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




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.


KAHLÚA, Old and New

on October 23rd, 2009
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Kalua coffee liqueur

KAHLUA coffee liqueur

by Jeff Hoyt


We grew up with the iconic coffee liqueur, and remember walking back across the border with a newly-purchased bottle the first time we visited Mexico. But we were surprised to learn that the more-than-70-years-old brand had diversified greatly.


While the original flavor has been around since 1936, there are currently five other KAHLÚA’s available for cocktails, spiking coffee and even cooking. (Not to mention two pre-mixed cocktails for lazy bartenders).


We recently enjoyed a dinner at the Lotería Grill in which each of the dishes was prepared with KAHLÚA, including a flaming cheese and chile botana on which KAHLÚA Especial had been poured and set aflame. 

  Continue reading “KAHLÚA, Old and New” »

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” »

Premiere with Rosé

on June 11th, 2009
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Chefs Mark Peel, Susan Tracht and Rick Moonen with Sophie Gayot

Chefs Mark Peel of Campanile, Suzanne Tracht of Jar and Rick Moonen of RM Seafood with Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot

Martini & Rossi Rosé was being poured with no limit (if you met the age limit, of course) last night at Campanile restaurant in Los Angeles, during the premiere of Bravo’s new television show “Top Chef Masters.”


For the occasion, Campanile chef/owner Mark Peel created a bite-sized dish to be paired with the sparkling wine: a roasted walnut and taleggio stuffed date. Peel also prepared six of his famous grilled cheese sandwiches, handed out to me by general manager Jay Perrin. Thanks to him I was able to try each of them. Due to the crowd I could not approach the gazpacho, the roasted beet salad, or the charcuterie and cheese station.

Some of the 24 chefs competing in the show were there, as well as host Kelly Choi. They all refused to give me any details, beside the fact that it was shot in the Los Angeles Warehouse District. I guess the best way to find out more is to simply watch the show, which takes competitive cooking to the next level. 


Sweet Songs, Fine Wine

on April 14th, 2009
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Mick Fleetwood with Gayot Associate Publisher Greg McComb

Mick Fleetwood with Gayot Associate Publisher Greg McComb

While some older rock-and-rollers don’t know what to do with themselves when the spotlight moves away, Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac fame knew what he wanted to do: make wine! We joined the Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Woodland Hills for some good food (try the lamb chops) paired with the drummer’s own wines. We enjoyed Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar Riesling, Private Cellar Chardonnay and Cabernet with a hearty dinner that featured impeccable service (Thanks, Tina!) But Mick still gets himself out of the cellar and into the studio, as evidenced by his new CD that’s climbing the charts, “Blue Again.” Thanks for the autograph, the wines, and all of your great tunes, Mick!
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Supporting Wine

on March 31st, 2009
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Peter Mondavi Jr. with Alain Gayot

Peter Mondavi Jr. with Alain Gayot

by Alain Gayot

When it comes to legendary wineries in Napa, Charles Krug certainly comes out on top as the Valley’s first. Founded in 1861 by an exiled Prussian radical journalist, it was purchased by the Mondavi family after prohibition and the rest is history.

We caught up with third generation family owner Peter Mondavi Jr. at a fundraiser event for the Make-A-Wish children’s foundation of Greater Los Angeles at Morton’s on La Cienega. Emcee, Sara Fasolino, Certified Sommelier extraordinaire for the Morton’s chain, doubled as the evening’s auctioneer.

Continue reading “Supporting Wine” »

Rock and Roll Wine

on March 12th, 2009
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Record Wine Label from Rock and Roll CellarsBy Jeff Hoyt

What is the official beverage of rock and roll? Some might answer beer in general (and Rolling Rock in particular), or Jack Daniel’s, but wine seems to be making inroads. I just enjoyed a Vintage Rock Wine Dinner, the first wine dinner presented at the new Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, part of the bustling L.A. Live project across from the Staples Center. I started with a not-overly sweet Mick Fleetwood Private Cellar Riesling Central Coast 2005, which paired well with shrimp in blue cheese sauce. The wine is actually one of seventeen so far made by the Fleetwood Mac  drummer. The 2005 Doobie Red, a Bordeaux blend which accompanied my filet mignon, isn’t made by one of the Doobie Brothers, but by the band’s longtime manager Bruce Cohn. 

And that’s not all. I’m looking forward to trying new offerings from Rock And Roll Cellars, including puns on album names like “Meet the Pinots” and “Exile on Vine Street.” To find out more about which rockers make wine and which just license their names, read Wine-ing Celebrities.

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