Holiday Season Starts Panoramically at Top of the Mark

Holiday tea service at Top of the Mark
Holiday tea service at Top of the Mark

by Anneli Rufus

What could possibly be more inviting on a chilly day in the big city than a pot of hot tea flanking a multi-tiered tray fully stocked with French pastries and finger sandwiches, perfectly appointed with such dainty details as herb sprigs, raspberry halves and striped chocolate curls? The answer to that one is easy: all of the above, plus scones, Champagne and one of the most spectacular vistas anywhere in the known world.

Keeping up a nearly century-long tradition beloved by many generations of San Franciscans, the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins hotel has just announced a series of lavish holiday celebrations at its world-famous rooftop restaurant and bar, Top of the Mark

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Susana Balbo 2008 Brioso – Wine of the Week Review

Susana Balbo 2008 Brioso
Susana Balbo 2008 Brioso

Price: $45

Rating: 15/20

Region: Mendoza, Argentina

Varietals: 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 percent Malbec, 10 percent Merlot, 10 percent Cabernet Franc & 5 percent Petit Verdot

Production: 600 cases

Alcohol: 14.5 percent

Tasting Notes: Having worked as a consultant winemaker for 20 years, Susana Balbo struck out on her own in 1999 by founding Dominio del Plata. The winery produces a variety of wines under four different labels: Benmarco, Crios, Nosotros and the eponymous Susana Balbo. The 2008 Brioso is a well-balanced Bordeaux-style blend. It offers earthy aromas Continue reading “Susana Balbo 2008 Brioso – Wine of the Week Review” »

Chatting with Chef Rick Tramonto

by Sophie Gayot





I think when restaurateur/hotelier Michael Zislis created The Strand House Culinary Masters Series, he had a very good idea. Every time I have attended one of the events, the restaurant has been completely full. I didn’t see a single empty seat; instead I saw lots of people enjoying the cuisine of Josiah Citrin, Michael Cimarusti, Nancy Silverton, Alain Giraud, Douglas Keane or Tory McPhail to name just a few of the participating chefs. To top it off, diners can eat the fine food while watching the sun set over the Manhattan Beach pier and the Pacific.

During one of the dinners, where Trefethen wines were served, I finished the evening talking with chef Rick Tramonto who had flown in from Chicago. In the above video, you can watch as we flip through the pages of his autobiography together. Tramonto is a true success story; TRU restaurant under his direction was named one of’s Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007. And Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans, where he has partnered with chef John Folse, made’s Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S. list this year.

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Toyota Introduces New Safety Technology — Car News

Toyota's Automated Highway Driving Assist allows cars to communicate information on speed, braking and more
Toyota’s Automated Highway Driving Assist allows cars to communicate information on speed, braking and more

Toyota unveiled a slew of new active safety systems at a recent Tokyo event. Focusing on collision avoidance and reducing driver workload, the intelligent new technology is still in the development stage; however, the systems should see widespread distribution in many Toyota models in coming years. Among the upgraded amenities are 180-degree front and rear cameras with cross traffic detection and a parking assist system that automatically directs vehicles into parking spaces without the need for driver steering. The improved pedestrian collision avoidance system not only automatically stops the car in the event of an emergency; it also steers the vehicle away from the pedestrian as much as possible without leaving the lane.

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Ocean House, Rhode Island – Hotel Review

The exterior of Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island
The exterior of Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island

by Meryl Pearlstein

Set on a bluff overlooking the town of Watch Hill, Ocean House is a meticulous, $149-million recreation of the original 1868 hotel of the same name. While it has decidedly 21st-century luxuries and conveniences, it conveys the mood of an earlier era, when its namesake was the last of eight grand Watch Hill resorts built during the area’s heyday, which lasted into the 1920s.

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