Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jaunted: Love is in the Air on SAS

There's been a lot of talk about gay marriage lately, especially with all the Prop 8 trials going on in California. On a happier note, SAS Airlines, which is famously gay-friendly, has decided to throw the world's first mid-air gay nuptials onboard one of its flights from Stockholm to New York in December. The business class cabin will be converted into a wedding hall for the flight, cake and dancing included, and the lucky European couple will get married by the captain. Then they'll have a fun, jet-setting little jaunt from New York to West Hollywood. On the return, a North American couple will get married, and whisked away to some of Sweden's most happening destinations. It's a contest though, so the couples do have to enter and jump through a few hoops.

SAS is already progressive on a number of fronts--from service to environmental initiatives--and their gay-friendly policies are another great reason to make it your airline of choice when flying to Europe.

In the meantime, if you and your significant other have been contemplating taking the big plunge, this might just be the opportunity you've been waiting for. Otherwise, if you're just curious about the contest and all the prizes in store for the winning couples, take a look at my Jaunted article by clicking the link below.

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2010/8/30/04549/6934/travel/SAS+Airlines+to+Hold+a+Contest+for+the+World%27s+First+In-Flight+Gay+Marriage

Monday, August 30, 2010

PreferDine: Bistro LQ

Today on PreferDine, we featured one of the most exciting restaurants in Los Angeles: Bistro LQ. Chef Laurent Quenioux is sort of like a mad scientist in the kitchen, combining all kinds of intriguing flavors and textures to create a dynamic, challenging, and ultimately enlightening dining experience for all who come to his simply chic restaurant on Beverly Boulevard. And it doesn't have to cost you your savings either since you can get most dishes in half-portions, and the wine list has a relatively low mark-up. Just enough of a bonus to ensure that you enjoy a course of cheeses from their amazing fromage cart!

To get the deal, which snags you $50 of food and drink for just $25, just click on the link below, and you can take a look at my write-up below.

Link: http://www.preferdine.com/dine-deals/bistro_lq-deal-46

Bistro LQ
8009 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 951-1088

When it comes to flavor combinations, sometimes there’s no explanation for why certain flavors that should be completely different taste so good together. Bacon with chocolate. Foie gras with spiced pear. Tequila with lime. Well, actually, that last one has little to do with taste. Chefs across the country are starting to experiment with these palate-beguiling combinations, and leading the pack of chefs who are making eating out in L.A. interesting again is Chef Laurent Quenioux. At his self-named restaurant on Beverly, Bistro LQ, the exacting Frenchman is turning out dishes that take gastronomic experimentation beyond just flavor into texture territory.

The best way to get a handle on Quenioux’s constantly changing menu is to try either his seven- or ten-course tasting menu (the seven-course menu is available in a vegetarian option). That way, you can try recent additions to his repertoire including foie gras two ways—a torchon with corn gel, and a terrine with yuzu glaze, miso lemon curd, green tea brioche and wasabi marshmallow; peach carpaccio with tomato tartar, scallops in lime juice and virgin Bloody Mary sorbet; confit lamb shank with Meyer lemon marmalade, spring onions and tempura zucchini flower; and his famous signature dish, the oatmeal infused with fresh fennel lobster broth, cinnamon and roasted diver scallops. The muted dining room with orchids on the table is almost shockingly simple as if to allow diners to concentrate all their attention on tasting the extraordinary cuisine.

Bistro LQ’s cheese cart is a veritable rolling cornucopia of creamy goodness, but insist on sampling desserts like the pôt de crème of espresso and chocolate with butterscotch tapioca and tonka bean panna cotta. They pair perfectly with one of the chef-directed tisane herb infusion teas.

In addition to the moderately priced wine list, which draws from regions as disparate as France, Austria and Georgia (the country, not the state), you can get a steal on world-class cuisine by ordering half-portions of almost any dish. Combine it with our offer of $25 for $50 off and you’re practically stealing the most exciting meal in the city.


  • Bistro LQ was one of Los Angeles Magazine’s “Top 10 Best New Restaurants of 2009,” with the assertion that “Laurent Quenioux is a chef who won’t play it safe, and that’s exciting.”

  • Bistro LQ is also on Jonathan Gold’s L.A. Weekly illustrious list of “99 Essential Restaurants,” with Gold calling Quenioux “the most mysterious of L.A.’s first-rank chefs.”

  • L.A. Times food critic S. Irene Virbila said, “From the delicate amuse to the luscious macarons, Laurent Quenioux’s latest bistro revels in the intricate, yet traditional.” Translation: you’ll taste foods you thought you knew and understood in a completely new way.

  • The restaurant also came in first runner up in Angeleno Magazine’s 2010 “Best New Restaurants” award.

  • Quenioux is a native of France’s Loire Valley, and he cooks with many of the same meats he hunted as a boy, like duck, partridge and rabbit, as well as the rich goose liver foie gras he learned to prepare while training in the south of France.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jaunted: Gay Labor Day Roundup

I've been helping out a little bit on Jaunted lately, and the latest article is a roundup of the best gay destinations for Labor Day. Now, I forewent the usual suspects like Provincetown and Fire Island in favor of some more unusual events in Austin, New Orleans, Quebec and, a personal favorite of mine for reasons of wine and food rather than gay travel, the Russian River Valley.

Still, I think it's a pretty great list, and the more I learned about each event, the more I wanted to go! Especially Splash Days in Austin because, hey, who doesn't want to have one last good summer swim? Plus, Southern Decadence in New Orleans just sounds too intense for me!

Curious why I chose those destinations, and what there is to do there? Take a look at my story by clicking on the link below.

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2010/8/19/1890/52482/travel/Four+Great+Places+to+Make+Your+Labor+Day+Gay

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Frontiers: Romantic Dinner at Pace and Sexy Cocktails Roundup

The current issue of Frontiers IN/LA is the Single in Los Angeles edition, with a list of L.A.'s most eligible LGBT singletons. So in keeping with the overall theme, I pitched a restaurant review of an old favorite: Pace.

Nestled up in the curves of Laurel Canyon, Pace serves a market-fresh menu of light Italian dishes, and is the perfect spot for a cozy first date, or a romantic getaway right in the heart of town.

The Food 2 Know section of this piece is also a little special in that, rather than talking about a dish I mention in the piece, I chose instead to write a little roundup of sexy cocktails at some great bars around town including Beachcomber, Copa D'Oro, The Edison and La Descarga.

So next time you're thinking of a date night out, come back to this article for a little inspiration, and who knows? Maybe you won't be Single in Los Angeles for much longer!

Link: http://www.frontiersweb.com/Nightlife/Restaurants/Story.aspx?ID=1268308

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

LowFares: Hyatt Regency Orange County

Though I haven't written any more city guides (yet!) on LowFares, I do have a few features stockpiled for the site, and the first of them came out today. It's a hotel spotlight like my Sydney roundup, only I just cover the Hyatt Regency Orange County near Disneyland in Anaheim, which just underwent a major, multi-million dollar renovation, which also included two new lobby restaurants.

I headed down there last night to spend the night and try out the casual Italian menu at TusCA, while just popping my head into the new gastropub next door, OC Brewhouse.

Throw in the proximity to Disneyland (and the fact that you can get all your tickets at a special kiosk in the lobby), the two pools, a fitness center, and tons of meeting spaces, and this hotel makes for a great destination for families and adult travelers alike.

To find out all about the amenities I experienced during my stay, you can find my article here: http://www.lowfares.com/blog/2010/08/23/hotel-of-the-week-hyatt-regency-orange-county/

Monday, August 23, 2010

PreferDine: Raphael

Today on PreferDine we ventured farther afield to include our first restaurant in the Valley! Raphael on Ventura Boulevard, to be specific. Though it only opened late last year, it's already one of the top Los Angeles restaurants on OpenTable thanks to it's intriguing menu, beautiful design and extensive wine list. I'm even thinking about taking advantage of this deal myself!

See for yourself why you should consider a dinner here by reading my write-up below, and if you want to buy the $50 worth of food and wine for $25 deal that we've posted, you can get it here: http://www.preferdine.com/dine-deals/raphael-deal-43

11616 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 505-3336

We have a small but significant stable of experiences that we would categorize as “expensive but worth it.” These splurges include a Brazilian blowout (we’re sure Jennifer Lopez and Halle Berry would agree), chartering a yacht on the Aegean in summer, and dinner at the Valley’s newest deluxe dining destination: Raphael. Luckily, that last one is going to be a lot easier to budget for thanks to the deal we got for you.

Like the owner’s family, after whom it is named, Raphael is an alluring amalgam of cultures, with menu items coming from the great cuisine traditions of France, Japan, Mexico, and even right here in California. That’s why, when you make a reservation to dine in the beautifully designed space on bustling Ventura Boulevard, you can enjoy such disparate starters as French onion soup; Japanese-inspired yellowfin tuna tartare with ponzu, rice noodle salad and crispy lotus root; and whitefish ceviche with avocado mousse, cream and achiote that derives from classical Mexican cuisine. But the entrees are even more diverse and include a Scottish salmon with golden beet puree and fava bean tapenade; Peking duck with a Moroccan twist of harissa-spiked couscous and candied tangerine vinaigrette; and a roasted rack of lamb with ratatouille, roasted peewee potatoes and jus that will have you dreaming of dinner in a picturesque Provençal town.

It’s even easy to pair wines with the wide-ranging menu because the restaurant pours 50 wines by the glass. End your meal on a sweet note with a chocolate mousse brownie and salty caramel ice cream; or a touch of comfort food in the form of banana bread pudding with house-made peanut butter ice cream, peanut brittle and tempura bananas—because we’ve got another category: “calorific but worth it,” and dessert definitely falls under it.


  • It may have opened less than a year ago, but Raphael is already an Open Table 2010 Best Restaurant Winner.

  • Raphael is only the most recent high-end hotspot for Chef Steven Barkulis, who previously worked in the kitchens at Water Grill and Spago.

  • Pastry Chef Cynthia Nguyen honed her skills working at one of the Westside’s most innovative bakeries, Jin Patisserie.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

PreferWine: Domaine Georg Rafael

Our next wine on PreferDine is also the oldest we've offered so far: a 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon from Domaine Georg Rafael in Napa. For those of you who don't know the winery...you're not alone! It produces only an extremely limited quantity each year, and if you manage to track down a bottle of their Chardonnay, you're pretty much a superstar.

Add in Georg Rafael's compelling personal biography--childhood in Cold War Germany, meteoric rise in the hotel business, winery passion project--and you've got the makings of a great story. Factor in our 30% discount deal on bottles of his wine, and you won't be able to turn this offer down!

If you want to buy the wine, you can click on the link, or just read my write up, which I've pasted in below.

Link: http://www.preferdine.com/wine-deals/domaine_georg_rafael-deal-42

Domaine Georg Rafael
Père et Fils
221 Devlin Road
Napa, CA 94558
(415) 298-2810

Like a certain speaker-wielding, beer-toting, slide-deploying, air-raged flight attendant, we often spend our days dreaming of leaving the office behind—along with the beep of the Blackberry, the whir of the printer and the buzz of the fax. In our fantasy, we’d become winemakers, whiling away the days strolling our vineyards, and tasting our wines. Not that we think it’s ever going to happen, but at least we can be inspired by the example of Georg Rafael. He’s our version of the Dos Equis man. Rafael left his home in Germany as a young man during the height of the Cold War and pursued a career in hospitality in France, eventually becoming an award-winning hotelier before deciding to start his own winery in Napa in the ’90’s. There his team produces extremely limited release Cabernet Sauvignon and an infinitesimal amount of Chardonnay that’s so secret, the winery will deny its existence to anyone but the close circle of friends who gets to enjoy it. Lucky for you, we managed to talk Rafael into offering us a deal on his 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon—a rare deal on a rare wine.

We don’t usually partake of wine at breakfast, but this wine reminded us of an early morning meal at a Turkish café overlooking the Bosphorus. The strawberry and cassis flavors are jammy enough to spread on your morning toast, but the savory background spices of strong coffee, black licorice and olive will wake your senses with their alluring bite. Still, rather than enjoying this wine with your morning eggs, we’d suggest quaffing it with a dinner of Mediterranean small plates like hummus, baba ganoush, panzanella salad, and rack of lamb with olive tapenade and roasted eggplant.


  • The first wine produced under Domaine Georg Rafael was bottled in 1996, and since then, the winery has only made about 500 cases annually. Due to its limited release, the wine is not submitted for ratings, but you can find it in such stellar Bay Area restaurants as The French Laundry, Gary Danko, Arne at the St. Regis San Francisco, Spruce, and Campton Place Hotel.

  • The 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet made from grapes grown in the Oak Knoll District AVA of Napa, northwest of the town of Napa itself, on steep lopes rising to over 400 feet in elevation.

  • The wine was aged in French oak for 28 months, and was bottled unfined and unfiltered, leaving intact all those tasty elements that usually get removed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Jaunted: Non-Prescription Sleep Aids On The Go

Thanks to all the long-haul international travel I've been doing lately, I've realized more than ever how important it is to stay well rested while on the road. I've tried everything to get a good snooze on the plane, and now I'm bringing my hard-fought knowledge to the readers of Jaunted with this handy guide to the most common non-prescription sleep aids.

I cover everything from over-the-counter drugs to teas to podcasts, and let you in on which work best for which kinds of travelers. Two caveats before you read it by clicking the link below, though. First, some of these are medications, so be sure to consult your physician first because only he/she can advise you of what might work for you. Second, this list is far from complete, so if you have any suggestions of your own, let me know, or post a comment on the story on Jaunted!

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2010/8/15/225013/438/travel/Which+Of+These+Non-Prescription+Sleep+Aids+Bags+Jet+Lag+Best%3F

Thursday, August 19, 2010

PreferDine: Takami

Takami is a Japanese restaurant on the 21st floor of a skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles, and is known as much for its stellar views as for the high caliber of the food. Once you take a look at the pictures, you'll see why.

In what could be our most lucrative deal to date, we've come up with a deal of $20 for $40 of food which guests can combine for the rest of the week with Takami's special $3 third anniversary special--select dishes and drinks are all $3 each. So if you combined that with our offer, you could literally get 13 different items for just $20. Kind of the best deal ever.

Don't know much about the restaurant? You can read my write up and buy the deal at the PreferDine link, or just read about it below.

Link: http://www.preferdine.com/dine-deals/takami-deal-41

Takami Sushi
811 Wilshire Boulevard
Suite 2100
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 236-9600

If you ask us, the only thing better than sushi is sushi with a great view. For those days when we just want to watch the glittering Los Angeles skyline as we wolf down hamachi sashimi and soft-shell crab spider rolls, we head to Takami. Located on the 21st floor of a Wilshire Boulevard skyscraper, the restaurant gives us just the right (vertical) distance from the hustle and bustle below so we can eat our edamame in peace while remembering just what it is we like about the City of Angels. Apparently other Angelenos have agreed, because the restaurant is now entering its third year in business and is going as strong as ever. That’s why Chef Takashi Ota, whose restaurant background includes time at Chaya, Sushi Roku and Blue Fin in Orange County, is offering a special $3 menu all this week on select food and drinks items. The Japanese native is serving specialties that include sushi like the salmon roll and the crispy rice with spicy tuna, as well as robata flank steak, and his signature Japanese “tacos” with spicy tuna, crab, shrimp and avocado wrapped in gyoza dough and topped with spicy mayo. Three bucks will also get you a glass of Santelmo white or red wine from Argentina, any number of house sakes and beers, and specialty cocktails like the Lychee Saketini, and the Absolut LA with Absolut Blueberry-Açai, St. Germain, and Pama Liquor topped with fresh lemon juice.

Combine that with our offer of $40 worth of food and drink for just $20, and you could have a real anniversary feast on your hands. Better buy it now, though, because this deal only lasts a little longer, and the anniversary special ends on Saturday!


  • Takami earned a place on Angeleno Magazine’s “Top Ten Hot Spots” when it opened in 2007.
  • Here’s how Los Angeles Magazine described Takami when it opened: “Low-slung banquettes, planes of dark wood, and a vast patio create an effect that’s part restaurant, part glam spaceship.” Kind of sounds like eating with Jane Fonda in Barbarella.

  • Come to Takami for dinner, but be sure to stop by the restaurant’s connected bar, Elevate Lounge, for a drink at eye-level with the twinkling lights of downtown’s skyscrapers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TravelAge West: The Perfect Day Out in Lima

I traveled a lot earlier this summer, and wrote a lot about all the destinations I was lucky enough to visit, including Australia and Peru. I wrote so much, in fact, that some of my pieces are still coming out now, including this recent post on TravelAge West's new web site about a perfect day out in Lima.

You might have seen my recent article on Jaunted about Lima's Restaurant Scene, but this one takes my coverage to the next level with a full day's itinerary in Peru's capital city all set out for you. And what a full day it would be if you hit every single sight I mention, but it's totally doable. Plus, it'll give you an idea of just how busy I am on these trips of mine!

If a trip to Peru is in your future, then at least a layover in Lima will be part of your itinerary, so take a look at this article for some great ideas about how to spend your day there. And if Peru is not on your radar, maybe it will be after reading this!

Link: http://www.travelagewest.com/Travel/South-America/Info/A-Perfect-Day-in-Lima/

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

TravelAge West: Barossa

My third and final TravelAge West article on Australia came out yesterday on the magazine's all-new web site. It covers all the things I saw and did, plus a few others I just had the chance to learn about, in Australia's most famous wine region: the Barossa.

I won't get into how the Barossa is famous for Shiraz, has some of the oldest productive grape vines in the world, plenty of great hotel options (including the Louise where I stayed), and fabulous dining all here because I want you to take a look at my article at the link below!

I only had two days out in this amazing region myself--but next time I head back to Adelaide, I plan on making the hour-long drive out there and staying for longer because there is plenty more to see, taste, and yes, drink. I think my favorite experience was probably blending my own Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre in the Penfold's lab, but if you read my piece, you'll find there's plenty more to do than that, and more wineries than you could visit in several weeks' time there.

See for yourself some of the other amazing things I got to do, the wineries I visited, and the restaurants where I ate, and let me know if you have suggestions of your own!

Link: http://www.travelagewest.com/travel/South-Pacific/Info/A-Visit-to-the-Barossa-Valley/

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jaunted: The Mystery of Renting an Automatic in Europe

I'm doing a little feature work on Jaunted this week, and the first of my three articles is about the perils and pitfalls (and potholes!) of trying to rent an automatic car in Europe. As I've discovered over the past couple years, it can be near impossible to get a decent rental--especially at the peak of the high season in summer, which is when I tend to be able to get over there.

I said "near impossible," but not totally impossible. In this piece, I share a few choice anecdotes about my own experiences dealing with rental agencies like Auto Europe, Sixt, and even Avis and Hertz's European divisions.

With a few helpful tips, you'll find that the situation is not so hopeless as you might think at first. Then again, every time I try to do this, I find myself muttering to myself under my breath, swearing that before I try to rent a car in Europe the next time I'll learn how to drive stick! Now if I could only find a friend who'll sacrifice the transmission on their car to teach me...ja

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2010/8/16/03712/8462/travel/Why+Renting+an+Automatic+Car+in+Europe+is+One+of+Life%27s+Great+Mysteries

PreferDine: Wilshire Restaurant

There's not usually much to look forward to on Mondays, but I'm really excited today about our latest deal on PreferDine because we're offering a discount code that cost $25 for $50 worth of food and drinks at one of my favorite restaurants on the Westside of town: Wilshire Restaurant.

Not only is the restaurant itself gorgeous, with one of the best outdoor dining patios in the city, but the food is absolutely delicious. The chef, Andrew Kirschner, is very talented, charismatic, and just a cool guy all around, so this is definitely a deal to go for if you're looking for a great meal out in beautiful Santa Monica.

You can read my write-up and buy the deal here, or just take a look at the text I came up with for PreferDine below.

Wilshire Restaurant
2454 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310) 586-1707

We’re not the sort of people that live by a set of rules. Yeah, we’re dangerous like that. Still we find it useful to go by a few dictums, and that includes “never trust a skinny chef.” That one held up just fine until we went to Wilshire Restaurant for dinner and met Chef Andrew Kirschner. Not only did we have a few doubts the second we saw the lanky, handsome surfer-chef step out of the kitchen in his whites, but his easygoing manner and ready smile threw us off—we like our chefs to be temperamental. At least he had some colorful tattoos to distract us.

However, as soon as we started eating, our doubts were dispelled and we’re going to have to review a few of our other guiding principles, like never ask a lady her age, and always bring a raincoat. That’s because we were completely wowed by dishes like red curry coconut mussels; soft shell crab with sungold tomatoes, cucumbers and pickled onion; sweet summer corn soup with morels, corn succotash and shaved asparagus; fluffy miso black cod over crispy rice with shiitake mushroom salsa; juicy lamb leg with curried quinoa, Japanese eggplant, pickled tomato and raita; and the signature dish, a whole-fried Thai snapper that was succulent enough with meat falling off the bone to distract us from the fish’s cold stare.

Now you can take advantage of this deal we wrangled for you to take your favorite date out for a nice dinner on the romantically lit outdoor terrace that Bon Appetit ranked as one of the best alfresco spaces in the country. Just be sure she doesn’t get a look at Chef Kirschner…


  • In addition to the restaurant’s coveted 3-star review from the L.A. Times’ notoriously hard-to-please food critic, S. Irene Virbila, Kirschner was named as Angeleno Magazine’s Best New Chef of 2008.
  • Before coming to Wilshire, Kirschner worked with some of the biggest names in Los Angeles including Joe Miller, Ben Ford, Govind Armstrong and Suzanne Goin.
  • The food’s not the only menu that uses fresh produce. Wilshire’s cocktail program revolves around stellar signature libations like the Tequila Spa with cucumber, red grapes and citrus, and the Blueberry Dream with vodka, St. Germain, blueberries, tarragon and fresh lime.
  • Chef Andrew Kirschner is as handy with his feet as with his hands—in his off time, he enjoys surfing, snowboarding, biking and hiking.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eric's Dirty Thirty Rosé Sangria

Last weekend happened to be my 30th birthday (wow!), and I decided to throw myself a big birthday party since the last one I had was years and years ago. After considering a few different venues, I finally decided that what I would like best was to have a big, casual pool party at my apartment building, so that friends could come and go (or linger) as they liked.

I was counting on my friends to provide some extra libations and supplementary snacks, but I knew that I would have to have a bunch of goodies on hand myself, and I thought that I’d like to include a theme drink for the afternoon.

If you ask me, nothing says summer pool party more than a frosty glass of sangria, so that’s what I decided to make. Lest you think these years of food and wine writing have all gone for naught, however, I was not going to make any old common sangria. I needed a little twist, and as I thought of it over a refreshing aperitif glass of rosé, it came to me: rosé sangria!

Now, you’d think this would be pretty common, but after a brief, informal poll of my friends, I found that not a one of the 15 or so I told my idea had ever had anything like it/ Then I realized, there was probably a reason no one had tried rosé sangria before! I brushed aside my anxieties and set to work thinking about the flavor combination (mango-strawberry!)…and finding a cooler big enough for the batch I was going to make. Little did I know that even the 5-gallon one I borrowed wouldn’t be enough, and I would eventually run through six, yes six, batches of the stuff at the party. That should give you some idea of how popular it was.

While I was bragging about my spirit’s success one evening last week, my friend, Caroline on Crack, asked why I didn’t put the recipe up on Eric The Epicure, and after looking at her with befuddlement for a moment, I said I didn’t know. So I set to work chronicling the potable preparation.

This is not the exact recipe I used (especially as I got to batches 4-6 and had to improvise with the ingredients a bit), but it’s the scaled-down version for a dinner party aperitif, and you can simply multiply the ingredients as necessary for your numbers. I’ve based this off the use of a single bottle of wine, though, for convenience’s sake. Now, without further preamble, here’s my recipe for…

Eric’s Dirty Thirty Rosé Sangria


-1 Bottle Rosé

This is the key ingredient, and you’ve got to be a little careful with it since you’re looking for a rosé that’s got strawberry notes to it, but also something a little more tropical. Whatever you do, don’t get anything that’s got too much cherry in it, or that is too citrusy. I’d suggest heading to Trader Joe’s and picking up a bottle of either the Cellier du Rhone or the La Ferme Julien for a cool $4.99. The Graham Beck rosé from South Africa will also work, and has been available at Whole Foods lately for $4.99 as well. It’s all about the bargains!

-1-1 1/2 Cups Rum

You want something really neutral-flavored, so the clearer the color the better. Just plain old Bacardi will work just fine, and is cheap at about $10/bottle.

-2 Cups Strawberry Lemonade

-1 Cup Mango Nectar or Juice

You don’t want too much of this since the flavor is really powerful, and it will dilute the pink color of the rosé

-1 Cup Fresh Mango, Chopped

-1 Cup Fresh Strawberries, Chopped

-Ice, Cubed or Crushed

-Sprigs of Mint or Lemon Verbena, Optional


Chill all the ingredients in the refrigerator for several hours before preparation.

Pour bottle of rosé into punch bowl (or oversize pitcher, or insulated pourable cooler depending on the classiness quotient of your event).

Add rum.

Add mango nectar/juice.

Add strawberry lemonade until the color has resumed its rosy pink. You don’t have to use all the strawberry lemonade, but can include as much as you’d like for the taste you prefer.

Add chopped fruit to the mixture.

Serve in chilled glasses (or just plain plastic if you’re throwing a party!) with ice cubes and chopped fruit on top. If you’re feeling fancy, add a sprig of mint or lemon verbena for decoration.

Friday, August 13, 2010

PreferDine: Church & State

This week, I was really excited to learn that we would be offering a deal at one of my favorite downtown restaurants: Church & State. They have some of the best steak frites in town, and definitely my favorite presentation of escargots bourguignons.

This offer is a little special because it's only $10 for $20 off your bill, and it's only good for lunch, but that just means your dollar goes a little further, and if you haven't already tried one of downtown's buzziest bistros yet, this is a great reason to head in there.

To buy the deal and see my write-up you can go straight to PreferDine, but if you just want to read what I wrote, you can simply keep reading!

Church & State Bistro
1850 Industrial Street
Los Angeles, California 90021
(213) 405-1434

With a name like Church & State, there was bound to be some tension at downtown’s buzziest French bistro, and sure enough, there have been chef shuffles and ownership kerfuffles, and the odd jab at the offbeat location in the renovated Nabisco Building in eastern downtown. But it’s a testament to Chef Joshua Smith’s phenomenal menu—and the wisdom of our Founding Fathers—that the restaurant is still booming with dapper downtown loft dwellers and sweet young things out to experience the city for an evening in the industrial-chic space of bare brick walls, an open kitchen, and low-light bulbs strung overhead. They come for the Burgundy escargots baked in garlic-parsley butter in a pastry shell; crispy fried pig’s ears with béarnaise sauce; mason jars filled with Provençal goat cheese and lavender honey; Alsatian flatbreads like the one with peaches, Brie and arugula; duck confit with pickled cherries; sea bass with chanterelles and seedless grapes; and (reputedly) the best steak frites in town. Try a few things, along with a bottle of wine from the French-only list, by taking advantage of the half-size entrée portions available, because you’ll want to be sure to save room for the signature rich chocolate pot de crème with caramel, hazelnut and fleur de sel. It’s so luscious, it just might make you rethink the Constitution.


  • Wine snobs, uh, we mean connoisseurs, know that AOC stands for appellation d’origine contrôlée, but even the butter at Church & State is so French that it has its own AOC and comes all the way from Normandy.

  • Burgundy snails are the most coveted of escargots thanks to their supple, dark meat, and the fact that they cannot be domesticated. That’s right, all the snails at C&S are free-range, baby.

  • The seven-story Nabisco Building which houses C&S (and several floors of loft living spaces) was originally built in 1925 for $2 million (less than the price of the penthouse loft villa there these days), and served as the company’s west coast headquarters.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Frontiers IN/LA: Feast in the East at Domenico Ristorante

It's been a few weeks since I posted my last Frontiers piece, a review of Waterloo & City in Culver City. For the most recent issue of the magazine, the Eastside Issue, I decided to review a restaurant in Silverlake I've been meaning to get to for a while now: Domenico Ristorante.

It's actually been open for a while in the space that used to house another Silverlake classic Italian restaurant, Michelangelo, but I just hadn't made it over there to try out the homemade pastas and desserts--perhaps because it's beach season and I want to fit into my skinny trunks.

No matter, I got the chance to mangia there a few weeks ago and wrote it up for Frontiers. Take a look at my review at the link below and see what you think!

Link: http://www.frontiersweb.com/Nightlife/Restaurants/Story.aspx?ID=1261108

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PreferWine: Colterenzio Lafoa Sauvignon Blanc

Today on PreferWine we're branching out from our usual California sphere of activity and offering a deal on great wine from Italy's Alto Adige region. The Colterenzio Lafoa 2008 Sauvignon Blanc just scored a stellar 93 points in Wine Spectator, so if you're looking to get more into Italian wines but are sick of Pinot Grigios and Vermentinos, this unusual, full-bodied white might be just the wine for you.

You can click here to purchase the deal at a huge 30% discount and to read more about the wine, or you can take a look at the text I wrote for it below.

(800) ITALIA.1
(650) 873-6060

We know you usually plan an elegant European jaunt during the summertime—perhaps a seaside week in beachy Biarritz, flamenco lessons in sunny Sevilla, or boating down the rolling Rhine. Then you checked airfares and realized it was cheaper to get just about anywhere than Europe this summer and decided to stay home instead. Well fear not, intrepid traveler, we’re bringing a taste of the Old World to you with this deal on 2008 Colterenzio Lafóa Sauvignon Blanc. This full-bodied white just scored an impressive 93 points in Wine Spectator, which called it “very impressive and powerful, yet racy and dry,” and summed it up with an imperative: “Drink now.” We couldn’t agree more.

Colterenzio Lafóa Sauvignon Blanc is made in Italy’s northeast Alto Adige region—a winemaking powerhouse whose mild Mediterranean climate is shielded by the mighty Alps—and the grapes are grown in the dry, sun-drenched Lafóa vineyard (hence the name). That means this wine is kind of like a day on the beach: dry and minerally crispness at its base, but with a refreshing tropical breeze of citrus and pineapple gusts blowing through. Maybe that’s why it pairs so well with flavorful seafood like smoked salmon, lobster tail, or pan-seared scallops with a hint of ginger to pick up the wine’s notes of acacia and elderflower, and a mellowing touch of sage.

Normally, you could only get this wine for $54 a bottle, but we’ve snagged it for you at a mere $38. That’s 30% off! Who knows, maybe you will have enough money left over to take that trip after all…


  • In addition to the 93 points it awarded Colterenzio Lafóa, Wine Spectator noted that the wine has “aromas of apple pie, delivering lemon and mineral character as well. Full-bodied, with intense flint and dried pineapple flavors.”

  • No odd Old World blends here: this wine is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes, which are grown at an altitude of 430 meters.

  • Once the grapes for the wine are crushed, half the juice is aged in stainless steel and half in oak until the two are blended eight months later, and then released.

  • Wine has been made in Colterenzio since 15 AD, when a Roman named Cornelius established a wine estate here. Today, the cooperative that produces wines from here is comprised of 290 members cultivating over 750 acres of vines.

Friday, August 6, 2010

PreferDine: Joe's

We sold out on our Melisse deal in record time the other day--just about half an hour!--but we're already back with another deal at one of the city's best restaurants, Joe's on Abbot Kinney. The deal of the day is $50 worth of food and drink for just $25, so it's a half-off discount on delicious dishes like grilled octopus with Greek salad, pine nut chermoula, kalamata olive dust and Sicilian olive oil.

Sound good? Check out PreferDine to sign up and buy it. If you want to take a look at my write up, you'll find it on the main page as well, or you can take a peek below. Enjoy!

Joe's Restaurant
1023 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291

Chefs are temperamental, passionate, complex individuals, and we like them to have dramatic names to match. Something with the poncy sophistication of Guy Savoy, or the Spanish sexiness of José Andres. Joe Miller, on the other hand, sounds like the name of a mechanic, not a man whose restaurant basically put Abbot Kinney on the map, and Joe’s sounds more like a pizza parlor than a temple to uncomplicated gourmet gastronomy. But ever since he opened Joe’s way back in 1991 on what was then the edge of Venice, it has garnered rave reviews and continues to be lauded as a Los Angeles landmark thanks to dishes like grilled octopus with Greek salad, pine nut chermoula, kalamata olive dust and Sicilian olive oil; pan-seared day boat scallops with honey date puree, quinoa, bacon tuile, frisée and radish in a Sangiovese gastrique; prime pork tenderloin crépinette with wild mushrooms, roasted garlic and potato purée and garlic jus; and crisp black cod and shiitake mushrooms, mizuna lettuce, hijiki, braised oxtail and toasted brown rice in a dashi broth.

Now you have the chance to try Miller’s masterful menu for yourself thanks to our special arrangement. Grab a friend and indulge.


  • Chef Joe Miller trained at the famous Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park before learning the ropes at such restaurants as Le Perroquet in Chicago and L’Orangerie in Los Angeles.

  • Miller says the secret of his cuisine “is the result of mixing formal French techniques with Asian and California-influenced aesthetics, and by using only the best ingredients.”

  • Miller also owns Bar Pintxo, a casual Spanish taps bar in Santa Monica

  • Joe’s has a selection of featured wines that rotates regularly, so be sure to ask the sommelier what’s new on the list so he can pair it with your dishes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

PreferWine: Rosenthal Estate

For those of you who don't know it, Los Angeles County is actually home to a number of wineries, and probably the best known among them thanks to the high quality of its vintages is Rosenthal Estate out in the hills of Malibu.

To go along with our Melisse deal, we're offering a huge discount on Rosenthal's 2004 Meritage red blend. This offer is also a little special since it's only for single bottles--so those of you who have trouble committing to a case should be pretty stoked.

To buy the deal, head to the PreferWine section of the site, and to learn more about the Malibu winery and its wines, either check out my write up on PreferWine, or read my text below!

The Rosenthal Tasting Room
26023 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265

Malibu’s better known for its world-class surfing than its wines, but soon people might just be shouting “Cheers!” instead of “Cowabunga!” if George Rosenthal has anything to say about it. Bucking the derisive taunts of wine snobs the world over, the successful Los Angeles businessman began planting grapes on the slopes of his 250-acre Malibu estate back in 1987. Today, Rosenthal Estate has 32 acres in the Malibu foothills under vine, all of which are cared for and harvested by hand thanks to their 1,400-foot elevation and steep inclines. All that perseverance pays off, and Malibu Newton Canyon has been recognized with an American Viticultural Area appellation—largely thanks to the dedication and skill of Rosenthal and his team, which includes French winemaker Christian Roguenant—and the winery has 73 medals (20 of them gold) to its credit. Four of those gold medals, including the one at the 2008 West Coast Wine Competition, were for the Rosenthal-The Malibu Estate 2004 Meritage. For those of you who aren’t into wine terms, a Meritage is a red Bordeaux-style blend. But because the French are…well, French, we can’t call it a Bordeaux blend here in the U.S. This bold beauty is kind of like the perfect wave off the coast near the winery. Components of trusty Cabernet Sauvignon and plush Merlot provide the motile force behind the wine with an energy that carries you along, while undercurrents of spicy Cabernet Franc and leathery Petit Verdot send the flavors shooting the curl all the way from the front of your mouth to the back of your palate. Pack your corkscrew along with your surfboard and bring it along to your next beach bonfire barbecue.


  • Remember those gold medals we were telling you about? This Meritage won four of them: Gold Medal San Francisco International Wine Competition; Gold Medal Riverside International Wine Competition; Gold Medal West Coast Wine Competition; and was one of only 22 wines out of 3,300 that won a Four-Star Gold Medal at the OC Fair Wine Competition. Oh yeah. It also won Best of Class at the California State Fair.

  • When we say this wine is limited production, we mean limited. Only 222 cases were ever made. Total. That’s why we’re the only ones who can get it for you at this price.

  • Rosenthal Estate released its first Malibu vintage, a Cabernet Sauvignon, in 1991.

  • Red Bordeaux blends are made from a combination of up to five different grape varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Most Bordeaux blends only contain two or three of these, however.

  • Want to visit Rosenthal Estate yourself and try the wines? Their tasting room at the estate in Malibu is open Wednesday-Sunday.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

PreferDine: Melisse

It's a big day for us today on PreferDine--that's because we are featuring one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles: Melisse! This is one of the deals I am personally most excited about since Melisse is such a well known restaurant, and the chef, Josiah Citrin, is such a huge figure on the Los Angeles food scene--not least of all because he's got two Michelin stars to his name.

So if you have a special occasion coming up and want to treat your better half to an unforgettable meal, this might just be the deal for you. $50 gets you $100 worth of food and drink--no small discount at a restaurant of this caliber.

To read my write-up of the restaurant and buy the deal, go to PreferDine, or check out my text below.

1104 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 395-0881

Mélisse is kind of like the Meryl Streep of Los Angeles restaurants—it’s pretty much won every award out there at one time or another including Food & Wine’s “Best New Restaurant” in 2000, “Best Newcomer” in the collector’s edition of Gourmet’s Guide to America’s Best Restaurants, and was among Condé Nast Traveler’s “World’s Most Exciting New Restaurants,” not to mention the Zagat 2006 “Best Restaurant in Los Angeles.” That’s because Chef Josiah Citrin, one of L.A.’s brightest chef luminaries, puts uncompromising attention and care into dishes like a savory spring onion parmesan soup with Maryland jumbo lump crab cake and meyer lemon; hamachi with asparagus, cara cara orange and rosemary-passionfruit; lobster Bolognese over fresh cappelini with black truffles and basil; spring veal with asparagus, morels and natural jus; and desserts like sticky toffee pudding with mocha malt ice cream and red berry-hibiscus consommé, and cherry-lemon mille feuille with toasted almond nougatine and almond ice cream. That’s why he’s got as many Michelin stars as Streep has Oscars (that’s two, for those of you who live in a cave).


  • As if to cast no doubt on his culinary leanings, Citrin and his wife Diane opened Mélisse on Bastille Day in 1999.

  • Citrin is a native of Santa Monica, and acquired his passion for food from his grandmothers and his mother, who ran a catering business.

  • Citrin’s resume is a who’s who of Los Angeles restaurants including Wolfgang Puck’s Chinois on Main and Granita, and Joachim Splichal’s Patina and Pinot Bistro.

  • Sommelier Brian Kalliel actually started at Mélisse as the Head Bartender before working his way up the ladder.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rundown: Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

It's been a little while since I wrote a piece for The Rundown, but this time around, I get back to writing about what I love best: wine travel.

Specifically, I was invited to this year's Sonoma Wine Country Weekend over Labor Day, which is one of the country's biggest wine events and includes huge tastings, winemaker lunches and dinners, and a very important auction that costs $500 just to attend!

I'll be headed up there to taste old favorites like Hanzell and Benziger, as well as sampling some new upstarts as I continue my self-disciplined wine education. But the weekend isn't just for professionals. Anyone can come and enjoy, so take a look at my write-up where I highlight some of the most exciting events and give you a few tips on where to eat, drink and sleep. Cheers!

Link: http://rundown.com/article.php?article_id=1192

Monday, August 2, 2010

PreferDine: Restaurant at Sunset Marquis

The first PreferDine deal of the week is up, and it's one of our signature $30 buy for $60 worth of food and drinks deals.

This time, we're sending you to a secluded little sanctuary that's the favorite of starlets and other sundry celebrities: Restaurant at the Sunset Marquis.

At the stove is much-lauded French chef Guillaume Burlion, who will whip up a 15-course tasting menu for any and all dietary preferences and needs.

Find out more about the deal and sign up for it yourself by going to PreferDine today, and take a look at my write-up of the restaurant on the site, or see the text below!

RESTAURANT at Sunset Marquis
1200 Alta Loma Road
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Los Angeles is the land of picky eaters. We’ve seen orders placed that would put Meg Ryan’s salad in When Harry Met Sally to shame. Thanks to the Sunset Marquis’ roster of famous guests, Chef Guillaume Burlion is used to dealing with…complicated demands. In fact, with typical French bravura (yeah, we’re picturing a Musketeer twirling his mustachio before slapping us with a white glove), he challenges guests to put his skills to the test and will prepare up to a 15-course tasting menu for any dietary preference or need. Why bother with special requests, though, when his ever-changing menu of seasonal delights includes dishes like lobster and scallop carpaccio with sea urchin ocean salad; a Napoleon of braised oxtail with raclette whipped potato; duck breast marinated in green tea with caramelized potatoes and a plum reduction; Kurobutta pork flat iron steak served with caramelized Fiji apples, huckleberries and whipped potato in a smoky sage infusion; and winning the award for the most exotic dish: a rack of antelope with seared foie gras and wild mushroom in black truffle sauce…get the sauce on the side if you must.


  • Guillaume Burlion’s illustrious past includes working with French superstar chefs Paul Bocuse and Joel Robuchon, and at the Hotel de Crillon and Le Pre Catalan, plus world-famous Maxim’s.

  • Like our members, Chef Burlion is used to being part of exclusive clubs like the famous French Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and the New York Times’s Best Chefs in America.