Thursday, March 31, 2016

The seminar on Costa Rica tourism last evening was a wonderful learning experience.  We found out that Columbus actually discovered and named the country in 1503, calling it 'rich coast', in Spanish Costa Rica.
It has been a democratic republic for one hundred years and has a population of five million people.
The seminar  announced a new tourism program called "Essential Costa Rica" which is a joint effort by one hundred ten corporate members as well as the public sector.
The country has much to offer the visitor with two international airports serviced by ten major airlines.
Here you have the choice of coasts on two oceans, one the Caribbean, and on the other side the North Pacific Ocean.
Here too lush rain forests, twenty per cent of which  protected from development with National Parks.
This relatively small country has five per cent of the world species,  860 birds species alone.
The country considers bio diversity one of its most valuable resources and has received world wide recognition for its efforts.
Since tourism is so important to the economy much effort has been directed into offering a wide range of hotels and inns as well as a large number of activities for visitors.
The Costa Rica Road Show was held at the Hilton Universal City Hotel with a large attendance.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Earlier this week the Southern California Restaurant Writers conducted its 42nd annual Awards Banquet to honor the region's best restaurants and single out individuals for special recognition.
The event took place at the Center Club in Costa Mesa and included a wine tasting featuring wines from Thornton Winery, Jackson Family Wines, Pedroncelli and Young's Market along with appetizers.
The dinner included a local Farmers Market Vegetable salad, rosemary sea salt crusted rack of spring lamb, a dessert of chocolate ginger cake with  sorbet and Mignardises.
Individual awards included Anun Puri, Royal Khyber, Santa Ana as Restaurateur of the Year; Ed Inglese, Tutti Mangia, Clairmont, Owner-Entrepreneur of the Year; John Tallichet, Specialty Restaurants, Humanitarian of the Year; and Nadine Pineda, Pacific Dining Car, Santa Monica as Manager of the Year.
Named Chef of the Year was Henry Gonzalez, Spaggi's, Upland and Sara Guccione, Tustin Ranch Gold Club as Sous Chef of the Year.
Other restaurateurs attending received five star, four star and three star awards  as being among the best dining houses in Southern California.
Proceeds from the dinner are for the Doris Crandall Scholarship Fund which annually provides scholarships to students attending community college culinary art courses.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

We truly like the visual menu and order first style of Maddalena Restaurant located at the picturesque San Antonio Winery in downtown Los Angeles.
It had been a good while since we had last been there but the decor, ambiance and quality of the food had not changed ,
The order first trattoria style still is in place and studying the actual plates of food on two tables in part of the entertainment and often takes a good bit of time since they are so appealing.
Our tour of the winery conducted by Winemaker Arnaud Debons will be the subject of an upcoming story in our Vittles newsletter.
Our lunch selection was fresh clam linguini and the presentation was most appealing. Twelve baby clams, shells open, rimmed our plate with a large, enticing helping of pasta in the center.  With this there was an excellent green salad and wonderful Italian bread which we ate too much of.
With this feast we enjoyed a glass of San Antonio Heritage wine, a 2010 Bordeaux Blend, that with good reason won a gold medal at a recent wine competition.  It took some will power to stop with one glass.
Everyone at our table was as content with our lunch as I was.  Some with the cobb salad,  another with the tri-tip and another with a most tempting ahi tuna.
Maddalena Restaurant is located at 737 Lamar Street in downtown Los Angeles with free off street parking and is open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Telephone 323 223-1401, web www,

Friday, March 4, 2016

Morrison on Los Feliz proved to be the perfect classroom for our on going research on the many kinds of vodka.
This evening it was about vodka produced from rye grains rather than the traditional grains and potato.
It included the introduction of Sobieski Estate Single Rye Premium vodka imported from Poland.  Actually it adds to the Sobieski brand which already is marketed in the U.S. in several flavors but all one hundred per cent rye.
The newly introduced premium Sobieski is packaged in a frosted bottle and produced from Dankowski rye and is made with water from the Carpathian Fore.
We tasted the new premium and noted  it offers more aroma and some nut like flavors.
Reminding us of an earlier era we then had a classic cocktail in a metal cup called, through the years, a Moscow Mule.
We were also impressed with our 'class room'.  Morrison is a most popular restaurant and last evening had a full bar following and almost every table filled with happy patrons.
Morrison is located at 3179 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles with its own parking lot.  Telephone 323 667-1839.
As for the new premium Sobieski it will soon be found at high end restaurants, clubs, hotels and package stores, and most certainly at Morrison.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Over a period of decades Melrose avenue in Los Angeles has always been a haven for good restaurants.
When we discovered Franco on Melrose last evening we found that this trend still continues.
Stepping into Franco is like moving from California to a restaurante in Southern Italy.  In decor and ambiance it offers a comfortable look at the old world.
And the traditional southern Italian cuisine of Owner-Chef Franco de  Dominicis completes the scene.
We had to try some of the appetizers including Polipo Grigliato with grilled octopus, crunchy potato and Calabria peppers, then Polpette, pork and beef meat balls  in a tomato basil sauce and Involtini, baked eggplant rolled with ricotta.
Moving on to pasta there was ravioli zucca with roasted butternut squash and a brown butter sage sauce
followed by Paccheri, braised oxtail ragu with Fava bean Parmiggiano. 
Titled Branzino, this Mediterranean  fish entree came with spinach roasted Yukon potatoes.
And yes we could not leave without trying the Vanilla Bean Panna cotta with fresh berries for dessert.
Franco on Melrose is located at 6919 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, open seven nights a week from 6 p.m.  Telephone 323 934-3390, web,

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

After seeing and sampling what Guatemala has to offer the visitor we were ready to pack our bag and go.
Last evening as guests of Bella Guatemala Travel we attended a reception held at the showplace L Club at Level in downtown Los Angeles.
A Video showed us the awesome Mayan cities that are available to wander in.  Then there were people to demonstrate Maya culture including an artist and weavers in their traditional Mayan dress.
All this made for great photo opportunities.
Not  least was the interesting local Guatemalan appetizers and some exciting beverages like 40 and 50 year old rums for tasting and Famosa beer to go with the food.
Bella Guatemala Travel offers interesting trips to this Land of the Mayas which does not seem to get the amount of attention it deserves.
But you can be sure it got our full attention.