Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Points Guy, Wine Wednesday: Yarra Valley

If you've followed me for a while now, you know that I specialize in travel to Australia and have spent about three months there total in the last three years exploring cities, wildlife and wine regions all over the continent. In fact, the only Australian state I haven't visited is Tasmania.

My second trip to the land down under began in Melbourne and included a day spent out in the nearby countryside tasting wines from some of Australia's most well-respected wineries in a region that most Americans still don't seem to be too familiar with: the Yarra Valley.

Here you'll find all manner of cool-climate wines including award-winning Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays - so take that, Shiraz! (Though you'll find plenty of that, too).

Find out more about where to go and what to drink in my Wine Wednesday post on the Yarra Valley.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Points Guy: Wine Wednesday, Champagne

For today's Wine Wednesday post on The Points Guy, I head back to one of my all-time favorite wine regions: Champagne.

Renowned the world over for the sparkling wines produced here by big names like Veuve Clicquot, Taittinger and Moet & Chandon, Champagne has become synonymous with luxury, taste and the finer things in life.

I've been to the region three times myself now, and the more I go, the more I realize there is to see, do and, most importantly, taste!

Find out all my favorites and get my suggestions on what to do on your next trip to Champagne here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

JustLuxe: Welcome Back To Waikiki at the Modern Honolulu

The more I travel to Hawaii, the more I love it. Although I hadn't been to the islands much since I was a little kid, in the past year or so, I've gotten to visit Maui, the Big Island and now Oahu with a quick trip to Honolulu a few weeks ago.

I went to experience the Modern Honolulu, which you might better remember as the Edition Waikiki, a short-lived joint project from Ian Schrager and Marriott that, after some rather turbulent events in its opening months, is now humming along under new management.

Not only has the hotel injected a much-needed dose of casual cool to the otherwise touristy Waikiki, but it really is emblematic of some major changes going on in the area that include huge new projects, deluxe renovations to historic properties like the Royal Hawaiian and Moana Surfrider, a spate of exciting restaurant openings, all-new luxury flagship stores along Kalakaua Avenue, and a renewed interest in Hawaii's rich history.

I personally got to visit the Iolani Palace, hike the hills east of the city, go outrigger canoeing and paddleboarding, take not one but two surfing lessons, and ate more seafood than I can remember.

For my next Hawaii trip, I'm looking forward to visiting Kauai, but for now, read about all there is to see and do in Waikiki and why I enjoyed my stay at the Modern in my JustLuxe piece.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Los Angeles Confidential Magazine: Bestia

For my latest restaurant piece in LA Confidential, I cover one of Downtown LA's hottest new tables, Bestia, which opened in a historic building on a long-forgotten block in the far eastern edge of the city. I got lost a few times getting there, but the circuitous route was worth it for dishes like cocoa-infused braised short-rib agnolotti and spiced chestnut zepolotti for dessert.

Read about the Israeli-born chef, his pastry chef wife, and all the interesting offal dishes they're serving (plus the meat-hook chandelier!) in my full review here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Points Guy, Wine Wednesday: Waiheke Island, New Zealand

For the third installment of The Points Guy's new Wine Wednesday series, we head to one of my all-time favorite destinations, New Zealand, for a quick visit to a lesser-known wine region just a quick ferry ride from downtown Auckland called Waiheke Island.

Most folks tend to think about larger regions like Marlborough or Central Otago - and granted, we see a lot more of those wines here in the US - when talking about New Zealand wines, but if your visit to the country is too quick to make stops in either of those, this is a great option for a daytrip while you're transiting through Auckland.

To find out more, read my Wine Wednesday post.

Monday, February 11, 2013

JustLuxe: Valentine's Day Dining in Los Angeles Part 2

Turns out a lot of restaurants are offering special Valentine's Day dinners this year, so I decided to write a second roundup of some of the most delicious-sounding ones.

This time the list includes some favorites like AOC (in its new location!), Hungry Cat for a truly aphrodisiacal seafood feast, a seaside supper at Catch at the Casa Del Mar, some down-home comfort food at Post & Beam, and dinner and a show at Rockwell with For The Record.

Still looking for something special to do with your sweetheart on Thursday? Well look no further, there are plenty of ideas here for you, so read my roundup and make your reservations!

Friday, February 8, 2013

JustLuxe: Valentine's Day Dining in Los Angeles

 Cupid's on his way again, and that means it's time for another roundup of some of the fabulous feasts that you'll be able to enjoy with your sweetheart this Valentine's Day.

Included this time around are old favorites like Melisse, Culina and Lucques, as well as relative newcomers like The Pikey and even the Urban Oven pizza truck, not to mention Petrossian if you want to spoil your honey with caviar and champagne.

So check it out, and make your reservations because you don't want to be stuck without plans next week!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Points Guy: Wine Wednesday Napa Valley

For the second installment in our new Wine Wednesday series on The Points Guy, we stick around California to visit its most famous wine region: Napa.

This isn't a full-on guide to Napa (like I've written in the past), but rather a snapshot of some of my favorite wineries and restaurants, with a smattering of hotel suggestions thrown in so that you can use your points to stretch your dollars farther. That said, Napa's got a lot of luxury options, and I mention many of those as well.

Have a look, have a drink, and enjoy!


Los Angeles Confidential Magazine: Romantic Bars

Though this article appeared in the magazine a few issues ago, I thought it would be a great time to post it here now as Valentine's Day approaches and couples are looking for hotspots to reignite their romance.

I don't necessarily think of bars as romantic, but these ones mix up a jigger of sweetness, a dash of naughty and a healthy pour of something strong to their cocktails that makes each the perfect spot for a first date...or a 10th anniversary, depending on what you're celebrating.

So whether it's a huge glass of wine at AOC, a knock-you-on-the-floor cocktail at Big Bar, drinks with an ocean view at Casa Del Mar, or surrounded by Downtown's skyscrapers at the Figueroa Hotel, there's something for everyone on this list.