Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Year in Review


As 2011 draws to a close, I wanted to take a quick look back at my year in travel by the numbers. It’s been an amazing, challenging, rewarding, utterly fantastic whirlwind of globetrotting. My friends often joke I’m never in LA, so I thought I’d calculate just how many miles I’d flown, the countries I’d visited, and the days I’ve spent away from home, and here are the numbers. How do yours stack up, and how are you going to make 2012 even better?


Miles flown: 116,000 (crossed the Pacific eight times and the Atlantic 4 times)


Longest flight: Tie LAX-SYD and LAX-HKG, 14.5 hours


Shortest flight: LAX-SFO


Airlines flown: 10


Countries visited: 8


Continents visited: 5


Hotels: 57


Days out of the country: 103


Days out of Los Angeles: 153


Longest trip: 27 days, Australia


Shortest trip: 2 days, Cancun


Highest altitude: About 14,000 feet at the Tatio Geysers in Chile


Destinations for next year: South Africa for safari and wine, Cambodia to see Angkor Wat, Brazil for beach and jungle, and spending a month in Paris

Friday, December 30, 2011

JustLuxe: New Year's Eve Dinners in LA

As with my recent post on JustLuxe about fancy Christmas Eve dinners around Los Angeles, I thought I'd put together another handy little list for folks looking to ring in the new year with a fine-dining experience.

Some of the city's best restaurants are putting on veritable feasts this year, and you can find tables at top spots like Boa, Michael's, Picca and the Polo Lounge, among others.

So if you're still looking for last-minute plans, one of these dinners might just be the New Year's Eve soiree for you.

Link: http://www.justluxe.com/travel/los-angeles-news__1697855.php

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Frontiers: The Churchill


Here's a little review in Frontiers that I did a couple months ago--I suppose it ran while I was in New Zealand--about a new restaurant on W. 3rd St. at the newly redone Orlando Hotel. It's called The Churchill, and is kind of like a cool English lounge filled with salvaged design pieces, and with an acclaimed Santa Barbara chef behind the stoves.

The Food2Know roundup at the end is about a few of my favorite new pizza places including Pitfire Pizza, Sotto, the new sbe restaurant Mercato di Vetro, and Stella Rossa in Santa Monica, and Urbano Pizza Bar downtown. Buon appetito!

Link: http://www.frontiersla.com/Nightlife/Restaurants/Story.aspx?ID=1566337

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jaunted: New Zealand Farmer's Markets


I love when I get to write stories that combine my background in food and cuisine with wide-ranging travel...as with this week's Jaunted story on the burgeoning farmer's market scene in New Zealand.

You might have seen my other recent Jaunted piece about some of the fabulous foods (and sometimes odd ones) I got to try during my recent trip there, but now it's time to meet some of the actual farmers and food purveyors who actually grow and make them at two very special markets in Auckland and Central Otago.

Bon appetit!

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2011/12/20/203118/75/travel/Shopping+Two+of+New+Zealand%27s+Best+Farmers%27+Markets:+What+to+See,+Smell+and+Taste

Monday, December 19, 2011

JustLuxe: LA Christmas Eve Dinners


As the holidays make their inexorable descent upon Los Angeles, it's time for that annual bookmark: the Christmas Eve dinner roundup!

In the instance of this JustLuxe piece, we've got all the upscale options including BLVD at the Beverly Wilshire, Mezze, Il Covo, Tres at the SLS and a few more.

There seems to be a lot of lobster and foie gras on order as well, so start signing up for those New Year's gym memberships now!

Link: http://www.justluxe.com/travel/los-angeles-news__1692850.php

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jaunted: Christchurch's Project Re:Start

Here's a quick Jaunted article from earlier this week about one of the coolest things I saw while I was in New Zealand, Project Re:Start in Christchurch.

Basically, it's a temporary mall made from purpose-built shipping containers that some of the city's coolest boutiques have moved into. It's right outside the city's "red zone," which is still a landscape of condemned buildings nearly a year after the city's devastating earthquake, so it's providing the residents of the city center with a public place to hang out, have fun, grab a bite, do some shopping, etc., which the place has been sorely lacking all these months.

Take a look at my article and pictures at the link below, and if you happen to be passing through Christchurch, you should definitely check it out!

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2011/12/12/185321/18/travel/Project+Re%3AStart+Brings+%28Colorful%29+Retail+Back+to+Christchurch

Thursday, December 15, 2011

LA Confidential Magazine: Gourmet Gifts


Just in time for the mad rush before the holidays, here is a fabulous and handy guide of delectable high-end gourmet delices to buy your favorite foodie or take to myriad holiday parties we all seem to have as the season reaches its peak.

For a little sneak preview, I include a few unique caviar products from Petrossian, French candies from L'Epicerie Market, a croquembouche from Maison Richard, chocolates from Teuscher, and all the smoked fish your heart could desire from Santa Monica Seafood...and that's just half of it!

To find out the rest and get some ideas for your party rotation, check out the full article from LA Confidential at the link below.

Link: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/food-gifts-holiday-parties-gourmet

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

JustLuxe: Holiday Pop-Up Shops in LA

Yes, it's December, and that means, in addition to all the holiday parties and special dinners, that it's time for the usual slew of holiday gift and shopping lists. Now, when I wrote this last week, it was still to early to know all the good goings on, so I might do a little update of it next week when more shops and boutiques have announced all their special offerings.

In the meantime, here's a good little list I wrote up on JustLuxe of great pop-up shops like the Alpha one at the Andaz West Hollywood I stopped by the other night, as well as specialty foods and gourmet goodies like Mr. C Beverly Hills' traditional panettone Italian cake and Petrossian's unique caviar powder, as well as Christmas-inspired spa treatments at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Los Angeles. Plus, caramel! So enjoy, and buy something nice for your sweetheart.

Link: http://www.justluxe.com/travel/los-angeles-news__1687435.php

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jaunted: 5 Foods To Try in New Zealand

This next Jaunted piece about my November trip to New Zealand went up last week, and is about both some of the wackiest and some of the most "New Zealand" of the foods I tried there.

Plus, I give you tips on where to try each for yourself. And don't worry, there's nothing gross here--I can swear that each and every one was absolutely delicious, especially the hot smoked salmon, the green-shell mussels and the whitebait fritters...in fact, it's making me hungry for another trip down there already!

To see just what I ate and what makes each foodstuff so special, take a look at my Jaunted piece below.

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2011/12/6/01123/7049/travel/Five+Foods+You%27ve+Just+Got+to+Try+in+New+Zealand

Friday, December 9, 2011

LA Confidential Magazine: The Bazaar at SLS Hotel


The December issue of LA Confidential Magazine is out! And with it is the latest installment of the magazine's new foodie feature, So Many Lunches.

This time we profile a relative newcomer to the LA restaurant scene that has nonetheless quickly become a local icon: The Bazaar at the SLS Beverly Hills Hotel, where Spanish dynamo Jose Andres is chef.

I'll save the juicy details--so to speak--for the piece itself, in which you can read about Andres's molecular gastronomy magic, all the seating choices Philippe Starck personally designed just for you, and who the celebrity in the next booth is likely to be. Enjoy!

Link: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/the-bazaar-restaurants-los-angeles

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jaunted: Swimming with Mini Dolphins in New Zealand

One of the experiences I was most looking forward to on my recent trip to New Zealand was the chance to travel to the little town of Akaroa.

You probably never heard of it, and neither had I until I started researching my trip. I came across it, though, because it's just an hour outside Christchurch along winding mountain roads on the Banks Peninsula. The town was settled by Frenchmen, so it's distinctive in terms of New Zealand, and it's a little port that sits on a harbor formed by the collapse of an ancient volcano. And in that harbor lives a colony of the world's smallest marine dolphins--the Hector Dolphin--of which only about 7,000 remain in the world.


These little guys are smaller than me, as you'll see from this photo, which I took to give you a little bit of scale. Find out just how small they are, why they're so hard to capture on film, and which of the world's other smallest creatures live in this stunning setting by reading my Jaunted article below.

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2011/11/28/21941/394/travel/Where+to+See+%28and+Swim+With%29+the+World%92s+Smallest+Dolphins+and+Penguins

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Points Guy: Air New Zealand Business Premier

Just another quick post I wrote up about my experience flying down to New Zealand in Air New Zealand's Business Premier class. Though I flew down in the first of the airline's new 777's and reported on it for Jaunted last December, this was my first time flying on a normal commercial flight, and I must say, the experience was pretty great--as you'll see from my detailed write up on The Points Guy, who I'm now helping out as managing editor of his site.

Take a look at the review and photos (and the menu!) at the link below.

Link: http://thepointsguy.com/2011/11/flight-review-air-new-zealand-new-business-premier-lax-akl/

Friday, December 2, 2011

JustLuxe: Air New Zealand Wine Awards

As you might have seen from my posts over the last few weeks, I spent the majority of November down in New Zealand traipsing its gorgeous South Island doing everything from wine-tasting to bungy jumping (with a healthy amount of hiking, biking and kayaking thrown in).

The reason I went down in the first place, however, was to cover the annual Air New Zealand Wine Awards in Auckland. While there, I got to talk to some very interesting personalities on the country's wine scene and hear their thoughts about the industry and where it's headed, plus taste through the medal-winning wines on exhibition.

To learn more about what I was drinking, and New Zealand wines in general, take a look at my JustLuxe article here: http://www.justluxe.com/lifestyle/dining/feature-1677987.php

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

JustLuxe: Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel-Air

One of the most exciting new restaurants to open in Los Angeles lately has to be Wolfgang Puck's new place at the recently renovated (to the tune of $100 million!) and reopened Hotel Bel-Air.

I got the chance to sample the cuisine at a recent preview dinner, and took advantage of the opportunity to talk to Puck himself about his vision for the cuisine and the menu, as well as to the designer, David Rockwell, who's based in New York, but has flagship projects underway all over the world.

All in all, the food was simple but delicious, the setting was absolutely lovely in the evening, and I wouldn't mind going back soon myself! In the meantime, you can read my interviews and my account of the preview dinner on JustLuxe at the link below.

Link: http://www.justluxe.com/travel/los-angeles-news__1669563.php

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Frontiers: Fall Dining

Thanksgiving might have come and gone, but there are still plenty of fabulous fall dishes to enjoy around Los Angeles, and here's a great roundup I did for Frontiers recently of some of my favorites. It's quite the comprehensive list...all right, well, not comprehensive, but there are about a dozen gourmet dishes at some classic LA restaurants represented here--along with lots of mouthwatering photos--including but not limited to: Culina at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Farmshop, ink, Larry's Venice, Michael's and Patina.

So take a look, and start making your reservations.

Link: http://www.frontiersla.com/Features/Highlights/Story.aspx?ID=1570135

Friday, November 25, 2011

JustLuxe: Tasting Wine Along Portugal's Douro Valley

My most recent JustLuxe travel piece covers the fabulous week I spent wine-tasting along Portugal's Douro Valley back in September. Not only did I try the region's famous Port wines, but I also got to sample a wide swath of its Douro DOC, or non-Port wines like the Tourigas that have been appearing with increasing frequency on our menus in the States.

In the piece, I talk about some of the great things to do in the UNESCO-listed (and view-rific) city of Oporto itself, as well as some of the lovely hotels and inns I stayed at farther east along the river in the heart of Port country.

So take a look at the beautiful pictures, read about the wines, and keep an eye out for Portuguese vintages the next time you're perusing a wine list.

Link: http://www.justluxe.com/travel/luxury-vacations/feature-1668839.php

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

LA Confidential Magazine: Thanksgiving

Still haven't made your Thanksgiving plans? Or maybe there was a run on free-range organic turkeys at your favorite local produce purveyor.

Never fear, there are tons of restaurants around Los Angeles who are putting on fabulous feasts for Turkey Day this year--including some interesting options like fried turkey at Little Dom's, as well as more upscale affairs like the prix-fixe menus at Campanile and Patina. Plus there's takeout from old favorites like Joan's on Third.

Take a look at my article, and then stop procrastinating and make a reservation before your stuck with a dinner of cold beans on Thanksgiving!

Link: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/9-truly-delicious-thanksgiving-feasts

Monday, November 21, 2011

JustLuxe: Thanksgiving in LA


I'm actually missing Thanksgiving in the States this year since I'll still be here in New Zealand, but I did compile this shortlist of some of the best Thanksgiving offerings from restaurants around Los Angeles on JustLuxe, from the down-home to the most gourmet, and everything in between from places like Akasha, Jar, mar'sel, Patina and Tavern...and several more.

So put away your crockery, turn off the oven, and get ready for some great cooking that you don't have to do--and better yet, that you don't have to clean up after!--whether you want to dine in or take out.

Link: http://www.justluxe.com/travel/los-angeles-news__1670085.php

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jaunted: The Air New Zealand Wine Awards

Those of you who follow my comings and goings on Facebook or Twitter can see that I'm in New Zealand at the moment. I came down here just about a week ago for the Air New Zealand Wine Awards in Auckland, which is probably the biggest event in the country's wine industry. Since then I've actually been visiting some of the winemakers that I met there at their own wineries in Nelson, Marlborough and Waipara, with Central Otago to come next week.

But the reason I came down here in the first place was to attend these awards and use them as a lens into the country's wine scene in general. So take a look on my piece from this week on Jaunted where I talk not only about the awards themselves, but also to some of the big names in wine down here (including two of the airline's wine consultants), give you a rundown of the events, and a look back at just how far New Zealand wines have come in the 25 years since the awards took their present shape (hint: Sauvignon Blanc was barely to be found back then, but now it makes up 75% of the country's grape crop!).

Link: http://www.jaunted.com/story/2011/11/15/02621/571/travel/The+Who%2C+What%2C+Where%2C+and+Why+of+the+Air+New+Zealand+Wine+Awards

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Frontiers: Vodvil

My latest review in Frontiers is of a great new concept called Vodvil. It's kind of like a hybrid restaurant-lounge game night entertainment center where guests can kick back with cocktails and nibbles, play trivia and pop culture games, sing karaoke, and just hang out.

The space is available for private parties as well, and there are special themes each night of the week, so check it out, and start studying up on your factoids.

Link: http://www.frontiersla.com/Nightlife/Restaurants/Story.aspx?ID=1561384

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

LA Confidential Magazine: The Polo Lounge

For the "So Many Lunches" restaurant feature in the November issue of LA Confidential, we decided to cover another Los Angeles landmark: The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Though it's been around for decades now, the Polo Lounge is still one of the hottest places in town to see celebrities enjoying a brief moment of quiet over a meal with friends...and the food's pretty good too!

Where so many restaurants in town are just brief flashes in the pan, this one has true staying power, and in the piece, we delve into this icon's history, how a day there works, why the chopped salad is so good, and who you might see on your next visit, so read on at the link below!

Link: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/the-polo-lounge-beverly-hills-it-restaurant

Sunday, November 13, 2011

LA Confidential Online: The Pie Hole

I actually haven't written specifically for LA Confidential's online content channel before, but I got the chance to do so for the first time with this little piece on a new and irreverently named pie bakery downtown called The Pie Hole.

They have sweet pies and savory, full-size and mini, plus some specially roasted Groundwork Coffee you can only get here.

Take a look at some of the specialties, and see if you agree that pie really is the dessert of 2011 when you read my piece at the link below.

Link: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/channels/home-page/insights#dessert-of-the-moment-pie

Friday, November 11, 2011

HotelChatter: Awesome Designs at Saint James Paris

I'm more of a food and wine guy than a design aficionado, but every so often in the course of my travels, I come across a restaurant or hotel that really blows me away with its decor, and during my visit to Paris last January, that's just what happened a little boutique property tucked away in a private park in the tony 16th arrondisement called the Saint James Hotel Paris.

The Saint James isn't about jaw-dropping grandeur, though there's a bit of that, too. Rather, what caught my eye were the whimsical touches like wallpaper festooned with old-timey hot air balloons (mongolfieres!), a wall decorated with mens' walking canes, and lamps made out of bowler hats...not to mention some pretty luxe chinoiserie patterns and tricked-out bathrooms.

Although I'm eager to stay at some of the bigger new hotels in Paris like the Mandarin Oriental and the Raffles Royal Monceau, I was definitely a huge fan of the Saint James and would send folks to stay there in a heartbeat. In the meantime, check out my piece from HotelChatter below.

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2011/10/25/145712/14/hotels/Leopard_Prints_Hot_Air_Balloons_and_Bowler_Hat_Lamps_at_Hotel_Saint_James_Paris

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

HotelChatter: Mandarin Oriental San Francisco


By now you probably know that one of my favorite destinations--and certainly one of my favorite cities in the country--is San Francisco. I try to get up there as often as possible, usually several times a year. It's just got everything I love: fabulous restaurants, great museums, stunning scenery, and a lot of good friends.

I've written about it as a general destination quite often in the past, for all my outlets, basically, but this time around I wanted to focus on a hotel where I've gotten the chance to stay twice in the past few months: the Mandarin Oriental.

I have to say, this is one of my favorite hotels in the city. Sure, in the evening it can be kind of dead around the Financial District, but the hotel is a short walk to a bunch of major attractions as well as the transportation to get to others, is close to my new favorite micro-neighborhood, Jackson Square, and has some of the best views of the city from its guest rooms on the high floors of a skyscraper. There's nothing like waking up to views of the Transamerica Building and the entire Bay spread out below you from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate.

The hotel also has a lot of little, old-school touches like monogrammed sheets and personalized stationery (and Molton Brown products!) that I personally love, and that's what I talk about in this quick HotelChatter post. I can't wait to see how the upcoming renovation goes--I might just have to get back up there to experience it for myself!

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2011/10/26/211913/35/hotels/It_s_the_Little_Things_at_Mandarin_Oriental_San_Francisco

Monday, November 7, 2011

LA Confidential Magazine: Meat Cocktails


My final piece in October's issue of LA Confidential is about the hottest new ingredient popping up in cocktails all over town: meat. That's right, booze are getting beefed up with a healthy helping of protein (usually in the form of bacon).

To delve into the trend, I talked with one of LA's best known mixologists, Aidan Demarest, whose fingerprints are on cocktail menus all over the city including those at The Edison, 1886, The Spare Room, and his latest venture (in Glendale!), Neat.

We discussed why pork works so well in cocktails, why Spam might be the next big thing, and just why it is that "cocktails are going culinary," as he put it.

I also include a roundup of some of the splashiest meaty cocktails around town including some from Hatfield's, Napa Valley Grille, Locanda del Lago (which actually comes with a whole plate of fried speck), Comme Ca, Michael's and Rivera (beef jerky!).

Take a look at the article at the link below. Cheers!

Link: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/cocktail-trend-meaty-mixings

Friday, November 4, 2011

LA Confidential Magazine: Whiskey Cocktails Guide


For the October issue of LA Confidential, I got to venture beyond my normal purview to cover the city's cocktail scene...specifically whiskey (and scotch and rye and suntori) since this is the "man issue," though ladies will enjoy these libations as well.

As with the Brunch Guide, I take you on a tour of some old favorites as well as recent openings to check out for their innovative cocktails and thorough whiskey stocks. As a teaser, some of the places I talk about include The Thirsty Crow in Silverlake, The Edison downtown, and Copa d'Oro in Santa Monica, plus newcomers like Hemingway's and Next Door Lounge in Hollywood, and Ten Pound at the Montage Beverly Hills.

To read about these and all the others (nine in total), check out my article at the link below.

Link: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/a-guide-to-las-best-cocktail-bars

Thursday, November 3, 2011

JustLuxe: New LA Restaurants October

Here's just another quick JustLuxe piece that contains a roundup of some of the biggest and most exciting restaurant openings around Los Angeles from October.

It includes Barlo at the Hotel Erwin, The Churchill, two Spacecraft Group restaurants called Naya and Osaka, Oldfield's Liquor Room from the 1933 Group (Thirsty Crow, Bigfoot Lodge) and Take a Bao in Studio City.

Lots of delicious things to eat, and lots more restaurants to come next month!

Link: http://www.justluxe.com/travel/los-angeles-news__1662622.php

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

LA Confidential Magazine: Tom Colicchio's Craft

One of the other new elements of the redesign of LA Confidential is a feature in each issue called So Many Lunches where we profile a landmark Los Angeles restaurant, talk to the chef, learn about the menu, chat about the celebrities you're likely to see while you're there, and give you the skinny on the best tables in the house.

For our first installment, we went big, with celebrity chef Tom Colicchio's Craft. It couldn't help but become a fixture on the dining scene here, with a big-name chef, and a location inside CAA's enormous, gleaming new agency office building.

The real thrill of doing the article, though, was talking to Colicchio himself, who was extremely voluble and gracious, and genuinely excited about LA's food scene and why he thinks it's so great to be a chef here.

I'd encourage you to grab an actual issue if you can since the article looks amazing, but in the meantime, you can check out the online version here: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/tom-colicchios-craft-lands-in-la

Monday, October 31, 2011

Frontiers: Australia's Mardi Gras Train

Australia happens to be one of my areas of travel specialty thanks to all the amazing trips I've gotten to take there in the past couple years. One of the events I'd love to experience is Mardi Gras in Sydney, and though it looks like I won't be able to make it there this year, I did want to share with Frontiers readers a new experience being put on by the Great Southern Rail--one of the world's great luxury train companies.

The Great Southern Rail will be running a gay-friendly special train journey on the last leg of the Indian Pacific line from Adelaide to Sydney the day before Mardi Gras begins, with all kinds of special performances, fun stops and other parties. The journey is just 24 hours total, so it could be a great way to get to see a little more of the country while having a blast.

Check out my Frontiers story at the link below for details.

Link: http://www.frontiersla.com/Columns/Travel/Story.aspx?ID=1553660

Friday, October 28, 2011

LA Confidential Magazine: Brunch Guide


With the October issue of the magazine, we've changed up the format of LA Confidential with a new focus on restaurant features and thematic dining guides, starting with the fabulous roundup of LA's best brunch places...just in time for the weekend!

In it, I let you know about some of my old favorites, like AOC, Cecconi's, Fig and Scarpetta, as well as what some newcomers like Larry's Venice and The Churchill are serving (grilled crostini with heirloom tomatoes, prosciutto, tarragon béarnaise and poached eggs!).

Find out where else you should be making reservations by checking out the article at the link below.

Link: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/a-guide-to-las-best-brunch-menus

Thursday, October 27, 2011

HotelChatter: Montage Laguna's Sommelier Training

You might know that I regularly write a series on some of the world's coolest hotel jobs for HotelChatter, but last week, I actually wrote about a cool hotel job perk as part of the coverage of my recent stay at Montage Laguna Beach: the resort's staff sommelier certification classes, which are open to any staff member who is interested and has the time in their schedule to take them.

I actually got to sit in on one of the Friday afternoon classes with the resort's Beverage Director, Troy Smith, and it was especially great because we were talking about the wines of Portugal, which I'd just visited a couple weeks before.

Learn more about this unique program, and start earmarking your wine encyclopedia.

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2011/10/17/132318/16/hotels/Best_Hotel_Job_Perk_Montage_Laguna_s_Sommelier_Classes

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

JustLuxe: Napa in a Porsche


As you know, one of my favorite travel destinations--both to enjoy and to write about--is right here in my home state of California: the Napa Valley.

If you ask me, Napa has it all. World-class wine, gourmet food, luxury hotels, fabulous spas...I might just have to live there!

In the meantime, at least it's easy for me to visit, and I wrote about my most recent experience up there--jetting around in a Porsche, staying at the Carneros Inn, tasting great wines, and eating at some of the hottest new tables in town.

Check it all out at the JustLuxe link below.

Link: http://www.justluxe.com/travel/luxury-vacations/feature-1658160.php

Monday, October 24, 2011

HotelChatter: Portugal Boozy B&B's


For the next installment of my new Boozy B&B's series on HotelChatter, where I take readers along as I visit hotels and inns in some of the world's great wine regions (and hopefully other spirits too, like Cognac and scotch, eventually), I take you inside five of the properties I got to visit on my recent trip to Portugal's Douro Valley.

We start in the city of Oporto itself, where I stayed at the new Yeatman Hotel, then travel far into the hinterlands to inns nestled in the Douro Valley's dramatic, winding hills and valleys, where the country's famous Port wines are made.

Picturesque locations, gourmet food and wine, gorgeous weather...take a look and then start searching for flights to Portugal!

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2011/10/18/1665/1698/hotels/Boozy_B_B_s_Portugal_Edition

Friday, October 21, 2011

JustLuxe: Shanghai-ed for the Weekend


The more I travel, the more I realize that it's possible to visit even faraway exotic locations in a shorter time than you think. Case in point, the whirlwind trip I took to Shanghai this past July.

Read about my experience, including the flight on American Airlines, my stay at the lovely boutique PuLi Hotel & Spa, sampling the city's famous xiao long bao dumplings, finding a happy shopping medium somewhere between the huge world-famous brand-name stores and the schlocky souvenir shops of the back alleys, with a dose of history and culture thrown in. And it only took about three days!

Don't believe me? Read on at the JustLuxe link below.

Link: http://www.justluxe.com/travel/luxury-vacations/feature-1657459.php

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

HotelChatter: Montage Laguna's Wine Program


One of my favorite properties along the Laguna Coast (and in all of California) is the ultra-luxe Montage Laguna Beach.

Not only is it on a perfect spot on the coast, but it's got gorgeous rooms, a fabulous restaurant called Studio, a lovely spa, and, as I found out on my recent visit, an extensive wine program that guests can get to experience firsthand by making a reservation at their signature Sunday Artistry of Wine program.

Check out some of the wines (and cheeses!) I got to taste by reading my story at the link below.

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2011/10/12/14442/792/hotels/Montage_Laguna_Beach_Loves_Its_Wine

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

HotelChatter: Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

After the wine-tasting portion in the Douro Valley of my recent trip to Portugal, I spend the weekend in Lisbon, and had the opportunity to stay at the gorgeous Four Seasons Hotel Ritz in the heart of the city.

I've posted a whole photo gallery and all the pertinent info, but of course, I had to focus on a particular amenity--the enormous bathrooms! Find out why by taking a look at my story below.

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2011/10/10/1338/3421/hotels/Four_Seasons_Hotel_Ritz_Lisbon_Has_Odd_Bathrooms_But_We_Kinda_Like_Them

Monday, October 17, 2011

HotelChatter: Carneros Inn and Audi

When I was up in Napa at the beginning of the month, I got to stay at a property I've been dreaming about for a long time, the Carneros Inn. This luxury resort is at the southern end of the Valley and features tricked out cottages as rooms, plus gourmet restaurants, a fabulous spa, and all sorts of other perks, including a partnership with Audi.

While there, my friend and I were chauffeured around the property in one of the cars featured in the program, the top-of-the-line A8 sedan...and naturally we played with all the buttons and knobs to see how everything worked. Check out my piece and photo gallery on HotelChatter at the link below.

Link: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2011/10/10/2727/6648/hotels/The_Carneros_Inn_s_Audi_Parntership_Cars_and_Carafes_in_Wine_Country

Saturday, October 15, 2011

JustLuxe: Park City Autum Adventure

I paid my first visit to Park City not in the winter, when Hollywood glitterati crowd its charming streets for Sundance, but over the summer. I'm not really a snow person, so heading to this scenic mountain escape was right up my alley--especially because I got to go mountain biking, horseback riding, shooting down an Alpine slide and...oh yeah, whiskey-tasting at the High West Distillery.

I also talk about the Sky Lodge (like I did in HotelChatter--remember those waterfall bathtub spigots that stream from the ceiling?) and all the other fun stuff I got up to, so check out my JustLuxe story below!

Link: http://www.justluxe.com/travel/luxury-vacations/feature-1657140.php

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Frontiers: Perch

Finally, I should be all caught up with posting my Frontiers reviews from over the summer! This one is another great restaurant to open downtown--truth be told, the food is good, but it's the view and the urban ambiance I come for when I head downtown to eat at Perch, which, true to its name, roosts 14 stories above the streets of Los Angeles, surrounded by scenic skyscrapers.

Next time your downtown for an evening, you should definitely plan to spend part of it here!

Link: http://www.frontiersla.com/Nightlife/Restaurants/Story.aspx?ID=1551828

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Frontiers: Saint Felix


Whew! I didn't realize I'd done this much writing for Frontiers over the summer, but I'm still catching up on posting pieces from the past few months as they come online on the magazines web site. So here's the next piece. It's a little love note to an LGBT-owned bar called Saint Felix that opened its second installment in the heart of Hollywood.

Finally, a good place for drinks and schmoozing for gays before heading to the ArcLight!

Link: http://www.frontiersla.com/Nightlife/Restaurants/Story.aspx?ID=1551818

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jetsetter: Roomers Hotel Frankfurt

I've been writing for Gilt Groupe for a while now, but my first piece for Jetsetter ran this week, and is about a hotel where I stayed (and spent my 29th birthday!) in Frankfurt, Germany.

There've been quite a few hotels since my stay at the Roomers Hotel, but I remember it quite well--especially since it was so distinctive for Frankfurt. Find out more about it and just what sets it apart (besides the silver, velvet, swan-shaped chairs in the lobby) at the link to my description on Jetsetter below.

Link: http://www.jetsetter.com/r/roomers?nm=serp&cl=1

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Frontiers: Picca


For the next update review from over the summer in Frontiers, let me share this one about what was probably this summer's most exciting new opening around town: Picca.

Picca is the follow up second restaurant to chef wunderkind Ricardo Zarate's beloved downtown Peruvian spot, MoChica.

The food at this new place on Pico in Beverly Hills is significantly more upscale, though the service and ambiance is still casually convivial. See what I mean--plus enjoy a roundup of some of my favorite places around town for ceviche in the review at the link below.

Link: http://www.frontiersla.com/Nightlife/Restaurants/Story.aspx?ID=1551805

Friday, September 30, 2011

Frontiers: Gastropub Takeover


I'm all about the fine dining, but every now and then, all I want is a juicy burger and a great beer. Lucky for me, tons of fantastic new gastropubs have been opening around Los Angeles lately, and thanks to this story and one in LA Confidential, I've gotten to try a bunch of them.

Here is a quick roundup of some of the most exciting gastropubs to open around Los Angeles this past summer, and some of the dishes you should try at each.

Link: http://www.frontiersla.com/Nightlife/Restaurants/Story.aspx?ID=1551802

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Frontiers: Westside Dining

Still playing catchup with posting all my past Frontiers dining reviews from this summer. The next piece up is a roundup of Westside dining options meant for optimal summer dining. There were a ton of new openings on that side of town this past summer, and here were a few highlights, including the relaunch of the Malibu Inn, the gourmet sundry stores of the Market at Santa Monica Place, and True Food Kitchen.

Bon appetit!

Link: http://www.frontiersla.com/Nightlife/Restaurants/Story.aspx?ID=1551802

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Frontiers: Son of a Gun

You might have noticed the absence of Frontiers dining reviews from my blog for a while, but that's not because I haven't been busy eating and writing about new LA restaurants. The magazine has been revamping its web site for the past few months and the dining section has been slowly coming along.

Looks like most of my material is online now, though, so I wanted to share a few choice recent reviews, starting with this one of Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo's new seafood restaurant on West 3rd Street, Son of a Gun.

Now you might recognize the chef-buddy duo's name from their first, wildly successful restaurant on Fairfax, Animal, but Son of a Gun is a completely different beast--one from the heart of the ocean.

Check out some of the most interesting menu items in my review at the link below:

http://www.frontiersla.com/Nightlife/Restaurants/Story.aspx?ID=1551789

LA Confidential Magazine: San Francisco and the Russian River Valley

Here's a travel article I wrote for the September issue of LA Confidential Magazine (just in time for harvest!) all about the wine-tasting experiences you can have in two of my favorite places in California--one town, one country--San Francisco and the nearby Russian River Valley.

In it, I include some of my favorite wine bars and tasting rooms, plus a host of other helpful details like where to stay, where to play, and where to gorge yourself on fabulous wine country cuisine. Cheers!

Here's a new link to the article, which you can also find in its full form below: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/living/articles/russian-river-valley-getaway

A TIME FOR WINE

By Eric Rosen

Harvest season is the perfect time to visit San Francisco and wine country’s Russian River Valley to indulge in all things grape.

San Francisco is the gateway to California’s most famous wine regions, but you don’t need to leave the city to enjoy great tasting experiences, as even the hotels have gotten in on the action. The Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco (fourseasons.com/sanfrancisco) is home to the Press Club (pressclubsf.com), a wine bar and lounge whose Visiting Vintners series rotates a selection of California wine, beer and sparkling wine. The InterContinental San Francisco’s (intercontinentalsanfrancisco.com) Bar 888 houses an unrivaled collection of high-end grappas, while the superb city views from the Mandarin Oriental (mandarinoriental.com) rooms are only outdone by the hotel’s specially created collaboration with Hirsch Vineyards, Ngima Cuvée Pinot Noir.


For an insightful and entertaining overview of the city’s wine scene, enlist the bespoke guided-tour services of Carried Away (carriedawaysf.com). They’ll whisk you from cozy wine bars such as the Hayes Valley hole-in-the-wall Hôtel Biron (hotelbiron.com) to the saloonlike Fat Angel (fatangelsf.com) in lower Fillmore and SoMa’s boho-chic Terroir (terroirsf.com) for its stellar cellar of natural wines.

Later, wander the historic Jackson Square area to sample private-label wines from the patented Cask Delivery System at Barrique (barriquesf.com) before dining at one of the hottest tables in town at Cotogna (cotognasf.com).


One of Food & Wine’s seven Sommeliers of the Year, Rajat Parr of Mina Group (michaelmina.com), will get your palate ready for the Russian River Valley through pairings like Freeman Ryo-fu Sonoma Coast Chardonnay with deconstructed butter-poached lobster pot pie.


Just 90 minutes north of San Francisco, the Russian River Valley—which takes up one-sixth of Sonoma County and is known for the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs it produces—just might be California’s most exciting up-and-coming wine region. Both the trendy Hotel Healdsburg (hotelhealdsburg.com) and its LEED Gold-certified younger sibling, H2Hotel (h2hotel.com), sit near Healdsburg’s picturesque, boutique-filled town square. Upscale rusticators might prefer the luxe suites and Michelin-starred restaurant at Forestville’s Farmhouse (farmhouseinn.com).


Spend your morning hiking to a picnic spot high above the Alexander Valley at Stonestreet Alexander Mountain Estate (stonestreetwines.com), hop aboard Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves(bellawinery.com) Swiss Army Pinzgauer vehicle for a tour in the hills above Dry Creek, or wander the ancient redwood groves at Simi (simiwinery.com). Next, taste a cross section of Sonoma vinos while perusing Terroirs Artisan Wines(terroirsartisanwines.com) art gallery in Geyserville.

In the evening, stop for a cocktail at Medlock Ames(medlockames.com) speakeasy-ish new tasting room before an Italian feast back in town at Scopa (scopahealdsburg.com), or a dinner of farm-fresh delicacies in BarnDiva’s (barndiva.com) patio.


Spend the next day relaxing by the new pool at Francis Ford Coppola Winery (franciscoppolawinery.com) park’s Pools & Cabines (pronounced “ka-beens,” they’re European-style changing rooms) or take a cooking class at Relish (relishculinary.com). And once you’ve caught the Russian River Valley bug, travel back up November 5–6 to catch the 13th Annual Wine & Food Affair (wineroad.com) weekend with 80 participating wineries in northern Sonoma County.

Friday, September 23, 2011

LA Confidential Magazine: Gastropubs


My final piece in the September issue of LA Confidential is a foodie feature on a big trend at the moment in Los Angeles: gastropubs.

Sure, they've been around for a while, and yes, there are lots of microbreweries around the country, but I think I've put my finger on a few characteristics that distinguish LA's spate of recently opened gastropubs from their counterparts across the country, as well as why our brand of brewpub is going to be setting the trend for other parts.

Find out more, as well as what you can eat at local spots like 1321 Taproom in Torrance, Bru Haus, Black Market Liquor Bar, The Tripel, Rosewood Tavern, City Tavern and the Fat Dog. I'll give you one hint...lots of different burgers, and even more fabulous artisanal ales!

Link: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/gastropubs-move-in

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

LA Confidential Magazine: Fall Restaurants in Los Angeles

The other main dining article in the September issue of LA Confidential is a roundup of five new restaurants to try out this fall if you happen to swing by the city.

These aren't just your average brief roundup blurbs, though. Each one is a mini review in and of itself, so take a good look.

I include Oscar's Cerveteca in Venice Beach (fresh grilled fish, nachos, ceviche!), True Food Kitchen and the Market at Santa Monica Place, and Sotto (wood-fired pizza) and Picca (more ceviche!) on Pico at the border of Beverly Hills.

Plenty to love...and eat here!

Link: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/fall-dining-spots

Monday, September 19, 2011

LA Confidential Magazine: MB Post

The lead restaurant review for the September issue of LA Confidential is a quick piece on a new restaurant in Manhattan Beach called MB Post.

As opposed to the scads of beach bars that populate the area, this restaurant manages to be upscale yet still maintain the casual nature of a beach town. Find out what I ate, why the chef loves strawberry shortcake, and why your next trip to the South Bay should include this gem in my article at the link below.

Link: http://la-confidential-magazine.com/dining/articles/m-dot-b-post