Party at Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica

A Very Special Dinner Party at Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica!

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“To receive a guest is to take charge of their happiness
during the entire time they are under your roof.”
– Fernand Point

SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALRIGHT FOR DINING! And a Birthday Party for my Mom!

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A fancy restaurant, a private dining room, 13 good friends and family, champagne, wine, great food, gifts, love, conversation and congratulation, and a good time was had by all!

Saturday evening, we had a 7:00pm reservation for a private dinner party at Melisse restaurant for my mother’s birthday. And it was “FABULOUS”!

We drove over the hill on the 405 freeway and down Wilshire boulevard to 11th Street in Santa Monica. Then we drove around for 15 minutes looking for a place to park before we finally gave up and valet parked in the lot behind the restaurant ($8.50 + tip).

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We were the last to arrive at 7:20pm, and because we were asked to take pictures, that was the first order of business after saying hello to everyone. The pictures of the party guests and the Guest of Honor, some pictures of the restaurant, and pictures of the excellent food came out pretty good. We were worried because it was dark in the private dining room and we chose to use the flash on our cheap LG phone even though we had brought our mini iPad camera.

“Melisse is both a two Michelin Star Award winning restaurant and the recipient of Zagats highly coveted top rated restaurant in Los Angeles since 2003.” – Open Table

“Simply superb in every way”, this “refined” “gastronomical wonder” in Santa Monica from Josiah Citrin “defines fine dining”with “inspired”“artful” French-American tasting menus and “spectacular” wine pairings – all “seamlessly” presented by an “intuitive”“world-class” staff in a “chic yet soothing” setting; prices are “not for the faint of heart”, but the “state of bliss” that ensues is “worth every penny.” – Zagat (4.8 out of 5)

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GOOGLE REVIEWS: 4.5 Stars! (141 reviews)
#38 on LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold’s 2017 “101 Best Restaurants” list.

Seasonal French-American cuisine!

We have eaten here before and it was one of the most amazing meals we have ever enjoyed! Read about in our Previous Blog post “Dinner at Melisse” (see the link below). And we were very excited about dining here for Mom’s “Big Birthday” party!
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On The Menu: 1993 Dom Perignon champagne, crab amuse bouche, egg caviar, Maine lobster, dry aged prime New York steak or Spanish turbot (fish), choice of fresh baked bread & butter, red & white wine, chocolate L’Opéra cake, lemon soufflé with fruit & vanilla ice cream and 4 different petit fors:

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A Vintage Vintage! 1993 Dom Perignon Champagne – Cheers!

Let’s begin with a Dom Perignon 1993 Champagne to toast the Guest of Honor!

We began with a champagne toast! Found a bottle of Dom Perignon vintage 1993 tucked away recently. Didn’t know if it would still be good after 25 years. Opened it for the party and it was excellent! So we toasted the Guest of Honor and then we made everyone pose for the “toast picture” (as seen above) taken by our Host.

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“On the nose, this wine opens with notes of red-fleshed peaches, rapidly evolving into cashew nuts and dried herbs. The aromatic experience finishes on a note of lightly toasted brioche. On the palate, it offers a host of well-orchestrated, precise and full-bodied tastes. The initial density becomes creamy, while the long finish ends on a note of glazed citrus fruit.” – Winemaker notes

The unique Dom Perignon style: a rich creamy mousse, fine bubbles, a spirited, crisp opening leading into a broad palette of aromas and tastes, the delicacy of substance itself. Each Cuvee Dom Perignon is cellar-aged for 6 to 8 years.

And then a bottle of fine Chardonnay (white wine) for the egg caviar and lobster courses.

NOTE: Melisse has a fantastic, world-class wine list, however the “Good Stuff” is very expensive (repeat, very expensive), so we brought our own bottles of wine and champagne and paid the corkage fee for each one we opened.

BIG THANKS TO CHEF JOSIE AND THE ENTIRE STAFF AT MELISSE! Everything was excellent. The food was 5 star quality and cooked perfectly. And the service was done with professional precision and attention to detail not found in most restaurants.

NOTE: The red wine, a Pra’ Amarone della Valpolicella (aka Amarone) is a rich Italian dry red wine made from the partially dried Corvina Rondinella grapes and other red grape varieties. Valpolicella is located in the province of Verona, in the Veneto region near Venice. Italy.

“Dark ruby. Very refined nose offers aromas and flavors of spicy dark plum, chocolate-covered cherry and minerals, lifted by strong floral accents (especially lavender and peony). Multilayered and very suave, boasting a long and tactile finish, leaving behind a strong impression of grace and refinement. A very elegant, smooth Amarone of noteworthy depth and complexity but also impeccable balance (you can’t tell this clocks in at 16.5% alcohol).” – Ian D’Agata, Vinous (scored a rating of 94)

Read our Previous Blog post “Dinner at Melisse”
(Right click and “Open in New Window”> https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/dinner-at-melisse/

Melisse Restaurant1104 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401 melisse.com

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Chef Josiah Citrin, in his Santa Monica restaurant Mélisse. Citrin is celebrating Mélisse’s 15 year anniversary in 2014 (photo by Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times)

NOTE: A meal at Melisse is a real dining experience and it’s expensive! $$$$$
If you can afford it, we recommend this restaurant as a destination in Los Angeles. The menu changes constantly and they have different tasting and course menus available.

All photos copyright 2017 JoshWillTravel

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NOTE: The photo of Sammy Davis Jr. and Gregory Hines is a fantastic gift!

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405 Freeway north into the Sepulveda Pass at night

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Dinner at Davenport’s in Encino

Dinner at Davenport’s in Encino

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Wednesday night we went for dinner at Davenport’s in Encino. We wanted to try a neighborhood restaurant we had never been to before. They opened last year in the space formerly occupied by Dupar’s and John L. Groats on Ventura Boulevard west of Woodley Avenue. And so, on a cold winter weekday evening we made a reservation for 7:15pm.

Parking is in the rear and the lot was full. There was a line at the host station, located just inside the front door and the restaurant was packed at the sushi bar, long bar, bar dining  area and dining room. The outdoor patio was empty because it was “effing” cold and there was a nice wind blowing through the courtyard that even the outdoor heaters couldn’t warm. We know this because the reservation was made for “Outside”, even though we didn’t ask for the patio. When we asked to sit inside, the hostess seating us said there was an hour wait for a table and we almost left and went somewhere else…

Instead we went inside and found the manager and explained the situation. He was very understanding and they found a nice table in the corner of the dining room for us in a very short time. BRAVO! 

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The restaurant is divided into different spaces as mentioned above: there’s a sushi bar, long bar, bar dining area and formal dining room/private party space where we were seated. the interior is very nice, albeit a little crowded when the place is packed. If you’ve followed my Blog you know there are more than 20 sushi restaurants in the neighborhood, so a restaurant with a sushi bar (and raw oyster bar) is nothing new and the prices for sushi and sashimi were higher than most. They were offering a combination sashimi and oyster plate for $42 when we offered the specials by our friendly waiter.

We decided not to have sushi or oysters, knowing that we were going to have a big meal and instead just started with their tasty cornbread and bread & butter. They have some nice appetizers but again we didn’t order any know the entrees were large. We did share an $11 Caesar salad, but ended up giving it to another member of our party because they added kale (WE HATE KALE) without mention of it on the menu.

We had the BBQ baby back ribs ($29 for a full rack) and they were delicious! Fall off the bone and cooked really well. The BBQ sauce was tasty and we substituted sautéed asparagus for cole slaw. The fries were tasty, but they weren’t served hot enough. We ate a few of the ribs at dinner and took the rest home and ate them with hot (reheated) fries for lunch the next day, and the ribs were delicious the day after too!

Or party also tried the lobster roll, lobster (Cobb) salad and the ribeye steak. We also tried a glass of red and a glass of white wine, which were both excellent choices. And everything they served us was very well prepared, visually appealing, very tasty and super quality food! We tasted the brownie sundae dessert which was shared by our party, and it was wonderful but we were full and didn’t want dessert.

NOTE: We LOVE dessert and the brownie sundae was good, but the meal service had taken a long time and we were tired of sitting, a little claustrophobic, and really ready to go before we even ordered dessert.

The service was good, just a little slow because it was slammed, crowded and the layout of the restaurant makes it harder to serve. We never had to wait very long for our waiter,  and he did an excellent job tending to our requests.

On The Menu: BBQ Baby Back Ribs with fries and sautéed asparagus, cornbread, bread & butter, Caesar salad, Lobster Roll, Lobster Cobb Salad, Brownie sundae and a coke

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All in all, it was a very nice dinner to celebrate the end of Hannukah and the Winter Solstice (see our previous Blog Posts) and we left happy, full and with leftovers in hand. It was a good dining experience at a restaurant we had never been to before, and we would definitely return for another meal.

Davenport’s16120 Ventura Blvd, Encino 91436 (at Woodley Av)
http://www.davenportsrestaurant.com

All photos copyright 2017 JoshWillTravel

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Pretty Christmas Tree at Davenport’s!

 



 

Friday SFV Sunset and Friday Night Dinner with Puppy Update!

Friday SFV Sunset

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And then we cooked Friday night dinner:

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Good Shabbos! Tri-tip steak, sautéed onions, sautéed green beans, wild caught Coho salmon, corn on the cob, twice cooked potato, challah bread and an iced espresso!

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Puppy Update: Puppies are great! Happy and healthy! Growing and gaining weight. They are learning and socializing very well with each other and the Big Boy. They’re both very smart with distinct “personalities” and instincts. We’re having so much fun and they would play all day long if they were able. More to come…

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Friday Evening Fight Time!

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Thursday Night Football

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Tuesday Afternoon

30000 Hits! THANK YOU! www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com

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30000 Hits! THANK YOU! http://www.joshwilltravel.wordpress.com
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30000 Hits! THANK YOU! Another Benchmark!

Many thanks to our loyal readers and all the “drop-in” visitors since February 2013!

There are almost 600 Previous Blog Posts (BLOGS) archived for your enjoyment!
Use the Search Box at the top of the page or just read though (there’s an “Older Posts” link at the bottom of the page) to find fun and interesting stuff.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! More to come!

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Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Secret Recipe?

Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Secret Recipe?

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Is this the Colonel’s Big Secret? It was supposedly found on the back of his will.

The actual “Secret Recipe” is kept locked in a safe in Louisville, Kentucky.

According to the KFC website:
“Only a handful of people know the multi-million dollar formula and it’s protected by some pretty elaborate security precautions. In fact, one spice company blends part of the formula while another blends the rest, to ensure neither ever has the complete recipe!”

11 Herbs and Spices – Mix with 2 cups White Flour

  1. 2/3 Ts Salt
  2.  1/2 Ts Thyme
  3.  1/2 Ts Basil
  4.  1/3 Ts Oregano
  5.  1 Ts Celery Salt
  6.  1 Ts Black Pepper
  7.  1 Ts Dried Mustard
  8.  4 Ts Paprika
  9.  2 Ts Garlic Salt
  10.  1 Ts Ground Ginger
  11.  3 Ts White Pepper

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“It’s Finger Lickin’ Good!”

In 1936, Kentucky Gov. Ruby Laffoon made Harland Sanders an honorary “Kentucky Colonel” in recognition of his contributions to the State’s cuisine.

In 1965, at age 75, Colonel Harland Sanders sold his company for $2 million!

In 1976, an independent survey ranked Colonel Sanders as the world’s second most recognizable celebrity!

In 2013, when Colonel Sanders’ White Suit and Black Western String Tie went up for auction in Dallas, Masao Watanabe, president and chief executive of KFC Japan, paid US $21,500 for it! Previously in 2002, a similar white suit and tie sold for $80,000 at an annual Association of KFC Franchisees Convention!

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Sanders Court & Cafe – Birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken

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“Fried Chicken Alice?”

Los Tres Hermanos Bar and Grill Mexican Restaurant in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California

Los Tres Hermanos Bar and Grill Mexican Restaurant
in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California

NOTE: This Blog was started and in “draft” form for a couple weeks before being finished and published. Posting now because writing helps as a distraction.

Mexican Food!

Saturday night in the beautiful San Fernando Valley on Van Nuys Blvd near the Government Center (Courthouses, Police Station, Post Office, etc.) at Erwin St.

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Los Tres Hermanos Bar and Grill Mexican Restaurant

 

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Front Desk at Los Tres Hermanos Bar and Grill

We parked in back and used the Rear Entrance. (just a little sketchy)

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The Rear Entrance to Los Tres Hermanos Bar and Grill in Van Nuys

There’s a large dining room with tables and booths along the side walls. And of course there’s a long bar, and a very nice one too. they also have a very small stage for live music on Fridays and Satudays and this was one of those nights.

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The Large Dining Room at Los Tres Hermanos Bar and Grill

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The Long Bar at Los Tres Hermanos Bar and Grill

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Live Music on a Small Stage on Friday and Saturday

The live music was good. Two guys, one on guitar and one on a kid’s drum kit, singing and playing classic rock tunes while we enjoyed our Mexican dinner.

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Live Music and the Bar at Los Tres Hermanos Bar and Grill

When we arrived the bar was empty, and when we left it wasn’t.

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The Bar at Los Tres Hermanos Bar and Grill

We were seated in a booth without having to wait and presented with a “classic” Mexican restaurant menu and warm chips, red pepper salsa and a bean dip.

This being our first time here, we decided to compare the Fiesta platter, a favorite found on most appetizer menus.

The Classic Mexican Restaurant Menu:

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On The Menu: Chips and salsa, Fiesta Platter with chicken wings, nachos, taquitos, a quesadilla (and we substituted more taquitos for the quesadilla, because we made a large one for lunch) and a Dr Pepper

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Tortilla Chips and Salsa

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Fiesta Platter!

We enjoyed the food! It was classic Mexican, very tasty and they have pretty good chips and salsa. The Fiesta Platter was done well, but the nachos could have been better. My dining companions enjoyed their choices as well and the prices are very reasonable! They have lots of fun cocktails and drink specials on and off the menu. We would return if we were in the neighborhood on a Saturday, but probably not on a weekday.

Tres Hermanos Mexican RestaurantVan Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, CA

All photos copyright 2016 JoshWillTravel

 

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UPDATE: Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A large, tasty chicken burrito (“wet” ranchero sauce & melted cheese) with rice and beans inside and tortilla chips “to go” for dinner a few nights ago. Only ate half, then ate the other half the next day for breakfast.

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Happy Birthday Sushi Time!

Happy Birthday Sushi Time! Great Dinner at Sushi Ichiban Kan!

Saturday night! Time to celebrate! Happy Birthday to me! It’s Sushi time!

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We love Sushi Ichiban Kan!
Our friend Hiro-san runs the best Japanese restaurant in the valley!

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Sushi Ichiban Kan in Tarzana/Woodland Hills, California

A FANTASTIC FISH!
ANOTHER WONDERFUL DISH!
SUSHI TIME YOU WISH!

We’ve written a few Blogs about Sushi Ichiban Kan (use the search box ^^^^^^) and read our previous Blogs (links below too).

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ON THE MENU: Tekka don dinner (tuna bowl with miso soup and small salad), stuffed squid, volcano, albacore sashimi, baked scallop california roll, yellowtail/salmon/bluefin tuna sushi, sunomono, blue crab cut roll, spicy tuna hand roll, spicy yellowtail cut roll, green tea ice cream, iced green tea and a large hot sake!

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Happy Birthday! Green Tea Ice Cream

NOTE: It was great dinner and I am truly thankful. However, the circumstances of the weekend made it impossible to actually enjoy the party in my honor. In case you missed the previous blogs, two of our dogs were killed Thursday night by coyotes in our fenced backyard. Pretty much everything related to dogs is a “trigger” for a wave of hard emotion (sadness, guilt, grief & anger) and my dinner companions kept talking about dogs, the tragedy, coyotes and wolf urine…. it was extremely uncomfortable from start to finish and not a happy distraction.

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So full of sushi. No Dessert! So birthday cake for dessert the next night!
One of my favorites: Boston Cream Pie from Bea’s Bakery!

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Boston Cream Pie from Bea’s Bakery

 

 

Konstantin’s Piroshki Recipe!

Konstantin’s Piroshki Recipe (from the Renaissance Pleasure Faire)
From the article in “Sphere” magazine, “Come to the Faire” July 1975
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Makes 10 Piroshkis
Ingredients:
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup warm milk
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp salt (1/2 tsp cinnamon – according to sources)
2 Cups all purpose flour
Beef Filling:
1 medium onion (fine chopped)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
3/4 lean ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 tsp dried dill weed
1 hard boiled egg (fine chopped)
Instructions:
Dissolve yeast in warm water in medium bowl. Stir in milk, sugar salt and enough flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough on to lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turn grease side up and cover with a towel. Let rise in warm place until it doubles ~ 45 minutes (Dough is ready if impression remains).
Make beef filling.
Punch down dough. Roll dough on floured board to 1/16 inch thickness. Cut into 10 5-inch circles.(It will be necessary to gather scraps and re-roll dough) Place 1/4 cup filling on each circle. Bring ends of dough together at center. Pinch edges together to seal so that Piroshki are plump in the center with tapered ends. Place Piroshki seam side down on greased baking sheets. Cover lightly with waxed paper and let rise for 45 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 degrees and bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve hot with a dollup of sour cream or hot mustard if desired.
ENJOY IT!
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Piroshki Booth at the Northern Renaissance Pleasure Faire

Sushi Ganzo and Donutella in Encino

 

Sushi Ganzo in Encino (new place just opened in the Plaza de Oro shopping center)

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Sushi Ganzo in Encino

Sushi2U closed and Sushi Ganzo opened in the same space without changing very much.

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Sushi Ganzo in Encino

They changed the name and the signage. They took out some of the televisions. And they changed the menu too.

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The MENU:

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On The Menu: albacore sashimi, baked scallop California roll, spicy tuna cut roll, California roll, Rainbow roll, nigiri omakase platter, fried chicken appetizer and a Dr Pepper

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Fried Chicken Appetizer

The fried chicken appetizer was battered and deep fried to a hard shell and there was very little chicken to be found.

CLICK ON ANY SMALL PIC TO SEE A LARGER PIC AND VIEW THE GALLERY!

The sushi and rolls were good, they use real crab in the California rolls, but there was concern over the Omakase Nigiri platter (the chef’s choice of fish for the price ~$24) and about the freshness of some of the fish served.

The service was TERRIBLE. Our waiter was slammed and not properly trained for table service. We ended up asking the bus person and another waiter for everything we asked our waiter for twice… drinks, ginger & wasabi, a spoon, etc. Complete unsatisfactory! Nothing will kill a restaurant faster than bad food except for bad service!

As reported in the previous Blog about Sushi2U, there are too many sushi restaurants on Ventura, so you better bring it if you want to stay in business! The rent isn’t cheap and their large extensive menu means that they have to turn over the food inventory quickly to keep it fresh.

Sushi2U was good the first time we ate there, but on our second visit it was not. They didn’t stay in business a year! Sushi Ganzo better fix their problems or they’ll be gone too.

UPDATED February 21, 2017 – Sushi Ganzo is Sushi Gone.
Closed, out of business, no more, now in it’s place is Cravin’s: a combo Thai food/Poke bowl/Ice Cream concept that has been open almost 2 weeks as of this update.

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There’s a Menchie’s Yogurt next door to the restaurant and a Yogurtland across the street, and now there’s a new gelato place that just opened across the street, also in the Encino Town Center, and we decided to try Donutella for dessert.

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Gelato at Donutella in Encino

They have pastries, donuts, coffee, smoothies and boba drinks in addition to a nice selection of gelato flavors. The space is weird, because they have such large display cases there’s not much aisle space between the cases and the tables for guest seating inside. And since they don’t have outside seating in front it’s awkward and uncomfortable if you want sit down and eat on premises. We really don’t want to have people bumping us and having their butts in our faces while sitting down. We chose Salted Caramel and Hazelnut gelato and both were tasty flavors with good mouth feel. So, we enjoyed their product but the seating situation was a problem.

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Gelato at Donutella in Encino

2 scoops of gelato for ~$5

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Salted Caramel and Hazelnut Gelato at Donutella in Encino

Sushi GanzoPlaza de Oro shopping center 17157-17253 Ventura Blvd in Encino

DonutellaEncino Town Center shopping center  17200 Ventura Blvd in Encino

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Encino Saturday Sunset 1

“West Side Story” at the Hollywood Bowl!

“West Side Story” at the Hollywood Bowl!

And we are back! We went to the Hollywood Bowl last week and it was good fun! We’re having a heatwave again in Los Angeles and it’s been 90 degrees+ and into the 100s on some days. So, it has stayed warm at night and it was really perfect weather for an outdoor concert.

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“West Side Story” at the Hollywood Bowl

Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra performing “West Side Story” at the Hollywood Bowl on a Tuesday evening in July!

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“West Side Story” at the Hollywood Bowl

We were invited to the Bowl again. Well, there was a “small” brush fire on the mountain across the 101 freeway at Cahuenga Blvd from the venue at 4pm and we watched on the television as the Los Angeles Fire Department responded and made quick work of it!

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Fire on the Mountain! (That yellow dot is three firefighters)

By 5:30pm the fire was out, they were handling the hot spots and traffic was f*cked. So we left the San Fernando Valley for Hollywood at about 6pm. After some miles of “stop and go” traffic, the Highland exit ramp jam and Lot B parking ($20 cash) we were walking past the crowd of picnickers that occupy any convenient spot they can find out front at 7pm.

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Picnickers Out Front at the Hollywood Bowl for “West Side Story”

NOTE: It wasn’t as crowded as usual! It was a Tuesday night and a lot of people must have stayed home to watch the Republican National Convention night #2 from Cleveland, Ohio. Of course, that meant more people arrived around 8pm as the performance was starting…

We decided to go directly to our seats (Super Seats! not benches) behind the light and sound booth and have our dinner there instead of going to one of the picnic areas. And picnicking at the Hollywood Bowl in the super seats or bench seating is even more of a challenge than dining in one of the boxes because you have no table and very limited space.

Picnic time! On the Menu: Roast beef sandwich, veggie chips, dill pickle, bottled water and 1/4 of a chocolate tart from Sweet Lady Jane. We remembered to take a pic just before finishing the sandwich, but didn’t take one of the sides and desserts. We also brought red and white wine, a bottle of bubbly water, carrots, cole slaw, a rice dish and a berry cobbler.

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Roast Beef Sandwich and Veggie Chips

Show time! The orchestra took the stage  a little after 8pm, just as the sun was setting. They always begin with the “Star Spangled Banner” (note the flags flying at half mast).

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“West Side Story” at the Hollywood Bowl

Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing under a full moon on a warm summer evening in Southern California, no complaints here.

“West Side Story”

The musical “West Side Story” has special meaning for us.  We participated in building and and presenting a production on the Performing Arts MainStage at UC Santa Cruz in Spring of 1986.

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Directed by Michael Edwards
I was a Set Builder, Costumer and then Wardrobe Master for the run of show.
I also did the hair/makeup and hand inked tattoos for the actors.

The Jets were “Glam Punks” circa early 1980’s in ripped denim and studded leather.
The Sharks were 1970’s “Cholos” complete with bandanas, pleated flannels, pressed white t-shirts and tan khakis. The Shark girls were hot!

A truly professional production with a live band, great singing and dancing and a truly amazing set design! The program cover above is one of the design sketches, but the freeway was left unfinished with exposed rebar extending out over the audience and then we added chain link fencing, lots of graffiti and debris for texture.

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Very proud of this production and the work we did. Also of note is the level of talent and the future professional career paths of some of the participants.

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“West Side Story” at the Hollywood Bowl