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




From Napa to Tuscany in Search of Great Wine

By Nick Wise

(Omnibus, 2013)

Celebrity Vineyards: From Napa to Tuscany in Search of Great Wine by Nick Wise

Celebrity Vineyards: From Napa to Tuscany in Search of Great Wine by Nick Wise

Movie moguls… chefs… musicians… even porn stars! There are a lot of celebs in the wine industry today. The burning questions we all want to ask are: How involved are they really in the winemaking process? Are their wines any good? And what draws these personages to wine in the first place?

Author Nick Wise answers these questions in Celebrity Vineyards by examining sixteen different celebrity-owned operations. They are a varied and diverse lot, from the historic Inglenook estate owned by director Francis Ford Coppola and the rustic Tuscan wines of porn star Savanna Samson to the tiny Sonoma vineyard plot owned by chef Charlie Palmer and the modern, state-of-the-art Anta Banderas winery in Spain of actor Antonio Banderas.

Continue reading “Celebrity Vineyards – Book Review” »



Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to the Modern Age

By Randall Heskett & Joel Butler

(Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)

Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to the Modern Age by Randall Heskett & Joel Butler

Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to the Modern Age by Randall Heskett & Joel Butler

What wines would Jesus drink? Would he choose a classic French Champagne, a cult Napa Cab or perhaps a kosher wine from Israel? The authors of Divine Vintage speculate that if Jesus were alive today he would drink wines flavored with resin, spiced with honey or mixed with seawater — ancient styles with which he would already be familiar. Mas des Tourelles in France, for example, makes such wines today under the guidance of archaeologists.

Despite the title, Divine Vintage is less a book about religion than about eastern Mediterranean wine. Randall Heskett, a biblical scholar, and Joel Butler, a Master of Wine, each bring their own expertise to bear on the region’s ancient winemaking history as well as its contemporary wine industry. The first half of Divine Vintage is primarily concerned with references to wine in the Bible, which are put into a wider historical context and illustrated by archaeological finds, such as earthenware wine jugs and stone winepresses.

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The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children by Kim Horton Levesque

The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children by Kim Horton Levesque

All too often, the difference between the fantasy of traveling with children (wee ones skipping along in wonder against a majestic European backdrop) and the reality (jet-lagged children who won’t leave the hotel) can be vast. Thanks to The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children, you don’t have to wait until your kids are in college to visit Paris.

Paris with Children guides you through visiting Paris’ most important sights in a child-friendly way.  Organized around places to play, eat, shop and stay, the book allows you to plan your day around activities that both you and your children will love.

Continue reading “The Little Bookroom Guide to Paris with Children — Review” »

Gather: The Art of Paleo Entertaining

Gather: The Art of Paleo Entertaining is a winning mix of Martha Stewart and The Paleo Diet

A winning mix of Martha Stewart and The Paleo Diet, Gather: The Art of Paleo Entertaining is more than another diet book about eating like cavemen. Designed as a Paleo lifestyle guide, Gather is a cooking manual for festive occasions and family gatherings.

In other words, this is diet food that is not supposed to taste like diet food.

The glossy, illustrated pages are filled with elegant recipes such as “smoked elk loin with wild pear” and “apple scented venison roast.” There are also plenty of weekday-friendly recipes for more relaxed occasions. Comfort food staples like “General Tso’s chicken” — normally a mess of deep fried cornstarch — are re-imagined with the help of coconut aminos and arrowroot flower.

Continue reading “Gather: The Art of Paleo Entertaining — Review” »



by Sophie Gayot

Thomas Keller is the only chef to have two restaurants with’s highest rating of 19/20: The French Laundry and Per Se. Yesterday at Bouchon Beverly Hills, I had the pleasure to talk with him about his just-released dessert book, Bouchon Bakery. Sébastien Rouxel, the book’s co-author and the executive pastry chef of The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, joined the conversation.

I had not seen the book until the three of us flipped through the 400 pages. If you haven’t had a chance to see Keller’s first recipe book for sweets either, watch the exclusive video above to discover it the same way they showed it to me. Coming from the masters directly, it is surely the best way to do so. The experience was quite fun, and, of course, a sweet moment to remember!

Continue reading “Sweet Times with Thomas Keller” »



by Sophie Gayot

Who can talk about Margrit Mondavi’s exciting life better than herself? I recently attended a dinner with the second wife of the late Napa Valley iconic vintner Robert Mondavi. Besides the meal we shared at Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air restaurant, I also was lucky enough to have a private discussion with the gifted storyteller.

Allow me to share a few words about the lady from Switzerland who brought so much to the Valley and is now the Vice President of Cultural Affairs of Robert Mondavi Winery: generosity, joie de vivre, witty, artistic, colorful style and simplicity.

Continue reading “The First Lady of Napa Valley” »

Cooking with Citrin

on November 16th, 2011
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by Sophie Gayot

After twelve years of being the chef in his own restaurant, Josiah Citrin of Mélisse in Santa Monica has just published his first cookbook: In Pursuit of Excellence. Watch our exclusive video interview with Citrin to learn more about the book from the chef himself.

Mélisse restaurant has been named to’s Top 40 US Restaurants continuously since 2006. The restaurant is also featured on our lists of the Top 10 LA Food Rating Restaurants, Top 10 LA Business Restaurants, Top 10 LA French Restaurants, Top 10 LA Romantic Restaurants, Top 10 LA California Cuisine Restaurants, Top 10 LA Wine List Restaurants, Top 10 LA Special Occasion Restaurants, Top 10 LA Thanksgiving Restaurants, and Top 10 LA New Year’s Eve Restaurants.

For more cookbooks on, visit the Cookbook Reviews section.

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The Bikini Chef, Susan Irby

The Bikini Chef, Susan Irby

by Sophie Gayot

This weekend, I was going through my pile of cookbooks, and I am glad I did. I found The Bikini Chef Susan Irby‘s fourth cookbook, Substitute Yourself Skinny, which I use when I want to eat tasty but healthy foods at home. Lots of effort went into the creation of this 175-recipe book. The entire Irby family was involved: her mother helped her test each recipe, while her husband and daughter lost the use of the kitchen when photos were taken!

Continue reading “Cut the Calories but Not the Taste” »

My Lunch with John Besh

on December 06th, 2010
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by: Sophie Gayot

Despite his busy schedule, I had the real pleasure of sitting down and enjoying lunch with John Besh in New Orleans at his fine dining establishment August, which made GAYOT’s 2008 list of the Top 40 US Restaurants. While chef de cuisine Michael Gulotta was preparing the delicate dishes, I was discovering the other side of the pans of chef Besh.

Besh is very concerned by his surroundings, whether it is people, the city of New Orleans or the environment. He uses produce from local farmers and fishermen for all of his restaurants: August, La Provence, Lüke, Domenica, Besh Steak, and The American Sector. That practice supports the local economy, cuts the carbon footprint, and guarantees more organically-grown vegetables. He even has his own vegetable garden in the back of La Provence restaurant, located a few miles away from the city in Lacombe. A native of southern Louisiana, he is consumed with putting the city and the state back on their feet after Hurricane Katrina (traces are still visible after five years) and the oil spill (he was part of the effort of December 1st Dine America’s Night Out for Gulf Seafood).

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Saved by the Décor?

on September 21st, 2010
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The tequila tunnel at chef Rick Bayless' Red O restaurant in Los Angeles

The tequila tunnel at chef Rick Bayless’ Red O restaurant in Los Angeles

by Sophie Gayot

Watch our exclusive video interview with Rick Bayless talking about his book Fiesta at Rick’s.


Red O is currently the hot place to see and be seen in Los Angeles. It’s celebrity chef Rick Bayless’ first restaurant outside of Chicago. There he operates Frontera Grill which has become a mecca for food lovers in the Windy City, and next-door neighbor Topolobampo, which some rate as one of the best Mexican restaurants in the country. I cannot say all these good things about his restaurant on Melrose.


Last night, I headed to Red O for dinner, and tried 25 (yes, twenty-five) dishes plus two desserts. I had a rather disappointing meal, especially since I had high expectations. The best dish of all was the pescado Zarandeado, a wood-grilled striped bass basted with red chili and served with three salsas, Veracruz-style white rice with sweet plantains and arugula salad. On the other side of the scale, avoid the creamy goat cheese cheesecake accompanied by Mexican “root beer” sauce and caramel popcorn.

  Continue reading “Saved by the Décor?” »

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