A Deluxe Coffee Experience in Santa Monica

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Having missed my morning coffee before going on an audition, I asked Siri to find a local coffee shop. The closest one, with good reviews, that popped up was Funnel Mill on Broadway Avenue near 10th Street in Santa Monica.

Not knowing what to expect, I found a welcoming, warm entrance. Off to the right from the entrance is a sitting area, with low, wide leather chairs with armrests, mixed in among wooden tables and chairs. The sitting area is separated somewhat from the rest of the shop by curtains.

The main part of the shop is long and narrow, with the coffee prep station on the left, with a dark brown wood bar where patrons can sit and watch their lattes and cappuccinos being prepared. More tables and chair filled the right. And decorating the back wall is a coffee syphon station, with long glass tubes that slowly drips custom coffee for a pricey cup.

Confused by the menu at first (a woman standing next to me was not sure about the menu offerings as well) I ordered a cafe latte ($5.75), sat at the wood counter and watched while the espresso for my latte was carefully pressed, the milk steamed and frothed, and an artful mounding of the foam took place. Watching it being made was perhaps more pleasurable than the drink itself, which was very fine by coffee standards. My standards, anyway.

The Funnel Mill sells and brews what they state on their website as “rare single estates of coffee beans and tea.”

My spinach croissant, was basic. But as I noted, watching the activity and care of those making these coffee delicacies, was more interesting than my fare.

Whether $9 (for single-estate biodynamic syphon brewed coffee) is worth a cup of Joe, is up to the palate of the coffee drinker.

Funnel Mill Address: 930 Broadway, Ste A, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Canoga Park’s Parisian Delight

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Craving a delicious café latte one late Saturday morning, a friend introduced me to a jewel in the middle of Canoga Park.

Pastries by Edie has been located on Sherman Way near Owensmouth for 14 years, but I have never noticed it. Tucked away in a dark recess, it is located directly across from another favorite of mine, Henri’s restaurant  and bar.

Entering the pastry shop and café, tables and chairs are surrounded by dark blue walls on one side and on the other, painted images of Parisians streets. Continue reading “Canoga Park’s Parisian Delight”

Beer Flights and Furious Seven

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A beer flight sitting before a rock firepit/bar at The Rack in Woodland Hills, CA.

A movie ticket to see “Furious 7” cost $13.69 . For nearly fourteen bucks what you get is 2 hours of a constant barrage of clashing metal, expensive cars flying through buildings, hulking actors on steroids, the obvious passing of time evidenced by the actors who have lasted throughout all seven “Fast and Furious” movies, and a touching ending, a tribute to actor Paul Walker who died before the movie was finished.

My friend wanted to see it, and I was convinced that a movie about racing cars and revenge might be at least slightly entertaining after hearing a reporter on NPR say she loved it. For some, the loud, action-packed movie may well be worth $14. For me, if weren’t  for the ending, I would’ve called the two hours a loss.

However, a stop at The Rack, a local restaurant, bar and billiards house next to the AMC 16 theater in Woodland Hills, before the movie helped me endure the next two hours.

My friend and I enjoyed a flight of four, 4-ounce beers, and spicy buffalo wings. We tasted a variety of craft beers, such as the Davey Brown Ale, which has a slight nutty, chocolatey flavor with a touch of brightness. The flight cost $8, more than reasonable for a Friday night out.

The spicy buffalo wings were a perfect transition between the various beers. It was the first time I think I’ve ever had chicken wings at a restaurant that actually looked like chicken wings.

While I am being a bit harsh about the seventh incarnation of the Furious series, which is now listed as one of the top 10 highest grossing movies of all time, I did find some of Tyrese Gibson’s glib lines funny, and one particular CGI action scene — it takes place in Dubai — a pretty cool one. I just prefer action movies with a little more story behind them.

Next time, after a flight of beers at The Rack, I’ll stick around for some billiards instead of the movies.

How to Navigate a Food Festival

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If you’ve ever been to a food festival, where the beverages are flowing and the food is seems unlimited, you’ve most likely rushed to the first food-laden tables and wine offerings, downing everything in sight. For goodness sake you wouldn’t want to miss out on any of it, and be left hungry and thirsty!

 

Gorge Restaurant Chefs Elia Aboumard and Uyen Nguyen teach Food Event goers how to make sausage.

Continue reading “How to Navigate a Food Festival”

Celebrating Robert Mondavi with Delicious Wine & Food

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Robert Mondavi, the pioneer of California winemaking, would have been 100 years old this year. He may no longer be with us, but his legacy–the Robert Mondavi Winery–lives on with his family.

His widow Margrit Mondavi, who is the vice president of cultural affairs at Robert Mondavi Winery, was on hand at a special dinner prepared by Chef John Sedlar of Rivera Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles to honor the life and legacy of Robert Mondavi.

Sedlar is a longtime friend of the winemaking couple, having met them when he participated in the Great Chefs of Robert Mondavi Winery program, the first winery-culinary program in the United States, in 1988. Sedlar and Margrit told tales of kayaking  together, 16  people in all, with 18 cases of Mondavi wine, and feasting on culinary meals prepared by Sedlar by candlelight on the shores of Snake River.

As Margrit said, “Memories of wine and food bring us together.”

Margrit also spoke of how her late husband was ahead of his time when building his first winery. “With his passion, with his focus, with his pursuit of excellence, he knew  quite early on that we could make wine in Napa Valley.”

Mondavi produced his first harvest in 1966, and created his signature Fume Blanc, recreated from Sauvignon Blanc, in 1967. Since the early days, the Mondavis were behind the culinary and wine movement for which Napa is now known. He was a great promoter of the winemaking region, and was willing to help anyone who asked, Margrit said.

“He promoted Napa to the nth degree,” his brother Peter Mondavi wrote in tribute to his elder brother. “He did more for Napa than anyone.”

To celebrate this legacy of wine and food, Sedlar prepared a special menu that included surprising combinations and textures. Under the dish labeled Mariscos, a dollop of slightly puréed green lentils, broccoli, and celery mixed with chunks of tender scallops looked like guacamole, but with a light flavor and slightly creamy texture interrupted by the scallops. It also had a strong spicy kick . Margrit’s response to the dish: “I like heat.”

Scallops with lentils, broccoli, and celery. A dish prepared by Chef John Sedlar of Rivera Restaurant. Dishes were served on plates that depicted images of winemaker Robert Mondavi throughout his career.

The Salmon Mousse Tamal with the Cacahuate Salsa was another favorite. The tamal was the perfect texture–not too dry and not too wet–and the salmon was not overpowering.

Salmon Mousse Tamal with Cacahuate Salsa. A dish prepared by Chef John Sedlar of Rivera Restaurant. Dishes were served on plates that depicted images of winemaker Robert Mondavi throughout his career.

The wines paired with the evening’s meal included a 2011 Fume Blanc Oakville, which was light and fresh, with just enough body to complement the tamal, and a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve that, despite its youthfulness, was full-bodied with a smooth finish.

Rivera Restaurant was the perfect fit to celebrate Mondavi’s birthday and legacy, given the long and close relationship between Sedlar and the Mondavis, as well as the level of cuisine and classy, yet comfortable ambiance.

More information about Rivera. More information about Robert Mondavi Winery.