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






  • pinitbutton Ciroc Vodka with Sean Combs
p diddy 300x200 Ciroc Vodka with Sean Combs

Sean John Combs, brand ambassador for Ciroc Vodka

by Jeff Hoyt

Most personalities do their best to make their name a household one, reinforcing their “brand” repeatedly by getting their name out there, via their performances, TV appearances, CDs, DVDs, clothing lines and every media that will have them. But singer/rapper/actor/ producer/mogul/businessman Sean John Combs has bucked that trend, changing his name over and over again while continually staying in the public eye: Diddy; P. Diddy; Puff; Puffy; Puff Daddy; King Combs. Even his clothing lines utilize two different names based on his birth name: Sean John and “Sean by Sean Combs.”

But the multiple Grammy Award winner has only one name for his vodka: Ciroc. When he became a brand ambassador in 2007, the French vodka was only selling about 10,000 cases per month. With the entrepreneur pushing the product, and sharing in the brand’s profits, sales were about 400,000 cases in 2009, and reportedly close to 1,000,000 cases last year. No wonder the singer now refers to himself jokingly as “Ciroc Obama.”

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  • pinitbutton Historic Inglenook Winery Restored to Former Glory   Wine News
inglenook label front 300x200 Historic Inglenook Winery Restored to Former Glory   Wine News

Front side of Inglenook 2009 CASK Cabernet Sauvignon, featuring 1941 label design

If you avoid Inglenook wines because of their subpar reputation, it’s time to rethink that notion. Founded in 1880 by Finnish sea captain Gustave Niebaum, Inglenook was actually one of the earliest and greatest of Napa Valley wine estates. But in 1964, it was broken up and sold off, and the brand became associated with cheap box wines.

Over the past few decades, filmmaker/wine entrepreneur Francis Ford Coppola has devoted a tremendous amount of money and energy to reviving this historic brand. He began buying up parts of the 235-acre estate in 1975, issuing wines under the Niebaum-Coppola label. In 2006, he changed the label to Rubicon Estate, and five years later to Inglenook when he finally completed the estate’s reunification. He also hired Château Margaux winemaker Philippe Bascaules to change the public perception of the Inglenook brand and restore it to its former glory.

Continue reading “Historic Inglenook Winery Restored to Former Glory – Wine News” »



  • pinitbutton Celebrate Father’s Day

by Sophie Gayot

Throughout 2012, restaurateur Piero Selvaggio will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of Valentino, one of Los Angeles’ first fine dining restaurants, featuring Italian cuisine. Watch my exclusive video interview above with Selvaggio to learn some culinary history. You can also watch another video with Valentino chef Nico Chessa
. Valentino will celebrate Father’s Day by offering three “No Corkage Nights” on Thursday, June 14, Friday, June 15, and Saturday, June 16, so diners can bring in their own wine for no additional charge. (Valentino is closed on Sundays.)

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  • pinitbutton Say “No” to the Foie Gras Ban in California

by Sophie Gayot

Frédéric Lefebvre, a former minister in the French government under Nicolas Sarkozy, is coming to the aid of the people opposed to the foie gras ban in California by organizing a petition. Effective July 1, 2012, it will be illegal to sell to produce and to sell the delicacy in the Golden State.

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.

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  • pinitbutton Hella Jongerius to Revamp KLMs World Class Business Cabins   Travel News
klm hella jongerius 300x300 Hella Jongerius to Revamp KLMs World Class Business Cabins   Travel News

Hella Jongerius, Dutch top designer and Erik Varwijk, Managing Director KLM on the famous ‘polder sofa’ in the KLM-hangar, in front of a Boeing 747-400.

Leading Dutch Designer Joins Forces with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

With a goal to create an entirely new look and feel for its World Business Class cabins, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which merged with Air France in 2004, has hired leading Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. In addition to designing the fleet’s cabin interiors, Jongerius will shape the full-flat seats, combining comfort and beauty as she did with her signature “polder sofa.” Jongerius says, “The challenge is one of safeguarding individual comfort in amiable settings using innovations. In so doing, I can optimally combine traditional details and my industrial textile and color skills with high-tech functionality.” Continue reading “Hella Jongerius to Revamp KLM’s World Class Business Cabins – Travel News” »

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