Fabulous Places: Dining & Drinks Discovered in LA

diningdrinksdiscoveredla2016

Dining poolside, rosé all day, Sunday brunch, luxurious lunching during a world class horse show, food and wine festivals, even a retro tiki cocktail oasis revamped from the 1930's in the urban jungle of downtown. There have been many culinary and cocktail events with new dining experiences happening here in Los Angeles, such as supper club dinner theater shows, ramen pop-ups inside of restaurants, and other evolutions of dining. Here are a few of the most notable experiences you can find in Los Angeles and beyond.

viviane tablescape

We dined poolside at the end of summer to taste the Happy Hour Menu at Viviane, discreetly tucked away within the pastel-hued chic interior of the Avalon Hotel. Such an enchanted evening complete with a spread of white bean & black garlic hummus garnished with smoked chilies & sesame oilservedwith flatbread, sweet corn beignets with spicy heirloom pepper jam, crispy pomme frites with garlic aioli, oysters, charcuterie, and a few glasses of Cote du Rhone white wine and "M" rosé.

My favorite taste from the happy hour menu? Sweet corn beignets. 

fig toast
rose and fig toast at terrine

Speaking of rosé, this must have been the Summer of Rosé, because brunch on the patio at Terrinela was overflowing with pours of the pretty pink wine we love to drink down when it's hot outside. The brunch menu enticed us with fig toasts, tartines, grain bowls and egg dishes. I had the Eggs in Purgatory  (spicy tomato sauce, fennel pollen, basil, pecorino, crostini) and could not resist the Fig Toast (country bread, ricotta, hazelnuts, honey). He had the Scrapple Breakfast Sandwich (pork scrapple, sunny egg, American cheese) and a half dozen oysters. We lingered over our summer afternoon brunch well into the later remains of the day, as the dappled sunlight evoked the soft paint brushed colors of a Renoir painting.

My favorite taste from the brunch menu?Fig toast & ricotta paired with rosé. 

The Longines Masters in Los Angeles is an exclusive world class horse event where celebrities and equestrian culture surrounds the ring as top international riders compete during the Longines Speed Challenge, the Emirates Gold Cup, the Pro-Am for Charity, and the grand finale on Sunday, the Longines Grand Prix.

"The Longines Masters in Los Angeles delivers a unique experience, like no other sporting event anywhere in the world," explains Christophe Ameeuw, founder/CEO of EEM

longinesmastershorsejump

This was our second year attending the event as VIP guests in the dining area overlooking the course, as lunch was served from the menu crafted by two-star Michelin Chef Yves Mattagne. It's a special feeling to sit next to Bo Derek, savor a mouthful of buttery morels swathed in the creamiest potato purée that floats upon the tongue, all while marveling the graceful jump of a magnificent horse at the same moment. I could taste each and every flavor: European butter was clean on the palate, fresh sautéed morels melted in the mouth, laden with cream and potato (I skipped the meat served along with it, being vegetarian). Nothing could have been better than the morels; not the dessert, not the champagne, nor the wine.

My favorite taste this year?Morels with potato purée. 

longines steph lamborghini

Entering the Long Beach Convention Center, we were astounded by the Lamborghinis on display, while inside the Prestige Village, one can lust over gorgeous riding boots, Gucci handbags, fine art, and a myriad of beautiful things. We were escorted to our dining table and tasted the fine cuisine by Chef Mattagne during the Longines Grand Prix.

Equestrians and celebrities such as Bo Derek, Kaley Cuoco, Iggy Azalea, Melissa Rivers, William Shatner, James Caan, Nick Bateman, James Maslow, Jessica Springsteen, Georgina Bloomberg, Hannah Selleck, Destry Spielberg, Ariana Rockerfeller and Michael Maan sipped Barons de Rothschild champagne and enjoyed the elegant menu while watching the spectacular horse jumping show.

The Longines brand has been involved in horse racing and equestrian events since 1878. Today, Longines is the Official Partner and Official Timekeeper of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA). Longines Masters arrives in Paris this December 1st through 4th, 2016 and in Hong Kong on February 10th through 12th, 2017 for the grand finale of the event's season. If you are in Paris this December and Hong Kong next February, make sure you don't miss this event.

lafw-sake-shooters

Los Angeles Food & Wine is a stellar four-day epicurean event featuring tastes of LA's finest, including celebrity chefs such as Alex Guarnaschelli, Tyler Florence, Curtis Stone, Michael Chiarello, Michelle Bernstein, Thomas Keller, Elizabeth Falkner along with local LA chefs such as Ray Garcia, Michael Fiorelli, Neal Fraser and David Lefevre. We enjoyed the wine, grooved to De La Soul, and tasted many dishes. It was too much to juggle a camera, a glass of wine and a dish in hand, so pardon the above photo from last year's event. Best to enjoy everything anyway, as the tastes of Los Angeles were to be savored rather than badly photographed.

My favorite taste this year?A curry donut paired with a light Pinot Grigio. (Seems strange, but it paired nicely.)

Clifton's Pacific Seas mermaid

Pacific Seas at Clifton's Cafeteria

Clifton's in historic downtown L.A. is a Disneylandish portal into 1930's Los Angeles. (In fact, Clifton's inspired Walt Disney.) Enter by the soda fountain into this forest-themed cafeteria, complete with taxidermy wild animals (sad face) and a ginormous faux redwood tree soaring up the center of the place. We entered, aghast at the many things to look at, and marveled awhile before getting "lei'd" by the Hawaiian hula gals. Then we went up and up and up the many staircases to the Art Deco Map Room entry way into the Pacific Seas tiki lounge. On the way up, telephone booths, hidden doorways, plush velveteen settees, randomly perched peacocks (taxidermy is a weird fact here), balustrades, and glass cabinets of museum artifact doodads harkening back to the era when Clifton's was in full swing.

It's almost like being in a film noir Alice in Wonderland with all the surreal surrounds of a bygone era. Writer Ray Bradbury had his own booth at Clifton's. And don't look now, but there's a stuffed grizzly bear staring while you sip a cocktail. What in the Sam Hill? There's a giant meteorite perched upon the counter within the Gothic Bar.

Pacific Seas dancers

We snuck through the looking glass door at the very top level of Clifton's to the Tikilandia of Gilligan's Island dreams: Pacific Seas. A mermaid sang á la Mazzy Star while strumming her ukelele. Polynesian dancers did all kinds of crazy hula moves as we stood in line for a nifty Singapore Sling. (Friends, please don't get the idea that this is an ordinary cafeteria, because it's not.) I cannot wait to bring my kids for a bite at the cafeteria downstairs so they can see how cool and crazy this place is, but meanwhile, the Pacific Seas at Clifton's sinks Trader Vic's right into the Davy Jones' Locker. Oh, what am I saying? Skip the jello and mashed potatoes. I'll leave the kids at home and go grab a tiki cocktail instead. The menu is still in the planning, but you can expect pu-pu platters, ribs and shrimp cocktails served with your Mai Tai.

My favorite drink at Pacific Seas?Singapore Sling.