Thursday, August 31, 2017

It was a scene familiar in Southern California.   A celebrity in the spotlight and the cameras and video equipment on hand in plentiful supply.  It all took place in Studio City, well of course, with Kaley Cuoco, who has successfully combined careers on silver screen and television, on center stage.   It was about Panera Bread and its leadership in serving only the most healthy foods at its restaurants.
So at the Panera Bread located in Studio City Kaley Cucco stepped forward to introduce  another industry first, this time a cup with the beverage sugar content printed on it in teaspoons as well as its calories.  The national restaurant company will now feature the  "sweet facts" fountain beverage cup with six of its new craft beverages as well as regular cola.
Most recently Kaley Cuoco is best known for her portrayal of "Penny" on the CBS comedy  "The Big Bang Theory" which is in its eleventh season.  For her part in this show in 2014 she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
We were there since we already knew of Panera Bread reputation for quality and especially its on premise bakery.  And well we still enjoy the excitement that is part of these Hollywood style events  staged with a flair that has become a tradition in Tinsel Town.
Also we had the opportunity to sample many of Panera's menu favorites including some wonderful sandwiches, salads and yes, the baked  goodies like artisan pastries, scones and cookies.
In Studio City Panera Bread is located at 12131 Ventura Blvd..For more information check out www.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Some fifteen national health, wellness , nutrition and organic brands were on display at the Healthy Brand Showcase held in West Hollywood at the Mondrian Hotel
The event takes place twice a year to allow brands to display their new products.  We were there to see what co-founder Amanda Leesburg was showcasing for the Fall and Winter season.
Among the new products which we tasted was a new aloe yogurt, football shaped wheat bread, vegan frosting, Nature Nates raw unfiltered honey, and Rhythhm Superfoods Kale Chips.  We also gathered some organic ingredients to try in our own kitchen including NutriBiotic Organic Protein from greens and Veggies as well as Earth Circle raw organic Maca Powder.
Also on display were several natural beauty brands but considering our present age and state we decided that using them, at least for us, was a lost cause.
As we departed we marveled on how our present economy is continually generating new products and new ways to better health and nutritiion.  And Healthy Brands is certainly doing its part in this.on-going endeavor.
For more information call Armanda Leesburg at 404 218-6578, on the web at

Monday, August 28, 2017

An exciting new style of food court has been created at SteelCraft in Long Beach.  It gets its name from the fact that it was created with shipping containers, each container becoming a provider of a distinctive unique style food or beverage..   Two large dining areas have been created, one located street side and the other surrounded by eight take out food stalls. 
These include The Fresh Shave for cold drinks, Desano Pizza, Lovesome chocolates, Pig Pen Delicay, with items like pulled pork sandwiches, Smog City Brewing, Steelhead Coffee, Tajima Ramen and Waffle Love.  The communal dining areas make for a friendly, casual atmosphere.   The Steel containers have been redesigned to meet the needs of the providers while offering  a smart 21st century design appearance.
The SteelCraft  in Long Beach opened in February 2017 with immediate success.  It is located at 3768 Long Beach Blvd. with a good supply of off street free parking.
Hours vary for some of the providers, as well as days of operation, but the facility is open daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
A second SteelCraft is already under development in Garden Grove.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Visiting Laguna Beach is always a delight during the summer with pleasant weather while inland temperatures continue to rise.
On this visit, topping our agenda, was a visit to the Laguna Art Museum.
For most of a century Laguna Beach has been regarded as a haven for the arts.  Indeed the Laguna Beach Arts Association will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.    Then in 1979 the Laguna  Art  Museum was founded which in 1987 became the  current Laguna Art Museum.
 The Museum enjoys a scenic location situated adjacent to Heisler Park with views of the City's shoreline.  Its theme is California and its permanent collection includes works of some 800 artists representing a span from early 19th century to the present.
 Two special exhibitions were being displayed during our  visit to the museum.  They were by Phil Dike and Ben Messick.  Phil Dike was truly one of California's own.  He grew up in Redlands and studied art at the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles.  He then traveled through much of Europe before returning to teach at Chouinard in 1931.  The Exhibition was entitled "At the Edge of the Sea" since much of Phil Dike's works enjoyed a beach or ocean theme.
 For many years he was story designer for Walt Disney Studios contributing to such classics as Fantasia and Snow White.  Later in life his works became much more abstract with  his people in more mystical forms and his familiar beach and ocean themes in patterns.
However his love for the beach and sea never wavered throughout his life.
 Ben Messick's Exhibition was entitled "Memories of Los Angeles" and showed daily life in that City during the 1930s and 1940s.  His paintings, drawings and lithographs were always of ordinary people from familiar places like MacArthur Park, Pershing Square and Olivera Street.
 Besides its featured Exhibitions the Laguna Art Museum offers a full schedule of programs and events.  It is open six days a week, closed Wednesdays and major holidays.  Hours most days are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  It is located at 307 Cliff Drive  in Laguna Beach,  Telephone 949 494-8971, web
After our visit to the Museum we strolled through adjacent Heisler Park  enjoying views of a calm Pacific Ocean and the cliff lined rocky shore which is a Marine and Tide Pool Preserve.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Besides its wonderful location there is much to like about Parkers' Lighthouse  . Its ambiance, besides its scenic location, offers a sense of Long Beach history with its many historic photographs that grace the walls of the dining room. Actually there are two distinct dining rooms with the Queens Room on the third level offering a decor and ambiance all its own.
We met with David Maskello, general manager,  who told us about the new executive chef Austin Harrel.  We opened wit a seafood platter that included calamari, fried shrimp, crab cake, lobster wraps of tortilla and guacamole. The crab cake was memorable, full of crab meat and no fillers, the calamari with a distinctive dipping sauce. Next we had a cup of clam chowder accompanied with a house baked cracker, the chowder thick with minced clams.
We then shared an entree of barbecued shrimp on sticks which came with asparagus in a buttery sauce.
Parkers' has received national recognition for its wine list with hundred of labels and a two story climate controlled wine room that graces the center of the restaurant.
We love looking at old photographs and so left our table to admire the many photographs of Long Beach's earlier times that surround the lower dining room. There are photos of The Pike, the seaside amusement park that achieved fame with World War ll sailors, bathing beauties of earlier eras, and much more.
Considering what the Lighthouse shows both in ambiance and cuisine and the quality of the wines we thought prices modest and Parkers' offering true value.
Parkers' Lighthouse is located at 435 Shoreline Village Drive #1, Long Beach, Telephone 562 432-6500, web Open daily from 11 a.m.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sadly the number of Southern California restaurants featuring French cuisine has declined in recent years.  Younger people including millennials are more inclined to more casual dining and such things as pokies.
Fortunately those of us that  pine for French classics like "Cuisses de Grenouille", Frog Legs Provencale still have Taix Restaurant in Los Angeles.
As part of the 90th anniversary celebration at Taix French Restaurant Frog Legs Provencale are once again on the menu.  Owner Michael Taix announced that the popular menu item was back after being absent because of a shortage of smaller size legs.
Frog legs or "Cuisses de Grenouille" are a dish that originated and is traditional in the Dombes region of Southeastern France.  The Taix family was originally from the Hautes-Alpes in Southeastern France before moving to Los Angeles about 1870.
With   the Chef's Frog Legs Provencale back on the menu it did not take us long to decide on a return visit to Taix to dine on this savory French country dish once again. 
When our order arrived the plate was heaped with a large collection of delicate and tender small legs in a fantastic sauce. 
The sauce was a mix of herbs with a buttery texture and an aromatic white wine base.  Our Waiter, Joel Pena, saw to all our needs and especially the warm French bread which was just what was needed for dipping into that wonderful sauce.  Like many of the staff at Taix Joel Pena has enjoyed a long career at the restaurant, actually thirty four years.
At present Frog Legs Provencale are only featured on the dinner menu at Taix.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Our attendance at the opening of the new Whole Foods 365 Market in Santa Monica was a look into the future of grocery retail.  Besides the traditional sections for produce, meat and seafood, frozen and grocery there was a whole section devoted to fresh eats.  And tucked into two corners of the new facility was Asian Box  Street Food as well as a fountain style  shop featuring Groundwork coffees.
What truly caught our eye was the Delectable Kiosk located in the wine section.  The Kiosk takes all the guess work out of selecting a bottle of wine.  This allows the customer to search all in-store wines based on price, grape type, region of origin and more. 
Scanning a wine bottle instantly brings up reviews about the wine from other consumers.  It is now to be found in all the present and future 365 by Wold Foods Market stores.
For smart phone users there is the Delectable app. allowing the scanning of the wine label to share a review and see other tasting notes.  Already the Delectable has a strong following with Millennials.
The touchscreen kiosks are powered by Antonio Galloni's Vinous wine platform which already has enjoyed large success.
We met with James Forsyth, co-founder and executive vice president, who personally demonstrated the Kiosk to us
The opening for the media included tastings throughout the store  followed by  opportunity to sample the Asian street food of the adjourning Asian Box with its extensive patio.
The new Whole Foods 365 Market is located at 2121 Cloverfield Blvd. at Pico  in Santa Monica.

Friday, August 4, 2017

We had several good reasons for visiting the Getty Villa yesterday.  One, it is located adjacent to the beach just of Pacific Coast Highway and therefore at least 20 degrees cooler than where we live in the Valley.
Two, it is a museum filled with art, artifacts and cultures of  the Ancient Mediterranean World,  Three,  its gardens are extensive and perfect for leisurely strolling through them on a mild sunny day.  These gardens include a replica of an ancient fountain discovered in Pompeii as well as the Herb Garden planted with  hundreds of species from the Mediterranean.
The parking fee is the only one you pay here.  Entrance is free when you reserve an entrance ticket days in advance and set both date and time of your expected arrival.    Once parked you follow a  garden path surrounded by luxurious foliage.   Now you move back two thousand years to the grounds of a Roman country house named Villa dei Papiri and then to the building itself.  All of this thanks to the vision of one man, J. Paul Getty,  whose love of the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean world produced it.
Actually here the museum shows the art and culture of not only Romans but also the  Greek civilization that preceded it as well as that of the Etruscans who also occupied the European peninsulas now called Italy.
We started at the Museum theater where a film tells the story on how J. Paul Getty  acquired his fortune and how he devoted much of his later years to the collecting and preserving as much of the art and artifact of the ancient world as possible.  Also on how he directed the planning, architecture and construction of what is now Villa dei Papiri, this by consulting maps  and remains excavated  in the 19 century.  The original Roman country house  was buried by the eruption of  Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
Adding much to our day was our dining experience at The Cafe at the Getty Villa.  The menu is Mediterranean and Italian with items like Greek Chicken Wrap or the Pepperoni and Sweet Italian Sausage Pizza which was our choice. The menu also offers antipasti for starters and sides like house made meat balls or Pita bread.   Our lunch was pure enjoyment as we sat outdoors overlooking the Villa and its gardens.  The Getty Villa is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Tuesdays.  For information call 310 440-7300, on the web

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The opportunity to see and experience the changes that have been made at 800 Degrees in Hollywood proved an exciting occasion.. 
It was in 2012 that 800 Degrees first appeared in Los Angeles  created by Chef Anthony Carron to present authentic Neapolitan style pizza. 
Now Chef Carron and CEO Tommy Lee were presenting a completely new decor and ambiance to 800 Degrees  located on Vine Street in the heart of Hollywood plus additions to the menu.  Noting that pizza and Rotisserie chicken had close ties in Naples, Italy Chef Carron has added the chicken to the menu.
So it was that at the occasion  that displayed this new 800 Degrees look and menu we had set before us a plate of  half Rotisserie chicken accompanied by Rotisserie roasted fingerling potatoes and the choice of six different sauces.
This after refreshments that included new wines and brews as well as cocktails from a bar that is also now part of the 800 Degrees scene.  The remake shows with new chairs and tables inside as well as an expanded outdoor patio that includes the new bar.
The addition of the Rotisserie chicken shows with new toppings for some of the pizzas as well as interesting new salads.
The sauces for the chicken include a middle eastern Tahini sauce, a spicy tomato sauce  and our favorite, the Piri Piri sauce.  The chicken can be ordered as quarter, half or whole, all with sides and sauces.
800 Degrees Hollywood is located at 1521 Vine Street in Hollywood.   Telephone 323 329-9656, on the web at