Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.






  • pinitbutton Good Food & Wines Win Over the Rain
sophie gayot mark peel govind armstrong 300x216 Good Food & Wines Win Over the Rain

Chefs Mark Peel, Susan Feniger and Govind Armstrong with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot


Despite the threat of rain, which became the reality of rain, zebras, llamas, dromedary camels and horses were out to welcome the more than 2,000 hungry guests who attended Los Angeles Magazine’s The Food Event 2010. It was once again held at the beautiful Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu, home to Malibu Family Wines, which produces Saddlerock and Semler Wines.


Some 80 restaurants and wineries came together for the 5th edition of the event, which donated  proceeds to the Kids Courage Foundation. I sampled quite a few dishes. Chef Warren Schwartz from Westside Tavern in West Los Angeles will be happy to learn that he was the winner of the day. He had prepared a delicious braised short rib crostini on caramelized onions accompanied with a horseradish/chive cream. After talking with Michael McCarty from Michael’s restaurant about his 2007 Pinot Noir from his own winery The Malibu Vineyard (watch my exclusive video), I indulged in white truffle pizza from Tra di Noi Ristorante in Malibu from chef Francesco Velasco (another video to watch). A stop at the new The Capital Grille in West Hollywood confirmed the impression I had from a previous tasting: the combinations of ingredients don’t match. The Indian spices mixed with the mustard oil on the Wagyu beef carpaccio are not a fit; neither are the black pepper mascarpone, lemon oil, and fig essence with King salmon cured with fennel pollen. My suggestion is to keep it simple.

  Continue reading “Good Food & Wines Win Over the Rain” »

Democracy and the Kid

on November 11th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Democracy and the Kid

voting booth Democracy and the Kid

Last week, many Americans took part in democracy by voting

by André Gayot


Tim is the smart, nine-year-old son of my young friend and colleague Mac Bramble. I like it when he calls me “Uncle” because it makes me feel younger, as Grandpa would be more appropriate. He enjoys asking questions, as well as teasing me a little bit. He listens to the news, and — what’s extraordinary for this generation — reads the newspapers (or at least their first page) left by his dad on the couch, but he does not understand everything. So, he often demands clarifications:


Tim: Uncle André, what are the elections about?


AG: They are an exercise in democracy. People elect people to represent them.


Tim:  Represent them for what?


AG:  To tell them what they have to do. We call that the law. It tells you what’s right and what is not. In brief, this is what they call democracy. The majority determines for you and me the good and the evil.


Tim:  But if I don’t like what I am told to do, am I against democracy?


AG: Not necessarily, but you are the minority.


Tim: And then, what are my rights?

  Continue reading “Democracy and the Kid” »

Norman’s New Project

on November 10th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Norman’s New Project
MIRES101009 Norman’s New Project

The entrance to the bar area of Norman’s 180 in Coral Gables.

Local legend Norman Van Aken has resurfaced on the South Florida dining scene with Norman’s 180 in Coral Gables. As the name implies, both cuisine and ambience are a 180-degree departure (well, maybe more like 125 degrees) from his original namesake restaurant, Norman’s — less upscale and complex; more casual, local ingredient-oriented, boldly flavored, and affordable. Dishes on the globetrotting menu range from Colombian arepas to Vietnamese pho to fried chicken and collard greens.

Get your fill of foodie info with Miami/South Florida Restaurant News, Restaurant Reviews, Culinary Events and Miami Wine Dinners.

minilogo Norman’s New Project

Hip Hop Cognac, part 3

on November 09th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Hip Hop Cognac, part 3
TI rapper cognac 205x300 Hip Hop Cognac, part 3
Rapper T.I. reportedly loses his Remy Martin deal after his arrest

By Jeff Hoyt

We hate to say, “I told you so!” And by “hate” we mean “love,” like, in hip-hop, “bad” can actually mean “good.”


You may recall that we questioned the wisdom of Remy Martin Cognac naming felon/rapper T.I. their Global Creative Consultant after serving time on weapons charges. Shortly thereafter, we reported on his Los Angeles drug arrest. Now it appears the cognac house and others believe it’s time to drop him like he’s hot.


After being sentenced to eleven additional months behind bars on the probation violation stemming from the arrest, T. I. has reportedly lost his Remy Martin deal.  In addition, he has also lost his sponsorship deal for AXE Body spray. It seems there are only a certain number of felonies a rapper can get caught committing before endorsement deals dry up.

Continue reading “Hip Hop Cognac, part 3” »


Harry & David & You

on November 08th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Harry & David & You

by: Sophie Gayot


There are many ways to buy products from Harry & David, the 75-year-old gourmet gift company. They have a website, a 24/7 call center (1-877-322-1200), catalogues and 126 retail stores throughout the country, making it one of the largest in the US. But this is a big country, so to make our lives even easier, they have decided to open 16 pop-up stores for the holidays to get closer to you.

  Continue reading “Harry & David & You” »



  • pinitbutton Jersey Shore Restaurant Week
jersey shore restaurant week Jersey Shore Restaurant Week

David Burke Fromagerie restaurant in Rumson, NJ near Jersey Shore

by Meryl Pearlstein


Get your hair in a poof and head down to Jersey Shore Restaurant Week, running today through November 13 at Snooki’s favorite destination. You won’t have time for GTL (gym, tan, laundry), but even The Situation might stop tending to his abs to indulge in this year’s fabulous fare. Participating restaurants will offer a three-course prix fixe lunch menu for $20.10 and a three-course dinner menu for $30.10.

Our recommendations for this year’s festivities include David Burke’s Fromagerie, Klein’s Fish Market Waterside Café, Avenue, and The Mill at Spring Lake Heights.

While you’re there, celebrate the week with more than just great food and views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Shore’s beautiful rivers. For more information on the week and events, visit


Keep coming back to for the latest Jersey Shore restaurant reviews, as well as the best places to eat outdoors or cheaply at the Jersey Shore.

  • pinitbutton SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills Offers Itself its Own Present for its Second Anniversary

by Sophie Gayot


Two years ago, Sam Nazarian set the new standard in the hotel world when he opened SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills. There was a Superb Luxurious Soirée* where Dom Pérignon was the drink of the evening for over a thousand guests who also enjoyed José Andrés’ tapas. Right after its opening, the hotel made our 2008 Top 10 New U.S. Hotels, and we named The Bazaar by José Andrés to our 2010 Top 10 Best New Restaurants in the U.S. Considering the huge success of both venues, it seems that these picks were judicious. 
Last night, in celebration of the two-year anniversary, there was a more intimate party where the hotel’s general manager Philip Dailey introduced the new concept gift shop, “Regalo.” The “shop without walls,” as he likes to call it, includes objects from only four luxury brands: Assouline, Baccarat, D.L.& C and Kiki de Montparnasse. In the exclusive video interview you can watch above, Dailey explains more about the shop located within The Bazaar whose name is Spanish for ‘gift.’

Continue reading “SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills Offers Itself its Own Present for its Second Anniversary” »

Last Night with Bernie

on November 03rd, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Last Night with Bernie
bernanke1 Last Night with Bernie

Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank

by André Gayot


I don’t want to keep you awake tonight, but I have to report the conversation I had with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Ben Bernanke.


- AG: Hi, Ben, how are you? Reading that low interest rates are responsible for the subprime disaster because people bought houses left and right that they could not pay for, I was wondering if the current very low rates would not give birth to another house buying spree and another bursting bubble.


- BB: Don’t worry; people are not buying.


- AG: But that’s not too good for the economy, because construction is its main driving force.


- BB: This is a transition period and we have other sectors that do well, like TV, where so much money flows to conceive and propagate electoral messages, mostly mud-slinging maybe, but a good sign if you consider that mud is an inexhaustible natural resource. Continue reading “Last Night with Bernie” »

  • pinitbutton America’s Night Out for Gulf Seafood
dine america fishing boat1 200x300 America’s Night Out for Gulf Seafood

The sale of Fishermans’ products from the Gulf of Mexico have gone down significantly since the BP oil spill

by Sophie Gayot

For months, the world has watched with horror the oil spill caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drill rig in the Gulf of Mexico that killed eleven people. We are all very sad for the families of the men who left us.

Even though the well has been sealed, another drama is now unfolding concerning the area’s fishermen. The sales of their products — shrimp, oysters, crabs, crawfish and over 167 varieties of fin fish — have gone down. If they stay at that reduced level, most of them will not have enough income to support their families and businesses. Imagine the chain reaction on the economy in the region. Thousands and thousands will be affected. After Hurricane Katrina, they certainly do NOT need this.

After conducting many tests, the experts definitely agree that seafood from the Gulf is safe. If you are like me, so far, you’ve done nothing to actually support the population, besides almost cry when looking, powerlessly, at the images during the long ordeal, and curse at BP. Now, as foodies, we can do something.

Continue reading “America’s Night Out for Gulf Seafood” »

Raising the Bar #4

on November 01st, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Raising the Bar #4
sophie gayot michael cardenas 300x179 Raising the Bar #4

From left to right: Christopher Hennessy, Comme Ca general manager; Yassmin Sarmadi, Church & State owner; Tim Loden, Comme Ca mixologist; Sophie Gayot; Charlotte Cramer, BOA mixologist; Claudia Smith, Joe’s Restaurant; Hector Bury, Joe’s Restaurant mixologist, Victoria Recano, TV personality; Dave Ferney, Church & State mixologist; Michael Cardenas, BOA owner.

by Sophie Gayot

Join me at Church & State on Sunday, November 7th, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for the fourth edition of the cocktail competition Raising the Bar. Along with Church & State owner Yassmin Sarmadi, chef/owner of Joe’s Restaurant and Bar Pintxo Joe Miller, Comme Ca General Manager Christopher Hennessy, and newcomer The Raymond Restaurant General Manager Chris Mangandi, I will be judging cocktails created on the spot.

Four mixologists, Mat Greis (Church & State), Jennifer Zerboni (Joe’s Restaurant), Eugene Shaw or Tim Loden (Comme Ca) and Lacey Murillo (The Raymond Restaurant) will have to create three different cocktails: a classic, another made with Starr African Rum, and one freestyle. Audience members will also enjoy a choice of special menus from chef Jeremy Berlin. Ask for details, including pricing, when making your reservation at 213-405-1434. Continue reading “Raising the Bar #4” »

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