Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Through the years we have noted how folk from Chicago that move to Southern California remain intensively loyal to their home town remaining fans of the Cubs baseball team and Bears football team.  So it was no surprise to learn that this loyalty follows to food as well.
Our visit to Mild Sauce Restaurant proved this.  Here is a new restaurant that features Chicago style chicken and fish with a famous sauce.  The condiment was always called Mild Sauce and now it is available to both former Midwesterners and the local population.
This all came about when Kenneth Caldwell, a Chicago native, decided to move to California and bring with him classic Chicago  recipes for fresh fried chicken, fish and a truly authentic Mild Sauce. 
So the Mild Sauce Restaurant was created located on the busy La Cienega and Olympic Blvds intersection and so add yet another style of food to La Cienega Blvd, long famed as 'restaurant  row".   At Mild Sauce the menu includes Jumbo Fried Shrimp, Catfish, and Chicken Strips, all battered,   fried,  the batter from a secret recipe as well as the sauces and seasonings.  Included with these entrees are sides like Coleslaw, also from a secret Chicago recipe, and French fries.  Here all food is fresh daily and cooked strictly on order to arrive hot and ready to please  former Chicago natives and many California converts.
Being a native Californian it was all new to this Writer.  But the very first taste of Ken's magic sauce convinced me that these ex Chicago people were on to something.  Our tasty order arrived with the battered shrimp and catfish and a large stack of french fries plus a huge container of, (you guessed it) Chicago Mild Sauce.  My dining partner opted for the chicken which was so large a portion that she had some to take home as well.  We traded portions so  to try  all of Ken's favorites and agreed that both the fish and chicken batters were exceptional in texture and flavor and the ingredients moist, fresh and tender..  At first we questioned the mild sauce as to whether it was spicy but there was no spice,  just flavor.
The design and ambiance of Mild Sauce Restaurant is casual, upbeat and the decoration on the walls strictly from Chicago with all the team banners present and best of all a huge photograph of that City.  The restaurant also adds to the Chicago scene with  house music and fun board games to play at every table, as found in many Midwest restaurants.
.With Mild Sauce Restaurant Kenneth Caldwell and partner Apryl Carrea have found a ready customer base for the Chicago style chicken or fish.  So much so that Mild Sauce now has an upcoming  late night program with internet delivery only.
Mild Sauce hours are Monday-closed,Tuesday-11am-10pm,Wednesday 11am-10pm,Thursday11am-3:30a.m.,Friday 11am-3:30am,Saturday 11am-3:30am,Sunday 12pm-7pm.
.  The restaurant is located at 8500 W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, 90035,  Telephone 310 652-3310, on the web www.  There is free off street parking.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The joy of being a food writer is that each week brings a totally new  experience.
Do you know about Mastiha which has been produced on the Greek island of Chios for over two thousand years?  Well we did not until we attended a luncheon in Westwood one day last week.  It was written about by some famous Greeks of antiquity writers  including Diosourides, Hippocrates and Herodotus who described it as the first chewing gum.
The Westwood event, held at the Fellow LA restaurant was sponsored by the Chios Gum Mastic Growers Association which has been growing and harvesting the unique product for centuries on Chios.  Today it is being exported to 47 countries and is used in food and beverages, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics and perfume.
On the island of Chios, the only place the tree is found, there are forty eight hundred growers located in 24 medieval villages producing, which after a long process, becomes a teardrop shape crystal
All this was shown the media present at the luncheon with a slide show conducted by Sarah Delevan, a food sourcing consultant.  Representing the Chios Growers .Association was Miltiadis Sarantinidis, Commercial Director.
The Mastiha trees can live to be one hundred years old and only reach full size in fifty years. The trees can start producing the crystal drop after five years.  This starts with the grower making a small incision on the surface of the tree.  The mastic resin exudes from the incisions in liquid form and in teardrop shape.  These drips remain on the soil until they become solid enough to be collected. 
Our luncheon at Fellow opened with a vodka cocktail that included Mastiha and the three courses that followed also contained the unique product.  The list of products that contain Mastiha appear endless.
While the benefits of Mastiha were recognized for so many centuries it is only more recently that the beneficial properties of Chios Mastiha have been scientifically proven

Monday, October 29, 2018

Our culinary experiences in Paso Robles often were adventures as well.  On our moving through the city and countryside  we discovered that the fine wines are accompanied with some interesting cuisines.
We enjoyed two most  interesting dining experiences in downtown Paso Robles.  The first at La Cosecha Bar & Restaurant.  The menu here shows influence of both Cuban and Latin cuisines.  We were there for lunch and started with the Ceviche of the day and Pastelitos Catracho which were Honduran styled empanadas of beef and potato.  We shared everything with our dining partners as well as the stone fired pizza Martguerita which followed.  The restaurant is large with a showplace bar and includes some streetside dining as well.
La Cosecha Bar & Restaurant is located at 835 12th Street across from the Park in downtown Paso Robles.  Telephone 805 226-0300.
We were back downtown for a most interesting evening at Thomas Hill Organic Kitchen where we were greeted by Owner Debbie Thomas.  The restaurant enjoys an unusual decor and ambiance thanks to a courtyard with one wall covered with green foliage and which can be open or roofed depending on the weather.  There is also an indoor dining room.  We sat in the courtyard on a perfect evening while we studied the  very interesting menu.  Chef Kurt, who we met, offers choices like Thai Chili Salmon, Moroccan roasted half chicken, Bucatini & Sea Urchin or seared duck breast which was our choice. Starters were interesting as well with clams& chorizo, Dungeness crab cakes or short rib tacos.  We chose and enjoyed the warm beet & goat cheese salad which included roasted pomegranate seeds and toasted pistachios.  Chef Kurt shows sides like potato leek cake or roasted maitake mushrooms or creamy polenta.
This was indeed fine dining which we enjoyed with  McPrice 2015 Zinfandel from Paso Robles.  The wine list, like the menu, is extensive with many of the local wineries represented.
Thomas Hill Organic Kitchen is located at 1313 Park Street, Paso Robles, Ca.,  Telephone 805 226-5888,  web
Few places offer the tranquility and serenity of a golf course with its manicured greenways. artistic setting and the sheer luxury of spaciousness.
As  an inept golfer for some 30 years this Writer has learned that this peaceful feeling can best be experienced in the club house dining room rather than on the course.  Playing golf does not always bring out the best in people, what seemed a delightful day can be quickly erased in a few moments, leaving  disappointment and disgust while  pondering "how could I take four putts on a  hole."
 I thought of this as I looked over the breakfast menu at the Hunter Ranch Golf Club Restaurant.  From the picture windows of the dining room the course stretched out offering luxurious contentment for the ex golfer who has abandoned the game for the clubhouse.
Located just off Highway 46 East Hunter Ranch has been presenting enjoyment for both golfers and diners sine 1994.  Our breakfast included traditional dishes like bacon and eggs and my French Toast.  Service was excellent with a friendly waitress and soon we were off for another business day exploring Paso Robles.
Hunter Ranch Golf Club is located at 4041 Highway 46 East in Paso Robles, Ca 93446,  Telephone 805-237-7444, web

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Like everything at Allegretto Vineyard Resort dining at  the Cello Ristorante & Bar was a memorable experience.  Service was impeccable with our waiter Patrick Joynt guiding us through a menu that Executive Chef Justin Picard presents as thoroughly Mediterranean.  My dining partner and I shared a Heirloom Tomato Caprise salad which arrived with Italian Mozzarella di Bufala and grilled bread.  Our entrees were for my dining partner the Australian Lamb Rack with roasted sweet potatoes and a Pomegranate Demi-glace  while I chose the nine ounce Angus beef filet mignon which came with roasted garlic smashed Yukon gold potato and Horseradish Mascarpone.
We had the opportunity to chat with Chef Justin and learned of his interesting  background in the culinary arts
Allegretto has its own winery and that evening  our wine was  Allegretto 2014 Zinfandel from the Paso Robles appellation that well showed its 18 months French aging.
Two of our visits to wineries included luncheon.  At Niner Wine Estates we first enjoyed a tour of the winery with Katie Bruce while the harvest and crush was still making it a very busy scene.  In the vineyards some grapes where still being picked and in the winery we watched as Malbec grapes were being crushed and then placed in steel tanks.  Estate varietals include Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot noir, Malbec, Merlot, Grenache, Sangiovese and Petite Sirah.
At Niner both the Tasting Room is large and comfortable while the dining facilities include an exhibition kitchen and both inside and patio seating.  Our lunch included  pea soup then pan seared scallops for my dining partner and the grilled flat iron steak for me.
The  Dining Room is open for lunch Thursday thru Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. with a Brunch offered on Sunday as well
Niner Wine Estates is located at 2400 Highway 46 West, Paso Robles, Ca 93446, Telephone 239-2233, web
At Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery we met with Catherine Jaeger, marketing manager, who led us through their spacious and scenic Hospitality Center.  Adjacent is the Vina Robles Amphitheater where concerts are held from Spring to Fall.  Located just off Highway 46 East the winery is surrounded by its many vineyards, all with individual names. Under the charge of Winemaker Kevin Willenborg a new winery, with much new state of the art equipment, was completed  this Spring.
Part of Hospitality Center is devoted to the Club Lounge, available to Signature members and here we enjoyed lunch with Catherine.  Here too Signature members have invites to special parties and events.
Vina Robles is located at 3700 Mill Road, Paso Robles, Ca. 93446, Telephone 805 227-4812, web

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The new showplace NoMad Hotel in downtown Los Angeles was the place chosen for the Italian Trade Commission to present its new "Italian wine--Taste the Passion" campaign.  With local media present  a six course  luncheon was presented accompanied with 13 selected wines from all parts of Italy.
The objective of the new campaign is to elevate the image and positioning of Italian wine in the U.S. market and increase both monetary value and market share according to Maurizio Forte of the Italian Trade Agency in New York.  The campaign will show particular  emphasis in New York, California, Florida, Illinois and Texas markets.
The menu opened with Fava Bean hummus with a 2016 Tenuta di Valgiano Bianco from Tuscany with a Kanpachi ceviche as the next course.  With the Garganelli pasta three different vintages of the same wine were served.  The wine was Ronchi di Cialla, Collil Orientali del Friulu and the vintages were 1996,1998 and 2000.  The quality of the white wines proved how well this particular white varietal holds both its flavors and texture through the years.
With the Nomad Roast chicken we moved to wines from Sicily with a 2015 Arianna Occhipinti Frappato and 2010 Classico Fontane.  The next course,  beef tenderloin, the wines were  red  with a Barolo from Piemonte and a Rosso Case Basse from Toscana.
Present to explain the wines were Amy Ezrin of the Italian Trade commission and Ryan Bailey, wine director for the NoMad Hotel.
Our last course was Parmigiano  and Roiola Bosina cheeses with  a 2010 Lambrusco di Modena brut Rose from Romagna.
The Italian Wine--Taste the Passion campaign points to the country's culture and life-style in commercial, trade and educational channels with a multimillion dollar investment and will extend for three years.  The campaign will emphasize what Italy has to offer in its wines--quality, variety  and biodiversity along with singularity, authenticity, versatility and family traditions.
All of this was well demonstrated  for the fortunate 20 members of the media present  at the Hotel NoMad luncheon 

Friday, October 26, 2018

One day this week we journeyed down to San Pedro to board the Emerald Princess for a very special event.  . It was to experience an exclusive luncheon with Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone.  It was to show his new restaurant called Share, his first restaurant  aboard a ship.
Our luncheon menu offered a preview of some of the new starters and entrees that have been crafted by Curtis Stone.  We opened with Nduja with Duck Speck an Epi Baguette as the starter and followed with a salad called. Kanpachi Crudo.  The pasta, which is made fresh daily, was  Ricotta Cavatelli.  Course four was soup and a very unique Lobster Bisque.  Main course was Duroc Pork Chop  with Toffee Cheesecake as course six and dessert.  Each course was described personally by Chef Stone.
Some of the other specialties that will be on the Share Restaurant menu included Steamed Mussels, Choprizo and white wine; beef tenderloin tips & mushroom cobbler; chicken and leek pot pie and roast pork belly.
Gordon Ho, senior vice president for Princess Cruises, explained that  Share Restaurant is just one of Princess' new designed for fresh culinary approaches.
We left the Emerald Princess somewhat reluctantly since it was  to sail to Hawaii without us.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Our goal was to find out why Paso Robles has become such a popular visitor destination, not only for Californians, but for others from states near and far.  Another  reason was to personally experience the Allegretto Vineyard Resort.
After visiting Hearst Castle the concept of experiencing luxury while surrounded by art treasures in a building that makes one think of the Mediterranean was most appealing.  The result was our memorable stay at  Allegretto Vineyard Resort..  Here surrounded by vineyards is a resort that offers a five star life-style in a rural setting.
It is only three years ago that Douglas Ayres put together his best ideas on hotel hospitality into being by opening Allegretto as part of the family's hotel chain..  In that short period of time Allegretto has achieved a reputation as being the perfect hub for exploring the showplace wineries that dot the landscape surrounding Paso Robles. 
But Paso Robles has much to offer besides its 260 wineries.  There are exciting restaurants, museums and of course the stunning countryside.  We started in downtown Paso Robles with its picturesque Park where the Paso Robles Historical Society Museum is located in what was once the Carnegie Library.  This was the perfect place to learn about the history of the city which extends back to the earliest days of a European settled California.  It is open five days a week, closed Mondays and Wednesdays.  Phone 805 238-4996, web  
Also downtown is Studios At The Park which is the center for local artists.  Here their works are on display and some have studios there as well.  Just previous to our visit the Open Studios Art Tour was conducted for the 20th year which combines all the arts of cities throughout San Luis Obispo County.  Studios at the Park is located at 1130 Pine Street, Telephone 805 238-9800, web www.studiosonthe
  Most impressive for us was the visit to the Estrella Warbirds Museum  which also includes the Woodland Auto Display.  The Museum was founded in 1992 on land that was an Army Air Force Training field during World War ll.  Its aim from the beginning was the restoration  and preservation of military aircraft,, vehicles and memorabilia. 
As a World War ll veteran the visit to Estrella was most interesting as some of the exhibits brought back personal experiences.  Among the 37  aircraft on display is a 1943 Douglas C47, often called the Gooney Bird.  On one of these planes I was flown from Germany to France, the start of my return journey to the States and also my very first ride on an airplane.
Also on display  one of the same kind of two and one-half ton trucks that moved my division from France to the Ardennes in the winter of 1944.  The museum has, since its beginnings, been staffed by docents who have dedicated much of the lives to acquiring and maintaining the aircraft and other items on display.
The Auto Display will bring joy to anyone interested in both racing and autos of earlier eras.  There for this Writer to see was a perfectly cared for 1939 Ford Convertible which was the first car I ever owned.
With  so much to see here plan plenty of time for a visit.  In fact it takes many visits to really appreciate what is on exhibit here.
Estrella Warbirds Museum is located at 4351 Dry Creek Road in Paso Robles, Ca. 93446.  The Museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  For more information call 805 238-9317, on the web

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Highway 1 Discovery Route through California's Central Coast should include a warning sign that reads "moving through this picturesque region on Highway One can be habit forming".  Certainly that is true for us since we return again and again.  We were  only home from a delightful stay in Moro Bay for a few weeks  when once again we were on the way to Highway 1.
This time to explore the Discovery Route that stretches from Ragged Point at the north to Edna Valley in the south.
 Leading attraction is Hearst Castle which attracts millions of visitors from all US states, one hundred and forty five foreign countries and every continent but  Antarctica.
The easiest  way to describe Hearst Castle is to say that it is truly one of a kind, unique and not likely to ever be  duplicated.  The enthusiasm of people, some from as far away as Taiwan, was contagious  and  our  tour was performed  most professionally by our guide, Cathy.
What has been created here is on such a scale that it is hard to grasp. The collection of antiquities, art works, carvings, statues, and tapestries is awe inspiring. 
We started our visit  at  the  Theater.  Here we viewed a spectacular  film that traces the history of the family.  Entitled "Hearst Castle--Building the Dream" it traces the history of the family from George Hearst's discovery of silver mines, and the early years of son, William.  Years that so shaped his vision to bring to America many of the Old World treasures he  first  saw as a young boy with his mother on a trip to Europe.  This film is viewed on a  five story tall theater screen. 
Our visit  was in the off season which is most advisable.  The vast majority of the one million visitors each year arrive between May and September.  Our day at the Castle was unforgettable.  The Fall weather was perfect with clear air offering views of the surrounding mountains in one direction and a shimmering calm sea in the other.
Five different  tours are available at Hearst Castle which is  part of California State Parks.  We  took Tour One which is generally recommended for first time visitors.  Other tours explore upper floors of Casa Grande, the main house; the other guest houses at the Ranch and an evening tour which recaptures the heyday life of the 1920s and 1930s.
The Hearst Castle is open daily except for three major holidays.  For more information call 805 927-2020 or log on at

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

To  say we were  pleased with our stay at Cavalier Oceanfront Resort in San Simeon is an understatement.  Our room was  steps  away  from the ocean and included a comfortable  patio with two chairs. This  used up a good deal of our time watching waves, strollers, sunsets and other folk enjoying all of the above.  Thanks to our perfect Fall weather there was no need to use the fireplace.    At Cavalier WiFi comes with the room and was available throughout our stay.
 I always seem to have need of my car close at hand.  Here it was right outside my door.  There is also a Pool but   a much, much bigger body of water just yards away. 
The Cavalier Coastal Kitchen was perfect for the convenience  it  offered as well as its ambiance,  contemporary menu and friendly efficient staff.  It was there  for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Cavalier  was the perfect location for exploring the San Simeon area of Highway 1, just three miles from Hearst Castle, seven miles to the Elephant seal rookery and and two miles further  to Piedras Blancas Lighthouse.  From Cavalier it is less than a ten minute drive to Cambria.  The hotel is also the perfect hub for visiting  wineries of the Pacific Coast Wine Trail.
Cavalier Oceanfront Resort  is located at 9415 Hearst Drive, San Simeon, Ca 93452, web Telephone 805 927-4688.
Moving through downtown Cambria is a look at  an earlier time in America.  Most of the shops and businesses are small and intimate featuring a single commodity or service.   The city is divided in its downtown areas with a East Village and a West Village.
The East Village places Cambria's historic past on display.  There is a historical Walking Tour through East Village that links the city's historic past with the present.  Many of the homes date as far back as 1875.  Both downtown areas offer  many small shops and the East hosts four winery tasting rooms as well.
We visited Stolo Family Vineyards  on the  outskirts of Cambria.  It is the only one in Cambria that includes 22 acres of vineyards, the winery, tasting room and picnic patio.  All this only a few minutes drive from downtown Cambria.
 Here we met Diego Aguirre who is general manager.   On an earlier visit we met Winemaker Nicole Bertotti Pope  who took us on a tour of the  modern winery and explained the adjacent vineyard is only three miles from the Pacific Ocean located in the Santa Rosa Valley. 
Nicole learned her winemaking skills at Cal Poly.   With its nearby ocean location  Stolo offers true Burgundian style wines.  Adjacent to the tasting room and vineyard there is a patio for relaxing picnics  and a whole series of Summer  concerts while tasting some very good wines.  The vineyards are on land that has been in the  Stolo family for generations.
Stolo Family Vineyards is located at 3776 Santa Rosa Creek Road in Cambria.  The tasting room is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m..  Telephone 805 924-3131.  Web
Our culinary advenrtures in Cambria included a delightful breakfast at Linn's Restuarant & Gift Shop Guide  and  dinner at Robin's which shows a handcrafted global cuisine.  We opened with the crispy Vietnamese Spring Rolls and for our entree the dinner special Fettucine Prawn Alfredo that included tiger prawns in a most tempting sauce.  It  was such a large  portion that my dining partner and I shared it.   Our wine was a Stolo Zinfandel.  Over a 38 year period Robin's has established a solid reputation for presenting  an unusual  menu with choices from many different cuisines.  All of this in a delightful building that was once a home with inside and patio dining surrounded by lush gardens.
Robin's is located at 4095 Burton Drive, Cambria, Ca 93428, Telephone 805 927-5007, web
Linn's early beginnings was a  farmstore located east of Cambria.  In town Linn's Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Our breakfast was French Toast fresh from the bakery which is part of the restaurant.
Linn's of Cambria is located at 2277 Main Street, Cambria, Ca. with free off street parking.  Telephone 805 927-0371, web

Saturday, October 6, 2018

  The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is one of Southern California's premiere attractions and is worth a visit regardless of personal political affiliations.  We had been to the Library in past years but our recent visit showed additions and vast improvements that have been made.
     Location alone is always a special treat as it has been built on top of a mountain with commanding views in every direction including the Pacific Ocean.  On this visit we made it a full day's outing with time out for lunch at Reagan's Country Cafe which also includes a Ronald Reagan Pub. 
     During our visit there is a special exhibit on Pompeii and how the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius destroyed a bustling port and trading city on August 23, 79 A.D.   The disaster that  destroyed the city and took many lives but also, thanks to the tons of ash that covered the region, preserved much leaving evidence of its people's daily lives, their tools and diet and even some of their bodies.  All of this is shown in this exhibition which will extend at the Library through April 21, 2019.   Pompeii went centuries, undisturbed, until 250 years ago when it was rediscovered and immediately recognized as a perfect look back in time.
     The Exhibition includes some 200 artifacts including kitchen utensils, furniture, jewelry, statues as well as frescoes, mosaics and full body casts of human forms that died from the heat and gases released by the eruption.  The use of a 4-D Eruption Theater will allow visitors to experience life in the City before disaster as well as the aftermath which has been frozen in time.
    Many of the authentic artifacts are on loan from the Naples National Archaeological Museum.  This Writer personally visited Pompeii on a visit to Italy in an earlier decade and our experience at the Library served to remind us of the fascination we experienced on that unforgettable Italian tour.
       Twenty four galleries tell the story of Ronald Reagan's life before the Presidency and much of the personal relationship of he and his wife, Nancy.  With her death  she now is buried next to her husband at the Library.  We always enjoy looking at the perfect replica of the Oval Office at the White House and the place of business for so many presidents.
     The landscaping and gardens that surround the Library are worth the time for a stroll and the views they offer.  The landscaping includes a replica of the White House Rose Garden.  Also to be seen a  part of the Berlin Wall  brought to the U.S.
     The Library is well staffed and the docents we met were most courteous and helpful and with so much to see and do we needed them for advice and guidance.
     The Reagan Library follows the tradition of established Presidential libraries first started by Franklin D. Roosevelt and has continued with every president since then.  California has a second Presidential Library for Richard Nixon located in Loma Linda
     In all there are now twelve Presidential libraries in various states.
     The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is located at 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, Ca. Phone 1 805 577-4000.  It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. web  There is an admission fee for visits to the galleries.
     The Reagan Country Cafe is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.