Fall beverages at Peet’s Coffee

New to the Peet’s Coffee menu is a new fall flavor and cold brew coffee that is plant-based friendly. For those seeking a dairy alternative, Peet’s offers a new Maple Spice Cold Brew Oat Latte. Adding oat milk to a seasonal staple blend offers a rich maple spice flavor. Other handcrafted drinks includes hand-pulled espresso and steamed milk in their pumpkin latte and seasonal sweet maple latte, served iced or hot. 

On the members only menu order a Pumpkin Chai Latte. Peet’s blend of chai tea and spices are lightly sweetened with flavors of pumpkin and steamed milk. This is offered in hot and iced selections. Also featured is a Pumpkin Caramel Macchiato served hot or iced offering a rich buttery caramel in shots of espresso, with a hint of warm pumpkin flavors. Download the Peet’s app for pickup or select their new delivery feature and try the new Fall beverages now through Nov. 3, 2020. Visit peets.com/fall or download the Peet’s app for pickup.  

This was featured in the Sept. 10, 2020 Beverly Press

Italian Street Food at Vinoteca

Adjacent to Culina in the Four Seasons Los Angeles is a newer Napolini culinary experience, Vinoteca Bar. I heard from others that it is so much more than just a bar and was eager to meet my friend Ali for lunch.


After pulling up to the front of the Four Seasons, I walked to the right and noticed a very happy Marilyn Monroe statue standing on a metal grate with her white dress blowing up to expose her shapely thighs. At the base it’s titled “Forever Marilyn” by Seward Johnson. Seward was inspired to make this likeness of Monroe after seeing the iconic photograph shot by Bernard of Hollywood.

Walking towards Culina restaurant I noticed a row of privacy trees lining the hotel’s driveway. On the other side is Vinoteca.


Since the weather was nice, we opted to sit on the covered outdoor patio, instead of inside the bar and cafe. It’s a more relaxed vibe than Culina restaurant, yet with the same exceptional service. Vinoteca opens at 6:30 a.m., as an espresso cafe with baristas making warm Caffè Umbria coffee drinks and eight hour drip cold brews made from an elegant, multi-tiered Yama maker.


Walking along the bar to the patio, I noticed rows of convenient electrical plug outlets for people to plug in their laptop and smart phone to work while sipping a cafe latte and biting into one of pastry chef Federico Fernandez ethereal pastries. Some of his specialities include bacon and cheddar scones, plain and almond croissants, muffins and a powdered sugar pastry called a sfogliatello. To me it looked a little bit like a lobster tail with many ridges. Next to it was another pastry that caught my eye named cannoncini. This flakey treat looked like a croissant and cannoli with powdered sugar dazzling the top. “It’s also known as an Italian horn, filled with hazelnut cream” said the barista. I ordered one for the car ride home.

While sitting at a table, our server discussed the menu and informed us that the produce and fish are local, however the rice, wheat flour for the pizza, burrata, Parmigiano Reggiano, balsamic vinegar and Buffalo mozzarella are delivered from Italy twice a week to provide authentic flavor profiles. “The same products made here in the U.S. don’t taste the same,” she said.

Looking over the menu, it’s separated into sections. Our server recommended we order three to four plates per person to share. There are frutti di mare with fresh clams by the half dozen, California scallops, and two different types of oysters.


Next are crudos made with yellowtail, salmon, tuna or scallops. My friend suggested we order one item from each section to share. We started with the yellowtail tartare from the crudo section. It arrived with a smear of soft, white mozzarella cheese decorating one side of the bowl. In the center was cut raw fish with compressed cherry bottarga (an Italian delicacy of salted, cured fish roe) and tiny chocolate mint leaves. It offered an fresh briny essence.

Under the Santa Monica Farmers Market section we ordered the ancient farro grain bowl filled with a sprinkling of mustard greens, chopped dried apricots, peaches and persimmons with strips of semisoft Taleggio Italian cheese. The cheese was mild in flavor, offering a slightly fruity tang. During the winter, this section will include small plates featuring brussels sprouts, butternut squash, heirloom carrots and fingerling potatoes.

img_6748Next we ordered Vinoteca’s specialty montanaras. They are small flash fried pizzas that are topped before being baked. “No one else makes these on the West Coast like we do,” our server told us. We ordered three of these Italian street food. The lobster montanara arrived first and looked similar to a lobster roll. It was filled with large chunks of lobster, tomato, onion, and celery. There was no mayonnaise, just a dash of Italian olive oil.

I found the eggplant montanara equally delicious. Shaped in a square it was topped with baked cherry tomatoes and melted smoked Provola cheese and garnished with whole basil leaves. The classic montanara was topped with 36 month old Parmigiano Reggiano.


My favorite dish of the day arrived in a bowl and looked like a whole avocado surrounded with cream and microgreens. As we cut into the “avocado” we discovered it was like a geode when cut surprising us with an array of colors. The outside was made with crispy black breadcrumbs covering yellow rice. In the middle was a filling of salmon, chopped onions and English peas. What looked like cream, was a frothy Meyer lemon creme fraiche with basil sprinkled around the bowl. WOW! It’s similar to an Italian arancini (rice ball), yet enhanced with a housemade squid ink breadcrumb crust. I inquired with our server how this is made and learned that it takes the chefs one week to make the bread crumbs. They make the dough for the bread and proof it for 24 hours before baking. Then they let it dry out for a few days, slice it, crumble it, and add black squid ink. Saffron is added to the organic Italian grain rice before it’s rolled into the breadcrumbs and shaped into a true Italian triangle to resemble an avocado.

For those who would like a little wine with their L’Arancino, the bar serves three and six ounce pours, as well as a variety of bottles of Italian wines made in Italy and California. They even have a tasting flight of four wines with three ounce pours. One could pair a glass with each dish. The one page wine list offers Italian Spumante and white Italian wines. Some are created Italian-style in Sonoma, Napa Valley, Oak Knoll, Santa Ynez and Carneros. They offer the same with red wine. There are Italian reds made in Campania and Sicily and other reds inspired by Italy that are crafted in the California wine towns of Paso Robles, Lodi and Mendocino.

For those who don’t like wine, Vinoteca offers artisanal Italian beer, aperitivo cocktails and an array of digestivi e grappe.

img_6765For dessert the chefs make a sweet Montanara pizza shaped as a lobster roll. It’s filled with sweet sheep ricotta, bright red seasonal berry compote, and micro-basil. They also make a true Sicilian style cannoli with the same sweet sheep ricotta, a little chocolate, orange and chopped pistachios.

As we were leaving we learned that Vinoteca is offering an oyster and wine pairing special for $20 during their Wine Wednesdays. Guests may order a half-dozen Beausolei and/or Kusshi oysters and receive a glass of Laura Aschero Vermentino from Liguria, Italy every Wine Wednesday until Jan. 25 from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Complimentary parking is available for those dropping in to pick up pastries and coffee.  The espresso bar opens daily starting at 6:30 a.m. Vinoteca Wine Bar opens Monday-Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. $$ 300 S. Doheny Drive (310)273-2222.

This article was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on January 19, 2017 – http://beverlypress.com/2017/01/vinoteca-espresso-and-wine-bar-outstanding-italian-street-food-at-the-four-seasons-los-angeles-at-beverly-hills/.


LAMILL Coffee Boutique in Silverlake

It seems that a new organic, fair-trade, cold-brewed coffee purveyor pops up everyday, and I thoroughly enjoy the potent brews arising from these coffee houses.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

Creme brulee cappuccino arrives with a hard crust of caramelized sugar on top, just like the popular dessert. Crack through the brulee and sip a bit of heaven. (photo by Jill Weinlein)
One of my favorites is LAMILL Coffee. My daughter and I enjoyed a lunch at this trendy Silver Lake coffee boutique earlier this month. While the coffee scene continues to explode in California, LAMILL Coffee is one of the only coffee roasting companies in Southern California that serves premium locally roasted coffee and tea at its own restaurant.

We walked in and found a diverse crowd of people sitting at the counter writing their latest manuscript or sitting in the dining area on cracked leather club chairs, enjoying a French Press with lunch after perhaps a yoga class. Moms periodically walked in pushing strollers to quickly get an excellent cup of Valrhona mocha and an orange-glazed cherry scone before strolling a sleepy child around the reservoir.

The restaurant’s interior is hip and fresh with vintage chairs resting on a concrete floor and ceiling to floor windows looking out to Silver Lake Blvd. A big brass chandelier hangs from the ceiling in the main dining room and one wall offers a whimsical black and white mural.

I learned from our server that the owner, Craig Min, loved the aroma and taste of coffee as a child. In 1991, Min’s father started a wholesale coffee business in nearby Alhambra, where Min learned everything about roasting and brewing coffee. He developed a rapport with the coffee farmers at eco-friendly cooperatives in locations where the world’s best coffee beans are grown. This “bean belt” between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer offers an ideal climate for beans to be cultivated, harvested and processed.

In 1998, the young entrepreneur was ready to take over the company. Min called the company LAMILL Coffee and also worked to expand his tea contacts and start a tea line. With the help of his skilled Master Roaster John Martin at the Alhambra headquarters, he learned how to carefully manipulate temperature, gas pressure, time and airflow to enhance the subtleties from the beans to produce the best cup of coffee.

Soon Min approached many of the high-end chefs in local restaurants and developed a partnership with Michael Mina, Michael Cimarusti, Tony Esnault and The Patina Group, to exclusively sell his coffee and tea. Providence, Church & State and Patina downtown at the Walt Disney Hall all serve LAMILL coffee and tea.

In 2008, Min opened the LAMILL Coffee boutique in Silver Lake. He commissioned chef Michael Cimarusti to design an inventive food menu to include breakfast, lunch and dinner fare to pair with Min’s hot and cold beverages. Since then, it has become a go-to destination for locals and visitors for a leisurely weekend brunch, an early weeknight supper, or a daily afternoon pick-me-up. The boutique also serves pilsner, IPA lager, blonde ale, stout and hefeweizen beer and French and California wines, along with their signature coffee and tea.

Recently Min hired chef James Trees as a consultant to revamp the menu at LAMILL Coffee boutique. Trees worked side by side with Michael Mina years ago, and serves LAMILL espresso at his restaurant Hutchinson Cocktail and Grill in West Hollywood.

The LAMILL boutique serves a variety of baked goods, including jalapeño-cheddar biscuits, masala-citrus cinnamon rolls and apple spice muffins, as well as equally delicious vegan and gluten free pastries.

My daughter ordered a tall glass of cold brew coffee. I asked her, “why cold brew?” As a college student, she learned that cold brew offers a higher level of caffeine and lower acidity than hot coffee, coming in handy for late-night studying. Cold brewing also allows the beans to soak for hours to achieve the true nuance and essence of the flavor profile because the coffee beans in cold-press coffee never come into contact with hot water. At LAMILL, the beans soak for 18 hours, leaching flavor from the beans to produce a much different chemical profile from conventional brewing methods.

I, on the other hand, was not sure what to order, so the waiter recommended a hot crème brulee coffee. “It’s similar to a crème brulee dessert,” he said. It arrived with a thin, yet hard burnt sugar shell on top. I had to crack it open with a spoon to sip the rich cappuccino, made with caramel and bruleed sugar. It wasn’t too sweet and I enjoyed every sip.

Since coffee and breakfast go hand-in-hand, LAMILL serves a breakfast menu all day long. House made granola, breakfast sandwiches, asparagus and poached eggs and even fried chicken with scallion-sage waffles are just some of the delicious signature dishes offered.

We opted for lunch fare when I noticed avocado toast on the menu. It arrived beautifully presented on a thick piece of bread topped with a generous layer of avocado, pickled red onions and a gremolata with crushed chili-almonds. I opted to add a beautifully cooked poached egg on top that burst with bright yellow as my fork pierced the deliciously runny yolk.

LAMILL’s menu also features a savory smoked salmon toast and a sweeter toast layered with house-made ricotta, macerated strawberries, toasted hazelnuts, basil and lemon.

We also tried the kale salad that highlighted the pleasing flavors of the tender baby kale leaves and braised Brussels sprouts. Crunchy farro and Marcona almonds gave this dish texture, while dried cranberries added a hint of sweetness. Sliced pink grapefruit added zing, as did the pickled onions. The salad was dressed perfectly with a light lemon vinaigrette. The shaved vegetable salad, another tasty entrée-sized dish, can include grilled chicken or a seared flat iron steak for an additional cost.

While enjoying our lunch, my daughter and I remarked, where else in Los Angeles can you sip an outstanding cup of coffee with food of this quality in a casual environment? This is not your neighborhood Starbucks. It’s much more refined, farm to table fare, with no plastic packaging.

Other lunch or dinner fare includes shrimp and yellow dent grits with a habanero-bacon jam, and a grilled Croque Monsieur with black forest ham and melted Gruyere cheese served with a small herb salad. A gentleman sitting at a nearby table enjoyed the LAMILL burger stacked with roasted tomatoes, romaine slaw, and melted Hook’s cheddar cheese on a brioche bun served with a heaping portion of French fries. He looked perfectly content taking bites while reading a book.

Not wanting to leave, we ordered a pot of Japanese pineapple papaya green tea. At LAMILL they know how to correctly brew tea with filtered water with a TDS – Total Dissolved Solids –between 10-30 PPM (parts per million), at the right temperature at about 185 degrees for about three to five minutes before removing the leaves. This process gives the cleanest taste of the tea blend. The tea here is fresh and doesn’t sit on the shelves for long.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

We splurged and nibbled on hot brioche doughnut holes, which enhanced the sweetness and earthiness of the tea.

I urge you to support our local businesses and experience boutique dining at one of the finest coffee houses in Los Angeles, LAMILL Coffee. You may even see me sitting back, drinking a Black Velvet house blend, while writing my next restaurant review. $$ Open on Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. 636 Silver Lake Blvd. (323)663-4441.

This article was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News July 2015.

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

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