• Restaurants

TBD–Totally Beautiful Dinner

The second San Francisco restaurant in SoMa from the entrepreneurs, Matt Semmelhack and chef Mark Liberman, TBD –“To Be Determined”– serves a very different menu from AQ (their first restaurant located next door). The menu focuses on wood-fired small plates, mostly served in cast iron pans, prepared on a custom hearth and grill in an open kitchen in a more casual setting than AQ. Each dish was amazing. We started with warm Josey Baker bread with corn, cotijo and espelette, followed by a beet salad with grapes and walnuts just touched by a subtle fresh horseradish.   Beet...

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Hi from Ojai!

We are always looking for a mini-vacation no more than four or five hours drive from Monterey. Several weeks ago we had the wonderful experience of staying at the historic Ojai Valley Inn and Spa, a glorious oasis directly east of Ventura. The wonderful climate of the Ojai Valley draws celebrities and regular folk to  rejuvenate their health in a sanctuary of tranquility at the spa or on the vast grounds where tropical birds in large cages talk to you in hilarious repetitions of whatever you say. The trails –especially the Pratt Loop–are easy and long, with sweeping vistas of the...

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Mezcla–Mixing It Up South American Style

We had the pleasure of discovering this Nuevo Latino fusion restaurant on a recent trip to Montreal.  A mixture of Latino cultures, mainly Peruvian but even a dash of Chinese, made for an unforgettable experience:  a delight both visual and palatable.  Located off St. Catherine Street in what is called Gay Village or simply Le Village, this unassuming restaurant is a wonderful culinary experiment in originality.A  small bistro with no more than 20 small tables and  a lively bar in the middle, Mezcla caters to a late evening clientele. We arrived late but the dishes on the blackboard–...

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Michael’s on the Hill–A Green Restaurant in the Green Mountain State

We were delighted to dine at Michael’s on the Hill last week while we were on the East Coast.  Located in Waterbury (on the Stowe, Vermont border), this small restaurant in a charming turn-of-the-19th century farmhouse captivated us from the moment we sat down.  Their vegetable garden provides some of the produce for the menu, emphasizing the farmer-chef connection, aka farm-to-table. The ambience is eclectic:  New England antiques with bold black and white woodcuts (3’x 4′ prints) on several walls in a dining room with  dark wood beams and molding. The menu changes seasonally as...

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Wakuriya–A Little Bit of Kyoto Heaven

Sake flight Last week we experienced kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) at a tiny tucked-away restaurant in a strip mall in San Mateo–Wakuriya.  What a surprise find! Kaiseki cuisine is as much an art form as a type of gourmet dinner. Not unexpectedly, kaiseki has its origin in Zen monastic cuisine and aesthetic taste. Leaves and fresh flowers, often edible, suggest animals and seasonal variations in the moon and night sky. Passing through a long draped noren curtain, we opened the artisan wooden door, and stepped into a long narrow restaurant dimly lit and minimalist in decor.  The ambience...

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Bottega Louie–A Mega Bottega

Bottega Louie opened in 2009 in downtown Los Angeles and is in good company with some of the finest restaurants in the area.   The 10,000-square-foot paean to the good life is more than a marble and brass palatial restaurant/gourmet market/patisserie with 20-foot ceilings. No detail has been overlooked. More than three years under construction, Bottega Louie also has a European style bakery and about 200 employees. The bakery creates 800 pastries a day and is a destination throughout the city for its pastel-colored macaroons.  In addition there is a counter devoted to 20 kinds of breads and...

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