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




Who is the Sandeman?

on January 06th, 2010
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Sandeman's Port iconic label
Sandeman’s Port iconic label

by Jeff Hoyt


George Sandeman, the eldest of the seventh generation of the port-making Sandeman family, recently visited Los Angeles and told the story of the mysterious character who graces every bottle. The figure, decked out in a Portuguese student’s cape and wide-brimmed hat, came to life in 1928 in a poster signed by G. Massiot.


French poster artists were very much in vogue at the time, which is why the real artist, George Massiot Brown, hid his Scottish roots behind the French-sounding name. The Sandeman became the first iconic logo for a wine, jumping from the poster to the port labels, and living on to this day, more than 80 years later.



Continue reading “Who is the Sandeman?” »



Clos d'Ambonnay cork and capsule with cage
Clos d’Ambonnay cork and capsule with cage

Krug is it, Monsieur le President!

by Alain Gayot




Since it’s no longer politically correct to take the Gulfstream Jet around, we suggest you trade it in for a couple of cases of Krug Clos d’Ambonnay. It seems the two have about the same value these days. Yes, at $2,250 a bottle, this ultra Champagne is très cool, très, très bon and très, très, très cher… but no one has to know it costs that much, right?




Set up a listing on eBay and get rid of the kerosene-guzzling airplane and do the environment some good; Sarah Palin did it. The big difference is that you’d be hard-pressed to sell the carbon-footprint-handicapped flying machine in these economic times; while filling your Riedel flute with a few drops of the golden beverage is nearly impossible.


Continue reading “Champagne Krug Clos d’Ambonnay” »



The Grand Tasting at the Sixth Annual San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival
The Grand Tasting at the Sixth Annual San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival

by Ann Wycoff



The 6th annual San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival, a five-day foodie fête, was a smash success with 170 world-class wineries and spirit producers, along with 70 of San Diego’s award-winning fine dining restaurants on hand.




The East Village was hopping Friday night at the Wonderhaus, the iconic Wonder Bread Factory downtown, where merry imbibers sampled reserves, rum concoctions from Tommy Bahama, a jazzy effervescent champagne cocktail with St. Germain elderflower liqueur, a robust seasonal ale from Sierra Nevada and myriad good wines.


Continue reading “Sippin’ by the Dock of the Bay” »

Tequila Time

on November 23rd, 2009
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A Hornitos Cocktail

A Hornitos Cocktail


by Becky Sauer


This week is already Thanksgiving, but it still felt like summertime at the Hornitos Tequila Block Party last Sunday, November 15th, in Burbank. The back lot of Warner Bros. Studios provided the perfect suburban setting for nearly a thousand folks to enjoy an afternoon of barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, cupcakes, cotton candy, and, of course, Hornitos Tequila cocktails. 


 Guests could indulge their inner child and play old-school games like badminton, ping pong and Twister, or duck into the “Mischieve” photo booth and pose with the provided fake mustaches, oversized sunglasses or plastic vampire fangs (a favorite among the “New Moon” fans).

Continue reading “Tequila Time” »

Raising the Bar Again

on November 11th, 2009
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The contestants and the judges (from left to right): Josh Renfree/BOA, Judge Michael Cardenas/BOA, Sophie Gayot, Clint Johnson/Comme Ca, Judge Nile Park/Comme Ca, Stacy Street/Church & State, Judge Yassmin Sarmadi/Church & State, Hector Bury/Joe's, Judge Joe Miller/Joe's
The contestants and the judges (from left to right): Josh Renfree/BOA, Judge Michael Cardenas/BOA, Sophie Gayot, Clint Johnson/Comme Ca, Judge Nile Park/Comme Ca, Stacy Street/Church & State, Judge Yassmin Sarmadi/Church & State, Hector Bury/Joe’s, Judge Joe Miller/Joe’s

By Sophie Gayot

Come join us this Sunday, Nov. 15th, at 3:30p.m. at David Myers’ Comme Ca restaurant where the second part of Raising the Bar will be held.



Raising the Bar is a free cocktail competition that I will be judging, along with Victoria Recaño (anchor of KTLA’s 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts), between the bartenders of Joe’s in Venice, Comme Ca, BOA Steakhouse and Church & State. They will be required to make three rounds of drinks: a classic cocktail, a themed drink using a certain spirit (Bourbon) and a creation of their own.


Stacy Street from Church & State won the first part of the competition held at Joe’s in October. The classic was a Negroni; round two was made with Zaya Rum. For the freestyle, Hector Bury from Joe’s came up with “The Jean Genie” (Tuata, Vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice), Clint Johnson from Comme Ca with “Dominicana”, Josh Rentree from BOA with “Pumpkin Cream” and Street wowed the judges with her “Crémant de la Poire”.


Expect the atmosphere to warm up as time goes by. And, don’t worry, I will leave Comme Ca under the legal alcohol limit. Note that the event is free, so please come to Comme Ca.



Photo by John Meng


Taste of Carnaval

on November 10th, 2009
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Three girls with leopard spots
Three girls with body paint

by Stephen Volkamer

Last Wednesday evening we enjoyed an authentic taste of Carnaval, sans the plane tickets to Brazil, at the grand opening night of Samba Brazilian Steakhouse & Lounge at Universal CityWalk. When we got there, we saw a lively parade of samba dancers—clad in glittering bikinis and colorful feathers—shaking to the beat of booming drums.


Perfect Pairings (SM) Menu Campaign to benefit Meals-on-Wheels programs
Perfect Pairings (SM) Menu Campaign to benefit Meals-on-Wheels programs

By Sophie Gayot


We are happy to announce a partnership with the Perfect Pairings (SM) Menu Campaign, a new, pairing-based fundraiser taking place this October benefiting Citymeals on Wheels, Meals-on-Wheels of San Francisco and The Cooperative Feeding Program.

Restaurants in New York City, San Francisco and South Florida, almost 100 in total, will feature special food-and-beverage pairings on their menus, flagged by the Perfect Pairings logo. Each time one of these pairings is ordered, a donation ($1) is automatically made to local Meals-on-Wheels programs that deliver food and other vital services to thousands of people in need every day.

Continue reading “GAYOT Partners with Perfect Pairings (SM)” »

Fashionable Wine

on September 22nd, 2009
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Marian Jansen op de Haar, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Alain Gayot at the Ferragamo Wine Dinner

Marian Jansen op de Haar, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Alain Gayot at the Ferragamo Wine Dinner

By Alain Gayot


Most of us, especially women, associate the name Salvatore Ferragamo with a high-end designer of shoes and handbags. And for the right reasons. It was for noted actors that Salvatore originally designed the pieces. “Next time you see a photo of Marilyn Monroe with her skirt flying in the air, pay attention to her shoes,” says Salvatore Ferragamo, the designer’s grandson in charge of the Il Borro wine program back in Tuscany.


We had the opportunity to sample new releases from the estate at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar at LA Live. A new era for sure, but the wines are crafted with the very same care and quality as the fashion items. The good thing, though, is that the pricing is actually quite reasonable, delivering a good value.

Continue reading “Fashionable Wine” »



Three different grape varietals of KOZ Wine

Three different grape varietals of KOZ Wine

By Jeff Hoyt



Saxophonist Dave Koz is used to seeing his name in lights, but now he can see it on wine labels. The six-time Grammy nominee took the time before his concert yesterday at the Hollywood Bowl to introduce his latest venture: wine.



Three different grape varietals of KOZ Wine – Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, a Rhone style El Dorado “Red Alto” Blend, and, our favorite, the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, are now on sale at Southern California Whole Foods Markets, and the musician will be making appearances to meet fans and sign bottles.


Continue reading “Wine for a Good “Koz”” »



Champagnerbratbirne fruit

Champagnerbratbirne fruit

By Sylvie Greil



Greetings from Southern Germany, where we had the pleasure of sampling a smooth, delicious “Pear Champagne.”

Reminiscent of a mild, moussey cider, its fine pearly bubbles play delicately on the tongue. Vintner Jörg Geiger originally labeled his libation Pear Champagne—until he got word from France that he better quickly change it to Birnenschaumwein (or pear bubbly), since, as everyone knows, Champagne can only come from, well, Champagne.



This particular sparkler centers around a fruit that has been used since 1760: Champagnerbratbirne, loosely translated as “Baked Champagne Pear,” or a pear that bakes well. It has garnered distinction from Slow Food Germany.


Continue reading “A Sparkling Pear Libation” »

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