Monday, August 29, 2016

Carmel Valley California is the place to explore, enjoy and elevate your senses.

A few miles off scenic highway 1, lies the winding road to Carmel Valley; a place that offers a treasure trove of dining, leisure activities, and of course, wine tasting. Carmel Valley now boasts one of the fastest growing wine regions in the nation and with a plethora of quaint wine tasting rooms to choose from, count on spending a few days getting acquainted with the area’s terroir and tasting options. 

Garland Regional Ranch, a 4000 acre park that includes hiking, biking and horse riding trails along the pastoral setting of the meandering Carmel River is a favorite for the outdoor enthusiast. Whatever your wanderlust may be, Carmel Valley is the place for exploring, enjoying and elevating your senses. A few standouts that we came upon on our short visit to the area were Bernardus Lodge, Earthbound Farms and the newly opened Folktale Winery that provided a great example of Carmel Valley’s ability to transport the traveler into a world that is synergistically connected to Mother Earth’s bounty.

From the farm stand that started it all years ago, to being a premier brand of organic foods, Earthbound Farms is a household name that is trusted nation-wide. This stop is inspirational, delicious and educational and will please and captivate even the youngest of travelers. A world of health and wellness waits at this quaint “farm stand” with the lovely rows of organic fruits and veggies, and a small made to order all- organic kitchen where you can customize a smoothie or pick a healthy menu item to be eaten outside in the lovely picnic area surrounded by nature’s abundance. After your meal take a tour of the organic gardens or a guided flower walk. Patrons can pick fresh herbs at their leisure.

 The retail store offers gourmet groceries and an array of lovely gift items. Seasonal events are presented including the very popular lavender festival. Corporate programs can also be held on the premise as well.  Families with young children will love the bug walks or taking a cautionary look at the bee enclave,(don’t worry these insects are far more interested in doing their job then bothering children). Although children are more than welcome at Earthbound Farms, please leave fido at home due to the organic farming restrictions. Every family member will be well nourished, educated and entertained at Earthbound Farms, where nature and nurture are intertwined to provide the best in organic produce and wellness education.

Put this on your bucket list; a stay at highly acclaimed Bernadus Lodge and Spa located minutes from Earthbound Farms where using local produce in preparing the freshest and most delectable meals have such notables as Bradley Cooper and Leonardo DiCaprio spending time dining within the kitchen enclaves of Lucia restaurant. 

This acclaimed resort, surrounded by glorious flora and fauna lends the perfect setting to veteran chef of 2 decades, Cal Stamenov, in creating award winning cuisine that is inspired by nature. Mother Earth’s glorious bounty has been transformed by Chef Stamenov in pleasing the appetites of well healed travelers and devoted locals alike with the awards that showcase his culinary artistry and excellence including the World’s Best Awards for Travel and Leisure –July 2016, and “Top 10 Resort Hotels in California”, Best Overall Restaurants, California Central Coast “Top 10 Diner’s Choice” Winner for Open Table 2016.  Restaurant Lucia is a dining sanctuary that will captivate your culinary desires and elevate them into a new awareness and appreciation for Chef’s artisanal ability. 

Several dishes were highlighted on our recent visit that showcased the local fare.  The Monterey Bay abalone with smashed garden potatoes accented with Australian truffle and scallion, Pacific gold oysters from Morro Bay with a ginger-shallot mignonette, and the local grilled king salmon with Hass avocado and summer squash. Chef Cal sources and forages for the freshest sustainable and decidedly delectable ingredients in creating the most memorable meal of a lifetime whether you are a carnivore, a vegetarian or a vegan. And don’t forget to pair your menu selection with a Bernardus wine that will lend to the complete culinary salute to the Monterey Peninsula.

Food, fun and don’t forget the wine. Carmel Valley has a myriad of wine tasting rooms and a mini-chateau winery and tasting area known as Folktale. 

The Folktale winery just celebrated their first anniversary with a new sequel filled with passion and purpose. With a penchant for perfection, President and CEO Gregory Ahn is building upon the former Chateau Julien brand by adding family friendly areas, notable music and speaker series events, coupled with property tasting tours and venues for wine

Monday, August 8, 2016

Roys in Las Vegas Provdies Excellence From Celebrity Chef Roy Yamaguchi Steps Away From The Famed Las Vegas Strip.

Many have missed the signature Roy’s on west Charleston Blvd in Las Vegas but the Hawaiian spirit is still going strong. Located on east Flamingo Road, Roy’s continues to bring the Island flavor and taste to tourists and locals alike.

The menu continues to reflect the brilliance of chef Roy Yamaguchi the James Beard award winner, seasoned restaurateur, and culinary icon that brought Hawaiian fusion to the public.

The warm and welcoming atmosphere, combined with large tropical floral paintings, bamboo, and island accents make the desert seem a million miles away.

 Come by during the Aloha hour where many locals seek refreshment from the heat of summer. With a $7 price on all signature cocktails and appetizers, this is the place to get away from it all without leaving Las Vegas completely. What better way to quench your thirst than with a Roy’s Island Mai Tai. The 1940’s classic is just a bit more tropical with a float of Cruzan Black Strap Rum. The 1988 (cocktail), with Finlandia Grapefruit, Soho lychee, and Patron Citronge, is also a delicious choice.
Along with your cocktail, the ebi roll is a must with shrimp tempura, coconut, cream cheese, mango, and creamy avocado accented with a habanero aioli nitsume. The lobster pot stickers with spicy togarashi and miso butter sauce is another perfect option for a starter. Now that your appetite has been awakened, move over to the dinner menu to experience the main event.

Roy’s trio is the way to go with a sampling of three of the best fish dishes on the menu. The hibachi grilled salmon, the misoyaki “butterfish,” and the roasted macadamia nut crusted surrounded by creamy Yukon mash and a shiso béarnaise is a must.

What wine pairs with well with these menu choices? A Pinot Noir of course! The Au Bon Climat La Bauge au Dessus Santa Maria Valley, California 2009, is the perfect pairing with signature notes of ripe red cherries, cola, and a hint of smoke and a light-to medium body that embraces the food as a welcomed friend.

For those who are gluten free, Roy’s will please with seared sea scallops enveloped in potato purée, pork belly, fennel, apple, and a honey coriander glaze. Dessert awaits in this tropical oasis. Let your server know at least twenty minutes ahead to prepare Roy’s melting hot chocolate soufflé.

This flourless chocolate cake oozes with a decadent molten dark chocolate center, a raspberry coulis, and enough vanilla bean ice cream to cool things down just a bit.  Tropical ocean breezes may elude you in Las Vegas, but Roy’s will have you remembering the taste and flavors of the Islands for years to come.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Adelsheim Winery continues to create outstanding Chehalem Mountain Pinot Noir in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

ImageaDEL David Adelsheim, a pioneer in the Oregon wine industry, got his start by creating maps designating the prime vineyard zones Yamhill County in 1973 when wine growers rallied to save the county’s hillsides from the encroaching residential development. With his help he assisted in creating the center of Oregon’s wine industry. Being a novice wine maker, he traveled to Burgundy to work as an intern at Lycee Viticole. After learning about the clones that would best work in the area, Dijon clones of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made their way to Yamhill County. Fast forward to 2012, when David Adelsheim receives the lifetime achievement award for his lifetime of service to the establishment and growth of the Oregon wine industry; a humble start in 1973 has now come full circle.

From working in a small basement winery in 1978 to producing 1,300 cases for commercial release, Adelshiem Chehalem Mountains Pinot Noir continues to honor David Adelsheim pioneering spirit.
The 2014 Chehalem Pinot Noir evokes the spirit of the Oregon wine community with its understanding of terrior and viticulture.

 This pinot noir is made from LIVE-certified, Chehalem Mountains grown fruit: 88% from their estate vineyards, and 12% from their partners.  “We are trying not to get in the way of what the fruit has to offer,” said winemaker Dave Page.  Having a true understanding of the area’s unique characteristic is pivotal in producing a wine that reflects the signature elegance of the Pinot Noir grape. “Our longstanding commitment to the Chehalem Mountains goes back to 1971 when we purchased our first property. We also established the area’s first winery. We now sustainable farm and manage more than 180 estate acres in Chehalem Mountains AVA. We believe is one of the very best regions in Willamette Valley (and perhaps the world) to produce Pinot noir of purity and expression,”said David Adelsheim, Co Founder and President of Adelsheim Vineyard.

 A visit to Adelsheim is an adventure into the Willamette valley, where sustainability and respect for the grapes and terrior is the guiding principal in creating Adelsheim’s masterful wines.
With classic notes of cocoa nibs, toasted anise seed and black cherry, Breaking Ground offers a trip to Willamette valley in a glass. Light to medium body in the glass with supple acidity and a lovely lingering finish, this Pinot Noir is the perfect pairing for Salmon or a chocolate mousse. At $45 a bottle this wine is well worth it’s humble price point. For more information click here:
Cuisineist Tasting Panel :   94 Points July 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sequoia Grove's Mike Trujillo Takes Our Editors Through His Wines Sip by Sip At STK in Las Vegas.

From the 24-acre Estate Vineyard and 50-acre Tonella Ranch Vineyard located in the heart of Rutherford Sequoia Grove’s President and director of wine-making, Mike Trujillo, boasts that the superb climate and gravelly-loam soils impart distinct flavor for their outstanding wines. Their Rutherford Estate Cabernet and Napa Chardonnay thrive in superior growing conditions along with the Bordeaux varietals that make up their flagship wine, Cambium. Spending a few moments with Mike at STK steakhouse in Las Vegas we learned a few things about the wines and the man behind the bottle.


30 years ago on a chance trip to visit a friend in Napa, Mike ended up staying on and continues to produce exquisite Napa Valley wines with the same passion and excitement as he felt the first day he arrived in Rutherford.

We could not start the tasting without a mention of their stellar Napa Valley Chardonnay. Hand-harvested, cluster-sorted and whole cluster pressed to preserve the pure varietal characteristics. No secondary malolactic fermentation has allowed the freshness of the fruit to shine through in every glass with a hint of minerals, ripe stone fruit, and toasted almonds.

We joined him at the renowned STK Steakhouse in the Cosmopolitan Resort and tasted through his wines. One of which is the most noted wine in the portfolio, The Cambium.  Executive Chef Stephen Hopcraft’s signature seared Foie Gras: 2.5 oz. of foie gras served with huckleberry gastrique, and foie butter and miniature pancakes, melded perfectly with this special wine.
Beginning with a very  limited production of 350 cases, The 2012 Cambium is a perfect blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from Tonella (Rutherford), Morisoli (Rutherford) and Stagecoach (Atlas Peak) vineyards, Cabernet Franc from Tonella (Rutherford) and Frediani (Calistoga) vineyards and Merlot from Henry Brothers (Howell Mountain) vineyard.

“We wanted to go bigger by complexity with the Cambium,” explained Mike. It is indeed a stellar wine for those seeking a sophisticated pairing for a special dinner in Las Vegas or for that momentous occasion. The wine, hand harvested and aged 22 months in French oak barrels lends to the rich tannins and the underlining superb structure that ranks this Napa wine as a superior. The 2012 is deep dark ruby in color with rich aromas of black cherry, dark chocolate and a hint of tobacco. The palate is composed of the richness of black currant and dark plum highlighted with the subtle elegance of vanilla oak. The finish is long with elegant soft tannins.

Mike is truly pleased with the outcome of this vintage, and demand has proven that it is indeed one of his flagship vintages. Sequoia Grove has proven to be one of the premier Cabernet Sauvignon producers in Napa Valley with their flagship Rutherford Estate alongside their Stagecoach, Lamoreaux, and Tonella Cabernet Sauvignons that are available through their wine club and on-line.
Sequoia Grove has proven to be the place that Mike has honed his passion for winemaking and you can sense the beauty behind the bottle in every glass.

While visiting the Napa Valley make sure your wine-tasting agenda is marked for a stop at the gorgeous Sequoia Grove tasting room for your chance to indulge in Napa’s finest wines. For more information click

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Vaudois Riviera Near Vevey Switzerland Houses Great Cuisine, Wine and State Of The Art Modern Times Hotel.

Our journalistic path has taken us to many countries over the years. Switzerland however has to be at the top of the list. It is diverse and never disappoints in its majestic grandeur and superb offerings. Once again, Switzerland surprised us with a hotel that has quite a surprising theme.


Canton Vaud is located on north shore of Lake Geneva not far from Lausanne. There have been settlements here as early as the 2nd millennium BC.Under Rome, it was known as Viviscus or Vibiscum. This part of Switzerland is the French speaking region and lives up to it in all aspects of daily life.

The town of Vevey is noted for being the final home of comedy legend Charlie Chaplin and his family from 1952 to 1977 and now showcases the newly opened museum honoring Chaplin’s work, Chaplin’s World. It is also known as the world headquarters of the food giant Nestlé, founded in 1867.  And why do you ask? There is a long sweet history in this historic city. Milk chocolate was invented in Vevey by Daniel Peter in 1875.


Arriving at the train station we were whisked away by our driver to the new Modern Times Hotel. As you enter, you can’t help but be drawn to its sleek contemporary design and original décor. The Modern Times is conveniently located between the lake and mountains at the heart of the Vaudois Riviera.

Enjoy your room with a magnificent view of mountains and sweeping green while sheep graze upon the outside pastures. The Times Bar just off the lobby is a great way to spend some time and indulge in an array of snacks with a libation of your choice.


After day of exploring Lake Geneva’s offerings and beauty or the nearby Chaplin’s World museum, you work up an appetite. You don’t have to go further than Times Grill in the Modern Times hotel. This venue features a modern chic décor honoring the legendary Chaplin featuring panoramic windows, and whimsical depictions of the “Tramp “bringing a spirit of frivolity and fun to the dining experience. The huge outdoor patio offers world class vista views and unmatched tableside service.  Our attention was drawn to the show-grill where guests can enjoy the open kitchen and dine on quality local products prepared right in front of them.


The team of Chef exécutif ,Mr Fabien Thomas and Directeur of Food & Beverage, Mr Cyril Dederding, have teamed up to provide excellent cuisine, wine and hospitality. First off, enjoy Plat du jour.

No matter what day it may be it will be excellent. The Escalope de foie gras grillé, topinambours, éclats de noisetteset chips d’artichaut (Grilled slice of foie gras, Jerusalem artichokes, hazelnut and chips of artichoke) is not to be passed up.

For a tasty side dish Crème d’aspergesverteset blanches en duo, Belperknollefromage de vache au poivre)   (Green and white asparagus cream, cow milk cheese with pepper) is the perfect complement to most of the dishes.
Finish big and  slice into La côte de BœufSuisse , 800g pour 2 personnes (Swiss T Bone chop,28.2oz, suitable for 2 people) . Pair it with a fabulous Swiss Wine from the area and you have a guaranteed hit.


The Modern Times Hotel with its tribute to the iconic Charlie Chaplin is special. Whether you are there for business in historic Vevey or a vacation, their attentive staff, excellent dining and lounge options will provide a comfortable experience with a Chaplin touch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pawn Stars Rick Harrison Opens Pawn Plaza In DownTown Las Vegas.



Rick Harrison has found the key to capture the attention of many treasure hunters waiting in the long lines outside his Gold &Silver Pawn Shop. With his expanding popularity it seems that the mini-outdoor mall adjacent complex was another brilliant move to pacify the media masses.
Using bold pops of eye primary colors and a bevy of converted shipping containers, Rick Harrison now has a way to maintain the masses as they wait to pawn their wares.

Inna Gadda di Pizza, featuring pizza that is both reminiscent of a good old boys NY pizzeria has a corner container eatery that is worth visiting. Owner, Ralph Cautela, has found just the right place for you grab a cheesy slice or send your kids off to while you’re waiting for you turn at turning trash into treasure.

Cautela’s Secret Pizza kitchen at the Cosmopolitan is his first pizza venture here in Las Vegas. Although not so secret anymore, many have found that hidden gem within the Cosmopolitan Hotel as a nice respite among the high end restaurants within the hotel. Cautela has found being out the open is a better gig when you are next to a Pawn empire.


Another dining option is the Smoke’s Poutinerie,, A Canadian chain that has some of the boasts gravy laden fries and cheese curds that is best known in this country and up north as Poutine. Aye, it is something to worth trying, if only once. To calm down the excesses of pizza and poutine and dose the flame of summer heat, Rita’s Italian Ice is the coolest concoction on restaurant row.

 With Italian ices or frozen custards that will keep Gram or the kiddies refreshed and relaxed as you for your number to come up. If you get to the Plaza early or need an afternoon pick me up, Pawn Donut and Coffee will satisfy the caffeine connection with the sugar boost needed to keep up your strength while you face the wishful crowds. And, you don’t need to go to Highland drive amongst the seedy strip clubs with the kids to grab some good old BBQ, Rick’s Rolling Smoke Barbeque & Tavern are now right on the block to be enjoyed with all the other offerings.

With the signature ribs, sliced brisket, beef hot links and a full bar, everyone waiting for their claim to fame will have somewhere to go to celebrate their good fortune or to soothe the bruised ego when things don’t add up at the Pawn Shop. Pawn Plaza is a good way to spend the day while pawn dreams are being made or a place to console you with some great food.

Monday, January 18, 2016

CliQue Lounge rolls out the newest “tableside cocktailing” experience.

How we love a good presentation and that especially goes for how our dining or drinking experience is served up to us with a Vegas Strip price tag. The newest hip CliQue cocktail lounge at the Cosmopolitan continues to draw the marvelous millennium crowd who crave an experiential take beyond a static presentation.

CliQue Lounge and Bar has found a way to entertain, engage and bring that interactive experience to the Cosmopolitan cocktail crowd. Clique, the most recent addition to the Cosmo’s impressive bar set, showcases a plush lounge area with ample open seating that is not just a sidebar from the gaming scene.

 CliQue offers the newest take on enjoying a cocktail with a chic  component that you will not soon forget. The carts are equipped with all the latest mixology gadgetry, ample spirits and the freshest mixers and ingredients. The Mixologist arrives tableside and with finesse and skill prepares a libation that will leave you impressed. 

This innovative tableside mixology program is honing a path of mixology excellence. “Tableside Mixology is a personalized experience.

 Not only are the Mixologists being challenged to show off their personalities but it also is about really breaking down the components of the cocktail, giving an education on the flavor characteristics, making it personal experience,” said partner Jason “Jroc” Craig. 

We had the opportunity to watch spell bound as several of the cocktails were manifested by master Mixologist Justin D’Angelo. We enjoyed the Bow Street Banana with Pedro Ximenez Sherry and chocolate bitters laden with banana infused Jameson. But there was no smoke and mirrors in this cocktail, just a wee bit of smoke piped into the glass for that extra bit of intrigue and drama. After a sip of the sultry smoky sherry, the bite of caramelized banana added just the right amount of sweetness to this perfect pairing.

A well-crafted list of cocktails is available tableside or from the bar for your drinking pleasure. Also enjoy savory bites such as the filet sliders or the ahi tuna that are worth sharing from the culinary creations of Chef Brian Massie. CliQue Lounge and Bar at the Cosmopolitan will be the place to impress your Clique or Just about anyone who craves a cocktail experience.

Elaine and Scott

Elaine and Scott
Elaine and Scott