Here’s some great spots to take your Dad on Father’s Day –
The Peninsula Beverly Hills celebrate Father’s Day with an upgraded brunch from 11a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Executive Chef David Codney’s menu includes fresh seafood including oysters, prime rib and crispy fried chicken. Upgrade the experience with bottomless craft beer or Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne. Executive Pastry Chef Stephanie Boswell’s seasonal selection of delightful confections. Price: $98 per person; $25 per person for free-flowing craft beer and Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne. For reservations go to The Belvedere.
This was featured in the June 14 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.
Sitting in the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood, an older gentleman and two young girls sitting in the front row, step onstage to make an announcement. The man is Benson Schaeffer, the father of Rebecca Shaeffer and the girls are her cousins. Benson informs us he is the husband of the performer, and father of Rebecca. The girls (one looks like a young Rebecca) request audience members to silence their cell phones. As they go back to their seats next to other family members, the protagonist Danna Schaeffer takes the stage. This is her play, that she wrote, to share the story and honor her daughter. She begins telling the audience how giddy with excitement she and Benson were about the accomplishments of their only child. Rebecca had achieved so much at such a young age. Her world was her oyster until July 18, 1989.
I remember Rebecca Schaeffer, I was in my 20s when I watched in horror on television that she had been fatally shot point-blank in the heart in front of her apartment building in Hollywood. The community was terrified that someone would hide in bushes and jump out and kill a beautiful young starlet in broad daylight. Rebecca was an “It” girl with television and movie credits before she was 21 years old. She was best known for her starring role in My Sister Sam, a television comedy with Pam Dawber and David Naughton. Rebecca’s face graced the cover of Seventeen magazine, and she was offered movie roles and an opportunity to audition for Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather 3. Why would someone want to kill her?
Danna in her one-woman show tells us her story of how she and Benson lovingly raised their daughter, and let her go to New York at a young age to pursue acting. She shared with us how she got to travel with Rebecca to Rome when she was cast in a movie and then later had to travel to Los Angeles to say goodbye to Rebecca in the morgue at Cedars Sinai.
Danna is a descriptive playwright, not an actress, yet her performance had me paralyzed in my seat. I couldn’t move as I sat riveted listening to her story. She was only 45 years old when she lost her daughter. Without Rebecca she doesn’t know where she is in time, because she no longer can gauge time by the milestones her daughter would have achieved. It just all stopped in 1989.
The hero is prosecutor Marcia Clark, who helped convict the man (remains nameless) who senselessly killed Danna’s daughter. It took two years and six months for the fan obsessed stalker and murderer to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Later Clark became known for her role in the O.J. Simpson murder case.
Danna is made of strong constitution and handles grief better than most. Family, friends and a therapist are concerned why she hasn’t crumbled. It uncomfortable trying to console someone dealing with grief and people with well intensions, sometimes say the wrong thing. That’s when Danna infuses humor in a play so dark and sad. Danna’s scene where she and her mother have a blowout at LAX, and another when the two Rabbis have a smackdown at Rebecca’s funeral, gives us permission to laugh out loud. It’s hard to chuckle when the subject is about death, but Danna encourages it with her storytelling and facial expressions.
“You in Midair” is a somber reminder about how life is so fragile, and how one’s life can be extinguished in seconds. Even though Danna and Benson’s lives changed forever, their marriage remains strong. She recites quotes from famous writers about the subject of death from a book she comes across at her local bookstore. “I can’t be running back and forth forever between grief and high delight,” by J.D. Salinger. Even though Rebecca’s parents have extreme lows, they also have highs. At first they felt guilty whenever there was a happy event or occasion, yet now they realize they must live out their life and accept that she is not here.
One way Danna and Benson dealt with their grief was by getting involved in gun control, and the 1994 passage of America’s first anti-stalking laws in California. Another was by keeping busy. Benson continued working, while Danna went back to school to become a therapist. She also went on to write plays, teach playwriting, publish stories and a memoir.
It took her years to write “You in Midair.” When it premiered at the Portland Fertile Ground Festival in 2017, it was received so well, that Danna and her production team brought it to Hollywood, within miles from where her daughter was killed.
Go see You in Midair on June 10 at 6 p.m., June 14 at 10 p.m., June 16 at 8 p.m. and June 17 at 4 p.m. The Lounge Theatre is at 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. (323)455-4585.
Last week I met with AmaWaterways co-founders Kristin Karst and Rudi Schreiner to learn more about their elegant European river cruises.
While enjoying a three-course lunch at the new FARMHOUSE restaurant at the newly renovated Beverly Center, Karst remarked that Executive chef and farmer Nathan Peitso (second-generation farmer of Kenter Canyon Farm) menu was similar to the cuisine on their cruise ships. As Peitso works directly with his family farm and the region’s top farmers to grow, harvest, and create his fresh and flavorful dishes, AmaWaterways chefs work with their suppliers in the regions they visit, to provide guests with authentic food and wine experiences.
Here’s what I learned about AmaWaterways river cruise in Europe and beyond:
To reserve a cruise on AmaWaterway, contact your cruise specialist or travel agent or call (800)626-0126 – http://www.AmaWaterways.com.
Last Sunday I saw Executive Chef Travis Strickland from Baltaire at the Taste of the Nation festival in Culver City. He prepared delicious Nueske cherrywood BLT lettuce cups topped with strawberry sambal and pretty flowering cilantro sprigs. It was a hit at the fundraiser benefiting No Kid Hungry.
Chef Travis is a chef with a big heart. As an avid runner and cyclist, he co-founded a 5K “Run for Their Knives” event, benefiting a memorial scholarship fund that promotes health and well-being in the culinary community.
I’ve been a fan of this chef ever since I had my first lunch at Baltaire years ago. He revived the restaurant’s tableside service, with servers sautéing Dover Sole in a French copper pan, before filleting and deboning it in front of guests.
Recently, I enjoyed Sunday brunch at Baltaire while sitting out on the light and airy outdoor terrace with a retractable roof. As I was admiring the serene green and grey hues offering a classy California vibe, my party and I received an amuse bouche of bright blue colored spiraling yogurt with fresh fruit compote, pecan granola, and a sliced strawberry on top.
While sipping Contratto Metodo Classico Millesimato Pas Dose 2012, I learned it’s the oldest sparkling wine house in Italy. The bubbles were nice to pair with Chef Travis special cinnamon monkey bread that was delivered in a black iron baking loaf pan.
Next we ordered three different toasts to share around the table. Chef Travis approached our table and told us that all the bread is made in-house with natural fermentation. Two were sweet – Nutella and sliced caramelized banana toast on a slice of homemade brioche with a brown butter streusel, and a ricotta and blueberry compote toast that had a touch of Meyer lemon and mint to enhance the earthy flavors. The more savory toast was layered with smoked salmon and avocado. It was adorn with pickled onion, radish, egg and a Basque crushed Espelette pepper.
A few friends at my table ordered the prettiest brunch cocktail, a lavender sensation known as The Lavender 75. It’s made with lavender infused Absolut Elyx and smoked honey syrup, with lemon juice before topped off with champagne. A sprig of lavender enhances this bubbly brunch classic. Bar Manager August O’Mahoney also makes a vegan cocktail named The Piccolo. It’s a take on the Cappelletti sour that is whipped with aquafaba (chickpea water). Baltaire makes hummus in house and reuse of the chickpea water. Not only does it cut waste, but it’s a delicious vegan egg white substitute. Aquafaba is ideal for those who fear raw egg whites in cocktails, or those who just don’t consume eggs. Some bartenders say aquafaba is a better substitute in sours and fizzes. What enhanced this cocktail was a little baking spice, lime and orange juice.
Our second course of brunch were an array of skillet dishes. After training at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Travis cooked at the legendary Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. This experience inspired him to create decadent thick orange cornmeal hot cakes. It’s a take on Southern Johnny Cakes or Hoe Cakes. The orange zest is a nice touch.
Wine sommelier Melanie Kaman recommended a beautiful Copain Tous Ensemble Rose’ of Pinot Noir from Mendocino County to pair nicely with the heavier skillet dishes. The bright salmon pink hue offered aromas of watermelon, strawberry, lemon blossom, and orange. The wine offered moderate acidity creating an enjoyable finish. It also cut the fattiness of the beautifully presented Chilaquiles with soft poached eggs arranged in a flower shape. What made this dish unique was the shredded cauliflower.
The last skillet was a Tunisian and Israeli dish called shakshouka. The skillet had eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, and spiced with cumin.
We enjoyed the last two brunch dishes with a glass of wine Karman recommended. She loves Oregon’s Willamette Valley Croft Vineyard 2014 Haden Fig Pinot Noir. The wine offered a bright cherry and raspberry essence with a juicy acidity. It paired perfectly with slices of harissa lamb with an almond and olive relish and duck fat potatoes. It also went well with the popular Prime filet Benedict layered with avocado.
Brunch at Baltaire will heighten your senses while enjoying the atmosphere, food presentation, cocktails and wine offerings. $$$ 11647 San Vicente Blvd. (424)273-1660.
This review was featured in the June 7, 2018 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea Newspapers.
With so many vegan and vegetarian restaurants opening in the area, the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills has decided to balance out the options with Cattle & Claw, a surf and turf eatery perfect for omnivores. Diners at this summer pop-up get to enjoy the best foods from the land and sea – lobsters and burgers – for lunch and dinner.
Cattle & Claw is a casual venue without a stuffy vibe, inspired by the London chain Burgers & Lobsters. You don’t need a reservation to sit out on the garden patio under twinkle lights while enjoying a rosé or craft beer with a lobster beignet or burger.
Start with a festive lobster bloody mary. It’s made with lobster-infused vodka, homemade mix, lemon and tomato juice, and garnished with celery and a strip of bacon, and served in a glass jar. They also make a gin-based Tom Collins, refreshing Moscow mule, classic mojito with lots of mint, and a margarita with fresh lime juice.
For those who prefer beer, they pour five California beers including three different brews from Bear Republic, an Arrogant Bastard bourbon barrel-aged ale and Anchor Brewing’s Anchor Lager.
Oenophiles may enjoy with their burger a glass of Trinity Oaks cabernet sauvignon or Chateau Pey La Tour merlot. I found the Sacha Lichine rosé paired perfectly with a lobster roll topped with lettuce, tomato and a rémoulade sauce.
The night I dined with a group of friends, Chef Brandon Umemoto approached our table to explain the Cattle and Claw menu. On the Claw side he recommended we start with a plate of lobster beignets. They arrived in three perfect spheres that were placed on an artistic swirl of sunset orange colored lobster aioli.
Next, we ordered the crab salad with mixed greens and slices of cherry tomatoes. The salad was lightly tossed with salt and pepper, sprinkled with Champagne and tarragon vinaigrette, and topped with fresh lobster pieces.
Also on the “claw” side of the menu is a half or whole lobster that is poached and lightly grilled. It’s served with tarragon cream, mixed green salad and fries to round out the flavors.
Next, we moved on to the gourmet burgers served in three different sizes and layered with lettuce, tomato, onions, roasted red pepper and garlic mayonnaise. The baby burger is delicious and affordable, at just under $10. They also make a 5-ounce and 10-ounce burger patty. Add a little bacon if you prefer or enhance it even more with pepper jack, blue or jalapeño cheese.
For something even more spectacular, guests can order a Cattle & Claw combination that arrives on a multi-layer seafood tower. The Cattle & Claw #1 is ideal to share with two or three people. It arrives with a 5-ounce burger, half of a grilled lobster, salad and fries. These fries, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, are seasoned with a sprinkling of salt or truffle oil for a delectable savory side.
Gather your family and friends for the Cattle & Claw #2 combo. It’s just the right amount of food for four or more. The tower arrives with two lobster rolls, two 10-ounce burgers, a whole grilled lobster, more fries and salad.
For a quintessential London-meets-Los Angeles dining experience, try Cattle & Claw before it closes for the winter.
$$. Lunch is served from noon to 2 p.m., dinner is from 5 to 11 p.m. 8555 Beverly Blvd., (310)358-3979.
This article was featured in the May 31, 2018 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.
I was invited to the preview of this year’s culinary and beverage program led by James Beard Award winning Chef Suzanne Goin and this year’s James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year, Caroline Styne.
I learned that the Hollywood Bowl is one of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a seating capacity of nearly 18,000. It’s been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since its official opening in 1922.
During the summer the venue plays host to the finest artists from all genres of music, offering something for everyone.
Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel announced that the opening night of the summer program is on June 16 with Diana Ross Sings Memories with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.
Seating at the BOWL is still one of the best deals anywhere in Los Angeles with $1 seats at the top of the Bowl for many classical and jazz performances.
The Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine’s many dining choices include two sit-down restaurants, street-food kiosks, pre-ordered picnic boxes, and full-service dinner delivered to your box seat. For private events, Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine will also provide catering at several locations for groups both large and small.
The dynamic culinary team including Sodexo Sports & Leisure Executive Chef Jeff Rogers promises an array of exceptional dining experiences for the 2018 Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine season.
Here’s what’s new for this summer season:
Visit hollywoodbowl.com/foodandwine for more information about the food and wine experiences available at the Hollywood Bowl.
Yesterday I got to experience the wonder of soaring 2,700 feet above sea level in a hot air balloon at the 35th annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival.
The festival is located near Temecula in Winchester at the Lake Skinner Park. At 6:30 a.m., I met with my pilot David and his crew Lauren, Helen and Skip. They are Gypsy Flights Hot Air Balloon Adventures. David and Lauren are married, Helen is a retired teacher from Burbank and Skip is a sailor and Lauren’s brother. Together they inflated the blue and white balloon on a grassy lawn before rising to the clouds.
David and Lauren have been balloon operators for over 20 years. About 10 years ago they retired to become full time balloonists. They travel to balloon festivals all around America giving rides to newbies and aficionados in the mornings. Later, they gather with their balloon friends to enjoy the food, wine and music at each festival.
Once the balloon was ready, I climbed into the two person basket with Pilot David to start our ascent.
David calmly guided us over the park to take it the picturesque birds eye views. After about a 45 minute ride, David gently piloted the balloon down, and with the help of the chase crew (Lauren, Helen and Skip) guided us to a smooth and safe landing.
Another fun part of the adventure is helping to deflate the balloon and get it back up into the truck. Other balloons were coming down right near us, so we all gathered to help those balloons too.
We went back to the festival lawn to celebrate our adventure with a champagne toast, and fun tailgate fare before saying our goodbyes.
Here are four experiences for you to get up close and personal with a hot air balloon this weekend at the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival.
To learn more about the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival Click here.