Restaurants

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 »

Sea Sights

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill
We are in the mid-stretch of the Olympic Games. Where dreams are gold in Rio. In the excitement of champions being made, Dream Team USA inspires a new generation. As Michael Phelps moves through the water like a dolphin in a speedo. Since 776 BC, when the Ancient Greeks held their first Olympiad, the games have been a part of human history. (Although it is believed the games were held earlier, the first written records of the ancient Olympic Games date back to 776 BC, when a cook named Coroebus won the only event of the games – a 192-meter footrace called the stade (the origin of the modern “stadium”) and became the first Olympic champion). Over the next 12 centuries, the Games expanded, adding other athletic events up until AD 393, when Emperor Theodosius I decided to shut them down. Just because he thought they were too ‘pagan’.

Of course, the Olympics did rise again. But, not until the late 1800s.  The first modern Olympics was held in 1896, in Athens, Greece. Thanks to Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France,who founded the International Olympic Committee.

Now, while the world was watching the Games in Rio last week, I was making friends with sea horses. I know that sounds a little odd – considering seahorses or “horse sea monsters” are mainly found in seagrass beds, estuaries, coral reefs, and mangroves, and not on city streets where my car likes to roam. I suspect any connection to the Olympics may appear a bit far-fetched to you too. However, as it turns out, seahorses are world record holders. They are considered to be the slowest-moving fish on the planet. Being that they are such well below average swimmers, they tend to rest a lot. Usually, at the bottom with their prehensile tail wrapped around a stationary object.  It is a bit of an odd fish – as fishes go. 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

How to Play the Game of Life

photos and blog by Robyn Wyman-Dill

What fascinates me most about my job as a journalist is the personal journeys people take to fulfill their life’s expression. It’s like a fingerprint the way a person plays the game of life. No two are identical. Read the rest of this entry »

In Funober Month

by Robyn Wyman-Dill

October is kind of a rich, toasty, full-bodied, coppered-colored month for many people around the world. Largely because it is loaded with Oktoberfests from start to finish. The Bavarian-style merriment gets re-created in places like – Argentina, Australia, Sri Lanka, Palestine, South Africa and hundreds of cities throughout Canada and the US – every year.  In celebration of German beer.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Queen, A Prince and His Beautiful Pharaoh

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

With the calendar now inching deeper into fall season, I would like to bid adieu to my favorite month of the year in the western hemisphere – September.  Which I remember ended on a good note.  Thank you. Read the rest of this entry »

Taco Talk

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

Some weeks seem to shine the light on our world mess better than others. Not because the special interests, religions and ideologies in the world are any more hell bent on multiplying their ranks – by dividing and conquering – than usual.  It’s more a feeling I get that intelligent signs of life have exited the building. Leaving behind no forwarding address. Which makes me hunger for the biggest common denominator and ultimate peacemaker – comfort food. According to psychological studies -this may be consumed for the purpose of positively piquing emotions. Replacing negative vibes with positive feelings. Read the rest of this entry »

Tito La Brea and the Velvet Underdogs

blog by Robyn Wyman-dill

I have an artist friend named Ray who coined the name Tito La Brea (which means giant tar pits in English)for a series of paintings he did in the 90s. We have been good friends for 15 years.

Last weekend, we discovered a pocket of Provence at a corner restaurant called Bistro de la Gare in South Pasadena. Over our sumptuous eggs florentine, Ray shared that his synonym, Tito La Brea, had a Facebook page.  That intrigued me.  For the next hour we sat – undisturbed – on the patio, while Ray told me the story behind the masked wrestlers he painted on velvet for the iconic El Carmen restaurant – where tequila and tacos have been served for a quarter of a century or more. Read the rest of this entry »

In the Mix

by Robyn Wyman-Dill

Along southern California’s coastline, toes are tapping to the beat of night music this week.  There’s summer concerts in the parks almost every night, stirring up the dust with happy feet.

Last eve, The Ritz-Carlton/Laguna Niguel rolled out the red carpet for doggie night on Dana Lawn.  Yappy Hour is a monthly event for a ‘pedigree’ crowd and their devoted companions. (With the Hotel’s 4.5 star service in attendance to pamper the guests with assorted biscuits and treats. Bacon, cheese, chicken, meat and liver flavored waters were also on tap. The proceeds are slated for the Wounded Veterans Initiative of Canine Companions for Independence and Canine Companion’s Southwest Region puppy raising program.) While next door in Bluff Park,  Moonsville Collective was sending a string medley – rooted in American music –  across a silver and blue ocean.  Bound for Catalina.  As the pink sky fades to black, a feeling of carefree blows in the wind.

I decide to make a blue cheese grilled sandwich. Read the rest of this entry »