Sunday, December 10, 2017

That old adage that 'there is always something new to be learned about wine'  was explained to this Writer decades ago.  And sure enough it was proven, once again, when we attended a Beverly Hills tasting presented by George K. Zanganas who heads NuGreek Wines of Sonoma.
 Member of a family that have been growing grapes in Greece for decades, George has come up with the idea of making wines "blending old world with new world grapes".  And after tasting several of the wines we must add that he has done so with great success.
Some wines like 2016 Georgos Dry Rose made from Pinot Noir grapes is all from the families vineyards located at Nuos Hpakaveous , what is known as the Temple of Hercules.  Originally  the family only grew grapes after taking over the property in 1968.  Then George Zanganas decided they should be making wines from their own vineyards.
Impressive was a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon labeled Ithaka 2014 Penelope's Spell which is 85 per cent from Sonoma and 15 per cent from Greek grapes.  Its aging in a combination of French, Hungarian and American oak barrels.  Georgos 2013 Mykonos Pinot Noir is from Greece while  a while wine, 2016 Sophis' Smile Santorini is made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes blended from both Greek and Sonoma vineyards.  Another wine with a blend of both Greek and Somona grapes is 2014 Georgos Corfu Super Red Blend.
We thought NuGreek Wines of Sonoma  a most original and successful achievement by George Zanganas.

Monday, December 4, 2017

It was at a press event held in Beverly Hills that media learned  the extent of damage the twin hurricanes, Irma and Maria, inflicted on the Virgin Islands.  The three principal islands, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croux, all suffered damage and power failure.
But the briefing by Keisha Nelson was upbeat as she told of efforts to restore power and basic living conditions for its people.
She also outlined some of efforts being sought in Washington to bring about more assistance.  She did give high praise the the Federal Emergency Management Agency which has been at the scene since the twin assaults by nature.
She pointed out that sometimes an area spared by Irma would then be hit by the second hurricane, Maria.
Keisha explained that tourism is responsible for about one third of the Islands economy and that this fact was the focus of further attempts for quicker response from the Government.
Carnival Cruises is important to the Virgin Islands and will continue its cruises on a regular schedule.
The informative briefing and luncheon took place at Ruth's Chris Restaurant.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Our attendance at the Auto Mobility Show, which preceded the annual Los Angles Auto Show at the City's Convention Center, proved to be an interesting event
For one thing it was the first time when a global show brought  together new technology and automobiles.
The Auto Mobility event  preceded the annual auto show by four days and  attended by both auto makers and tech firms working on  cars of the future.
Also attended by more journalists than we have seen at one event in many years.
It is estimated that the two events will be attended by 5,000 journalists from around the world.
The four days of Auto Mobility were filled with seminars, meetings and exhibitions, many sponsored by individual auto makers.
The event we attended was sponsored by Chrysler and included Fiat and Jeep.
The regular Auto Show officially opened on Friday and will extend until December 10.  There are some 1,000 vehicles currently on display at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
This is the 110th edition of the Auto Show and considered the largest in the world.
And of course interest is always high since Southern California is the Number one car buying market in the U.S.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

In Puerto Vallarta the Tourism Board  had  Mtra. Xaviera Gutierrez Ruiz and her driver, Manuel guide us
 on a motor tour of this bustling city of over 350,000 residents, and many tourists as well, since we arrived at the beginning of their high season which extends from November to April.
 Our  Driver Manuel  had been born and raised in the City and had some interesting facts about it and knew every side street and alley. First  was Malecon, the beach walk with its examples of Mexican sculpture. Then to the historic square and heart of the original town with its classic church "Our Lady of Guadalupe.'
 El Set Restaurant and Bar overlooks Mismeloya beach and it was here that the 1962 film "Night of the Iguana' was on location. Everyone agrees that this film put Puerto Vallarta on the map worldwide.
 Our first visit was on a press trip in 1979 and in Puerto Vallarta we stayed at the El Camino Real hotel, then the first high end luxury hotel there. Now such four and five star hotels abound in the region and were included as part of the tour as we followed the road that flanks what is the city's own riviera.
 Then Xaviera treated us to a wonderful luncheon at La Palapa Restaurant and Bar which literally is beachside with many tables spread on the beach.  Here we opened with cocktails.  For me a Pina Colada.   After our grand luncheon it was back to the dock  and our good bye to Xaviera and Manuel who had treated us so well.
 Our last view of the City was at 5 p.m. when, once again, this Writer was called upon to help Captain Rocco Lubrano get the Carnaval Miracle out of port. And of course we had to be up at 5:30 a.m. to help dock the ship in Long Beach. These long ship watches are very trying.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

We thought our on-shore excursions from Carnival Miracle a great success.
 Our adventures ashore started at Mazatlan which is one of the oldest cities on Mexico's west coast.  It seems that our trips to this fascinating place are spaced one decade apart.  The first was when we flew from Los Angeles to spend a holiday at one of the resorts along the beach.  From there we wandered far and wide into the interior.  Next trip was aboard a ship that was hosting an International Food, Wine & Travel Writers conference. 
 This time we were guests of Julio Birrueta, director of the Mazatlan Tourism Board, who arranged our motor tour.  As we moved from the ship through the old town we were amazed on how much had changed in ten years.
 In recent years international tourism to Mazatlan has climbed consistently  and is now considered one of the top winter destinations worldwide.  Young millennials have discovered Mazatlan as they search for new sea and land adventures.  As we moved through Nuevo Mazatlan there was much new growth and new construction.
 Our destination was Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay Resort & Spa where we toured the legendary facility and then moved to The Bistro Restaurant where its exhibition kitchen shows a classic Mexican menu.  Our hosts were Julio Birroeta of Mazatlan Tourism, Yubel Sanchez  of Sinaloa Tourism and Yibran Jesus Flores Ontiveros, Groups and Conventions Manager for Emerald Bay Resort.  We opened with Sushi & Sachimi and then followed with the mango fish fillet while admiring the lush tropical scene surrounding us.
At Emerald Bay think luxury at every level.
 As we returned toward downtown and our ship we noted that the City was hard at work to bring out the true beauty of the coast line and beaches.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Our seven day cruise to Mexico aboard Carnival Miracle was a most rewarding experience.  And our trips ashore at Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta provided much material for our stories.
 We were impressed with how well the passengers aboard Carnival Miracle were treated and so met some of the leaders.
 We met with Hotel Director Stewart Howard.  Along with Captain Rocco Lubrano and Chief Engineer Marco Scolaro he is responsible for what takes place aboard Carnival Miracle.  Originally from England, Stewart Howard has been with Carnival for 25 years and now responsible for the 900 crew members. They  are truly international since every continent is represented among them.  Most are  professional and have made what they do their Carnival career.
We also met others of the Carnival team including Yuro Zelimir Dencic who is Bar Operations Manager,  Originally from Croatia he has been with Carnival many years.  We also had an interview with Ashok Mandyam, Food Operations Manager,   who has been with Carnival since 1993.  Originally from India he personally took us on a tour of the kitchen and explained how the food is obtained and processed
 Most helpful as we learned about Carnival Miracle was  Sharon Tomik, Guest Services Manager.  
What makes a cruise special for most people is the way they are treated while aboard ship. And this treatment of course, centers on the members of the ship's crew guests are likely to meet and be in contact.
 Rarely ashore in this age are people recognized and greeted as polite and courteous as aboard a cruise ship. Ship's guests are always met with a friendly smile, and after just one day are greeted with your name by the cabin steward. This is all possible thanks to the training crew members receive and as a result become true professional at whatever their assignment.
  Most crew members sign contracts for six months, then have two months off before returning but not necessarily to the same ship.
  One evening we ascended to the very top of Miracle to dine at  Nick & Nora's Steakhouse.  This provided us with a memorable dining experience.  On two levels the restaurant offers the finest in prime beef as well as exquisite service and extensive wine list.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Our invitation to test drive one of the new 2018 Volkswagen Golf series proved to be a most interesting experience.  The event took place adjacent to Zuma Beach in Malibu at the Sunset Restaurant.  We had the choice of several of the 2018 vehicles including the Golf, GTI, Golf R, SportWagen and Alltrack.  We chose the Golf R and also had a choice of three different routes for the test drive.  We chose the one up Pacific Coast Highway on a perfect fall day.
We were dazzled with the dash board which includes many functions that were completely new to us.  Two we especially liked was the push button to both start the engine and turn it off.  Another was the digital clock like speed indicator.  It continually shows you exactly how fast you are traveling.  This in addition to the traditional speedometer.  We were impressed with how quiet the interior was when traveling and the smoothness of the  six speed automatic transmission. 
Upon  our return we moved into the Sunset Restaurant for a splendid lunch buffet.  It had been some time since our last visit to this beach side restaurant but it still looked the same with a perfect decor and ambiance to match its location.