Friday, April 29, 2016

The conclusion we reached after attending the Savour Australia Roadshow in West Hollywood was that the Aussies are making some very exceptional wines.
This is not new since the first planting of wine vines took place in Australia two centuries ago.  What we found most interesting is the fact that some of the oldest grape vines in the world are to be found here.
One reason is that almost all the wineries and vineyards are family owned, some for several generations.
The seminars and tasting in Los Angeles took place at the upscale Church Key Restaurant located on Sunset Blvd. on the Strip. 
In all there are six wine regions in Australia with some clustered  around Adelaide, others at Perth and most in New South Wales.
Wines from a large selection of varietals were shown at the tasting including Grenache, Shiraz, Rouisanne, Marsanne and Semillon.  In the region of Hunter Valley the Burgundian varietals appear, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
We met and chatted with two of the seminar speakers Bruce Tyrrell of Tyrrell's Wines and Allistger Ashmead of Elderton Wines.
The Savour Australia Roadshow is on a nation wide tour to boost U.S. imports of Australian wines which have been rising year by year.
The Church Key showed some of its famed dim sum style appetizers to go with the excellent vintages.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Last evening we attended what could be called a spirited event at the Sofitel Beverly Hills Hotel.  It was sponsored by Midori Melon Liqueur to show its amazing versatility in mixing with other spirits to produce exciting cocktails.
To say the event was well attended and the mix of cocktails well received is an understatement.
The press, this Writer included, enjoyed a preview of with a "Moshi Moshi",  hello in Japanese and the opportunity to taste and chat with two very talented mixologists, Miranda Breedlove and Chris Neustadt.
After the press event a lively crowd of people arrived, many associated with the club and restaurant business.
Besides the choice of many different drinks, all made with Midori, there was a DJ for music, appetizers and individual photographs for those wishing them.  And our photograph was on our e mail this morning.
Midori is made in Japan using three different kinds of melons which makes it so adaptable with other spirits.
The event was hosted by Paul Zahn, Midori's national brand Ambassador who was accompanied by lovely Japanese women, clad in bright green, acting as waitresses and hostesses.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

It was with pleasure that Jim Woodin, president of the Southern California Restaurant Writers and I, as Scholarship Chairman,  presented a check for $1,000 to the Harbor College Culinary Arts Department one evening last week.
The money to be used as scholarships for students in the program. 
During the closing months of each semester the students prepare dinners for facility and local people.  Each week the menu changes from cuisine of one country to that of another.  Included this year was a Chinese Contemporary menu and it was this dinner we attended.
We marveled on how well the menu was selected, the excellence of each dish and the wonderful service, all done by the students.
First was the Daikon Asian mushroom salad, then two soups, hot and sour and egg drop.  This was followed by a Cantaloupe Sorbet with Midori.  The entree included smoked duck sausage with Hoisin sauce and braised duck leg  with fried egg noddle nest.
Dessert was Sesame seed balls with ginger ice cream.
The whole dinner was prepared by the Third Semester Culinary Arts students.
For sure they have learned their lessons well.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

After attending the Passion Jura tasting of French wines at the Hinoki and the Bird Restaurant located at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City we had much respect for this wine region.
In France the Jura wine region is located in the northeastern part of the country and while it has been producing wines for centuries it receives less attention than other areas
The Jura has 200 vineyards producing five varietals of grapes, three of which are local to the region.
Besides well known chardonnary and pinot noir  the local varietals include two reds, Poulsard and Trousseau and one white grape, Savagnin.
In all 20 family owned wineries participated in the tasting which also included a seminar on some of the wines produced.
It also gave those attending the opportunity to taste two wines unique to the Jura.  They are both aperitif white wines called Vin Jaune and Vin de Paille.
What makes the Jura unique is its renown terroir and its rolling hills countryside producing the best exposure for each grape varietal.
We also had the opportunity to meet DJ Kearney who conducted the seminar preceding the tasting.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The California Jazz and Wine Festival held yesterday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village proved to be a great way to become acquainted with some of the wineries and restaurants in the Conejo Valley and surrounding area.
This was the fifth event sponsored by the Rotary Club of Westlake Village Sunrise and it proved to be a true crowd pleaser for the hundreds who attended.  And it was all for a great cause to benefit the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and a list of local charities as well.
There were many booths for wine tasting as well as craft beers and some locally made spirits.  Most of the Valley's best restaurants were on hand with appetizers and their house specialties.
Two separate stages were the platforms for the several jazz groups that performed throughout the afternoon.
We used the opportunity to become acquainted with  two local wineries that were new to us, Alma Sol Winery from the Simi Valley and Labyrinth Winery from Ventura.
This was the first time the event was held at the Four Seasons Hotel which was perfect to accommodate the large number of guests who attended the event which was well organized and a great success.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

To show the depth and scope of the new menu at the Anaheim White House Restaurant General Manager Sylvano Ibay assigned Sous Chef Onesimo Lorenzo to create and prepare a dinner for members of the Southern California Restaurant Writers.
The seven course dinner included Sturgeon Caviar, Abalone, Foie Gras, and filet mignon.  We already knew of the skill of Chef Lorenzo who was Pastry Chef at the White House before moving to his present position.  He has been with the restaurant for fourteen years.
As usual the service and care of the staff matched the cuisine we were served that evening.
We have long lamented the decline and loss of fine dining in so many restaurants these past few years.
However one evening last week, to our delight, we learned that at least at the Anaheim White House fine dining is alive and well.
The Anaheim White House is located at 887 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim.  Telephone 714 772-1381, web

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Switzerland Travel presentation we attended this afternoon brought back many pleasant memories of our own visit of exploration some years ago.
Jean-Francois Lichtenstern,  Consul General of Switzerland in Los Angeles was our host as we attended the event held at his residence in Hancock Park.
Representatives from several districts of Switzerland were present to tell of new points of interest for tourists.
They were from Basel, Bern, the Jungfrau Region and Interlaken, (this Writer's favorite area on his trip) as well as Lucerne and Lake Geneva and the Matterhorn region.
Some emphasis was placed on the one thousand mile grand rail tour which is a wonderful way to explore the country.  On our trip we were on at least one train every day of our visit.
Jean-Francois proved to be a wonderful host as those of us in attendance were treated to a lawn party with delicious food and wine.
The event also announced the arrival of Swiss Air Lines first Boeing 777-300ER and new lounges at Zurich Airport.
For more information on Switzerland Tourism go on the web at

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

We were in Century City but our thoughts and attention were on Taiwan.  For at the AMC Theater we watched the premiere of a new TV show entitled "Best of Taste Taiwan: Ten Things You Must Do In Taiwan"
The event opened with a cocktail reception and  appetizers putting Taiwan culinary arts on display with dim sum and pot sticker tasties.
Then we moved to the theater where Mike Siegel, producer of the film was on hand to give an on site commentary as we watched what this island nation has to offer the visitor.
The film covered many aspects of life in Taiwan including its night markets, renowned tea, shopping opportunities, as well as the diverse scenery from high mountains to an amazing variety of coast line.
We had the chance to speak briefly with Brad C. H. Shih, director of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau in Los Angeles who told of the half million American visitors to Taiwan last year.
The film also gave us a look at the Island's diverse cultures and the handicrafts and artworks they inspire.
An online version of film will soon be available
For more information call 1 310 649-7700 or

Monday, April 11, 2016

The seven course gourmet dinner served members of the Academy of Culinary Professionals last evening at UptownWhittier's Seta Restaurant was no surprise to this Writer who has long known and appreciated the culinary exploits of Owner Chef Hugo Molina
At Seta the layout and ambiance of the restaurant are a perfect match to the exciting cuisine.  It includes two bar lounges, a contemporary designed dining room as well as a private dining and conference room.
First course was Sauteed Calamari followed by Stuffed Piquillo Peppers and then Shrimp a La Diabla.
Next came the salad of Caesar Romaine Hearts followed by Stuffed Medjol Dates.
The sixth course was memorable, Medallion of Muscovy duck breast with Chorizo corn bread and caramelized cherries.
Dessert was passionfruit cheese cake with bananas and cashew nut crust.
Wines includes Poppy 2013 Pinot Noir and Destinata Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay.
Gracious as always was Aricia, Hugo's wife whose talents through the years has included pastry chef, designer of the Seta interior, Sommelier of the Year award by the Southern California Restaurant Writers and  Restaurant Manager.  We must add that Hugo Molina was the Writers Chef of the Year some years ago.
Seta is located in Uptown Whittier at 13033 Philadelphia Street 90601, telephone 562 698-3355, web

Sunday, April 10, 2016

As we sat in the Santa Barbara Station waiting for the train that would take us back to the San Fernando Valley we thought of all the things that were still on our "to do" list in Santa Barbara.  We had wanted to visit both the Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum but were short of time.
Our Car Free visit to the City had been most successful but our "to do" presented good reason for a return trip soon.
You can drive by the Santa Barbara Train station on State Street for years without truly appreciating its classic style and architecture.  But while waiting to complete the final part of the trip we could think about its history. 
The original station was destroyed in the 1925 earthquake and one now in place built in 1926.  I first saw the station a long time ago as an eighteen year old soldier away from home and Mother for the first time.
I have always loved train travel and are a confessed train buff.  Train stations have an interest all their own, all most individual and unique in appearance and with their own place in history.
For me our two hour trip from Santa Barbara back to Chatsworth ended too soon.  Like I stated,  I love trains.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

We discovered that the Santa Barbara Trolley Tour was the perfect way to move around the city while on our Car Free mini vacation.  The tour bus has an hourly schedule and allows pickup and drop off at any of the twelve locations it visits.  So if the visitor wants to investigate further one of the destinations, like the Old Mission for example, he does so and then catches  a later bus to complete the tour.
We wanted to see the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum since we had heard how outstanding it was in depicting the marine history of the city.  So we left the tour bus at the harbor-Museum drop off.
Besides it was time for lunch and we discovered Chuck's Waterfront Grill located adjacent to the Museum.
Here we enjoyed an excellent lunch on the outdoor patio with long views of the small boat harbor and beyond, the hillsides that are known as the City's Riviera.
There was much to see in the museum.  It covers marine history from the discovery of the channel islands and shoreline by Cabrillo to the surfing sport that has flourished in Santa Barbara for more than a century.
The story of the Channel Islands is told from first being settled by the Chumash Native Americans, then by local ranchers and finally to its present status as a National Park.
Other exhibits tell of the early hunters and fishermen who dominated the marine scene in earlier eras.
One new exhibit describes how important tattoos and Scrimshaw have traditionally been with  seamen. And how it is an art form that has once again become popular.
After our Museum visit we once again got aboard the Trolley  bus to complete our tour.
On a visit to the Maritime Museum allow plenty of time since there is much to admire and learn.

Friday, April 8, 2016

This day we wanted to visit downtown Santa Barbara's Urban Wine Trail.  This is located in what was called the Funk Zone just a few blocks from the beach and across State Street from the Train Station.  It is a perfect destination when on Santa Barbara's Car Free promotion using Amtrak trains for transportation.
The Urban Wine Trail started in 2007 when eight vintners from nearby appellations decided to join Santa Barbara Winery in an area used by small industrial firms.
The concept was so sound that today there are twenty one wineries with tasting rooms all clustered in an area of a few blocks and the Funk Zone has a new identity.
We first visited Santa Barbara Winery, started in 1962, and the oldest winery in the county and the one that showed Santa Ynez Valley could be a world class growing region for vineyards.  It was also the first to use the Santa Rita Hills region for making outstanding pinot noir and chardonnay thanks to the influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean.  Here we met and chatted with Jayson Rodriguez and Kristy Torgeson.
We also visited Oreana Winery and Tasting Room and there met Owner and Winemaker Daniel Miles.
Known as Danny he is home grown, a lifelong resident of the Santa Ynez Valley and learned all his winemaking craft from local vintners.
Oreana was established ten years ago and now makes wines from eight varietals using grapes from several of California's best appellations.
The Oreana Winery and Tasting room has also achieved fame for its live weekend entertainment and party atmosphere at 205 Anacapa Street.
We decided to cut short our exploration of the Urban Wine Trail when a host of visitors suddenly began to arrive.  They were ashore from a cruise ship looking eager and thirsty so we folded our tasting notes and silently stole away.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

We  climbed on to Amtrak's Surfliner Train 761 and it was All Aboard for Santa Barbara.  This was the start of our exploration of Santa Barbara's 2016 Car Free promotion which offers train passengers savings on  many of the amenities and activities that abound in this City.
We arrived at the scenic Santa Barbara Train Station just two hours later ready to start two days of activities.
Visitors like us,  by showing their train tickets, can take advantage of savings on hotels, wine tasting, city tours, cycling and sailing.
We walked three blocks on State Street to Hotel Santa Barbara where we were staying. And what a happy choice this turned out to be.  This Writer will have much more to say about this historic property.
Through the years we have spent many pleasant times in Santa Barbara and have long thought that its main thoroughfare, State Street, was the prettiest and most interesting in the State.
Tree lined and with emphasis on foot traffic it offers a huge variety of store front businesses including what seemed countless restaurants.
It also is home to a huge Farmers Market every Tuesday evening extending for blocks and with throngs of folk enjoying the crowd scene, impromptu live music, and the many food stalls.
That first afternoon we took the Santa Barbara Trolley Tour which takes one on a ninety minute tour of the City's main attractions with the opportunity to leave at some point of interest, like the Old Mission, and then get aboard again on a later bus.
That evening we followed the crowd roaming the Farmers Market scene.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Yesterday Los Angeles reinvented High Tea with a 21th century version called a Tea Tasting Party.  Yes there were the sweets and tasties associated with High Tea but also Reggae music provided by Compton Lion.
The event, held at the California Science Center, attracted a large crowd of mostly young people who took part in costume contests, raffles, comedian entertainment while tasting some forty different teas from many different countries.  Actually it proved to be a carnival with a tea based theme.
Besides the traditional desserts of such goodies as Earl Grey shortbread cookies, fruit platters and chocolate pudding cups there were food trucks and vendors with with food from many different cultures.
The Tea Tasting Party also served as introduction of the Tea Book which in future months will be marketed as book containing a huge collection of teas from Asian countries.
The Party started at 6:30 and lasted well past 9:30 p.m. as the music played on with Irish Rock, Indian Classical and finally a High Tea Quartet.