66th Television Academy Emmy Awards Governors Ball

DSC_0916Yesterday I went to the Television Academy in NOHO for a sneak peek on the plans for this year’s ultimate Emmy® after-parties: the 2014 Creative Arts Ball on Saturday, August 16 and the 66th Emmy Awards Governors Ball on Monday, August 25.

This year’s  Creative Arts Ball’s and the Emmy Awards Governors Ball theme is  a “kaleidoscope of color.”

7,000 guests including all of the year’s nominees, presenters, invited attendees and the most Emmy Award winners will toast with glasses of BV Vineyard wines at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

According to Governors Ball Committee Chair Russ Patrick, “This year’s theme and décor are metaphors for the creative excellence, vibrancy and richness of our industry and this television season. When guests walk into the West Hall, it’s our hope that their collective breaths will be taken away.”

Event producer Cheryl Cecchetto, of Sequoia Productions, added, “Our ultimate after party will be a sensory delight, offering sights, sounds, cuisine and hospitality that cannot be found anywhere else.”

Guests will be welcomed by dazzling  red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple colors throughout the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Entertainment this year includes special guest vocalist and recording artist Judith Hill (20 Feet From Stardom) at the Governors Ball, backed by The Red Hot

Patina Executive Chef Alec Lestr

Patina Executive Chef Alec Lestr

Band, a high-energy Top 40 band. Extreme Beam will captivate partygoers with their dynamic dance routines.

On the south end of the ballroom, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy dancers will liven up the evening performing to the beats spun by DJ CoryLive. Rounding out the evening’s entertainment is String Theory, a hybrid performance ensemble renowned for their large- scale performance installations.

Patina Catering, under the direction of acclaimed Chef Joachim Splichal and the Patina culinary team lead by Chef Alec Lestr and Chef Greg Wiele, has created the three-course menu for each Television Academy after-party. The first course salad mixes peaches and heirloom tomatoes with buratta, candy striped figs and marcona almonds. The main course features filet mignon, a potato “bone” filled with golden potato puree, caramelized cippolini, crisp lacinato kale and zephyr squash, in a sauce of red wine and artisan grapes. The dessert is a contemporary take on chocolate s’mores designed by Patina Restaurant Group’s Executive Pastry Chef Carlos Enriquez.

The official chocolate provider to this years Emmy Awards is Cellar Door Chocolates. Erika Chavez- Graziano and her team is making thousands of sweet treats for the guests. The chocolates pair nicely with BV wines or Fiji Water.

Kevin Lee from LA Premier flowers told me he and his staff will be making 700 floral center pieces for the event.

The Creative Arts Ball and Emmy Awards Governors Ball are produced by Sequoia Productions. Both events will take place in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center immediately following the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on August 16, and the 66th Emmy Awards on August 25, respectively.

DSC_0915Watch the 66th Emmy Awards airs live Monday, August 25 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) on NBC and will originate from the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. The awards will be hosted by Seth Meyers.

Cart Dining at Church Key

Cart Dining at The Church KeyDressed as a 1950s stewardess, Ashley pushed a vintage Pan Am airline beverage cart filled with the makings for a really good Bloody Mary cocktail through the dining room at The Church Key. As she approached our vintage table, we noticed the cart had house pickled carrots, celery, and asparagus in little glass jars to garnish the beverages. Guests have a choice of tequila or vodka to enhance the flavor. Our server prefers tequila in her Bloody Mary, because it’s more flavorful than vodka, and it goes well with the saltiness.

Ashley opened the side door to the cart and pulled out a can of Church Key Bloody Mary mix. In her right hand was a Church Key – a small metal device with a triangular point that punches holes into a can. It also has a rounded edge at the other end to remove bottle caps. She opened the can and poured the thick red liquid into a glass with ice and garnished it with our choice of vegetables.

Church Key is gaining a winning reputation with foodies who enjoy cart service dining. General Manager Joseph Sabato thought up the idea, because he likes the dim sum approach for dinner and brunch.

“Our society is becoming so fast paced. People search for instant gratification,” Sabato said.

Instead of guests waiting for a server to come take a cocktail order or sitting idle while waiting for a dish to be served, Sabato has his staff approach tables after a guest is seated to enjoy an immediate cocktail while looking over the menu. “Guests relax and enjoy the evening when they don’t have to sit and wait.” Sabato said. Carts laden with alcohol and food create excitement in dining at Church Key.

DSC_0124The elegant California modern restaurant also has a champagne cart server pushing a vintage Pan Am beverage cart to various tables for the new Sunday brunch service. Guests have a choice of fresh orange or peach juice in little glass bottles to mix with a little bubbly for mimosas and Bellini’s. After we ordered our sparkling drinks, our server stamped a card and placed it on our table.

A pastry cart followed with a variety of pastry chef Ian Opina’s sugary delights. There were orange glazed buns, cinnamon crumble coffee cake and croissants. Again, our card was stamped to alert the server that we had two from the cart.

The brunch menu includes some exciting entrees such as the Toad in the Hole – a Corque Madame served on brioche bread with an egg in the middle smothered in a Gruyere fondue and topped with crispy smoked bacon. Another dish is the grilled asparagus with a sunny side up egg and the most decadent smoked tomato Hollandaise sauce. Every egg dish should have this sauce. It’s exquisite.

Executive Chef Steven Fretz stopped by our table to check in on us. “Breakfast is my favorite meal to cook,” he said. “I love to be in the kitchen folding eggs.”DSC_0128

Chef Fretz graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and joined the Michael Mina Group. After working at Redwood Park, the San Francisco Chronicle and ARCADIA, he earned the reputation of pushing the boundaries with food and making classic dishes more exciting for diners. He moved down to Southern California to become Mina’s Executive Chef of XIV on the corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights before moving on to The Church Key.

In the evening he is outside of the kitchen inspecting the dishes coming out. He also likes to stroll around the dining room making sure all of the guests are happy and having a good time.

Our server Jamie recommended we try the deep fried French toast with whipped cream and blackberry maple syrup. After eating an entire orange breakfast bun, I decided I had my quota of sweets for the day and chose the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon. There are two on a plate. Chef Fretz likes to thinly slice the top and bottom of a whole English muffin and IMG_9034place it on the griddle to give it a slight crunch. If you want bacon, sausage, gratin fries, crispy potato cakes, or grilled avocado, it is extra.

As our brunch items were delivered to the table, a friend approached our table and insisted we order the brioche donuts with a brown butter glaze and pool of cinnamon caramel in the donut hole. My husband and I agreed to split one order and take the other two donuts home for later. The plate of fresh donuts arrived with a dish of an exquisite soft-serve espresso ice cream. It was a sweet ending to a fun and satisfying Sunday meal.

Next time you have a special occasion or want to meet a group of friends for brunch or dinner, reserve a table at the interactive Church Key. $$ Open Monday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday Brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.8730 West Sunset Blvd. (424)249-3700.

This article was published in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on June 24, 2014.

National Tequila Day Celebrated in LA

securedownload-3National Tequila Day is on July 24. Tequila is a regional name for a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant. It’s made primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila near Guadalajara, Mexico. In Los Angeles, people will celebrate National Tequila Day at the following locations -

Shots of Tequila at La Caveat

The old-world Mexican grotto set in Highland Park, is known for its vast tequila and mezcal selection, and in celebration of their favorite holiday today, National Tequila Day, they will offer $5 Tequila Old Fashioned cocktails made with Sino Irish that is aged in Irish whiskey barrels. 5922 N. Figueroa Blvd. (323)255-6781.

The Members Only club – 41 Ocean
From the gorgeous 1920′s old California style décor, to the breathtaking ocean views and sunsets. Mixologist Rob Floyd is making a Pineapple-Rita made with  fresh pineapple, jalapeno, silver tequila, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup. 1541 Ocean Ave #150, Santa Monica (310) 566-3870

National Tequila DayPetty Cash

Celebrate National Tequila Day on Thursday, July 24th with $5 Tequila Cabeza shots with guests Simon Ford and Dushan Zaric from 86 Co. spirits.  Along with tequila shots, the guys will be offering a special cocktail called No Mames made with Tequila Cabeza, Barenjager honey liquer, fresh lime juice, grapefruit Juice, and dusted with a chipotle rim. Also try Petty Cash’s new agave flights menu including flights with the names of Intro to Oaxaca, Ode to Camerena, and El Jefe. 7360 Beverly Blvd. (323) 933-5300


Tonight, join Rivera for the launch of their new Agave flights kicking-off on National Tequila Day. Experience a variety of flights including A Study of Expressions, A Study of Regionality, Rare and Vintage, En Avion, Lucha Libre, Tropical, Fumo, and Animalistic. 1050 S Flower St #102 (213) 749-1460.

Come try mixologist and bartender Nikki Sunseri tequila drink called Off the Market – made with Anaheim & Red Jalapeno infused Blanco Tequila, Chareau Aloe Liqueur, Basil, Mint, Cucumber, Ginger & Lime, Served over Cracked Ice  8715 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood (310) 652-2335

image007Red O Restaurant

Tonight celebrate National Tequila Day with a special tequila flights through Sunday, July 27. Rick Bayless and his culinary team seasonally source only the best ingredients, that are often organic and grown from local farms that support sustainable practices. All Red O locations feature an impressive bar and lounge, where you’ll find their specialty cocktails, an extensive tequila & wine list and live entertainment nightly. Red O is offering a special dineLA three-course dinner for $45 per person. Be sure to order one of his margaritas made with the finest tequila. 8155 Melrose Ave. (323)655-5009.

Margaritas at Chipotle

Celebrate National Tequila Day with fresh, hand-made margaritas to enjoy with Chipotle burritos, tacos, and burrito bowls. Diners can choose between a margarita made with Sauza tequila for $4.50 or a Patrón version for $6.95. Both are hand-made to order using tequila, triple sec, a blend of fresh lime and lemon juices, and organic agave nectar, served on the rocks with a wedge of lime. 7660 Sunset Blvd. (323)952-5160 and 110 S. Fairfax Ave. (323)857-0608.

Kelly Bonoli – Vice President of Tart Bites

Tart Bites and Tequila

What goes great with tequila? Tart Bites, a gourmet tart concept that embodies pleasurable flavors with a perfect portion size. It’s more that a small dessert, it’s a real treat. The bakers make regular tarts, gluten-free, daily free or nut free tarts in a variety of scrumptious flavors. These tiny tarts come in flavors that include apple, blood orange, blueberry, Key Lime, Boston Irish, chocolate cheesecake and Chocolate mint. They also make personalized hand crafted edible toppers for special occasions such as tequila parties, baby showers, birthdays, retirement and weddings. For those looking to include a savory component with their tequila, they  bake savory pizza bites and gourmet wine jelly for adult peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The store also makes custom cakes for weddings and birthday parties. Tart bites are available at the Tart Bites bakery or can be shipped directly to your door. Tart bites range from $1.95-$2.35 per tart and can be shipped throughout the U.S. 17233 Ventura Blvd. (818) 646‑9071.

Groovy Blues and Southern Cuisine at House of Blues

IMG_0182Driving along Sunset Blvd. I stopped into the House of Blues to try celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez’s newly designed menu. Many know this chef as the co-star of Food Network’s hit series, Chopped. He also stars in the series, Aarón Loves NY, and the travel-food show, MOTOCHEFS.Sanchez brings new life and energy to the 20-year-old House of Blues in Hollywood.

Ashton Spatz, the new Sr. Marketing and Promotions Manager of House of Blues, invited me to come and experience their new Summertime Blues on Mondays at 7:30 p.m.

A friend and I arrived early and slid into a booth inside the intimate Crossroads room. I learned that actor and musician Chris Mulkey was performing on the Voodoo stage. Mulkey is quite a singer and entertainer. He captured everyone’s attention with his terrific show.

While sitting with Spatz, I was thrilled to see Kevin Finch as the new General Manager. I’ve known Finch for a few years, managing DISH in La Canada Flintridge. I also enjoyed meeting Spatz new Marketing team member Edward Guerra.

For dinner, we tried a few of Sanchez’s dishes, including a warm cheesy dip with crawfish, spinach and artichoke with crunchy pita chips. We also had a shrimp salad and red beans with dirty rice. For dessert, we enjoyed a warm peach cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sanchez is not in the kitchen most of the time, because he is busy with his television engagements, yet the House of Blues replicates his recipes step by step.

I remarked about the eclectic and colorful art pieces on the walls. I learned from Spatz that the House of Blues has the largest Folk Art collection with over four million dollars worth of art displayed throughout the 12 House of Blues venues.

She also shared with us that the first House of Blues was built in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1992, inside a historic colonial house. The owners opened the doors on Thanksgiving Day and fed meals to the homeless inside the house before opening later in the evening to the public. This tradition continues every Thanksgiving.

After dinner, we took a tour of the three-story concert halls and private rooms. The difference between the House of Blues and other music venues on Sunset, is the combination of food and music. The House of Blues books Rock and Roll, Blues and Hip-Hop bands while serving Southern comfort food with a California twist. The Viper Room, The Roxy and Whiskey A Go Go don’t serve food.

Touring the Music Hall we learned the room can accommodate up to 1200 people. This is where their Sunday Gospel Brunch opens its doors to the public at noon. Gospel producer and artist, Kirk Franklin books contemporary and traditional Blues bands, while guests eat a Southern cuisine brunch that includes chicken and waffles.

Up on the wall in the BB Blues Bar are the words, “This joint is dedicated to the memory of our dear brother River.” The original investors in the House of Blues include Dan Aykroyd, James Belushi, Aerosmith, Harvard University, Paul Schaffer and the late River Phoenix.

Before leaving, Spatz shared with us that The International House of Blues gives back to the community by allowing 50,000 students and their teachers to visit the Music Halls inside House of Blues with the Blues SchoolHouse program. The program incorporates folk art and music. On a guided tour, the group explores the history of Blues music.

Be sure to catch a Summertime Blues show on Monday night now through the end of the summer. Chris Mulkey will be back on July 21 through the rest of the summer. A House of Blues band will perform on July 7 and 14. $$ 8430 Sunset Blvd. (323)848-5197.

This article was published in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News  on July 17, 2014 - http://parklabreanewsbeverlypress.com/news/2014/07/house-of-blues-groovy-blues-with-southern-cuisine/


dineLA Kickoff Event – July 14 through July 27 Restaurant Week

IMG_0402Upon entering the Palihouse in West Hollywood for the kickoff dineLA event, I was handed a glass of Wolfgang Puck Sauvignon Blanc at the check-in table.

The 2012 vintage had aromas of key lime and honeydew. The wine was slightly tart with a slightly sea breeze finish. Wolfgang Puck also made a Red Blanc wine with dark fruit flavors.

I rode the elevator up to the rooftop just before sunset. Booths were set up with seven of LA’s favorite chefs on hand cooking up some delicious dishes.

The lovely Stacey Sun, Director of dineLA, announced to a crowd of over 100 dineLA fans and media, that this year there will be over 360 restaurants participating in the Restaurant Week from July 14  through July 27. It is the largest Restaurant Week in the world.

British chef Mathew Woolf of Palihouse prepared his Hamachi Carpaccio, Sticky Toffee Pudding and Strawberry and Cream donuts. Read my review of Chef Mathew in the July 10 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News - parklabreanewsbeverlypress.com/news/2014/07/palihouse-courtyard-brasserie-food-fit-for-a-queen/.

The affable Executive Chef Jimmy Shaw attended the event with his Loteria white jacket preparing mango soft tacos and a wonderful rice pudding. He and I reminisced about our lunch interview at Loteria in Hollywood. Read my review of my lunch with Chef Jimmy, also in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News - parklabreanewsbeverlypress.com/news/2013/09/loteria-grill/.

Chef Jimmy Shaw

Chef Jimmy Shaw

I was excited to meet General Manager Michael Main of Bourbon Steak at the Rick Caruso Americana at Brand. The Michael Mina restaurant served up the most delicious wood grilled lamb meat balls with fingerling potatoes. The dineLA lunch is $25 and dinner is $45. Check out the menu at http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/bourbon-steak-los-angeles.IMG_0403

I finally got to meet the talented chef Ernesto Uchimura at Plan Check on Fairfax. He served a mac n’ cheese with Fritos chips and sliced jalapeños. It was not my favorite dish of the evening. I told him that I loved his pastrami sandwich with a fried egg on top. It is my all time favorite dish on his menu. Read about this terrific sandwich in a past review in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News - parklabreanewsbeverlypress.com/news/2014/03/plan-check-restaurant-bar-gastropub-fun-and-fare-on-fairfax-ave/. Plan Check will be offering a dineLA lunch for $25. To see the menu, go to http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/plan-check-kitchen-bar-fairfax.

I really enjoyed interviewing three USC Band Alumni that collectively are creating LA Ale Works. Stephanie poured IMG_0435me a small glass of their Lievre Saison. It’s a beer that traditionally was brewed for laborers working in the fields. It’s lower in alcohol, traditionally at 2-3% ABV. This particular beer that LA Ale Works makes is 6.5% alcohol and is made with kumquats that the three handpicked in friends yards around Los Angeles. They spice the beer up is coriander, chamomile and Thai palm sugar. It’s an ideal summer beer with its fresh citrus bouquet and hints of honey.

While sipping and talking to Stephanie, her partner Kristofor Barnes handed me a glass of their Thai Iced Tea Soda. Wow, that was terrific. I learned that Barnes is an accomplished gold-medal-winning home brewer and founder of the brew blog Bierkast.com. He also recently published a Beer Lover’s Southern California book featuring breweries, brewpubs, and beer bars. Their beer is served in over 50 restaurants around LA.

SugarFish passed around blue crab hand rolls that were delicious. Each guest received a card for a complimentary hand-roll at their new Kazu Nori restaurant between August 1 and 30, 2014. The dineLA lunch is $20 and the dinner is $35. See the menu sugarfishsushi.com/our-menu/special-menus/dinela-menu

Mi Piace in Pasadena served delicious Short Ribs and adorable pieces of Opera Classic Almond Sponge Cake. Lunch is $25 and dinner is $35. To see the menu - http://www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/mi-piace.

Jiraff in Santa Monica brought out trays with spoons filled with a light summer pasta. Their dine LA lunch is only on Fridays for $25. The Jiraffe dineLA dinner is $45 per person. To look at the menu - www.discoverlosangeles.com/what-to-do/restaurants/jiraffe-restaurant.

This is the time to try a restaurant in Los Angeles that you have been eager to experience, yet never had the opportunity. At these discounted prices for lunch and dinner, now is the time to dine in Los Angeles.



Fourth of July Foodie Celebration

Undecided of where to hang out this Fourth of July? Here are some great venues that will put a lot fun, food and music into Independence Day.

House of Blues
The House of Blues on the Sunset Strip is celebrating Independence Day with grilled bratwurst, barbecue bacon cheeseburgers, marinated tri-tip sandwiches and drink IMG_0182specials offered on Friday, July 4 beginning at 2 p.m. on the Foundation Room deck. DJs will provide music and go-go dancers will perform at the free event for guests 21 and older. 8430 Sunset Blvd. (323)848-5100.

Big Foot Lodge
Kick-off Independence Day on Thursday, July 3 from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. with Sazerac cocktails priced at $5 at the Big Foot Lodge. Sazeracs are known as the oldest American cocktail. Davey Allen will perform live music. 3172 Los Feliz Blvd. (323)662-9227.

Thirsty Crow
Thirsty Crow is known as a whiskey lover’s paradise, with a selection of more than 100 whiskies, including 60-plus small batch bourbons. Celebrate Independence Day early on Thursday, July 3 with $5 cocktails. DJ St. Ives will provide music. 2939 W. Sunset Blvd. (323)661-6007.

Goldie’s is having a “Thumping Thursday” on Thursday, July 3 with jug cocktails, Summer of Rose wines by the glass, and a live DJ providing music during dinner. Goldie’s will be closed for lunch on the Fourth of July, and will offer normal dinner service from 6 to 11 p.m. 8422 W. Third St. (323)677-2470.

securedownload-42Sweet Liberty Cookie
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is showing its patriotism during the Fourth of July weekend with “Sweet Liberty” cookies available on Thursday, July 3 and Friday, July 4. The festive red, white and blue cookies cost $2.25 each, or six for $12. New refreshing summer beverages are also offered, including Mud Pie and caramel brownie ice blended beverages, and vanilla and hazelnut iced coffees. 5115 Wilshire Blvd. (323)879-8055; 8735 Santa Monica Blvd. (310)659-8207; and 6333 W. 3rd St. (323)857-0461.


Owner/Chef Phillip Frankland Lee and Dario Danesh

Scratch|Bar, which is located on La Cienega’s Restaurant Row, is now open for lunch and happy hour, in addition to dinner. On Friday, July 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Scratch|Bar will offer a special “All Day Happy Hour” during which diners will receive 20 percent off their bill. 111 N. La Cienega Blvd. (310)289-8010.

Enjoy Fourth of July with a classic backyard barbecue and a special, three-course menu served on the outdoor patio at Firefly. Tropical cocktails and boat drinks are available, with menu items such as beer battered prawns, and a “Honey Boo Boo” burger with whipped honey butter, Fiscalini cheddar and apple wood smoked bacon. The Firefly root beer float is made with a sarsaparilla reduction, vanilla ice cream and root beer foam. The barbecue runs from 4 p.m. to midnight. The cost is $35 per person, with a choice of one dish per course, excluding beverages. 11720 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. 

Terranea 071Special Deals at Terranea Resort
Terranea Resort is offering special room packages during the Fourth of July weekend to celebrate its 5th anniversary. Guests who book five nights or more will receive a $500 resort credit that can be used at The Spa, The Links Golf Academy, Pointe Discovery, restaurants or retail boutiques. Guests who book two nights will receive the third night free, and those who stay only two nights and will receive a $150 resort credit. On Friday, July 4 from 2 to 4 p.m., guests will receive discounts on food, beer and wine during happy hour at Nelson’s. Catalina Kitchen’s seafood buffet runs from 5 to 10 p.m., and live music will be performed in the Lobby Bar from 7 to 9 p.m. Additionally, Catalina Kitchen is offering a California buffet on Saturday, July 5 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. 100 Terranea Way. (310)265-2800.

Four Seasons Fireworks Suites
The Four Seasons is offering front row seats to Westlake Village’s first annual fireworks show on Friday, July 4 at 9 p.m. at the Westlake Village Golf Course. Guests can view the show from locations throughout Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, with a limited number of “Fireworks Suites” available. A “Dive-In Movie” screening of “The Lego Movie” will be held at 7 p.m. at the indoor pool. Executive chef Alex La Motte has created a special menu with grilled sliders, housemade sausages, chicken tacos and warm pretzels. A full bar and frozen treats will be available to guests who are staying at the resort. 2 Dole Dr. (818)575-3000.

Stoli Spot
Sunny Spot transforms into “Stoli Spot” during the Fourth of July weekend, offering a beachside cocktail party with sand, shade and games on its outdoor lot, and spiked lemonades from the mobile Stoli truck in flavors such as blueberry/hibiscus, ginger/peach and pineapple/habanero. Sunny Spot’s chef is making “brown bag” sack lunches with sliders, plantains and pineapple lollipops. The fun runs from Friday, July 4 through Sunday, July 6 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 822 Washington Blvd. (310)448-8884.

image002Café del Rey
Café del Rey and executive chef Chuck Abair are offering an American feast on the Fourth of July, and guests can sit along the waterfront and enjoy fireworks. A watermelon gazpacho, squid salad and barbecue short ribs are among the dishes to be served, as well as grilled lobster tail with macaroni & cheese, asparagus and tarragon. Cherry pie with whipped cream and cherry sauce will be served for dessert. Dinner starts at 5 p.m. for the $60 per person, first seating, and at 7:45 p.m. for the $80 per person, second seating. The fireworks begin at approximately 8:45 p.m. 4451 Admiralty Way. (310)823-6395.

Whiskey Red’s in Marina del Rey
Guests can celebrate Independence Day with a Fourth of July barbecue on the waterfront and some of the city’s best fireworks at Whiskey Red’s in Marina Del Rey. The festivities start at 5:30 p.m. with Jack of Hearts performing live music, as well as a DJ spinning music. Guests can enjoy a classic barbecue and complimentary dessert bar at 10 p.m. The South Bay room offers stunning views of the harbor, and drink specials include $3 select “Old School” beers and $5 Fireball shots from 5:30 to 8 p.m. A custom menu with Whiskey Red’s salmon burger, signature hamburger, bratwurst, hot dogs, barbecue ribs and garlic fries will be available for purchase during the event. Guests can also make advance reservations and enjoy an all-American buffet from 5:30 to 10 p.m., for $59 per person for a reserved table on the patio; $25 for children ages 5-12. Inside seating is $49 per person; $20 for children. Children under 5 years old eat free. 13813 Fiji Way. (310)823-4522.

Hot Dog Month
Dog Haus is currently hosting its 2nd annual hot dog eating contest. Ten contestants who qualified on June 26 will come back to Dog Haus on Saturday, July 5, to eat as many hot dogs as they can in competition to become the 2014 Haus Champion. The winner will receive a trophy and $300 cash prize, as well as Dog Haus and Brewery giveaways. Prior to the competition on July 5, guests can enjoy live music from Past Action Heroes, sample brews from local craft breweries, watch the FIFA World Cup Quarterfinal matches on the seven large flat screen televisions, or partake in giant Jenga and a beer stein holding contest. The fun starts at 9 a.m. with the FIFA World Cup match, followed at 2 p.m. with local breweries handing out beer. The hot dog eating competition starts at 4 p.m., and the victor will be crowned by 4:15 p.m. From 5 p.m. to midnight, a DJ will provide music, and guests can enjoy games. 98 E. Green St., Pasadena (626)683-0808.

Little Dom’s Patriotic Cocktail
On Independence Day, bartender Nikki Sunseri is serving red, white & blue sangria made with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, white wine and rum. The “Captain America”-themed sangria is perfect for backyard barbeques and summer soirees with family and friends, as it can be batched and served at large parties. 2128 Hillhurst Ave. (323)661-0055.

Shakey’s Turns 60
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proclaimed Monday, July 7 as “Shakey’s Pizza Day”. The restaurant chain will serve free giant slices of pizza on July 7 from 3 to 5 p.m. at all participating Southern California restaurants. 
 Originally established in 1954, Shakey’s “ye public house” remains a vibrant gathering place. 7001 Santa Monica Blvd. (323)463-1104; 6052 W. Olympic Blvd. (323)937-4234.

This was published in the July 3, 2014 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.

Awe-Inspiring Yosemite

DSC_0020Ansel Adams once said “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”

Driving through Yosemite Valley offers views of mountains with meadows, waterfalls, and spectacular geology that produces awe-inspiring moments. Many of the recognizable vistas were captured on film from Ansel Adams.

Yosemite became a National Park in 1890. The Valley is 7-miles and 4000 ft. above sea level. There are 77 mammal species and 223 bird species throughout the park.

It costs $20 per vehicle to drive into Yosemite Park. The pass is good for 7 days. Save your receipt, because you need to show it when you leave the park.

Since it is at least a five-hour journey from Los Angeles, stay in the valley at least two nights. Depending on price, you can camp, stay in a cabin, lodge or at the Ahwahnee Hotel.

Once you pass the long tunnel and stop for pictures at the breathtaking view site of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and Half Dome. Continue driving into the valley and park your car. You will never need to get into your car again. A environment-friendly shuttle system takes guests throughout the park on a loop of 18 different stops that includes the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls area, Curry Village, Yosemite Village, Sentinel Bridge, Mirror Lake trailhead, the stables and Four Mile trailhead.

IMG_9186Bicycles are available to rent at Curry Village and Yosemite Lodge. There are 13 miles of paved surface to ride around the valley without navigating automobiles or buses.

If you can splurge, stay at least one night at the Ahwahnee. Driving past the stone gatehouse with an unpretentious Ahwahnee sign, one feels as if they are stepping back in time. Built in 1927, this elegant hotel has welcomed Queen Elizabeth II, Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, Gertrude Stein, Ansel Adams, Lucille Ball, Will Rogers, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan while visiting Yosemite Valley.

Walking down the long porte cochere and stepping into the reception area one notices the geometric patterns paying homage to California Native Americans.

What looks like wood siding with stone accents is actually concrete poured into rough-sewn wood. Hotels in Yosemite burned down to the ground, so the architect and builder wanted to make this 123 guest room masterpiece fireproof.

A small pool set among the trees was built in the 60s. The staff keeps it heated to compensate for not having a hot whirlpool.

In the main lounge during the late afternoon, a high tea is set up with black or herbal tea in China cups with saucers and gourmet cookies for guests staying at the hotel.Yosemite Falls

The dining room has a 34-foot high ceiling with massive windows and stone columns. The food is good, but not spectacular. During Christmas they put on an annual Bracebridge Dinner. It’s a three house seven-course dinner filled with drama and symbolism with over 100 singers and dining room employees for 350 guests.

While in Yosemite take a photography class to learn how to capture the landscape from an expert at The Ansel Adams Gallery. Several classes are offered each week.

At night attend “Starry Skies Over Yosemite Valley” to learn about stars, constellations, planets, meteors and other sky features.

Stroll with a park ranger to learn about waterfalls, bears, geology and the trees.

Children and grandchildren can become a Junior Ranger or Yosemite Little Cub at the Happy Isle Nature Center.

Another interesting spot is the Yosemite Museum to learn about the Indian Cultural Exhibit and the Yosemite Miwok and Paiute people from 1850 to the present.

For additional information, go to www.yosemitepark.com or call (801) 559-4884.

This article was published in the July 2014 issue of Not Born Yesterday.

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