Saturday, February 27, 2010

Palate Press Bio

I just wrote my first piece for Palate Press, a web site formed by a group of professional wine writers and editors to post everything from tasting notes to travelogues to vintage reports. My post will be about the trip I took to Western Australia's Margaret River region told through the different wines I tasted while I was there.

That should post sometime tomorrow or Monday, but looks like they uploaded my bio onto the site, so I thought I'd put that up here since it makes me look good! Anyway, I hope you enjoy, and look forward to my full article in the next couple of days...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Party Down Under: Sydney's Gay Mardi Gras

For the most recent issue of Frontiers IN/LA, in which my Delphine review appeared, I was also supposed to have a piece on Sydney's Gay Mardi Gras, and Melbourne's Midsumma festival, run. Unfortunately, due to space limitations, the piece was not included in the issue, but my editor gave me permission to publish it here on my blog instead since the main event, the parade that attracts hundreds of thousands of participants and spectators, ran last Sunday, and events continue for another two weeks.
So if you've ever been interested in heading Down Under for a spot of February fun, here's a quick hit list of activities you can look forward to during Australia's Mardi Gras season. Laissez les bons temps rouler!


Sydney’s Gay Mardi Gras
By Eric Rosen

Though the first city to come to mind when someone mentions Mardi Gras might be New Orleans, gays look even farther south come February for one of the biggest events of the year: Sydney’s Gay Mardi Gras. Part Pride march, part cultural festival, part circuit party, New Mardi Gras, as it’s called, has become one of the biggest gay events in the world over the course of its 32-year history. This year, the festival will take place from February 19-March 6, just in time to enjoy the perfect weather of late summer in Australia.

The History

Sydney was not always the fun-loving, safe environment for gays that it is today. In fact, Mardi Gras began as a protest march by a few hundred courageous souls in 1978 (in June, actually), when homosexuality was still a crime and police discrimination and brutality were everyday occurrences. As a sign of just how much things have changed since then, last year over 300,000 visitors watched the Parade. Banks, schools, and churches participated, as did the Australian Federal Police, the Defense Department, and state firefighters. The whole event is even televised on Australian national television.

The Events

Fair Day launches the official Mardi Gras festivities on Sunday, February 21st, when 75,000 people come to Victoria Park to spend the day in the sun grazing at food stalls, shopping, and sipping cocktails. It starts at 10:00am and is free.

By far the biggest draw is the Parade. This year it falls on Saturday, February 27, and is going to be bigger than ever, with 140 floats and over 10,000 participants. The fun starts at 7:45pm on Sydney’s main drag, Oxford Street, though if you’re thinking of going, you’d better line up early that morning to get a good spot along the 1.5-mile parade route. Check out the SX Parade Guide ( for a detailed map of the route and descriptions of the floats.

Every year, the Parade adopts a theme in an effort to bring politics back to the forefront, especially in the wake of LGBT legislative victories in Australia that included equal partnership benefits, though not same-sex marriage. This year’s theme is “History of the World.” There’s sure to be all sorts of naughty schoolboys learning lessons.

This year is the first time there will be a post-Parade Carnival Party starting at 10:00pm at the Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park ( Harbour 2010 the next day from 3:00-11:00pm is an all-day outdoor dance party held at the Royal Botanic Gardens with the famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House in the background.

There’s a Pool Party on Monday, March 1, at the Ivy Pool Club, and a new beach party this year on Friday, March 5 at Bondi Beach from 3:00pm-midnight. It’s the perfect vantage point for what is perhaps the most gleefully idiosyncratic event: the Bondi Drag Races, where drag queens compete in Olympics-style events like handbag discus, the Dainty Dune Dash (in high heels), and competitive feminine posing.

Though bars and clubs around town will be hosting parties throughout Mardi Gras, the celebration everyone comes for is the official Mardi Gras Party at Moore Park on Saturday, March 6, from 10:00pm-8:00am. Every year, there are world-class DJ’s like this year’s headliner David Guetta ,and secret celebrity guest performers to entertain nearly 20,000 party-goers at several different venues. Previous years have seen performances from the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Olivia Newton-John, Kylie Minogue, and Grace Jones. No word on this year’s guests, but the organizers promise “you’re sure to be left breathless.” Tickets cost $135 AUD.

The next day, revelers can head to the Luna Park amusement center for Toybox (, the final official party of Mardi Gras. It takes place from noon-8:00pm.

There are also a number of cultural events including film screenings, literary salons, and appearances by world-famous celebrities. Whitney Houston will perform two concerts, on February 24 at the Acer Arena on her Nothing but Love Tour. Back in Australia for the first time in 22 years, George Michael will perform a selection of Wham! classics and recent hits on the 26th at the Sydney Football Stadium, and John Waters is putting on a one-man show at the Sydney Opera House on March 2.

The Seymour Centre will host a series of workshops, panels and seminars with the thinkers from the gay community like novelists Paul Burston and Sarah Waters, and photographer Erwin Olaf.

More socially minded visitors should get tickets for the excursion and gourmet three-course dinner at the Taronga Zoo in support of Australian Marriage Equality on March 3 from 6:00-11:00pm. Tickets start at $230 AUD.

For the whole roster of over 80 events, check out the official Mardi Gras site:

Getting There

V Australia ( is one of the major sponsors of Mardi Gras, and is also responsible for helping lower prices on trans-Pacific routes since its inauguration last year. Plus, no other airline has the cool soundtrack and trippy lighting effects to get you in the mood for the party to come.

Hautes Vacances ( is a boutique gay travel agency that offers a variety of Mardi Gras packages from 4-10 days starting at $185 AUD per day, while Spring Fling ( and Rainbow Tourism ( offer packages for the main events including flights.

Or make Mardi Gras part of a larger 11-day itinerary with a cruise on Atlantis ( that stops in Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney.

Gay Mardi Gras has it all: the beautiful backdrop of Sydney, perfect summer weather, a social conscience, events for every taste…and did we mention all the hot Aussies? No? Well, you’ll just have to head there yourself to find out what you’re missing.

Midsumma in Melbourne (Sidebar)

Not all the action is in Sydney this February. Australia’s second city (though its first in style), Melbourne also hosts an annual LGBT event called Midsumma, now in its 22nd year, just before the Mardi Gras fun kicks off.

This year Midsumma ran from January 17-February 7, starting with a Carnival and party in the city’s historic Alexandra Gardens, and ending with the Pride March ( Though it features its fair share of blowout parties, Midsumma is primarily a culture and arts festival, holding 130 events in over 60 venues spread across the Melbourne area’s five municipalities. Over 100,000 people come to the festival over its course.

This year’s program of events included film screenings, spoken word and literary events, performance arts like cabarets and stage productions, and, of course, fabulous parties with fanciful names like Lady Lovers Let Loose, T Dance, Butt Naked, Satin and Silk Ball, Closet, Slut Truffle, and Buck & Ride. So saddle up.

To find out more, visit the Midsumma web site:

Frontiers: Delphine Review

You might remember the quick write-up I did of Delphine at the W Hollywood for HotelChatter a few weeks ago, but I also reviewed it for Frontiers IN/LA first, only it's just coming out now. Ah, the joys of print publishing. In any case, I'm thrilled that I was able to talk about the restaurant for two of my publications, and that they both used my photos to boot.

I chose different talking points for each of the pieces, so you won't find too much repetition, plus, this Frontiers piece has a whole guide to the best moules frites around town thrown in, so it's got a lot to offer on its own, even if it did come out a few weeks later. For the full review of my experience, plus my mussels musts, click on my review below.


Weekly Stir Fry: 2-24-10

This week's roundup of Dining News and Restaurant Specials around Los Angeles, on

Included this week: Cecconi's one-year anniversary celebration with prosecco and Cerulean-blue cupcakes, Napa Valley Grille's mystery farm lamb dinner, BBQ & Blues at Zeke's Smokehouse, "SunGay Brunch" from Out and About Tours, Glenlivet tastings at Morton's Steakhouse, BLT Steak's Birthday Party, and Laurel Tavern does lunch.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

HotelChatter: Jeopardy's Suite Talk

Ever since my own appearance on Jeopardy! a few years ago, I haven't really watched the show much. But on Monday night, I happened to be in at 7:00pm, when the show comes on in Los Angeles, and having a quiet evening of folding laundry and making dinner (before a group viewing of The Bachelor with the ladies of Here For The Right Reasons later on).

That was when I noticed that one of the categories was "Suite Talk," and featured trivia about famous hotel suites from around the world, including several properties that I've written about for HotelChatter. I reflexively hit the Record button my DVR so that I could preserve the episode for posterity, and pitched it as a quick, fun story for HotelChatter readers to find out whether they've been paying attention to all the hotel knowledge we've dropped on them.

I typed up the story, transcribing the questions and answers (in the form of a question, of course) so that our readers could test their wits against the trivia-masters of America's favorite game show. Want to see how you do? You can find my story here:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

LA Confidential Review: Agura

Agura is a new Japanese restaurant on La Cienega's restaurant row. What's interesting about it is that it's actually the first U.S. location of an upscale Japanese restaurant chain, that it is housed in a former church, and that there is a specially commissioned 13-foot-high Buddha statue presiding over the whole space.

The food is pretty darn good, too, with fantastically fresh fish choices, some interesting dishes from the hot kitchen, and a small but very well thought out sake selection. You can take a look at the scan of my review from the January/February issue of L.A. Confidential Magazine, but I'll also paste in the text below for easier reading. Enjoy!



A 13-foot Buddha, a Versailles-like crystal chandelier, traditional Japanese masks, and jewel-box gilt flourishes all in a former church should not make for a coherent dining experience, but somehow they do at Agura, the first U.S. restaurant for Japanese restaurateur Yasumasa Kawabata. The Japanese- French fusion menu features some spectacular sushi arrangements like the ornate Agura Platter with five different types of fish wrapped in cucumber and garnished with flying fish roe. Eclectic entrees include curried lamb chops with couscous, and luscious pan-fried halibut in Madeira sauce. Skip the unremarkable wine list in favor of a hard-to-find sake like the gold-medal Tamagawa, or a specialty cocktail like the Manhattan made with plum wine. A high-backed chair in the dining room or a stool at the sushi bar is ideal seating, but the large patio is also prime territory. Better yet, invite a few friends and book one of the screened-off private rooms. Just be sure to remove your shoes before stepping inside.

514 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048, (310) 289-1940;

Monday, February 22, 2010

LA Confidential Review of Bouchon

Right as I returned from Australia back in November, the entire Los Angeles foodie community was abuzz with the imminent opening of Thomas Keller's first L.A. restaurant, an outpost of his French brasserie, Bouchon. My editors at L.A. Confidential Magazine asked if I would like to write a review of it for them, and I jumped at the chance. It isn't every day that you get to enjoy a meal from one of America's most famous chefs, and I was eager to see what all the attention was about (someday I hope to be able to eat at Per Se and, even more, The French Laundry up in Yountville).

I recently got the December/January issue of the magazine and scanned in the article, but since it's a little hard to see, I will also copy the text of the review below the magazine spread. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

The Review:


Los Angeles has its share of famous chefs—especially of the reality TV variety—but it’s not every day that a talent with seven Michelin stars makes his triumphant return, as Thomas Keller did this past November with the opening of Bouchon Beverly Hills.

Widely considered one of the top chefs—if not the top chef—in the country, Keller hasn’t graced L.A. kitchens since working at Checkers Downtown in the 1990s. But now the Southern California native is finally back with the third location of Bouchon (the other two are in Yountville and Las Vegas), a French brasserie with traditional design touches like a pewter bar, mosaic floors, pastel murals, and brass fixtures shedding a “La Vie En Rose” pink tint on the enormous dining room.

Whereas you go to Keller’s other restaurants, The French Laundry and Per Se, to be dazzled by gastronomic experiments, the (more affordable) cuisine at Bouchon is about perfecting classic French dishes—like a “This Is Your Life” episode of French cooking. The escargots bourguignons remind you of your first daring dining experience as a child. You relive that formative summer internship in Paris with each bite of duck leg confit. The steak frites are a taste of your counter-culture days in the East Village after college, while the oyster platters and pan-roasted trout aux amandes are the meal you would have eaten to celebrate getting engaged at the Eiffel Tower. One of the sommeliers roving the room will advise you which wine on the strictly French-Californian list will pair best with your meal.

And for a more casual dining experience, Bar Bouchon recently opened downstairs from the main restaurant and features a large selection of small plates and by-the-glass wines.

235 N. CaƱon Dr., Beverly Hills, (310) 271-9910;

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weekly Stir Fry: 2-17-10

This week's roundup of Dining News and Restaurant Specials around Los Angeles, on

Included this time around: Dinner and a Movie with ArtBites, a lunch deal at Henry's Hat, the opening of the new artisanal beer bar The Surly Goat, Lilly's new look in Venice, Bombay Palace marks 25 years in business, and Nobu's new omakase tapas.

So much to eat, so little time...

For the complete details, take a look at the roundup here:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Inside the JW Marriott at LA Live

I've taken you inside the new JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton at LA Live before--but only for a sneak peek at the project a few months ago, when I still needed a hard hat to get inside. Then it was the lighting up ceremony in January. Yesterday, I brought you a first-look at the official opening of the hotel with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting (even though it had already been open for business and taking guests since the day before), complete with video of the enormous, golden prop scissors they used and blasts from the confetti cannon.

Today, I posted a story on HotelChatter with photos from my tour of the property, as well as a video walkthrough of a Junior Suite (all the standard rooms were already booked for a Pollstar convention that had taken over the hotel). In it, you'll find photos of the massive lobby, including Kerry Simon's new LA Market restaurant (I also snagged a menu!), The Mixing Room bar, the fourth-floor pool area (bright glare!), the Executive Lounge, and two of the suites including a regular corner Junior one-bedroom, and the truly impressive Presidential Suite (my favorite part was the luxurious, sparkling bathroom).

For all the details, photo and video of the property, check out my story here:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

JW Marriott at LA Live Ribbon Cutting

Today I got to put on my news-writer hat and head downtown for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony of the JW Marriott at LA Live. You might recall my sneak peek at the hotel in December, or my coverage of the lighting up ceremony there last month (complete with photos of the Governator). So what, you might ask, was the reason behind yet another grand unveiling?

Well, the hotel officially opened for business and started putting up guests yesterday, February 15, so it was time to open the hotel for real--it must be hard going from empty to completely full in one day, but the hotel was totally booked up with a Pollstar convention already.

The funny thing is, even AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke (the man credited as the force behind the whole LA Live development) joked that this was the eighth out of nine such events, and that he was looking forward to being done with them. To be honest, so am I. The property is looking fantastic, and I do get to see something new each time (look forward to photos and video of the lobby, restaurant and rooms tomorrow), but this is getting to be overkill.

Ah well, just one more event to go: the opening of the Ritz-Carlton in the building next month. For now, take a look at the quick video I made of the actual ribbon-cutting, and then tomorrow I will share my story with details on the hotel's public spaces, amenities and rooms.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

HotelChatter: Delphine at the W Hollywood

Though I'll be writing a fuller review of Delphine, the French brasserie at the new W Hotel Hollywood, for Frontiers In/LA, I also did a quick write-up for HotelChatter this week, outlining some of the menu items we tried, and painting a general picture of the space and the crowd.

Take a look at some of my pictures (including of the food!), and see what I thought here:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Frontiers: The Perfect Valentine's Evening

My editor at Frontiers In/LA asked me to write the restaurant piece for this year's Valentine's issue (thank goodness it was only one this year instead of last year's THREE!), but instead of coming up with the same old kind of review or roundup, I got a little creative and customized an evening itinerary of gourmet romance.

First stop: Petrossian Caviar Cafe and Boutique in Beverly Hills for a fancy (but moderately priced) champagne toast and caviar amuse bouche. Add Image

Second stop: David Myers' Comme Ca for a fine French meal served in sumptous surroundings.

Final stop: Dessert at home courtesy of a sweetheart box from Sprinkles Cupcakes.

Sounds like the perfect evening to me! For all the details, check out my article here:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Weekly Stir Fry: 2-10-10

This week's roundup of Dining News and Restaurant Specials around Los Angeles, on

Included this time around: Wally's Wine and Spirits Annual Tent Sale, the first annual LA Street Food Fest featuring many of Los Angeles's most famous food trucks (and apparently HUGE crowds and long lines), Chinese New Year at Philippe on Melrose, President's Day cocktails at Comme Ca, the opening of La Vida at Sunset and Gower (where eat. used to be), Mardi Gras celebrations at Rush Street, Little Dom's and Dominick's, and finally, a Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel wine dinner at Takami.

Plenty to do, see, eat and drink this week!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Valentine's Day Roundup

Yet another holiday rolls around--the totally greeting-card-company-mandated one of Valentine's Day--and I had to come up with another roundup for Do I sound bitter? I'm not sure if that's because I'm sick of roundups, or sick of not having anyone to lavish fancy dinner upon on Valentine's Day. Le sigh.

This year at least, there are some fun meals happening around town. I think restaurants realize they need to go the extra mile because the holiday falls on a Sunday, but also because people are really watching their budgets, so in order to get them out of the house and into a booth, restaurants really have to pull out all the stops.

For some of the more interesting meals I came across (without repeating entries from my previous roundups on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's), take a look and see where you can treat your sweetheart to a nice dinner out this year.

Valentine's Day Roundup:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

LA Confidential Review of Eva

As some of you might know, I have recently been writing restaurant reviews for LA Confidential Magazine. Though I have several more in the pipeline for upcoming issues, my very first article for them was a review of Mark Gold's new restaurant on Beverly in the old Hatfield's space, Eva.
I had a fantastic meal there, and gave this write-up my all. I think it turned out beautifully. There was no way to link to it on the web, so I resorted to scanning it and pasting it here. I know it's a little blurry, but at least you can make out the words--and it's short, so it shouldn't take too much effort!
Enjoy, and there will be plenty more similar stories to follow.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Destination California Series on EDGE

Starting this month, I will be writing a new monthly Travel Series for EDGE Publications titled DESTINATION CALIFORNIA, which will be published across all of EDGE's city-specific web sites in places like Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and more.

Each month, I will cover a new destination somewhere in the Golden State. My first piece is my home base: Central Los Angeles. I talk about West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Hollywood, sharing some of my favorite hotels, activities, shopping and, of course, restaurants.

Next up in the series will be coverage of central San Diego, while in future pieces, I'm planning to head to San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara, the Orange County Coast (Newport, Laguna, Huntington Beach), offbeat wine regions, deserted stretches of beach, mountain ski resorts, and everything in between.

I think the first article will give readers a great idea of how the series will progress, and contains all sorts of useful and interesting information on my hometown, so please take a look:

Friday, February 5, 2010

HotelChatter Celebrity Series: Best and Worst Roundup

For the final day of my Celebrity Series on HotelChatter, we considered testing our readers' memories by posting a pop quiz on which celebrities made what demands while staying in hotels around the world, but instead we did a Best-Worst roundup of crazy demands, outrageous antics, and offbeat necessities that divas like Babs and J-Lo require while on the road.

Who made our cut? Justin Timberlake for his prophylactic measures, Mariah Carey for the purely devilish, divalicous scope of her demands (and you thought that AT&T commercial was exaggerating!), and Dick Cheney for the grumpy-old-man-ness of his list of do's and don't's.

Take a (ridiculous but fun) trip back down memory lane from this week with me here:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

HotelChatter Celebrity Series: Celebrity Hotel Report Card

A couple years ago, HotelChatter did a Celebrity Hotel Report Card, but we decided that, as part of my continuing series this week on outrageous celebrity hotel demands, we would update the report card and take stock of a few projects we've been hearing about lately.

Included in the roundup: Richard Gere's Bedford Post Inn in upstate New York, Ivanka Trump and the imminent Trump Soho Hotel in New York City, Gloria Estefan's two Miami hotels (The Cardozo and the Costa D'Este Beach Resort) , Olivia Newton-John's spiritual retreat in Australia called the Gaia Retreat, and Jay-Z's continuing troubles (and pending lawsuit) regarding the proposed J Hotel in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood.

Now, we don't grade on a curve, and we're pretty harsh judges, so we weren't exactly handing out A's. I think we were tough, but fair. After spending all week learning about just how demanding celebrities can be of other hotels, our expectations were pretty high for what celebrities who decide to open up hotels themselves should be able to accomplish.

To learn more about the properties and see how we rated each one, check out my Report Card story here:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

HotelChatter Celebrity Series: Political Persuasions

So far for my Celebrity Series on HotelChatter, I've covered DIVA DEMANDS and WHAT MEN WANT. Today it was time to take a look at some of the requirements political figures place upon the hotels where they stay on the campaign trail.

I tried to include politicians from both sides of the aisle in the piece, and came across some fascinating information on would-be VP Sarah Palin, actual former VP Dick Cheney, former President Bill Clinton, his wife, current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former president George W. Bush, and what was perhaps my favorite section: former Secretary of State Colin Powell's advice to the Intercontinental Hotel Group about steps they could take to make his hotel experience at the Holiday Inn much, much better (and you know what, I totally agree with him on the specific points he mentions!).

You know, I also found out all about John Kerry's rider for while he was on the presidential campaign trail back in 2004, but just like the campaign itself, it was so long and boring, my editor and I decided not to include it!

Weekly Stir Fry 2-3-10

Here is this week's roundup from of Restaurant Specials and Dining Deals around Los Angeles.

Included this time around: an Italian wine tasting at Veno Kado, a special truffle menu at Patina, the special prix fixe for restaurnat industry professionals at BLVD 16, a new "4 + 4 = 8" happy hour special at 8 oz. Burger Bar, the opening of the new Hatfield's on Melrose, a new restaurant in Pasadena called Elements Kitchen, and the opening of Townhouse Kitchen and Bar in Sherman Oaks. Lots of good stuff!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

HotelChatter Celebrity Series: What Men Want

Yesterday was all about DIVA DEMANDS made by stars like Babs, J-Lo, Brit, Nic, and Mariah. Today, I wrote about the outrageous hotel riders submitted by such male superstars as Justin Timberlake, Paul McCartney, Prince, Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson and Russell Brand (just because he had some funny ones in there).

Some of the surprises? JT is just as much of a germaphobe as I am, Rod Steward NEEDS his naps, Prince requires an oxygen bar for his staff, and Russell Brand likes a room with a stripper pole. Well, that last one didn't come as too much of a shocker actually.

For all the rest of the delicious details, check out my story here:

Monday, February 1, 2010

HotelChatter Celebrity Series: Diva Demands

All this week, I'll be writing a series on celebrities for HotelChatter. The first few days will cover outrageous demands made by famous actors, rockstars and politicians, and then I'll also update HotelChatter's Celebrity Hotel Report Card by taking stock of several celebrity hotel projects that are going on around the country and the world.

Up first today, DIVA DEMANDS. I'm going to let you in on all the juicy secrets I found out about what stars like Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Nicole Kidman ask for (or demand, rather) when they stay at a hotel. Everything from peach-colored tissues to golden faucets, stripper poles to a precisely set thermostat...everything is thought of beforehand, and you'll even be able to see facsimiles of some of these stars' riders when you click on links in the article.

Stay tuned for more pieces talking about What Men Want, and Political Persuasions, but for now, enjoy Day #1 of Diva Demands: