Thursday, June 25, 2015

We recall a song entitled "Red Sails in the Sunset" which would have been most appropriate last evening as we lounged aboard Hornblower's Summer Sunset Cocktail Cruise at Marina Del Rey.
As we watched a score or more of sail boats were returning from what are termed "beer can sailboat races".
Aboard Hornblower's good ship "Zumbrota" our two hour cruise was a time to relax while being spoiled with good food and drink. 
There were tasties and appetizers aplenty at a buffet or passed by the steward as we watched the passing sail boats on what could only be described as a perfect summer evening.  There was the ever busy bar and goodies like pesto veggies and tomato basil Bruschetta with chips as well as brie, walnut and tomato on a stick, also sesame salmon skewers.  The staff was helpful and friendly and the Zumbrota allowed all to roam freely either on deck or in the lounge.
We chatted with Captain Miquel Correlli who has been with Hornblower for five years and he recounted the history of "Zumbrota" for us.
The Summer Sunset Cocktail Cruise takes place every Wednesday evening from June through September.
 Hornblower cruises in Marina Del Rey are at Fisherman's Village Marina, 13755 Fiji Way.  Cruise parking is validated.
For more information or reservations call 310 301-9900.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Vintage Steak House in San Juan Capistrano is well named.  It is located in the train depot built in 1894 and includes a restored 1927 Pullman dining car where we enjoyed a memorable dinner and evening.
The cocktail lounge and main dining room are in the adjacent original depot freight house
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week and the menu is large with an extensive traditional breakfast menu.  Besides classic lunch and dinner menus there is a large list of sandwiches, pizza and pastas.
We were there for dinner and  seated in a booth of the Pullman car with a window overlooking the bougainvilleas and willow that surround the station. This  to the delight of this writer who has enjoyed a lifelong  fascination with railroads.
We met with owner chef Byron Gemmels and followed some of his suggestions for our dinner.  We opened with a house specialty, a  smoked trout which came smoothed with capers and three different dipping sauces.  Then a plate that included large shrimp prepared with a Pernod sauce as well as mushrooms and artichoke hearts, both with their own sauces.
My entree was filet mignon, cooked over a mesquite grill and accompanied with three sauces, wild mushroom Bordelaise, Bearnaise or Cabernet demi.
All the while being pampered by Waiter Charles Freeman who has been pleasing Vintage customers for five years.
My dining partner's entree was bone in smoked pork chop with a cabernet red current demi glaze.
Still to come were dessert plates that included a peanut butter creme brulee with chocolate dipping sauce as well as an apple tart baked with walnuts and served with ice cream.
The Vintage Steak House is located at 26701 -B Verdugo Street in San Juan Capistrano.  Phone 949 661-3400, web
We can't wait till we get back to San Juan Capistrano and the Vintage Steak House.  We might just get aboard Amtrak Surf Liner and do just that.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The announcement that Ethiopian has become the first African airline to serve California was heralded with great fanfare at a flight Launch Gala dinner that took place at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood.
Ireland was involved as well since Ethiopian will fly from Los Angeles to Dublin and Addis Ababa.
Tewoldle Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines was on hand to announce the new service which will be featuring the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.  The CEO also described how Ethiopian airlines has grown five hundred per cent in one decade.
This was followed by a cocktail party and buffet dinner consisting of Ethiopian, Irish and California cuisine catered by Wolfgang Puck Catering
Entertainment followed with Ethiopian music and Irish dancers.
For this writer it was an opportunity to learn about what Ethiopia tourism has to offer since we sat at a table with tour operators who were on the first flight that arrived at LAX that morning.
Over four hundred people were at the event.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Our visit to the Banning Museum in Wilmington proved to be a truly interesting experience.  The museum is the former home of Phineas Banning, the man who created the Port of Los Angeles at San Pedro.
On arriving in San Pedro Bay prior to the Civil War he became a stage coach driver between the Bay and Los Angeles, a distance of 22 miles.  Later he owned a stage line and the first railroad connecting the Port with Los Angeles.
He built the first breakwater of what has become the Port of Los Angeles.  He also created the City of Wilmington when he sub divided what had been a cattle ranch.
His home, built in 1864, was used by the family until the 1920s when it was donated to the City of Los Angeles.
As a museum it displays how the wealthy of that period lived and much history of how San Pedro and Wilmington developed.
Seeing the Museum is by guided tour only and these are available Tuesday through Sunday.  For times of these guided tours call 310 548-7777 or on the web at
The Banning Museum is located at 401 East M Street in Wilmington.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The recent meeting of the Southern California Restaurant Writers at  Misto Caffe in Torrance also served to honor Chef Owner Luis Alvarez on the 25th anniversary of the restaurant.
Our dinner that evening showed the type of cuisine that has made Misto so popular for a quarter of a century.
We opened with a fried Manchego cheese with an apricot chadonnay sauce.  Next to arrive was a tomato bisque. We had a choice of entree, either the Steak Dianne of grill heavenly seabass.  I chose the Steak Diane which were medallions of filet mignon, with a red wine mushroom sauce layered on mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.
The seabass was grilled with herbs and olive oil,  lemon Beurre Blanc with mashed potatoes and steamed spinach.
Our dessert came from the Misto's in house bakery and was a flourless chocolate cake.
Misto is open seven days a week and is located at 24558 Hawthorne Blvd., in Torrance with ample off street free parking.  For more information call 310 375-3608, on the web at

Monday, June 8, 2015

We found our recent visit to Hakkasan Beverly Hills restaurant an impressive experience.  It is one of 12 restaurants located on four continents featuring an innovative Cantonese cuisine.  The decor and ambiance are Oriental but like the menu unique and most original.
The bar is truly a showplace with four bartender stations and an astounding  variety of spirits and liquors .  This depth and variety of spirits and unusual cocktails is matched with a wine list of some four hundred wines selected from the world's vineyards.
Chef Ho Chee Boon enjoys an international reputation and while featuring dishes from all of the eight Chinese culinary traditions has moved on to his own specialties and creations.
We love Dim Sum and were delighted with the Dim Sum Platter featured at Hakkasan.  The Rib Eye Bites with marinated lotus in black pepper sauce were just wonderful as was the steamed red snapper with Assam sauce.
The menu is large with both traditional and the Chef's innovative specialties.
The service staff was just what one expects in the type of upscale restaurant represented by Hakkasan.  The skill of the bar staff remarkable.
Hakkasan Beverly Hills is located at 233 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills with valet parking.   Call 310 888-8661 or

Friday, June 5, 2015

Last evening we had the opportunity to preview what the cuisine will be like when the new Seven Seas Explorer takes its place as the most luxurious cruise ship ever built.  It will include a Pan-Asian restaurant named 'Pacific Rim" presenting Asian culinary dishes in a specially designed dining room matching the cuisine.
This took place at the Hakkasan Beverly Hills restaurant with Jason Montague, president and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises on hand to greet media and other guests.
We sat at the table with Bernhard Klotz, culinary director for Regent, and were able to query him on how new culinary concepts are prepared for the  Seven Seas Explorer.  Actually the new ship will also have a culinary arts kitchen  designed as a showroom where chefs will meet passengers and display their skills.
The menu we enjoyed  last evening put on display the gourmet cuisine that will be a part of the 'Pacific Rim' restaurant experience.
Served with cocktails were canapes including rib eye bites in  a black pepper sauce, steamed crab dumpling and a stir fry lettuce wrap.
There was a Dim Sum Platter with lobster, truffle and shrimp dumplings, and entrees like steamed red snapper, Maine lobster prepared with Chinese honey and black pepper and Wagyu beef
The Seven Seas Explorer, at 56,000 tons and carrying only 750 guests, will have one the highest space ratios in the cruise industry.  The maiden voyage is to take place on July 20, 2016 with a fourteen night Monte Carlo to Venice cruise. The ship will remain in Europe next summer.
We were much impressed with the Hakkasan Restaurant and will have more to say about it.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Riverside Art Museum has an interesting history starting with the building where it is located.  It was designed by Julia Morgan in 1929 as one of eighteen YWCA she designed across the United States.  She was born in San Francisco in 1872 and went on to become one of the leading architects of her generation.
The building in Riverside was a YWCA from 1929 to 1966.  It has worked out perfectly as an art museum with Atrium, spacious lobby complete with fire place and two floors for exhibits.
We spent some time in the room displaying works of Sculptor  Lois Sloan.  Also a gallery showing art works entitled "California Dreaming", a collection of international paintings on loan from the Oceanside Art Museum.
Among the Museum's many activities there are youth and teen art classes and work shops.
The Riverside Art Museum is located at 3425 Mission Inn Avenue in Riverside and open Tuesday through Sunday.  General admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, military families free.
For more information call 951 684-7111, on the web at