Girls on Food

Wine

#girlsonfood Insta-Interview With @trishglasser_

Our hashtag #girlsonfood has over 13.2K uses on Instagram! 

Thank you so much to our readers for using this tag!

I have been looking through all the images and saw that there were so many bloggers/photographers/influencers that I wanted to get to know a little better. So, I created a column where I interview the folks behind some of most the interesting pages.

Through the uses of our hashtag, I found Trish Glasser of @trishglasser_, an OC-local home loan diva by day and wine tour hostess by night. I get to know Trish a little bit better in the interview below.  

Trish Glasser

GOF: Where in OC do you live?

TG: I live in the unincorporated area of Trabuco Canyon, California. It is a very unique area for Orange County. Having grown up in the Midwest, it’s the best of both worlds – country living and the city is right around the corner.

GOF: When you did first fall in love with wine?

TG: When I came to California in 1986 from Kansas and began drinking buttery Chardonnay. Having grown up in the Midwest, I can certainly appreciate the farming process in making wine. I even help some of my local winemaking friends bottle their wine on occasion which has definitely given me a hands-on appreciation for the hard work and craftsmanship that goes into making even a single bottle. With the accessibility of wine (particularly here in California), my taste buds have expanded significantly through the years to include all sorts of sparkling, whites, roses and reds. Since all of my wine education has been self-taught up until now, I’m currently working on obtaining my Level 1 Sommelier designation which I should have by the end of this year.

GOF: How do you conduct your wine tours?

TG: Right now, all of my wine tours are virtual via Instagram and Facebook from personal experiences in checking out wineries and making suggestions. This serves as a launch pad for my next dream and vision of in-person tours beginning here in Orange County and in other areas too such as Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and Napa Valley. Stay tuned for information on my inaugural in-person Orange County tour coming up in January. The Orange County wine tours will start at my home/private wine cellar in Trabuco Canyon. They’ll be comprised of food and wine pairings with hand selected bottles from my private cellar. Then, we will proceed to 3-4 local Orange County wineries. Since I’ve made friends with most of the winemakers here, they’ll be notified of the schedules in advance so tourists will have the opportunity to meet and chat with owners/winemakers.

GOF: Favorite wine valley?

TG: That’s a tough question. There are so many. In California I’d have to say Paso Robles followed by Napa Valley. In Europe, I’m very fond of the Alsatian region of France.

GOF: Any favorite under $15 you can tell us about?

TG: I have a few that I recommend!

  • Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava Sparkling (Spain): $9.00
  • Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand): $12.00
  • Louis Jadot Rose (Burgundy, France): $14.00
  • Fess Parker Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County, California): $13.00
  • Poppy Pinot Noir (Monterey County, CA): $13.00
  • Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles, CA): $13.00

GOF: Favorite Instagram pages to follow?

TG: Another tough question – in general, local restaurants, chefs and wineries along with:

  • @DonatellaArpaia
  • @guarnaschelli
  • @cheftoddenglish
  • @chef_morimoto
  • @bobbyflay
  • @foodandwine
  • @foodnetwork
  • @thecheesestoreofbeverlyhills
  • @ocwinetrail
  • @pasorobleswineries
  • And of course, @girlsonfoodblog

GOF: Favorite SoCal winery?

TG: With the resurgence of wine here in Orange County over the past 10 years, there are about a dozen options here ranging from actual winery venues in the Orange County Santiago Canyon area to tasting rooms located in the different local cities.

  • Favorite Winery Venue: Giracci Vineyards and Farms and Cowboy Canyon Winery which are both located on the same property in the Santiago Canyon area: beautiful grounds and a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. You’re allowed to bring your own picnic to pair with your Giracci/Cowboy Canyon Wine.
  • Favorite Tasting Room: Frisby Cellars located in Lake Forest. The tasting room has a cool, urban vibe and the staff is always very friendly and knowledgeable about the wines. The winemaker, Josh Frisby turns out a consistent, good quality product for a reasonable price. And of course, all of his grapes are sourced from Paso Robles.

Be sure to follow @trishglasser_, and contact her directly about her wine tours. Also follow @girlsonfoodblog and use that hashtag #girlsonfood to be featured someday! 

Take Me, I’m Yours Morgan Street Food Hall & Market in Raleigh, NC

Recently, food halls have been popping up all over the country. When I heard Raleigh was getting not one, but two, my immediate reaction was “great, a glorified mall food court” because really, when was the last time you felt cool eating at the food court, amiright? But there are a couple huge differences at play here, so put your worries aside!

First, food courts are so often chains and standard fare. Morgan Street Food Hall & Market is, for the most part, neither. Rolled ice cream anyone? Poke bowls, empanadas, and ramen were the first things to catch my eye. Cousins Maine Lobster (the only option I would consider a chain) is slightly more accessible here, and with a lot more seating options! The line is still out the door but with a beer in hand and a bustling crowd, a far cry from the hot food truck rodeo lines you’re usually waiting in! Last time I tried that, I was “red as a lobster” by the time I ordered my Connecticut lobster roll!

Raleigh Rolls rolled ice cream, which is a treat for all! (yeah, I shared with the baby!)

When you first walk into Morgan Street Food Hall, you’ll see a bustling crowd and tons of seating options, from picnic tables to couches and arm chairs, and finally, 4 top tables with chairs. There are indoor and outdoor seating options, with a couple bars to frequent as thirst arises. There are 18 dining options, ranging from southern to Mediterranean to Asian; comfort food and hangover food and on to desserts and bubble tea. For our family, this is the perfect place for all of our meals out: we have 2 picky preschoolers who think the margarita pizza at Bella’s Wood Fired Pizza and Tapas is out of this world (and less than $10, thank you!).

For me, I get the “adventurous” foods I can’t talk the whole family into – ramen and poke bowls, while hubby gets to fill up on empanadas, which he loves! We have an Italian au pair living with us this year, and she has enjoyed working her way through the options Morgan Street has at her disposal. Currently, her heart resides in Raleigh.

I’ve now eaten at Morgan Street 3 times. Hubs and I met a group of friends here one night before an Umphrey’s McGee concert downtown. There were a lot of empanadas and some curry plates, a kick ass looking pizza, a whole lot of beer, and my amazing delicious tuna poke bowl, with fresh tuna on their California bowl (from The Bowls), loaded with amazingness and topped with avocado! It was incredible, and I couldn’t wait to go back!

So the next weekend, a girlfriend and I met up there, and she got ramen and I went back to The Bowls for round 2 – this time trying their spicy tuna on the Malibu bowl, which has spicy seaweed salad in it. The biggest difference was that the tuna was chopped up instead of chunks, so I would probably go regular tuna in the future.

We also ventured over to the bar, and I tried the Deep River Brewing Company’s (out of Clayton, NC) pumpkin pie porter, which was oh, so good and also very seasonal! It was delicious after a long afternoon of shopping and enjoying the suddenly cooler temps here in NC! Finally (maybe the first finally), we waited in line at Cocoa Forte Desserts for chocolate dipped cheesecake, which we were saving for when we got home, and then I talked my friend into trying out Raleigh Rolls, the rolled ice cream place! It’s a little bit Coldstone Ceamery (you get to choose 3 flavors that go into your ice cream, and then 3 flavors for the toppings) meets a sushi roll (because in the end, they hand you a bowl with 6 rolls of ice cream). So good news – you can sub flavors – I subbed in coffee flavoring for the graham cracker in my s’mores ice cream, and it was the.best.thing.ever! Little man ate way too much but also thinks I’m the coolest mom ever for sharing my ice cream with him, ha! (Verdict on cheesecake – its on a stick, so go ahead and eat it immediately. I waited a few hours to eat mine, and it fell apart really fast. Pretty sure it was user error though).

So the next day, my hubs was still out of town (he went on Phish tour last weekend), and I needed to provide food for my little ones for the 4th day in a row. So…I started thinking about that pizza, and the fact that cow burger has hot dogs. Surely they could find something to eat…

Here’s the deal – I was nervous to bring a 5 year old and a 3 year old and a 5 month old into such a busy place. But…they loved it! My son is begging to go back, my daughter can’t stop talking about the ice cream, and the baby slept thru the thing. We also found an awesome place for our family photos in 2 weeks. So all in all, a great trip. I will send you all day every day to Bella’s pizza – it was incredible, and the kids ate every bite of that pizza. I loved the portion size of the burgers (I got the classic cheeseburger) and I’d heard great things about it, but I would definitely trust your gut on that place. First, the line took F O R E V E R which I’m not really into, and wouldn’t have waited in it but our au pair and I both wanted a burger so we stuck with it. Second, we waited F O R E V E R for our buzzer to ring. Like it took the entire time the pizza cooked to wait in the line and order. Then the kids ate the whole pizza. And I took them back over to Raleigh rolls and waited for someone to turn melted ice cream into frozen ice cream rolls, and then the buzzer sounded as I was paying for them. So the burgers were delicious, great bun to burger ratio, and overall very satisfying, but with so many faster options, I’m not sure I would wait for it again.

Also, pro tip – if you have a picky child who only eats vanilla ice cream (I know, I know, its super weird but what I’m dealing with right now), there is another small ice cream scoop place in the food hall. Don’t waste your $7 on plain vanilla with a tiny sprinkling of rainbow sprinkles. Spend that money on the whole experience and all the toppings, and get Sir Picky something from the cheaper place!

So final verdict – run, don’t walk, to the Morgan Street Food Hall if you’re in Raleigh. Bring an appetite. Check out the unusual places, especially the bowls, the broth, and curry in a hurry, and take the time to wait in line for Raleigh Rolls! I’m looking forward to heading down there again next weekend after the International Festival to try out some new places!

Marissa A. Ross Talks EastSide Food Festival, Natural Wines And Chugging Wine Straight Outta The Bottle

The 5th Annual EastSide Food Festival is coming up, Sunday, October 21st, 2018 and the line up this year is incredible. Girls on Food will be there tasting and sipping the afternoon away, so come join us!

With over 35 local food establishments will be participating, there will also be guest appearances from Eric Andre and Eric Wareheim but I’m most excited for the discussion with Marissa A. Ross, Bon Appétit’s wine editor and writer of my favorite wine book, Wine. All The Time.: The Casual Guide To Confident DrinkingI love this book because she approaches wine in a non-pretentious but still informative tone. Marissa also writes with a cheeky sense of humor and brings her personal experiences along the way.

Marissa took a break from chugging wine from the bottle on her Instagram stories (you know what I mean if you follow her!) to chat with me below. 

 

GOF: What food vendors for the Eastside Food Festival are you the most excited for?

MR: Oh man, it’s so hard to choose! I’m excited for Kismet because I don’t eat there nearly as often as I’d like to, and Otoño. I love seeing female chefs doing badass work.

 

GOF: I saw on your Instagram stories that you don’t accept unsolicited wines via mail, which I respect because it shows you’re not biased on wines. How many unsolicited wine samples do you receive per month? 

MR: I don’t get any now that I just started returning them to the sender [laughs]. There was a time when I was getting like maybe four wineries a month sending me stuff. I don’t even know how they got my address! I still get at least a dozen emails a day from wine PR companies that want to send me stuff. I used to be nice and politely respond “no thanks” to every one but I’ve given up and just started ghosting that shit [laughs].

 

GOF: Favorite wine region? 

MR: It’s constantly changing, but I’ve been on a big Italian kick for the last year or so. I love Abruzzo and Umbria, but I’m also super intrigued by the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

GOF: Any plans to start your own wine club? 

MR: I’m going to have to since everyone keeps asking me! [laughs] It is something I’ve been toying with for awhile, so we’ll see. Hopefully soon.

 

GOF: I know you’re a big promoter of natural wine, in your opinion, is there one region in the world that is mastering this? 

MR: No. The truly incredible thing about natural wine is that it is proving that fantastic, terroir-driven wines can be made anywhere in the world, versus this old school thinking that certain regions were better than others. I mean, of course there are some regions that are not conducive for making wine but often regions have been dismissed because people were trying to grow grapes that shouldn’t be grown there. You can’t grow Cabernet everywhere! [laughs] But any region can shine with the right grapes in the right hands.

 

GOF: Are there any commercial wines that you can’t help but love, like a guilty pleasure? 

MR: This is going to make me sound snobby, but I don’t. Honestly, after years of drinking natural wine, it just doesn’t taste good to me. That’s not to say I don’t have my own shitty guilty pleasures. I love Coca-Cola, especially Cherry Coke. That’s the ultimate treat for me, besides a bowl of Jeni’s Brambleberry Crisp ice cream topped with their Lemon Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt but I don’t feel guilty about that. [laughs]

 

GOF: Do you recall the first time you ditched the glass and drank straight from the bottle? 

MR: Yes. It was June 2008. I had just moved to Los Angeles with $400 to my name and unwittingly moved in with a drug dealer and a Craigslist hooker, hoarder, heroin addict. I had moved in May, but by the time June rolled around, the hoarder had all of our dishes in her room and I was terrified to even leave my room and The Ross Test— chugging out of the bottle, specifically two buck chuck because that’s all I could afford– was born. And is now forever my trademark [laughs]. I think some people think I do it just to be an ass, but for me, it reminds me of where I came from and that everyone starts somewhere with wine.

 

GOF:  What are some of your favorite restaurants with wine programs in LA?

MR: I love Kismet, Elf, Night + Market Song, Cosa Buona, Marvin… there’s so many!

 

GOF: Who are some of your favorite fellow female somms or wine enthusiasts? 

MR: One of the most exciting things happening in the wine industry is how many strong women and non-binary people are now a part of it. I love Courtney Walsh, who does the wine program for Cosa Buona and Alimento, as well as works at Domaine LA— owned by another favorite, Jill Bernheimer–and is a rep for Amy Atwood Selections— owned by surprise, surprise, another favorite, Amy Atwood. I absolutely adore Helen Johannesen of Helen’s Wines, as well as Kae Whalen of Kismet and Roni Ginach of Michael’s. There are so many! I could go on forever, especially if I ventured beyond Los Angeles, and feel really grateful to be a part of such a passionate and hard-working community.

 

GOF: Can you sum up Trump with a bottle of wine? 

MR: Probably his own, which no one in their right mind would ever drink because it’s assumably toxic and disgusting.

 

Be sure to follow her Instagram page or check out her podcast, Natural Disaster, for all of her wine adventures. 

Girls on Food’s Shared Plates Event Recap

The Girls on Food inaugural fundraiser with Industrious Century City and some of LA’s finest food and beverage vendors raised over $2,300 for the L.A. Kitchen.

Host Julianne Gabert (Girls on Food) hosted the event on Friday, October 5, 2018 at Industrious Century City. This ticketed event was in affiliation with L.A. Kitchen’s Shared Plates fundraiser, a city-wide weekend of gatherings October 5-7, 2018 to celebrate the power of food in Los Angeles. 100% of all ticket sales and any additional funds raised were donated to L.A. Kitchen.

Despite the L.A. Kitchen’s significant impact and outpouring of support, they have had to acknowledge that their combined philanthropic and earned income has not been able to fully sustain their work and meet the requirements of the loan they took out to build their beautiful facility. This required them to temporarily pause their culinary training and meal distribution programs.

Although they are not going anywhere, this year’s Shared Plates was more important than ever. All money raised through Shared Plates was matched as part of their goal to reach $600K by the end of the year. Although this event raised a total $1,167, through donation matching, this event raised $2,334 total!  

Industrious Century City, a co-working space that also celebrated it’s grand opening 2 night before this event, generously donated the space. Attendees were allowed to explore the upscale Century City offices, which make up the entire 17th floor of the Watt Plaza, freely as they participated in the event.

Attendees participated in a “take one, give one” burrito station, sponsored by Benny Borsakian, the owner of Benny’s Tacos. At this station, guests took half a burrito to eat at the event and donated the other half. Burritos and additional leftovers from this event were delivered to non-profit organization Upward Bound House, and distributed to local food insecure.

Slo Bru Craft Coffee owner Eric Raschka provided guests with bottles of his new decaf cold brew coffee. He also donated his new product, Bru Packs, a line of brew-it-yourself cold brew packs for the raffle.

Lauren Zeiher of the mylk team, supplied guests with servings of their honey, lavender and matcha almond milks. Many guests fell in love with these local plant-based mylks.

Gérard Bertrand brand ambassador Mathias Icard poured the brand’s Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc and their 90 point Cap Insula Red Blend into mason jars, which guests were encouraged to take home.

Wolfgang Puck Catering provided hor d’oeuvres including Butternut Squash Tarts with Caramelized Onions and Crispy Sage, Poached Pear Parmesan Crisps as well as an array of desserts like cookies and brownies.

Co-Opportunity Market and Deli, who’s locations include Culver City and Santa Monica, contributed a full crudités plate and a generous $100 gift card for the raffle.

A Chile Mushroom Quinoa Salad was provided by Beaming Century City. This dish was a perfect side for guests keeping it vegan.

The avocado toast station, provided by AvocaToast by Lizzy with bread by Bread Lounge (special thanks to the team at Kitchen Table app for arranging) was one of the most interactive stations. Caterer Lizzy Cooper has a special connection to L.A. Kitchen having volunteered there several times helping them prep food.

Cheeri Cheeri, an artisanal and vegan Filipino ice cream, were scooped by owner Christy Cunanan on site as well, and ended up being the Instagram image hit of the night.

Additional prizes awarded from the raffle included CHAYA Modern Izakaya, Mee And GreetTŪMBI, Osteria Mamma, and Food Stirs.

Stay tuned for information on any upcoming events here at Girls on Food! 

For more information on L.A. Kitchen, visit https://www.lakitchen.org/.

Girls on Food Announces Shared Plates Dinner To Benefit L.A. Kitchen, At Industrious Century City, Fri., Oct. 5, 6PM – 8PM

Girls On Food Hosts A Vegetarian Shared Plates Dinner To Benefit L.A. Kitchen

At Industrious Century City, Friday, October 5, 6 PM – 8 PM

Girls on Food, in partnership with Industrious Century City, and LA’s favorite food and drink merchants, will come out to fight food waste, hunger and unemployment 

Host Julianne Gabert (Girls on Food) is honored to announce her inaugural fundraising event on Friday, October 5, 2018 at Industrious Century City. This ticketed event is in affiliation with L.A. Kitchen’s Shared Plates fundraiser, a city-wide weekend of gatherings October 5-7, 2018 to celebrate the power of food in Los Angeles. 100% of all ticket sales and any additional funds raised will be donated to L.A. Kitchen.

Despite the L.A. Kitchen’s significant impact and outpouring of support, they have had to acknowledge that their combined philanthropic and earned income has not been able to fully sustain their work and meet the requirements of the loan they took out to build their beautiful facility. This required them to temporarily pause their culinary training and meal distribution programs.

Although, they are not going anywhere, this year’s Shared Plates is more important than ever. All money raised through Shared Plates will be matched as part of their goal to reach $600K by the end of the year.

Now in its third year, the 2017 Shared Plates campaign provided over 100 dinners arranged by participating restaurants and private individuals, engaged 1,000 Angelenos for the cause and raised over $120,000 for its non-profit programs.

With the purchase of a $25 Girls on Food Shared Plates ticket, attendees will receive:

Beverages provided by Slo Bru Craft Coffee, mylk and Gérard Bertrand

Hor d’oeuvres provided by Co-Opportunity Market and Deli and Wolfgang Puck Catering

Superfood salad provided by Beaming Century City

Access to an avocado toast station, provided by AvocaToast by Lizzy with bread by Bread Lounge

An opportunity to “take one, give one” at Benny’s Tacos’ burrito donation station

Scoops of Cheeri Cheeri, an artisanal and vegan Filipino ice cream

The option to participate in a raffle to win prizes from CHAYA Modern IzakayaMee And Greet, Del Friscos, TŪMBI, Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken, Osteria Mamma and more.

A coupon for a free day of co-working at Industrious Century City, redeemable starting Fri. 10/5

Click here to purchase tickets.

If you are unable to attend this event, please host a dinner or encourage your friends and family to buy tickets. If they can’t, please ask them to donate and support L.A. Kitchen’s rebuild.

Click here to donate to L.A. Kitchen, click “tickets.”

*** Ridesharing encouraged***

***All participating vendors have graciously donated their time, food & talent to the cause for this event***

***All remaining food from this event will be donated to nearby homeless, in an effort to eliminate food waste***

SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS:

SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR RAFFLE SPONSORS:

Reasons to Love Antibes France + L’Arazur

The French Riviera is known for beautiful beaches, sunshine, and luxurious, over-the-top experiences. Instead of indulging at one of the well-known hot spots like Cannes, Nice, Monaco, or St. Tropez, I opt for the low-key, classic European vibe of Antibes. Antibes is located between Cannes and Nice. It’s 30 minutes by car from the Nice airport and easily accessible by train.

Antibes has the beautiful beaches the French Riviera is known for and the Mediterranean’s famous ultra-blue water to go with it. But, instead of Lamborghini lined streets filled with high-end boutiques and 5-star resorts, Antibes maintains the charm of an old world city.

The Old Town neighborhood of Antibes has everything I want in a French town: gorgeous old buildings, classic architecture, a renowned daily market, a fantastic weekly antiques and flea market (Thursdays!), a 14th century chateau style castle turned world class art museum (Picasso!), picture-perfect mazes of backstreets, corner cafes for sipping espressos in the morning and cocktails at night, and loads of traditional bakeries (almond croissants!).

Almond croissants aside, I haven’t even scratched the surface of Antibes’s culinary scene! It is France after all! The Riviera’s warm climate and seaside geography inform the flavorful and diverse regional cuisine full of fresh, local produce and seafood. Sure, there is amazing cheese – (Its still France!), but fewer dishes are drowned in cream or filled with pork lardons. The Riviera showcases a lighter side of French cuisine!   A culinary haven for vegetable and seafood loving foodies like me – especially when prepared with the precision and expertise of the area’s best chefs!

The husband and I habitually end our trips to Europe with a few days in Antibes. After a few weeks of being on the go and exploring new cities, I’m might not be ready to go home, but I am starting to crave a hint of familiarity.  Antibes is a beautiful, relaxing, and charming final chapter to a trip. It has the perfect blend of everything we love – sunny weather, fabulous beach, cool architecture, great art, interesting history, scenic drives, and of course, amazing food.

Since Antibes has become a recurring theme in our travel repertoire, I keep my pulse on the town’s restaurant and chef buzz. So when we arrived, I had two things on my culinary agenda: 1. Find the best Almond Croissant (Boulangerie Veziano) and 2. Figure out why L’Arazur is the spot on every who’s-who in the food world’s radar.

When the duo behind L’Arazur’s resumes include a combined nine Michelin starred restaurants, the hype is high and the expectations are even higher. Located a hop away from the center of Old Town and by pure coincidence, a block from our AirBNB flat, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to dine at L’Arazur.

L’Arazur

8, rue des Palmiers

06600 Antibes

On an unassuming corner of a tiny side street, L’Arazur’s location is equal parts charming and understated. The restaurant opens at seven for dinner. For most of the day, the modest signage, a glass case containing the menu and a few of the restaurant’s accolades make the exterior no more remarkable than any quaint establishment in an old French alleyway. This becomes even more true when factoring in the roll down metal door covered in graffiti.

At seven o’clock, when the doors of this back-alley establishment open and the service starts, nothing about what follows is typical. The oh-so-thoughtfully planned tasting menu with a mind-blowing amuse bouche, intuitive service, and perfectly timed courses are remarkable. There is a reason its on critics’ radars and rumors about a star are circling. L’Arazur’s dishes are a true tour d’ force.

We ordered the five-course plus dessert tasting menu. Their tasting menu has gotten lots of attention. So I went into the meal with a mixture of heightened expectations and skepticism. I was disarmed of my skepticism quickly.

L’Arazur’s execution of both the food and timing is among the best, and I can’t recommend their tasting menu highly enough! The menu showcases a perfect balance of lighter dishes followed by richer ones and bright acidity followed by decadence, accompanied by an almost eerily attentive level of service. Each course left me itching for the next, not out of hunger, but out of shear delight! Every plate was as tantalizing as the one before. Bites displayed a myriad of creative techniques and artistic presentation.

With a masterful blend of familiar and unfamiliar elements, L’Arazur sheds a fresh perspective on seasonal, local ingredients without alienating diners with avante garde techniques or inaccessible flavor profiles.

STARTER: Parmesan crisp with herb infused cream, & sushi-style cucumber roll with cashew crème. Accompanied by a not-too-sweet, bright, citrus Aperatif.

WINE: Saint Peray, La Beylesse. A mineral forward white. Recommended as a complement to the tasting menu by our server.

COURSE 1: An amuse bouche of whipped sweet potato foam & raw halibut. Served with black bread infused with orange.

COURSE 2: Snapper Ceviche with sea beans, pineapple, & radish.

COURSE 3: Blue lobster, mushrooms, black bread crust, parsley emulsion with a rich buttery bisque.

COURSE 4: Poached turbot with cockles, smoke emulsion, & chard. Served over a bed of pureed celery root with flowers.

COURSE 5: Roasted pigeon with glaze, roasted vegetables, & fresh herbs.

PALATE CLEANSER: Lime sorbet with cucumber sugar.

DESSERT: Chocolate Mousse with kalamansi citrus sorbet, orange blossom sponge cake, & candied seeds & grains.

POST MEAL SWEET: Madeleines with Mirabelle Jelly Candies (and we ordered espresso).

I soaked up every morsel of L’Arazur’s expertly crafted dining experience. The wine pairing was perfect. I really wanted to pick a favorite course and rave about it. But, I can’t choose just one! The amuse bouche is a memorable stand-out. The turbot was so perfectly and uniquely prepared! And, the rich, flavorful complexities of the lobster were phenomenal. Their chocolate mousse ruined me for all other chocolate mousse. My chocolate loving palate wants to be mad about it but can’t be.

The bottom line? L’Arazur deserves every ounce of buzz, the hype, and a star of its own. I can’t wait to return.

All The Booze And Bites You Missed At Music City Food And Wine

The sixth annual Music City Food and Wine Festival came to a close Sunday, September 16th. Those who were lucky enough to score tickets to the sold-out bash had a chance to sample some of the best bites and booze from across the country. The talent roster was an assortment of celebrity chefs, TV personalities, authors and local Nashville culinary masterminds. From book signings, cocktail throwdowns, chef panels, and a concert headlined by Kings of Leon, this weekend was a celebration of all things that make Nashville “Music City.”

Here were some of my favorites from the weekend festivities!

Ruffino (Website and Instagram)

What girl can resist bubbles and a perfect photo op? Ruffino brought their A game to Music City Food and Wine. Not only did they have this darling champagne cart complete with photo booth capabilities, but they greeted guests on Saturday morning with their own miniature bottle of Prosecco or sparkling rosé. You know what I say, “ Rosé all day!”

Wicked Weed ( Website and Instagram)

Wicked Weed is one of my favorite breweries in Asheville, North Carolina. When I saw their tent on Friday night, I couldn’t think of a better way to beat the heat than with their Uncle Rick’s Pilsner. Given the insane temps and number of beer enthusiasts at the festival, this tent was in high demand.

Black Rabbit (Website and Instagram)

Chefs Trey Cioccia and Chad Kelly knocked it out of the park this year. I might even go as far as to say it was one of my top three food bites of the festival. Don’t be fooled by the unassuming, monochromatic appearance of this bite, it was filled with flavor and the toppings packed a punch. Below you will find a Rabbit Terrine Taco topped with cabbage, onion and mustard sauce. Seriously, is your mouth watering?

Nicky’s Coal Fired (Website and Instagram)

I couldn’t let Music City Food and Wine Festival pass without checking out one of my favorite Nashville establishments, Nicky’s Coal Fired. Not only are they making some incredible pizza and pasta, but the owners, Tony and Caroline Galzin, are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. Chef Tony served up his legendary Gnocchi Sardi with Bolognese Blanco and Porcini Breadcrumbs. Thank goodness I know Tony pretty well so there was no judgment when I went back for second and thirds… Yes, I have zero shame when it comes to his pasta.

If you are planning a trip to Nashville, this is one of my most recommended restaurants outside of City House.

Belle Meade Bourbon (Website and Instagram)

You can’t officially call yourself a Southerner if you don’t have an affinity for bourbon. While I had a chance to sample their full portfolio at the kick-off party, these gentlemen were serving guests Cold Fashioned, which was the BEST way to stay cool on Saturday. When there are four massive tents filled with bites and booze and you make the conscious effort to seek out the same cocktail on repeat, you know you have a winner!

Funk Seoul Brother (Website and Instagram)

This isn’t your average KFC, ladies and gentlemen. Chef BJ Lofback served one of his highly sought after dishes, Korean Fried Chicken to festival goers on Saturday. This is one of those legendary dishes that you often hear about but rarely have the chance to sample. I’m not going to lie, this dish was worth the sticky fingers.

Lonesome Dove Western Bistro (Website and Instagram)

There’s nothing I love more than a good stuffed pepper and when I heard that Chef Ian Shorndon from Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Knoxville was serving up brisket stuffed chili peppers, I had to swing by and check them out. I was fortunate enough to snap a photo right after they were replenished because these guys couldn’t keep up with the demand. A crowd favorite for sure!

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint + Friends (Website and Instagram)

Every year Pitmaster Pat Martin hosts an extraordinary bar-b-que inviting friends from across the country to brave the Tennessee temps and cook over the open coals for the weekend. Dishes and chefs rotate on a frequent basis, so it’s worth making multiple stops. I had a chance to sneak back to the prep area and see where all the magic happened and skip the excessively long lines. It’s hard to pick a favorite from this but I have to say I was at a loss for words after taking one bite of Chef Chris Shepard’s concoction. Chef Shepard is the at the helm of UB Preserv, where he was awarded a James Beard award in 2014. Next time I find myself in Texas, you better believe I’ll be at Underbelly!

Chef Tom Bayless, The Public House

If you have followed along on the blog or caught a glimpse of my Instagram, you know I was ecstatic when I walked into Harvest Night and saw that Chef Tom Bayless was making my all time favorite creation, The Tomato Sandwich. Yes, it may sound like a simplistic Southern dish, but I assure you it is far from that. Imagine three layers of freshly sliced tomatoes, topped with sea salt, sandwiched between a sesame seed bun slathered with charcoal mayonnaise. Is your mouth watering? I know mine is. I exercised no self-control at this tent, it was on repeat.

Chef Jeni Britton Bauer, Jeni’s Ice Cream

I have a sweet tooth like no other. Sometimes I exercise complete restraint while other times I say screw it and enjoy all the things. It goes without saying when “Jeni’s Ice Cream” is mentioned, I get a little weak in the knees. Saturday evening, Chef Jeni Britton Bauer partnered with Hi-Fi cookies and created a Sweet Corn and Blackberry Ice Cream Sandwich. You know Jeni’s Ice Cream, I don’t have to tell you how good it was!

Music City Food and Wine, you are by far one of my favorite weekends in Nashville. My clothes may be a little tighter, my feet a little sore and my liver beyond repair, but you throw one heck of a party. One I will never miss!

If you are interested in attending THE festival of the year, stay tuned to the Music City Food and Wine website (click here) as they will be announcing the dates for the 2019 festival soon!

#WineWednesday: Malibu Wines

Welcome to my new weekly column

#WineWednesday!

Here at #WineWednesday, I’ll be sharing my adventures in the world of wine in LA.

10 years ago, I was a server in a small, family-run Italian trattoria in Sacramento called Michelangelo’s. While many Sacramento natives were driving to Napa on the weekends to get their swirl on, I was getting most of my sips on at work, through product tastings. I loved learning about wine this way and didn’t feel left out, even I was missing out on some fun winery tours.

Like Madonna, over the next 10 years my beverage pairing choices were always reinventing themselves: from a classic cocktail phase in Sacramento, to a major craft beer phase in Seattle, and even a cheap liquor and club soda phase when I could barely afford to pay rent in Venice.

Fast forward to July of last year, when I found out I was pregnant, meaning… bye-bye alcohol! I had survived countless media events, a month long trip to Italy, a bachelorette party at Pump in West Hollywood sans alcohol. After the birth of my daughter in April, I waited 6 weeks before my much anticipated glass of wine.

For me wine conjures up so much more than beer and liquor, whether it’s a memory, or even an surprise unexpected flavor. I enjoy allowing wine to open up and breathe, talking about it, comparing flavor notes. I just like it more.

As a new mommy, I usually don’t allow myself to drink more than 1-3 glasses of wine a week (damn you responsibility!) but when I do I make sure I’m experiencing only the very best- and this is my column to showcase that.

This week’s #WineWednesday is a spotlight on one of LA’s most Instagrammable attractions: Malibu Wines.

Malibu Wines
31740 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu, California 90265
https://www.malibuwines.com/

When thinking about California vineyards, Malibu may not come to mind right away. But Malibu actually boasts of over 50 independent vineyards. With the foggy coastal climate in the AM and rich soil from the PM heat, it creates a great environment for deeper red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon.

Malibu Wines, a tasting room and picnic area serves up both Semler and Saddlerock wines. Both brands utilize estate-grown grapes from the Saddlerock Ranch across the street.

On the weekends, their picnic area schedule is packed with food truck events, movie screenings, even yoga and mimosa themed events. If you plan to come here with a group for a weekend, I think your best game plan should be to purchase a bottle. But if you want to sit, chill and really focus on a tasting, I recommend taking a departure from all the craziness and pop by for a weekday tasting flight.

The flights of wine are reasonably priced, a light flight for $15, a red flight for $17, 5 wines per flight. This is an easy one to split with a pal.

After going through both whites and red flights, my top 3 wines were the Saddlerock’s Rosé of Grenache 2017 (very fruity, also candy-like), the Sangiovese 2014 (light bodied red but full on tannins) and the Merlot 2016 (expect cherry with lots of spice).

This is such an iconic place to visit. Whether you’re with a friend from out of town or you want to unwind and relax, Malibu Wines is one of those LA spots that never goes out of style.

Although this wine tasting was comped by Malibu Wines, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

My Favorite Sips From wineLA’s 2018 Rosé and Bubbles Festival

wineLA, Los Angeles’ top source for wine-centered events and education, held their 2nd Annual Rosé and Bubbles Festival at the upscale art gallery Leica Store and Gallery in West Hollywood. Unlike their last major event, Stars of Pinot, this was a more intimate event. Over 20 different participating wineries poured for enthusiasts to taste, and through a silent auction, the festival also raised funds to benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation, a non-profit that supports innovative groundbreaking cancer research.

Although rosé wine and white pants seem like a thing of the past, many guests swirled their glasses in Hamptons-esque wardrobe. There was even a rosé themed costume contest, which I sadly didn’t win! 🙁

How did I lose?

With my general admission ticket (priced at $70) I was handed a glass and given access to taste any wine on the floor of my choosing. Plenty of the fabulous catering, provided by Petrossian cheeses, breads and Evian water bottles were also included in this ticket. Also, this fantastic mochi ice cream company, my/mo provided the best mochi ice cream ever, you must try the strawberry and the salted caramel. Sponsor Champagne Henriot, always a favorite of mine, was providing guests with a champagne tasting right at the entrance to start the night on a bubbly note. 

Smoked Salmon and other goodies provided by Petrossian West Hollywood
best. mochi. ever.

My favorite sips from Rosé and Bubbles Festival

Château La Coste Rosé, Provence, 2017 –  Although I try to zero in on local, California wineries at events like this, there’s never a bad time to taste a French rosé. This Provencal blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault was my favorite classic bottle and was perfect to sip on with the smoked salmon crostinis being passed around.  

Château La Coste Rosé, Provence, 2017

The 50 by 50, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Carneros, 2017 – Let’s address the obvious elephant in the room… yes, Gerald Casale, a founding member of DEVO, is the wine maker. Yes, he was actually there at this event, pouring his wine. Yes, I got totally star-struck and awkward cause that’s what happens to me when I meet my heroes of the 80’s. Since this rosé is made from pinot, it’s delicate but still fruity. I was also happy to see a California rosé represented, as this event didn’t have too many of them. I ordered a bottle and plan to drink it wearing my energy dome!

Barnard Griffin, Rosé of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, 2017 – As I was sipping on this, I thought long and hard about when I had ever tasted Rosé of Sangiovese and I realized I probably haven’t. And I’ve been seriously missing out! This is such a bright, juicy rosé with a nice dry finish. I also couldn’t resist the $14 per bottle price point.

Anne Amie Vineyards, Twelve Oaks Estate Rosé of Pinot Gris, Chehalem Mountains, 2017 – This one is perfect for those of you who love a tart, crisp green apple as much as I do! This puckery wine will pair perfectly with seafood and fresh veggies.

Gérard Bertrand, Code Rouge Blanc De Blanc – Sure, the intense red bottling is a bit much and I know their $14 per bottle ’17 Rosé tends to woo everyone over, but you must give this one a chance! This crisp blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Mauzac is a littler pricer at $27 per bottle but it’s a beautiful combo- it’s actually one of the two wines I pestered the reps for extra pours on.

Hillersden, Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, Upper Wairau Valley, Marlborough, NZ, 2017 – My first time tasting a sparkling sauv blanc! I wasn’t too sure about this one. To be honest, I did think it could be gimicky… but I was totally wrong and purchased a bottle.

Jacquesson Cuvée No. 741, Champagne, 2013 – This was one was put of my price range, sadly but I must say, it’s dry, lots of minerality with a lightly funky nose. If your wallet stretches out further than mine, invest in this one!

There’s nothing better than buying wines in support of a good cause! Be sure to keep up with wineLA’s upcoming events on their website. In addition to these events, the wineLA program (founded by sommelier Ian Blackburn) also includes wine classes, private dinners and wine travels abroad. 

From left: Devon Barnes, Alex Ward, Myself, TinTin Beligan Image provided by TinTin Beligan

Although this general admission ticket was comped by wineLA, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Citizen In Beverly Hills Has A Dish For Every Type Of Gal Pal

Organizing a girl’s night out, no matter what the celebration is, can end up being stressful. From constant text alerts, to catering to different dietary needs, to considering your friend’s budgets, it’s tough to find a place that can cater to everyone. But after re-discovering Citizen in Beverly Hills, now under Chef Seth Greenburg, I believe this is the perfect spot for a GNO.

Chef Greenburg, an LA native, served as opening Executive Chef at the Dakota Restaurant in the Roosevelt Hotel and then went on to work as Executive Chef at The Penthouse in Santa Monica for a number of years.

His menu at Citizen offers a variety of dishes inspired by the diverse LA food scene. The dishes are then paired with both tiki and updated traditional cocktails. Don’t worry, all your friends will find what they are looking for here.

Citizen
184 N Canon Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90210
https://www.citizenbeverlyhills.com/

For the Fitspo Obsessed

The Watermelon Salad, a nod to fruit stands of LA, is perfect for your friend who’s Instagramming her fitness journey as we speak. This light salad bursts with fresh flavors from the watermelon, cucumber and tomato but has that chili kick and tart lime that stands are famous for. She can live a little and wash this one down with a glass of ’14 Schramsberg Blanc De Blanc for less calories than a cocktail.

For the #TacoTuesday Devotee

You can’t draw inspiration from LA and not have tacos on the menu! Start with the Albacore Tacos (loved the pineapple kimchi) then move onto the more ample portioned Tacos made with fresh corn tortillas (comes with your choice of 3). My favorite taco was the flat iron steak with cojita cheese and topped with chimichurri. Other options are shrimp with green papaya slaw for a Thai taste or fried chicken with sweet chili for a Chinese flair.

For those of you who are looking for a non-alcoholic beverage, the Blueberry Mint Faux-Jito, with citrus agave and ginger beer is perfect for sipping the night away on the patio.

The Traditionalist

Not every single friend of yours may be as epicurious as you are, so I recommend the more comfort-type options, inspired by classic American cuisine.

The Cheddar Biscuits are buttery, soft and come with a chive butter so fantastic, you might pester the server to take some home.

Chef Greenburg takes it back to the old school with a Halibut in Parchment, and I loved that. A creamy dill butter sauce is poured on top as a part of the presentation. The halibut is tender and thanks to the parchment cooking process, this dish is very aromatic as it arrives. I was reminded of the halibut dinners my mom would cook for me growing up. It would be very rude of me to confirm if this was better than my mother’s… so I’m just going to stop while I’m ahead.

Cocktail-wise I’d recommend the Strawberry Fields cocktail, coined after that classic Beatles jam. It’s a vodka-based cocktail with fresh mint and strawberries.

The Fieri Fanatic

For that friend of yours who can’t turn down a SoCal dive, opt for the Short Rib Fries. The pickled carrots and jalapenos add a fun taco truck flavor to this dish. Be sure to pair it with Babe Rosé With Bubbles for juicy, bubbly fun.

GOF Tip: The Lucky Seven, 7 dishes, for $7 until 7 PM is a great deal and it’s availability is extra generous on Monday nights, 2:30 PM – 10 PM.

The Friend Who’s Still Recovering From Last Night

There’s always one! Since the only cure for alcohol seems to be more alcohol, send her a Detox/Retox. This Tito’s vodka based cocktail has fresh blueberries and chareau aloe, which is an all natural aloe liqueur. And according to boozy folklore, aloe is a great remedy if you’re not feeling 100% after a wild time. She’ll thank you later.

Although this tasting was comped by Citizen, all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own.  

Bed Bath & Beyond (Probably) Doesn’t Want You To Know This Wine And Beer Secret

Since 2012, select Bed Bath & Beyond locations have been offering food and drink through their merge with World Market. The merge always seemed a little odd to me (can’t quite put my finger on it) and I’ve spent many years shopping at BBB but not exploring the specialty foods aisle.

Then it randomly dawned on me- since they sell wine and beer in a BBB… why couldn’t I use my coupons on it? I scoured my coupons to see if there were any restrictions listed on alcohol. There has to be a regulation here, right?

Nope.

I was still skeptical, so I even asked the floor sales associate to confirm and I got a green light.

I even asked if customers do this a lot and she replied “nobody ever thinks of it”.

For those of you out there who don’t believe me, I come with a receipt!

Although the wine selection at BBB is pretty accessible with many mainstream selections, it’s a perfect for old standbys and bottles to take to parties. I love La Vieille Ferme Rosé so I made sure to grab a bottle. I have also been seeing Love Noir Pinot Noir pop up on my Instagram, so I decided to try one out. I’m a sucker for a sultry label.

I’m off to BBB to stock up on more!!!

Staying At The St. Jane Hotel And Dining At Free Rein In Chicago

My annual summer trip to Chicago was met with a big first for me – it would be the first trip with my 4-month-old daughter Marie! Usually, on my trips, I freely roam the city, restaurant to restaurant doing whatever I please… those days are over.

Now that we’re traveling as a family, I have a lot to consider when looking for a hotel. I wanted to make sure my stay was comfortable for baby Marie, charming to the eye for my husband and food-centric for myself. I was a little nervous about staying at a boutique hotel because I wasn’t sure how baby friendly it would be. Many boutiques I’ve stayed in, tend to be a smaller in bedroom size, with more sophisticated furnishings – great for adults but I need to consider the little one.

We decided to book a junior suite at the St. Jane Hotel, which opened in July, and it delivered on all 3 counts.

This boutique hotel is located in the 37-story Carbide and Carbon Building, built in 1929. The outside maintains an art deco flair with its black granite and gold accents and the moment you walk in, it feels half Great Gatsby half Lana Del Rey – Jazz age meets hipster chic.

Carbide and Carbon Building
Baby Marie loves the art deco style!

The Premiere Junior Suite is a bit of splurge, but it’s so perfectly spacious that it’s worth it or a family vacation. The astonishing views of the city, a roomy shower (that also has a beautiful city view!) and a big comfy bed are worth the upgrade. Bonus: the toiletries are products by Mason Margiela’s ‘Replica’ Jazz Club line, my all time favorite perfume!

A view from our room at night

St. Jane Hotel’s key restaurant is Free Rein, a modern French brasserie led by chef Aaron Lirette, who obtained a Michelin star for GreenRiver. Free Rein serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, offers a coffee shop, full bar and provides the hotel room service. Here’s how I savored the hotel with an ultimate epicurean stay.

I started the bright and early at their café, which is separated from the main dining room. The coffee is provided by Chicago fan-favorite Dark Matter and pastries by fellow Michelin star collector, pastry chef Evan Sheridan of Sixteen.

The Ham and Cheese Croissant, although not shaped in the classic crescent style, the Ham and Raclette is still flaky, buttery and I loved the addition of mustard on top. I loved my Dark Matter lattes every morning too, but with the time changes and general baby exhaustion, I did fuel up on their Nitro Cold Brews as well.

Ham and Raclette Croissant
Latte

Later on, Chicago Girls on Food blogger Hilary met up with me for lunch, where I was able to get a little break from the family and do what I love to do the most – explore a new restaurant. Highlights from this lunch included:

Sweet Corn Soup– corn, scallion, and coconut

I always love a presentation of soup pouring! 

Kanpachi Crudo– English peas, heart of palm, citrus, caviar 

Soft Shell Crab BLT– Bacon, gem lettuce, Old Bay aioli

Saffron Spaghetti – tomato, fine herbs, parmesan

I loved all of Chef Lirette’s artful takes on American classics for lunch. If I had to choose tops spots, my number 1 was definitely the Soft Shell Crab BLT. This succulent sandwich is paired perfectly with the crispy Old Bay seasoned fries. The Kanpachi Crudo is a close second, it felt like a spot-on execution of “summer on a plate”. For lunch, I recommend washing it all down with a glass of Virtue’s Rosé Cider, it’s crisp, lightly floral but pairs perfectly with any of the dishes above.

Virtue Rosé Cider

For dinner, the lights dim down and it feels a little fancier at Free Rein. The menu expands out to a number of new options, including large format items, intended for sharing.

I started with a glass of Clos des Papes “Le Petit Vin d’Avril” a rich, Rhône blend to pair with decadent dishes. The absolute favorite item was the Foie Gras Tourchon with black truffle, Marcona almonds, cherry compote and summer berries. This item will be available on the Fall menu, so make sure you pop in there soon!

Foie Gras Tourchon

My other favorites included the Tomato Salad, with black garlic, cucumber and sourdough and the large format Dry-Aged Slagel Farms Ribeye with chanterelle mushrooms, potato puree, and beef jus.

Tomato Salad
Dry-Aged Slagel Farms Ribeye

Staying in a very touristy part of town and relying on the hotel to have extraordinary food sets a bar very high and sometimes isn’t realistic, but Free Rein and the St. Jane Hotel exceeded my expectations.

GOF Tip: The room service menu offers some items from the Free Rein menu – go for the Smoked Whitefish Toast. Since I was watching Marie, it’s nice to have an easy-to-eat but still gourmet meal around!

Baby Marie admiring the gold elevator doors

Although the lunch portion was provided by Free Rein, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.