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.


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!


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 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!


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!


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!


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.


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.


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 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.


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!


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.


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.


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: