Olive Oil Tasting and Tour at Trattore Farms + Matchmaker Tasting at Ferrari-Carrano

Last July, I went on a pretty fantastic wine tasting tour of Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma — the first installment of which I’ve recounted in an earlier post. Here, I’ll be covering my morning at Trattore Farms, a property that not only contains vineyards but also orchards, which are being coaxed back into olive production as a revival of the area’s history and tradition.

Continue reading

Food and Wine Adventures in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County


Video shot and produced by John Beck.

Last July, I was invited to the incredible Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County for a multi-day excursion in tasting and learning about the region’s wines and the combined food experiences that can be had throughout the area. The wines the region is known for are primarily Zinfandel are Sauvignon Blanc but also some distinct, under-the-radar Rhône style wines.

The experience really changed how I viewed Zinfandel; I now consider it one of my dinner wine candidates — reframing its peppery-ness as an asset. It was so great to hear about the county’s aim to be an entirely sustainable and how the wine-growing region is already 70% there. In the video, I visit 3 vineyards in a day — however, I basically visited 7 overall. It’s hard work, really. Tasting wine.

Continue reading

Culinary Experiences at Passport to Dry Creek Valley

Dry Creek Valley

Now in its 27th year, the Passport to Dry Creek Valley event this weekend promises to be a great time to visit and taste Pinots, Zinfandels and other Sonoma wines. If you fly to Sonoma (via Alaska Air), you’ll get to take home a case of wine free of charge. And if you wisely decide to take a bottle from a Dry Creek vineyard to dine at one of the participating charter restaurants, you’ll also get free corkage as a part of their culinary cooperative.

While I love wine, food and wine always taste better when together, so I’ve highlighted some culinary-focused opportunities at certain wineries to turn your attention to this weekend:

Continue reading

Lexus Culinary Classic: Q&A With Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy

Youngest Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy

A couple months back, I was able to spend a weekend in Sausalito at the phenomenal Cavallo Point while attending the inaugural Lexus Culinary Classic. To say there was some of the best food prepared by some of the best chefs in the country being served in view of the Golden Gate Bridge would be mostly accurate – and I’m so honored I got to be a part.

Continue reading

Jazz Up Your Fridays at LACMA With Patina’s Picnic Baskets

The Louis Picnic Basket (minus one serving of chicken)

The sun is out – when June Gloom isn’t in, that is. But when the high of summer arrives, you’ll bet it’ll be time for that picnic. Whether at The Hollywood Bowl, Cinespia or Barnsdall Art Park, picnicking in Los Angeles has become more than a rite of passage. It’s now an act of communal expression, with everyone in the party bringing their own contribution to the portable, potable feast.

Continue reading

Happy Hour is Restocking Hour at Stir Market

Porchetta Chili Cheese Fries

There are happy hours where get enticed into what might seem like a great deal but, once you’ve arrived and start ordering, the specials don’t seem as attractive now that you see the menu up close. But the great thing about Restocking Hour at Stir Market is that there are specials on both food and wine, and the prices are at pretty big discounts on really tasty offerings.

Continue reading

Highlights of the Inaugural Lexus Culinary Classic at Cavallo Point

Our arrival in the Lexus NX 300h at Sunset – Cavallo Point, Fort Baker

Apologies for the lack of updates, but I can only blame an excellent month of March spent traveling and seeing more of North America. The first of the trips was a week-long culinary extravaganza, complete with a trip to Northern California followed by nights and days packed back-to-back with multi-course meals, wine education, a cooking class, and a grand tasting. It was the very first Lexus Culinary Classic, which they plan to hold yearly at Lexus partnership properties around the country.

Continue reading

First Taste: Neal Fraser’s Redbird at The Vibiana

Maine Lobster, gnocchi sardi, nettles, black trumpets

The long-awaited restaurant from Neal Fraser, Amy Knoll Fraser and Bill Chait is finally here, and all of Los Angeles is the better for it. With a cocktail program focused on the classics by Julian Cox and a wine list curated by Diane Pandolfini, Redbird will stand to be one of the most exciting openings of 2015 – something everyone can confidently say even while it’s still January.

Continue reading

Talking ABC’s The Taste and Petit Trois with Vanessa Lauren and Ludo Lefebvre

Ludo Lefebvre and Vanessa Lauren

If you’ve been following the third season of The Taste on ABC, you’re familiar with contestant Vanessa Lauren of Team Bourdain. Eliminated on last week’s semi-finale (ep. 6), Vanessa has somewhat since defected to Team Ludo – in the sense that since taping this season’s episodes, she’s been in Ludo Lefebvre’s kitchens at Trois Mec and now Petit Trois. I sat down with Vanessa Lauren and Chef Ludo the other day in anticipation of The Taste finale, which airs tonight.

Continue reading

First Taste: Terrine, Whether For Dinner or Brunch, is a Delight

Charcuterie at Brunch

There have been a lot of openings as of late, and I’ve been lucky to catch a few, because it’s led to some not-so-surprisingly stellar food already enjoyed in the new year. Terrine was no exception during both visits I made: One dinner and one brunch, one week in from when these respective services were launched. Los Angeles has long-awaited this latest venture from Managing Partner Stephane Bombet and Chef Kris Morningstar, most recently of LACMA’s Ray’s & Stark Bar, and the early results show that the restaurant is actually living up to all the buzz.

Continue reading