Olive Harvest Celebration and Palos Verdes Pastoral

Olive Harvest Celebration and Palos Verdes Pastoral

Olive Harvest Celebration and Palos Verdes Pastoral

It just doesn’t get more local than this! At the upcoming Palos Verdes Pastoral to be held on October 9th at Terranea Resort, Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra will be serving an enchanting dinner inspired by the dishes of his childhood. “The mountains were my backyard and the sea was my front yard,” reminisces Chef Bernard about growing up in France’s Basque Country.

The menu will awaken diners to the flourishing textures, colors, and aromas of the charmed Basque region. The Chef brings a true garden-to-table concept to the event – not because it is fashionable, but because it is natural, the way cooking should be, he says.

In France, they relied on local products and let the season dictate what is on the table. Menus would follow the rhythm of Mother Nature.  The Palos Verdes Pastoral dinner will be flavored with uber-local ingredients from the Palos Verdes Peninsula including estate-grown olive oil, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, lemonade berries, rosemary, sea salt, and honey.

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Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Luxardo Glaze, Cherries, and Candied Orange

Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Luxardo Glaze, Cherries, and Candied Orange
Olive Oil Bundt Cake
Luxardo Glaze, Cherries, and Candied Orange

Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Luxardo Glaze, Cherries, and Candied Orange

Inspired by last week’s Evolving Manhattan Cocktail with Luxardo Ice Sphere, here Maraschino Liqueur shows up as a glaze for a not-too-sweet bundt cake featuring fruity extra-virgin olive oil.

Luxardo Maraschino, a liqueur distilled from the leaves, pits, stems and skins of sour marasca cherries has an almond-like, subtly bitter complex cherry flavor.

Nicely browned on the outside, with a soft moist interior, the simple yet impressive cake is enhanced with candied orange and those luxurious luxardo cherries and their heavenly juice. And a complementary basil garnish is much more interesting than the ubiquitous mint sprig.

Olive Oil Bundt Cake with Luxardo Glaze Recipe

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Evolving Manhattan Cocktail, Luxardo Ice Sphere

Manhattan Cocktail with a Luxardo Ice Sphere

The Evolving Manhattan Cocktail
With Luxardo Ice Sphere

As time passes and the Luxardo ice sphere melts slowly into the Manhattan cocktail, the original drink morphs into another, namely the Brooklyn.

One of the five drinks named for the New York City boroughs, the Brooklyn is much lesser known than its neighbor from across the East River, the Manhattan. The distinguishing ingredient in the Brooklyn is Luxardo Maraschino, a liqueur distilled from the leaves, pits, stems and skins of sour marasca cherries. It is not overly sweet with an almond-like, subtly bitter complex cherry flavor.

The first sips of this Knob Creek Manhattan are delightfully fierce and quite boozy with rich, woody, caramel Kentucky bourbon flavors only slightly tempered by the fruit and spice attributes of French red vermouth. The Maurin Rouge tastes of ripe cherries and raisins with spice notes of cinnamon, cardamom and clove. A couple dashes of Trinidad’s Angostura Bitters, add a distinctive herbal flavor and a layer of complexity.

The Evolving Manhattan Cocktail With Luxardo Ice Sphere

When sipped slowly, over time another cocktail all together will unfold. One that is less intense, as the ice has melted, flooding the bourbon with the distinct flavor of Luxardo Maraschino and a hint of orange bitters.

The Manhattan has mellowed while the characteristics of the Brooklyn have emerged. Now is the time to nibble on those authentic luxurious Italian cherries. Dark, dense, chewy, and sweet-tart, they’re surprisingly worth the $20 for an 8 oz. jar.

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Love & Craft Beer

Love & Craft Beer: Brouwerij West

Love & Craft Beer

The brewing process is an art that can capture the ebb and flow of the seasons; express the whimsy of the brewmaster; communicate the vibrant essence of its natural ingredients. It is, at its core, a love potion.

Whether pale, amber, copper, brown, or even purple haze in color. With wild aromas and flavors ranging from that of bread, to fruit, spice, flowers, citrus, caramel, nuts, and beyond. A well-crafted beer is way more than a simple combination of malt, hops, and yeast – it is a magical elixir.

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Rhône Blend White Wines are a Dream to Pair with Foods

Fried Goat Cheese, Butter Lettuce Cups, Green Apple, Almonds, Sweet Meyer Lemon Cream

Fried Goat Cheese
Butter Lettuce, Green Apple, Almond, Borage
Sweet Meyer Lemon Cream with Cardamom

paired with

Le Cigar Blanc 2012
Bonny Doon Vineyard
Arroyo Seco, Monterey County, California

for

Grocery Outlet’s
Spring Wine Sale

Rhône Blend white wines are a dream to pair with foods. Who can resist the tempting flavors of peaches, apricots, ripe pears, sweet spices and honey, or the seductive aromas of honeysuckle and tropical fruits? White wines from France’s Rhône tend to have these characteristics. Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, and to a lesser extent Picpoul Blanc – are the dominant varietals in the region. Many of the wines tend toward a creaminess that is rich but not heavy, with a refreshing acidity, and a pleasing minerality and nuttiness.

California Winemaker Randall Graham of Bonny Doon Vineyards has been a tireless champion of the grapes of the Rhône for decades. It is difficult to resist his stylish wines as well as his quirky sense of humor. This wine, Le Cigare Blanc (The White Cigar) is named after his flagship, Le Cigar Volant (The Flying Cigar), so-called in honor of the cigar-shaped flying saucer banned by decree of the village council of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It’s a true story,  in 1954 the mayor and the council voted to ban alien craft from the airspace of their hamlet in order to protect their precious crops.

The 2012 vintage of Le Cigar Blanc is made of 48% Grenache Blanc, 44% Roussanne, and 8% Picpoul Blanc. The Grenache Blanc adds notes of green apple and lemon-lime citrus. The Roussanne brings honeyed notes with a rich mouthfeel and nutty aromas. These characteristics are highlighted and elevated by this salad’s rich goat cheese, sweet/tart meyer lemon cream with a hint of warm cardamom spice, allumettes of green apple, and lightly toasted almonds. Soft butter lettuce, creamy cheese with a toasty panko breadcrumb crust, and crisp Granny Smiths add contrasting textures.

This goat cheese salad and Rhône blend make a quite dreamy pair.

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Food & Wine Pairing: Ahi and Pinot Noir

Food & Wine Pairing: Ahi and Pinot Noir

Pan-Seared Ahi Tuna
Lavender-Scented Soy Butter Sauce with Thyme
Lentil Pomegranate Arugula Salad

paired with

Paraiso Pinot Noir
Santa Lucia Highlands 2011

for

Grocery Outlet’s
Spring Wine Sale

The culinary confluence of the first days of Spring in my garden, the mind-boggling wine sale at Grocery Outlet, and irresistible fillets of fresh ahi tuna from my favorite fishmonger – all meld together into a beautiful synergistic seasonal main course.

Pinot Noir is eminently food friendly due to the elegant balance of fruit, acidity, and light tannins. Fruitier versions make a great match with salmon and tuna. Black cherry, pomegranate, and cranberry flavors with hints of spice, smoke, and toasty oak in Paraiso Pinot Noir pair beautifully with fresh-caught yellowfin tuna.

The marriage is a mutually advantageous conjunction revealing deeper layers of flavor for both the dish and the wine. Earthy lentils and peppery arugula reflect those same flavors in the wine. Pomegranate arils mirror those fruit flavors, adding a touch of fruitiness without being too sweet. In the sauce – soy brings salty and umami flavors while butter adds nutty flavor and unctuous mouth-feel. The well-loved fragrance of lavender adds more than a just a scent but also an unexpected burst of flavor that heightens the wine profile. Thyme and black pepper elevate the underlying nuances of this Pinot Noir. The dish is a relaxed, natural presentation of a pristine fillet of fish paired with a delightful bottle of wine, all in the celebration of Springtime.

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Brouwerij West Beer Dinner with Chef Kyle Powers

Beer Dinner @ Brouwerij West with Chef Kyle Powers

Brouwerij West Beer Dinner with Chef Kyle Powers

San Pedrans and Angelenos from near and far have been anxiously awaiting the grand opening of one of Los Angeles’ most important breweries (according to EATER!). Belgian-inspired craft beer production has recently commenced in Warehouse No. 9, a repurposed massive WWII-era building at the Port of Los Angeles. For the last few years, Brewmaster Brian Mercer had been producing his signature beers in other peoples’ facilities, now finally the impressive first-time home for Brouwerij West is set to open on February 27th.

Just prior to opening to the public, the Brouwerij West space has been a hip-trendy-cool venue for some very special private parties (including our fabulous holiday party here). Recently, a lively group of beer aficionados gathered for “Dinner in the Tanks,” a beer tasting/food pairing/birthday party catered by Chef Kyle Powers of Fork in the Road Catering.

It’s no secret that the pairing of food with beer has a synergistic effect. Add the cutting-edge ambience of a long, jauntily dressed wooden picnic table nestled between huge stainless steel tanks under glimmering string lighting, and the dining experience becomes magical. Chef Powers masterfully highlights the interplay between his food and the various beers by either contrasting or mirroring the flavors, bitterness, acidity, richness and sweetness.

Angelenos are in for a real treat. Complex, harmoniously balanced beers, produced and served up in an alluring 1940s warehouse…Brouwerij West has definitely been worth the wait!

Dinner in the Tanks

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Palos Verdes Pastoral: A Garden-to-Table Dining Experience at Terranea Resort

Palos Verdes Pastoral: A Garden-to-Table Dining Experience at Terranea Resort

Palos Verdes Pastoral
A Garden-to-Table Dining Experience at Terranea Resort

Al fresco dining with magnificent views of Catalina Island, on a warm Autumn evening at sunset – this is Palos Verdes Pastoral…a vibrant fall meal created by Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra, showcasing the best of California-grown food expertly paired with hand-picked wines.

For the fourth year in a row, it was my honor and pleasure to serve as food photographer for the premier garden-to-table dining experience that took place at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California on Sunday, October 18th.

Palos Verdes Pastoral: A Garden-to-Table Dining Experience at Terranea Resort

Palos Verdes Pastoral is a fundraising event to support the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy’s mission to preserve and restore habitat for the enjoyment and education of all.

I also happen to be a beneficiary of the Land Conservancy’s work, as we’ve been hiking the local trails and enjoying our open spaces here along the coast for decades. Since its founding in 1988, the Land Conservancy has preserved 1600 acres of open space with nearly 42 miles of public trails.

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THIS IS HOW WE VEGAS

THIS IS HOW WE VEGAS

THIS IS HOW WE VEGAS

Yes, we have an ongoing LOVE AFFAIR with French Cuisine. And Italian, and Spanish, and California and so on and so on. We also have a LOVE AFFAIR with Vegas. THE Foodie Paradise where gorgeous restaurants are designed as if money-were-no-object, with the highest concentration of World-Class chefs, and our favorite alfresco-dining galore. Yes, we love to play blackjack (thanks Dr. Thorp), take long walks along the strip early in the morning, spend time at the spa and pools, and take in the fabulous shows  – but truth be told, it’s the food that is our main attraction. THIS is how we Vegas, last weekend:

Bardot Brasserie by Michael Mina – Aria

Lavo Italian Restaurant – The Palazzo

Lago by Julian Serrano – The Bellagio

Giada by Giada De Laurentiis – The Cromwell

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Sublime Franco-Korean Elderflower Soju Martini

Sublime Franco-Korean Elderflower Soju Martini

Sublime Franco-Korean Elderflower Soju Martini

St-Germain Liqueur is created in the artisanal French manner from freshly hand-picked elderflower blossoms. Its sublime taste hints at pear, peach and grapefruit, yet none of them exactly. It is a flavor as seductive as it is elusive.

Soju is a Korean alcoholic beverage distilled from rice that has slightly floral and barely sweet flavors. Pleasantly light with a round mouth-feel and an alcoholic content of 20% (about half as much as vodka), it is usually enjoyed neat, sipped from a shot glass.

Angostura Bitters, a product of Trinidad, is an aromatic preparation of botanically infused alcohol. Just a couple dashes of its distinctive herbal spice flavor enhances the other components by adding another layer of complexity.

To create an Absolutely Bewitching Martini, pair soju with elderflower liqueur and angostura bitters, and enjoy a fusion cocktail that is delicate, captivatingly complex, and impossibly irresistible.

Elderflower Soju Martini Recipe 

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