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.