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Sipping on Hello Kitty Wine

by Robyn Wyman-dill

Hello and welcome to 2017. Shall we commence with a quick reality check before we cultivate ourselves. As kind of a warm-up to the New Year.

Marking this calendar week, we have the raging United States of Russian relations and a storming Helena – spreading ice and snow across our vast nation. Like old
man winter sweeping across Red Square. Meanwhile, a cold, cold war – in the words of Nobel for Literature-Elect Bob Dylan ‘is blowing in the wind.’ (Does anybody really know when Bob Dylan is going to accept the award?) Okay. If life insists on imitating art badly, may I recast my presidential vote in favor of Princess Leia, posthumously, before it’s too late. She is someone who has proven to me that she can guide a ship to greener pastures with the goodness in her heart, a light saber by her side and a sassy sense of humor. Thank you, Carrie Fisher, for inspiring girls like me to think large. May the force be with you and your unsinkable mother, Debbie Reynolds. Salute. Cin cin. I raise my glass to you, sipping on Hello Kitty sparkling white wine…from the Lombardy region of Italy. Made with love by the Torti family.  At last. Read the rest of this entry »

West Greets East: A Week That Changed The World

written by Robyn Wyman-dill

How fast time travels as it heads into the final days of the month. Before we begin a new chapter, let’s reflect and be enriched by occasions worth remembering again. Among those bookmarked is the ‘Wedding of the Century’ on July 29, 1981. On that day, the lovely Lady Diana Spencer wed Prince Charles – bringing a fresh persona to the Royal Family. In turn, the Princess spoke to the hearts of the public around the world. Everyone seemed to agree for once. Diana was love. Four years after the Princess stepped into the public eye, she crossed the pond on her first official visit to America with her husband, Prince Charles. That’s when royal fever broke out in Washington DC.

The ‘Diana’ appeal was so highly infectious, everyone wanted an invitation to dinner. Meaning the White House dinner. The not-so-lucky ones? They traveled abroad. Henry Kissinger, Oscar de la Renta and Ahmet Ertegun, Co-Founder and President of Altanic Records, took their wives to China. In case you didn’t know it, Henry Kissinger is a really big deal in China. Really big.

What prompted me to go to China at exactly the same time was a photography book, Eve Arnold: In China, that I kept on my coffee table. An American photojournalist, Arnold’s images of Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Misfits (1961) and photograph of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy arranging flowers with Caroline(1961) had already cemented her reputation as a superb shooter. But, when she turned her lens on China, defining its beauty with pictures that spoke to your soul, I felt compelled to buy a camera(my first) and booked a tour to China. Read the rest of this entry »

The Marriage of Architecture and Dance

written by Robyn Wyman-dill

 

It’s Bastille week. When the flavors of France come out and dance in local bistros in celebration of Independence Day. Perhaps, it is the shared ideals of the French and American Revolutions and our common-colored flags – billowing in the wind with patriotic blue, white and red washes – that keep our French-American relationship evolving positively. And why the great portrait of Marquis Lafayette, a Frenchmen, has been hanging in the US House of Representatives chamber – since 1830. Over two centuries, the American-French cultural, historical and economic exchange has continued to get better.

Yes, indeed. The US has seen an immigration of the highest standard in terms of artistic enrichments from our French-speaking friends. Like Louisiana cuisine, Dijon mustard, French-trained chefs, exquisite French wines and Trader Joe’s pop-up sponges. While the lavendar fields of Provence cross the pond in soaps and fragances, the Tournées Festival brings contemporary French cinema to American college and university campuses every year so that more than 500,000 students can fall in love with French films. Oh la, la.

Lucky for Southern Californians, their weather seems to suit French creativity.

When Cirque de Soleil first came to LA, the company had just enough money to cover a one-way ticket for their performers. But, when Angelenos went to see them, they went wild. Their 1987 Los Angeles Arts Festival performance attracted the kind of critical attention that sent Hollywood a knocking. The French-Canadian powerhouse for theatre arts has been raising the bar on entertainment ever since. And then there’s dance.

If the gravitational waves could hear the sound of amazement rising in skies, it would be coming from audiences watching the dance company, Diavolo, founded by French Choreographer and Visionary, Jacques Heim. This company has been dazzling audiences around the world and re-envisioning modern dance in southern California for a quarter of a century. Read the rest of this entry »

Bistango and the Bastille Bash

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

It’s been a patriotic week. Sheathed in red, white and blue. Apparently, the sight of strips of loosely woven red, white and blue English wool bunting arouses flag-waving emotions in humans a lot. The proof is in the 36 countries around the world who have inspired their own people with a sense of national pride waving the red, white and blue flags on their behalf. The next red, white and blue flag bash is coming up on July 14, when France celebrates Bastille Day, (Which commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution back in 1789.) This is France’s Independence Day, folks. And because the French know how to celebrate life right, the occasion has turned into an international party. (New York, London, Sydney and LA host week-long events.) Just done the road, Bistango in Irvine will be honoring the French holiday with a special small plates menu and selection of rosés. In honor of freedom. Now doesn’t that sound like a lovely way to spend a summer’s day.

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Midsummer Hotspots for Fun

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

Now that we are moving into mid-month in the summer stretch, it is a fine time for celebrating outdoors. Last week, while Britain weighed out of the EU and then the MPs seceded too – by resigning their posts in large numbers – an outdoors tradition stayed calm and carried on without a hitch. Proving that in times of troubled waters, Royal Ascot and our habits help keep us on course.

Last week the ‘Top Hat & Thoroughbreds’ event saw the usual set of horse-loving Royals and my cousins – who were dining on poached salmon and drinking champagne on the scrappy lawn in the Royal Enclosure within striking distance of Her Majesty’s Special Guest Tent. (Being a members-only section of real estate, you have to cut the mustard to be afforded the chance to dine outdoors on the scrappy lawn within striking distance of Her Majesty’s Special Guests tent. This requires that you submit an application and be sponsored by a member first to be granted admission.) At Ascot, the dress code is excellent attire.While hats on parade are required. It’s very dignified, however. If you do attend you will see the most beautiful horses in the world strut their stuff around the racetrack and the Queen making her entrance with a carriage ride down the course. The only foible is the weather which can turn on you in a flash. Ruffling all that fussy plumage.

I remember fighting the wind with my over-sized hat when I attended Ascot. I never hated a hat so much as I did that hat after that day of struggling so hard to keep it on. Meanwhile the rest of my clothes were mounting a ‘war-drobe’ rebellion.When I wasn’t pulling my heels out of the ground, I was tackling with my jacket, trying to make it stretch. A feeling deep in my bones settled in on me. A feeling yearning for a blanket. I thought about southern California on the other side of the rainbow. “Where the Turf Meets the Sands,” 20 miles south of San Diego, I imagined Del Mar basking in the California sun as it prepares for its 79th season. The Del Mar Racetrack Opening Day will be held July 15, this year. It is a hat day to remember. One that is loaded with broad brims.   Read the rest of this entry »

PJ Morton and the Maroon 5 Sequel

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

For those of you who don’t know, PJ Morton came onboard Maroon 5 as a touring keyboardist in 2010. When Keyboard player, Jesse Carmichael, decided to take a hiatus in 2012, Morton sat in for him. That arrangement would pay off creatively for everyone involved.

When Carmichael returned to the group to record V two years later, he found he liked the way Morton’s soulful music fit with the band’s blend of modern R&B/Pop and decided to switch from keyboards to playing the guitar. As Maroon 5 began playing larger venues, Carmichael and the band saw the need for more backing-the-track fullness. It made sense to bring PJ Morton in to play keyboards on tour with Carmichael. Plus he’s a very creative and likable guy. Maroon 5 with PJ Morton are on the last lap of their World Tour in North America this Fall, performing in New Orleans on September 5, 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

Orlando On Parade

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

We begin this week in June in the aftermath of tragedy. Which, thankfully, has motivated a backlash of kindness. Let’s reflect for the moment. It is clear to us that an oily darkness is dimming our pockets of light. Attacking spaces where all kinds of people like to congregate for the sole purpose of feeling happy. Nothing wrong with that. I mean wanting to be happy. Now at the epicenter for family fun…the other OC(There are nine Orange counties in the US.)lies Orlando and it is loaded with more than a dozen theme parks, most notably Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. It is also the town where 49 people died in the deadliest mass murder in US history. And set off a tidal wave of bad luck. Read the rest of this entry »

Collision – At the Intersection of All Things Delicious in Technology

photographed and written by Robyn Wyman-dill

It’s May. Hard to believe my writing career began 5.5 years ago this month but it did when I got a job that came with the title of ‘Food Correspondent.’ Now if landing a dream job right out of the gates isn’t surreal enough stuff already, I had no experience writing restaurant reviews. Or, read a food review before. (Not even the internet crowd-sourced sites – like Zagat, Yelp, Chowhound and Urban Spoon.) I had seen those really bad photos people post of the meals they love – which curbed my appetite for dining out tremendously. But I was given a task and stepped up to the occasion. Because when someone believes in me, I do not let them down. This learning curve I decided to climb would change my world view of food forever. Shifting it to a view from the perspective of flavors. Flavors that excite and entice our imaginations to travel to exotic places from our kitchen table. Flavors that refine history and define culture and eras. Flavors that taste and smell and look good. Like Aunt Jemima syrup on an Aunt Jemima ready-made pancake stack. Or, smoked ribs served out of a barbecue truck parked on a French colonial-style street near my hotel in New Orleans. A city where I spent a fruitful week – feasting on a new generation of ideas at Collision Conference Orleans 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

Space Music

written by Robyn Wyman-dill

It’s April when the earth gives birth to Spring, the birds sing and everywhere smells like roses. Last week was a sweet week for my hometown, LA, when Kobe Bryant gave us everything he’s got, making history in his final game at the Staples Center. With the ease and grace of a champion. There were approximately 19,000 fans in the Staples Center house and over 8 million others watching remotely as the basketball legend proved how worthy he is of our love. (The Lakers trailed behind the Utah Jazz, a team that delivered some of the best team basketball that evening.) Scoring 60 points to finish with a 101-96 Lakers victory. Sealing his 20 year career with a most spectacular finale. While 55 years earlier, humans got their first taste of space when Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin became the first person to leave the atmosphere and return. Blazing a trail for generations eager to know the galaxy. Opening the door for more space westerns.

To boldly go where no one has gone before

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OC With A French Twist

Pascal Olhats

Pascal Olhats

written by Robyn Wyman-dill
It was supposed to be a much shorter stay for Normandy-born, Chef Pascal Olhats, who paid a visit to Orange County over 30 years ago, and never looked back – pioneering an under-developed culinary scene into the realm of excellence with signature dishes like – seabass au thym – while remaining true to French classics like – Normandy tart tatin and salade lyonnaise. Fast-forward to April 23, when The Newport Beach Film Festival presents an insider’s perspective from ‘our man with panache’ with the debut of La Tradition, a documentary biopic, tracing the evolution of Chef Olhats’ influence on the fine dining scene here. His narrative is the kind of stuff the ‘American Dream’ is made of. Read the rest of this entry »