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




The Best Easter Brunch

on April 04th, 2012
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  • pinitbutton The Best Easter Brunch
peacock alley 300x214 The Best Easter Brunch

Peacock Alley at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York, one of our Top 10 Restaurants for Easter Brunch in the U.S.

by Jeff Hoyt

If you haven’t made reservations for Easter Brunch yet, you’re running out of time. Consult our lists of the best Easter Brunch available in your area. We also feature the Top 10 Restaurants for Easter Brunch across the U.S. At many of these fine restaurants, you can make reservations for Sunday, April 8, with a few clicks on the website.

If you’re invited to brunch at someone’s house, or hosting one of your own, consult our list of the Top 10 Brunch Wines. They’re good on Easter and year-round.

Our current issue of Tastes features other money-saving wine lists, including Top 10 Wines Under $10, Top 10 Wines Under $20, Top 10 Value Wines and Top 10 Cheap Champagnes that are true Champagnes from France. The newsletter is focused on value, since this is the month we have to do business with the IRS. can save you money with its informative lists of Top 10 Value Cars, Top 10 Value Spas, and the Best Value Restaurants, Cheap Eats and other Meals on a Budget Near You. And if you want to laugh all the way to the bank, check out our picks for the Top 10 Movie Comedies of All Time!



  • pinitbutton Pigging Out at Pigs & Pinot
pork belly tacos 300x199 Pigging Out at Pigs & Pinot

Cyrus' sous vide pork belly tacos

by Barb Rybicki

For wine lovers with an aching for bacon, the place to be this past weekend was Pigs & Pinot, the food and wine celebration and fundraiser held in Healdsburg, CA. The sold-out, seventh annual Taste of Pigs & Pinot kickoff on March 23 was a true feast from trotters to snout, MC-ed by chef Charlie Palmer at his Dry Creek Kitchen restaurant in the Hotel Healdsburg.

Pigs & Pinot benefits two child-focused non-profit organizations: Share Our Strength, which nourishes hungry kids in the U.S.; and Here For Them’s “Russ’s Kitchen” Bread For Life, which is helping orphaned kids in the Dominican Republic by building a panadería (bread bakery) to feed and train them in marketable culinary skills.

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  • pinitbutton Moscato Demand Growing in U.S.   Wine News
moscato 143x300 Moscato Demand Growing in U.S.   Wine News

Gallo Family Vineyard Moscato

Demand for Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay remains high, but Moscato is currently one of the fastest-growing wine varietals in the U.S. Also known as Muscat or Muscatel, Moscato wines tend to be sweeter and less alcoholic. Gallo, which holds 44 per cent of Moscato’s market share, saw sales of its own Gallo Family Vineyard Moscato increase by 124 per cent in 2010, according to marketing research firm IRI.

What is driving sales? More than half of all Moscato consumers are under the age of 45, while nearly one-third are between the ages of 25 and 34, according to Nielsen Homescan Panel. Some of Moscato’s popularity with the younger generation could, perhaps, be due to hip hop influences. Kanye West claimed on MTV that he liked Moscato, while Lil’ Kim sang “Still over in Brazil/Sipping Moscato.” A more likely reason, however, is the low price tag that many Moscatos enjoy. We’ve seen a number of them on our recent lists of Top 10 Value Wines and Top 10 Wines under $10. These include the Gallo-produced Mirassou 2010 California Moscato ($12), Caposaldo Moscato IGT ($10) and Martin & Weyrich 2007 Moscato Allegro ($10).

Continue reading “Moscato Demand Growing in U.S. – Wine News” »



  • pinitbutton Celebrating the 2012 Oscar Winners
sabraging bottle champagne sophie gayot 300x227 Celebrating the 2012 Oscar Winners

Sophie Gayot sabraging a bottle of Champagne on the bow of Serene, Yury Scheffler’s yacht

by Sophie Gayot

Yesterday was Oscar day. Even though, the biggest night in Hollywood had not yet started, I decided to celebrate the winners while cruising on the Pacific Ocean.

There was only one way to do it for me: sabraging a bottle of Champagne with a backdrop that was worthy of the stars walking the red carpet. Yury Scheffler, the Russian vodka tycoon (Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya, among others), made it easy for me: his 134-meter (440-foot) yacht, Serene, was anchored in Santa Monica Bay.

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Happy New Year of Eating

on December 30th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton Happy New Year of Eating
beijing duck soup 300x199 Happy New Year of Eating

Beijing duck soup

by Jeff Hoyt

Still haven’t made New Year’s Eve plans? No sweat. We can help you out with our lists of the Best Places to Dine Out on New Year’s Eve. If you’re entertaining, or being entertained, check out our Champagne and Sparkling Wine lists. We have everything from the Top 10 Champagnes Under $30 for the budget-conscious to the Top 10 Tête de Cuvées for those who simply want the best. If bubbles are not your thing, we also feature the Top 10 Holiday Wines.

Even if you can’t make it to any of the featured destinations, check out our Top 10 Places to Celebrate New Year’s 2012. If you don’t have the time or the funds to travel next year, take your taste buds on a trip instead. We recently enjoyed a holiday feast at the Plum Tree Inn, a signature restaurant in the Chinatown area of downtown Los Angeles. We’ve been fans of Beijing Duck for so long, we remember when it was simply called Peking Duck. But the roast duck recipe dates back so many centuries that it can actually be found in an imperial cookbook written in 1330! At this meal, we ate the duck in soup as well as the traditional method: wrapped in Mandarin pancakes with hoisin sauce and scallions. We were also introduced to Lion’s Head, a dish of oversized meatballs that we never knew existed.

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Beaujolais Nouveau is Here!

on November 18th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton Beaujolais Nouveau is Here!
sophie gayot jason hayes 300x300 Beaujolais Nouveau is Here!

Jason Hayes from W.J. Deustch & Sons, importer of Georges Duboeuf wines; Kora Kroep (West Coast Event Productions); Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

There were some one hundred parties around the USA celebrating the arrival of the 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau. It is probably the wine that gets the most attention when it is released. Most the 300,000 Georges Duboeuf bottles imported in the America will be sold between now and December. The good news is that the price has not changed since last year due to the Euro exchange rate: $11.00. We have tried the wine yesterday. It is a very pleasant, and a very good value. Read our tasting notes in Wine section.

I am just back from one of the celebrations held in Los Angeles. The Gamay wine was appropriately paired with Michel Cordon Bleu smoked salmon topped by Kendall Farms crème fraîche, pâtés and saucissons from Fabrique Délices, duck breast with fingerling potatoes by Maple Leaf Farms, a truly decadent Republica del Cacao chocolate fondue and macarons by Blue Blanc Rouge.


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  • pinitbutton Project by Project, Plate by Plate
plate by plate2 300x225 Project by Project, Plate by Plate

Chefs from The French Culinary Institute

by Michelle Kwan

The thirteenth annual Project by Project-sponsored Plate by Plate event benefiting the Chinatown Youth Initiatives showcased the culinary talents of a group of distinguished chefs, among them Chris Jaeckle of Ai Fiori. Guests at the October 14 happening in New York City sampled specialties from participating restaurants, including a traditional Korean spicy welk salad with buckwheat noodles from Danji, Iberico ham from Bar Basque, and braised beef cheek from Macao Trading Co. Wineries like Southern California-based Monte De Oro and Bedell of North Fork, Long Island, served up tastings of their finest reds and whites, while Hakkaisan, Joto and Tengumai acquainted visitors with the subtleties of saké. Spirits distributors Zyr Vodka, Speyburn Scotch and Caorunn Gin, and designer water purveyor Voss, were also on hand. One of the highlights of the evening was the Quickfire Challenge with last year’s winner Jaeckle and former Top Chef contestant Lee Anne Wong as competitors, with each chef preparing dishes centered around one main ingredient: salmon. Kudos went to Jaeckle’s various salmon-inspired crudos, but ultimately, the title went to Wong’s salmon prepared three ways.

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  • pinitbutton Johnnie Walker Double Black
johnnie walker double black 116x300 Johnnie Walker Double Black

Johnnie Walker Double Black

by Jeff Hoyt

“Make it a double!” is an oft-spoken command to a bartender, but it takes on a different meaning when the spirit in question is Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch whisky. Jim Beveridge, Master Blender of the House of Walker, has produced the company’s newest release, Johnnie Walker Double Black.

If you enjoy the smoky, peaty flavor of Johnnie Walker Black Label, then this new limited release gives you more of what you look for in a Scotch. The distinctive blend is even smokier, even peatier and even bolder than its younger brother, but eminently drinkable.

Double Black is composed of select single malts of naturally smoky aged whiskies and whiskies that have matured in deep charred oak barrels. Despite its strength, it is still quite complex, with fruit, vanilla and spice flavors also evident. We recommend drinking it on the rocks with water, which helps release more of the flavor.

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  • pinitbutton Joyeux Anniversaire Nicolas Feuillatte
IMG 4207 1 300x214 Joyeux Anniversaire Nicolas Feuillatte

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte's 35th anniversary logo

35th Anniversary Party

by Alain Gayot

If you need an excuse for a party or a reason to celebrate, turn to Nicolas Feuillatte. The man himself who created a new Champagne label in the twentieth century was a master at haute parties in the Big Apple, entertaining the likes of Jackie Onassis, Shirley MacLaine, Sophia Loren and Lauren Bacall to name just a few. We took part in the celebrations at a famous John Lautner-designed triangular house perched high in Beverly Hills; a modern house, yet older then the Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne label. The very happy few sampled passed appetizers washed down with the Brut, the Rosé and some Palme D’Or 1999. At 35 years old, the brand is selling more bottles each year than ever before. Today owned by the Centre Vinicole de Champagne, you may find the beverage at a retailer near you, on a restaurant wine list or on your favorite airline. For the occasion, they have created a 35th Anniversary Keepsake Canister, a classic Keepsake Gift box by 2009 Artist of the Year Aspassio Haronitaki for the Rose, and for the holidays, a box of Brut NV with two flutes. We’ll toast to the brand’s achievements: holding the #1 spot in France and #3 worldwide.

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  • pinitbutton Oktoberfest: Coming to a City Near You
Octoberfest2009 1054 199x300 Oktoberfest: Coming to a City Near You

German oompah band

by Barnaby Hughes

When Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig I married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in Munich, Germany, back in 1810, he probably couldn’t have imagined that he was beginning a new tradition – Oktoberfest. The original lasted for sixteen days and gave the world a new style of beer – Märzen, now often simply called Oktoberfest. Subsequent wedding anniversary celebrations evolved into Oktoberfest as we know it today, attracting millions to Munich every year. Fortunately, those of us on this side of the Atlantic don’t have to go all the way to Bavaria to observe Oktoberfest, since it is now celebrated in hundreds of cities throughout the U.S.
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