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Showing posts from 2017

After the Fires

As originally seen in Galveston Monthly magazine



Where to Eat in the Willamette Valley

My prior post on The Painted Lady is my top choice for a high end multi-course menu with wine pairings in the Willamette Valley. It was unquestionably our favorite dining experience during our stay. However, most of our meals were a bit more casual. I'm listing some of our favorite spots here along with another option for a more extravagant night out.

For breakfast, lunch or dinner -
Babica Hen Café - There are two locations of this restaurant, we went to the one in Dundee which is open everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had a late breakfast here on the last day of our trip before driving back to Portland. I ordered the Shredded Chicken Tostada which came with two crispy tostadas topped with tinga chicken, two fried eggs, avocado, black beans, pico de gallo, salsa roja, lettuce, sour cream and cotija cheese. This was one of the larger options on the menu, it was hearty and very flavorful. I paired it with a spicy Bloody Mary which had a definite face-flushing heat, be for…

Wining and Dining at The Painted Lady - Willamette Valley

The quintessential dining experience in Willamette Valley is to enjoy the tasting menu with pairings at The Painted Lady. I made sure to book this reservation as soon as I knew the dates of my trip. The restaurant is located in Newberg in a Victorian house which was the inspiration for the name. In American architecture, a painted lady is a term for Edwardian or Victorian homes that were painted in three or more colors to enhance their design features.

We arrived for dinner shortly before 8:00 and were immediately ushered to our table upstairs. This dining area was filled with cozy couples enjoying the full tasting experience which was perfect for us as we were there to do the same. An array of canapes immediately arrived to our table along with our water and the assurance that our first wine pairing would be delivered shortly.

Our wine selections began with Régis Minet Pouilly Fumé Vieilles Vignes 2014 which would
accompany both the mixed canapes and the asparagus-based amuse bouche.

September is California Wine Month

As originally seen in the September issue of  Galveston Monthly magazine


The Allison Inn & Spa - Willamette Valley

After the Allison Inn & Spa was repeatedly recommended as the place to stay when in Willamette, I went on-line and booked a room. The resort was built in 2009 and was the valley's first luxury hotel. It sits on 35 acres with vineyards, gorgeous gardens and a surrounding art walk. We arrived to find that we had a ground floor room with a back patio and small garden space which lent an air of privacy though it lead out to the walkway. 
Our room was fairly spacious with a gas fireplace easily lit for warmth or ambience. There was adequate storage for two people's things and comfortable seating where one could work or enjoy coffee.  It had a large marble bathroom and vanity area. While the room had abundant natural and artificial light and was easily darkened for sleeping, the bathroom could have used a bit more light for morning and pre-dinner primping.
There was a nice bar on the lobby level with a living room serving up a good array of wine and snacks. It opened to a large te…

Walking in Santa Monica

Although we did have a car, we tried to get in our 10,000 steps a day while we were visiting Santa Monica. From our hotel, we were able to walk to the Pacific Park Beach and the Santa Monica Pier. These are some of the major tourist attractions in the area and there were people everywhere enjoying the beautiful sunny weather. We were not there for the rides as we still had an upcoming day at Universal Studios planned but it is free to walk on the pier and take in the expansive views..

There are many restaurants along Ocean Ave to get a quick bite or a beverage should you need refreshment while sightseeing in this area. In addition to enjoying the crashing waves on the sand and the people watching on the pier, you can find artwork and some historical monuments, like a cannon, along the walking trails above the beach as you move towards Palisades Park.

If shopping is more your speed, then head to the Third Street Promenade where you will find three blocks of stores and cafés with street p…

Eating in Santa Monica

Our most exciting discovery was a group of restaurants that I found while googling best breakfasts in Santa Monica. They feature local produce, meat and artisan baked goods, most of which is organic. The search had led me to Huckleberry, a bakery and café on Wilshire Blvd not too far from our hotel. It was our favorite breakfast that we had while we were there. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures that day (it was very early) but if you are in the area, it is one that you should not miss. We enjoyed a few different pastries along with hot breakfast dishes like the poached eggs and market vegetable bowl with basil pesto and
parmesan cheese, everything we tried was fresh and flavorful.

Also serving breakfast in this group is Milo & Olive, a restaurant I had on my list for a potential pizza night. We didn't end up doing that but we did enjoy a late breakfast/brunch there one morning which they serve from 7-11 AM daily. I enjoyed the creamy polenta and poached eggs with …

Touring the Getty Villa

We toured the Getty Villa during our recent trip to Santa Monica, it was about a 15 minute drive from our hotel. We opted to do a self-guided tour as we had not really allowed enough time for this visit. The museum is currently under construction and will be until the fall of this year so some parts were closed or not fully functional during our time there. Check the website for more information on times and schedules.

Visitors enter through the Fleishman Theater which was added in 1996 during a renovation. It is constructed to look like an outdoor classical theater and they will do a live production here on weekends in September which does carry a cost.

Admission is free to tour the Getty Villa but parking is $15 a car. You do need to go on-line and reserve your tickets as you have a designated entry time. They also have shows, tours and live music on their calendar that you may want to schedule your visit around, some fees may apply for those special events. The shows include a wide r…

Sustainability Rocks

As originally seen in the August issue of Galveston Monthly magazine

Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows - Santa Monica

My husband and I stayed at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows with our adult daughter this summer after her graduation from a Masters program at Claremont Graduate University.

We wanted to be near the beach but still be able to easily get into Los Angeles to visit some of the tourist attractions. This was our first time to stay at a Fairmont Hotel. I chose the Miramar for its ocean views and its proximity to the Santa Monica Pier and the beach. It has a long history with a Hollywood connection, it has been a destination of the stars for almost a century. After looking over the various room options, I decided that the Palisade King Suite would easily accommodate us. My husband and I shared a private bedroom and our daughter got the fold out couch in the living room. The six story Palisades wing which housed our room is a historic part of the property that was built in 1924. For a more luxe experience, you can also book a poolside bungalow instead.

We all enjoyed spa treatments a…

a'Bouzy has Officially Opened

Houston's hottest new wine destination, a'Bouzy has officially opened this week and the beautiful people are flocking in to get a taste. The Champagne is flowing and the food is delicious. Reservations are a must; open for lunch, happy hour and dinner. Check out the video for a sneak peak!


Star Fish Houston

I first got to feast at Star Fish in June when a media friend made me her +1 to an early evening tasting event. Due to travel, I hadn't had time to write about that experience yet or return for another visit but I had not forgotten how delicious it had been. When my husband said he wanted seafood on Saturday evening, I quickly recommended this Heights area restaurant.

Planning a last minute dinner meant that we were not able to get a reservation for a table but we were able to secure two seats at the oyster bar. This dinner was part of a weeklong celebration of my husband's birthday so we started with a bottle of Ruinart Rosé Champagne, a smoking deal on the Star Fish wine list at $84 especially when you consider that Spec's retails it for $86.

We started off with some of the Raw Bar offerings, oysters on the half-shell from Prince Edward Island and a salmon crudo with sushi bar inspired seasonings. Due to our seats and our interest, we also were given some small sample tast…

A Balkan-inspired Wine Dinner at Lucille's

I went to Lucille's last week for a wine dinner which featured Austrian and Balkan wines. Executive Chef, Chris Williams, was the U.S. Culinary Cultural Ambassador during a 25 day tour of the Balkans in 2015 and he has wanted to showcase what he learned during his travels ever since.

Finding available Balkan wines in our market proved to be somewhat difficult which caused the year long delay on this dinner.

Certified Sommelier, Rodney Willis, was on hand to introduce each wine to the full house and to provide diners with the opportunity to purchase their favorites that evening.

The Menu:

Guests were welcomed with a glass of Austrian Loimer "Lois" Gruner Veltliner and 3 Day Feta with
pumpkin oil and fresh bread.

1st Course - Scallop crudo with citrus oil, dried petals and sumac paired with Szigeti Sparkling Brut Gruner Veltliner also from
Austria.

2nd Course - Braised pork belly with arugula, compressed melon and smoked paprika vinaigrette served with Loimer Rosé from Aus…