LA ART SHOW celebrates diversity this weekend

Actress Sofia Vergara hosted the 2020 Opening Night Premiere Gala of the LA Art Show last Wednesday eveningThe LA Art Show is the city of LA’s largest art fair, and one of the most diversely programmed show in the world. Inside the Los Angeles Convention Center from Feb. 6 – 9 are some of the world’s most celebrated artists and their pieces.


Photo courtesy of LA Art Show

Here are some of my favorite stand out pieces at this year’s LA Art Show:

On two floors there are featured exhibition pieces by Oscar-nominated Kazo Hiro, formerly known as Kazuhiro Tsuji. His three-dimensional portraits of legendary, historical figures are on display. This Japanese-born American special make-up effects artist and visual artist won an Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for the biographical film Darkest Hour,  after earning nominations for the comedies Click and Norbit.


At the Perrier area, I learned that artist Juan Travieso, born in Havana, Cuba, contributed his art on limited editions PERRIER cans and bottles. He creatively used these forms of bottles and cans to magnify his creativity, imagination, and artwork technique for more of the public to appreciate this talented artist’s work.


Combining a realist painting technique using spatial splicing, bright palettes, and geometric abstraction, his current focus is on his fascination of endangered species and the often irrevocable influence of human intervention. He has taken on a series dedicated to endangered bird species, capturing them on the cusp of imminent disappearance. Travieso has exhibited in ten different Art Museums nationwide, including The Ft Lauderdale Museum, Orlando Museum, MOAH, Honolulu Museum Art School, Cornell Museum, Berkshire Museum, Long Beach Museum and Naples Museum of Art. Most recently he received a Masters of Fine Arts from The Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston.  He has had numerous exhibitions in New York, Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, as well as internationally. His work is included in multiple collections throughout the United States and other parts of the world.


Birth of the Niemand by Viktor Freso and curated by Marisa Caichiolo. Presented by Danubiana Museum | Bratislava The Birth of the Niemand consists of monumental large sculptures. They represent a whole range of negative emotions that people try to hide in their lives, such as maliciousness, inferiority complex, and unhealthy self-confidence. The artist studied in Bratislava at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava and in Prague at the Academy of Fine Arts. Freso’s approach to art is rather untypical but at the same time they reflect the situation in the society and culture.


Celebrating Diversity: Pride Flag Unfurled by Chiachio & Giannone. To commemorate local and international LGBTQ+ communities around the world, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) presents this colorful installation of diversity and pride in collaboration with the world-renowned Argentine artistic duo Chiachio & Giannone. The unfurled 120 ft. long textile flag is MOLAA’s new acquisition “Californian Family in Six Colors 1” created by the artists during their residency between March and June 2019 at MOLAA. More than 3,000 members of the Long Beach and Los Angeles community collaborated in the creation of the flag.


KOBE BRYANT (part of the fallen legend series) is a 60 x48 inch mixed media on canvas by Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Shlome J. Hayun. He combines urban with classic elements. His colorful murals and original works of art can be seen around the globe.


Designer Sue Wong was at the event with a handful of models wearing her red carpet dresses. Displays of her gorgeous art pieces include Sue Wong designed dresses worn by Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Minnie Driver and Taylor Swift. She was the first American designer credited with bringing Haute Couture looks to the masses at affordable prices. She gained the reputation as the Everywoman’s Couturier and ruled the American Evening Market, selling to the highest level stores in America, such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales, in addition to 27 countries globally, becoming the number one source for the Evening category.


Live Painting by Los Angeles artist Robert Vargas, a contemporary artist known for his mixed-media portraits, murals and live events. He was born and raised in Boyle Heights and is a leading creative force in the revitalization of Downtown LA’s art scene.


Proceeds from the Opening Event will go to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for the sixth year in a row. Thanks to generous donors, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their children live.

While attending the first night of the show, guests enjoyed food and beverages from a list of LA’s favorites (See below) including Pink’s Hot Dogs and Angel City Brewery. Bare Snacks, Brera Ristorante, Califia Farms, Castle Rock Water, Coolhaus Ice Cream, Diabolo Beverages, El Coyote Café, Factory Kitchen, Il Fornaio Beverly Hills, IVDC Wines, Kon-Tiki Taco, Kurosawa Sake, Mrs. Fish, My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream, Napa Valley Grille, OBAN Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Ocean Prime Beverly Hills, Otium LA, Pasote Tequila, Perrier Sparkling Mineral Water, Pink’s Hot Dogs, Primo’s Donuts, Rao’s Hollywood, Sixth+Mill Pizzeria and Bar, Suga Brown Pastries, The Culver Hotel, Tito’s Vodka, Top Tier Treats, Uncle Val’s Gin, Upper West, Vespaio DTLA, Whalebird, Kombucha, and Wood & Vine.

VIP Red card Special Collectors’ preview Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, 6 – 11pm,

Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, 11am – 7pm,

 Friday, Feb., 7, 2020, 11am – 7pm,

Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, 11am – 7pm

Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, 11am – 5pm

For LA Art Show tickets, click here .




Dine, Drink & Dwell at Arts District Firehouse Restaurant

Executive Chef Ashley Abodeely and her female culinary team prepare artful American favorites with a wood-fired spin at Arts District Firehouse Restaurant.

I’ve dined twice now at the newer restaurant inside a historic 1927 firehouse. Located on the ground floor of one of the most unique independent boutique hotels in Los Angeles, this restaurant is getting wonderful accolades as its fun bar and dining menu in the Arts District.

There are multiple dining areas including a covered patio running the length of the building, plus an event space on the former handball court used by the fireman. This area seats 28 people for dinner or 60 guests for a standing cocktail party. Off the bar is a comfortable lounge and there is an al fresco sitting area around a blazing outdoor fire pit.


Above the restaurant are nine uniquely designed guest suites available for short and long-term stays. Instead of numbers, the suites are named after colors such as orange, violet and white. 

It took three years to restore the charm of the firehouse into a hotel and restaurant. Fire poles that once were anchored to the floor have been removed, however guests enter through the large red firehouse garage doors to reach the lobby, coffee bar and pastry case filled with sweet treats baked by the restaurant’s pastry chef Rose Lawrence, formerly of Rustic Canyon and Manuela.


Chef Abodeely cooked in New York City under Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group, including Eleven Madison Park, before she was the chef de cuisine for NoMad restaurant and invited to be at the helm of this kitchen.

The first night I dined at the restaurant it was World Martini Day. A group of friends and I joined a group for a special dinner with Plymouth Gin’s Master Distiller Sean Harrison. While sipping a “Rosé Fifty-Fifty” martini, we enjoyed a Caesar salad filled with baby green and purple kale topped with crunchy garlic croutons, a squeeze of preserved Meyer lemon and long and thick shavings of Parmesan cheese. This salad and other dishes were served on beautiful black and white Robert Siegrl Studio tableware.


The martini made with one part Plymouth Gin, one part Lillet Rosé, and a grapefruit twist. It was served with a large ice cube that melted slowly to prevent the botanical flavors from diluting too quickly. 

Harrison is one of the most respected distillers in the world, joining Plymouth Gin 25 years ago. He is the current keeper of the coveted 200+ year old Plymouth Gin recipe, that has been passed down verbally to every Master Distiller since 1793. Harrison oversees every step of the production and distilling process, evaluating hundreds of botanical samples and approving all of the line’s bottled products.


When the smoked trout tartine toast topped on thick grilled toast with sliced crisp radish and aromatic dill arrived, Harrison informed us that the character of every gin is defined by the selection of the perfect botanicals. “It’s not just a matter of freshness or size. You have to understand what you are trying to create to understand the finish,” Harrison said as we sipped a Plymouth Aerial with Bergamot, rose and Luxardo bitter Bianco.


Biting into a wood-fired soft Japanese sweet potato topped with salsa verde, yogurt and toasted pine nuts, we learned that a former Lieutenant of the Royal Navy played a pivotal role in developing Plymouth Gin’s original export business, as well as, developing the brand internationally.

Plates of Chef Abodelly’s special crispy fried chicken were served with two moist dill and yogurt biscuits on a light gravy were served with another Plymouth martini. This one was made with Plymouth Gin, vermouth and orange bitters. It went well with plates of Branzino topped with fresh herbs and a crushed squash, zucchini and wood-fired charred scallion puree.


Harrison launched a Plymouth Master Distiller tour that gives visitors a behind-the-scenes private tour of the award-winning distillery. This special experience is hosted by Harrison himself, and offers a first-hand look into the distilling process where each guest gets the opportunity to use their own personal micro gin still.

Our evening ended with bowls of hibiscus granita with rosewater and a scoop of luscious labneh, and a plate of rich chocolate semifreddo with milk jam, saffron and a crunchy glass sugar roof.

The second time I dined, I joined a group of friends from Palm Springs and ordered different dishes to try. We started with three snacks on the menu – homemade focaccia and garlic oil, marinated olives and deviled eggs with crispy prosciutto. Besides cocktails, Arts District Firehouse offers an interesting list of wines by the glass. Noticing one of my favorite wines, I ordered a light orange Jolie Laide skin contact Pinot Gris from Mendocino to pair with two salads. One was a heirloom tomato with sliced grilled peaches and a dollop of creamy burrata. The second salad was a mix of chopped lettuce, tossed with cut grilled corn, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, and small medallions of mozzarella cheese.

A favorite around the table was a tortellini dish topped with grilled maitake mushrooms, a sprinkling of goat cheese, corn and breadcrumbs.

The vegetarians at our table enjoyed the cauliflower steak topped with chopped almonds, parsley, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Meat lovers raved about the New York strip steak served with dijon butter, and rosemary. Sauces for proteins include buttermilk ranch, blistered tomato, black peppercorn jus, salsa verde, garlic Hollandaise or buffalo sauce. 

Our evening finished with a celebratory rich chocolate brownie topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, swirl of chocolate sauce and a small carafe filled with rainbow sprinkles to pour on top. 

Next time you dine in the Arts District, enjoy wood fired food and drinks in a historic firehouse dwelling.

Arts District Firehouse is open for lunch, brunch and dinner. $$$ 710 S. Santa Fe Ave. (213)947-3010.

This review was featured in the Beverly Press on Oct. 10, 2019





INKO NITO Celebrates the fall season

Some subtle changes have occurred at the Inko Nito downtown in the Arts District. Diners can almost feel the heat from the open robata grill while sitting at the new dining counter. It’s an interactive experience as guests watch chefs prepare new seasonal dishes, as well as many beloved signature favorites.

When Inko Nito opened in January last year in downtown L.A., it became so popular that the Zuma team opened a pop-up on Third Street in Beverly Grove, which closed earlier this year. Now the team is focusing on their flagship location with a chef’s counter and 124-seat dining room designed by Studio Mai that offers communal seating and tables set for smaller groups of two and four guests. They built a larger full bar and added more greenery to the front door patio, softening the industrial design and adding a coziness for al fresco dining.


Head Chef Randolfo Vaz added new items to the menu, including a sashimi section and a few robata dishes such as bone marrow and a sea bream fillet with saikyo miso and pickled red onion.

The drink menu is inspired by Japanese bar culture, offering Japanese beers, sake, California wines and some creative nonalcoholic beverages. Try the spritz made with watermelon, aperol, yuzu and a splash of sparkling wine. They also offer a Japanese-style margarita named Palomita – a combination of  sakura tequila, agave, a squeeze of lime and pink grapefruit juice.


We ordered a cut corn on the cob and enjoyed it with a sprinkle of shichimi. Seven different ingredients combine to give the dish pizzazz, including red chili pepper, orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, ginger, pepper and nori.

Near the grill, a large container holds black charcoal logs called Binchōtan. Creating a beautiful flame that creates less smoke than wood, this charcoal produces high heat while preserving the flavorful juices of proteins and some vegetables.


Each chef has his own station and responsibility. One chef marinates spicy beef and yellowtail collars with brown butter and a citrus-based ponzu sauce. Thick cuts of salmon filets are grilled and glazed with grapefruit miso and a sprinkle of sansho salt, which carries a little basil and spearmint flavor.


Lighter fare includes an acidic empire salad layered with butter lettuce and mixed greens, slices of smooth avocado, small black quinoa for a slight crunch and an apple wasabi dressing.

An artistically arranged sashimi board arrived with two slices of salmon, toro and hamachi yellowtail and tender tuna belly maki with fresh wasabi, scallions and topped with rich, briny Petrossian classic shassetra caviar, as well as avocado and cucumber maki with wasabi peas, shichimi and yuzu.


Four pieces of toast glazed with garlic butter accompany silky and buttery bone marrow topped with a smokey soy sauce. Another beef favorite, sliced spicy beef tenderloin, glistens with a caramelized chili and scallion sauce. The tender meat and appealing flavors made this one of our favorite dishes. We finished with a bowl of coconut soft serve ice cream drizzled in sweet soy and crunchy housemade Japanese granola on top. Bright green pocky sticks decorated this sweet treat.


“We are like family working together, and we make sure each guests leaves satisfied,” said General Manager Nathan Merriman.

Inko Nito offers delicious fare, a pleasing atmosphere and attentive service. The restaurant opens at 5 p.m. daily, except on Saturday and Sunday when it opens at noon. $$ 225-227 S. Garey St. (310)999-0476.

Featured also in the Beverly Press.

BEST GIRL at the Ace Hotel DTLA

A James Beard and Michelin star-winning chef Michael Cimarusti returns to downtown Los Angeles with Best Girl located at the luxury boutique Ace Hotel DTLA. Cimarusti is known for his acclaimed restaurants Providence and Connie and Ted’s.


Best Girl is an ideal pre-theater or downtown Los Angeles dining venue, offering a relaxed vibe and menus crafted towards farm-fresh comfort foods. Located on the ground floor of the Ace Hotel, it was one of the tallest buildings in Los Angeles in the 1920s.

Dining at Best Girl is a great people-watching spot. The wine list includes French sparkling wines, French and Californian chardonnays, rosé and select red wines. A nice selection of rotating draft beers, dry ciders and low-to-no alcohol beverages round out Clay Wendel’s beverage list.


Fun fall cocktails include an “Indi Rose” made with gin, rose water and sweet vermouth. The “LA Intervention” is a tequila-based cocktail with a citrusy pamplemousse liqueur, and the “Osaka Sour” is made with Iwai Blue Label whisky and spiced plum wine syrup.

Thick grilled slices of Bub and Grandma’s bread arrived with silver containers of herb butter that offered a pleasing pesto finish and another container with Sicillian anchovies. A mixed garden salad with a handful of small yellow and red tomatoes, sliced radish and baked croutons glistening in olive oil. A light buttermilk dressing made this salad extra special.


Another winning salad was the sugar snap peas tossed with thinly sliced radishes and red onions. Chopped hazelnuts tossed with Italian parsley and a pleasing crème fraîche dressing finished the salad nicely.

The Lumache alla Norma, one of their most popular dishes and one of the highlights of the evening, is comprised of Sicillian-style large macaroni-shaped pasta, dark purple eggplant, chopped simmered tomatoes and a generous shaving of pecorino cheese.


We also enjoyed the grilled Jidori chicken with purslane, salsa verde and charred lime halves. A great plate to share with others at the table, the purslane adds a healthy greens to the dish. Its bright, lemony flavor enhances chicken or fish, plus the green leaves offer high omega-3s. Purslane is said to have high levels of melatonin to promote a good night’s sleep.


Best Girl’s Pastry Chef Crisi Echiverri, who is Cimarusti’s wife, recently updated the dessert menu with her take on Eton Mess. Echiverri’s “Mess O’ Berries” is made with crisp meringue, whipped cream and sweet farmers market berries.

Cimarusti offers a Sunday Supper menu representative of his favorite meals he makes at home for his family and friends. Through the end of the month, enjoy a three-course meal for $35 with an optional wine pairing for an additional $18. One week, it might be a pizzieria salad and charred Jimmy Nadello peppers, and the next course might be chicken and ricotta meatballs with house-made spaghetti and garlic bread. Finish with tiramisu that includes a shot of Sambuca.

Best Girl is one of the best culinary options for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner when in downtown Los Angeles. $$-$$$ 927 S. Broadway (213)235-9660.

Read this review also in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News .

Celebrating Fourth of July 2019

Here’s some fun Fourth of July spots to celebrate Independence Day with friends & family, eat BBQ, corn on the cob, watermelon, sip festive drinks and watch fireworks:

First ever 4th of July celebration at Universal Studios Hollywood!

Celebrate Independence Day like never before at Universal Studios Hollywood’s first ever salute to the stars and stripes, featuring a spectacular firework show. Fill your day with thrills, heart-pounding rides, shows and attractions. Enjoy holiday-themed décor, food, and special character interactions. And keep the fun going into the evening with a dazzling display of fireworks synchronized to Universal-themed music and patriotic favorites. Festivities included with the price of General Admission.


July Fourth Party at Skyspace 

Take a Skyslide ride while watching fireworks all across Los Angeles from 1,000 feet in the air. There will be a live DJ, all-you-can-eat barbecue buffet, plus two drink tickets for $75 a person. Seniors pay $70 and youth $45. The fun begins at 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. 633 W. 5th St. (213)894-9000.


Fourth of July BBQ at Hotel Shangri-La

The art-deco hotel in Santa Monica is hosting a family-fun pool party with barbecue fare on July 4. Starting at noon, the grill will be fired up for build-your-own Kobe beef burgers, marinated flank steak, chicken breasts, hot dogs, and vegetable skewers. There will be corn on the cob, guacamole, and homemade potato chips. The party will last in The Courtyard until 6 p.m. Guests not staying at the hotel can purchase a pool day pass for $25 and spend a minimum of $25 per person on food and beverage. 1301 Ocean Ave. (310)394-2791.

Summer Menu at Messhall Kitchen

Sit out on the large outdoor patio on Thursday, July 4 for the festive brunch menu, plus the chefs will barbecue chicken, smoke rib eyes, pull pork, grill baby back ribs and hot links. Sides include cheddar scallion mashed, mac-n-cheese, pit baked beans, Cole slaw and rolls. On Saturday, July 6 come in to celebrate National Fried Chicken Day with biscuits. Throughout the summer Park & Dine is available for those going to the Greek Theatre.The restaurant offers 40 Park & Dine reservations each night before a show. Make a reservation to park your car in the Messhall lot for $8 and you will receive a $10 credit redeemable towards your meal or cocktails that night. The bill must have a minimum purchase of $30. After dinner walk or take an Uber to the theatre. 4500 Los Feliz Blvd. (323)660-6377.

Cheers with Red, White & Boom Rum Punch with Fireworks 

Celebrate Thursday, July 4 to Castaway in Burbank with an all-American buffet and 180 degree firework viewing. Executive chef Perry Pollaci and his team are barbecuing Berkshire ribs, Wagyu sliders, grilling Pasture Bird chicken and Ora King Salmon, Kobe hot dogs, raw bar, charcuterie and cheese, a variety of salads and a selection of desserts to share around the table. Listen to live music while sipping creative drink specials including “Red, White & Boom” rum punch and buckets of beer. Families enjoying this buffet dinner sitting inside or out on the outdoor gazebo courtyard is $79 per person. Children ages 12 and under are $35 each in these areas of the restaurant. Adults and over 12 years may visit the buffet and chose the firepit/lounge area, outside patio, and window seating at $99 per person. Reservations are strongly recommended. 1250 E. Harvard Rd., Burbank (818)848-6691.

Firework viewing at The Rooftop by JG 

Come to the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills to celebrate a special Fourth of July menu and fireworks with rooftop views, a live DJ, and special beverages. The Rooftop by JG opens at 5:30 p.m., and offers a special Maine lobster roasted in the shell with corn and smoked chili-almond emulsion. After 7 p.m., reservations require a $100 food and beverage minimum per person. A live DJ will be on the rooftop from 7 to 11 p.m. For those staying overnight, the rooftop pool is open for guests to enjoy snacks and a cash bar while viewing fireworks. At the main Jean Georges Beverly Hills in addition to the regular menu, there are two dinner specials including glazed short rib served with potato puree, and a warm cherry pie served with a scoop of almond milk sorbet. During dineLA starting on July 12, guests have the opportunity to taste a three-course Asian and French-American meal during lunch for $35 per person. The dine LA dinner features roasted salmon and parmesan-crusted organic chicken for $59 per person. 9850 Wilshire Blvd. (310)860-6566.

City Sparkle for three nights at InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown 

Enjoy the sparkling Fourth of July weekend tasting menu at La Boucherie curated by Chef Igor Krichmar. Seatings are available at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., with a six-course ‘Sparkling’ tasting menu for $165+ per person. Add an additional $85+ for wine pairing. Enjoy complimentary access to the rooftop soiree at Spire 73 after dinner. The tallest open-air rooftop bar in Los Angeles will have a live resident DJ, festive cocktails, and creative appetizers. On July 4 Spire 73 is hosting a ‘Jack Daniel’s Party in the U.S.A.’  from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. On July 5 the ‘Red, White & Ice Party’ featuring Moët Ice & Grey Goose’ begins at 4 p.m. Join the fun on July 6 during the ‘Clicquot & Constellations’ party featuring Veuve Clicquot & Magdala’ starting at noon. Tickets for this are $10 before 8 p.m. and $20 after 8 p.m. There is bottle service available. Go to Eventbrite 900 Wilshire Blvd. (213)688-7777.


Box o’ BAO on Fourth of July 

Bao Hiroo makes a party box of traditional Chinese steamed and stuffed buns. This innovative concept features unique flavors, crafted with homemade dough. Boxes to-go feed four to six people, and include 8 steamed Bao, four sweet Bao, and a side of slaw for $52. Come in for their daily Happy Hour for a $4 bag of Bao, $4 fries, $ draft or $5 glass of wine. 905 E 2nd St #109 (213)395-0626.

Build your own Ice cream Sundae

Hotel guests at The Garland on the Fourth of July can enjoy watching a classic dive-in poolside movie, and build ice cream sundaes with unlimited toppings from 3 to 8 p.m. Starting at 3 p.m., indulge in an all-American BBQ with grilled burgers and hot dogs. Non-guests can enjoy an al fresco dinner on the patio at The Front Yard. 4222 Vineland Ave. (818)255-7290.

Enjoy a Fourth of July picnic from Tocaya Organica 

The organic menu appeals to those who chose to be vegan vegetarian, KETO and are gluten-free. Order in or pick up and take your healthy fare to the beach, outdoor concert and firework viewing spot. Protein and dairy can be added to each traditional Mexican recipe based on each diners needs. Tocaya Organica now offers a watermelon and heirloom tomato salad; Zuma tacos with watermelon citrus slaw; and tomatillo shrimp that can be added as a protein to any salad, bowl, burrito or taco. Seasonal aqua frescos include watermelon, cucumber mint and strawberry basil. 8500 Beverly Blvd. (424)285-6080, 6550 Sunset Blvd. (323)472-5802, 8720 W. Sunset Blvd. (424) 288-4871, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd. (424)255-6956, 801 S. Olive St. (213)262-1805, 507 Wilshire Blvd.(424)268-8219 and 4303 W. Riverside Drive (818)641-1921. 

Golden Road Brewery Beer Can Derby

Come into the Golden Road Atwater Village Pub to pick up a beer can derby starter kit. Inside are wheels, framing, axles, and an empty Golden Road can. Get creative for this second annual event on Sunday, July 7. The grand prize for the best derby beer can will receive beer for a year, a Golden Road merchandise gift bag, a $100 pub gift card, $100 to the charity of your choosing and a trophy. 5410 W. San Fernando Road. (213)373-4677.

Le Grand is Bigger than Life in LA

Across from Bottega Louie in downtown LA on the corner of Grand Ave. and 7th Street is a new Mediterranean inspired restaurant, Le Grand. In the kitchen, chef/brother duo Alex and Chris Manos focus their brunch and dinner menus on local coastal California cuisine, yet add a French and Greek twist.


The decor inside is similar to an elegant club-style restaurant. The booths are gold tones and mirrors line on wall. Green plants and ferns drape down at the lengthy bar and around column in the main high room. Dramatic light fixtures and glossy gray floors offer a modern touch. There is an outdoor, pet-friendly patio that allows guests and their furry four legged friends to watch others pass by.


The brothers became chefs years ago after watching and working with their father. “In his 40’s, he had mid-life crisis and wanted to become a pastry chef,” said Executive Chef Alex Manos. “His passion led us to culinary school.” Since Alex is three years older than Chris, he went to culinary school first and then his younger brother Alex followed. Alex has spent time at Providence and Melisse, while Chris has worked at Michelin-starred Hytra and Spondi in Athens, Greece.


My family and I met these handsome chefs during their first Sunday brunch service. While enjoying a plate of pastries that included a beignet ball served with a warm salted caramel sauce, and a beautiful flower shaped brioche filled with Nutella, fresh raspberries and a dusting of powder sugar, the General Manager Thibaud Duccini walked by our table. He stopped and we stared into each other’s eyes. I first met Thibaud at Patina when Tony Esnault was the Executive chef (11 years ago), then we were reunited at Wally’s Beverly Hills. Now he is expertly running Le Grand with the Manos brothers.


The sublime buttermilk pancakes are different than any other round breakfast cake that you have tasted in Los Angeles. Pouring some Noble Bourbon aged maple syrup onto the stack, I remarked about the distinctive bourbon, maple and oak flavor profile. Scooping a forkful of lemon zest creme frache, before cutting into the three puffy levels, I noticed the golden spheres didn’t absorb the sweet amber syrup like a sponge and become thinner and soggy. Instead, they stayed puffy. Chef de Cuisine Chris Manos said ““It’s all in the technique. We make the buttermilk pancakes as one would make a soufflé.” Also on the plate was a sprinkling of delicious housemade granola, a scoop of red berry gelato and fresh blackberries.


Other winning dishes included the Dungeness crab Benedict with a poached egg, Béarnaise, and jicama slaw layered on a soft and slightly sweet brioche bun.


Another floral designed entree was the smoked salmon tartine. It’s enhanced with a creamy white ricotta spread on top of toasted turmeric bread. The lacy fennel fronds offered a delicate anise flavor. They were so tender that the fennel practically melted in my mouth. The pretty thinly sliced cucumber ribbons wrapped in a circular design were a creative, artistic touch.


During brunch there are two impressive sandwiches, a Wagyu Burger with caramelized onions, and romaine lettuce, along with creamy, sweet and buttery brebirousse D’ Argental sheeps milk cheese. 

The second dish was made with an eye-catching charcoal black brioche bun. It was filled with soft shell crab and served with a black garlic aioli spread, sliced cherry tomatoes and crunchy jicama.


For salads, the burrata with sliced summer yellow peaches is a winner. I hoped the  pistachio crackers would be crisper, yet the arugula leaves sprinkled with a pleasing 30 year old aged Balsamic vinegar was sensational.


Healthier fare includes a large egg white omelette with cubes of tofu, kale, sliced tomatoes, scallions and shiitake mushrooms. It’s served with a bowl of summer berries.

I learned that the chefs make their own traditional dinnertime Greek dishes, including shrimp saganaki straight from the skillet and served with housemade pita.

I will be back to see if their dinner fare is as spectacular as the brunch dishes we enjoyed. Maybe on Father’s Day, as the brothers are offering specials on their Sunday brunch and dinner menu, plus every dad will receive a complimentary IPA on June 16. 

$$$ 707 S. Grand Ave. (323)303-2535.

This review was also featured in the Beverly Press.

HATCH Yakitori + Sticks

You can’t judge food by its appearance at the newer HATCH Yakitori + Bar located in DTLA’s The Bloc. If I did, I would have never tasted their delicious signature Japanese-style black karaage fried chicken on a stick.


When it was first delivered to my table, I declined it. The two day brined chicken thigh meat is by far the ugliest item on the menu. It looks like nuggets of dry black coal, or a meteorite that dropped to earth from a far-off galaxy. This karaage gets its coloring by rolling the chicken pieces in squid ink powder, before deep frying and skewering with a stick.


Noticing my friends animated and thrilled faces while devouring a plate of crispy black nuggets, I reluctantly squeezed a slice of grilled lime on top, dipped it in a black ranch aioli and took a bite. I will never turn up my nose again. The moist chicken meat has an exquisite balance of taste, texture, and aroma. The chefs use thigh meat, because it tastes better than breast meat. Legs of chickens are fundamentally different than drier and whiter breast meat. Thighs are built for endurance and contain a higher concentration of myoglobin which gives leg meat its characteristic dark color and umami-rich taste.


What makes HATCH Yakitori + Bar unique is its Japanese style stick food and creative Japanese twist to cocktails. Bar Director James Fastiggi stirs things up by pairing fresh and innovative flavors with owner-partners Akarad “AK” Tachavatcharapa, Nara Latip, Partner and Executive Chef Daniel Shemtob’s exciting menu. 

When I requested a drink to start my culinary adventure, Fastiggi recommended the “Wassup Bae” made with Roku Gin, wasabi, cucumber, lemon juice, lemongrass syrup and a whisper of charcoal salt on the rim. He told me it’s a millennial favorite.


Next I sipped a refreshing green Matcha Highball made with Iwai Whisky, coconut lemongrass nigori, lemon juice, house-made honey syrup and matcha powder. It’s poured into an ice-filled Collins glass and served with a metal straw. I learned that Iwai whiskey offers tasting notes of pear, quince, red fruits and vanilla. Matured in the finest Japanese handmade mizunara oak casks, it spends the last leg of its maturation at sea, with the salt air and ebb and flow of the tides enriching the whisky. This drink paired well with the crunchy avocado tuna toast on crispy rice with scallions and sesame seeds.


While enjoying a “Mushroom Party” stick, I sipped a pleasing “The Rum Tum Tum” cocktail. It’s made with house-made tepache, a beverage of Mexican origins in which pineapples are fermented for seven days before spices are added, and then joined with Greenbar Spiced Rum, lemon juice, Demerara syrup and Angostura bitters. It’s a tropical vacation in a glass. There were three different types of grilled mushrooms on this “party” stick.


Next we enjoyed sipping a Yuzu Sour paired with a plate of hamachi. This cocktail is a refreshing twist on a Pisco Sour and is presented with a pretty design on the creamy egg white foam. It’s also prepared with Iwai Whisky, yuzu liqueur, lemon juice, and simple syrup.

The prettiest pink drink named “For Goodness ‘Sake’” was decorated with an edible flower. It gets its dazzling color from a pour of prickly pear juice, dry sake, Tito’s vodka, lychee juice and pear syrup. This drink went well with chicken meatballs shaped as cigars on a stick and served with a side of savory egg yolk for dipping.


A crowd favorite was the slightly sweet and spicy “Mangorita” made with Lunazul Tequila, house-made mango syrup, agave nectar, lime juice, orange bitters, and serrano pepper. The rim was slightly salty and peppery. We sipped this while enjoying a one bite Wagyu Beef A5 Nigiri. Chef Daniel cuts a thin slice the finest Japanese beef with delicate marbling evenly distributed throughout. He then brushes on a soy sauce they make in house, and lightly sears the beef with a cooking blowtorch before topping it with a crispy garlic chip.


The “Tokyo Drift” drink has a pour of Kaiyo Whisky, Angostura & orange bitters, and a magic citrus elixir developed by Fastiggi. It was inspired by a savory sauce made by Chef de Cuisine Erick Cielo. This drink went nicely with the Agedashi Tofu. It’s a Japanese way to prepare silken firm tofu. First the tofu is lightly dusted with potato starch, cut into squares, deep fried until golden brown and served hot. The chefs top this tofu with umami flavor, paper thin bonito fish flakes and green chive ribbons.


Besides cocktails, the bar also serves unfiltered and cloudy sake. American and Japanese beers on draft include Asahi, Sapporo, Orion, and Kirin, as well as Coedo Shiro Hefeweizen Wheat Beer, Samurai Blonde Ale, Delicious IPA, and the Cali Creamin’ Vanilla Cream Ale. Two varieties from the Kyoto Brewing Company are served in bottles. They serve Kyoto Matcha IPA and Kyoto Kuromame Black Soybean Ale.  Ginger beer includes a 8% alcohol content Hitachino Ginger Brew.

During Happy Hour Chef Daniel offers one hour of discounted oysters that can be ordered chilled, grilled, or fried accompanied by ume mignoette. There are plates of slow cooked miso pork spare ribs glistening with a spice blend, miso caramel and green onions. House sake, wine and beer by the glass are available at special prices.

HATCH Yakitori + Bar is open for lunch every Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and for Dinner every Monday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m, Friday and Saturday the restaurant stays open until 11 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday dinner service begins at 6 p.m. Happy Hour is every Monday through Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. $$ 700 W. 7th St. (213)282-9070.

This article was also featured in the Beverly Press.


Maddalena Restaurant delights at San Antonio Winery

At Maddalena Restaurant, guests can enjoy the best eggplant parmigiana in Los Angeles and the excellent output of the San Antonio Winery, the oldest producing winery in L.A. and home to Maddalena.


For National Malbec Day (April 17), I joined Melissa Gonzalo, the winery’s public relations director, for a taste of the eats and drinks at San Antonio Winery, which was named “American Winery of the Year” for 2018 by Wine Enthusiast. Part of the annual Wine Star Awards, the prestigious title represents the highest standard of excellence for an American winery and is based on a winery’s commitment to quality, innovation, sustainability and heritage.


In the 1880s, the temperate Mediterranean climate made Los Angeles the premier city for growing grapes and winemaking in California, Gonzalo said. In 1917, Santo Cambianica from Lombardy, Italy, immigrated to L.A. and started this winery, which he named after his patron saint, St. Anthony.

However, over its 102-year history, San Antonio Winery has faced challenges. In 1919, the U.S. Congress passed the Volstead Act, which enacted prohibition in America. Cambianica partnered with the Catholic Church to make altar wines for communion, keeping the winery running when the Great Depression hit. Nearly all of the wineries in Los Angeles closed their doors, except for San Antonio Winery.


After prohibition and with the help of his family – including Italian nephew Stefano Riboli and Riboli’s wife, Maddalena Satragni – the business bloomed. San Antonio Winery purchased vineyard properties in Monterey County in the 1970s and in the prestigious Rutherford appellation of Napa Valley in the 1980s. The family also planted vineyards in the Paso Robles region, where it opened a modern winery facility and tasting room.

The geographic diversity is on display in the spacious wine tasting room in Los Angeles, where a variety of wines are available, including many that bear family names: Riboli Family Wine Estates, Stella Rosa, Maddalena, Bodega San Antonio Sangria, San Antonio California Champagne and many more.


Winemaking tours are also available, and visitors may receive complimentary wine sips or pay for a $15 artisan flight for premium tastes, including whites, bold reds, sparkling wines, or a sweet and semi-sweet selection. The tours are available on the hour on weekdays from noon to 4 p.m., and weekend tours are available on the hour from noon to 5 p.m.


There’s plenty to offer for diners, too, and as we walked into Maddalena’s Restaurant, we admired many of the fresh pastas, grilled meats, gourmet salads, sandwiches and large desserts on display. Gonzalo told me the chefs make the best lasagna and eggplant parmigiana dishes anywhere in Los Angeles. We ordered both, as well as grilled salmon and a vegetarian burger with crispy fries.


We enjoyed our Italian fare with a glass of Opaque Malbec made at their winery in Paso Robles. This family proprietary blend, made with Zinfandel, Syrah, cabernet sauvignon, grenache, petit verdot and petite sirah grapes, offers ripe raspberry and blackberry flavors, as well as notes of vanilla and spice. It paired perfectly with the lasagna and eggplant parmigiana.


We finished with a tiramisu and cannoli filled with a sweet creamy ricotta. Gonzalo told me the pastry chefs make one of the best cheesecakes ever, but I’ll have to save that experience for my next visit to the trattoria-style winery and restaurant.


Maddalena is a good spot for lunch, when you’ll find all types of Angelenos enjoying a meal, including Maddalena herself or other Riboli family members, as they’re very hands-on in running the restaurant and winery.

Many of the servers and staff have worked here for years. They know the regulars on a first-name basis, including ladies lunch groups, downtown L.A. lawyers, bankers and a handsome police helicopter pilot who sat near us and told us he eats here once a week.

Next time you are in downtown L.A., enjoy a fun culinary outing at San Antonio Winery for memorable Italian and American dishes with award-winning wines.

The restaurant is open every day for brunch, serving breakfast and lunch favorites starting at 9:30 a.m. The winery is open Sunday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Parking is free in a lot at the winery. $$ 737 Lamar St., (323)223-1401.

This review is featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News

Unbelievable Sights on a Magic Carpet Ride

In collaboration with OUE Skyspace LA and Disney’s new Aladdin movie, visitors can take a magic carpet mat ride at the Skyslide throughout the month of May.
This Disney-powered experience 1,000 feet above Los Angeles at California’s dazzling, tallest open-air observation deck, is on the 69th and 70th floors of the US Bank Tower in DTLA. There are Aladdin-themed decorations and photo opportunities on both floors.
Raise a glass at the new Skyspace Bar with a crisp beer from vibrant local breweries, or a glass of the crisp wine, while enjoying handcrafted bites. There are plenty of comfortable areas to sit, sip, and eat while enjoying 360 degree breathtaking views.
As the lyrics in Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” song, the ride will “open your eyes” and is “a fantastic point of view.” It’s also a popular sunset destination. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of Dodger Stadium, Glendale and Mt. Wilson. Look to the west towards the Griffith Park Observatory, Hollywood Sign, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Pier and Malibu. Over to the South you will see Catalina Island on your magic carpet landing.
For tickets and additional information, click on OUE Skyspace LA633 W. 5th St. (213)894-9000.

Take the dineLA Burger Trek on #National HamburgerDay!

Now that the weather is warming up, Los Angelenos are seeking the best indoor and outdoor destination to sink their teeth into a juicy hamburger or cheeseburger. Last month, while sitting out in the beer garden style patio at Everson Royce Bar I received a #BurgerTrek map and guide.


The burgers served for a group of us to try included a ShackBurger from Shake Shack, unbelievably good Vegan Cheeseburger from Burgerlords and a juicy Burger from Everson Royce Bar.

Guests were poured four different beers from Everson Royce Bar, including a Ballast Point lager, Beachwood Amalgamator IPA, Three Weavers Hounslow Porter and Fort Point Wesfalia Nuremburg Red Ale.


dineL.A. Burger Trek celebrates Los Angeles’ diverse burger scene by highlighting 32 locations and the must-order item at each spot. Here is a list of the Burger Trek spots by neighborhood:


ALHAMBRA: Grill ‘Em All for a Behemoth Burger,

CHINATOWN: Burgerlords for a Vegan Cheeseburger

CULVER CITY: Plan Check for a PCB

EAGLE ROCK: The Oinkster for The Royale


DOWNTOWN LA: Badmaash for a spiced lamb burger; Belcampo’s Double Fast Burger at Grand Central Market; Everson Royce Bar for their Single Burger; Cassell’s Hamburgers for a Patty Melt; Everson Royce Bar for a Single Burger; Monty’s Good Burger; Plan Check for a PCB; Rossoblu for a Bolo Burger

FAIRFAX: Badmaash for a spiced lamb burger, Golden State for The Burger,

HIGHLAND PARK: Burgerlords for a Vegan Cheeseburger

MID-CITY: Petit Trois for a Big Mec; République for a Dry-Aged Beef Burger; Salt’s Cure for a 5 oz. Bacon Cheeseburger


MULTIPLE LOCATIONS: Badmaash; Belcampo; Burgerlords; Cassell’s Hamburgers; Father’s Office; fundamental LA; Golden State; In-N-Out Double-Double, Animal Style; Mont’s Good Burger; Petit Trois; Shake Shack for a ShackBurger; Plan Check; Simmzy’s

PALMS: Howard’s Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers

PASADENA: Pie ‘n Burger for a Cheeseburger

PLAYA DEL REY: The Tripel for a Triple Burger

SAN PEDRO: Bunz Gourmet Burgers for The Pedro

SANTA MONICA: Father’s Office for their The Office Burger, HiHo Cheeseburger for their Hiho Double Cheeseburger

SILVERLAKE: Burgers Never Say Die for a Double Cheeseburger,

MANHATTAN BEACH: The Arthur Jay in Manhattan Beach; Simmzy’s for an Oak Charred Simmzy’s Burger

STUDIO CITY: Bellwether’s Patty Melt

TARZANA: Arcwood Restaurant + Wine Bar for an Arcwood Burger

VAN NUYS: Bill’s Burger for a Cheeseburger

VENICE: The Rose for a Double Smash Burger

WATTS: Hawkins House of Burgers for a Whipper Burger

WEST HOLLYWOOD: Shake Shack for ShackBurger

WEST LA: The Apple Pan – 10801 W. Pico Blvd. for a Steakburger

WESTWOOD: fundamental LA for a burger,

Visit dineLA Burger Trek

Lunar New Year So Cal Celebrations

Were you born during the years 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007? Those years and 2019 are The Year of the Pig. In terms of yin and yang, the Pig is yin. In the Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth.

Here are some fun spots to celebrate your wealth this Lunar New Year:


Universal Studios Hollywood ushers in the “Year of the Pig” with festive decorations, specialty dishes and live entertainment at the movie-based theme park. Walk under a curtain of customary red Chinese lanterns, and write and hang a wish at the stunning plum blossom Wishing Trees. Guests will discover which of the 12 zodiac animal signs they fall under, accompanied by their symbolic attributes. Beloved global pop icon Hello Kitty is celebrating, as is DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda masters Po and Tigress. They encourage young guests to come up onstage to perform. A Mandarin-speaking Transformer’s MEGATRON welcomes guests into a special Lunar New Year pavilion, and foodie Mr. Ping talks to guests about healthy food choices, and serves noodles, dumplings and bao at his nearby food cart. This special event inside Universal Studios is now through Monday, February 18, 2019.


Year of the Pig at Disneyland – Disney California Adventure Park will observe Lunar New Year daily through Sunday, Feb. 17. Guests can enjoy a multicultural menu of traditional treats and drinks with the 2019 Lunar New Year Sip and Savor Pass. The celebrations will also include live entertainment and musical performances such as the updated Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession. Visit the arts and crafts area for beautiful décor ideas and shop themed merchandise for the whole family. 1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, (714)781-4636.


TAO Hollywood Special Lunar New Year Dinner – Chef/Partner Ralph Scamardella and his culinary team, comprised of Executive Chef Yoshi Kojima (formerly of Morimoto, Oahu and Jai by Wolfgang Puck) prepare a special menu on Feb. 5 to usher in good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity for the new year. Start with fluffy sesame scallion bread cut in fours and topped with juicy, thin-glazed pork belly and roasted sesame dipping sauce. The next course includes three red-colored soup dumplings filled with spicy pork. Kojima used beet juice to give the dumplings their red color, which signifies happiness and good fortune in Chinese culture. Each was then topped with thinly shaved black truffle, adding a slightly garlicky flavor to the dish. Cantonese pork belly with chow fun noodles was served next to represent longevity. The combination was a winner – the caramelized pork was tender, and the noodles featured a tangy and pleasing blood orange essence. Finish with one of the most beautiful desserts, a cheesecake shaped as a mandarin orange. Presented on a chocolate mochi cake, the sweet treat also included little chocolate beads for a nice crunch. This Year of the Pig four-course, prix-fixe meal is $85 per person. An à la carte menu will also be available. TAO is open daily from 6 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Friday. It’s open from 5 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, from 5 to 11 p.m. on Sunday and from 6 to 11 p.m. on Monday. $$$ 6421 Selma Ave., (323)593-7888.


On February 22 beginning at 6:30 p.m. WP24 by Wolfgang Puck at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles will host a sky-high night market dinner to celebrate The Year of the Pig. Wolfgang Puck draws upon Chinese traditions with a specialty cocktail served alongside a rotation of celebrated dishes presented throughout live cooking stations. Experiences will include a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, Chinese calligraphy tutorials, a red envelope giveaway, and lion dance performances. The lively street market atmosphere will feature seven live culinary stations offering savory Steamed Bao Buns with Pork Belly, Jian Bing with Scallops, Whole Roasted Peking Duck with Red Cooked Golden Pineapple. For dessert, Wolfgang Puck’s signature Mochi Waffle Dessert topped with Harry’s Berries Strawberries and Milk Tea Ice Cream. Tea experts from Art of Tea will share the history of a traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony while calligraphy specialists will showcase the artistic expression of human language. Lion dancers will combine fundamental Chinese martial arts into a fluid routine to offer good fortune. Each guest will be issued a customary red envelope giveaway. Reservations can be made online and by calling 213-743-8824; tickets available for $65 per person not including tax or gratuity.


Chinese New Year at Barton G. LA – Starting on Feb. 5 for one week during the Lunar New Year, the whimsical culinary destination offers a multi-sensory dining experience with over-the-top comfort food creations from around the globe. Celebrate Chinese New Year with a crispy Maine two pound lobster special for two. What makes this dish unique are four-foot chopsticks. Eating Lobster on the holiday is known to symbolize a prosperous year of wealth ahead. This one-of-a-kind dish includes Chinese fried rice, housemade Lap Cheong sausage, and shiso chili vinegar.  861 N. La Cienega Blvd. (310)388-1888.

Disgusting Food Museum in LA

There is an exhibit at the A + D Architecture and Design Museum that shows the good, bad and ugly food from around the world. Inside visitors can see, smell and even taste some of the most “disgusting” presented on tables with a fact sheet. Of the 80 International delicacies and unfamiliar foods, a few are actually delicious, while others are more of an acquired taste.


Have you ever been curious about exotic foods from China, Peru and Uganda? Now until Feb. 17, 2019 you will learn how food is more than sustenance, it connects people and can sometimes turn strangers into friends.


Pay the $15 entrance fee or $20 for two Yelpers, and receive a Barf Bag as your entrance ticket (the day we visited, they had tallied 30 vomits that day). I tell you, when they call this pop-up Disgusting Food, they mean it!


Stop at the Disgust Chart to learn how researchers have identified 7 categories of disgust. Food is one of them, as people grow disgusted with rotten or contaminated food that can be dangerous to eat. For example moldy fruit or lumpy, sour milk. The evolutionary function of disgust is to help us avoid disease and unsafe food.


What you will learn while exploring this pop-up of food, is what might be delicious to one person can be revolting to another.


Exhibited delicacies include: Stinky cheese from France; fried grasshopper from Uganda; Pink candy musk sticks from Australia; fruit bat urine soup from Guam; fermented herring from Sweden; roasted guinea pigs (cuy) from Peru; bull penis from China; maggot-infested cheese (Casu marzu) from Sardinia; stinky tofu pungent bean curd from China; and Hákarl well-aged shark from Iceland. Some we just looked at, others we could smell.


Some of the foods we saw, smelled or tasted at the Tasting Bar were actually pleasing, including the infamous Durian stinky fruit from Thailand.


Other Tasting Bar delicacies included crunching a crispy bamboo worm (not bad), swiping some Australia’s Vegemite sandwich spread onto your tongue (nay), popping in a Japanese black Century Egg for a quick chew (I passed), sipping Spruce (pine flavored) beer made in Bristol, RI (tolerable and sweet) or a Polish Sauerkraut favorite – Sok Z Kiszonej Kapusty (similar to Kombucha). One whiff of the preserved shark meat and my internal alarm system blared – NO!

Info: Disgusting Food Museum Pop-Up from Dec 9 – Feb 17

Located at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum

900 E. 4th Street

Los Angeles, CA 90013

Walk in hours – CLOSED – Mondays and Tuesdays. Wednesday – Friday: 2 pm – 8 pm

Saturday -Sunday: 12 pm – 7 pm. Last entry is one hour before closing

Prices: General Admission (13+): $15 weekdays / $18 weekends

Children 12 and younger: $10. Groups of 10 or more: please contact

Disgusting Food Pop-up in LA is also published in PATCH

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