Parlez-Vous Brunch?

La Bonne Table Now Serving Sunday Brunch

by Wendy Lemlin

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Mesdames et Messieurs, welcome to brunch, French-style.  Well, not precisely, because brunch isn’t really a thing in France, but if it were, it would taste exactly like the offerings on La Bonne Table’s new Sunday Brunch menu, available at the Hillcrest bistro on Sundays from 10-3, with a special Post Pride Parade Brunch on Saturday July 15.

The welcome antithesis to the overrated brunch behemoth down the block (at which I’m always amazed to see long lines out the door waiting for mass quantities of totally mediocre food), La Bonne Table is intimate, sophisticated, and très French. The seating is comfortable, the atmosphere convivial, and you don’t have to shout to converse with your dining partner. Continue reading

The Art of the Grand Tour

By Wendy Lemlin

Laguna Beach’s Pageant of The Masters and Festival of the Arts is a summertime tradition

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On a breezy summer evening in Laguna Beach, stars twinkle above 2,600 attentive guests seated in the outdoor Irvine Bowl amphitheater. The live orchestra begins to play while the baritone-voiced narrator introduces the next work of art. The rapt audience breaks into applause as the stage curtain opens on a life sized replica Of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Annunciation. But wait—did Mary move slightly? Did the angel just blink?

At the Pageant of the Masters, art will come alive to a packed audience every night from July 7-August 31

At the Pageant of the Masters, art will come alive to a packed audience every night from July 7-August 31

 

An actor in makeup and costume for the depiction of Annie Oakley

An actor in makeup and costume for the depiction of Annie Oakley

Call it tableaux vivant, living pictures, or just plain magic, the Pageant of the Masters, brings art to life as actors are transformed into re-creations of well-known paintings, sculptures, and figurines. The original art pieces are painstakingly copied on intricate sets with well-hidden stands, footholds, and handles supporting the cast members, who, after meticulous make-up and costume sessions, are placed in the artwork. Then, as the curtain rises, each actor holds a pose, motionless, unbreathing, for at least 90 seconds. With a patented lighting system that reduces the three dimensional down to the appearance of two dimensions, the effect is spellbinding, and has made the Pageant of the Masters, running July 7-August 31, 2017, a favorite component of the venerable Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts for the past 84 years. Continue reading

La Valencia Celebrates 90 Years

by Wendy Lemlin

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20161215_183815The way the Pink Lady was partying at her birthday bash, you’d never know she was 90 years old! Always the gracious and fun hostess, she pulled out all the stops, eating, drinking, and dancing the night away with almost 300 guests, all the while looking lovelier than ever.

The Pink Lady, of course, is the La Valencia Hotel, an icon in the heart of La Jolla Village.  La V’s 90th Birthday Gatsby Gala, held on December 15, was a lavish Roaring-20s themed celebration worthy of comparison to any party The Great Gatsby himself would have thrown. Champagne 20161215_190405and Prohibition Era inspired cocktails flowed freely, food tables groaned with a vast assortment of delicacies, and the “speakeasy” dance floor was packed. Most of the guests donned period attire, the women resplendent in a sparkling abundance of beads and sequins, the men either going for straw boater-style hats or more formally dressed in tails or dinner jackets.20161215_184536

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What’s New at San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival?

By Wendy Lemlin

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   With 43 events over seven days, the 14th annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, November 14-20, is a really big deal. As one of the nation’s largest gastronomic festivals, it brings together celebrity and local chefs, sommeliers, winemakers, brewmasters, and gourmet food artisans to present gala dinners, tastings, classes, competitions, and even a golf tournament. Continue reading

KAABOO Year Two

By Wendy Lemlin

 

logo.kaaboo_2x.ext-33c58bcd750728837ef4a610f4c28a16Music, Art, Food, Comedy –- KAABOO Del Mar brings all the elements of a good time together in one multi-focus three day event billed as a “mixperience”.  Ambitiously begun in 2015 as the largest multi-faceted cultural event to hit the San Diego area, the 2nd annual installment of KAABOO Del Mar takes place September 16-18 and sprawls throughout the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The festival organizers define KAABOO as “an adult escape, created by music lovers for music lovers, uniquely curated to appeal to all five of your senses, with world-class music, dancing, incredible cuisine, craft libations, inspiring contemporary art, and personal indulgences”.

At the heart of KAABOO Del Mar is the music, with over 78 eclectic artists appearing on 5 stages, performing everything from Americana/Roots music to classics, to Hip Hop. Those who spring for the VIP “Amplify” ticket, get to start the party early on Thursday evening, with entertainment by Chris Isaak and Macy Gray. Continue reading

AmiLoan.com San Diego Blues Fest Happening September 10

By Wendy Lemlin

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The fight against hunger in our community has been waged on many fronts, but perhaps the most pleasant battlefield happens each year at Embacadero Park with a soundtrack that includes the hottest national and local blues artists around.

Since 2011, the AmiLoan.com San Diego Blues Fest has partnered with the Jacobs and Cushman San Diego Food Bank with a two-fold mission: present top name blues artists at an affordable price while raising much needed funds—-and awareness—-to benefit the Food Bank. It’s been a rousing success; to date,sponsors and festival goers have helped contribute 20 tons of food and more than $435,000 to help the Food Bank fight hunger in San Diego County. And no one’s crying the blues about that!

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The Flavors of Florent

Words & Photos by Wendy Lemlin

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Like most San Diego locals over 30 years old, I rarely venture into downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, and, despite the blocks of cheek-to-jowl restaurants, even more rarely do I ever dine there. I’ve always had the impression that, with a few notable exceptions, most of the restaurants serve overpriced, mediocre “tourist” food, or unsophisticated bar bites. On a recent visit, however, I’ve found that Florent Restaurant & Lounge, on the prime corner of 5th and G,  is one of those notable exceptions,

Executive Chef Brad Hightow

Executive Chef Brad Hightow

Executive Chef Brad Hightow has been running the culinary show there for the past 15 months, and his high quality take on New American cuisine is creative and delectable.  Flavors are balanced and complementary, presentations are attractive, and ingredients are sourced from such local standout purveyors as Specialty Produce and Catalina Offshore Products. Continue reading

Birthday Staycation

Words & photos by Wendy Lemlin

Under the therapeutic cascade at Rancho Bernardo Inn

Under the therapeutic cascade at Rancho Bernardo Inn

Sometimes you just need a break.  Not a long vacation, but certainly more of a change of scenery than just hanging out in your own home.  Get away from the kitchen, get away from the computer, and get away from all the little chores around the house that nag to be done when you just want to relax.  I’m talking abdication of all responsibility, here, with a side order of pampering thrown in for good measure.  You don’t even need to go away to get away, distance-wise, to be amazed at how a change of environment makes for a change in temperament. You just need a great staycation. Continue reading

Grill 23 & Bar: An Iconic Steakhouse Not Only For Meat Eaters

By Wendy Lemin

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   I don’t eat meat.  My Significant Other doesn’t eat seafood. I’m picky; I like my food locally sourced and artistically presented. S.O. doesn’t care as long as it tastes good and there is enough of it. Deciding on a restaurant at which to dine together can often be a challenge.

But not always.

On a recent trip to Boston, we had the pleasure of dining at Grill 23 & Bar, a Back Bay icon that is still packing them in, winning awards and accolades after 33 years of popularity. A classic steakhouse, which rightly brags about sourcing 100% of its all-natural, humanely raised beef from Brandt Beef in Southern California, Grill 23 also touts sustainably and locally raised produce and dayboat seafood in several menu selections. So, even though I usually tend to avoid meat-centric eateries where it seems that anything else is merely an afterthought, the seafood choices swimming through the meaty menu were sufficient to entice me. Continue reading

Baja Bash to Benefit WILDCOAST

by Wendy Lemlin

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Having fun and conserving our coastlines on both sides of the border..

These days, everyone loves Baja, especially her beaches and coastal areas.  In fact, people love Baja so much, that much of her once mostly-deserted 1900 miles of coastlines have fallen under targeted assault from increased development and industrial growth. Coral reefs and mangrove forests teeming with fish and sealife, pristine beaches where endangered sea turtles nest, and bays that are the birthing areas for gentle California grey whales—all are in danger of disappearing, and the marine species and other fauna that depend on these fragile ecosystems are also in peril.

Luckily, 16 years ago WILDCOAST (aka COSTASALVAJE in Spanish) began working to watchdog and protect the marine ecosystems and wildlife on Baja’s coasts, as well as coastal areas in San Diego and in other Mexican and Latin American regions. Continue reading