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






  • pinitbutton Riesling on the Rise!
riesling tasting invite 199x300 Riesling on the Rise!

Riesling & Co. Tasting invitation

Riesling & Co. 2011 Vintage Tasting in Tribeca

by Michelle Kwan

German engineering, bratwurst, beer. These three things come to mind when thinking of Germany. But wine? Not so much. Flanked by France and Italy, Europe’s powerhouses of winemaking, Germany has long existed under the shadow of these two regions — despite the fact that Germans began making wine more than eight centuries ago.

The German Winegrowers’ Association has been taking its vintages on tour in parts of Europe and the United States for several years now in an attempt to introduce German wines to the industry and public alike. Germany’s 2011 vintage has proven to be “the best in recent years,” according to Norbert Weber, president of the Association. Germany’s soil works together with the climate to produce primarily Rieslings and Pinot Blancs, with the former most recognized in the industry. Rieslings range from very dry to very fruity depending on the sugar alcohol level at processing, and the versatility of this wine makes it equally ideal for both pairing with food and drinking on its own.

Continue reading “Riesling on the Rise!” »

  • pinitbutton Tourcrafters Spanish Cuisine Package   Travel Special
barcelona Tourcrafters Spanish Cuisine Package   Travel Special

An aerial view of Barcelona

Embark on a Culinary Adventure with Tourcrafters’ Tribute to Spanish Cuisine

Featuring meals rather than monuments, Tourcrafters’ seven-night Spanish Cuisine Package invites travelers to discover the culture and history of Spain through its cuisine.

Catalan and Basque chefs have long been lauded for their mastery, and it is this expertise that is the highlight of this tasty package. Along with three nights at Hotel Front Maritim in Barcelona, two nights at Hotel Husa Jardines de Albia in Bilbao and two nights at Hotel Intur Palacio San Martin in Madrid, this package features the following culinary experiences Continue reading “Tourcrafters’ Spanish Cuisine Package – Travel Special” »

  • pinitbutton Foie Gras Ban in California, Really?

by Sophie Gayot

In a little more than a month, on July 1st, 2012, foie gras will be illegal in California.

Here is what California Senate bill No. 1520, signed on September 29, 2004, by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, says (extracts):
25980. For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
A bird includes, but is not limited to, a duck or goose.
(b) Force feeding a bird means a process that causes the bird to consume more food than a typical bird of the same species would consume voluntarily. Force feeding methods include, but are not limited to, delivering feed through a tube or other device inserted into the bird’s esophagus.
25981. A person may not force feed a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size, or hire another person to do so.
25982. A product may not be sold in California if it is the result of force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size.

Continue reading “Foie Gras Ban in California, Really?” »

  • pinitbutton 2012 French Open on Tennis Channel
roland garros 2012 tennis channel 300x75 2012 French Open on Tennis Channel

Follow Roland Garros 2012 on Tennis Channel

by Sophie Gayot

If you cannot make it to Paris for Roland Garros, also known as the French Open, you can still follow the action on live television. Those in the U.S. can tune in to the Tennis Channel, which will offer round-the-clock coverage of the two-week French Open starting on May 27. Their high definition broadcast of tennis’ largest and most prestigious clay-court competition begins at 10 a.m. EST on weekdays and 5 a.m. EST on the weekend. A nightly recap will run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST on weekdays, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m.-7 p.m. on Sunday.

Continue reading “2012 French Open on Tennis Channel” »



  • pinitbutton Sideways in Santa Monica
sideways 300x199 Sideways in Santa Monica

Jack and Miles wining and dining Maya and Terra

by Barnaby Hughes

First there was Sideways the novel, then Sideways the movie, and now there is Sideways the play. The world premiere production of Sideways is currently running through July 22 at the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica, California.

The novel’s author and first-time playwright Rex Pickett focuses the stage adaptation on the friendship between Miles and Jack and their wine-soaked wanderings through Santa Barbara County wine country in search of sexual satisfaction and the perfect Pinot Noir. To help with their latter quest, performances are paired with complimentary Pinot Noir tastings, courtesy of wine event company Affairs of the Vine.

Continue reading “Sideways in Santa Monica” »

  • pinitbutton Oceania Cruises Launches the Riviera   Travel News
riviera cruise ship 300x179 Oceania Cruises Launches the Riviera   Travel News

Oceania Cruises' Riviera

A New Contender Joins the Upscale Cruise Market

With this month’s maiden voyage of the Riviera, boutique cruise line Oceania Cruises increased its fleet to four luxury ships. Sailing from Venice to Athens, the ten-day “Pearls of the Aegean” introduced a new contender in the upscale cruise market. Following a gala christening ceremony in Barcelona, the 1,250-guest Riviera debuted just sixteen months after the launch of her sister ship, Marina. The new ship even has its own godmother — Cat Cora, the American chef, restaurateur and co-host of Bravo’s “Around the World in 80 Plates.” This pairing is apt, since the Riviera has been specially designed for epicureans and features ten dining venues, including a French bistro from Jacques Pépin. Continue reading “Oceania Cruises Launches the Riviera – Travel News” »

  • pinitbutton Chef Challenge in Santa Monica, CA
sophie gayot nyesha arrington 229x300 Chef Challenge in Santa Monica, CA

Winning chef Nyesha Arrington with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

Last Saturday, I was at the 21st Santa Monica Festival which this year included a “Food Salon.” Besides local food trucks and cooking demonstrations, there was also a farmers market “Chef Challenge” in which Nyesha Arrington of Wilshire restaurant (who appeared on TV’s Top Chef season 9) and John-Carlos Kuramoto of Michael’s restaurant had fifteen minutes to create a dish using ingredients provided from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market and Whole Foods. The dish had to be easy to make, fast and affordable, and good, of course. With the limited facilities on the stage, it could only be cold, so the two chefs each prepared a salad.

I was one of the judges along with Margo True of Sunset Magazine and Josephine Miller of the City of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability & The Environment. During the fifteen minutes of preparation, we enjoyed emcee Eddie Lin.

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  • pinitbutton Alinea: Dinner Extraordinaire!

by Sophie Gayot

When Alinea owner Nick Kokonas came to my table for dessert, after I had already sampled seventeen dishes from chef Grant Achatz, I had to share with him my thoughts: “Your restaurant should not be called a restaurant.” Yes, there is food, but it’s nowhere close to what one could ever experience at other dining venues. Achatz’s creativity is without limits, and tolerates no restriction, so expect the unexpected. What should it be called? Hmm… considering the homage and respect he pays to food, I can not say “food entertainment,” maybe an “ode to culinary invention.”

Continue reading “Alinea: Dinner Extraordinaire!” »

  • pinitbutton Perillo Tours 9 Day Sicily Vacation   Travel Special
sicily2 300x210 Perillo Tours 9 Day Sicily Vacation   Travel Special

Ancient Greeks built the Temple of Concordia in Agrigento, Sicily in the 5th century BC

Savor the Splendid Culture, Cuisine and Architecture of Sicily

Sicily boasts a melting pot of cultural influences. To showcase the country’s exotic architecture, unique cuisine and “old country” culture, Perillo Tours has crafted the eclectic Splendid Sicily Package, which includes the following experiences:

Continue reading “Perillo Tours 9-Day Sicily Vacation – Travel Special” »

  • pinitbutton Gordon Ramsay Steak Opens in Las Vegas
sophie gayot gordon ramsay 260x300 Gordon Ramsay Steak Opens in Las Vegas

Gordon Ramsay with Sophie Gayot

sophie gayot gordon ramsay smile 260x300 Gordon Ramsay Steak Opens in Las Vegas

Smiling Gordon Ramsay with Sophie Gayot




















by Sophie Gayot

Last week mega-superstar/high-energy personality/TV host/chef Gordon Ramsay was in Las Vegas to open his latest restaurant venture: Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas. As this is a British-inspired venue in a French-themed hotel, it’s fitting that diners enter it through an arcade reminiscent of the Chunnel connecting the two countries.

Continue reading “Gordon Ramsay Steak Opens in Las Vegas” »

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