Gelato Festival box of flavors delivered to your door

Here’s a fun idea for the holidays- Order a gelato tasting box and enjoy a variety of different cool and creamy gelato flavors for dessert. The 2020 Gelato Festival is a little different this year due to the pandemic.

The 2020 American edition Gelato Festival is hosting three COVID-friendly and socially distanced competition events, as well as a newly added coffee making competition. Families and individuals will be given the opportunity to purchase a sampling box for $69 and be the judge of the best gelato, along with Honorary Judge, Giada de Laurentiis.

The gelato boxes are available until December 9th, and will be shipped shortly thereafter. Each box includes four QR codes that allow consumers to vote for their favorite flavor and ultimately take part in picking the winner of this year’s tournament, to be announced in January. Gelato Festival is also be offering a vegan gelato box made with Califia Farms plant-based milks. 

Executive Chef Luca Moriconi

The winners will move on to compete in the World Finale which is set to take place in September 2021 in Italy. One of my favorite Italian Executive Chef’s, Luca Moriconi from Culina Restaurant at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, just won the Gold Medal in the first round of technical competitions with his Hazelnut Truffle Stracciatella gelato.

Luca’s winning flavor was able to edge past competitors NYC based Chef Vincenzo Grasso’s blood orange and almond sorbet “Mimosa Siciliana” followed in third place by Chef Joseph Maatouk’s vegan pistachio and orange blossom “Dama Pistachio” by receiving high marks in the Flavor, Appearance, Structure, Creativity and Verbal Presentation categories.  Luca was also able to snag a top spot in the coffee competition, placing third behind Chef Carlo Piccinini from Gelato Italyano, and Chef Peter Macias from La Peer Hotel, scoring points based on Flavor, Appearance, and Speed of Production.

Luca’s first place winning flavor will be soon available for purchase at Gelato Festival’s flagship store on Melrose Avenue.

The other eleven competitors still have the opportunity to advance to the world finale by winning their week’s Popular Jury competition. For the Popular Jury round of competition, competitors will amass votes based on the QR codes scanned by at home participants who have purchased one or more of Gelato Festival’s Gelato Boxes, which are available to order from their official website  until December 9th.

The Chefs and Jury Members

 In 2019 Gelato Festival opened its Flagship store on Melrose Avenue serving the world’s best gelato, in the heart of West Hollywood. A community-oriented concept and experience dedicated to artisanal gelato and coffee, and recently opened its second location at Hollywood & Highland at the Dolby Theatre.

Peninsula Beverly Hills Chef’s Garden Grows

In 2016 when I dined at Belvedere inside the Peninsula Beverly Hills, I met the creative Executive Chef David Codney, while enjoying many of his signature dishes. In my Beverly Press review, I described the evening as an approachable fine dining experience, offering a distinctive flavor profile that lures guests to return for more.

Now with the global pandemic, the hotel had to close it’s beautiful interior fine dining room, yet Chef David is still at the Peninsula, and has stayed busy cultivating his “secret garden” on the rooftop of the hotel for outdoor dining venues.  

The Peninsula implemented an initiative encouraging their chefs to have a garden, and during the Spring, Chef David rode the elevator up to the fifth floor, where the 60’ outdoor pool and bubbling spa tub overlook Beverly Hills and the Century City skyline. Below the pool deck are plots of soil and a street sign that reads Peninsula Place 9882. He nurtured his garden at the beginning of the pandemic and harvested an array of heirloom tomatoes and herbs to include in his innovative menus.

Once Chef David could offer outdoor dining, he reinvented three dining options for guests and locals. One is le Petit Belvedere, located on a terrace, off the formally decorated lobby of the hotel. It’s an outdoor dining California-style brassiere concept. The menu offers saffron risotto croquettes, moules frites, steak au poivre, and a showstopping Grand Marnier souffle.

Guests can imbibe with a selection of signature cocktails, beer, wine, and Laurent Perrier Champagne.

He also has created a seasonal menu at The Roof Garden, near his secret garden. My husband and I were eager to try his freshly picked garden to plate offerings.

Stepping into the Peninsula Beverly Hills, we were greeted by a uniformed staff member and lead to stand on a mark on the floor to have a digital temperature reading, before gaining clearance into the hotel to dine. 

Riding the elevator up to the Chef David’s The Roof Garden, we stepped out onto a beautiful al fresco setting with yellow and white striped umbrellas, a teak bar, tables set for two to four guests, and a socially distanced lounge area with chairs arranged around a flickering fire pit. As the sun set, the lights of Beverly Hills and Century City high rise buildings illuminated the sky.

Waiting for our table to be throughly sanitized, we walked out to the end of the pool area to take a peek at the secret garden. Looking down we noticed rows of vibrant and colorful tomatoes, herbs standing tall and stalks of fennel.

Once we were seated, the friendly and professional wait staff each wore a mask and were careful in spacing each time they approached us. 

We started with a bright orange Aperol Spritz while looking over the menu, and noticed Chef David puts an asterisk next to each dish that offers ingredients from his garden.

First, we enjoyed spreading bright white burrata and vibrant red and yellow heirloom tomatoes with sprigs of basil from his garden, onto a variety of bread from a bread basket. The creaminess of the burrata was nice on flat parmesan cracker bread, and olive rolls sliced in half, especially when topped a tomato slice and basil before taking a bite. It was a perfect starter with our cocktails.  

Other menu items showcasing Chef David’s tomatoes include his Cobb Salad and BBQ Mary’s Chicken Salad with crunchy dried Russian corn, black beans, an array of tomatoes, mixed greens, and his special barbecue thousand island dressing.  

I noticed there were a handful of asian influenced items that included a Mandarin chicken salad, and an udon bowl with fresh cilantro, miso dressing, white soy mushrooms, cashews for crunch and daikon radish for some heat. He also makes sesame tofu with broccoli rabe, chopped eggplant, and a piquant crispy chili garlic sauce.

My favorite was the cilantro shrimp pad Thai that had a tamarind glaze. There were five large grilled shrimp, and sliced scallions, crunchy green papaya, crisp bean sprouts, diced peanuts and egg on top. Wedges of lime can be squeezed on top to offer a refreshing touch of citrus with each bite. 

 Chef David posts his garden vegetables on his Instagram page and educates his followers. In one of his posts he took a photo of his beautiful tomatoes and added a fun fact comment that said, “tomatoes are botanically a fruit but culinarily a vegetable…. the Supreme Court had to rule this for tax reasons on imports. In 1883 the court declared it to be a vegetable, as it was generally served with dinner and not dessert. This ruling was only for the tariff and not reclassify for botanical purposes.” 

One of the reasons why his tomatoes grow so well is because he also composts a lot of the restaurant’s waste into the soil to provide nutrients and moisture and help stop weeds from growing.

The last entree we ordered was a grilled swordfish steak that was cooked perfectly with secret garden fennel and an arugula salad mixed with dandelion greens, and Belgian endive. They were lightly dressed with a preserved lemon dressing.

Other seafood offerings on the menu include branzino with oven roasted tomatoes, and wild local Seafood Co Santa Barbara salmon served with quinoa and a corn salsa with chili, almonds and sesame.

Chef David makes two burgers, a Roof Garden BBQ burger with thick cut slices of Nueskie bacon, smoked bbq onions and aged white cheddar; and an Impossible burger layered with two Smash burger patties and garden tomatoes.

Be sure to save room for dessert, the whole wheat butterscotch blondie enhanced with ribbons of dulce de leche, chocolate sauce and a scoop of horchata ice cream with oven roasted, cinnamon sugar covered nuts on top.

Before leaving we learned Chef David is planting for the winter and soon will be changing his menu items to include his seasonally, fresh vegetables and herbs when they are ready to harvest.

Back by popular demand, Chef David is now offering his elegant afternoon tea outdoors at Le Petit Belvedere. It’s just a short walk through The Living Room, where it used to be set up before the pandemic. Guests can enjoy free flowing Champagne by Laurent Perrier, along with one of a kind teas and a tower of sweet items that includes a lemon thyme eclair, tarragon Mandarin layer cake, scones and gluten free zucchini loaf. Some of the savory sandwiches include his traditional cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches, a pastrami sandwich with horseradish cream, house made pickles, pickled mustard seeds and micro parsley, and Maine lobster and caviar roll on brioche bread with herbs from his garden. 

Enjoy a meal up on the fifth floor The Rooftop Garden daily from 7 a.m., to 9 p.m. Le Petite Belvedere is open for dinner on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m., and champagne and tea is now being served on Saturdays and Sundays from 11a.m. and 1:30 p.m. On Sundays there is also a seating 4 p.m. 

Take-out options are available with pick-up at the valet for those who prefer to dine at home. 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., (310)551-2888 and (310)975-2736.

Mírame: a Mexican culinary ‘staycation’

Sitting on the front patio of Mírame, at one of the socially distanced tables near an exterior fireplace, I felt as if I were sitting at a beautiful restaurant in one of the luxury resorts in Punta Mita, Mexico.

Since many of us aren’t flying to Mexico for a summer vacation due to the coronavirus, driving to Mírame in Beverly Hills to enjoy a cocktail and meal feels like a glorious getaway.

The night we dined, the city of Beverly Hills had a pop-up tent a few storefronts away, with city staff members passing out complimentary bottles of hand sanitizer and COVID-19 pamphlets.

As we were led to a decorative Mexican-tiled table, I admired the light and bright work by M. Winter Design, which also designed Jaffa, Manuela, and Bacari on 3rd. The patio’s resort-like ambiance includes white brick walls with nopales artistically hanging from a reclaimed wood plank, and hanging dried flower bouquets. The flooring is stone and brick and reclaimed wood. Beautiful mosaic-tiled tables are socially distanced along a long banquette with Mexican-style rope and wood chairs.

This is not a typical tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole style of Mexican restaurant. Instead, start with chef Joshua Gil’s activated charcoal masa gnocchi with shredded Dungeness crab meat, chunky avocado and sliced tomatoes in a bowl of exquisite corn consommé. Use a spoon to ladle the corn broth to savor every last drop. Chef Gil makes botanical, visually appealing plates of food by sprinkling microgreens and flowers on top. Each one tastes as good as they look.

This ambitious chef and partner Matthew Egan opened Mírame (formerly Gratitude) after L.A. County ordered all restaurants to close their dining rooms. This duo got creative in decorating their front and back dining patios to be so inviting. As business picked up, they obtained permits to put tables along the sidewalk in front of neighboring closed storefronts to enlarge their outdoor seating capacity.

The gorgeous interior space offers a soaring ceiling, large spirits bar and beautiful wall mural painted by Mexico City artist Jorge Tellaeche. Some day, this area will be used to seat diners.

Chef Gil’s innovative menu specialties include ceviches and an Omega Blue kampachi tostada. Served on two crunchy tortilla shells, the chef chops fresh yellowfin tuna and adds sliced avocado and a sumac crema. Sumac is made from crushed red berries from the sumac bush. Its acidic flavor tastes similar to a squeeze of lemon. On top is a shiso leaf offering a hint of mint, basil, tarragon, cilantro, cinnamon and anise. The chef rounds out the flavors with a house-made version of the Japanese condiment yuzu kosho that he infuses with Mexican flavors.

Other creative starters include grilled El Chingon oysters with mulato chili herb butter, and salmon skin chicharones that can be dipped into fermented garlic aioli.

Egan shared that opening during the COVID-19 pandemic was tough at first, but they were committed to providing an experience that reflects the layered culinary history of both California and Mexico.

“We have traveled through Mexico discovering the best spirits and ingredients to bring back to Beverly Hills,” he said.

For those ordering takeout and delivery, curbside service is available.

“We put our entrance next to the sidewalk and introduced curbside pickup when possible, so guests don’t have to come into the restaurant,” Egan said.

Looking at the farm-to-bar beverage menu, we noticed a robust collection of spirits, artisanal products and notable mezcals. A few playful, resort-style cocktails caught our eye, including one made with a 90201 Rhum blend, that our server said is like an elevated daiquiri, and another named Wild Style that is made with peppered turmeric coconut cream, Mexican rum and pineapple, similar to a piña colada.

We opted for two of their creative margaritas, starting with the Green Lantern, a play on the popular green juice health kick. It’s made with tequila, cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, celery, fennel and lime. On the side of my lowball glass was a blend of crushed tarragon, fennel and taijin to add a salty zip to each sip.

My husband ordered #IYieldMyTime, which was a balance of flavorful mango juice, mezcal, blanco vermouth, green apple and chamoy. I liked the tamarind fruit leather, which was around the rim and wrapped around the straw for a balance of sweet and sour flavors.

The bar also makes a $50 and $150 margarita featuring a 7-year or 18-year añejo tequila, which is then lightly smoked with Palo Santo wood.

Besides cocktails, they also offer an array of Mexican craft beers and wines from Valle de Guadalupe and other regions in Mexico. Each night, they offer a 3-ounce flight of three wines for $32. They try to pair the wines based on your order.

We ordered one flight and first enjoyed a funky natural rosé from Palafox Winery with the Mírame fermented green tea salad.

“This salad is getting a reputation of becoming the new modern chopped salad in Beverly Hills,” our waiter shared.

It’s layered with french-cut jicama tossed with cabbage, sesame, chopped peanuts and corn nuts. Not only is it refreshing, but it’s healthy for lunch and dinner.

Next we had a 3-ounce bubbly flute of Blanc d Noir from Terra Madi, San Antonio de los Ninas, with the delicious kampachi, and finished out the flight with a ruby red glass of Bichi from Tecate, Mexico, to enjoy with pork belly tacos.

Three different tacos are offered, and we opted for the caramelized, slow-cooked pork belly served on a plate with two heirloom red conico corn tortillas. Red corn is exceptionally sweet and nutty in flavor and these tortillas have a pretty pink hue. They are topped with big pieces of tender pork, crushed avocado and chunky tomatillo salsa.

Egan came back to our table to share his knowledge of the wine.

“Bichi means naked, and this No Sapian biodynamic wine is comprised of an unidentified grape variety. The farmer is not certain, but it’s one of my favorites,” he said.

After one sip, I detected its crisp brightness, bursting with fruity notes and a pleasing funkiness in its finish.

For those living it up, the menu offers larger items on the “Seguimos” section including a whole fried Baja snapper, Columbia River sturgeon, whole rack of lamb with grilled figs, baby corn and lamb bacon, and a 35-ounce prime cote de boeuf served with melted leeks and fermented garlic.

We saved room for a stone fruit and pine nut tart made with flavorful masa and a scoop of chamomile tea and goat cheese ice cream.

She also makes a mezcal flan, pineapple miso brûlée and chocolate castellan cake.

Mírame, meaning “look at me,” in Beverly Hills offers a new look or change of pace, scenery and flavors for weary pandemic diners starting at 11 a.m. for lunch to late night. On weekends, it opens at 10 a.m. for brunch. Reservations are available on OpenTable. $$-$$$$ 419 N. Canon Drive, (310)230-5035.

This review is featured in the Beverly Press

Wolfgang Puck’s SPAGO Beverly Hills Opens

When award winning celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck opened Spago Beverly Hills, it not only became a local favorite fine dining restaurant, but also for visitors and tourists.

When the restaurant closed due to city and state Covid-19 mandates in mid-March, Puck and his team creatively started a takeout and delivery service.

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Since the health of the staff and customers is the top most priority at Spago Beverly Hills, they trained the staff to follow strict health guidelines. Staff prepared for the day when their guests were allowed to return to dine-in.  Recently with city and staff gave approval Spago Beverly Hills opened its dining room and expanded outdoor patio with the following protocols implemented:

Guests must make a reservation for lunch or dinner before arrival. To make the Spago experience during this transitional time safe and healthy for all, the staff has daily wellness and temperature checks, plus weekly COVID testing.

When a diner arrives at Spago Beverly Hills, they will receive an aromatic spritz from Spago’s housemade Manhattan hand sanitizer upon arrival. They also will be handed a Spago ‘Stash Your Mask’ bag, so they have a clean place to store their mask when sipping a cocktail and enjoying a meal.

Next, they will be asked a few simple health questions and have a quick infrared temperature check reading before they sit at their reserved table. Coat and Bag Check has been temporarily suspended.

To promote a rigorous sparkling clean sanitation regime, staff are required to wear face masks, gloves and face shields. Spago Beverly Hills asks all guests to wear face before being seated at their table, and when they use the restroom or leave the restaurant.

Diners will find improved service steps that include paper sleeves to protect flatware and napkins, tableside wine pours, virtual menus viewed via smartphone, and contactless payment coming soon.

The restaurant offers additional handwashing and sanitation stations, and distancing floor markings to promote servers and guests to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.

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Health guidelines require Spago Beverly Hills to temporarily discontinue outside wine, food, décor or other items to be brought into the restaurant.

The current hours for dine-in include lunch on Friday and Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. Dinner service is offered from 5:30 to 9 p.m., on Wednesday through Sunday. Take-out and delivery is also still available from Wednesday through Sunday.

This review was also featured in JustLuxe.

Culina’s ‘Friends & Family’ Mondays offers Heart & Soulful Specials

5423A3D0-3412-4565-A48E-B0C26C678432Monday nights at CULINA just got better at the Four Seasons Resort Los Angeles in Beverly Hills. Executive Chef Luca Moriconi created a new “Friends & Family Mondays” menu.

This talented chef has a big heart and it shows in the dishes he prepares. The Monday menu features 8 different ANTIPASTI dishes for $12. There is Prosciutto E Melon, Insalata Caesar, and an tangy octopus and potato salad with taggiasca olives.

PRIMI offerings are $15 each and include potato gnocchi with four cheeses; classic beef bolognese lasagna that is based on Chef Luca’s mamma’s recipe; and the most delicious ricotta and spinach cannelloni topped with an appealing beschamel sauce.


Chef Luca is hand tossing PIZZE and baking them in his new top-of-the-line pizza oven. He makes pies with cotto ham and olives; burrata and speck with arugula and tomatoes; lamb sausage with black olives, peanuts and mint pesto; and a simple and delicious Margherita pizza. He even offers two vegan options topped with cashew cream or San Marzano tomatoes.

Photo by Shaena Engle

Since I was dining during the debut of this Monday night dinner, Chef Luca invited a small group to make pizza pies with him.

He taught us how to “pinch and slap” the dough, shape it (I made a heart shaped pizza) spread San Marzano tomatoes, break off sprigs of basil and top with fior di latte mozzarella. We slid my pie into a beautiful pizza oven and watched it bake for about three minutes, before I took it to a table to take a bite.

SECONDI dishes include a breaded “heart shaped” IMG_8175chicken breast parmigiana, veal scaloppine in lemon and capers, grilled swordfish and a baked eggplant parmigiana.

Guests finish with four different desserts for $9 each. DOLCI items include apple crostata with vanilla ice cream, chocolate tart with salted caramel sea salt gelato, adffogato profiterole with espresso and vanilla gelato and a vanilla bean pan cotta with short bread and stewed berries.

Enjoy culinary sitting outside on the garden patio with serene fire and water features. Cocktails are $12 and include an Aperol Spritz and Negroni. Since pizza goes well with beer Culina offers Peroni Nastro Azzurro, and Spumanti, Bianchi, and Rosso wines by the glass.

IMG_8132Other culinary specials include PRONTO Lunch. The Market inspired buffet includes a selection of salads, cheese and charcuterie with a choice of protein. Dessert includes a selection of fresh fruit and more. It’s $35 per person and available Monday – Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information and to reserve, please call Culina at (310) 860-4000

Four Seasons Los Angeles in Beverly Hills – 300 Doheny Drive, Los Angeles




Ocean Prime celebrates it’s success in Beverly Hills

Celebrating 5 years of elevated dishes, festive cocktails and genuine hospitality, Ocean Prime located in the heart of Beverly Hills has served 331,400+ guests, 15,000 slices of the fan-favorite Carrot Cake, 35,700+ plates of Sea Bass and 25,600+ of their most popular Berries & Bubbles cocktails since their debut in 2014 at this location.

Photos courtesy of Ocean Prime

In true Ocean Prime fashion, on Saturday, October 26th the restaurant will be hosting a special celebration with complimentary bubbles upon arrival for every guest on the red carpet entrance.

Additionally, Ocean Prime is rolling out a handful of new seafood dishes to celebrate, including the Miso Black Cod, with bok choy, hearts of palm and ginger sweet potato puree, the Ocean Roll, made with #1 tuna, salmon, Hamachi, avocado and chili garlic oil, and of course, a hearty 24 oz. Bone-In Ribeye.


For dessert be sure to order a decadent and pretty slice of their signature coconut cake with pink icing in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ocean Prime will donate $1 from each slice to The LA Pink Dragons for the duration of October.

The Los Angeles Pink Dragons are California’s first breast cancer survivor dragon boat racing team. The team is dedicated to improving the quality of life for breast cancer survivors through dragon boat racing. This organization provides hope, empowerment and inspiration through friendship, support, and camaraderie.

This review was featured in JustLuxe.

The Ultimate Veuve Clicquot LA Polo Classic

The 10th annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic Los Angeles returns to Will Rogers State Historic Park on October 5, 2019. Guests staying at the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel can enjoy an ultra-luxe package to make the weekend even more memorable.

The exclusive La Grande Dame package includes a two night stay in a luxurious suite, and enjoy a Michelin-starred dinner at CUT by Wolfgang Puck, along with a post-Polo Sunday Brunch at THEBlvd.


Guests will be offered a private shopping appointment at Louis Vuitton Rodeo Drive to discover all of the Flagship Maison’s categories in their private salon with the styling help of a Louis Vuitton expert. Be sure to stop by the Louis Vuitton X exhibition with exclusive front-of-the-line passes.


Keep your car at the hotel garage, because a chauffeured Maserati Levante will take you to the prestigious polo match. Your two tickets to the 20th annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic La Grande Dame Garden allows entry and exclusive access to a reserved space with prime field side views and champagne bottle service. The price of this one-of-a-kind weekend is $10,000.

This review was also featured in JustLuxe

Luxury Chocolates at andSons Chocolatiers

Meeting award winning pastry chef Kriss Harvey in his chocolate kitchen in Los Angeles, I noticed multiple tattoos on each arm. There was the logo of La Maison du Chocolat on one arm and the chemical formula for theobromine, a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant. Each tattoo tells a story about his culinary journey to becoming a talented chocolatier.

Leaving the East Coast in his teens, he trained under some of Europe’s greatest chefs including Oriol Balaguer and Emmanuel Ryon in France. He worked in the kitchen of the Ritz Carlton and the Wynn Las Vegas, before becoming the Executive Pastry Chef at The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel.


Chef Kriss serves as lead chocolatier for andSons Chocolatiers, a high-end artisan chocolate store in Beverly Hills, CA. Owners and brothers Phil & Marc Covitz, second-generation chocolatiers, showcase classic and modern chocolates with traditional and inventive flavor pairings.

The Covitz brothers know a lot about chocolate. While growing up in their mother’s long established Teuscher chocolates of Switzerland store in Beverly Hills, she taught them the fine flavors of different chocolates, respectful and friendly customer service and how to become part of the community.

When the brothers were ready to open their own shop andSons Chocolatiers in 2018, they hired celebrity Nate Berkus & Associates to design their retail store. They found a commercial kitchen for Chef Kriss and his team to carefully craft each piece by hand in limited qualitites. Ingredients are from local farmers markets for sourcing organic, all natural ingredients. Plus Chef Kriss has developed a relationship with specialty providers around the world. He told me he has a contact for almonds from Provence, France and special cacao pods from Venezuela.


Flavors include Madagascar milk chocolate, caramel with Fleur de Sel and Demi Sel Butter from Normandie; Rock Praline filled with Hazelnut Praline and Pop Rocks; Passion Fruit Caramel is a dark milk chocolate filled with Brazilian Passion Fruit, Caramel and Salted Butter; and Yuzu Verbena made with a duo of ganaches, white chocolate, dark milk chocolate, fresh lemon verbena, yuzu and lime.


The packaging is very important, so they hired artists to make a special slide opening box that can be reused later. The boxes don’t have any brown and gold colors, common on other chocolate boxes. Instead bright colors are intergrated into the design. Each box is not only filled with some of the very best chocolate in the world, but the reusable container is a work of art.

To order the chocolates click on andSons Chocolateria. andSons boutique store is located at 9548 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 – Phone: (310) 276-2776.

This article was featured in JustLuxe on June 22.

The Newly Refreshed Spa at The Peninsula Hotel Beverly Hills

Recently, the Global Wellness Institute predicted in 2020 that the wellness tourism industry will reach close to $1 trillion, and the spa market alone will tip around $12.8 billion.


To stand apart from the other spas in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills closed it’s doors for three weeks for a complete makeover. Now in shades of creams, gold and ballerina pink colors, this relaxing oasis for Beverly Hills locals and guests is offering some new spa skincare lines and experiences, as well as indulgent a Himalayan dry sauna, private changing rooms with a pretty relaxation area and serenity lounge.


Earlier this week I was invited to preview the Spa near The Rooftop Garden dining patio. It’s located within steps of the 60-foot long heated swimming pool, with a bubbling whirlpool and private cabanas.


Each of the treatment rooms had a Spa therapist and Spa product ambassador performing mini spa experiences on invitees. My first stop was the Oxygen Facial by a Luzern specialist. She gently “pressure washed” my face using an air brush technology to clean and calm my skin by spraying medical grade oxygen onto the skin, Not only did this process hydrate, but it also exfoliated and left me feeling so refreshed. The Peninsula Spa therapist told me this is helpful for acne patients because it removes unwanted bacteria on the skin.


Next I learned about the new weekday pool access for Spa guests with evening appointments. Guests can enjoy a pre- or post-treatment dip in the heated pool and hot tub, while taking in panoramic skyline views. For cabana guests, they can order a Do It Yourself three-step antioxidant Spa kit to be delivered to the cabana. In the kit are chilled citrus or rose infused towels, a hydration mist, a face hydration mask and replenshing body lotion.


For the most extravagant and results-driven facial on the market, I walked in a third treatment room to receive a hand treatment using MBR® (Medical Beauty Research) products. Developed by leading dermatologists, plastic surgeons and skincare specialists in Germany, MBR skincare products include revolutionary ingredient blends, to treat skin on a cellular level down to the dermal layer. Every product is manufactured in small and exclusive batches in Germany and utilizes the most powerful, pure, and effective ingredients, absolutely free of mineral oil, parabens, PEG, phthalates and artificial fragrances

The MBR Age-Defying customized facial includes the neck and décolleté. The three-step Prep, Infuse and Seal process begins with a cleaner and peel, before infusing to stimulate and increase collagen, and the last seal to maximize resiliency. The products are made with higher concentrations of medical-grade active ingredients, known to revive and hydrate the skin’s natural cell functions, restore firmness and elasticity, and regenerate collagen and elastin fibers. It’s ideal for guests seeking a significant reduction of wrinkles, sun damage and sagging skin for a visibly youthful, revitalized and radiant complexion.


In the fourth room I received a mini peel by Spa Therapist Mimi as she applied products from a new skincare line Biologique Recherche onto my face. The French luxury skincare company’s clinical approach is personalized to treat specific skincare needs. Mimi cleaned and painted a tingling peel cream onto my face. After a few minutes, she removed the peel and applied a moisturizer. My skin looked balanced, hydrated, and nourished, almost as if I returned from a weekend vacation.


All of Biologique Recherche products are pure, concentrated and are perfume-free. They are micro-brewed at the Biologique Recherche laboratories in Paris.

Click here to view the full SPA TREATMENT MENU,

In the last room I learned about another newer skincare line Subtle Energies. Founder Farida Irani sources the highest grade of pure ingredients directly from top growers and distillers around the world and hand blends each formula in-house to ensure consistent high-quality products. Two of the most popular treatments include tha 24K Gold Age-Defying Facial and The Recovering Traveler.


The restorative powers of 24K gold leaf provide a sensory experience while penetrating and reviving the deep layers of the skin, reducing fine lines and wrinkles. This ultimate skin rejuvenator uplifts the spirit, emotionally replenishes, and creates a positive glow inside and out.

The benefits of The Recovering Traveler help bring the body into balance and assist with sleeping patterns and energy levels with this customizable jet lag journey. The Spa therapists work on the individual needs of the guest to awaken or to help bring about a restful slumber, by releasing any fluid retention and strengthening the immune system after a long flight.


For a Spa reservations call (310) 975 2854 or email to begin your spa journey today.

This review is featured in JustLuxe Fashion/Health & Wellness .

5-Star Spa Day at La Prairie inside the Waldorf Astoria

The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills was awarded Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel shortly after it opened in 2017. An anonymous Forbes inspector evaluated the art-deco style hotel on 900 objective standards. Besides 119 beautifully appointed deluxe rooms and 51 suites, designed by renowned interior design firm Pierre Yves Rochon, Inc, the hotel offers world-class dining overseen by award-winning French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Daily meals are prepared by Executive Chef Steve Benjamin of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon fame.


Recently the 5,000 sq. ft. La Prairie Spa inside this Waldorf Astoria was named a Five-Star Spa by Forbes Travel Guide. It’s the first spa at a Hilton property in North America to win the award, and only the second globally.


Curious to see why this spa won the prestigious award, I arrived 30 minutes prior to my wellness Signature La Prairie Facial treatment. I had time to enjoy exclusive spa amenities, including a visit to the complimentary steam rooms.


Choosing a locker, I found a plush white towel, waterproof slippers and a comfortable robe inside. While sitting in the lounge to be received by my esthetician, I discovered an array of healthy snacks including housemade oatmeal fruit bars, dried apricots, a variety of bite-size muffins and beautiful artisan chocolates. There was also a tea bar offering an array of TEALEAVES packets. I chose an organic chamomile blossom herbal tea bag and filled a cup with hot water.


Based on La Prairie’s origins, the staff incorporates the world-renowned Swiss skincare’s most luxurious products with unique experiences. The treatment menu offers an array of facials, massages, and body treatments. The award-winning spa uses these products in all of the offered treatments with sumptuous ingredients such as rare platinum, rich caviar and opulent gold. La Prairie elevates skincare science to an art. This is the only La Prairie Spa in Southern California offering two exclusive three-hour experiences. The Ultimate Radiance Experience leaves guests red-carpet ready, beginning with s Perfecting Radiance Radiance Body treatment, followed by a 90-minute facial.

The most decadent experience is Diamond Day, giving guests a glistening glow after a Diamond Perfection body treatment, champagne lunch and rejuvenating Platinum La Prairie facial. Skin feels silky, smooth and luminous from head to toe.


When my spa esthetician Lenora greeted me, she led me to one of the six treatment rooms. She told me she would customize my 60 minutes facial to my personal skincare needs. She included aromatherapy custom blends to enhance my wellbeing, and started with a restorative anti-aging treatment that included a water-activated cleansing mousse to purify and brighten my face and neck. After a mild extraction, she applied an antioxidant serum and soothing water ultrasonic therapy on my face. Next, she gave me a relaxing neck and shoulder massage, before applying a silky moisturizer and protective sunscreen.


After being pampered and rejuvenated, I received a flute of champagne to enjoy in the lounge, before entering a multi-sensory shower experience. The large tiled shower offers an array of calming water effects including a tropical rain and cool waterfall.

Upon checking out, I received a gift bag with a chunk of Himalayan salt. I was told to drop this into a warm water bath at home for a soothing spa-like experience.


La Prairie Spa at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills promises to provide a tranquil five-star experience like no other.

My La Prairie Spa reviews are also featured in JustLuxe and Luxe Beat Magazine

The Restaurant at Montage Beverly Hills

Celebrity chef Scott Conant first opened Scarpetta inside the Montage Beverly Hills, then Food Network Chef Geoffrey Zakarian came in and renamed it Georgie. Both restaurants closed, and now a woman chef de cuisine, Monica Olaes is the new head of the kitchen at the renamed The Restaurant.

Sitting inside the beautifully decorated dining room, Chef Monica approached my table with a plate of her comforting purple potato gnocchi. I learned that while growing up in the Philippines on a farm, Chef Monica became a farmer tending to tomatoes, watermelon, turnip, and purple potatoes. Harvesting the produce, she and her mother went to the community farmers market every week to sell the family’s latest seasonal items. Afterwards she helped her mom in the kitchen prepare meals for the family.


Later when her family moved to California during her teenage years, she attended the California School of Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. With her degree, she worked in the kitchen at Fig & Olive in West Hollywood and with Geoffrey Zakarian at Georgie.

Her passion as a farmer and traveler inspires her to create exquisite seasonal dishes at The Restaurant. One of her signature dishes that wow’d me was her Fry bread. Chef Monica told me that while hiking in the Grand Canyon, she met some native Americans who were making this wonderful bread. It was warm and the best she had ever tasted, inspiring her to make something similar in Beverly Hills. Her puffy Fry bread is topped with prosciutto, Serrano chili, and a secret juniper and tarragon topping.


The head sommelier Kristopher Messiah pairs every dish with one of the 800 different wines on his list. He curates some of the best wines from around the world, and offers a good value by the glass and bottle.

We started with a savory amuse bouche of bite-sized smoked Gouda cheese and potato croquettes dazzled with a black garlic aioli and chives, before six hot Parker House rolls arrived in a baking tin with a side of soft butter.


Next a plate of spicy lobster mixed with harissa aioli and topped with smoked trout roe was presented on crispy rice rectangles. It was a wonderful combination of creamy and crispy with a touch of heat.

Chef Monica makes a satisfying winter chestnut and butternut squash soup and tops it with creme fraiche and crunchy pepitas. Next we tried the Kampachi crudo served with burnt avocado, prickly pear, and pickled pearl onion. I noticed Chef Monica likes to pickle and add a touch of tartness to many of her dishes. She told me that after meeting the chef at the newer Montage Hotel in Cabo San Lucas, she was introduced to the unique and pleasing flavors of burnt avocado and prickly pear.

Our server Olivia recommended the salmon tartare served with pickled ramps, puffed rice, avocado mash and a drizzling of lemon dressing. It was an excellent and light dish.

What makes Chef Monica’s purple potato gnocchi unique is the carrot curry essence. She also adds Japanese shimeji mushrooms to give a slightly crunchy texture and a subtle nutty flavor. The pickled Fresno chilis add a touch of spiciness.


To honor Conant’s popular spaghetti dish that New Yorkers and Beverly Hills diners enjoyed, Chef Monica’s Spaghetti Arrabbiata is similar with blistered cherry tomatoes and a twirling mound of al dente pasta goodness.  

Entrees include seafood specialty dishes focusing on halibut, salmon and grilled branzino that can be ordered as a fillet or whole 1.5 lb fish. 

Chef Monica roasts and grills Jidori chicken, Colorado lamb chops and a multitude of beef cuts from filet mignon to hanger steak, ribeye and Tomahawk. Diners can select three sauces with their proteins that include a spicy chimichurri, red wine jus, and her special juniper and herb creation. 

Inventive sides include rainbow cauliflower with pickled raisins, pine nuts, olives and chopped cilantro. Her Brussels sprouts are enhanced with chopped hazelnuts, prosciutto and balsamic vinegar. Mac and cheese lovers will enjoy the combination of gooey Fontina, Gruyere, Parmesan, with leeks and topped with a panko crust.


Executive pastry chef Amanda Lavin make an array to toothsome desserts that include a honey nut squash custard with maple crumble, that is crowned with a scoop of pomegranate sherbet. Her rice pudding is topped with red wine spiced figs and an almond tuile. We also enjoyed her cheesecake with an essence of caramelized pear and scoop of pear sorbet. 

The Restaurant is offering a New Year’s Eve four-course dinner starting at 7 p.m. There is an additional wine and champagne pairing offered with each course for an additional fee. The elegant dinner is $295 per person. 

Chef Monica is also participating in the 2019 Winter dine.L.A. event from January 11 through Friday January 25. Guests can order a three course with one side dish specially priced set menu for $59. There are a choice of three starters, entrees, sides and dessert. Menu items include her signature Fry bread topped with prosciutto or the Kampachi crudo; a juicy filet mignon or halibut, and pastry chef Amanda Lavin’s chocolate pavlova. It’s available on Sunday and Monday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday 5 to 9:30 p.m. $$ 225 N. Canon Drive (310)860-5848.

This review was featured in the Beverly Press December 2018.

The stars align at Beverly Hills Ocean Prime

While sitting on the elegant al fresco terrace near a DJ spinning lively tunes, one of my favorite actors and singers Daveed Diggs passed by my table with actress and singer Emmy Raver-Lampman. For Hamilton fans, this is seeing musical royalty. Not only did Diggs play Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette in the original Hamilton cast on Broadway, but now stars in the television show blackish as Rainbow’s (Tracee Ellis Ross) brother. Actress and singer Raver-Lampman rocked the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood as Angelica Schuyler starring in Hamilton’s touring company. One never knows who they might spot while dining at Ocean Prime in Beverly Hills.


During pleasantly warm days and evenings, diners request sitting in the half-shell shaped booths with comfortable black and white throw pillows. An array of large white umbrellas shade guests and add to the vacation ambiance.

While looking at the new brunch menu, our personable server asked if we would like a bottomless mimosa or Bloody Mary. Since mimosas can be ordered with either fresh orange or blood orange juice, my husband and I ordered one of each.


There is a section of appealing dishes that included lobster and avocado toast, where the spotlight is butter poached lobster pieces strategically placed on a creamy sweet pea and avocado spread. The perfectly cooked sunny side egg’s yolk bathes the toast when cut, adding a touch of savoriness to the earthy flavors. A side salad of arugula with pickled red onions and preserved lemon accompany the plate.


Our daughter ordered the jumbo lump crab cake and eggs presented on a thick English muffin. The crab meat and poached egg were covered with a light yellow Hollandaise sauce and sprinkle of paprika. It was served with a small bowl of cut pineapple and cantaloupe, and a small mixed green salad with a pleasing balsamic vinaigrette. 

Seeing friends sitting nearby, they urged us to order the braised short rib “Surf n Turf.” They said it was the perfect size, not too large, yet filled with wonderful flavors. 

When we ordered it, it arrived stacked with the bottom layer a crispy gouda potato cake, almost like a thick latke, before being topped with tender, melt in your mouth slow braised short ribs. On top was a large butter poached lobster claw (sometimes sea scallops), then a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. 

Other brunch dishes include an everything bagel with smoked salmon and the fixings; ahi tuna tartare; Prime steak tartare, a variety of sushi and salads, Prime cheeseburger and a quiche with spinach, provolone and parmesan.


Desiring something sweet, we ordered the French toast served with candied sweet and crunchy bacon on the side. The toast was topped with fresh and sweet red and purple berries, and a ladle of lemon curd. A small carafe on the plate was filled with warm maple syrup.

Later on Sundays, the chefs prepare a multi-course special Surf & Turf dinner for $60 per person. For the holidays, purchase a $100 eGift card and receive a $25 eBonus card now through December 30, 2018. The eBonus card is valid for use at any Cameron Mitchell Restaurant’s location nationwide, Sunday through Thursdays, starting January 2, 2019 and expires February 28, 2019. 

Ocean Prime is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday starting at 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Fridays, Ocean Prime stays open until 11 p.m. On weekends it opens at 5 p.m. Sunday Brunch is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ocean Prime is closed on Thanksgiving. $$-$$$. 9595 Wilshire Blvd. (310)859-4818.

This review was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News – Nov. 21, 2018.


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