Celebrate Fat Tuesday & Mardi Gras in Los Angeles

celebration1Happy Fat Tuesday! This day refers to events of the Carnival celebrations, where one eats richer, fatty food before the ritual fasting on Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lent season.

Here’s 6 places in LA to Celebrate Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras –

Sassafras Saloon Ushers in Mardi Gras
On Tuesday, Feb. 9 enjoy a playful beverage selection with Big Easy commemorative fare and music. The whimsical bayou setting is ideals for Fat Tuesday revelers. Receive a (FREE) complimentary Mandarin Napoleon French 75 from 5 to 6 p.m. upon arrival.

During Happy Hour enjoy new cocktails for $8 with and dine on $11 crawfish boil until 8 p.m.

Listen to the Mudbug Brass Band, while watching burlesque performances throughout the evening.

NOLA’s Abita Brewery will host an all-night tap takeover. So enjoy the festivities and take a Lyft or Uber home.

The evening begins at 5 p.m. and lasts until 2 a.m. 1233 Vine St. (323)467-2800.

Terrine with New Orleans-inspired specials from Chef Kris Morningstar!

Enjoy fare with a Creole soul that includes Crawfish Gumbo with andouille sausage; Shrimp and Grits; Red Beans and Rice with Tasso ham; Rabbit and Rice Boudin with creole mustard; Crab Étouffée; and everyone’s favorite NOLA dish, Beignets with chicory-coffee pudding. A limited regular menu will be offered alongside Kris’ Fat Tuesday specials.

Head Bartender Ryan Wainwright will complement the evening with his own spin on the infamous Big Easy cocktails like Sazeracs, and Ramos Gin Fizzes.

8265 Beverly Blvd Los Angeles CA 90048 –http://terrinela.com

Little Easy in DTLA

Gather up your “krewe” and wear purple, green and gold today to celebrate a Mardi Gras festival fit for a Rex (King of the Carnival). This New Orleans bar brings soul to the heart of Downtown with a traditional Southern Louisiana soiree. There are food and drink specials and live music!

Start with the 3-2-1 Special, featuring $3 Hurricane Shots, $2 Abita Beers and $1 Wings all day long. Chef Travis will be serving up down-home Southern cooking from Cajun plates to spicy skillets. Snack on crisp-golden Hush Puppies made of deep-fried cornmeal and roasted corn bites served with a sweet honey dipping sauce or savor a saucy cast iron skillet of spiced Seafood Gumbo stewed with shrimp, crawfish, Andouille sausage and rice.

Bar Manager Ally DeVellis offers sips of Bourbon-Street-style cocktails like the elegant French Quarter 75 crafted with vodka, St. Germaine, lavender syrup, lemon juice and Champagne or savor the sassy and robust Sazerac with JP Wiser’s rye, Pernod absinthe and bitters.

Live Music keeps the jazzy jubilee going with Prohibition Era music from Big Bill’s Medicine Show and Dixie band headliner, Critical Brass.

Little Easy will have the traditional “throws” of beaded necklaces, doubloons, special t-shirts and more swanky swag giveaways. Little Easy will be open on Mardi Gras, Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 from 12:00 Noon to 2:00 am; 216 West 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013; 213.628.3113; www.littleeasybar.com oysters1

Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern:

New Orleans soul comes to life at mid-city hotspot Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern with a special Fat Tuesday Bourbon Street Festival. Fill up on Southern soul-food specials and classic French Quarter cocktails while taking in Live Music from a brassy jazz Dixie Band.

Carnival-clad Stilt Walkers and charming (and charmed) Magicians will entertain throughout the evening.

Executive Chef Isaias Peña’s special Mardi Gras Menu starts a 4 pm to closing with down-home Louisiana style cooking, including shared dishes and snacks. There are  hot Cat Fish Po’boy Sliders for $12, spiced Cajun Crawfish for $10 per pound, traditional Jambalaya and Gumbo for $13 each and tasty Gator Meatballs for $14. Nibble on Southern Bayou Snacks like Collard Greens for $5, and briny Oysters on the half shell at $3 a piece. Be sure to consume some Fried Okra and Fried Pickles for just $6 each, and some Red Peas & Rice for $7.

Finish with a classic French Quarter sweet treat; warm, doughy Beignets dusted powdered sugar for $6. Bar Manager Melissa Taimanglo is pouring out Happy Hour Specials from 4 pm to 7 pm, featuring $5 Select Beer, Wine & Well Drinks.

Get in the whiskey spirit, as Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern offers an extensive list of over 120 different kinds of this rich caramel-colored Mardi Gras must-have sipper, including Breckenridge Bourbon from Colorado and Templeton Small Batch Rye, along with single malt scotches like the beloved 18 year old Laphroiag, the coveted Bruichladdich and The Laddie Ten Year Old to name a few.

The Mardi Gras party will have colorful beads, party favors and fun costume accessories on hand. They will also be showing the black-and-white classic film, A Streetcar Named Desire in the background.

Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern will be open on Mardi Gras, Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 from 11:30 am to 11:00 pm; 5370 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036; 323.525.2618; www.sparetirepub.com

The Beignet Truck will be posting up in front of the bar to join in the celebration
Food – They will have a crawfish boil going on $15 per pound and it comes with all the fixins (roasted potatoes and corn). For $30 per person they could get bottomless crawfish. BAMB! Drink specials include: $5 Hurricanes, Hand Grenades, & Cyclones and Abita Purple Haze. We’ll have beads, masks as well as music by DJ Mojoe!

Follow the Beignet Truck – thebeignettruck.com

Preux & Proper
Get Happy and Fat while sipping Frozen Daiquiris Specials- Pina Coloda, Mint Julep, Rocket Fuel, Call a Cab, Mango Margarita, Rum Runner. Be sure to eat
a selection of traditional cajun dishes w/ a twist include Po’Boys, Gumbo, Crawfish Mac n’ Cheese and Pate a Choux Beignets!

840 S. Spring St, Los Angeles CA 90014 (213) 896-0090 – http://www.preuxandproper.com/


Eat. Meet. Greet. at LA Cookie Con

Once a year the LA Cookie Convention comes into town. This year it is Feb. 6 and Feb. 7 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

I arrived early on Saturday morning to see long lines forming of excited cookie and sweets aficionados eager to sample some of the best cookies, cakes, coffees and sweets in California. Here are 10 of my favorite people and/or baked goods that I had the opportunity to meet:

Baking With Melissa - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Baking With Melissa – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  1. Baking with Melissa – This effervescent woman is the Queen of In-home baking parties for kids and teens. It’s been a dream of this actress (once was a Disney Ariel), baker and entrepreneur to own her own business. She brings all the ingredients into your home, and teaches children the fundamentals of baking. Not only does she organize a variety of food games and crafts, but she helps to clean up the party at the end.  www.bakingwithmelissa.com (818)445-3397.

    Albert's Petite Sweets - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Albert’s Petite Sweets – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  2. Albert’s Petite Sweets – This likable man is very enthusiastic about his business. Instead of going into nursing, he started his own business creating beauty and art with his hands by baking innovative cake pops. With a passion for drawing, he creates three dimensional cake pop arrangements and a miniature world of edible art. His patented gift window boxes also pop-out to make an impressive holder. For a unique birthday, Valentine’s, Easter, baby shower, wedding or corporate gift, Albert will customize gifts that offer an ooh-and-ahh factor. To learn more, go to http://gourmetcakepops.squarespace.com.

    Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Photo by Jill Weinlein
  3. Be sure to check out the Decorators’ Showcase Benefiting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. You will see cake displays by some of the best pastry chefs in the world. The “Timeless Elegance” baked goods in by Veronica Mera #bakedgoodsunlimited.

    Tiger Cake - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Tiger Cake – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  4. Check out the Tiger Cake by Julie P. Zambrano. She is a very talented Wilton Instructor at Michael’s – #jp_zambrano.

    Scotty D and Lanae - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Scotty D and Lanae – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  5. What goes well with cookies? Coffee. Be sure to stop by Scotty D’s and meet Lanae and Scotty at Blue Mountain Coffee. Get a sample of Jamaican Coffee and buy a bag to take home. www.ScottyDCoffee.com (619)850-2411.

    Bree Miller - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Bree Miller – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  6. Meet the talented self-taught cake designer Bree Miller with Brees Cakes LA http://www.breescakes.com. Her Valentine’s Day – All You Need Is Love cake is beautiful.

    2 Hearts B 1 Design - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    2 Hearts B 1 Design – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  7. 2 Hearts B 1 Designs is an event planner in Los Angeles. This is the go-to for weddings, parties, showers and elegant events. They gift wrap, offer floral, gift tags, invitations, and party favors. Look them up at http://www.2heartsb1.com

    Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Photo by Jill Weinlein
  8. For all your baking needs Bakers Bodega offers fondant, whipped toppings, buttercream, candy apples, cake pops, artisan gelatin and cookie classes from beginners to advanced. http://www.bakersbodega.com

    Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Photo by Jill Weinlein
  9. Looking for something cold? Humboldt Creamery offered samples of their delicious organic ice cream.  http://www.humboldtcreamery.com

    Crystal makes creamcakes and cheesecakes - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Crystal makes creamcakes and cheesecakes – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  10. Meet Cupcake Wars Winner Crystal Nicole Jones. She has her Cream by Crystal business whipping up creamcakes and cheesecakes for parties and events. Learn more about this dynamic baker at http://creambycrystal.com.

    Visit Sprinkles to get a buy one cookie and get one free and any Sprinkles store - photo by Jill Weinlein
    Visit Sprinkles to get a buy one cookie and get one free and any Sprinkles store – photo by Jill Weinlein
  11. Visit the ladies in red from Sprinkles to enjoy a variety of freshly made cookies and learn about www.sprinkles.com.

Watch the SUPER BOWL at These LA Hot Spots

Dessert pack at Sweet Rose Creamery

I hope you’re gearing up for the big game tomorrow! Here are some great destinations to watch the Super Bowl and eat some mighty tasty fare or a fantastic dessert ack to bring home to your own party-

Super Bowl Desserts
Stop at the artisanal, home-spun ice cream shop Sweet Rose Creamery to pick up a Super Bowl pint pack. It includes a pint of salted caramel ice cream, a pint of old fashioned vanilla ice cream, a pint of old Rasputin stout ice cream, one jar of housemade hot fudge, housemade marshmallows, housemade brownie bites, cups, spoons, and napkins for 10 people for $60. In-store orders will be sold on a first come, first serve basis 7565 Beverly Blvd. (310)260-2663.

Superbowl Fun at Tanzy
On Sunday, Feb. 7 Tanzy is offering its “All Day Social Hour” menu consisting of bar bites, assorted cheeses and salumi, along with signature cocktails, affordable beers and wines by the glass served throughout the restaurant and bar area all day. 10840 Wilshire Blvd.(310)307-7004.

Pan Check Kitchen + Bar – Chef/Partner Ernesto Uchimura is preparing food for football fanatics at his three LA’s modern American eatery Plan Check Kitchen + Bar locations (Sawtelle, Fairfax, Downtown). Enjoy $3 select draft pours, $5 select cocktails and Pork Belly (two ways) Nacho Plate for $12 loaded with tortilla chips, pork belly carnitas, pork belly chorizo, black beans, habanero cheese, jalapenos, guacamole, sour cream, and whole sprigs of cilantro. To see the nearest location, go to http://www.plancheck.com

Super Bowl Buffet
On Sunday, Feb. 7 the Artisan House is offering a $30 per person post-brunch buffet from 3 to 8 p.m. There is a build-your-own-burger with traditional sides, hot wings with traditional and Asian sweet chili, Kobe hot dogs with traditional sides. Enjoy bacon cheese fries, nacho tater tots and a salad bar. There are indoor and outdoor flatscreens for optimal viewing. Pair these game day favorites with a cocktail or beer from the bar, or the $7 Bloody Mary special. 600 S. Main Street  (213)622-6333.

Fritzi DTLA is Fabulous

Right in the middle of the Arts District - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Right in the middle of the Arts District – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Executive Chef Neal Fraser and General Manager Cesar Lopapa are brilliant. They saw an opportunity to feed a slew of millennials drinking craft beer at the Arts District Brewery. They secured the space next door, popped out a wall for the Generation X & Y crowd to walk up to a counter and order elevated burgers, gourmet hot dogs, naked wings or salads to pair with their brews.

Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News readers know Chef Neal Fraser as a local boy who with his wife and business partner, Amy Knoll Fraser, opened the neighborhood café BLD in 2006. Later they secured a space at the Original Farmers Market and opened the gourmet and healthy hot dog shop – Fritzi Dog.

Step up to the counter at Fritzi - photo by Jill Weinlein
Step up to the counter at Fritzi – photo by Jill Weinlein

Fraser got his start as a line cook at Wolfgang Puck’s Eureka Brewery and Restaurant. Realizing that he wanted to open his own restaurant one day, he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in New York. After graduating, this talented chef worked for Joachim Splichal at Pinot Bistro downtown, Wolfgang Puck at Spago, and Hans Rockenwagner’s at Rox. When he felt he was ready, Fraser opened his first restaurant, Boxer, in 1995, and later Rix in Santa Monica. With wife Amy they opened BLD, Grace, and next the acclaimed Redbird at Vibiana. He brought in his friend Cesar Lopapa to run it smoothly.

On television Fraser has battled with Iron Chef Cat Cora on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” and became the first California chef to win the culinary competition. He also appeared on BravoTV’s Season 5 of “Top Chef Masters” and was victorious on the Esquire Network’s “Knife Fight.”

His newly opened Fritzi Eats is a beautiful symbiosis of a popular beer drinking destination interacting with a dynamic chef’s gastropub menu at reasonable prices. Watch out Umami Burger down the street, there is a new darling in the Arts District serving a burger patty made with a bacon and beef blend topped with fontina fondue, crunchy iceberg lettuce, a touch of Thousand Island dressing and Calabrese relish. It’s beyond good, especially with a pint of the easy to drink Mateo Golden Ale offering notes of fresh baked bread and subtle spices.

Located inside the Arts District Brewery - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Located inside the Arts District Brewery – Photo by Jill Weinlein

The Fritzi Eats window inside the brewery offers some of the same food as the casual sit-down just opened Fritzi LA next door. Using the same kitchen, the menu at Fritzi Eats has a few of Chef Fraser’s gourmet hot dogs that are popular at his Fritzi Dog. There is his one-of-a-kind, whole carrot sous-vide in 26 spices dog topped with a parsley gremolata and crispy Brussels sprouts. He also serves his Snappy O’Brien with smashed tots, grilled peppers, bacon, onions and cheese, and his Four Alarm Fritzi jalapeño chicken dog with jalapeno relish, Sriracha ketchup, and a super spicy mustard.

My Baby Boomer husband and I were envious of these hipsters wearing beards, plaid shirts and jeans, sporting man buns and playing Skee ball and darts throughout the cavernous brewery. We didn’t have a place like this when we were their age. We lived next to Park LaBrea and frequented El Coyote, City, and on special occasions Campanille.

Watching groups of echo boomers sipping beers while popping Fraser’s rock shrimp tempura with winter squash and yuzu kosho aioli in between foosball games, I realized, who cares if we are the oldest in the place, and inserted money into a Skee Ball machine to play a few games, before walking next door to Fritizi LA.

Cesar Lopapa and Jill Weinlein - Photo by Rick Weinlein
Cesar Lopapa and Jill Weinlein – Photo by Rick Weinlein

To my delight, my friend Cesar Lopapa was there and gave me a big hug. I met the handsome Lopapa in 2012 when he opened Short Order and Short Cake in the original Farmers Market. Besides being an expert in opening restaurants and hospitality, Lopapa has become a professional photographer exhibiting his pieces at the Hotel Normandie, L.A. Now he is helping Fraser and 213 Hospitality Group open and run this wood-fire rotisserie restaurant as the General Manager. Ingenious!

I learned he will soon be welcoming his first baby girl into the world. His enthusiasm and positive outlook was contagious and set the mood for our dining experience.
We stood at the front counter and noticed a retro black board with small white letters offering the cocktail menu. I ordered the Nitro Mai Tai made with Martinique rum, Jamaican rum, dry Curacao, fresh lime juice and orgeat. Fritizi staff member Stacey made the Mai Tai to my liking, not too sweet and garnished it with sprigs of mint.

Craft Arts District Beers served at Fritzi - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Craft Arts District Beers served at Fritzi – Photo by Jill Weinlein

We placed our order at the counter with server Alexandra. She gave us a number to place on our high top wood and metal table with matching stools. The ambiance is concrete flooring, high and low tables, white globe lighting and big metal windows looking out on Traction Ave. I wished Lopapa’s photographs graced the walls. They would give this dining room even more pizzazz.

Rotisserie Chicken at Fritzi - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Rotisserie Chicken at Fritzi – Photo by Jill Weinlein

My husband ordered a pint of Bonzai Pale Ale offering a citrusy aroma with hints of grapefruit. It paired nicely with the wood fired rotisserie chicken. Diners get a choice of mostly white or dark meat. The chicken comes with a vegetable of the day, tots, fries or two potato waffles. These potato waffles are another creative idea. They are a blend of hash browns, with an egg and butter mixture that are poured into a waffle iron. They rise like a waffle, and look just like a waffle, yet go better with ketchup, than maple syrup.

A twist on the original Wedge Salad - Photo by Jill Weinlein
A twist on the original Wedge Salad – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Our order of the baby iceberg wedge was different than a traditional wedge with small wedges topped with heirloom cherry tomatoes. Instead of the traditional crumbled bacon, the salad has pieces of moist rotisserie chicken and crispy chicken skin on top. It’s dressed with a pleasing Point Reyes blue cheese dressing. At first the crisp chicken skin looked like potato chips, yet when I bit into one, it was much more flavorful.

The menu has Steak frites with black garlic aioli and a healthier dish of Santa Barbara whitefish. Be sure to try the crispy tater tots that are slightly salty and pure comfort food.

For dessert right now they only have a selection of four ICDC ice cream flavors from restaurateur Amy Knoll Fraser and Pastry Chef Mariah Swan’s artisan ICDC, located near Fraser’s BLD. My husband wished for a bigger dessert menu with slices of pie to go with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.

Tantilizing Tater Tots - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Tantilizing Tater Tots – Photo by Jill Weinlein

After we said goodbye to Cesar and his staff, we explored more of downtown’s Art District. The nearby Angel City Brewery had just one lone food truck parked outside to feed its imbibing guests. Once the word gets out about the creative fare at Fritzi LA and Fritzi Eat, Fraser’s newest endeavor will be one of the most desired brew and casual food destinations in LA. $$ Fritzi is open daily for lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. 814 Traction Ave. (213)537-0327. Fritzi Eats is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. 828 Traction Ave. (213)537-0327.

Italain Wine 101

Slow Wine 2016 - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Slow Wine 2016 – Photo by Jill Weinlein

A cohort of mine, Allison Levine is a wine and spirits expert @plsthepalate. She invited me to the Slow Wine 2016 Tasting at the elegant Taglyan complex on Vine Street in Los Angeles to learn about Italian wines.

At Slow Wine, grab a glass and be wow’d – Photo by Jill Weinlein

There were almost 60 exhibitors pouring at least three tastes of their different wines.  What I found fascinating were how many of the attendees took a big sip, swished it around and spit it out with force into a sliver bucket. Wine aficionados spitting into a spittoon. I was not about to follow their lead, because I enjoy sipping and swallowing wine. I like how it tickles my palate.

IMG_2496I knew I would be snookered if I tasted from every table, so I paced myself. I took just one sip of four or five different varietals, and then visited the Farrarelle Water table to drink a full glass of sparkling water. This water is Italy’s #1 sparkling water bottled directly from an ancient volcanic source since 1893. I learned the Ministry of Health recognized the following benefits while drinking Fattatelle Mineral Water –

  1. Helps with the digestive process
  2. One litre contributes about 35% of the daily value of calcium.
  3. Not only does the water offer calcium, but potassium to reinforce the muscular system, bicarbonate to facilitate digestion, and silica that is essential to retard the aging process of tissues

Next I also went over to the charcuterie table to enjoy some slices of cheese, prosciutto, breads and dried fruit. It’s all about pacing yourself at these wine events.

I learned about wines from all over Italy in 14 different regions. Here are 8 of my favorites that were some of the finest bottles from a sensory point of view and a few good bottles that retail for under $1o.

I also learned some tips about the proper way to taste wine from the charming Fabio:

  1. Take a sip, purse your lips together and outwards, and then open your lips a little and take in air to aerate your sip. It will make a subtle noise. Don’t be too loud. You will enjoy the subtle flavors by tasting wine this way.
The Charming Fabio - Photo by Jill Weinlein
The Charming Fabio – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  1. I met the charming Fabio at the Boscarelli from Tuscany table to sip noble wines worthy of the Pope. It’s a family owned since 1962 when Egidio bought the winery. His daughter Paola carried on working the vineyard and now a third generation with De Ferraris, Nicolo and Luca keep the 100% estate-grown grapes healthy in limestone and clay soil. Slow Wine awards the Il Nocio dei Boscarelli 2011 a GREAT WINE. www.poderiboscarelli.com.

    Representatives from Collefrisio – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  2. Collefrisio from Abruzzo offered a Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Vignaquadra 2011 made with very ripe fruit offering lot’s of flavor. It’s a stand out among the reds and pairs nicely with pasta and a great ragu. It spent 50% of its time in stainless steel tanks. The winery was founded in 2004, and is now the leader on the regional wine scene for their grapes. With 124 acres they produce 500,000 bottles. Their white wines offer a citrus profile with grapes growing on hills gently dropping down to the sea in clay soil. Slow Wine awards some of these bottles a good value. www.collefrisio.it.IMG_2505
  3. Le Vigne di Zamo offered a Friuli Colli Orientali Merlot Vigne that was from 60-year-old vines on 165 acres that are hand-picked and ferments for two years before bottled. They rest for 18 months before sold to store and drink. This wine earned a Slow Wine – Great Wine designation. Sons Silvano and Pierluigi run the winery and  recently entered a partnership with Oscar Farinetti’s Eataly group producing thoroughbred reds. Slow Wine awarded the FCO Merlot Vigne Cinquant’anni 2012 – GREAT WINE.  www.levignedizamo.com

    Label is based on a Henri Mattise painting to express joy - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Label is based on a Henri Mattise painting to express joy – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  4. Velenosi is in its fourth decade becoming the wine ambassador for Marche wines. The 50-year-old vines on 340 acres produce labels that line shelves around the world. I sipped the over ripe velvety Offida Rosso Ludi 2011 made with Montepulciano, Cabernet and Merlot. Slow Wine awarded this one a GREAT WINE. They also poured a complex white Offida Pecorino Villa Amgela 2014 Pecorino that pairs beautifully with seafood and soups. The acidity cleanses the palate. www.velenosivini.com

    Slow Wine 2016 – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  5. Who doesn’t love a sparkling Lambrusco? Most are clear, however the Cantina della Volta offers a Lambrusco di Sorbarar Rimosso 2014 that is hazy, unfiltered and offers a pleasing raspberry color and enjoyable zesty finish. It’s delicious. www.csntinadellavolta.com

    Daughter Elena's drawing of a chick is featured on the label.
    Daughter Elena’s drawing of a chick is featured on the label.
  6. From the Piedmont area, Elvio Cogno offers a Slow Wine award of GREAT WINE for their Barlo Vigna Elena Ris. 2009 named after the winemaker’s daughter. It’s aged for 36 months in large Solvenian oak barrels. Then aged for 24 months in bottles. This wine is aromatic with delicate floral rose notes with a hint of mint and whiff of licorice. The red rose color is appealing. This goes well with pasta with game sauces, roasts and braised meats, wild boar stew and blue cheese. The label is based on Elena’s drawing of a chick that she gave to her parents when she was three years old. www.elviocogno.it IMG_2510
  7. From the Piedmont area, Elvio Cogno offers a Slow Wine award of GREAT WINE for their Barlo Vigna Elena Ris. 2009 named after the winemaker’s daughter. It’s aged for 36 months in large Solvenian oak barrels. Then aged for 24 months in bottles. This wine is aromatic with delicate floral rose notes with a hint of mint and whiff of licorice. The red rose color is appealing. This goes well with pasta with game sauces, roasts and braised meats, wild boar stew and blue cheese. The label is based on Elena’s drawing of a chick that she gave to her parents when she was three years old. http://www.elviocogno.it
  8. Another Piedmont favorite is La Mesma, a family business meticulously run by the three Rosina sisters: Paola, Francesca and Anna. I met two of them and a daughter at Slow Wine LA. The vineyard’s unique characteristics offers distinctive qualities in their wine. They hand-pick the Gavi Del Commune Di Gavi Yellow label that earned Slow Wine – Everyday Wine with an excellent value for under $10. The grapes are never sprayed with weed-killers or chemical fertilizers. They use a soft pruning technique, harvest and soft pressed before going into controlled temperatures in stainless steel vats. Nurturing healthy vines in a healthy environment. Their Gavi Spumante Metodo Classico 2009 is made from 100% Cortese white grapes, most famous for its crisp, notes of apple, peach and honeydew flavors with the essence of lime, almond and light herbal aromas. It was very pleasing to my palate www.lamesma.it.IMG_2534

DEAL OF THE DAY: Celebrate Groundhog Day At CBTL

Photo Courtesy of CBTL
Photo Courtesy of CBTL

Groundhog Day is on Tuesday, February 2, 2016. At The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, early risers who get a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, can revisit and bring their same day receipt to get a second cup of the same beverage in the afternoon for 50% off.

Try their new for winter flavored Americanos (hazelnut, vanilla, mocha), as well as Mexican Hot Chocolate, Mexican Chocolate Latte, and Mexican Chocolate Ice Blended(r) beverages.

The Groundhog Day refill will be available at all participating The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf http://locations.coffeebean.com/ to find the store nearest you.

Photocopy or reproduction not valid. Not valid on previous purchases. No cash value, substitutions, or rainchecks. Company reserves the right to withdraw or change the offer’s terms and conditions at any time, at its discretion, and without notice.

Coffee 101 at Coffee Con in LA!

CoffeeCon LA - Photo by Jill Weinlein
CoffeeCon LA – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Entering the LA Mart I was so excited to see hundreds of people talking with coffee purveyors and socializing with other coffee aficionados. The Coffee Connoisseur  – Kevin Sinnott invited me to check out this day of celebration of coffee. Fans sampled fresh brewed hot and cold coffee from a variety of roasted beans throughout the world.

There were classes to attend and all day hands-on labs. It was a great place to buy a French press for home, learn about Turkish coffee, and enjoy bits of coffee beans in artisan chocolates.IMG_2635

Here are 10 exhibitors that taught me something new and gave me a great cup of Joe –

Plant a coffee tree in LA - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Plant a coffee tree in LA – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  1. Bring Home a Coffee Plant from CA Coffee Growers  –http://www.cacoffeegrowers.com. Since 2004, coffee has been growing in Santa Barbara County, in Goleta, California. Farmers and entrepreneurs, Jay Ruskey of Good Land Organics and Jim Shanley of Shanley Farms, created a greenhouse to grow the coffee plants. The varietals offered include Coffea arabica – var. Caturra Rojo; Coffea arabica – var. Caturra Amarillo; Coffea arabica – var. Pacas; and Coffea arabica – var. Leroy (Pointed Bourbon).IMG_2601
  2. Eat Chocolate! Located in Glendale and Pasadena, Mignon Chocolate http://www.MignonChocolate.com offered samples of their extraordinary chocolates. Since 1935 they have been making a variety of white, milk and dark chocolates. I enjoyed a 56% dark chocolate granache and a dark chocolate infused with chili pepper in a dark chocolate shell. They also had gift boxes filled with orange ganache, pomegrante, lavender and ginger lime sea salt.

    Coffee on Tap
    Coffee on Tap – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  3. Caribbean Coffee – http://www.caribbeancoffee.com Introduces artisan, 100% Bona Fide fair trade organic certified coffees on tap! This cold coffee is brewed with a highly specialized process and put up in Sankey D beer kegs, the safest containers for long-term storage and distribution. Bring your growler and have it filled to bring home.Founded in Santa Barbara in 1986, Caribbean Coffee Company produces premium roasted coffee and tea. The are a wholesaler of café equipment to restaurants, coffee houses, hotels, offices and other retailers. I sipped a Hair Raiser Craft Draft that is blended from coffee sourced from Sumatra, Congo and Ethiopia. It offered a deep-toned aroma with the essence of cedar, flowers, pineapple, vanilla and semi-sweet chocolate. Nitrogen adds a creamy start that softens the richly round and bittersweet peeks. This black-hole-dark brew has a smokey character with a tickle of pineapple.

    Peet's Coffee Barista Trainer Melanie - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Peet’s Coffee Barista Trainer Melanie – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  4. I met Melanie Delia from Peet’s Coffee – http://www.peets.com. She works at the UCLA Peet’s Coffee Shop and trains the new baristas in a three-hour course, as she travels from Brentwood to Pasadena. Melanie gave me a Keurig Major Dickason’s Blend Dark Roast coffee capsule. Peet’s sells one light roast (Columbia Luminosa), five mediums roasts, 23 dark roasts and an Italian and French extra dark roast. They purchase beans from the Americas, Indo Pacific and Africa/Arabia.IMG_2612
  5. Groundworks Coffee – I learned that the company started in Venice Beach, CA as a single coffee and tea shop. They also sold rare and used books. Soon they began roasting 24/7 and got out of the book business. Coffee is one of the greatest resources, yet it is one of the most heavily sprayed crops. All the coffee from Groundworks is organic. They were the first certified organic coffee roasters in California and the largest in L.A. They have solar-powered, low-emissions roasting technology and eight café locations in LA. What made this coffee table stand out among all the others was the line of people waiting to get a sample of a freshly made Moroccan Toddy Blossom made with cold brew concentrate, filtered water, orange juice, agave, orange blossom water, cardamom, ice and a shaker. It was terrific.  Check out their website – http://www.groundworkcoffee.comIMG_2611
  6. What goes well with Coffee? A pastry, right? Natas Pastries from Sherman Oaks – was on hand offering bite size pieces of their Duchaise – a French name for a Portuguese favorite, an éclair of custard, with whipped cream and “fios de ovos.” It’s a Portugese monastery secret recipe. The cafe serves authentic pastries & food from Portugal – http://www.nataspastries.com.

    IMG_26197. Kona Bar – gave out samples of their chocolate with bits of Kona coffee beans infused with hibiscus flowers, toasted coconut, passion fruit, and pure Tahitian vanilla chocolate bites. They also roast “No Ka Oi” 100% Kona Coffee  http://konabar.com IMG_2620

    8. Forto Strong Coffee gave out a samples of their 2 oz. bottles to attendees. One bottle is equivalent in caffeine to two cups of cold pressed coffee. It was created by a sleep-deprived father of twins who needed wholesome energy to stay awake. He made this organic, natural energy beverage from Fair-trade 100% Arabica coffee beans. He cold-brewed it in a unique 20-hour process to be deliciously smooth. It is recommended to limit two bottles per day, and space it out several hours apart. fortostrongcoffee.com

    IMG_26258. I learned so much about Turkish Coffee at STC Specialty Turkish Coffee – I watched how they heated up hand formed and hammered Soy Turkish Coffee pots made in Istanbul, Turkey. They were selling heavy duty brass grinder with steel conical burrs handmade by Sozen Turkish Coffee Grinders. Three Chairs Coffee Roasters use specialty coffee beans to brew cups of Turkish Coffee that attendees sampled- www.specialtyturkishcoffee.com 

    IMG_26179. Klatch Coffee – They buy the top 1% of coffee beans from around the world. It’s a family affair – Mike Perry is the head roaster, earning Micro Roaster of the Year in 2009. Cindy Perry is the CFO. Heather Perry is the VP and Director of Training and Consulting for Klatch Coffee. She competes in barista competitions. Klatch Coffee was the only espresso awarded “Best Espresso in the World” at the World Barista Championships. Holly Perry is the General Store Manager. Klatch is the largest wholesale coffee company specializing in single-origin coffees and world best espresso blends. In the 2012 Coffee Fest in Seattle, WA – Klatch was awarded America’s Best Coffeehouse – www.klatchroasting.com

    IMG_263010. Alana’s Coffee Roasting Company – Named after The the founder Eric Stogsdill’s daughter Alana. He roasts the best gourmet, organic coffee beans in the world. His coffee is available local Farmers Markets in hand-stamped, brown-bags. Here is where you can find his coffee – Tuesday @ Culver City CFM 2 – 7 pm, Wednesdays @ Westchester CFM 8:30am – 1 pm,Thursdays @ Redondo Beach Farmer’s Market 8 am – 1 pm and La Cienega and 18th from 2 – 7 pm and Sundays in West LA CFM 8 am – 2 pm http://alanascoffeeroasters.com

Interview with Mrs. Patmore of Downton Abbey

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Actress Lesley Nicol – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Yesterday when I entered the Shrine Exposition Theatre for a preview of the Screen Actors Guild gala awards ceremony, I noticed the talented actress Lesley Nicol. She plays the adorable, no-nonsense cook whipping up elegant dishes for the aristocratic Crawley family. Mrs. Patmore rules the kitchen staff and has a motherly relationship with her kitchen helper, Daisy.

Usually in a frumpy servant outfit on the show, Lesley was a striking “lady in red” with her coiffed strawberry blonde hair. She offered me a friendly and beautiful smile as we were introduced before our interview.

Here are 10 tidbits I learned about one of my favorite characters in the #1 PBS Drama Series – Downton Abbey:

  1. She wanted to be a nurse or flight attendant as a little girl, because she liked the uniforms.
  2. She was very shy as a little girl. After appearing on stage in a show, she said the experience gave her power and she was hooked.
  3. Her first play was a 12-year-old boy in ‘Androcles and the Lion.’
  4. She graduated from the London’s Guildhall School of Drama in the 1970s.
  5. While filming the last episode of Downton Abbey, Lesley told me, “The cast and crew were giddy like school children can get on the last day of school.” She shared with me that when Jim Carter who plays the butler Mr. Carson started getting choked up during his last scene, she did too. She said “Two big crew members went into the corner and sobbed when ‘It’s a Wrap’ was announced. It was a very emotional day.”
  6. She is the voice of a fairy godmother in a Disney Television animation – Goldie and Bear

    Writer with one of her favorite Downton Abbey characters
    Writer with one of her favorite Downton Abbey characters
  7. Lesley now lives in Los Angeles.
  8. She also appeared as Rosie in the West End production of Mamma Mia!
  9. Years ago, she was the face of Tetley tea in the United Kingdom.
  10. Lesley is a celebrity ambassador for her charity AnimalsAsia. This organization has rescued 500 bears and cares for them in sanctuaries in China and Vietnam. They also educate and work to end the trade in dogs and cats for food in China and Vietnam. AnimalsAsia lobbies to improve the welfare of companion animals, promote humane population management, and prevent the cross-border export of “meat dogs” in Asia.

Watch Lesley Nicol in the final Season of Downton Abbey on Sunday evenings on PBS at 9 p.m.


FREE Southern California Museum Day is Saturday, January 30

Mark your calendar to attend as many of the 20+ museums in Los Angeles that are opening their doors to the public FREE OF CHARGE this Saturday. Instead of driving, some of the museums are near a metro stop. Museums Free-for-All has partnered with Metro, offering discounts to visitors exploring participating museums. Click on metro.net/discounts to get more information.

Spend a day in the epicenter of art, cultural heritage, natural history, and science. One that I highly recommend is The Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Blvd.

Here is a link to my review of this recently re-opened art and car museum – http://dineandtravel.me/2015/12/05/10-reasons-to-visit-the-new-petersen-automotive-museum/

(Up on the Penthouse level - Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Up on the Penthouse level – The Petersen Museum – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Here are other participating museums in alphabetical order. The free admission does not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions. Regular parking fees apply. Consult individual museum websites for hours, directions, and other visitor information.

Participating Museums:

Annenberg Space for Photography – http://annenbergphotospace.org

Armory Center for the Arts – www.armoryarts.org

Autry Museum of the American West – http://theautry.org
Includes free admission to the Autry in Griffith Park and the Autry’s historic Southwest Museum Mt. Washington campus

The Broad – http://www.thebroad.org

California African American Museum – http://www.caamuseum.org

Columbia Memorial Space Center – http://columbiaspacescience.org

California Science Center – californiasciencecenter.org
Extra charge for Space Shuttle Endeavour, IMAX films, and special exhibits

Craft & Folk Art Museum – http://cafam.org

Descanso Gardens – http://www.descansogardens.org

Fowler Museum at UCLA – www.fowler.ucla.edu

Getty Center – http://www.getty.edu/museum

Getty Villa – www.getty.edu/visit
Timed tickets are required. Visit http://www.getty.edu.

Hammer Museum – hammer.ucla.edu

Japanese American Museum – www.janm.org

Laguna Art Museum – lagunaartmuseum.org

La Plaza de Cultura y Artes – http://www.lapca.org

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) – www.lacma.org
Offer valid for general admission only. Does not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) – http://www.moca.org

Museum of Latin American Art – www.molaa.org/Art.aspx

Museum of Tolerance – www.museumoftolerance.com
Closed Saturdays, offering free admission on Sunday, January 31, 2016 as part of Museum Free-for-All

Natural History Museum – http://www.nhm.org

The Petersen Museum - Photo by Jill Weinlein
The Petersen Museum – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Orange County Museum of Art – www.ocma.net

The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits – http://www.tarpits.org/

The Paley Center for Media – http://mediaorigin.paleycenter.org

Pasadena Museum of California Art – http://pmcaonline.org

Petersen Automotive Museum – petersen.org

Riverside Art Museum – www.riversideartmuseum.org
Offering free admission on Sunday, January 31, 2016

Santa Barbara Museum of Art – www.sbma.net

Skirball Cultural Center – www.skirball.org
Offering free admission on Sunday, January 31, 2016 as part of Museum Free-for-All
Noah’s Ark timed-entry, one-hour tickets are limited and distributed first-come, first-served

Sunnylands – www.sunnylands.org/page/4/visit-sunnylands

USC Pacific Asia Museum – http://www.pacificasiamuseum.org/_calendar/index.aspx

Weisman Museum of Art, Malibu – http://arts.pepperdine.edu/museum

William S. Hart Museum – www.hartmuseum.org

Zimmer Children’s Museum – www.zimmermuseum.org
Closed Saturdays, offering free admission on Sunday, January 31, 2016 as part of Museum Free-for-All

Innovative Products for 2016

I was excited to attend the Consumer Products event held at the JW Marriott Le Merigot in Santa Monica. It’s an opportunity to meet some innovative entrepreneurs and see the products that have created to sell to the public. Here are some of the people I met and products I learned about –

Dentist Chrystle Cu and Sister Catherine Cu
Dentist Chrystle Cu and Sister Catherine Cu
  1. COCOFLOSS – “Flossing is Fun” This is a new type of high-intensity superior dental floss that is coconut oil infused. “It removes more plaque on your teeth than any other floss,” said Dr. Chrystle Cu. “The container is appealing and coconut flavored is pleasing and inspires you to keep your teeth beautiful and healthy.” Dr. Cu and her sister Catherine Cu started the company in 2014 in the San Francisco Bay area. To learn more – cocofloss.com or email team@cocofloss.com. Catherine Cu can be reached at (415)851-5611.
    Deborah Lindquist Fashions

    2. Green Queen – Celebrities Jessica Alba, Rihanna, Pop singers Christina Aguilera and Pink have walked the red-carpet in Deborah Lindquist eco-couture. She has come a long way since 1983 when she had some cashmere and made a belt out of recycled materials.

    Growing up in a 100-year-old farmhouse she learned how to sew and create fashion. Moving to California in the 1990s, she started designing and making clothing from recycled fabrics that included curtains and cashmere. After a trip to the Pasadena Rose Bowl Flea Market, she found more cashmere and created a sweater. “I was named the ‘Green Queen,’ because of my eco-fashion” she told me. Since the weather is warm in California, she started designing sleeveless cashmere shirts and arm socks in case it got chilly.  “People get rid of a cashmere sweater if it has a stain or hole,” Lindquist said to me, “I take these items and turn them into something pretty.”  She now has a line of cashmere home decor, emoji sweaters, bustiers, ultra-feminine shrugs and wedding dresses made from hemp silk. To learn more, go to:  www.deborahlindquist.com.

    4Love Lindsey
    4Love Lindsey Parry

    3. 4LOVE is a socially conscious company created by Lindsey Parry. She empowers, employs and educates indigenous women from Panama. She utilizes the tribe’s traditional clothing to create pretty, bold and unique pants, belts, dresses and accessories. The intention is to connect two cultures to create change. Parry donates a portion of proceeds from each sale to help support the non-profit Sowing Seeds of Love (www.sowingseedsoflove.org) to provide resources that empower indigenous women, children and orphans through education, creative arts, reading programs and recreational activities. To learn more, email Lindsey at 4LOVECLOTHING@GMAIL.COM.

    Pedego Bicycles
    Pedego Bicycles

    4. Pedego Electric Bicycles – Pedego was founded in 2009 by Don DiCostanzo and Terry Sherry. “There are 10 different types of Pedego bicycles,” Paul Auclair, Product Manager of Pedego shared with me. After graduating from University of Southern Maine in Business, Management and Marketing, he soon started working at the company. He helps design and manage the bikes, while working with suppliers in the US, Shanghai, Japan and Italy. From the easy access Boomerang with cruiser bars, to a Ridge Rider for climbing hills or sophisticated tandeem bicycle, every Pedego is designed in California and built with quality, brand name components from the ground up. The battery on the bike can last from 2 to 4 years and takes between 2-6 hours to charge with a standard wall outlet. At full speed these bikes max out at 20 mph. They have a Get Healthy Pedaling Pedego campaign with success stories of how Pedego helped people reach their fitness goals. Get inspired by reading their stories – http://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com/customer-stories/. Click on this link to see the different bikes http://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com/products/ IMG_2300

    5. Robanda International is headquartered in San Diego and formed in 1999 by David Leib (President and CEO) and Anthony Leib (Vice President Sales). David’s Cousin Shawn joined them a few years later and now heads up International sales. David’s daughter helps with marketing at this family owned and operated company. Robanda currently owns and distributes 22 brands to over 50 markets worldwide. They import beauty products from France to S. Africa. One of their innovative products is the Twirler classic ball brush which is the only spaceship looking traditional 360 degree round brush in the US. “It’s great for making beach waves in your hair,” said  The brush allows you to hold it in a position that feels comfortable for you while still reaching all of your hair. You can roll it, twirl it, flip it, feather it, lift it. One has a thermal component, as a curling iron.

The Hydra Oil is good for scars and their Mood Lips change color depending on your lip chemistry. They condition lips with antioxidant Vitamins A, C, & E and Aloe Vera for moisture and protection. Each shade provides a full 12 hours of lip color.

Their Bodyography Professional Cosmetics is popular with some of the  biggest names in makeup artistry. They offer 24 lipsticks and more than 200 products in recyclable packaging, that are paraben-free formulas, age-defying minerals and full of anti-oxidant.


6. The Oakland based Back To The Roots company was created by two innovative students from UC Berkeley – Alejandro & Nikhil. They learned in a college class that you can grow mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds. With a $5,000 grant and collected used coffee grounds from local restaurants. In return they gave the restaurants freshly grown mushrooms 10 days later. Soon, this duo became mushroom farmers in 2009.

They had on display, their Mushroom in a Box kit. Anyone can grow gourmet, organic oyster mushrooms in just 10 days! Just open the box, mist with water, and harvest. It’s a great gift for kids, foodies & chefs. The kit includes organic plant-based soil, oyster mushroom spawn, a spray mister and organic heirloom tomato seeds to grow with your composted mushroom kit.

With their success, they created herbs in a can. They also sell a four-pack organic herb garden in cans. All you need is water & sun to watch basil, cilantro, sage and dill grow. The kit come with organic seeds, nutrient rich soil from biochar – charred remnants of organic agricultural waste. Its highly moisture retentive capacity helps avoid over-watering issues, aerates the soil for quick root growth, and increases nutrient absorption and microbial activity in the soil.

With their success, they created herbs in a can. They also sell a four-pack organic herb garden in cans. All you need is water & sun to watch basil, cilantro, sage and dill grow. The kit come with organic seeds, nutrient rich soil from biochar – charred remnants of organic agricultural waste. Its highly moisture retentive capacity helps avoid over-watering issues, aerates the soil for quick root growth, and increases nutrient absorption and microbial activity in the soil.

Another clever product is the Aquaponics Kit – You can grow herbs and lettuce, plus have a pet fish in a self-cleaning fish tank. It’s a closed-loop ecosystem—the fish feed the plants and plants clean the water! The Water Garden comes with a Fish tank and gravel, organic seeds and grow stones, natural fertilizer, fish food, a silent, submersible water pump and even a coupon for a Betta fish. It’s designed and manufactured in the USA!

This company gives back to the community, by offering a Grow One, Give One and Pour It Forward campaign. Purchase one of the Ready to Grow or Ready to Eat products, Take a photo with your product and upload it. For every photo shared with Back to the Roots, they will donate a product to a classroom of your choice in the U.S. Want to know where to buy these products? Go to http://backtotheroots.com.