Thursday, December 17, 2015

Add another to the long list of ethnic cuisines and restaurants that can be found in Southern California.
Kurdish cuisine was new to us until yesterday when we visited Niroj Restaurant located in Agoura Hills.
Owner is Luqman Barwari, who after many years in medical science, opened Niroj as the first restaurant to feature this Middle Eastern styled food.
The Kurdish people reside in the mountains between Persia and Mesopotamia and their cuisine has evolved with influences from several of the surrounding countries including Turkey and Iraq.
Open for three years only recently has Niroj added lunch as well as dinner.  The menu is large and many choices available as we discovered with five cold appetizers to start and then five hot starters to follow.
For lunch there is a buffet as well with a lentil soup, Mussaka, Kayle Veggies,  beef stew and chicken Barjani.
The dinner menu shows many Kebabs and Tawe, meat stews.  There are salads and family style feasts that offer a large selection of menu items.
The wine list includes several wines from Middle Eastern countries, the Massoya Lebanon Beqia Valley 2012 we tasted was an excellent vintage.  There are also two brews from the Middle East, Almaa Pilsener from Lebanon and Kotags Gold Pale Lager from Armenia.
Niroj is located at 30313 Canwood Street in Agoura with free off street parking.  It is open for lunch Tuesday thru Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with the buffet.  Dinner is from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, on weekends from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. with live entertainment on Sunday evenings.  Closed Mondays.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A traditional cuisine and home produced beverages all play a large role in the  attractions offered by the Czech Republic for both locals and visitors. We learned much about this when we recently attended  the Czech Tourism Holiday Party in West Los Angeles
     There we met Vojtech Kacerovsky, director of Czech Tourism in Los Angeles, as well as Barbora Skokanova, travel trade manager.
     Following a video showing of scenic tourists attractions we  had the opportunity to taste some classic Czech entrees.  These included a fish soup, fried breaded carp and potato salad.  Our dessert a Czech traditional holiday sweet bread.
     Our wines included Vino Z Czech 2011 Rivaner and a 2011 Zweigeltrebe.  The Republic has two major wine growing regions producing  white and red varietals.  Mikulovska is historic for growing vineyards that are said to have been  first planted by Romans.   Mikulovska is a region that has achieved fame with its Ryzlink Viassky, a riesling styled white wine.  Muller Thurgau and Chardonnay also do well in this region. 
     Another wine growing region, Velkopavlovicka, was recorded as growing grapes and making wine in 1252.  It is hilly country and also has the warmest climate in the Republic.
     Western most wine region is Znojemska and its elegant white wines were always popular with the Viennese Emperor's Court.
     For more information about tourist attractions check out

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel press luncheon on behalf of SouthWest Germany and what it has to offer the visitor brought back a good many fond memories of our exploration there two decades previously.
At the luncheon we saw videos of how Franfurt Airport has become almost a small city in its own right  as well as the Black Forest Highlands and unique Village that is a showplace for green energy.
On our tour we rented a car at the Frankfurt Airport and started south through Heidelberg and on to Lake Constance.
After hearing Christine Schonhuber, Marketing Director, for tourism in what is now called "The Sunny Side of Germany",  show her video we decided that much has changed since our first visit,
The changes at centuries old Black Forest Village were explained by Jugen Drubba, managing director, for Hofgut Sternen.
Stuttgart is home to  Mercedes-Benz and Porsche automobiles and both have museums in the City.
Heidelberg still has the appeal of both the old and new with its famed Castle overlooking Old Town.
What we learned at the Wilshire Hotel luncheon was how much we had missed on our visit and what allure and luxury Southwest Germany now offers the tourist.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A remarkable aspect of the Pacific Coast Wine Trail which winds its way on the Highway One Discovery Route is that one can visit five of the wineries in Cambria.  Four of the wineries have tasting rooms on one block of the downtown area. 
They are Black Hand Cellars, Moonstone Cellars, Twin Coyotes Winery and Cutruzzola Vineyards.  At Black Hand we met the owner, Tom Banish, and he told us of his vineyards which are located at San Miguel.  We also stopped in at Moonstone Cellars but they were busy with a room full of tasters so we moved on . 
We also wanted to look in at Twin Coyotes and Cutruzzola but both were closed at the time of our visit.
Just about five minutes further out in the City is Stolo Family Vineyards which includes 22 acres of vineyards, the winery and tasting room.
Here we met General Manager Maris Stolo Bennetti, Winemaker Nicole Bertotti Pope and Tina Roca  of the tasting staff.  In Cambria Stolo is the only one that offers a visit which includes looks at the modern winery and vineyards spread on the hillsides of Santa Rosa Valley.  The property has been owned by the Stolo family for generations.
The property includes a very nice tasting room and adjoining is a patio ready for tasting and picnics.  We enjoyed a box lunch here with Winemaker Nicole Pope and Maria Stolo.

Monday, December 7, 2015

We were among the media that attended the recent Rendez-vous en France 2016 press presentation and luncheon that took place at the Andaz hotel West Hollywood.
The presentations were designed to showcase what's new in travel for France in 2016 and meet representatives of Air France, Rail Europe and the Franco-American Museum of Blerancourt.
A video by Atout France featured major developments for France next year.  Air France announced a new premium economy class on its flights worldwide.
In charge of the event was Marion Fourestier, director of communications for Atout France, France Tourism Development Agency.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

We found lots of things to do when we wandered along the Embarcadero at Morro Bay.  We said hello to the seals at the Aquarium, looked over the the sailing ship, Lady Washington,  docked at Sub Sea Tours, peeked into the Skateboard Museum, and found the Chateau Margene Tasting Room.
Here we met the most personable and knowledgeable Cate who told us about the winery  which began in 1997.  The Winery is located in Creston  and there is a tasting room there as well.
El Pistolero is one of marketed wines  and it is founded on the legend of an early California settler.  We  thought the 2014 El Pistolero Chardonnary was outstanding, produced from Santa Lucia Highlands grapes.
The El Pistolero 2011 Meritage was one of the best wines we tasted on the entire trip.The wine showed its three years in oak barrels with delicate flavors and soft tannins and a bargain in its price range.
Chateau Margene is one of the ten wineries on the Pacific Coast Wine Trail.
Just a few steps away from the tasting room was The Galley Seafood Grill and here we had a splendid lunch while admiring the view of the Bay and Morro Rock from our table.
We then checked into the Inn at Morro Bay and entering our room was once more greeted with a splendid view of the Bay, Waterfront and the famous rock.  We will have a lot more to say about this resort.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

During our two day stay in Cambria our lodging was at FogCatcher Inn located along the seashore.  It was hard to find something not to like at the FogCatcher.   Our room was just a stone throw from the breaking waves of the Pacific Ocean.  The sound of the surf lulled us to sleep each night.
A gas fired fireplace, king size bed, refrigerator, micro wave and desk with wifi matched our view of the ocean.  And the daily breakfast buffet was special as well.
If you are looking for wineries on the Pacific Coast Wine Trail Cambria is a good place to start since four of the wineries have their tasting rooms located on one block of the folky downtown area.
Most pleasing was our visit to Stolo Family Vineyards which includes 23 acres of vienyards, the winery, tasting room and picnic patio, all this only a few minutes from downtown Cambria. 
Here we met General Manager Maria Stolo Bennetti, Winemaker Nicole Bertotti Pope and Tina Rocci of the tasting room staff.
With the tasting of their estate Burgundian wines we enjoyed a wonderful box lunch.  The Stolo family has owned the land where the winery and vineyards are located in the Santa Rosa Valley for generations.
This was the second of the ten wineries that make up the Pacific Coast Wine Trail. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Our trip to the Central Coast exploring California Highway One Discovery Route was a great success. Following this route opens different  communities and  vistas of land and the Pacific Ocean as well as passing vineyards and rich farming areas.
At Lompoc we stopped for lunch at the Scratch Kitchen which has a reputation for good food and then followed Highway 1 to Cambria which was our first destination.  But first we stopped at Harmony, California's smallest town with a population of 17.
Here we made our first stop on the Pacific Coast Wine Trail at Harmony Cellars.  This proved to be a well planned small winery with a comfortable tasting room and gift shop in a most scenic location.  We met owners Chuck and Kim Mulligan and sampled some of the wines crafted by Chuck who is also winemaker.  Harmony Cellars is one of ten central coast wineries that make up the Pacific Coast Wine Trail.  He founded the winery in 1989 on property that has been in Kim's family for generations.
In the next week we will follow the P.CW.T.  on this blog and report on some of the other wineries we visited as well as some of the many places and activities available to visitors on the Highway One Discovery Route.