Friday, October 29, 2010

HotelChatter: Inside Las Ventanas Al Paraiso

Here's another quick HotelChatter post I wrote up the other day on my stay at Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Cabo San Lucas, in addition to my recent pieces on the resort's Director of Romance, and my Frontiers video about all the resort amenities and the fun things I got up to in Mexico.

This one features a little photo gallery of my spacious Ocean View Terrace Junior Suite, as well as a walk-through video. I also give shout-outs to the various little touches I most enjoyed while staying there. Once you take a look at the story by clicking on the link below, you'll see just why I loved it there so much!

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2010/10/27/1599/1335/hotels/Opening_A_Window_Into_Las_Ventanas_Al_Paraiso

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Frontiers: VIDEO! Cabo San Lucas

In addition to my HotelChatter story on Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Cabo last week, I also made another video for Frontiers about my experience staying there.

I included a quick tour of my room à la Cribs, I also talk about their Director of Romance, their sea turtle release program, and spending the day yachting in the bay, and up and down the coast. I think you'll see what a great time I had, and how fantastic this destination is. That's all I'll say here, because if you want to know more, you'll just have to watch my video at the link below!

Link: http://www.frontiersweb.com/Video/View.aspx?PostID=32114

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

LowFares: Destination Guide Toronto


My latest destination guide went up on LowFares this week, and is about Toronto! As usual, I've included hotels, restaurants, sightseeing, shopping, and some hidden finds. That's why you'll read about:

Hotels like the artsy Gladstone and the Drake in the Queen West arts district, the exciting new Thompson Toronto, the classic Fairmont Royal York and the original Four Seasons Hotel, and the soon-to-open Ritz-Carlton and Trump Hotel.

Restaurants including Origin, Frank at the AGO, Luma at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Terroni, Nyood and Bohmer.

Sights like the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Bata Shoe Museum, the Toronto International Film Festival Bell Lightbox film center, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and, of course the CN Tower.

Shopping in the Queen West neighborhood.

And a little hidden gem you'll just have to read the article to find out about!

Link: http://www.lowfares.com/blog/2010/10/26/destination-guide-toronto/

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jaunted: London's Free Bag Boys in Seven Dials

I wrote about London's fashionable Seven Dials neighborhood in my recent LowFares article about London's Offbeat Neighborhoods, but I took a closer look at one of the most intriguing new features of the neighborhood in this little Jaunted piece about their new "Bag Boys and Bag Girls" program where you can basically reserve a personal helper for an hour on your next visit, and they'll help you with your bags, make lunch reservations for you, call taxis, and give you an insider's tour of the neighborhood.

Sounds pretty fantastic to me! You can get all the details in my article at the link below.

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2010/10/24/135651/23/travel/How+To+Rent+a+Bag+Boy+%28For+Free%29+in+London

Monday, October 25, 2010

Frontiers: Fall Dining Guide

Rather than a look at what interesting new fall dishes and ingredients chefs around Los Angeles are starting to put on their menus, this Fall Dining Guide on Frontiers is more like a round up of old favorites around West Hollywood, with a few other mainstays thrown in such as Michael's in Santa Monica, and the new Magnolia Bakery on West Third Street, where there's pumpkin, maple and pecans gracing many of the new autumnal baked goods.

Not too many surprises, but perhaps this list will remind you of a restaurant you haven't visited in a while and get you to go back. At the very least, it's worth a quick look!

Link: http://www.frontiersweb.com/Features/Highlights/Story.aspx?ID=1295150

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jaunted: Nitro Ice Cream at Chin Chin Laboratorists

Clearly, I'm a big foodie. I mean, I travel halfway round the globe to try new things, taste great wines, and generally embarrass myself with my remarkable gluttony. That said, I'm not a huge dessert person. Sacrilege, I know! But I think I've just got to face the fact that I've got more of a savory-oriented palate (believe me, I know how foppish all this sounds).

Every so often, however, I come across a dessert that's just too fantastic not to get excited about, and today I've written about one of them: flash-frozen nitro ice cream at Chin Chin Laboratorists in Camden Lock. It's sort of like the most delicious chemistry class you've ever experienced. Read my story on Jaunted at the link below for all the fun, freezing-point related details.

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2010/10/21/18418/129/travel/Nitro+Ice+Cream+at+London%27s+Chin+Chin+Laboratorists

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jaunted: Where to Eat in Edinburgh Now

My Edinburgh week continues with this most recent post on Jaunted about where to eat now in Scotland's surprisingly foodie-friendly capital. You can read about all the fabulous places I got to eat including 21212, Ondine, Oloroso, Wedgwood, The Grain Store, plus a few other finds I threw in. Again, I cannot believe that I ate all this food at all these wonderful places in such a short amount of time, but through a miracle of modern metabolism, I somehow managed it without turning into Mike Myer's angry Scotsman character from Austin Powers. Ah to be young and energetic.

In the meantime, read up, eat up, and enjoy!

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2010/10/20/204424/24/travel/Where+to+Eat+in+Edinburgh+Now

VIDEO! Frontiers: Portland, Maine

A really great friend of mine from college got married way up in the far north reaches of Maine in September, so I took the opportunity to spend an extra couple of days in one of my favorite cities: Portland. The city has so much to offer--whether you're a foodie out for a gourmet adventure, a ferry enthusiast looking to get out into the bay to explore the various islands, an indie music scene aficionado, or a crafts fiend looking to find some of America's unsung artisans.

You thought I was joking when I said that lately it's like I have my own little travel show on Frontiers, but it's been kind of true lately thanks to all the videos I've been posting, and the one I made of all the fun things I got to enjoy (and eat!) during my time in Portland is up there too. Now, keep in mind that all this was filmed over the course of about 28 hours, so I think you'll see that you can pack a lot into your time here, partially thanks to the city's manageably small size and partially thanks to stamina. Whatever your pleasure, though, Portland's got something to pique it. Want to know why? Then you'll just have to take a look at my video at the link below!

Link: http://www.frontiersweb.com/Video/View.aspx?PostID=31427

Thursday, October 21, 2010

HotelChatter: Las Ventanas Al Paraiso's Director of Romance

If you follow my travels on Twitter, you'll know that my recent whirlwind of activity ended on a high (and hot) note down on the sunny shores of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. There I enjoyed the unparalleled hospitality of Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Cabo's only AAA Five Diamond resort.

Among the many other amenities that distinguish this idyllic Rosewood property is the fact that they have a "Director of Romance" on staff. That's right, there is an actual position with that title, and she is in charge of making sure guests experience the best of the resort and have the most romantic time possible--whether it's enjoying the hotel's standard offerings, or setting up special packages tailored to their particular needs.

The resort recently hired a new Romance Director. Her name is Esmeralda Silva (perfect, no?), and she hails from the W Mexico City. While I was in Cabo, I pulled her aside at a sunset cocktail party to talk about what she does, what makes the resort so special, and what we can all do to spice up our romances. So check out the video "Pitch Your Hotel" I did with her, and see if you can resist the charms of Las Ventanas al Paraiso.

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2010/10/19/13549/479/hotels/Las_Ventanas_Al_Paraiso_s_Director_of_Romance_Sets_the_Mood

Jaunted: Air New Zealand's Koru Lounge

My third Jaunted piece for this week again takes my recent trip to the U.K. as its subject, but this is a story about an experience I had before I even got on the Air New Zealand flight! That's because I was invited to hang out in the airline's Koru Lounge at LAX before my flight to London, so naturally I took a gallery worth of photos and made a walk-through video of the place, as I'm wont to do for my airport lounge stories.

This lounge has quite a few unique characteristics, including "zones" meant for particular activities like working, relaxing and refreshing (i.e. showering); as well as a fantastic selection of New Zealand wines--a particular interest of mine. Other than that, the WiFi worked well, the staff was extremely friendly and helpful, and the time passed quickly, so what more can you ask? To read my full write up and walk through the lounge with me, take a look at my Jaunted story at the link below.

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2010/10/19/194751/42/travel/Inside+Air+New+Zealand%92s+Koru+Lounge+at+LAX

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jaunted: 36 Hours of Gluttony in Portland

My week of articles on Jaunted continues with this fun little foodie piece on my recent trip to Maine, and the 36 hours of pure, unadulterated, deliciously over-the-top gluttony I spent in Portland. Included are stops at Bar Lola, Arabica Coffee, Peaks Island, Duck Fat, Two Fat Cats Bakery, Novare Res Bier Cafe, Five Fifty-Five, and Grace.

It didn't seem that overwhelming to hit all of these places in such a short time, but looking back at it now, I realize just how much food and drink I consumed, and, can I just say it? I'm a little bit ashamed. But then again, it's all in service to my work, and there was a four-mile bike ride (plus a ton of walking) involved, so I'm not going to feel too bad.

Meanwhile, I dare you to read my article at the link below and not start salivating about your next visit to the Northeast's foodie-friendliest city!

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2010/10/19/1111/3636/travel/36+Hours+of+Gluttony+in+Portland,+Maine

Rundown: South Australia Dinner at Craft

For my latest post on The Rundown, I wrote about an upcoming South Australia-themed dinner at Tom Colicchio's Craft Los Angeles. The chef traveled there over the summer--just after me, in fact--and participated in a panoply of adventures from swimming with sharks, to wildlife forays on Kangaroo Island, to wine-tasting in the Barossa. Now he's bringing those experiences back with him and creating a five-course dinner on November 1st, that's running in conjunction with the South Australia Tourism Commission, and Qantas.

Anyone who books one of the discount tickets or vacation packages they'll be offering that night will receive a case of St. Hallett Blackwell Shiraz, and the chance to win a bottle of Penfolds Grange, one of Australia’s most coveted high-end wines. But this isn’t a hard sell—dinner guests will have up to two weeks to purchase a package.

Make your reservations for the dinner now, though, because there are only a limited number of seats, and this is a one-time event! Read more about it in my post at the link below.

Link: http://rundown.com/article.php?article_id=1415

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LowFares: Destination Guide to Edinburgh


My LowFares Destination Guides continue with this gargantuan entry on Edinburgh based on my recent trip to Scotland. In it you'll find the skinny on all the fabulous places I stayed and ate including the Hotel Missoni, 21212, Ondine, Oloroso, Wedgwood, The Grain Store, the Mercat Ghosts and Ghouls Tour, and the Scotch Whisky Experience, among others.

If I do say so myself, it's a really great, up-to-date guide to one of Europe's most fun, picturesque, tourism-friendly cites, so be sure to take a look!

Link: http://www.lowfares.com/blog/2010/10/18/destination-guide-edinburgh/

VIDEO! Frontiers: Montreal

While I was in Canada last week, I was able to spend a Saturday evening in lovely Montreal, and I went out to dinner with Tourisme Montreal's blogger, Daniel Baylis, who also has his own blog, The Conversationalist. Not only did we have a delightful dinner at O'Thym, but he also gave me some fantastic insights into the city and all the fun things there are to do and enjoy there, whether you're gay, straight, a foodie, an artist, or an outdoor enthusiast, or all of them (well, most of them.

To find out what I like about Montreal and what goes on during the Black & Blue Festival that was going on during my visit, as well as to hear Daniel's inside tips on his city, check out my next Frontiers video at the link below!

Link: http://www.frontiersweb.com/Video/View.aspx?PostID=31428

Monday, October 18, 2010

Jaunted: Virgin America's New Wine Club

I'm doing a few stories for Jaunted this week, including this first piece on Virgin America's new Explorers Wine Club. How much more perfect could this story be for me? It involves wine, travel, airline rewards points, and cheeky Britishisms.

I guess the real question is: is the club worth joining? Well, without having tried many of the wines myself, I'd say that if you're interested, you should try the first case since it comes at a big discount, and see if you like what they send you. The other terms of use make it easy to cancel your membership and even get your money back, so it's definitely something to think about. That's all I'll say here since you can take a look at my story at the link below to read about the specific wines they're offering, and all the prices and terms. Cheers!

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2010/10/17/163142/14/travel/No+Cheap+%27Plonk%27+in+Virgins+New+Wine+Club

VIDEO! Frontiers: Toronto

Since I got quite a few videos up at once on Frontiers' new video travel channel, I thought I'd post the next one, which is almost, but not quite as long as the Edinburgh one from Saturday. This is based on another of my recent trips (in fact, I only had about 34 hours in LA between the UK and Canada), where I went to Toronto for Nuit Blanche, the all-night arts festival in October.

Canada's largest city is a fun bag of funky neighborhoods, offbeat art galleries, international cuisine, world-class music, squeaky clean public transport, and a host of other attractive attributes that make it not only a great place to do business, but a thrilling place to visit. It's also quite close to one of North America's classic tourist destinations: Niagara Falls! Nearby, you'll find Ontario's wineries, famous for their ice wines, as well as the charming town of Naigara on the Lake, where you can catch a play at the Shaw Festival. So much to do there!

So come along with me as I walk its tidy streets and point out a few of the spots I visited, and stay tuned for even more videos in the days to come!

Toronto: http://www.frontiersweb.com/Video/View.aspx?PostID=31426

Saturday, October 16, 2010

VIDEO! Frontiers: Edinburgh, Scotland

It's been a little while since I did any travel-related content for Frontiers since lately I've just been covering the Los Angeles dining scene (including in an upcoming Fall Dining Guide!). However, my editor told me that the magazine was starting a new video channel on its new website, and that they'd love to feature any videos I'd made on my travels.

Little did he know, he opened the floodgates! Not only did I submit videos from some past trips, like the one I took in May to Australia, but I also started filming my recent whirlwind travel extravaganza with a fury. So...over the coming days, look for videos on Portland (Maine), Toronto, Montreal, Melbourne, and more. It's kind of like having my own little travel show online!

For today, I'll post links to the two videos I made in Edinburgh, definitely one of my favorite recent destinations. Part One is about a few of the (more) fun touristy things you can do, while in Part Two, I take you out on a nighttime Ghosts and Ghouls Tour, and out into the countryside for a whisky tasting at Glenkinchie. Enjoy!

Part One: http://www.frontiersweb.com/Video/View.aspx?PostID=31430

Part Two: http://www.frontiersweb.com/Video/View.aspx?PostID=31431

Friday, October 15, 2010

LA Confidential: Ranch at Live Oak Malibu

And I almost forgot the one other piece in the October issue of LA Confidential that I wrote: a health and wellness feature about the newest celebrity fitness retreat in the Malibu Hills, the Ranch at Live Oak.

I think you'll agree that the program there sounds daunting, rewarding...and totally kick-ass. I don't have a link to share, so I've pasted in the piece below, but you can see the real thing in this month's issue, so go ahead already and pick one up on newsstands!

The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu

Summer’s over, but in Los Angeles, it pays to be bikini-ready all year round. You pay $5,600 a week, to be exact, if your destination is the newest luxury fitness retreat in Malibu, the Ranch at Live Oak. Hidden in the hills three miles above the Pacific, the Ranch whips guests into shape with a “no options” philosophy that means no getting out of five-hour morning hikes on the property’s 200 miles of trails, or afternoon strengthening, yoga and pool workouts. There are also no second helpings on the 1,500-calorie, vegetarian menu whipped up by the Ranch’s “Nutritional Alchemist.” At least there’s a daily massage to sweeten the deal. “By removing the overwhelming choices of daily life, we give guests the opportunity to learn and grow in a holistic way,” explains Program Manager Marc Alabanza. No material sacrifice necessary, though. Unlike the ascetic aesthetic of similar retreats, which house guests in dormitories with shared facilities (like its famous neighbor, the Ashram), each guest at the Ranch stays in a private cottage room with en-suite bath, and high-end amenities including organic toiletries to scrub down with after all that nature time. But you won’t find any televisions, and BlackBerry’s don’t get reception there, so be ready to unplug and focus on your inner well-being.

www.theranchmalibu.com, (888) 777-2177

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

LA Confidential Magazine: Bar Covell

The October issue (otherwise known as the Man Issue) of LA Confidential was a big one for me since, in addition to my pieces on Richard Sandoval's restaurants at Santa Monica Place, and Waterloo & City, plus that little feature about the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, I did this little write-up about a new wine bar in Los Feliz called Bar Covell. Oddly enough, it's the newest wine bar in Los Feliz in quite a while (though another one just opened up as part of the Alcove, called Big Bar).

I'll spare you the details on the quirky little place now since you can read the piece below, but do stop by a newsstand and buy the issue (Kobe Bryant is on the cover) since it's packed full of all kinds of good stuff!

COVETING COVELL

Los Feliz's Bar Covell draws local wine lovers in droves.

Remember when you were a teenager and you would excitedly sneak into the garage while your folks were out to chug a beer amongst the piles of mismatched boxes? Drinking at Bar Covell, Los Feliz’s newest wine bar, is kind of heady like that thanks to eccentric bric à brac décor courtesy of owner Dustin Lancaster (former bartender at Café Stella) like vintage cameras mounted on shelves made of antique books, a wall papered with the pages of Spanish-language encyclopedia picked up on Lancaster's travels in Argentina, a bar made of reclaimed wood from a Kentucky barn, and a crowd of sociable Eastsiders competing for the title of Best Skinny Jeans. The gregarious bartenders have been trained by General Manager Matthew Kaner (you might recognize him from Silverlake Wine), and do an astonishingly good job at deciphering ambiguous descriptors like “puckery” and “energetic” to find the right wine for each patron from an evolving list of 50 or so. And if they don’t get it right the first time, they’ll pour as many tastes as it takes—or until you choose one of the frequently changing artisanal beers on tap instead.

4628 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027, (323) 660-4400; barcovell.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LowFares: London's Offbeat Neighborhoods

While I was in London last week enjoying an "Only In London" itinerary of the city's off-the-beaten-path haunts, I traipsed through some of the city's quirkier neighborhoods including Camden Town and Primrose Hill, as well as the shopping oases of the Seven Dials and Carnaby Street.

Whether you've never been to London before and are looking to get a taste of local flavor, or you're practically British and want to skip all the usual touristy sights, these places have plenty to offer in the way of activity, fun, shopping and people-watching. I had so much fun, in fact, that I wrote up these easily accessible yet un-touristy areas for LowFares this week. Check it out at the link below!

Link: http://www.lowfares.com/blog/2010/10/08/london%E2%80%99s-offbeat-neighborhoods/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Monday, October 11, 2010

LA Confidential Magazine: Pony Up For Veuve Clicquot's Polo Classic

Though I mostly write about food, wine and travel, I do like to keep things interesting and take on new topics, especially when my fabulous editors at LA Confidential offer me an assignment as fun as this one: writing about the inaugural Veuve Clicquot Polo Clasic Los Angeles. Horses, champagne, international heartthrob Nacho Figueras...who could ask for more?

Unfortunately, there's no link to the article, so you'll just have to go pick up this issue (it's the Man Issue, by the way), but to see the text, you can take a look below.

PONY UP

The Inaugural Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic Los Angeles brings horses, competition and champagne to the City of Angels

There’s a lot to love about a polo match. Checking out the social scene. Outrageously colorful hats (rule of thumb, ladies: choose your hat first, outfit second). Dirty jokes about mallets and balls. Pretending you’re Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman prancing around the field replacing the divots, glass of champagne in hand. Especially if that champagne is Veuve Clicquot, since the iconic house is hosting the first-ever Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Los Angeles on October 10.

The match will take place at Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades, and is free and open to the public. Headlining the event will be polo superstar, the face of Ralph Lauren’s Polo Fragrances, and all-round international heartthrob, Nacho Figueras, who first started playing when he was just a niño of nine years old in his native Argentina. “There is a long history for the game in Los Angeles,” says Figueras. “I’m looking forward to reintroducing Los Angeles fans to the sport and sharing their tradition that took shape at Will Rogers State Historic Park in 1926.”

Veuve Clicquot hosted the first Polo Classic in Manhattan two years ago, bringing the game back to the city after a 70-year absence. “Knowing I was part of bringing polo back to the city was an honor,” says Figueras. The third annual match this past June attracted over 12,000 attendees including celebrities like Russell Simmons, Ivanka Trump, Susan Sarandon, and Mayor Bloomberg.

Lest you think this is all about self-congratulatory snootery, though, the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic is always played for a good cause. For the past two years, Figueras’s Black Watch team has gone up against that other international heartthrob, England’s Prince Harry, to benefit the Sentebale charity he started with Lesotho’s Prince Seeiso to aid orphans in the African nation. The game in Los Angeles will fund preservation efforts at Will Rogers State Historic Park, the last of 22 polo grounds that once dotted the city.

All that spectatorship and philanthropy is bound to make the crowd hungry, so Veuve Clicquot has come up with a decidedly L.A. solution: food trucks. Several of the city’s favorite mobile gourmet purveyors will be adding a stop on their routes that day to feed the hungry hordes. Of course, there will also be stations around the park selling glasses of champagne and other Veuve Clicquot specialty items.

We’ll leave you with some polo trivia that will help you plan out your day (by which we mean restroom breaks) and sound cultured. Each team consists of four players. The game runs for six seven-minute periods called chukkers, with four minutes between each to change horses, and a ten-minute half-time. Just enough time to get another flute of Veuve.

For more information, visit www.vcseason.com.

Friday, October 8, 2010

HotelChatter: Hotel Missoni's Kilted Doormen

Those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter know that I've been globetrotting quite a bit lately, and one of the most fun destinations I've experienced in the past couple of months has been Edinburgh, Scotland. Part of that is because I got to stay in the city's most exciting hotel, the Hotel Missoni.

Not only is the place rife with hip, fashion-centric design patterns, but everyone who works there (at least in my experience) is just a pure delight. That includes the kilted doormen who suavely bustle about toting luggage, dispensing sightseeing tips, and dishing on the best restaurants in town (as well as just why their whorly kilts are the best possible uniform).

That's why I talked to the coolest one I could find to get the inside dish on what makes the hotel such a great experience (in addition to the complimentary mini bars and laundry, in-room espresso makers, and on-demand movies), what makes it unique to Edinburgh, and why it's like no other place to work. To hear what he had to say, check out my "Pitch Your Hotel" video on HotelChatter by clicking the link below.

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2010/10/7/131621/379/hotels/Allow_The_Kilted_Doorman_at_the_Hotel_Missoni_to_Explain_Why_You_Should_Stay_Here

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

LA Confidential Magazine: Zengo and La Sandia

The second entry I wrote for the October issue of LA Confidential's City Eats section was a double-duty preview of La Sandia and Zengo, two new restaurants at Santa Monica Place from renowned Mexican chef Richard Sandoval (you might know of his restaurant in New York, Maya).

Santa Monica Place, at the end of the Third Street Promenade, is definitely the dining destination of the moment in Los Angeles, and from what I understand, it's been packed every single night since it opened in August. That's thanks to beautiful shops, plenty of bars, and six high-end restaurants, including these two.

La Sandia is sort of like a modern take on traditional Mexican cuisine, for which Sandoval is renowned, and Zengo is his ode to Asian-Latin fusion, with dishes like Peking duck tacos. Take a look at my article at the link below, or read on to see the text of what I wrote!

Link: http://www.la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/city-eats

La Sandia and Zengo

Though he’s been called “the father of modern Mexican cuisine,” we think of Richard Sandoval more like Pancho Villa (minus the flamboyant mustache)—a rebel reimagining classic Mexican and Latin dishes with a refinement usually reserved for the most haute French cuisine. Thanks to his upscale insurgency, he’s forged a restaurant empire stretching from Mexico and the US to Dubai. Now the Mexico City native is bringing his innovative vision to Southern California with the opening of two restaurants at Santa Monica Place.

La Sandia is Sandoval’s ode to traditional modern Mexican cuisine, with a menu including braised-beef and chorizo empanadas and shrimp ceviche in nose-tingling citrus-habanero broth, while the bar features 250 hand-selected tequilas and mescals. The architecture was inspired in part by a 16th-century Mexico City palace, with bright azulejo talavera tiles and a courtyard strung with lights and a retractable glass roof.

Sandoval’s other restaurant is the fourth location of his Asian-Mexican fusion concept, Zengo, and is based on the combination of “pan-Latin ingredients with unexpected Asian flavors,” such as the signature Peking duck tacos wrapped in a daikon radish and hoisin-adobo beef short ribs with Manchego-potato puree. The dining room has understated design touches such as rose-colored lights and a splash of teal wood paneling on the ceiling for color. On a chilly autumn night, opt for a table next to the outdoor terrace’s fireplace, ideal for sipping a tamarind-togarashi margarita. 395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica; richardsandoval.com

Monday, October 4, 2010

LA Confidential Magazine: Waterloo & City

I checked out the new Waterloo & City, named after one of the Underground lines in London, in Culver City over the summer, and my write-up of it just appeared in the October issue of LA Confidential Magazine.

Brendan Collins is the chef at this cheeky little brasserie, and he's cooking up fun new takes on both classic plates from his U.K. homeland, as well as more California-skewed (read Mediterranean-Asian fusion) dishes. I enjoyed quite the range at my dinner there.

To read my LA Confidential piece, you can take a look at the City Eats section in the magazine at the site below (Waterloo & City is the first entry), or just read the body of the article, which I've included at the end here. Cheerio!

Link: http://www.la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/city-eats

Waterloo & City
It might be named after one of executive chef-proprietor Brendan Collins’ native London underground lines, but you won’t find bangers and mash or spotted dick (or any other naughty-sounding nibbles) on the menu at Waterloo & City—though there are fish and chips and shepherd’s pie at Sunday lunch.

Chef Collins says his menu “is more based on French and Italian food.” However, the cuisine is far more diverse than that at this new British gastropub on a rapidly gentrifying stretch of Washington Boulevard in Culver City.

The pizzas—including one topped with savory Indian butter chicken, Greek yogurt and cucumber—and the fried piquillo peppers with tuna tartare and avocado will have you exclaiming, “Blimey!” The standout portion of the menu, however, is the eclectic array of cured meats and pâtés, including a smoked-tongue and carrot terrine with sweet-and-sour chiles—perfect for sharing with mates over a pint or one of the “pubtail” drinks, such as a classic Pimm’s cup or Piccadilly martini with vodka, pickle juice and tomolives.

Brazen décor touches like recycled church pews and wallpaper with mildly racy scenes ironically sketched in classic blue-and-white English china patterns set just the right cheeky tone. After all, it’s the collegial ambiance that’s really British. And the attitude, which Collins sums up as, “We are what we are. And we enjoy it!” 12517 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; waterlooandcity.com

Friday, October 1, 2010

LowFares: San Diego Hotels

I'm coming to the end of my assignments for the Fall Issue of LowFares. After this one, which is a roundup of San Diego's swankiest downtown hotels, I've got city guides to Edinburgh and Toronto--based on my current roster of trips--as well as a piece on offbeat London neighborhoods you might not have visited.

For now, this is a list of some of my favorite hometown hotels, both old and new, including the Andaz, Hard Rock, Sè, Keating, Indigo, and more. Keep in mind there are plenty more down there, but each of these is a unique property. Want to know why? Well, you'll just have to read my piece by clicking on the link below!

Link: http://www.lowfares.com/blog/2010/09/29/best-san-diego-hotels/