The Westin LAX Festive Sleigh Ride

Tis the season to be jolly and not have to worry about parking at one of the busiest airports this time of the year. The Westin Los Angeles Airport has launched a festive shuttle throughout the month of December to spread a little cheer to passengers leaving and arriving to LAX.

Guests parking or staying The Westin near the airport, will enjoy the exclusive opportunity to ride in a festively wrapped shuttle that is decked out with thousands of lights. The shuttle will have a Christmas wreath and the drivers will be wearing Santa hats. Passengers are greeted with candy canes, and can sit back and listen to holiday music before arriving at their airport terminal or the hotel.

This special shuttle will run at random in rotation with the hotel’s regular complimentary shuttle service which runs every 20 minutes 24/7.


Right now through December 25, The Westin at LAX is offering a “That’s a Wrap!” package. Guests staying at the hotel will receive festive wrapping paper, bows and anything else one needs to wrap holiday gifts with ease — including a complimentary cocktail! To book, visit www.marriott.com/laxwi and use promo code HO9.

Kick-off NYE with Shottys Gelatin Shots

The Holidays at home can be festive and bright as you toast to 2021 with Shottys Limited-Edition Bubbly Flavor Gelatin Shots.

Photo by Jill Weinlein

Founded in 2016, Shottys, LLC by encourages everyone to get “Party-Ready” and Be the Party Hero® with alcoholic refreshments that indulge classic nostalgia and make everlasting memories. Awarded “Best of Show” among other top medals by Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, Shottys pre-made gelatin shots come in a variety of flavors.

Our bubbly shots are inspired by traditional midnight champagne toasts and celebratory holiday parties. But instead of bringing a boring bottle of sparkling wine to the party, we know consumers wanted something way more fun than that,” said Shottys co-founder Austin Rovetti. “When you walk in with your chilled, festive cooler-bag of 24 ready-made bubbly shots, you’ll definitely be the party hero!”

Photo courtesy of Shottys

Featured in People Magazine, delish, Refinery29 & POPSUGAR, these gelatin shots taste just like a festive bubbly, yet without the bubbles. Turns out, carbonating gelatin shots is hard to do. Each shot is 12.5% (25 Proof).

Select Costco, Kroger and HEB stores offer them in a 24-pack that includes strawberry, blue raspberry, grape, and watermelon. Made with 6 times distilled premium vodka. It is corn-based and very smooth when added to Shotty secret recipe. Serve chilled, peel off the top and enjoy!

Shottys aspires to be green making sure their cups are recyclable and BPA-free. They try to minimize packaging and waste and encourage fans to post creative ways to reuse the Shottys cup to be featured on IG: @shottys.

To find a location near you, click on Shottys.

Meet the founder of LA’s 101 Cider House – Mark McTavish

Last week I had the opportunity to interview Mark McTavish, the CEO and Founder of 101 Cider House in Los Angeles. He and his team invited me to taste test a few of his popular 101 Ciders.

Knowing that I write for the Beverly Press, McTavish shared that he lives in our readership area, in Larchmont, near Hancock Park. We had a great chat and I learned a lot about the man who created one of the healthiest alcoholic beverages in LA and the world.IMG_0812

JW: How did you get started?

MM: I’m originally from Toronto, Canada and got into health and fitness as a body builder at the age of 14. My passion for fitness inspired me to open gyms and fitness clubs in Canada. In 2003, while studying and getting my business degree, I ran a craft beer bar. Realizing I didn’t want to work for anyone, and having a knack for beverages and a flair in bartending, I traveled to Asia and built a bar, that is still there today.

JW: How did you develop your 101 Cider?

MM: I thought about developing the first healthiest alcoholic beverage with no sugar. While researching, I discovered that in Asturias, Spain it is known for its excellent hard ciders. I flew there and met cider makers who make cider at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world. When I came back to the states, I went on the ABC website and found a winemaker named Norm Stafford who held a license to make wine in Westlake Village. I went out to meet him and he turned out to be so friendly. I started making cider at his Aldabella Winery and Tasting Room where helped me get started.IMG_0806

JW: How do you make your cider?

MM: All I do is get fresh pressed apple juice and let it ferment for three months. That’s how they do it in Spain. Apples are loaded with malic acid. Malolactic fermentation is a process in winemaking in which tart-tasting malic acid, naturally present in grapes, converts to softer-tasting lactic acid. The same applies to apples. This fermentation creates a creamy, smooth and healthy beverage to drink. There are 6 billion or 6 times more probiotics in my ciders than in kombucha.

JW: When did you open 101 Cider House in DTLA?

MM: I discovered a space across from the restaurant Majordomo, and thought it would be a great spot to manufacture 101 Cider and build a tap room experience for cider lovers. We opened in December 2019, and had to close to the public when the coronavirus pandemic hit in mid-March. We are still manufacturing, and now ship cases to people #saferathome.IMG_0807

JW: What is your most popular sour cider?

MM: Cactus Rose. People like the magenta color cider. It’s a cider meets a lambrusco made with apples, cactus pear, basil, hibiscus and lemon. It has zero sugar, 6.9% ABV I and 125 calories a can. Another favorite is Gunpowder Guava made with apple juice, green tea and guava.

JW: How did your come up with the name 101 Cider?

MM: The concept represents a strong identity with the U.S. 101. The well traveled freeway is popular in songs, connecting So Cal and the West Coast. Our apple juice that we ferment travels from Seattle to DTLA. The 101 freeway is a corridor of where apples are freshly pressed, raw, unpasteurized, delivered and poured into our tanks to ferment for three months, developing great probiotics.IMG_0801

JW: So 101 Cider is healthy to drink?

MM: Alcohol is a byproduct of fermentation. Our cider has zero sugar, helps to reduce stress, and promotes wellbeing. Crack open a can and your mind and body are triggered to relax and enjoy the flavors.

JW: Tell me about your Sour Society?

MM: Sour cider fans can now enjoy 101 Ciders at home by joining the 101 Sour Society. You will receive a subscription box on the 15th of every month. A selection of 101 Cider House core blends, seasonal blends and specialty blends that have never been released to the public are in each box. Receive a 15% off your first membership box and a special birthday box from 101 Cider House during your birthday box as a member. Go to https://101cider.com/shop to learn more.

Jeni’s Splendid Summer Ice Cream Flavors

When I was approached to taste test two of Jeni’s new summer State Fair ice cream flavors, and her dairy-free Lemon Bar flavor, I immediately said YES!

Yesterday a bright orange Jeni’s box was delivered to my front door. I gathered the girls for an ice cream tasting picnic outside.

IMG_0710

Jeni’s launched a brand new flavor – Watermelon Taffy in her new State Fair Collection. Scooping from this pint into an ice cream bowl, we all agreed it offered an effervescent watermelon soda flavor and reminded us of sucking on a watermelon Jolly Rancher candy. Made with fresh cream, non-fat milk, cultured buttermilk and yogurt (made just for the founder and chief creative officer,  Jeni Britton Bauer, by a fifth generation Ohio dairy). The pretty pink color is developed from pumpkin, apple and beetroot. This ethereally light and extraordinarily creamy ice cream is great on its own, but would make an amazing ice cream float with a watermelon seltzer or sparkling water.

IMG_0703-3

Next we opened the container of Orange Blossom Chiffon. This pale peach colored ice cream tastes similar to a nostalgic orange Dreamsicle. To me it smelled like walking through the orange and tangerine orchards in Ojai, CA. It’s slightly sweet and tad tart and offers the essence of tangerine and orange flowers. A scoop of this oh so creamy flavor would be amazing on peach pie.

IMG_0724

The last pint, a dairy-free Lemon Bar, was my daughters all-time favorite flavor. It’s one of Jeni’s new pucker coconut cream, vegan lemon curd concoctions mixed with tiny shortbread crumble, and some coconut flakes to give it a surprising tickle your tongue texture with every lick.

All these flavors are available at L.A. scoop shops and via local delivery here beginning on 7/16. When you order 4+ pints, your delivery is free!

Little Dom’s “Pan-domic” Store & Meals

Last weekend the girls and I went on a homeschool field trip to Los Feliz to pick up Jeni’s Splendid ice cream. While driving down Hillhurst, we noticed the beloved neighborhood restaurant Little Dom’s had it’s door open and a menu taped to the window.

The first time I wrote a review of Little Dom’s was in 2010, featured in the Beverly Press.

I pulled up to the curb next to Little Dom’s restaurant, and we put on our masks and gloves before entering the dimly lit boutique grocery store. Inside was a beautiful array of colorful Frecker Farms market vegetables, almost ripe bananas, oat milk and regular, variety of meats, cheese, organic eggs, and freshly baked breads. Everything looked so appealing, that we just started grabbing items, even though they weren’t on our shopping list.

IMG_6990

Our best purchases were a container of freshly made yogurt, and a loaf of artisan bread covered with sesame seeds, and a jar of strawberry and rhubarb jam. Even though I have been making bread #saferathome, my breads don’t come close to the textures and flavors of Little Dom’s. We enjoy the bread and jam for a mid-day snack, and the next morning for breakfast and sliced for lunch sandwiches. When we finished the last slice with soup for dinner, we vowed to go back and purchase another loaf.

Pick up Little Dom’s daily three-course menu to go for $25 or Little Dom’s at-home pizza making kit for two, which includes two pizza doughs, a ball of mozzarella and house-made tomato sauce for $20. Add optional toppings like kalamata olives, pepperoni and house-made fennel sausage or a bottle of wine.

Celebration Choc Cake

Do you have an upcoming pandemic celebration? Birthday, anniversary or just why not? Order a Celebration Dinner for one or two people starting at $40, and includes an appetizer, entree (such as Spaghetti Cacio y Pepe) and a cold chocolate cake with salted caramel & mascarpone whipped cream. Add additional entrees or a bottle of wine to make this extra special.

Available through Little Dom’s on Caviar or phone orders (323-661-0055). In addition, Little Dom’s is offering in-house delivery: every day from 5:30 pm – 9 pm for $2.99, the restaurant delivers to 90027, 90039, 90029, 90038, 90026, 90004, 91205, 91204, 91210, 91203, 90065, 90068, 90042.

Little Dom’s is also making ricotta cheese and blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, cold and hot sandwiches, salads, pasta, steak, pizza, and tiramisu.

Go to Little Dom’s online and pick up later at 2128 Hillhurst Ave., (323)661-0055.

Little Dom’s was featured in my column in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on April 23, 2020.

LACC Honors Actor Morgan Freeman

Recently one of the finest American actors, Morgan Freeman stood inside the Cinema Building at Los Angeles Community College (LACC) and smiled. The last time he was on this campus was 60 years ago, and now his alma mater was rededicating a lecture hall to read The Morgan Freeman Theater.

IMG_5167-2

Walking across campus with Dr. Mary Gallagher, President of Los Angeles City College and Shaena Engle, Public Relations Manager, students stopped and did a double-take as Freeman posed for photos and greeted many along the way.

IMG_5230

Inside the Camino Theater, Engle took Freeman aside to see two decorated bulletin boards honoring this esteem actor. He was touched that someone took the time to cut out each one of the movies that he appeared in during his long and successful acting career. He pointed to “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) and said he liked working with Director Clint Eastwood. The movie won four Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Freeman. Pointing to “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994) he said he had a great time on this movie with actor Tim Robbins. Then he found “Bonfire of the Vanities,” and said “that was one of my least favorite.”

IMG_5237-2

Journalist and Board Member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Anke Hofmann, moderated and read questions by students inquiring about Freeman’s days at LACC. They wanted to know how he became an actor, how he handles rejection in the entertainment industry, and what advice can he give to them.

Here’s what he said:

Education: Actors have a lot of reading, maybe not in the beginning, but you will have a lot to read. Looking for a job when he arrived in Hollywood after four years in the Air Force, he was hired at LACC as a transcript clerk. His plan was to make some money and take acting classes at the Pasadena Playhouse. While at LACC a co-worker said, “Why would you do that? We have the best theatre program in LA and its free.” So Freeman enrolled Theatre 101, and then Theatre 102, Speech and Diction and French.  He worked in the transcript office 8 hours, ate dinner, and then went to class. He was dedicated to go to school and get what he wanted. One of the most useful classes was a Speech class, where her learned about the development of the voice. “Most people speak in a voice too high, and in the class, we learned how to speak in a lower voice. Most people speak too fast, so we learned how to slow down.” He learned how his develop his commanding voice in a lower octave and enunciate each word.

IMG_5210

Acting Technique: When asked what acting technique he uses, he replied “The Morgan Freeman technique – intuition. It’s what I get when I read a script. Life and the craft became my teachers.”

Persistence: If you want to act, do it! It’s not an easy road at all for anybody, at no time. Getting jobs is like the weather, if you run out of here and get a job and zoom up, you will zoom down. If it takes you a while to get up, it will take you a while to get back down. Don’t give up. If you want to do it, you have to stick to it!

Preparation: Yawn it will relax your vocal cords.

IMG_5312

Work With People You Admire: All three movies he did with Clint Eastwood were extraordinary experiences. Eastwood is an efficient director, “Get it, got it, good.” When Freeman received the extraordinary script “Invictus”, and was asked who he thought should direct the film, Freeman immediately said Clint Eastwood. “It was one of the most fun productions I worked on,” Freeman said.

How he got his start: In the fall of 1960, Freeman sold his car and moved to New York. “Anyone can get a job in New York” and after five months, he moved to San Francisco and took dance classes studying ballet, jazz and tap with a goal to get on Broadway. He hoped he could be the one black person. While a member of the small repertory company, he had a life changing experience when someone told him “You aren’t a dancer, you are an actor.”

In September 1963, he went back to New York and worked on a movie. It was a night shot, and slowly actors were being told they weren’t needed anymore, until Freeman was the last man standing. At that moment, he realized that this is where he belonged.

IMG_5155

Learn to say NO! The moment he knew he didn’t have to work to be an actor was in 1967. He was auditioning for an off Broadway play and they called him back twice to come in and audition again. The third time they called him, he said “No, I’m not coming back” and they hired him. With this role he was able to get an agent and press. Next he got a role in “Hello, Dolly!” on Broadway with Pearl Bailey at the St. James Theatre. His advice to success in showbiz is to never do a show for more than 11 months. You need to move on. Even though he was making $92 a week at “Hello, Dolly!”, when he was offered a role in Cabaret for less money, $72 a week, he took it and received even more press. “What’s more important, money or publicity? Publicity!”

Advice to student actors: “Acting is a do or die profession,” said Freeman. Acting was all he wanted, and he didn’t want to have a fall back career. “All of us can make a living in the business, maybe not superstars, but you can work.” In dealing with rejection, he said, “You are going to be rejected, you will reasonably get a percentage of rejections, but you will work. When you have an audition, it’s a shot, and that is a big moment.” Work on making your videos and short stories. The movie industry is dynamic and with so much streaming going on, there is a big thrust of material.

Embarrassing moment: Freeman said the most embarrassing moment in his career was when he made a fool of himself in a production of Othello in Dallas, Texas. Wearing harem pants and a blousy shirt with a head band, someone in the audience thought he looked like Jimi Hendrix and shouted out “Play Purple Haze.”

Directing advice: When asked about his directing debut, he shared what the late Mike Nichols once said, “The Director’s job is finished once the casting is done. The most important job of directing is casting and then getting out of the way.”

IMG_5149

Freeman always has a welcoming home at LACC, and inside the Cinema Building his name on the wall of a lecture hall gives hopes to students who desire to follow his footsteps.

Celebrate The Year of the Rat at Universal Studios

The “Year of the Rat” celebration is now at Universal Studios Hollywood through February 9, 2020. Guests with birthday years that correspond with the “Year of the Rat” are said to be intelligent, witty and charming. Festive red banners list the years of each Chinese zodiac animal, as the theme park celebrates with this annual Lunar New Year event.

A Mandarin-speaking MEGATRON from “Transformers: The Ride-3D” greets guests under the Happy Lunar New Year arch before entering Po’s Village in Universal Plaza.

IMG_4006

At no additional cost, guests can learn some Kung Fu Panda moves from Po, take an art class at Feng The Palace Artist Stand to learn how to draw Po, the Dragon Warrior with an artist from the fabled Jade Palace.

IMG_3979-2

Make a wish and attach it on one of the blossoming pink wishing trees. Pose with Tigress for photos in front of a Chinese background.

Only for this special celebration, meet Po’s adoptive father, Mr. Ping and have a chat before enjoying some of his delicious noodles and other food options from his nearby Noodle Shop.

Be sure to see the immersive “Kung Fu Panda Adventure” Attraction across the way.

Hello Kitty and Illumination’s Entertainment Minions are all adorned in custom-designed Lunar New Year Attire. The Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride will add to the festivities, entertaining guests in their brightly colored traditional Lunar New Year attire.

IMG_3961

The world-famous Studio Tour is available in Mandarin at select times throughout the day. Featuring expertly-trained Mandarin-speaking tour guides, the experience provides insight into the world of movie-making magic as guests enjoy behind-the-scenes access to one of the largest production studios in the world. In-language park maps are also available for guests.

IMG_3999-3

Guests can continue their Lunar New Year celebration at Universal CityWalk’s Dongpo Kitchen restaurant which features upscale and modern Sichuan cuisine. Inspired by China’s premier restaurant Meizhou Dongpo, Dongpo Kitchen offers the comforts of a casual dining environment with both indoor and al fresco seating and caters to an eclectic palate with a variety of signature dishes.

Lunar New Year is included in the Price of Admission to Universal Studios Hollywood from Thursday, January 23 through Sunday, February 9. More information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com. Mandarin-speaking guests can learn more about the Lunar New Year event at www.ush.cn.  Information is also available on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTubeand Weibo @好莱坞环球影城.

71Above – Where the term “elevated dining” really means something

71Above, located on the 71st floor of the US Bank Tower, offers panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles and beyond. The OUE Skyspace, a 45-foot slide cantilevering outside of the high-rise building, while separate from 71Above, provides a thrilling start to an evening out.

Executive chef Javier Lopez prepares an elevated seasonal menu and adds a personal flair to many of his dishes.

IMG_3371

The restaurant is built around a unique 360-degree compass next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, which change in opacity as the sun moves across the sky, with an individual compass at each table.

IMG_3377

Sitting at a table overlooking Malibu to Palos Verdes, the uninterrupted panorama of greater Los Angeles is breathtaking during the day and very romantic in the evening.

Guests can choose from three different dining experiences: a reservation deposit for a prime window table, an edge table right at the window or one of the two chef’s tables that offer a direct view into the kitchen.

IMG_3366

Both the lunch and dinner menus are prix-fixe, with a two-course lunch menu for $35. Guests can also select an optional wine pairing for an additional $24 during lunch.

Our friendly server went over the menu and shared the staff favorite: a creamy and rich black squid ink pasta layered with shredded crab and slightly spicy Calabrian chili peppers.

First course items on the menu include a parsnip soup with pickled apple mostarda made from mustard seeds, shaved walnuts and pretty nasturtium flowers. Other selections include a burrata with sliced persimmon, and fried Brussels sprouts glazed with a Mandarin green apple curry sauce. We chose a yellow tail hamachi, a market salad and a roasted beet salad as our starters.

IMG_3339

The market salad was a colorful bowl displaying green and purple endive and Bibb lettuce. Thinly sliced Asian pears, parmesan cheese, chopped almonds and a light olive oil dressing delivered an earthy profile.

Artistically arranged with two rows of Japanese yellow tail, half of the hamachi was wrapped with thinly sliced cucumber and topped with sliced grapes, while the other half was topped with red beet medallions and sprigs of micro-greens.

Roasted beets were placed on a bed of ancient farro with a sprinkling of buckwheat grains on the top. This dish was dressed lightly and the texture of the grains balanced the smoothness of the beets.

IMG_3355

For the second course, we selected the New Zealand salmon filet. Cooked in a miso brown butter with coconut, the filet was served with three types of squash including a maple glazed squash and a puree.

Two large pan-seared diver scallops were served on a bed of farro risotto. Crunchy julienne leeks and a creamy leek foam dazzled the top of this dish. The third entrée was the staff’s favorite squid ink pasta.

IMG_3371

We finished with a bowl of coconut custard hidden under a bright green basil gelée. Dollops of Key lime curd, a scoop of strawberry sorbet, freshly cut strawberries and crunchy, flavorful sesame brittle decorated the top. The complexity and textures of this dessert offered an array of bright and clean flavors.

The second dessert was a round, crisp ginger snap tuile wafer on top of dark chocolate cremeux, smoked banana ice cream and a salted peanut crumble. Both desserts were pleasing in presentation and flavor.

IMG_3344

Pastry chef Vanesa Beltran oversees the program and will introduce a wide range of new artistic desserts including vegan and gluten-free sweets for the lunch and dinner menus.

Spur-of-the-moment guests can come in for dinner and sit in the bar or lounge without a deposit reservation. On a first-come, first-served basis, diners can order from the a la carte Bar Bites menu prepared by the same fine dining kitchen.

IMG_3382

Items on the menu include oysters, a potato and two-cheese fritter with truffles, a falafel with za’atar and pickled onion, and dates wrapped in bacon and blue cheese. Shareable plates include roasted beets, charcuterie with selected cured meats and marinated olives, and a chef’s selection cheese plate. Heartier fare includes steak tartare, octopus and Nduja Bolognese pasta.

IMG_3381

The bar makes cocktails inspired by neighborhoods in Los Angeles, including the Hollywood, which offers a spicy grapefruit essence made from jalapeño Grey Goose vodka and grapefruit cordial. The West Hollywood is made with apple-enhanced Hangar 1 Vodka, apple brandy, and apple and cinnamon cordial. Beers include a Lagunitas Czech Pilsner, Saint Archer white ale, North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial, and Almanac Sunshine and Opportunity sour beers.

71Above will be offering a special four-course Valentine’s Day dinner menu on Feb. 14 for $150 per person. Lead sommelier Catherine Morel will introduce some of her favorite wines with a supplemental $75 wine pairing.

Reservations for lunch during the week are recommended, but not required for the main dining room starting at 11:30 a.m. The restaurant is open nightly for dinner starting at 5 p.m. Reservations can be made on the restaurant’s website, and payment in full gives you a “ticket” with the number of guests and time of the reservation. Pricing varies and depends on the menu. $$$ 633 W. 5th St., (213)712-2683.

This article was featured in the Beverly Press on Jan. 23, 2020

dineLA menu at Atrium Los Feliz

One of L.A.’s most buzzed about new restaurant Atrium is one of the 433 restaurants featured this Summer during dineLA Restaurant Week from July 12-26.

Last night I was invited to a preview of Chef Hunter Pritchett’s four-course dineLA menu, featuring peak of the season local Farmers Market produce.

IMG_9664

Guests have a choice of one Starter – housemade thick and crusty grilled focaccia with kimchi butter, and Hemet buckwheat honey or “eat like ribs” crispy Brentwood corn (grown in the San Joaquin Delta). It’s not like street corn or elote, it’s a fusion of Korean flavors. The cob is cut into quarters and enhanced with bulgogi aioli, fiscalini cheddar, green onion and gochukaru. One can cut the kernels off, or just pick it up and eat it like a rib. It’s delicious!

IMG_9672

Course Two includes one of the most colorful artistic dishes – Hamachi Crudo with sliced cucumbers, watermelon radish, fish and peaches on top of a swirl of tangy orange leche de tigre. Or select the hand rolled Trofie pasta covered with a slightly spicy miso-heirloom tomato sauce and topped with an egg stracciatella.

IMG_9674

Course Three offers a vegetarian or a meat option. The vegetarian is a grilled cauliflower shawarma with a Middle Eastern pistachio zhoug (pesto), Armenian salad made with ancient grains, pickled dates and layers of soft, thin unleavened lavash flatbread. Or guests can select the Thai flavored curry rubbed hanger steak served with a tomato jaew sauce, grilled cucumber and Thai herbs.

IMG_9676

Course Four is dessert and both are unique and excellent. The strawberry-tomato Mexican ice pop called a paleta is served on a stick, and topped with an angel food cake crumble, sliced strawberries and basil. Sweet and savory summer flavors.

IMG_9690

The second dessert option is smooth and ethereal avocado mousse on top of Meyer lemon marmalade, in the center of a crumble, with a scoop of Bay leaf ice cream and wood fired meringue squares. What a balance of different textures and flavors.

BRAVO to Chef Hunter and his outstanding team!

The dineLA menu at Atrium is $49 per person. To discover other dineLA restaurants, click here Summer dineLA Restaurant Week 2019.

Wild Kratts now at Discovery Cube LA

When my daughters were in preschool, we couldn’t wait to watch Chris and Martin Kratt on PBS with their lovable lemur sidekick Zoboomafoo.

IMG_7068

Kratt Brothers Company is the creative force behind such hit shows as Emmy-winning preschool series Zoboomafoo, live-action adventure series Be The Creature and the new animated hit, Wild Kratts.

IMG_7065

These American educational nature show hosts have a Wild Kratts: Creature Power! museum exhibit at the Discovery Cube Los Angeles. It’s in partnership with the Minnesota Children’s Museum and Kratt Brothers Company Ltd. Together they are bringing the popular Wild Kratts world to life to families in Southern California.

IMG_7069

“We invite fans of the popular Wild Kratts characters to be transported to the Wild Kratts world,” said Joe Adams, CEO, Discovery Cube. “The Wild Kratts exhibit will engage our young guests in wide-ranging STEM experiences that will inspire, educate and impact young explorers.”

There are four habitats that include penguins in Antartica, the tropical rainforest where visitors can sneak through the forest using the stealth of a jaguar or swing through trees like a spider money, and hop like a kangaroo in the Australian Outback Desert.

IMG_7072

Animal experts Chris and Martin Kratt and a cast of heroes and villains explore and learn about the secret lives of extraordinary creatures including Orcas, an ant-eating, desert-dwelling Thorny Devil, a propelling platypus, Leopard Seal and loud calling Laughing Kookaburra and see a life action science collaboration, where children will help the team solve problems and protect animals.  The diverse animal environments immerse children and families in explorations of animals and the relationships between them.

IMG_7077

Along the way, join the Wild Kratts team to undermine villains Zach, Donita, Gourmand, and Paisley’s nefarious plans, using Wild Kratts technology and the powers of science and teamwork to learn about and help animals.

IMG_7080

Join the Wild Kratts team at the Discovery Cube Los Angeles at the Wild Kratts: Creature Power! museum exhibit. General admission tickets or memberships are required to participate. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.discoverycube.org or at the science center. The exhibit will be open in Los Angeles from May 25 – September 8, 2019.

Discovery Cube LA – 11800 Foothill Blvd, Sylmar, CA 91342 – Phone: (818) 686-2823

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.

img_3699

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.

img_3705

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.

img_3720

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.

3cec86c1-d103-41e1-b5a2-53941d7e9f5e

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.

img_3723

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.

img_3721

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.

img_3707

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.

img_3708

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

Festive St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations in LA

Wear some green and head outside to join others in drinking green beer, while enjoying special St. Patrick Day fare. Here’s a slew of lucky spots to celebrate this weekend:

IMG_1240

Ike’s Love & Sandwiches – On St. Patrick’s Day Ike’s Love & Sandwiches is offering $7 sandwiches all day long. There are over 500 sandwich combinations that can be made with meat, or to  create vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Be sure to bring in the coupon featured on their Facebook page. 302 N San Fernando Blvd. (818)562-7223 and 1151 Westwood Blvd. (310)208-0770.

St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness at Dog Haus – The gourmet hot dog, sausage, burger and beer concept Dog Haus, is offering a variety of food and drink specials during the month of March. On St. Patrick’s Day participating locations are offering specials on tots. There are three varieties of ‘Loaded Tots’ that include Reuben Tots, Southwestern Tots, and BLT Tots. Also they will serve Green Beer. At the Biergarten locations they will serve Jameson Shots and Pickle Backs. Throughout March Madness starting March 19 through April 8, all three varieties of Loaded Tots are available at all participating locations including 3817 W. Olive Ave. (818)566-4287 and 4929 Lankershim Blvd. (818)505-1033 and 105 N. Hill Ave. (626)577-4287.

St. Patricks Day DonutsTrejo’s Coffee & Donuts – Now through St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts offers four St. Patrick’s Day-themed doughnuts. The Pot O’ Gold doughnut features a blue buttermilk glaze with Lucky Charms cereal. The Over the Rainbow is a raised doughnut with rainbow buttermilk glaze and fluffy royal icing clouds. The Shamrock is a raised green doughnut with simple glaze, and The Leprechaun is a raised doughnut with dark chocolate glaze and green sprinkles. 6785 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, (323)462-4600.

Birds & Bees – The 1950s-themed underground speakeasy in downtown Los Angeles offers a classy St. Patrick’s Day celebration on March 15-16. Bar manager Jake Larowe will serve The Celtic Knot cocktail made with Tullamore D.E.W., Oloroso sherry, honey syrup, lemon juice and mint for $13. It’s a play on the classic Irish Gold Rush cocktail. The bar will be closed on Sunday, March 17. 207 S. Broadway, (213)537-0510.

Public School Restaurant & Bar is serving green Mama’s Little Yella Pils lager all weekend to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at the Culver City, downtown Los Angeles and Sherman Oaks locations. 612 S. Flower St., Los Angeles, (213)622-4500. 9411 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310)558-0414. 15300 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818)728-9818.

Brennan’s – On Sunday, March 17, join the St. Patrick’s Day party at the beloved Irish pub Brennan’s for no cover fee from 6 a.m. to noon. Afterwards, its $5 to get in until closing at 2 a.m. Guests ages 21 and over can enjoy food and drink specials, live music, bagpipers and good times. 4089 Lincoln Blvd., Marina Del Rey, (424)443-5119.

Tavern and The Larder at Tavern – On March 17, brunch at Tavern and The Larder at Tavern includes house-made corned beef brisket with sunny-side up eggs, braised cabbage, and potatoes and parsley-mustard sauce. The menu also features Guinness-battered pollock with fried potatoes, tartar sauce and malt vinegar. Wine director Caroline Styne recommends Christiaan Röllich’s Irish Kiss cocktail made with Jameson Irish Whiskey, Murphy’s Irish Stout and rosemary. The restaurant also offers a whiskey flight with Jameson, Powers, Bushmills and Murphy’s Stout. Finish the meal with a green velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and Guinness ice cream. Brunch is from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The same menu will be offered during dinner from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Take-out orders from The Larder at Tavern must be ordered by Friday, March 15, at 5 p.m. 11648 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, (310)806-6464 and (310)806-6460.

IMG_1239

Ashland Hill – Dress in your best green gear and head to Ashland Hill between noon and 6 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrate the third Shamrock Social with green beer, Jameson whiskey, and corned beef and cabbage. The event will also include a DJ spinning tunes and a giant beer pong tournament – the winner gets bragging rights for the year and their team name inscribed on the axe trophy displayed in the bar. Come out and drink for a noble cause, with proceeds benefiting Heal the Bay. Tickets are $20 for admission and two tickets for food or drinks. A VIP ticket includes four drink and food tickets and a commemorative 2019 T-shirt for $45. Additional food and drink tickets will be available for $5 each or $20 for a five pack. T-shirts will be sold for $20. To purchase tickets, visit shamrocksocialah.eventbrite.com. 2807 Main St., Santa Monica, (310)392-3300.

California Sun – Silver Lake’s newest pizza spot is offering 35 percent off six-packs of Guinness beer on March 17. The eatery also offers a special green pesto pizza pie, New York-style slices, 20-inch pies, Detroit deep dish pizza and seasonal salads. Choose from 14 rotating taps and over 140 different cans of beer to enjoy with the meal. 3903 Sunset Blvd., (323)800-2456.

Rise-N-Grind – Come into the Rise-N-Grind Coffee & Juice Bar in Hollywood on St. Patrick’s Day for a green eggs and ham sandwich on a croissant. Enjoy it with an Irish cream latte prepared with Stumptown Hair Bender coffee beans for a blend of creamy, nutty, chocolate and vanilla flavors. 6501 Hollywood Blvd., (323)464-4100.

Bacari PDR and Bacari GDL – In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Mediterranean-inspired restaurants Bacari PDR and Bacari GDL will serve a special An Irish Kiss Goodnight cocktail made with Irish whiskey, Baileys, house cream, shaved chocolate, coffee and chocolate ice cubes. 6805 S. Vista Del Mar Lane, Playa Del Rey, (310)439-2100. 757 Americana Way, Glendale, (818)696-1460.

The Henry – Celebrate St. Paddy’s Day with the Green Tea Press cocktail made with Charbay Vodka, clover honey, lime, cucumber and mint. To keep with the green theme, order the smashed avocado toast. 120 N. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, (424)204-1595.

Corner Cantina – Head to the Corner Cantina for Irish nachos on March 17. The dish is made with seasoned fries, queso, jalapeño, pickled onion, sour cream and corned beef. Also try the pretzel bites, which arrive in five pieces and are served with mustard; the corned beef sandwich on a potato bun with cabbage, pickled onion and mustard; or the patty made with wagyu beef, cheddar, onion, pickles and aioli. 630 W. Sixth St., Los Angeles, (213)614-1900.

Mohawk Bend – Visit the vegan-friendly restaurant and bar in Echo Park on St. Patrick’s Day for traditional corned beef hash, Reuben sandwiches and vegan corned beef hash with Impossible meat. Drinks include Girl Scout Cookie shots, the California Car Bomb and whiskey flights for $15. 2141 W. Sunset Blvd., (213)483-2337.

Granville will serve up a shot of Jameson with any draft beer for a festive boilermaker for $10 on March 17. The special is available all day at the restaurant’s locations in West Hollywood, Studio City, Glendale and Burbank. 8701 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, (424)522-5161. 807 Americana Way, Glendale, (818)550-0472. 121 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank, (818)848-4726. 12345 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818)506-7050.

The Abbey Food & Bar’s famous drink menu on St. Patrick’s Day includes festive cocktails like the Lucky Mule made with Jameson, fresh limes and ginger beer; Pickle Backs made with a shot of Jameson and shot of pickle juice; and the Pickle Martini made with Absolut Vodka, pickle juice and dry vermouth with sliced pickles. For those wanting something less green, there’s also a grapefruit martini made with grapefruit-flavored Absolut Vodka, fresh lemon juice, triple sec, house-made syrup and grapefruit peel, or the Malibu Hurricane made with the traditional Malibu Black rum, banana-flavored Malibu rum, coconut-flavored Malibu rum and fresh fruit. 692 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, (310)289-8410.

The Garland –  St. Patrick’s Day, The Garland will serve the special cocktail Irish Bar Fight for $7. It’s made with Jameson, Amaro Nonino, orange-flavored Curaçao liqueur, lime and simple syrup. 4222 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood, (818)980-8000.

25 Degrees – The Hollywood Roosevelt’s 24-hour diner 25 Degrees is grilling a festive new burger called The Mad Irishman. It’s a delicious ground beef burger topped with corned beef, braised cabbage, Dijon aioli and fried egg, and served with a side of fries and a pint of Breckenridge Nitro Irish Stout for $28. Order the meal on St. Patrick’s Day or during any March Madness viewing party. 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323)785-7244.

Humphry Slocombe – Celebrate the holiday at Humphry Slocombe with the boozy Get Lucky Sundae. It’s made with two scoops of Fort Point Animal IPA ice cream topped with bourbon caramel, marshmallow fluff and Lucky Charms cereal. The flavor is available all month. 1653B Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (424)387-8161.

Head on over to the Grand Central Market for some fun St. Patrick’s Day fun:

Golden Road will offer $5 pints of Irish Red Ale and Nitro Stout as well as food specials. Whiskey Sunday will perform from 12-3pm.

Knead Pasta will offer The Italian Irishman ($13), a featured dish of arugula campanelle, pesto, corned beef hash, and a fried egg.

Belcampo will feature house-made corned beef for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The beef comes from their own farm in Mt. Shasta, and is organic, ethically raised and harvested, and third-party humane-certified grass fed.