A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘pinot noir’

Sisters of Los Angeles

In Design, Drink, Fashion, Food on December 15, 2012 at 11:22 am

SOLApencilsHere’s a smart idea. If you want something done, ask someone who’s busy. If you want something done well, ask three working women with kids. Such is the story of SoLA—Sisters of Los Angeles—founded by architect Barbara Bestor, designer Karen Alweil, and fashion publicist Sara Stein, all of whom are moms. This summer, the trio launched their colorful SoLA collection of groovy goods, which highlight those places most sacred to Angelenos—neighborhoods, canyons, beaches and, yes, our freeways—and L.A. design at its best, or what Bestor describes as “Southern California nature and street culture, kustom kars, Ed Ruscha sunsets, Griffith Park flora, printed materials blown up.”

It’s all so, so good! Scroll down for a Q&A with the stylish sisters, but first my picks for any last-minute holiday shopping on your list. You can find SoLA’s goods at Kitson, Ron Robinson – Fred Segal, The Getty, MOCA, The Downtown Library, Venokado, Firefly in Venice, and Yolk.

SOLAcanyon glassesI love these Canyon Rocks Glasses, handmade in Los Angeles using organic ink. Or how about Santa using one of these oversized Hollywood totes to deliver presents this year?

SOLAbagIf I were Santa, I’d skip the milk and cookies and hope that a plateful of SoLA’s gorgeous Valerie Confections Chocolate Candy Bars (particularly the dark cherry and chocolate, available at Venokado in Santa Monica and West Hollywood) had been left by the mantle with a wee dram of Talisker…


How did SoLA begin?

Barbara: I had lunch with Sara and Karen at Little Dom’s and we had a lot of iced tea and got very excited and that was that!

Favorite Los Angeles canyon?

Sara: I love Runyon Canyon—it is a place for people and their dogs (I have two rescues LUKE & LEIA). And just like all the best places in LA., you never know who you might see. But Beachwood is near & dear to my heart. I escaped there after a bad breakup—it is a place to disappear and redefine yourself.

Barbara: Elysian Park

Karen: Too hard to pick just one. Mailbu for the beach. Laurel reminds me of my childhood. Benedict because it is so much fun to drive and explore.

What piece of clothing or accessory is in heaviest rotation right now?

Sara: Saltwater Sandals & Superga Sneakers & Rachel Loren earrings my husband gave me.


Barbara: Roman Kremer for Camper wedges, Isabel Marant zipper jacket

camper wedges

Karen: Grey Blazer from Uniqlo, Rachel Comey wedges and an FFS necklace

ffs vulcanite necklace

What five things will we always find in your closet?

Sara: Muji Striped Sweater, Odd Molly tops, Matta dresses, Madewell t-shirts & white denim (I never met a white jean I did not like)

madewell t-shirt

Barbara: fancy tshirts black, fancy tshirts navy blue, black jeans, leather bracelet, dark jackets

Karen: dark denim jeans, Matta dresses, blazers, always in search of the perfect t-shirt and always a pair of platforms


What five things will we always find in your refrigerator?

Sara: Manchego cheese, 1% organic milk, red grapes, my mom’s salad dressing, Fage yogurt with honey

Barbara: sharp cheddar, avocados, 2%milk, iced decaf coffee—homemade, apples

Karen: Salami, salami, cheese, more cheese—stinkier the better, and iced tea

Favorite piece of luggage?

Sara: my husband is the traveler so I steal from him whatever I can

Barbara: Clare Vivier leather travel bag (actually I don’t have one yet but I ASPIRE to have one, in navy blue, and then I can be fabulous).

clare vivier duffle

Karen: Flight 001 Spacepaks


Five things you always bring on vacation…

Sara: My children Noah & Maggie, the game Apples to Apples, my iPad, Dr. Robin Sun Screen (for the kids and me), my running shoes


Barbara: Bea and Charlotte—my teen queens, books, tennis stuff, too much weight in my suitcase

Karen: My husband Daniel, my son Gabriel, music, ipad, magazines and of course too many shoes

SoLA iPad cases, image via apartmenttherapy.com

SoLA iPad cases at YOLK, image via apartmenttherapy.com

Favorite cocktail?

Sara: Hitching Post “Cork Dancer” Pinot Noir

Barbara: vodka soda or maybe a dark and stormy if I am on Block Island

Karen: Kettel one straight up with a twist

i love l.a. because…

Sara: I can BBQ my Thanksgiving turkey in shorts and a t-shirt! (and I do it every year as you know with my dad’s Red River BBQ Sauce)

Barbara: it is the funnest place to live and the most creative place I know.

Karen: It’s home and the most beautiful and inspiring place all year long

Thanksgiving Wines

In Drink on November 24, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Q: How do you please a Champagne addict, White Burgundy loyalist, Pinot Noir enthusiast, Riesling devotee and vodka drinker who are breaking bread together at the Thanksgiving table?

A: You don’t.

I’ve given up trying to please everyone with just one bottle because it’s futile. Plus, I don’t know about your Thanksgiving table, but at mine the wine disappears pretty quickly so it’s a safe bet that if a few different bottles are open someone will polish them off. And, after reading my friend Patrick Comiskey’s article on dividing and conquering with Thanksgiving wines over on Zesterdaily.com, I’m feeling emboldened. So this year, I’m uncorking a cornucopia, if you will, of wines and people can have at it as they will. The line-up will look something like this.

2007 Schramsberg Brut Rose ($35). This Napa Valley sparkling pink is one that everyone at the table agrees on. I love the bright cherry notes and it is a beautiful wine with turkey. And given that my family lives in the Napa Valley, it’s a little nod to home.

2008 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Riesling, $19. This is a great wine for the meal—crisp acidity to cut through all the richness of the food, and gorgeous mineral and peach flavors. And it won’t break the bank if you need a couple bottles.

Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault ($ You don’t want to know). Typically there is a bottle of White Burgundy designated for my father’s use and nobody is allowed to touch it. That’s okay, I’m usually hoarding my Riesling.

2008 Ponzi Reserve Pinot Noir ($60). This one is my sister’s favorite, and I have to say I wouldn’t kick it out of my glass either. At all.

Dinner in the Grand (Beachwood) Canyon

In Drink, Food on February 22, 2010 at 11:27 am

After a week up in St. Helena, we got back to LA on Saturday afternoon just in time to head to a southwestern flavored dinner party that night at newlyweds Lizzie and Matt’s. Any dinner party that starts with Crabbies (a family recipe involving microwaved Old English cheese, mayo and English muffins) and Iron Horse bubbly from Sonoma is something worth saddling up for. I’m livid that I forgot my camera so that I couldn’t surreptitiously snap photos of their gorgeous Beachwood Canyon apartment so I did what any polite guest would do and snagged Lizzie’s new Canon Powershot G10 a clicked a few of the food. But back it up, let’s start with the reclaimed Douglas Fir and Hemlock dining table from District Mill Works:

Beautifully set with these chic ash-colored porcelain dishes from Mud. (Not surprising for a hostess who writes a blog called DESIGNwatcher) And look at how gorgeous the plates are loaded with cheesy grits, crispy kale, green chili cornbread and chile-spiced ribs:

Here are a few pics that Lizzie shared, starting with Matt and the braise for the Braised Chile Spiced Short Ribs.

Matt was in charge of the wine and we went from a Sea Smoke Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills (be very, very jealous) to a velvety Nickel & Nickel Sullenger Cabernet Sauvignon (why we love California Cabernet), ending with apple pie and Sauternes for some and Oban for others. And near amputation for the hostess, but I’ll let Lizzie tell you about that. I’ll leave you, instead, with a few pretty close-ups of the food:

Thank you, Lizzie + Matt!

French Onion Soup, Old School Edition

In Food, Recipes on November 9, 2009 at 5:55 pm

french onion soup

Last week over lunch at Café Midi my sister was tempted to order the French onion soup. It isn’t their most winning menu item, so I suggested that instead we try making our own for dinner on Saturday night (taking a page out of Julia Child and a break from the week of pork – more on that later).

soupe a l'oignon

We went to Surfas where we picked up some Gruyère—a cheese so extravagant that I was compelled to rip the $23 price tag off it before my husband came home, only to blurt out a confession moments after he walked in the door because (a) I went to Catholic school and can’t stand the guilt and (b) am the world’s worst liar. Oh and (c) it’s not nice to lie to your husband, for better or for worse, etc!


This soup’s superb complexity comes from a couple hours of slow-cooking onions and simmering. And of course the quality of ingredients. I used vermouth instead of white wine and equal parts veal stock and beef stock for added richness, also picked up at Surfas. I love using vermouth; it gives that nostalgic note that reminds me of my grandmother’s best dishes, which I’m guessing relied heavily on Julia.

veal stock

And then, the best part: that nutty, slightly sweet Gruyere that I could (and did) eat all on its own. Here’s Julia’s recipe. Follow it to the letter of the law and you seriously won’t believe that something this good could come from a home kitchen.

Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child

For 6 to 8 servings [Foodinista’s note: this serves more like 4 as a main course]

The onions for an onion soup need a long, slow cooking in butter and oil, then a long, slow simmering in stock for them to develop the deep, rich flavor which characterizes a perfect brew. You should therefore count on 2 1/2 hours at least from start to finish. Though the preliminary cooking in butter requires some watching, the actual simmering can proceed almost unattended.

1 1/2 pounds or about 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions, plus 1 tablespoon grated onion

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon oil [Foodinista note: used olive oil]

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar (helps the onions to brown)

3 tablespoons flour

2 quarts boiling brown stock [Foodinista note: used 1/2 veal stock + 1/2 beef stock]

1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth [Foodinista note: used dry vermouth]

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons cognac

12 to 16 slices French baguette cut 3/4- to 1-inch thick

2 ounces Swiss cheese cut into very thin slivers + 1 1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese

Cook the sliced onions slowly over low heat with the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed, covered saucepan for 15 minutes.


Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.

onions flour

Remove from heat, and blend in boiling stock. Add wine or vermouth, and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes or more, skimming occasionally. Correct seasoning. Add cognac, 1 tablespoon grated onions, and 2 ounces cheese slivers.

broth cheese

While soup is simmering, make croutons by placing bread in one layer in a roasting pan and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for about half an hour, until it is thoroughly dried out and lightly browned. Halfway through baking, brush with olive oil. After baking, each piece may be rubbed with garlic.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Pour soup into ramekins or oven-proof bowls. Float rounds of toasted bread on top, and sprinkle grated cheese over.

french onion soup

Bake for 20 minutes, then for a minute or two under broiler to brown the top lightly. Serve immediately with a glass of red Burgundy. We went with a 2007 Drouhin Côtes-du-Nuits Villages at a relatively cheerful $19.99.

soupe a l'oignon gratinee

Sunset in Yosemite

In Drink, Food on June 1, 2009 at 9:26 pm


It stormed most of the weekend in Yosemite, starting right about when we were atop Nevada Falls on Friday morning and not letting up until Sunday morning when we were packing up to leave. The moody weather made for some spectacular lighting. Above is a shot of Half Dome right at sunset on Saturday night. And below are our storm supplies:

IMG_2227IMG_2228Let’s just say that all emergency kits should include a bottle of Ponzi Pinot and some Fra’ Mani salametto picante.

Dinner Party Envy

In Food on April 27, 2009 at 8:32 am

terrineSaturday night we went to what has to be one of the best dinner parties in memory at our friends Katie and Matt’s. Let’s just say that when one of your fellow guests shows up with vacuum-sealed terrines of pheasant pâté—made with pheasants he hunted on his father-in-law’s ranch in Oregon and topped with thinly shaved black truffles, which we enjoyed with a Louis Bouillot sparkling rosé—that the bar has been set pretty high. But yet rise to the occasion our hostess did. Yours truly did not wish to be rude by showing up with camera in hand, so I’ll simply describe the menu to you here. I’ll be cribbing parts of it this weekend when my sister is in town to visit Tiny G.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Porcini Mustard

Balsamic-Marinated Radicchio with Basil and Fresh Ricotta

Fennel Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Tuscan Beans in Summery Tomato Ragu

Served with 2006 Patz & Hall Chenowith Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley


Candied Fennel-Topped Lemon Cake

Served with 2005 La Tour Blnache Sauternes

Some of the boys got into the Talisker on the porch after dinner, but for once in my life I made the sensible decision to abstain. There’s a first time for everything.

One final note about those Tuscan beans. Katie used heirloom Peruvian Mayocoba beans from Rancho Gordo, and they were nothing short of exceptional. She had ordered a bunch, and “loaned” me a bag of Vaquero beans, which I experimented with yesterday and will post about later today. Finally, no matter how close I come to approximating the above menu, I will be missing two key elements—Katie and Matt’s gracious hosting and their incredible Craftsman home. House envy will be another post…

The Pinot Noir at the End of the 26.2 Mile Tunnel

In Drink, Food on February 27, 2009 at 4:51 pm


We are heading north tonight to cheer on my sister, who is running the Napa Valley Marathon on Sunday! For a countdown to showtime, check out her excellent marathon training blog, Pink, PRs and Pinot Noirs, in which she obsesses about all things pink and her favorite Pinot Noirs while sharing solid running tips. (God love her.) I’m really excited about helping her carbo-load tomorrow, starting with the world’s best English muffin at the Model Bakery and ending with my dad making his spaghetti sauce based on a recipe from the Hotel Danieli that he’s been improving upon for the past 25 years or so. Currently the Sunday forecast calls for 60% rain, so Tiny G has packed his microfiber rain jacket with a concealed hood for foul weather. He wouldn’t miss cheering on his Auntie Claude for the world!

By the way, if you’re wondering what bottle she’ll be cracking open at the end of 26.2, it’s a 2005 Williams Selyem Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard Pinot Noir. What can I say? The girl has good taste.

Spice Up My Kitchen

In Drink, Food on February 20, 2009 at 5:40 pm


The Foodinista is not the only cook in the kitchen, and in fact one of the most requested dishes by friends and family is my husband’s riff on Clams in Spicy Pernod Sauce. In yesteryears, he made his own pasta—but that endeavor has been placed on the back burner as it were since Tiny G arrived on the scene last summer. Still, the dish is fantastic with fresh fettuccine or linguine picked up from Cube on La Brea, or from the refrigerated section at Whole Foods. If at all possible, take a trip to Santa Monica Seafood for the freshest clams.


The recipe calls for Pernod, but we use whatever pastis happens to be in the fridge, which at the moment in Ricard. (Pastis is a French anise-flavored liqueur; both Pernod and Ricard fall into the pastis category.) After you toss some fennel seed in with the clams and brown for a minute or two, you simply add chopped roma tomatoes, minced garlic, and scallions, cooking for a few minutes. Then add white wine, water, pastis, red pepper flakes, and steam for 7-10 minutes, until clams open. I love watching him make this:

clamstomatoesclams open

We usually drink Bandol rosé with this dish, but when we served this to my parents and sister who were visiting last week, my dad and I were in the mood for Chablis, while my mom and sister were eyeing the Pinot Noir. So we opened both: 2007 Louis Latour La Chanfleur Chablis (an outstanding wine at $17), and 2006 Etude Temblor Carneros Pinot Noir ($60 – a worthy splurge).


Sage Advice

In Food on February 5, 2009 at 8:14 am


Pork and sage are one of those winning combinations that is comfort food at its best. Sage’s pungent and faintly peppery flavor is a natural at pairing with fatty meat, especially pork, for the same reasons it’s sublime in brown butter. So for dinner last night, we did both: Pan-fried pork chops with sage leaves, and roasted sweet potatoes with sage brown butter. While the sweet potatoes were roasting, we pressed sage leaves into pork chops, and pan-fried them.


Meanwhile, we browned a little butter, some minced garlic and sage leaves in a small cast-iron skillet. [Note: sage is great at cutting through the richness of butter—or better yet, pressed into a grilled cheese sandwich—because it acts as an herbal digestive.]

sagebrown butter

When the sweet potatoes were finished roasting, we coarsely mashed them and drizzled with garlicky sage brown butter. Glasses of earthy Oregon Pinot Noir were the finishing touch.