Tuesday, August 30, 2016

One day last week we visited the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in San Pedro.
Allow plenty of time when visiting this Museum  for there is much history of Los Angeles Harbor and San Pedro to be discovered  here.  It is located in what originally was the Ferry Building that for  22 years moved people, from 1941 to 1963, to Terminal Island.
 Now it is home to one of the largest maritime  museum in California.  
With its long naval tradition there is, naturally enough, one whole room devoted to carefully accurate models of  the warships that once had their home berths in San Pedro.   And a special exhibit of the USS Los Angeles, a World War ll heavy cruiser which was built in San Pedro.This room devoted to the U.S. Navy  is currently being redone.
Movie buffs will enjoy a model of the S S Poseidon which was used in the making of the film "The Poseidon Adventure".  The model is 22 feet long,  battery powered, and cost $30,000 to build.   After the movie was completed it was donated to the museum by 20th Century Fox.
There are also photos and models from other Hollywood films that were filmed around San Pedro.
San Pedro was once the center of a large fishing industry and canneries were there to process the catch of the fishermen.  Large photos show the  men and women cannery workers of an earlier era .
There is a large exhibition displaying how the Los Angeles Harbor was created and also a study of the early days of commercial diving and the equipment used at that time.
Clustered around the museum there is the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial, and the Memorial for the Fishermen who were lost at sea. 
The Los Angeles Maritime  Museum is located at Berth 84 at the Foot of Sixth Street in San Pedro and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information check the web at www.lamaritimemuseum.org.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

We attended the opening day of the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo and were pleased with what we experienced there.  It is taking place for three days at the Los Angeles Convention Center in the West Wing so there is time to experience what the Expo has to offer on Monday and Tuesday Aug. 29 & 30.
Hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and our advice is to arrive early since there is so much to see and do and taste an extraordinary  number of interesting food items.
And if you are over 21 you can visit the alcohol section with a number of craft breweries present as well as spirits and wines.
A special event on Monday is the Italian Reception offering "The Extraordinary Italian Taste".
On Tuesday there will be a New Products Showcase.
The Italian event is only one of several International booths including a Japan Pavilion and Sabor Latino.
Some five hundred companies are represented at the Show.

Friday, August 26, 2016

We were reminded once again just how special the Five Star Golden Dragon Restaurant in Costa Mesa really is.  We were there last evening for a birthday party.
Yuau-Der Wang and his wife, Chi-Yun are still active in the business they founded so many years ago. Now, however, they  have their son, John, as restaurant manager overseeing day to day operations.   But most evenings you can still count on Mother Chi-Yun  to be on hand to greet customers, something we always look forward to on our visits and sure enough she was there for our warm greeting last night.
The Golden Dragon is a fine dining restaurant with a intimate full service bar and lounge, a  dining room with booths and tables and a private room for small parties as well.  This is a restaurant with a very large menu with choices for al a carte selections as well as complete dinners.  For such quality and service prices are surprisingly modest.
Our dinner, it could be called a banquet, opened with special egg rolls with mushroom,  chicken and vegetable.   Next came the hot and sour soup with shrimp.  Entrees which arrived family style included Mongolian beef, Walnut shrimp with glazed walnuts and honey sweet sauce, a specially prepared sweet and sour chicken  and the house fried rice with  pork, mushroom and shredded vegetables.  Also pork Low Mein and fish with bean sauce. 
Besides traditional Chinese sweets  the restaurant   features some  western desserts which have become very popular.
Unlike most Chinese restaurants John Wang is most knowledgeable about wine and so here there is an outstanding list of California vintages.
The fame of Golden Dragon brings people from all the beach cities surrounding Costa Mesa.  For here is classic Chinese dining with a serene atmosphere and decor, outstanding cuisine and attentive attention from a well trained staff, many with years of experience at the restaurant.
Golden Dragon is located at 2023 Harbor Blvd., in Costa Mesa with ample off street free parking.
 The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, lunch starting at 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Dinner from 4:30 to 10 p.m.  On weekends the restaurant is open all day from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.  For reservations call 949 542-7162.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What could be more romantic?  Neat rows of terraced vineyards stretching along a bend in the River Danube.  One can almost hear accompanying strains of Strauss waltzes or a Chopin sonata.
The scene changes to another famous place, Hollywood's Sunset Strip.
It was all part of a tasting and luncheon at the five star Boa Steakhouse to introuduce the Austrian showplace wines of Domane Wachau.
Conducting the tasting was Roman Horvath, Master of Wine at Domane Wachau which is producing outstanding white wines from Gruner Veltiner and Riesling grapes.
The cooperative winery is located in the town of Durnstein in the Wachau Valley which has been producing wines since the Middle Ages.
The tasting was in six flights and ranged from 2015 Rieslings and Gruner Veltiners to 2009 and 2010 vintages.  The flights also showed wines from several different vineyards ranged along the valley and river.
Attending were restaurant food and beverage managers, sommeliers and media.
The Boa Restaurant did its part with charred Tuna Tartare as a starter, a memorable Chilean Seabass or petite filet and a cheese platter.
The tasting concluded with a higher proof Gruner Veltliner V.D.N. 2015 and sweet 2012 Beerenauslese Terrassen.
The location of Domane Wachau in the Wachau Valley enjoys a micro climate of warm summers and cold winters and with the warming influence of the Danube River allows for relatively late autumn harvesting.
Domane Wachau wines,  besides its popularity in Austria, enjoys a large market in all the neighboring countries including Germany, the Netherlands and Baltic countries.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mezzet is new to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and also new is its featured Mediterranean cuisine.
It is at the site that was  previously Nello Cucina.  Mezzet opened in late June showing a new decor and ambiance plus its exciting menu.
We met co-owner Wallie Nasser and Executive Chef Anthony Mattina.  We  have known Chef Mattina from some of his past culinary exploits so were most expectant of what his new menu would produce.
We opened with a long dish of hummus in chickpea puree and baba ghanoush smoked eggplant and tahini with a chopped parsley salad added accompanied by slices of flat bread. 
Indeed the Mediterranean diet was upon us with dishes from three different countries boarding that sea.
Next to arrive were sliced tomatoes with Mozzarella cheese followed by a brick fired Margherita pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil and olive oil.
Then our entree, a Moroccan lamb tagine made with seven spices, one of the best couscous I have ever tasted surrounded by blistered grapes, honey cumin carrots and spicy chicpeas.  The lamb shank was perfect and again with many flavors present.
From the fire grill there is Shsh Taouk, grilled skewer of marinated chicken, beef tenderloin, also served on skewers, lamb chops, grilled Atlantic salmon and salmon kebab.
Mezzet has a full service bar and cocktail lounge and the wine list is international.
Mezzet is located at 3333 Bear Street, Costa Mesa with hours those of the South Coast Plaza.
Telephone 714 540-3365.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

German cuisine has been neglected in Southern California for a number of years but not at Jagerhaus Restaurant in Anaheim.
Here for over three decades this restaurant has been serving authentic homemade German food. The decor and ambiance, as well as the imported wines and beers, add to the feeling that you are on a visit to Germany.
We were at Jagerhaus last evening and met with Owner Sandra Schwaiger to learn of her success at this restaurant and taste some of the classic German dishes on the menu.
Sandra proved to be the perfect hostess as she told the history of the restaurant and how she took over as owner sixteen years ago when the original owner retired.
Our lavish spread of food opened with a tasting of Bratwurst, Knackwurst and Polish sausage.  Then things got serious with platters of Szegediner Goulash, Sauerbraten, Wiener Schnitzel and a roast ham hock with the home made Sauerkraut.
In fact almost everything on the menu is made in house including the breads and desserts.
Our beverages included a German draft pilsner served in a classic mug, a German red wine and a prized ice wine.
Our desserts included apple strudel and bread pudding with a Vanilia sauce.
We were amazed with both the superior quality of everything we tasted but also what we thought was very modest pricing.
Jagerhaus Restaurant is located at 2525 East Ball Road in Anaheim adjacent to the 57 Freeway.  It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday thru Friday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  Besides the regular dining room there are banquet facilities for up to 100 guests.
Telephone 714 520-9500, web.www.jagerhaus.net. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

There is a good deal of history for the Salinas Valley.  First there were the native Americans who have been there for centuries, then the Spanish explorers and missionaries, followed by emigrants from Europe.
Some of this is on display at the Agricultural and Rural Life Museum located in King City at the San Lorenzo Park.
The Museum includes six buildings with the main one originally an early dairy farm barn.  It now houses a wonderful collection of old cars, wagons and examples of early King City including the Post Office and general store.
Other buildings include the original King City Train Depot built in 1903 and La Gloria School which was first built in Gonzales in 1873.  In 1980 is was moved to its present site, fully restored with desks, blackboards and artifacts.  It is a perfect example of the one room, all ages school house of America's past.
Another exhibit tells the story of the first Swiss settlers who settled the region and began  wheat farming and then moved on to daily farming.
We thought the San Lorenzo Park was the perfect setting for this museum and is itself a tree shaded picnic ground.
King City began as a farming community and gained importance when the railroad was build.  It is also the setting for some of John Steinbeck's novels.
It was another of our interesting explorations in Salinas and the valley surrounding it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Thanks to Evan Oaks, owner of Ag Venture Tours, we got a quick education on just how the vast system of planting, growing, harvesting and shipping  the produce of Salinas Valley takes place. 
For a half day we visited what has been called the 'Salad Bowl of the World', seeing the fields with plantings of an assortment of vegetables.
We learned how crops are always rotated, each season planted with a different vegetable and that what is not harvested is plowed right back into the soil often eliminating the need for fertilizer.  And that there are  two crops a year.
A 'harvest team' is a mix of hand labor and modern machinery.  A harvest team in a field of celery will cut the vegetable, trim it to a specific size, and box it right on site, then loaded into large truck trailers.  Each box is coded and recorded with name of team, time of cutting, destination and often the buyer's name.
Often the box has a specific color indicating who the buyer is.  We learned that WalMart's color for its vegetable boxes is black.  Once aboard the trailer it is hauled to a plant where it is vacumn cooled to a low temperature and then sent on its way to some nation wide destination that same day
Dollar wise Strawberries ae the most expensive crop among the dozens of vegetables and fruits grown in the valley. 
Our tour started at Pezzini Farms where we learned how artichokes are grown, then sorted by size and packed for shipment.  The Salinas Valley is the artichoke capitol of the nation.
Our tour ended at the Salad Shoppe in Salinas where we feasted on some of the products this rich agricultural region produces.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

One of the places I most wanted to visit on my trip to Salinas were the vineyards and wineries in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation.  This appellation is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary and in that time has become recognized as producing the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in California.
Thanks to a cool climate the flanks and elevated terraces of the mountains proved to be the perfect place to plant these Burgundy varietals.
Now it has it own wine road as well called the River Road and this we took to visit some of these vineyards and wineries.  One day we were at Hahn Winery taking both vineyard and winery tours.  There is also an elegant tasting room and outside deck that offers an amazing sweeping view of the Salinas Valley below.
Here we met Winemaker Paul Clifton and took part in a barrel tasting of Pinot Noir from different vineyards.
Hahn has one thousand acres of vineyards in the appellation and is currently producing 400,000 cases of wine a year, almost all Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
We were back on the River Road the following day to visit three of the eleven wineries that make up the wine trail.  The first was Puma Road Winery and then Pessagno Winery.  Both of these wineries are under the ownership of Ray Franscioni whose family have been farmers in the Salinas Valley for generations.
Winemaker for both wineries is Oliver Rousset who makes wines from ten varietals and all of them estate grown.
Odonata Winery began in the Santa Clara Valley and then moved to Salinas in 2012.  The source grapes are from both Santa Clara and Salinas vineyards and Odonata currently is making wines from twenty three different varietals.  Owner and winemaker is Denis Hoey.
At the time of our visit all the wineries were getting ready for a harvest which is due to begin in a few weeks.
The forecast was for high quality but a smaller yield thanks to a cool summer.

Monday, August 8, 2016

It was all aboard as I hopped on to Amtrak's Coast Starlight on my way to Salinas to explore what is happening in John Steinbeck's East of Eden Valley.
This is a truly worthwhile train journey since it faithfully follows the coast line for much of the way, first en route to Santa Barbara and then past Point Conception and Vandenberg Air Force Base, areas where no public access is available.
Our coach seat on the second level provided wonderful views as mile after mile of coast line, much completely deserted of people, rolled past our window.
We got aboard at Simi Valley Station at 11 a.m. and were in Salinas at 6 p.m.
Our stay at Hampton Inn and Suites in Salinas is a true delight with all imaginative amenities in our suite complete with sofa, desk and king size bed.  And the free breakfast so good that we were there when it opened at 6 a.m.
The first evening we had dinner in the house where John Steinbeck grew up in Salinas.  It is now a restaurant and meeting place for special events and dinners and there was much to admire in its tall ceilings, artistic woodwork and its 19th century ambiance and atmosphere. 
The dinner opened with some of Salinas Valley fresh produce, followed with a chicken breast stuffed with cheese and wild rice.  Dessert was a bowl of fresh berries.
It was a delightful opener for our four day exploration of the city and valley and especially its much lauded
Santa Luca Highlands wine country.
Monterey County is now the largest wine growing region in the nation and the one hundred mile long Salinas Valley  known as the nation's Salad Bowl.
Much more to come the next three days on this Salinas visit.