tony and Drama Desk Award-winner David Yazbek, will celebrate its L.A. premiere in Hollywood at the Dolby Theatre from November 30 – December 19, 2021. THE BAND’S VISIT is one of four musicals in Broadway history to win the unofficial “Big Six” Tony Awards, which include Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, and Best Direction of a Musical. The tour will also play in Costa Mesa at Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts from March 22 – April 3, 2022. THE BAND’S VISIT will play Tuesdays through Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm, and Sundays at 1pm & 6:30pm.

Award-winning Israeli film actor Sasson Gabay will reprise the role of Tewfiq, the role he created in the 2007 film of The Band’s Visit and has played on Broadway and in more than 17 cities on the First National Tour. Joining him to lead the company is the critically acclaimed actress Janet Dacal (Prince of Broadway, Wonderland, In The Heights) in the role of Dina. The cast will also include Joe Joseph as Haled, Clay Singer as Itzik, Yoni Avi Battat as Camal, Coby Getzug as Papi, Joshua Grosso as Telephone Guy, Kendal Hartse as Iris, David Studwell as Avrum, Billy Cohen as Zelger, Layan Elwazani as Julia, Marc Ginsburg as Sammy, Ariel Reich as Anna, and James Rana as Simon along with Ali Louis Bourzgui, Loren Lester, Dana Saleh Omar, Nick Sacks, and Hannah Shankman. THE BAND’S VISIT world premiere opened to critical acclaim at the Atlantic Theater Company in December 2016, and opened at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore theatre in November 2017. It went on to play 589 regular performance and 36 previews, breaking the all-time box office record at Broadway’s Barrymore Theatre twice and winning 10 Tony Awards before closing in April 2019. The production was featured in over 20 “Best Of The Year” lists including The New York Times, Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly. The First National Tour launched in June 2019 and played 17 cities before the touring entertainment industry was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With music and lyrics by Tony Award®-winner David Yazbek, and a book by Tony Award-winner Itamar Moses, THE BAND’S VISIT won “Best Musical” awards from the Tony Awards, Drama League, New York Drama Critics’ Circle, the Outer Critics Circle, the Lucille Lortel and the Obies. It is based on the screenplay by Eran Kolirin, and is directed by Tony Award-winner David Cromer. The creative team also includes Patrick McCollum (Choreography), Tony Award-winner Scott Pask (Set Design), Sarah Laux (Costume Design), Tony Award-winner Tyler Micoleau (Lighting Design), Tony Award-winner Kai Harada (Sound Design), Charles G. LaPointe (Hair Designer), Tony Award-winner Jamshied Sharifi (Orchestrations), Andrea Grody (Music Supervisor & Additional Arrangements), Dean Sharenow (Music Supervisor & Music Coordinator) and Adrian Ries (Music Director). THE BAND’S VISIT is produced on tour by Orin Wolf, StylesFour Productions, Evamere Entertainment, Atlantic Theater Company, David F. Schwartz, Barbara Broccoli, Frederick Zollo, Grove•REG, Lassen Blume Baldwin, Thomas Steven Perakos, Marc Platt, The Shubert Organization, The Baruch/Routh/Frankel/Viertel Group, Robert Cole, DeRoy-Carr-Klausner, Federman-Moellenberg, FilmNation Entertainment, Roy Furman, FVSL Theatricals, Hendel-Karmazin, HoriPro Inc., IPN, JAM Theatricals, The John Gore Organization, Koenigsberg-Krauss, David Mirvish, James L. Nederlander, Al Nocciolino, Once Upon A Time Productions, Susan Rose and Paul Shiverick. The Executive Producers for THE BAND’S VISIT are Allan Williams and Charlie Stone. THE BAND’S VISIT original Broadway cast album received the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. The musical is also the recipient of a 2019 Daytime Emmy Award for a performance of “Answer Me” on NBC’s “Today”.

SOCIAL CHANNELS:

Facebook: “The Band’s Visit”

Twitter: @TheBandsVisit

Instagram: @TheBandsVisit

#TheBandsVisitTour

www.thebandsvisitmusical.com

* Note Some Content Was Taken off Of Their Website.

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CoCo’s Italian Market & Restaurant – Nov. 11, 2021 – Lunch – Nashville Tennessee

Just exactly the type of establishment that I love to try. Great food, fantastic hospitality, and a lovely family to match. My experience was just spectacular.

Owner Chuck Cinelli, was so informative, Chuck is very down to earth, but at the same time, he’s all business. Chuck treated me like a Queen, he let me try many great dishes, with all their own unique with stories. He runs a tight ship, and you can tell by his staff’s demeanor, they love their jobs.

His mother Joan, and her family have been serving up the best food for 55 years. Joan’s family is from the Campania and Lazio regions between Naples and Rome. She remembers hearty pasta dishes with fresh herbs and vegetables straight out of the family’s large gardens. She loved olives; thick-crusted bread, and lamb dishes. The family also grew grapes to make homemade wine. Holiday bread, cakes, rice, and ham pies were eagerly anticipated every season too.   Back at the restaurant Joan’s mother Lucy always insisting on the freshest ingredients from the colorful local purveyors; Giavani the fish man, Pat working the produce stand, Giorgio the butcher, and Giuseppe who supplied us with imports from Italy. And of course, she remembers the long hours in the restaurant both in the front and back of the house. A favorite from her family’s old restaurant that Coco’s does today is their Meatballs and the Manaste (greens and beans). Joan says, “I’m glad we get to use a lot of the same imports we used years ago in the dishes here today. Bon appetite”.

Here’s What I Tried:

MANAST:

This hearty dish of cannelloni beans, pancetta, spinach, garlic and onions is a smaller version of the Tuscan Rustica found under House Specialties.

This is Italian penicillin, it’s robust but mellow, just a delicious home made soup. It will warm the cockles of your heart.

FRIED CALAMARI:

Tender pieces of calamari lightly fried until crisp. Served with our house marinara. The calamari is tender and crispy, just a delicious version of an Italian staple.

HOMEMADE BURRATA CHEESE:

Made fresh daily, we start with our own Mozzarella cheese balls and fill them with a mixture of creamy ricotta cheese, fresh herbs and Parmesan. Get creative and add some to a side of vegetables or on top of your salad, pasta or pizza. They make their own and say oh it’s easy. Having been to Italy and seeing it being made and then tasting it, it’s a real gift to do it right, and at Coco’s they do!

ITALIAN SALAD:

Spring mix with a blend of artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, spicy red onions and roasted red peppers. Served with balsamic vinaigrette. I ordered shrimp on mine and it was just amazing, the dressing is a real treat as well.

Sandwiches:

ITALIAN BEEF:

Piles of fresh shaved roast beef covered with melted provolone served with Chicago style hot Giardiniera and a side of au jus for dipping. Super thick and the bread is otherworldly, a perfect sandwich. Oh did I talk about the dipping sauce, it completes the whole experience.

TORPEDO:

Layers of freshly sliced prosciutto, hot capicola, genoa salami, provolone cheese, spring mix, roasted red peppers and red onion. A hearty, meaty sandwich, I actually took half on the plane for my meal on the ride home.

Pasta:

BOLOGNESE:

Coco’s own 12 hour marinara and meat sauce with a dash of cream served over fettuccini. This pasta is rich in tradition and a family recipe that remind you or the old country, even though I am not that old.

SEAFOOD ARRABBIATA:

Succulent shrimp and scallops in a spicy red sauce served over linguini. They did a red sauce with a bit of cream for me on this one and it was just stupendous, I would order this every time.

Dessert:

They make their own Gelato and it is really the best Gelato I have ever had, besides having it in Venice Italy.

Chuck attributes his tenacious nature, when it comes to his restaurants, to getting bad grades and seeing examples of his Father and Grandfather being restaurant owners. In his world there is no room for failure. So he ventured into his family business and never looked back. His wife Amy is also part of the business keeping track of the books.

Back in 2020 he paid homage to the 55 years that the family business has existed and made 55-cent pizzas, which was a huge, hit amongst his already super happy regular customers. CoCo’s Italian is more than a restaurant; it’s a social gathering, especially because they have Bocce court outside with tournaments seasonally.

There is an events space next door where Chuck does weddings and other amazing events. He does all of the catering, and depending on what the theme is he gets the décor done and all of the bells and whistles to make any event successful. Chuck is a marketing wiz, you can tell by all of the poster and flyers regarding all of his upcoming events and deals. A secret Chuck likes to talk about is that he does not pay for advertising; he does everything himself. Chuck continues to see a huge influx of new business coming, and more corporations are building their headquarters in Nashville.

I was so fortunate to meet his 2 adorable daughters. When I asked them what they like to eat, they both said buttered noodles and pizza, easy peesy.

Even through Covid they havn’t skipped a beat, business has been booming, they pivoted and the rest is history. The day I was there lots of folks were having lunch in their festive dining room. Everyone was thick in conversation and yummy Italian fare.

They have 4 separate locations in and around the Nashville area, be sure to look them up on Google and try them out. You too will be pleasantly surprised.

Coco’s Italian Market & Restaurant

411 51st Ave N, Nashville, TN 37209

italianmarket.biz

(615) 783-0114

* Note some content was taken off of their website.

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The Twelve Thirty Club – Cocktails and Appetizer – November 10, 2021 – Nashville, Tennessee

Justin Timberlake has all the right moves, and the best songs. Now with his new establishment 1230 Club he has joined the ranks with many other super star club owners, but Justin’s name is nowhere on his brink and mortar business. You have to be in the know to realize that Justine is one of the owners.

The interior is so classy, like something out of New York. Super club type vibes, so many different rooms with so much exceptional interior design. It’s worth it just to come and check out the gorgeous décor.

My tasting was small but mighty:

Cosmopolitan, in a coupe glass with the perfect combination of cranberry and simple syrup, to the vodka ratio, was just perfect.

Martini, a true traditional Martini, elegant and wonderful, just how I like it.

Short Rib Pot Stickers, the sauce was spectacular, with hints of sesame and soy, the pot stickers are soft with a delicious bite of short ribs.

It is located right across from Bridgestone Arena on Broadway, so it’s right in the heart of it all. Next time I come I will make time for a bigger tasting, I just know I will enjoy every minute.

The Twelve Thirty Club

550 Broadway

Nashville, Tennessee 37203

Thetwelvethirtyclub.com

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