Wednesday, April 15, 2015
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 www.hofsashouse.com
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 www.thecheeseshopinc.com/
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 grasings.com. 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 www.beachhousepg.com.
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 www.carmelcalifornia.org