Friday, April 29, 2011
The Daintree is the oldest living rainforest in the world at over 110 million years, and it is teaming with primordial plants and animals that only exist as fossils elsewhere in the world, like the colorful cassowary (picture the bird from Pixar's Up).
The lodge is right in the heart of the forest (though easily accessible by road from Port Douglas and Cairns), and has rooms on stilts so they're way up in the treetops. Nothing too fancy, but the rooms are clean and nice (and air conditioned!), the restaurant makes fantastic use of indigenous ingredients like barramundi and lemon myrtle, and there are tons of things to do from snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, to guided jungle walks, to treetop ziplining, to spear-fishing and crocodile-spotting and more.
Read all about it in my piece below.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
The lodge only opened the first week in April, so I was among the first journalists to see it and stay in one of the tricked eco-cabins, or "habitats," as they're called. They were actually part of another hotel in the Queensland outback that went defunct, then the habitats and the main lodge building were all taken apart, moved 1,700 miles away, and reassembled as Wildman. They're calling it the first recycled luxury hotel in the world.
Apart from the lodge itself, this is Crocodile Dundee country at its finest, and we got to do things like air boating across the marshes, hiking to Aboriginal rock paintings, and going on guided bush walks...not to mention the gourmet dinners and evenings around the fire pit.
Read all about this fabulous new place (and it's only 90 minutes' drive from Darwin) in my story at the link below.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I'm actually surprised I haven't written a Cubicle Dreamin' piece on it because I've wanted to visit it since I first read about it opening way back in 2008 in Conde Nast Traveler.
It's on the southern coast of South Australia's wildlife paradise of Kangaroo Island (which I was supposed to visit last year, but I got sick), right along the edge of a clifftop looking out over the sea toward Antarctica. Nothing like it was on the island before, and indeed, it's been a benchmark property for Australia in general, setting a new standard (and a new possibility for) luxury in the country's far-flung, unspoiled places.
I love it when I get to visit a property I've only dreamt about...especially when it lives up to the fantasy. Find out more about my stay by checking out my story below.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I get to stay at a lot of fabulous properties, especially on my trips to Australia, but this truly was one of the most special of them all. Find out why when you read my article at the link below.
Monday, April 25, 2011
I went back to Australia last month for ATE 2011, the big travel convention where I get to meet with all the hotel, airline and tour operator folks Down Under for a week. I stuck around Australia pretty much for the month of April, and got around to some fabulous hotels and destinations, so I wrote a week-long HotelChatter series on the most interesting places I got to stay.
This year, ATE was held in Sydney, so the New South Wales pre-trips included one to a fabulous, isolated little island halfway between Australia and New Zealand called Lord Howe Island. I stayed at the Arajilla Retreat and Spa, so that's what I write about here, though LHI is too special a place not to go into detail, so you can also read about all the quirky, wonderful features that set this World Heritage island apart in my story at the link below.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
However, the guys behind the stove and the bar are two well known LA fixtures, chef Kris Morningstar, and "barsmith" Michel Dozois, and they're doing their thing, right at home immediately.
In addition to the buzz surrounding a restaurant opening, though, they're also barraging us foodies with a slew of specials, including this tribute to the late, great Elizabeth Taylor that coincides with a photography exhibition at the museum.
Take a look at my story, complete with mentions of the special dishes and some of the standout signature menu items at the link below.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
John Sedlar's new restaurant took over the old Grace space on Beverly Boulevard, and is called Playa. It's meant to reflect Southern California's upscale beach-based lifestyle, though the food is much more Pacific Rim and spice trade-y than that would suggest. Lots of Latin staples on the menu, but spiced up with Indian and Asian flavors.
Take a look at the dishes I ate, plus a roundup of my recent favorite pork belly dishes from around LA in my review at the link below!
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
If you're an avid surfer, or just have an unholy fascination with the movie Endless Summer (hey, who hasn't wanted to take off for a year to be a surf bum searching across the globe for the next big wave?), and you have a wad of extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, this is definitely the experience you've been waiting for: you actually get to go out surfing with one of the film's stars (Robert August) for a day, then talk it all over with cocktails and appetizers at the hotel that evening.
Did that pique your interest? Take a look at my full story with all the details at the link below.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Here, there's more than just steak though (hence the pizza photo)--there's pasta, salads, all kinds of great grilled stuff, and some lovely desserts. You can read my review at the link below, or just take a look at the text I've pasted in.
“I want people to come, sit down, relax and know they’ll be taken care of,” says Craig Susser of the philosophy behind his eponymous restaurant on Melrose.
Susser, whom you might recognize from his many years as maître d’ at Dan Tana’s, exalts the sense of community that has packed the new restaurant with regulars from the day it opened. “They molded me, taught me how they want to be treated, and Craig’s is a direct result of that.” Even his chef, Robbie Sarstedt (a veteran of Spago and Boa), grew up in the neighborhood, on Sunset and Doheny.
The restaurant’s expansive teal booths, brick walls with wood paneling and hand-built mahogany bar lend the dining room a Mad Men aesthetic that harkens to an earlier age of fine dining, as does the classically continental menu. Standards include a Green Goddess salad, shrimp cocktail and a steak filet with blue-cheese ravioli. There are also wood-fired pizzas and entrées such as chicken Parmigiana and al dente cavatelli with prosciutto-vodka sauce.
You could opt for the cheesecake or apple pie à la mode for dessert, but once you see the bananas Foster over chocolate waffles, there’s really no other choice. 8826 Melrose Ave., LA; craigs.la
Friday, April 15, 2011
It takes over the last empty space in the Sunset and Vine building across from the ArcLight, and features not only a menu of insane (and delicious) burger options, but also a full list of alcoholic milkshakes and desserts that will test even the soberest sweet tooths out there. You can read my review online at the link, or just check out the text below.
Claiming the last ground-floor space in the soaring Sunset Vine Tower, Go Burger doesn’t look like your average burger joint. Instead, it has high ceilings, ebony-walnut and white-oak paneling and a bar serving old-fashioned bottle sodas as well as cocktails, wine and beer. What else would you expect from the enterprising folks behind the BLT restaurants?
Black Angus burger iterations include the bunfree Sunset Stripper with arugula, marinated cherry tomatoes, pickled shallots and an olive-cornichon remoulade. The Kobe Dog is garnished with spicy German mustard and pickled jalapeños. But the cholesterol-boosting signature sandwich is the behemoth UltiMelt: a hamburger patty topped with caramelized onions and bacon between two grilled Gruyère cheese sandwiches on rye.
Sides and starters are equally obscenely decadent, especially the duck-fat fries, beer batter-fried dill pickles with ranch-chili paprika dipping sauce, and waffle fries topped with cheddar, sour cream, bacon and pickled jalapeños.
Desserts don’t disappoint either. Made with chocolate-chip cookiedough ice cream and Chips Ahoy!, the Cookie Monster milk shake is a sweetly innocent treat, while in the “Spiked Milkshakes” section, the Aztec Mocha is a naughty concoction of Herradura Silver tequila, coffee ice cream, cayenne pepper and chocolate syrup. Now that’s a sweet ending. 6290 Sunset Blvd., LA; goburger.com
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Ah well, now the guys behind Italian favorite Ado have taken over and converted it into a little slice of "Hollywood on the Westside," complete with fire pits, seasonal drinks, wood-fired pizzas and more. check it out at the link, or read the text of my article below.
We’re all about hybrids: fuel-efficient cars, celebrity nicknames and especially bar-lounge-restaurants like 31Ten on Santa Monica’s Main Street. Ado partners Paolo Cesaro and chef Antonio Muré have renovated Caché Restaurant & Lounge, transforming it into 31Ten, “a Hollywood nightclub for Santa Monica,” as Cesaro puts it. The dining tables have been replaced by leather furniture and bar counters, a central fire pit, an indoor-outdoor bar and three private cabanas.
Muré showcases his kitchen skills with such starters as warm lobster salad with shaved asparagus in a white-wine and black-truffle vinaigrette, and main courses including bacon-wrapped sea scallops on rosemary skewers served over braised cauliflower. But he also simplifies things with a selection of crispy wood-fired pizzas (the only food available after 10:30 PM). There’s a full Italian-dominated wine menu, but the experience here is more about the regularly updated all-organic cocktail list; recent specials have included the Californication, made with vodka, St-Germain, Thai basil, black grapes, pomegranate juice and Prosecco. There’s also bottle service for those looking to make a night of it on the Westside. 31Ten is open Wednesday through Saturday, with DJs after 10 PM and a bimonthly Beatles cover band. Guess Hollywood really has moved west. 3110 Main St., Santa Monica; 31tenlounge.com
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Membership in the WIP program is opening up in May, and is a once-a-year opportunity, so take a look at my post and be sure to apply before the application period ends!
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Though chef Tim Goodell also is the dude flipping burgers over at the hotel's popular 25 Degrees hamburger restaurant, he's also got a lighter touch, which he puts to fine use here, with a lovely menu of continental dishes.
Take a look at my full review on Frontiers IN/LA at the link below!
For my second article, I talk about the wine and spirits every guy should be stocking at home, with advice and suggestions from a good friend of mine on LA's wine scene, David Haskell, a.k.a. "The Wine Pimp."
You may remember him from my recent JustLuxe article on the pop-up restaurant he's been hosting with chef Joseph Mahon, called Magnum Crew.
This time we talk about life as a pop-up restaurateur, his favorite spirits, and why you should be packing a fridge full of champagne for impromptu get-togethers and game days. Cheers!
Monday, April 4, 2011
It's a slick new Asian eatery from Sang Yoon, the man behind the perennially popular Father's Office mini-chain of upscale burger joints in Santa Monica and Culver City.
Now he's getting back to his roots and cooking up a tantalizing menu of updated Asian classics accompanied by an intriguing wine list by sommelier Eduardo Porto Carreiro.
I had a fantastic time at dinner there--though the bill can get racked up pretty quickly--and here's the quick write-up I did for the magazine's dining section cover page. You read it online at the link I've included, or see the text below.
Sang Yoon has been feeding Westside hipsters burgers and sweet potato fries at Father’s Office for years, but now he’s opened Lukshon, an upscale, minimalistically slick Asian eatery in the Helms Bakery District, where devotees devour dishes including chicken pops spiced with Sichuan salt and garlic, and tongue-tingling dan dan noodles with Kurobuta pork, sesame, mustard greens, peppercorns and peanuts. We’d begin our meal with the creamy foie gras ganache with carob, cinnamon, puffed rice and tamarind gastrique. Actually, we’d start with a sip from the intriguing (and heavily Central European) wine list Eduardo Porto Carreiro manages, or the Fujian Cure cocktail with Isle of Skye Scotch whisky, lemon, galangal and lapsang souchong black tea—preferably on the front patio. 3239 Helms Ave., Culver City
Friday, April 1, 2011
The new Caviar 101 class will be held on the first Thursday of every month, and participants will get to taste through four of the famous house's different caviar, accompanied by champagne, vodka, and little nibbles by Chef Giselle Wellman.
So if you love the fancy black stuff, but don't know much about it, this is a great chance to learn more about caviar from one of the world's finest purveyors...and all for just $35 per person. Find all the details in my article at the link below!