Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Holman Ranch and Wills Fargo In Carmel Valley Make a Perfect Pairing On Your Next Visit.

 In 1928, a San Francisco businessman, Gordon Armsby, came upon the lovely rolling hills of Carmel Valley and decided this would be the place to establish himself and create one of the most historical and picturesque ranches in the area. With that vision many years ago, Holman Ranch was established as a working ranch as well as a getaway for the rich and famous (Charlie Chaplin was such a frequent visitor that he had his very own room). The ranch has changed hands several times since the 1920’s but the 400 acre ranch is now as lovely as it was many years ago.


Holman Ranch with its breathtaking views and rustic, elegant surroundings is a favorite for vacationers and special event planners. The manicured lawns, historic buildings, and sweeping mountain views make this ranch a perfect place for weddings and personal milestones.

Thomas and Jarman Lowder purchased Holman Ranch in 2006 with the dream of making great wines and delectable olive oils. Along with that dream, the property also spoke of the days gone by as a place for respite and celebrations. After the purchase, work began to completely refurbish the property maintaining the ambiance of the original glory days with  modern upgrades. The Lowders have kept the original charm of the property and with the help of their daughter Hunter  and have transformed this icon to a special event mecca and a world class vacation retreat.

We were fortunate enough to spend a lovely evening at this historical property along with a meal at Carmel Valley's oldest restaurant Wills Cargo. We could not have found a better spot to start our journey to the Central Coast of California.

Whether planning a wedding, retreat or just a time to un-wind, this is the place to find your inner sanctuary. We loved strolling through the grounds, taking in the panoramic views, and contemplating all the guests that came here throughout the years. It was time to try some of the local fare and tonight we are going to one of Carmel Valley’s oldest restaurants.

We traveled down a  road  through the undulating hills of horse property and  into the small town of Carmel Valley. We made a stop at the Jarman wine tasting room to sample wines from the ranch itself.

Greeting us with a warm welcome and a refreshing glass of the Holman Ranch Chardonnay was the gregarious owner Hunter Lowder.  Hunter enthusiastically engaged us about the history and the passion of the vines, wines and of course the newest addition to their hospitality portfolio, Wills Fargo, the adjoining restaurant that has been an eatery icon since the 1950’s.

Upon entering Wills Fargo you can feel the history and the ambiance of a time that has passed but has kept pace with today’s demand for exceptional food and atmosphere.

Outside boasts an intimate courtyard patio offering seasonal outdoor dining. After sipping  some of the Holman Ranch award winning wines, we were escorted into the rustic restaurant that has been serving up local’s favorite steaks, chicken and seafood since the days of bobbie socks and Edsels.

The times may have changed but the quality remains as Wills Fargo is still bringing in droves of locals and tourists alike to feast upon locally sourced proteins and seafood. Tonight we started with the customary Wills relish tray and the classic French onion soup that came with a heaping amount of gooey gruyere cheese atop of golden onions in the rich classic broth. This was indeed great way to start the palate in a good fast forward motion right into the entree of Roasted Free Range Chicken, moist and tender, with a creamy potato au gratin.


For our second entree we enjoyed the Goat Cheese Ravioli with tomato, garlic, and parmesan cream. The pasta was tender and plump with  fresh goat cheese. The parmesan cream added the textural richness.

We always try to leave a little room for  dessert and  were glad we did. The Warm Truffle Chocolate Cake along with homemade ice cream from  Holman ranch and decadent caramel sauce was a nice way to end the meal.

Contentedly fed,  we bid farewell to our kind and generous hosts and made our way back up the hilly road to our cabin that was now under a blanket of twinkling stars. We were well on our way to the start of another California adventure and were glad to have started with this piece of California history that has stood the passing of time and is now ready to engage the discriminating traveler of today. For more information go to and

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Chef Dan Krohmer's Other Mama is Making Big News Beyond the Neon Of The Las Vegas Strip.


As a food writer every once in a great while you run into a restaurant that from the moment it opens you know it is special. We watched the build out of Other Mama with great anticipation and have been regulars ever since they opened their doors.

Recently we sat down with Chef/Owner Dan Krohmer at Other Mama to get an intimate look at the man behind the Other Mama.

 Chef/Owner Dan Krohmer
Chef/Owner Dan Krohmer
Q: Chef, Other Mama has achieved great success right from the beginning. Why do you think that happened so quickly?

DK: Many people that are journalists such as yourself, have experience at dining and reviewing all kinds of restaurants. When you talk about Other Mama and what your experience has been like,it creates a buzz with other professionals and locals. People are excited to see what’s going on off the strip. People here are invested in their community and looking to bring in good product and serve it in a non-pretentious at reasonable prices.

Q: What got you to Japan?

DK: I went to Japan and met up with the owners of sushi restaurant I worked at in Sacramento and fell in love with Traditional Japan along with the cherry blossoms and the whole thing, so I stayed. I asked to stay and worked illegally for like $300.00 a month. I did not know any Japanese at the time. I just kept my head down and absorbed. I think everyone should be a minority at some point in your life.

Q: How did you get a chance to work for famed Chef Morimoto?

DK: I got recruited as a Sous Chef after my Japanese training and farm to table experience. I worked for him for about two years before I saw that we was not too much into the kitchen so I transferred to the Sushi Bar where I gained huge experience from him for 2 ½ years.

Q: Tell me about the name Other Mama

DK: My Dads parents weren’t around much, working a lot in Bakersfield. My Great Grand Mother pretty much raised my dad and his brothers and sisters, they called her Other Mama. That’s how she was introduced to us as kids.


Q: The Cuisine at Other Mama is an interesting blend of Asian and American flavors. What is your philosophy on the menu you created?

DK: We take a lot of pride in everything we do here from our salts to our oils. We care about our customers like they are our family. I wanted to keep it neutral after doing Japanese cuisine for so long. I did not want people coming in expecting certain cultural necessities. We just want to be ourselves and celebrate what ingredients we have at the time.

We are not fusion. Obviously we are very seafood based and not following cultural boundaries. For example, Could this certain clam is best presented in a Spanish dish, and then we do it that way. We want to be free to do things as we want to do. I want you to walk out satisfied that you feel like you just walked off a yacht feeling sexy, having enjoyed the abundance of the sea. I learned there is a psychology at a sushi bar. Never let your customers leave full. Have them leave satisfied and wanting to come back. I love the artistry and composition of sushi. I learned don’t have your arms crossed, don’t turn your back on a customer, never have a dirty cutting board, show and give respect to everything you are doing. Sushi is simple but you are always thinking about how you can do it better. Sushi is a lifestyle and s state of mind.


Q: You have traveled and worked for years in this business. What advice would you give someone who is in culinary school or who is an aspiring Chef?

DK: Make sacrifices. It’s not an overnight process. The longer you wait to show what you can do, the better off you will be. Become the best chef you can possibly be before venturing out on your own. The more you sacrifice the better you will be.

Other Mama has become an overnight success. The doors open nightly (closed Tuesdays) at 5pm and it is highly suggested to get there early. It’s not long before the bar and restaurants are at capacity with many enjoying a very special experience. The Salmon Sashimi is one of the best we have had. Check the menu board for an excellent selection of Oysters delivered daily. You can’t go wrong with Caviar & French Toast w Crème Fraiche. This dish is an explosion of contrasting flavors that will keep you coming back for more. For Kim Chi lovers try the Pork Belly Kim Chi Fried Rice with Wild Mushroom and a Fried Egg.

Libations are a big part of Other Mama as well. Try one of their homemade infusions. Their signature cocktails are named after fine southern ladies such as the Billie-Joe which is a tasty blend of Hendrick’s Gin, Luxardo Maraschino, Cucumber & Basil. Or Dive into the Trixie, a perfect combination of Jameson, Canton Ginger, Lemon and Cayenne.

Come early to secure your seat at Other Mama. Chef Dan and his staff will make you feel right at home. It won’t be long before you are apart of Dan’s Other Mama family.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

In Las Vegas DJT at Trump Las Vegas Provides Excellence On the Plate and in Your Glass.



The name of Donald Trump is often filled with images of opulence, luxury and sometimes controversy.

Recently we had the opportunity to re-visit DJT, the upscale dining venue at the Trump hotel in Las Vegas that is the reflection of the name it represents. Hidden away from the hotel row of Las Vegas Strip, Trump hotel is a gold monolith that rises above the ordinary for those who crave a five star experience without the din of casino gambling in the background.

Being both family and dog friendly, we saw many young two legged and four legged visitors entering the hotel for a peaceful stay away from the flashing neon lights, cigarette smoke and roulette wheels.

As the impeccably dressed valet opens our car door, the gleaming gold, marble and glass of the entrance gives way to more opulence as we proceeded into the lobby of the Trump Hotel. We walked up to the hostess stand amid a stunningly decorated dining and carefully ascended into a very private circular booth with plush indigo violet velvet curtains (that can be pulled together for more intimacy). We were greeted by the effervescent Kyuri Cheun. After her upbeat and energetic welcome and introductions to staff, we were well on our way to trying the seasonal chef’s tasting menu and the new beautifully crafted cocktails list.

We started out with a with a creamy “Red Beret” followed by the Pamplemousse old-fashioned, the “Strawberry Fields” , an extraordinary Moscow Mule , “The Jockey “and rounding out our tasting was the refreshing “Watermelon Basil”. Each cocktail was handcrafted with the freshest ingredients to ensure that the flavors come sparkling through without being overwhelmed by the alcohol.


One of the highlights of staying at DJT is the great care and attention to detail that is infused in everything that you may nibble or taste. We were impressed with the quality of each cocktail and the passion of which the mixologist stirred or shook to make sure that only the best is presented in the glass.

Many people comment, “How do you drink or eat so much and yet maintain your sensibility and weight”? Our answer is always a little bite or taste at a time. Being presented with an excellent array of food and drink it is often difficult to say no to over indulgence but our philosophy in our culinary journey has been creating a sense of moderation and respect to ourselves and to our hosts. DJT seasonal menu is both stunning, fresh and presented in the loveliest setting and with utmost sincerity.

Amuse of seared lamb loin with a pea puree
Amuse of seared lamb loin with a pea puree
We did find it difficult to say no to consuming everything presented to us. We started our evening with an amuse of seared lamb loin with a pea puree. This rich lamb gem got our palates working for the next course of Ahi tuna with Spanish octopus. The Ahi was exceptionally fresh and the octopus cooked delicately, making it a perfect way to begin our evening’s menu.
Ahi tuna with Spanish octopus.
One of our favorite dishes of the night was the gazpacho, anchovy accented with heirloom tomatoes. The soup had a lovely creamy texture. The saltiness of the anchovy was offset by bits of plump juicy heirloom tomatoes.

gazpacho, anchovy accented with heirloom tomatoes.
gazpacho, anchovy accented with heirloom tomatoes.
The fresh cod dish was next on the agenda and again the fresh ingredients spoke for themselves. Paired with Trump’s own label Sauvignon Blanc, the dish became even more alluring.
Fresh Cod Dish
Fresh Cod Dish
The meat course of wild boar was a good choice over the typical steak that is often offered on a menu. The parsnip puree was a welcomed addition of sweetness to the mild gaminess of the meat. The wild boar entrée is a good choice for those who want something beyond the ordinary.

Wild Boar
Wild Boar
Satisfied and satiated, we finished our meal with a cappuccino and light and decadent Passion Fruit Panna cotta with white chocolate and raspberries.

A perfect ending to a lovely meal that is one of the benefits of staying at a hotel that reflects the name of someone who epitomizes excellence.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Get an education in Downtown Summerlin at Public School 702 in Las Vegas.


Need a place to hang out during the blazing heat of summer? Public school 702 is now open for all those teachers who want “an education in the art of food and beer” and just about anyone who needs a little refreshment from the sweltering heat of Las Vegas.

Public School 702 is the newest addition to the restaurant line up in Downtown Summerlin and they know what essential ingredients are needed to create a space that is inviting and a menu that incorporates great fresh ingredients in a up-beat and flavorful manner. This new gastropub has a décor that has educational nuances, including a cocktail menu printed with blue lined composition paper, mathematical flashcards circling the ceiling around the bar along with lab-style communal tables and world globe light fixtures. With 14,000 square feet of bar and restaurant space, there is a seat for everyone. Beer lovers should rejoice because beers from local breweries are available along with 24 beers on tap, with 11 rotating seasonally. If beer is not your drink of choice, various artisanal cocktails as well as wine on tap and in the bottle are available for your selection.


We stopped in to see what Public School 702 educating the public about in one of the newest dining and drinking spots in Las Vegas. Our “education” began with one of their signature starters, the speck and eggs. Who doesn’t like a good deviled egg? These four beauties came with the creamy yolk accented with a touch of spice in an egg white cloud. The speck lent that savory crunch with a touch of visual taste appeal (and is a one of the best deviled eggs we have tried in this town). Next on our plate was the Grilled Watermelon & Heirloom salad.

The refreshing watermelon and vine ripened heirloom tomatoes arrive in a generous portion sprinkled with the pungent feta cheese drizzled with balsamic. The salad has a nice textural component from an abundant sprinkling of marcona almonds. For the entrée, it just had to be the Prime Flat Iron Steak with Truffle Butter. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare, emanating signature pinkness, cut into strips and adorned with a side of chorizo mac and cheese. The succulent steak was highlighted with the Truffle Butter, not over powered by it. The mac and cheese had a nice creaminess, and the bits of chorizo added a bit of heat and texture.


Sporting an amazing wrap around outdoor patio and engaging games for the younger crown such as as an over-sized Jenga, Connect Four, and shuffle board, this venue is not only for the 21 and over crowd but for the entire family. For those that are over 21, stop by for the happy hour menu Monday-Friday 3:30-6:30. One of the most affordable bottomless Bloody Mary’s in town is available on the Brunch menu Saturday and Sunday for a mere $10. Educating the palate and encouraging further culinary investigation is what Public School 702 is planning to do. For more information: 1850 Festival Plaza Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89135 (702) 749-3007

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Chef Alex Stratta Is Back and Plating Up Gastronomic Delights At Tapas By Stratta.


Alex Stratta is a name synonymous with excellence. This Michelin award winning Chef is now bringing his culinary magic to the common diner via his newly opened Tapas by Stratta restaurant. The Tapas concept although seemingly the recent rage in bringing an affordability and approachability to the masses here in Las Vegas, has been around for a very long time.

The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover.” According to The Joy of Cooking, “the original tapas were the slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners began creating a variety of snacks or appetizers to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales. The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry.”


Far removed for those days of practical culinary improvisation, we see this concept of small plates popping up from many major culinary Chefs who are bridging the gap between fine dining and affordability. The concept is to share and create an experience with conversation and various small plates instead of focusing on one main entrée. And…We don’t have to worry about the fruit flies invading our sherry, since Chef Alex has honed his culinary skills to now bring a much more sophisticated approach to the Tapas style dining experience.


Nestled amongst the myriad of restaurants in the rustic faux Italian town square of Tivoli Village, Chef Stratta has opened his version of a Spanish Tapas style restaurant that has transformed the now defunct PoppyDen with bright warm beige yellow walls, eye catching red-orange seating, décor highlighted with an eclectic mix of white framed mirrors and lively original Chef Stratta paintings. As we relaxed into the seats, we were anticipating our turn to try some of the Tapas offered by this amazing Chef. He stated, “This is a labor of love.” And by creating everything from the artwork on the walls to the artwork on the plate, we are thrilled that he has poured his creative soul into this new venture.


We took a look at the menu and found the food to be pleasantly thought out and superbly executed. Starting with the Slow Roasted beet salad with cheese, candied walnuts. The the creamy and pungent taste of the cheese provided an inviting contrast to the dense-semi sweet beets along with the crunch and texture of the candies walnuts to get us off to a great start. Next on the plate was the Jamon Iberico Spanish ham with tiny cigar shaped crackers. These crunchy treats are paper thin and delicate with a mild saltiness, which provided us a true taste of Spain. A nice sharable plate we highly suggest are the charred Padrón peppers with garlic chips, and onion crisps. Although not too hot, they were an perfect companion to our Tapas line up.


Our favorite of the evening was the special beef cheeks. They were meltingly tender with a deep rich flavor highlighted even further with little bits of Medjool dates,spiced with jalapeno, sprinkled with sesame seed, on a bed of pureed chic peas and braised red wine sauce. Each bite was exquisitely prepared and the meat melted with the spicy sweetness of the sauce. We had to reboot and to halt the motion of the fork in order to try our next dish that was the special Paella of the evening.


Highly recommended was the Paella with squid ink that created an inky blackness, and fresh seafood flavor. It’s cooked to order in shallow pans using bomba rice, dense rice that is similar to Arborio rice. Rice is the most important ingredient in paella, which is the reason many paellas are called “arroces” in spain.

The rice is cooked to a socarrat. Socorrat, from the Spanish verb socarrar (meaning to singe), is an intrinsic part of paella, which when done properly creates a crisp bottom crust that needs to be scraped from the metal pan. The deeply toasted texture lends the dish its signature quality.

We were glad we saved this dish to share later in our culinary journey. Although Tapas is known as small plates, there was nothing small about the flavors and textures of each dish. With several of these plates, we were well satisfied.

Amid, our tasting and conversation, we indulged in the house sangria, of wine and fresh fruit mingled together that was refreshing and thirst quenching. Of course we had to indulge in a glass of Tempranillo to further our “Spanish” cuisine experience. Although the wines by the glass were very reasonable we felt the wine list needed more flexibility in price and range.


Last but now least, was the Flan. Being a native Miamian, Flan was something that was the dessert of choice while growing up. Not just any Flan will do, this one has a firm, dense,creamy texture, layered with a caramel sauce that adds to the sweetness but doesn’t overwhelm with too much sugar.

Growing pains are normal in any new restaurant, and we believe Chef Stratta ‘s depth of culinary excellence far exceeds any beginning hiccups. Adjusting to a more approachable dining experience creates a learning curve for everyone involved. We can only hope that many will come by to share several outstanding Tapas crafted by one of our cities greatest chefs. Having this caliber of restaurant aside from the glare of the neon, is both refreshing and exciting.

Tapas by Alex Stratta is open Dinner:
5:30PM to 9:30PM (Sunday-Thursday)
5:30PM to 10:30PM (Friday & Saturday)With a seven day happy hour menu available from 4:30-6:00 pm.For reservations call 702-483-3555 or visit

Friday, June 5, 2015

Newport Beach , California to host Food and Wine lovers from across the country can enjoy one of the nation’s best epicurean weekends October 2-4, 2015

Newport Beach, CA has become one of the biggest destinations in the U.S. for its luxury lifestyle and picturesque beaches. Recently it has been gaining a reputation for its exploding food and wine scene.  The 2015 Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival  sponsored by American & Southern Wine & Spirits will bring together some of the nation’s biggest chefs while spotlighting Orange County’s best restaurants, wine experts, wineries and more. 

This year’s Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival features an all-star Lineup. Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” and Recent “Top Chefs” reunite for Live Cooking Demos While the Region’s Most Renowned Executive Chefs Offer up the Best in Restaurant Tastings.

Guests will enjoy celebrity chef cooking demos by Rick Bayless, Hubert Keller, Rick Moonen and recent “Top Chef” Alums. Regional chefs get into the action with Orange County’s most renowned restaurants like Montage, Pelican Hill, Mastro’s, Roy’s, Fig & Olive and RED O. Oenophiles will take their seats at    Elite wine panels led only by Master Sommeliers, including Fred Dame and Michael Jordan (as seen on the movie Somm). There will even be 200 world-renowned, “cult" and boutique wines to be enjoyed and a jazz lounge showcasing live music, mixology courses, hand-crafted cocktails and beers samplings.

At the daytime festival on Saturday, guests will have the unique opportunity to learn from Chefs Rick Bayless and Hubert Keller’s culinary mastery through live cooking demonstrations, while also mingling with them during book signings and special events. Chef Bayless will also be cooking in one of the Grand Tasting Pavilions, personally serving cuisine from his acclaimed Newport Beach restaurant RED O.

 During Sunday’s Daytime Festival event, Orange County fare will collide with Las Vegas cuisine, as Golden Truffle Executive Chef Alan Greeley takes the stage with Chef Moonen. As long-time friends, this will surely serve as a highly entertaining cooking demonstration. 

 This year, there will be an ultimate hands-on cooking competition, where guests will channel their inner chef skills on stage while being coached by “Top Chef” Alumni. Season 11 Finalist and TWENTY EIGHT Executive Chef Shirley Chung will be leading this Top Chef Home Cook Challenge. 

Each of the four contenders will be chosen from the audience and compete on stage with celebrity coaches like Bravo’s “Last Chance Kitchen” Winner and “Top Chef” Finalist Louis Maldonado. One winner will be honored as the very first Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival Top Chef Champion.

Join Cuisineist editors when the festival kicks off on the evening of Friday, October 2 (6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.) with the official Launch Party & Charity Event at Oak Grill & Aqua Lounge. On Saturday, October 3, and Sunday, October 4 (1 p.m. – 5 p.m.), the Daytime Festival at the Newport Beach Civic Center will feature celebrity chef cooking demos, book signing, restaurant and wine tastings, sommelier panels, mixology courses, handcrafted cocktails, live jazz and more. Net proceeds benefit charity partner Project Hope Alliance.
 Tickets for the Festival are on sale now. More information on the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival, please visit or call (888) 511-FEST. For ongoing updates, follow the Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. See you there!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cuisineist Review: A visit Hawaii's Honolulu Cookie Company, A tatse of Paradise.

Recently we had the wonderful opportunity to take a little trip to Honolulu via a cookie. A simple pineapple shaped cookie transported us to the tropical paradise.

Each bite of these delectable shortbread cuties brought waves of flavor cascading through our taste buds like the undulating waves upon the lovely sands of the a Honolulu shore. With flavors like Lilikoi Mango, pineapple macadama, kona coffee, and a range of delightful chocolate chip cookies, your sweet cravings will be richly satisfied.

 With natural flavors, and Guittard chocolate for the dipped cookies, a rhapsody of richness and flavor are delicately intertwined in each bite.

In 1998, Janet Sung and artist husband Keith started their cookie empire with a simple shortbread cookie. Getting rave reviews from the islanders was just the beginning of their cookie journey. With Keith using the symbol of hospitality, the pineapple, as his symbol of success, the Island Gods were with him. Through wholesale distribution and direct marketing, the Aloha spirit was embraced in a big way through these amazing gems.

Now with outlets around the world, the mission to spread the spirit of Aloha has been accomplished and continues to expand with new retails stores yearly. The Honolulu cookie company now offers a reward program, a corporate program, a bridal and party favor line of cookies, and an extensive array of gift boxes for any occasion.

With the integrity of prime Hawaiian ingredients and attention to freshness and quality, Honolulu Cookie Company is your answer to all your gift giving needs. For more information please go to www.Honolulu cookie company .com

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Elizabeth Blau and Chef Kim Canteenwalla Open Andiron In Las Vegas to Rave Reviews.

In current times being a restaurateur is not easy. Just having one successful establishment is a feat in itself. Working long hours, weekends and holidays away from family as well as financial worries is not for everyone. The odds are that most will fail. However, some rise to the top, have the right stuff and are truly a rare breed.


We have been fortunate over the years to bear witness to a special partnership that assembled a team and have opened not one, not two, but three successful restaurants. Their venues are not a chain, rehashing and copying the first success. Each one of their restaurants are unique and unlike their sister venues. Three concepts and three successes.


Who are these people that defied the odds and certainly have proven they have the right stuff you may ask? Who else would it be than renowned restaurateurs Elizabeth Blau and her husband Chef Kim Canteenwalla. They are the great minds behind Honey Salt and Made L.V. located in Summerlin and of course Buddy V’s Ristorante in the Palazzo Resort.

The Food and Beverage community waited with great anticipation for their newest and most ambitious venue yet, Andiron Steak & Sea located in Downtown Summerlin. The wait is over! We attended the VIP opening along with a whos’ who of local and national journalists, Chefs and stars from every universe you could imagine. Impressive to say the least, Andiron is simply breath taking. Designer Thomas Schlesser really went all in the interior décor of the main dining room, a very sexy lounge and bar as well as a relaxing patio where guests can dine Al Fresco.


Elizabeth and Chef Kim know it takes a team to be a success and named managing partners Stephen Jerome and Chef Joseph Zanelli to lead the Andiron operations. They both have been on the team all along the journey, from both Honey Salt and Made L.V.

With the opening of Andiron Steak & Sea, this dynamic team have introduced Fine Dining at a whole new level of sophistication not just for the very swank Downtown Summerlin but for Summerlin over all. It’s been a long time coming.


Andiron should be visited on multiple occasions to get a true feel for the restaurant and mixology. Start your experience off with a tasty Little Gem Salad with maytag blue cheese, vine ripe tomatoes and maple glazed thick cut bacon. Next up, enjoy a Yellow Tail Crudo to get your palate ready for some gastronomic fun. We enjoyed Steak Tartare, a nice blend of grass fed tenderloin, capers, Dijon mustard, quail egg and grilled bread to top it off. Don’t forget to order the Hudson Valley Foie Gras with huckleberry jam and toasted brioche. This is only a start!


Looking at Entrés we suggest you do some exploring. For the carnivores, dive into a 36oz Tomahawk Chop for two. You can’t go wrong with a Creek Stone Farms 18oz Bone In Rib Eye cooked medium rare of course. For a little bit lighter fare enjoy a 9oz Wagu Skirt Steak.


From the Sea, we enjoyed a Scottish Salmon with serrano ham crust, shaved brussels sprouts and cipollini onions topped off with a peruvian chili glaze. Andiron’s Grilled Whole Branzino with roasted peppers ragu, capers with wild fennel & pine nuts was suggested by Chef Kim. Also we can say is perfecto!

For the vegetarians, how about a steak? Their Roasted Cauliflower Steak with cauliflower puree, king trumpet mushrooms and pickled fresno pepper vinaigrette is sure to please.

For a great finish, don’t be shy order of few of these tasty treats. Bite into Ashley’s Crème Brulee Donuts featuring a rich vanilla custard or a nice Warm Pecan Carrot Cake with bourbon cream cheese and pineapple currant compote. Hungry yet?


On our visit we enjoyed some excellent choices from their impressive wine list. The lounge features the classic Andirion Martni with stoli elit vodka, vittone bianco vermouth and stuffed olives. The Midnight Rambler is a Chef Kim original and a personal favorite featuring bulleit rye, maple syrup and angostura bitters. The Pineapple Bump with absolut elyx, pineau des charantes, pineapple, apple vinegar, fresh lemon sour and club soda has been creating quite a buzz as well.

What can we say to Elizabeth, Kim and their team but congratulations once again and you will see us often.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Carmel By The Sea Is the Place to Be For Word Class Accomodations with Wine and a View Like None Other.

Carmel by the Sea, it even sounds idyllic, and it is. You can have all the offerings that one may want in a vacation get-away. Whether it is stunning scenery, or the lovely quaint shops that line the streets, Carmel will capture your heart and imagination. You will fall in love with this town that has charmed thousands. Along with the four star restaurants, abundant art galleries, and the most glorious scenery in the country, you can return to a number of luxurious hotel rooms that will accommodate any type of traveler.
We had the opportunity to visit Carmel recently and revisit one of our favorite places to stay, the Hofsas House. Conveniently located to the Monterey airport, the Hofsas House offers affordable lodging and year round activities.

The background on this lovely family hotel, which is pet and child friendly, started in the 1940’s, when hotelier Donna Hofsas, left her home in Los Angeles to take up residence in Carmel California.


Donna went on to transform tiny cottages into an outstanding family run hotel that has been in operation since the 1950’s. Donna Hofsas passed in 1999 but her legacy has carried on through her granddaughter, Carrie Theis, who now continues to manage the European style hotel while offering the same old world charm and personalize service that Grandmother Donna instilled in her since the tender age of 5.

With modern amenities, personalized hotel packages for pet lovers, summer vacationers, or those looking for a romantic get-away, everyone is well taken care of at the Hofsas House. Offering an old world charm with every modern amenity, this hotel has taken an old-fashioned, yet never outdated approach to stellar customer service. You will feel relaxed and refreshed as you can choose from a vast menu of Hofsas House Offerings that will make your stay a memory making adventure.

We always try to travel with our best friend, our Maltese, Holly. Our little family member is well treated at the Hofsas house with the Tail Wagging Package which includes: the Hofsas House Dog Frisbee, a collapsible dog bowl and special dog bed, and a sampling of doggie treats and pet shampoo to keep her looking fresh and ready for her jaunt to a local pet friendly restaurant. Looking through the complimentary copy of Coastal Canine magazine, we found some great tips on dog friendly venues and doggie walking trails throughout the Carmel community.

Hofsas House many Specialty Packages offer the best vacations memories for everyone. Because family is a main pillar in the foundation of the Hofsas House Hotel, relative and family relations are of up-most importance to their own family heritage in the hotel business. The Family Reunion package provides group rates for 5 or more rooms booked with a two night minimum which will include complimentary continental breakfast. There is also a Beach Fire and S’mores Package that gives you all your adventure goodies; wood bundle and fire starter and matches, your own beach blanket and safety flashlight, and all the S’more supplies. With your basket in hand, head down to the lovely Carmel Beach for an enjoyable bon fire while enjoying the setting sun on the sparkling waves of the Pacific Ocean.


Another benefit for large families or groups is the spacious meeting facility which can accommodate up to 40 people. Meeting with the family around the sparkling pool or partaking of a large family sit down dinner that can be easily catered by a local restaurant, or a meal prepared by you using the complete kitchen within the facility, gives you many options on creating a lovely family bonding experience. Another great benefit in capturing those delightful moments is arranging the complimentary family portrait session on the beach by a certified professional photographer, including one free 8x10 photograph.

Additional photos can be purchased directly from the photographer. Remember this offer is subject to availability and some blackout dates may apply.

For the oenophiles on the road, a stay at the Hofsas house may be just for you. Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea offers a Wine Tasting Passport for $65 where the buyer can choose one $10 flight of your choice of any 9 of the 14 tasting rooms, which is normally a $90 value. The Wine Walk by-the-Sea is a self-paced self leisurely walk to the many tasting rooms located within block of each of each other. On our stay, we ventured over to De Tierra Vineyards tasting room, Dawn’s Dream new tasting room, and Figge Cellars, where our wine palates where refreshed with the lovely nuances of Monterey County wines. The Hofsas House concierge offers Wine Tasting Passports at a discounted price of $50 per person with any one night stay. For $30 you may want to stay in and cuddle up by the fire place with the Wine and Cheese Package that includes a bottle of Monterey County Wine and cheese from the famous local Cheese Shop in Carmel. After indulging in your romantic offering, you may want to have the friendly hoteliers book you a couple’s massage for those on a little retreat from it all. For more information on the Hofsas House go to


Carmel has much to offer every member of the family and there is much to do as the sun arises over the ocean. As you meander along the cozy cottages and shoppes in Carmel, make sure to stop by the Cheese Shop to say hello to proprietor Kent Torrey. We entered this world class wine and cheese establishment to chat with the effervescent Mr. Torrey. Kent has put together a world class team of the most helpful and knowledgeable staff members that will assist you with the perfect wine and cheese selection. With a polethera of cheese and wine choices to choose from, you will think you have entered into the pearly gates of fromage heaven. However, you will want to remain an earthling to be able to indulge in the incredible wine selection that Kent offers to his patrons. Kent boldly declares, “Eat Cheese, Drink wine, and Live Life Happy”, and we couldn’t agree more. For more information on Kent and his renown shop go to

There are a variety of walking tours that can be tailored to everyone needs, so stop by the front office and they will be sure to direct you to the best that Carmel has to offer. Nearby attractions such as the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is just minutes away from your respite. Hofsas House partners with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, so make sure you purchase you tickets through the main office and receive a two-day pass for the price of one.


Whether enjoying the art, antiques or the abundance of beauty in Carmel one can work up an appetite and dining establishments are plenty in Carmel, and many are pet friendly. We happened to end our day at the local’s favorite, Grasings, info. at This storybook restaurant has garnered Open Table Diner’s choice award for 2015 and the 2014 Wine Spectators Grand Award of Excellence along with many local accolades. With the inspiration of the gifts from the land and sea, Chef Kurt Grasing has created a menu that reflects that reverence for the environment. Along with a Wine Spectator award winning wine list and the skillful knowledge of sommelier, Toby Rowland Jones, Chef has a winning combination to entice the locals and visitors alike.

We loved the Abalone farm-raised Monterey bay red abalone prepared dorè style served with the season’s freshest harvest accoutrements. Having fresh seafood and local produce available to the Chef, only the most stellar culinary creations can come from the kitchen. Fresh, tenderly cooked and served with a lovely presentation, we savored every bite of this elegant dish. Sommelier Toby Rowland Jones, brought us a rich, creamy Laird Chardonnay that complimented the Abalone perfectly. We then moved on to the main course of sustainable seafood with the special of the evening, the Salmon adorned with a beurre blanc sauce and beautifully prepared. After a dinner fit for a sea-faring captain, we decided to try one of the desserts for that bit of sweetness to send us on our way. House-Made Crème Brulee, choice of vanilla or chocolate infused custard was the right choice of warm soft custard with the caramel crunch of bruleed sugar.

Happily satisfied with our bellies satiated, we made our way back to our comfortable quarters for a leisurely nightcap next to the roaring fireplace and drifting off to dream of the next day’s adventures.


Being a former Monterey County resident another favorite local jaunt is Pacific Grove California. Only minutes from Carmel, it is worth the journey. Known as the Butterfly town, thousands of Monarch butterflies stop to rest on the eucalyptus trees on their arduous migratory journey to Mexico. With sweeping panoramic views of the mighty Pacific Ocean, and a bevy of golf courses, bike paths, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium along the historic Cannery Row within walking distance, this is a must stop for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

We arrived for a more informal dinner at a local’s favorite hot spot, the Beach House Restaurant. This California casual dining establishment has the best corner spot on the Monterey Peninsula. Located at Lover’s point amongst the Monterey pines, garnered by panoramic views of the Monterey Bay, one cannot find a more lovely location for a meal that embraces all the beauty that Mother Nature demonstrates in this amazing area of the country.


The evening we visited the Beach House, a stunning glistening full moon, bounced dazzling simmering light across the rolling waves, creating the back-drop to our dining experience. As we entered this clean, modern eatery, we were met by our most lovely server who urged us to try the “Firecracker Shrimp”. These shrimp were crisp, delicately golden brown, and bathed in a spicy, sweet Thai sauce. This restaurant favorite soon became ours, as we hungrily devoured these mouth watering gifts of the sea. Along with great appetizers and hand crafted cocktails some of the local favorites include the Seafood Linguine of fresh fish, calamari, shrimp, with tomato-fennel broth or the Feast of Lanterns Surf & Turf, tender grilled medallions of beef, FireCracker shrimp, brown rice, baby bok choy with a Viridis Aquaponic cucumber salad, and a sweet soy demi glace. There is an extensive menu that will satisfy any hungry sojourner. For more information on the Beach House, go to

We wistfully said good bye to the glorious evening, and made our way back to Carmel, knowing that this was our last night in this magical place. We breathed a grateful “thankful” for this uniquely pristine area of our country.


Whether you are planning a wedding or a family gathering, think of Carmel California. The entire Monterey Peninsula is a refreshing and glorious place to plan your next vacation. Through diligent stewardship of the natural habitats, visitors can enjoy the best of every amenity while revealing in the grandeur of Mother Nature. Wine Enthusiast Magazine has designated Monterey County as one of the top ten wine destinations in the world, and Travel and Leisure Magazine has rated Carmel as #3 in the list of world’s best cities for romance.
For your next outing or romantic get-away, pack your suitcase and head for Carmel, and don’t forget to give Hofsas House a ring for a respite that is well deserved and will be well remembered forever. For more information go to