Girls on Food

Wine

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

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. 

Winc’s Folly Of The Beast Pinot Noir Paired With Barbecued Lobster Tail

When I think of Pinot Noir, I can’t help but think of the pivotal scene in the 2004 film Sideways as seen below. Paul Giamatti’s performance in this scene epitomizes how romantic one can get when talking about this extraordinary red wine.

Although sipping on a beautiful bottle of Pinot Noir is fantastic itself, with National Pinot Noir Day coming up here on Saturday, August 18th, I wanted to try something on the unconventional side with our friends at Winc.

Since Winc’s most popular Pinot Noir, Folly of the Beast, is coined after the famous Moby Dick quote “For there is no folly of the beast of the earth that is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men,” I wanted to play around with the idea of pairing it with one of the tastiest beasts of the sea- lobster!

Pinot Noir cultivates in cooler climates, especially around the west coast, I got inspiration for this Folly of the Beast pairing from my idea of a perfect whale watching barbecue. Note: sand and sea are not required for this pairing.

Take $25 off of your first purchase with Winc courtesy of Girls on Food.

Some of you out there may be scratching your head, wondering how a Pinot Noir would pair with anything seafood related. Lighter bodied reds, like this Pinot Noir, pair well with grilled fish and crustaceans, due to the smokiness from the barbecue process, which plays with the notes of spice from the oak aging process.

In addition to my instructions for barbecuing lobster, I have also included 2 different butters to either spoon on while you’re cooking, or to keep handy on the side to dip the meat in. Both butters will pair with the Folly of the Beast Pinot Noir as well.

Barbecued Lobster Tail

  1. Purchase lobster tails from any market that follows safety and HACCP regulations. My local butcher butterflies the lobster for me, but if you’re not able to have them do it, cut the shell with a pair of kitchen shears.
  2. Heat barbecue grill to a medium-high heat.
  3. Open the lobster and grill directly onto heat for 5 minutes each, flesh side up. I basted each lobster meat with one of the 2 different butters below.
  4. Remove from heat and pair with roasted potatoes, dipping butters from below and a bottle of Folly of the Beast.

For the butter recipes below, combine specified melted butters with the ingredients and mix. Easy!

Classic Lobster Butter

1 cup of salted butter

2 tbsp of minced garlic

2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley

Zest of lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

 Smokey Lobster Butter

1 cup of salted butter

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp canned chipotle chiles en adobo, seeded and thinly sliced

1/2 tbsp of minced garlic

1 tbsp finely chopped green onion

1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

Zest of lime

Salt and Pepper to taste

One of the many things we love about this wine club is the mix in selection. Winc offers a variety of higher and lower priced bottles of wine and none of them skim on quality. Lobster may be a pricer crustacean, but a bottle of Folly of the Beast is only $18 through Winc (and between us, that’s less expensive than Whole Foods’ price) so you can keep your backyard barbecue party within your budget.

When it comes to pairing foods with your Winc box, think outside the box!

Take $25 off of your first purchase with Winc courtesy of Girls on Food.

Come Rosé All Day With Us At wineLA’s Rosé & Bubbles Festival

ATTN: LA Oenophiles!

Are you ready to taste the very best in rosé and bubbles with us at wineLA’s Rosé & Bubbles Festival?

We’ll be at this event and hope you can join us!

BUT FIRST- HOP OVER TO OUR INSTAGRAM BEFORE FRIDAY, AUGUST 17TH FOR A CHANCE TO WIN 2 TICKETS TO WINELA’S ROSE & BUBBLES FESTIVAL! 

I attended my first wineLA event last month for the 4th Annual Stars of Pinot event and now I’m hooked!

When: August 25, 2018

2 PM – 4 PM for the Afternoon Session

7 PM – 9 PM for the Evening Session 

Where: Leica Store & Gallery
8783 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048

Ticket Prices: Check out ticket options and buy your ticket here.

BONUS: USE PROMOCODE “ROSE10” TO SAVE $10 OFF 

Tickets are selling quick, so get on it!

Image via wineLA

Both afternoon and evening session tickets include:

  • Unlimited tasting of wines in the beautiful Leica Space. Confirmed reps that’ll be on site to pour include:      Domaines Ott, Scharffenberger, Champgane Henriot, Fleur De L’Amaurigue and many more!
  • Unlimited tastings of appetizers provided by Petrossian West Hollywood.
  • A chance to bid on wine, tours and more luxurious items through a silent auction, benefiting the TJ MARTELL FOUNDATION.
  • Awards given for best dressed male and female to the Rosé Theme- no idea what’s in store for this, but it’ll be fun to see what attendees come up with!

Check out ticket options and buy your ticket here.

Be sure to follow along with us @girlsonfoodblog, where I’ll be posting live stories from this event!

CHEERS!

New Brunswick Restaurant Week 2018: Catherine Lombardi

Guess who’s back…back again…Fatboi’s back…tell a friend. It is I, Jess, the ghost of Christmas past, coming to you after a year-long WordPress hiatus. In the past year, I started grad school and have been grinding it out, while Christie’s been managing a sports facility and running 23812947 Spartan races (aroo!). But don’t worry, we’ve been just as committed to the #fatlyfe.

July 14th kicked off restaurant week in New Brunswick, NJ. ‘Til the 28th, the hottest spots are offering discounts on beverages, meals, desserts, and everything in between. From ramen to Ethiopian cuisine, to jam-packed strombolis at Stuff’s, there’s something for everyone. It’s a great excuse to have a fancy date night, dinner and drinks with the girls, or a family outing.

I decided to give Catherine Lombardi a try, after hearing great things about their Italian fare. I easily mapped out my prospects from their $39 three-course menu, prior to even setting foot into the building. I rolled out of bed, changed, and headed to Catherine Lombardi accompanied by my childhood friends (s/o to Marce and Cee, the OG’s). Scoping out the restaurant, I quickly regretted my outfit choice. I looked like a fat baby who got separated from her nanny, in my floral jumpsuit. Wine glasses and fancy linen napkins dotted every table, and everything was RED; the walls, the velvet curtains, the carpet, the upholstery. It was what I imagine entering Christian Grey’s red room of pain would feel like, but not as terrifying.

I dove right into the wine menu (overwhelmed by the number of categories I never knew existed) and zeroed in on my go-to, Pinot Grigio, and ran with it.

For starters, I ordered the Caprese salad with house-made mozzarella. Tomatoes are either a hit or miss for me, but I easily chowed them down, and the house-made mozzarella was divine. 

I’m obsessed with anything and everything truffle, so I had to go with the Garganelli with truffle cream, prosciutto, and asparagus as my entrée. The prosciutto was the perfect addition, balancing out the truffle flavor.

Marce opted for the linguine with shrimp scampi. Obviously, I stole a bite, and it was a delicious rendition of the Italian classic.

Cee chose the tortelloni with Parmagiano-Reggiano cream and bolognese sauce. We actually had to google if tortelloni and tortellini are the same and *spoiler alert*, they are. I may have an Italian last name, but I had no idea wtf was going on. You may be looking at this picture thinking, ‘What gives? There are only 6 tortellonis.’ I thought the same thing until I sampled some, and the tortellonis were stuffed with filling, making it a reasonable portion size.

To round out my trifecta, I opted for the mascarpone cheesecake. It was incredibly creamy and tasted flan-like.

Marce selected Mrs. Palmisano’s cookie plate. To our delight, the cookies were melt-in-your-mouth soft and delicious. This plate would make any Italian grandmother beam with pride. 

Cee went for the mango sorbet. It didn’t knock her socks off, but I was pleased with the refreshing zing. 

Not only was the presentation on point, but the food quality really knocked it out of the park. All of the ingredients were incredibly fresh, making for flavorful dishes. It was fun pretending to be bougie for a night, all under the guise of a discounted prix fixe menu.

J

Fatboi Tendencies 

The 4th Annual Stars of Pinot Raises Funds (And Plenty Of Glasses) For The T.J. Martell Foundation

wineLA, Los Angeles’ top source for wine-centered events and education, held their 4th Annual Stars of Pinot gathering at the luxurious Montage Beverly Hills last week. Over 150 wines were poured for enthusiasts to taste, wine reps were on site to talk about their brands and DJ Richard Blade was also spinning the best in 80’s new wave. This grand tasting also raised funds to benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation, a non-profit that supports innovative groundbreaking cancer research.

Bouchaine’s ’17 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir

One might be under the impression that an event like this would be suited for the high rollers at wine auctions, but it was actually much more approachable.

With my general admission ticket (priced at $75) I was provided with a beautiful complimentary pinot wine glass and given access to taste any wine on the floor of my choosing. Plenty of cheeses, breads and Evian water bottles were also included in this ticket.

I believe every event should begin with bubbles and clearly, wineLA does too! Sponsor Champagne Henriot was providing guests with a champagne tasting right at the entrance to start the night on a bubbly note.

Let the games begin!

I’ve been to some smaller scale tasting events in the past, but this was a different beast. The Montage ballroom sets a tone for ostentatious LA glamour, with its operatic balconies and lavish chandeliers. However, the wine reps were all smiles and very down to earth. It was a fun mix of luxury and comfort.

Although this event wasn’t intended for attendees to make on the spot purchases, the reps were readily available with brochures and info on how to buy their wines. Many of the winemakers are also open minded to touring their vineyards, so keep their contact info on file for when you’re in their valley.

Ballroom of Montage Beverly Hills

I started the tasting tour with one of the friendliest faces there–Lindy Willingham, representing A to Z Wineworks–who set a high standard for the night. Their ’16 A to Z Essence of Oregon is lighter-bodied with notes of stone fruits, perfect for sipping on in the summertime. Although this was an earlier tasting, it was one of my favorite pours of the evening.

’16 A to Z Essence of Oregon

Pinot Noir was the belle of the ball, but many makers also offered samples of their rosé and an occasional chardonnay.

Other favorite tastes included:

Wrath Wines’ ’15 Pinot Noir – medium bodied and fruity with a little bit of spiciness

Bouchaine’s ’17 Vin Gris of Pinot Noir – very refreshing, perfect for a pool day

Iris Vineyards ’17 Chalice Estate Pinot Noir Rosé – loved the strawberry notes and light minerality

Van Duzar Vineyard’s ’16 Pinot Gris – notes of tropical fruits and a bit creamy

Although I attended this one solo (I was there for this post specifically), I do think it’s more fun to attend with a friend. So if you have a wino partner in crime, bring them out! Luckily I did bump into Chef Derrick Fox (who I have interviewed in the past) and I also got to meet one my favorite DJs on Sirius XM, DJ Richard Blade.

Me with DJ Richard Blade

There’s nothing better than discovering wines for 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. We’re looking forward to the upcoming 2018 Bubbles and Rosé Festival, Sat, August 25, 2018, 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM at Leica Store and Gallery in Los Angeles–keep an eye out on Girls on Food for more information.

Iris Vineyards ’17 Chalice Estate Pinot Noir Rosé

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