Tue Dec 26, 2006
It’s been more than ten years since I last lived near Los Angeles. When I left, most everything between Santa Monica and Hollywood was considered no man’s land to the young and tragically hip. So I’ve been surprised to now find places like Culver City, once mocked, are now peppered with trendy little boîtes, restaurants and boutiques frequented by twenty and thirty somethings. On a recent sunny Saturday, trolling for new spots, I wandered into Bottle Rock, a shiny new wine bar/shop that opened late this summer on Main Street in Culver City. Rays bounced off the gleaming chrome furniture, casting glares so that I needed to wear my sunnies inside. (How better to start you on a rock star vibe?) With irreverent signs delineating varietals and styles like “Effin Merlot” and “No Champagne No Gain,” my inner punk was intrigued. Now if only they could engage my inner wine geek… Continue reading
Sun Dec 17, 2006
It’s been three weeks since I stepped into the vortex of Southern California and two weeks since I started managing the new Mario Batali/Joe Bastianich/Nancy Silverton restaurant in Los Angeles. While I do have some posts in progress (check back for write-ups of Bottle Rock in Culver City and Primitivo in Venice), the amount of free time I have to write has been limited by 14-hour workdays. Sleep-deprived delirium can be good for creativity, but with a long commute to work until my place in Tahoe sells (anybody looking for a ski condo?), I’m usually smoked before I even try and put a sentence together. Once things start to settle, expect to find lots of juice on Italian wines, as well us an investigation of the nascent food scene here. Los Angeles may not be a dining Mecca yet, but in a place where it’s 80 degrees in December, anything is possible.
Fri Dec 1, 2006
It takes well-honed hover and swoop maneuvers to snag a stool at Willi’s Wine Bar on a Friday night. Packed two deep and with every table inside and even those out on the heated patio filled, you would never guess this modern-style roadhouse was technically in the middle of nowhere. Way out on the north end of Santa Rosa, Willi’s Wine Bar is a local fave and it’s easy to see why: rustic charm, an inspired wine list and tasty small plates fuse with a laid-back vibe that is 100 percent Sonoma County.
I ventured out to Willi’s at the end of November, just after finishing up harvest at Pax Wine Cellars. My tasting companion and I ordered two flights of wine and then asked our bartender, Ryan, to select three small plates from the restaurant’s internationally themed menu to compliment our choices. Continue reading