Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Many of the best Restaurateurs and chefs in Southern California were on hand last evening to receive their awards from the Southern California Restaurant Writers.
The 41st annual Awards dinner took place at the plush Tustin Ranch Golf Club which included a wine reception with hors d'ouevres served on the patio overlooking the club's fairways and greens.
The dinner, served in the well appointed Augusta and Broadmore rooms, displayed the talents of the Ranch's Executive Chef Bert Agor Jr. and his staff.
As a lifetime member of the Writers group I was on hand to greet restaurateurs and thank those that contribute to the scholarship fund which aids culinary arts students at community colleges in Southern California.  As scholarship chairman it is my job to distribute the funds to deserving culinary arts students.
Besides handing out five and four star awards to restaurateurs earning such awards the Writers also recognized the Chef of the Year and other staff members of Southern California's best restaurants.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A visit to the America Tropical Interpretive Center, located on Olivera Street in downtown Los Angeles unfolded eighty years of unique history for us.  Here was a story to be told.
In 1932 a renown Mexican artist arrived in Los Angeles after being imprisoned in Mexico for his left wing political activities.
In Los Angeles on Olivera Street David Alfaro Siqueiros painted a mural on the side of a building which he entitled "America Tropical".  Basically it depicted the lost identify of the original people of New World and what happened on the coming of Europeans.
It proved controversial, was whitewashed and for the next forty years forgotten.  Then as the whitewash began to peel to reveal the mural it was rediscovered by the Getty Conservation Institute.   The City of Los Angeles decided it should be available for public viewing so the Interpretive Center was established in 2012.
The Center tells David Alfaro Siqueiros' story and from the second floor one can view the mural.
A prominent sign on Olivera Street will lead you to the America Tropical Interpretive Center.  Admission is free and it is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  More information can be found on the web at www.americatropical.org.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Our visit to Thornton Winery in Temecula yesterday proved an exciting and newsworthy experience.  We had lunch at the Winery's Cafe Champagne, regularly awarded five stars, and chatted with executive chef Jeff Massey.
Thornton Winery now has a Chef's Counter for a one of a kind dining experience with Chef Massey preparing a five course dinner  while you watch.
Seating is limited to eight people so reservations are a must.
Also while there John Thornton told us of plans for Thornton Winery's 27th annual Champagne Jazz series which will again run all through the summer.  First concert now set for Sunday May 3.
We also looked longingly at the Cafe Champagne Easter Buffet menu.  Sadly we have other plans for Easter Sunday.
For reservations at Cafe Champagne or information about the Jazz concerts call 952 699-0099. On the web at www.thorntonwine.com.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In the growth of California over the last 150 years Chinese immigrants have played a significant role.  The first arrivals came shortly after the discovery of gold in 1849 to work in the mines.  Then they were the labor force of choice in building the California link of the first transcontinental railroad.  The section of the railroad over the Sierra Nevada mountains was the most challenging of the whole line.
All this and much more is told at the Chinese American Museum located in downtown Los Angeles.  We visited the museum and the exhibits were very much a learning experience.
The exhibits also tell of the long struggle Chinese had to receive civil liberties that other groups received at birth.  Actually this struggle only reached conclusion with the 1969 Voting Rights act, part of the civil rights movement of that decade.
Other exhibits tell of the establishment of the first Los Angeles Chinatown, then how it was razed for construction of Union Station.  And how the present Chinatown took shape in the 1930s.
The Chinese American Museum is located at 425 North Los Angeles Street.  It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  with a most modest entrance fee. 
Telephone 213 485-8567, web www.camla.org.

Friday, March 6, 2015

It was not the French Riviera but it did have a certain similarity.  Actually we were on the Rooftop Terrace of the L'Ermitage Beverly Hills tasting some of Provence's most prestigious wines.  Sponsored by 'Vins de Provence' and entitled "Simply Iconic"  the tasting included many Rose wines which are the signature vintage of the South of France.
In fact over eighty per cent of the wines produced in the several appellations of Provence are Roses blended artfully from nine different grape varietals.
This tasting also included some excellent red wines produced in Provence and we were much taken with the quality of some of the white wines as well.
It had been over a decade since our visit to Provence and since then Rose wines have surged in popularity both in France and very much so in the USA.  In fact Provence Roses have shown double digit increases in exports to the US every one of the last ten years.
Our tasting at this event proved that there is indeed good reasons for these increases in popularity.
So it was an exciting afternoon.  It was a warm Spring day with a view from the rooftop all the way to a snow capped Mount San Antonio (Mt. Baldy).  And there was salt water just a short distance away.
Made us want to make one more trip to Provence.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

It was our good fortune to attend the Relais & Chateaux 2015 North American Showcase  held last evening at the Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel.  The showcase included member properties in North American as well as delegations representing over 500 Relais & Chateaux properties around the world.
We concentrated our attention to the booths representing properties in California which included the Meadowood Napa Valley and Auberge du Soleil.  We learned that some interesting additions have taken place  at Auberge du Soleil since we stayed there.
Again many changes have taken place since Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa located in Rancho Santa Fe joined R & C properties.
Other properties in California include L'Auberge in Carmel and Hotel Les Mars in Healdsberg.
Relais & Chateaux proprieties extend world wide. 
Cocktails and canapes were served in elegant style to add to the luster of the evening.  It was also an opportunity  to meet and chat with other travel writers, some acquaintances of many years.