Category Archives: Lifestyle

Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest at Carmel-by-the-Sea

Chef Michel Bras Olivier Roellinger Relais Châteaux GourmetFest

The third annual Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest returns to postcard-perfect Carmel-by-the-Sea on the weekend of February 25-28. And as in previous years, you will find the most illustrious names in food and wine descending upon California’s Monterey Peninsula. This year’s culinary celebration will feature 17 Relais & Châteaux chefs from around the world participating in a total of 18 unique events spread throughout the weekend. In addition to the showcased gastronomy, carmaker BMW will have some of their newest cars on display during the occasion; and several renowned wineries will be pouring rare vintages.

Relais Chateaux GourmeFest

Pastry Chef Liz Miller Blackberry Farm Ron Mendoza Aubergine

Pastry Chefs Liz Miller (Blackberry Farm) and Ron Mendoza (Aubergine) during the plating of Milller’s dessert course of Strawberries, Coconut Meringue, Crème fraiche Ice Cream and Candied Pecans at the GourmetFest 2015 Grand Women Chefs & Winemakers Luncheon 

Relais Chateaux GourmetFest Blackberry Farm

Festival founder and L’Auberge Carmel Proprietor David Fink will be hosting along with the stellar local team at Aubergine, the restaurant at L’Auberge Carmel led by Executive Chef Justin Cogley and Pastry Chef Ron Mendoza. Keeping with tradition, Relais & Châteaux’s GourmetFest will be headlined by several three star Michelin chefs with a 2016 lineup including David Kinch (Manresa, Los Gatos), Joshua Skenes (Saison, San Francisco), Michel Troisgros (La Maison Troisgros, Roanne, France) and Hiroshi Nakamichi (Restaurant Molière, Sapporo, Japan). There aren’t many places where you’ll be able to experience the cuisine of these international culinary masters up close and personal and all in the same location, but once again, you will have that special opportunity soon in Carmel at GourmetFest.

Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest

With an abundance of food and wine festivals these days, Relais & Châteaux has done an exceptional job of curating a  standout event that delivers only the best of the best in food, wine and luxury brands for a festive, high-quality wining and dining weekend. There is also an online auction where you can bid on several of Relais & Châteaux’s most extraordinary properties. The auction will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and the CSU Monterey Bay hospitality program.

For a sampling of what you can expect at this year’s GourmetFest, here are some more photo-worthy highlights I captured at last year’s R&C GourmetFest weekend:

La Playa Carmel Relais Chateaux GourmetFest

La Playa Carmel was the setting for the Opening Party

Chef Tetsuya Wakada Relais Chateaux

Chef Tetsuya Wakada & team plating their Salad of Aburi Alaskan Salmon w Daikon & Myoga 

Tetsuya Wakada

Chefs Olivier and Hugo Roellinger Relais Chateaux GourmetFest

Chefs Olivier & Hugo Roellinger served Oysters with Cured Lemon and Morita Oil sharing the spirit and spices of their seafront Brittany property, Les Maison de Bricourt with its vicinity near the bay of Cancale and its oyster farms. They will be returning to the 2016 GourmetFest cooking together at the Father & Son’s luncheon. 

Chef Olivier Roellinger Oysters Relais Chateaux GourmetFest

Carmel by the Sea SunsetCarmel-by-the-Sea and the Monterey Peninsula not only offer incredibly beautiful nature views year round, but a variety of the freshest, locally-sourced seafood which you’ll be able to enjoy while in the area.  

Ernst Loosen - Dr Loosen Wines

German Winemaker Ernst Loosen (Dr Loosen)  is all smiles in Carmel 

Chef Justin Cogley Aubergine Carmel Relais ChateauxChef Justin Cogley (Aubergine) serving Rainbow Trout with Seven Herbs and Smoked Trout Roe (below) at the Opening Night Welcome Party. 

Chef Justin Cogley Aubergine Rainbow Trout

relais chateaux gourmet fest

Chef Francis Wolf (Le Hatley Restaurant at Manoir Hovey)’s Panna Cotta of Cultured Goats Milk, Sweet Clover, Arctic Rose Flat Oatcake, Green Alder Candied Beet and Birch Syrup paired with a 1990 Philippi Barrel Aged Auslese at the Cuisine and Wines of the World Dinner at Seventh & Dolores.

Chefs Michel Bras Olivier Roellinger Relais Chateaux GourmetFest

Legendary Chefs Michel Bras (Bras) and Olivier Roellinger (Les Maisons De Bricourt) discussing their game plan for the dishes at the much-anticipated and sold out Taste of France luncheon.

Michel Bras Relais Chateaux GourmetFest Carmel

Chef Michel Bras’ L’endive Farcie, parfum de truffes paired with a 2008 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Rhône Valley

Olivier Roellinger GourmetFest Carmel

Chef Olivier Roellinger’s St. Pierre “Retour de Indes” – Hommage to the 18th Century French Mariners paired with a 2011 Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair Moulin-A-Vent, Beaujolais 

relais chateaux gourmetfest women and wine lunch

The All-Star Team at the Grand Women Chefs & Winemaker’s Luncheon

Gaja Wines GourmetFest Carmel

2005 Gaja Gaia & Rey Chardonnay Langhe from Piedmont, Italy was paired with Chef Annie Féolde (Enoteca Pinchiorri)’s Risotto with Prawns, Licorice Powder and Asparagus Marinated in Red Wine (below).

Chef Annie Feolde Risotto

Relais Chateaux GourmetFest Carmel

Pre-lunch cooking demo at the Gaggenau Demo Kitchen at La Playa Hotel’s courtyard featuring 3 Star Michelin Italian Chef Annie Féolde and team from Enoteca Pinchiorri.  

Chef Lanshu Chef (Le Mout Restaurant) Relais Chateaux

Chef Lanshu Chen (Le Moût Restaurant) plating her Pigeon with Yilan Style Pork Liver, Chantrelles & Lapsang Souchong Tea paired with a 2012 Wayfarer Vineyard Pinot Noir from Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma County, California and a 2012 Chappellet Pritchard Hill Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley, California. 

Lanshu Chen Pigeon Relais Chateaux GourmetFest

Relais Châteaux Taste of The World

View the entire Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest schedule here, which includes these standout events for 2016:

Welcome Party (Thursday, February 25): The must-attend event of the weekend. This strolling dinner shines a spotlight on world-class Relais & Châteaux chefs – including all four Relais & Châteaux three star Michelin chefs – at stations paired with famed wine estates and beer & spirits producers and luxury vendors.

• Rarities Dinner (Friday, February 26): An extremely limited, 10-course dinner meal-of-a-lifetime prepared by three Relais & Châteaux three star Michelin chefs: David Kinch of Manresa, Joshua Skenes of Saison, and Michel Troisgros of Troisgros. This spectacular dinner is parked with rare wines directly from the Chateau, Domaines and Estate cellars.

• Wild Mushroom Hunt & Lunch with Ranger Chuck Bancroft (Saturday, February 27): Retired Point Lobos Ranger Chuck Bancroft and his team of mycologists lead guests on a wild mushroom hunt through the pristine 20,000-acre Santa Lucia Preserve in upper Carmel Valley. Following the hunt will be a sumptuous wild mushroom lunch prepared by the Preserve’s Host Chef Jerry Regester and Relais & Châteaux Chef Matt Zubrod of The Little Nell with accompanying wineries pouring rare vintages from Galante Vineyards and Dawn’s Dream.

• Father & Sons Lunch & Michel Troisgros Cooking Demo (Saturday, February 27): Delight in a lunch prepared by two iconic French father and son chefs, Olivier and Hugo Roellinger of Les Maison de Bricourt and Michel and César Troisgros of Troisgros. The lunch, paired with some of the most highly sought after wines made in France including Chateau Grillet and Domaine d’Eugenie and finished with the wines of Napa Valley superstar Araujo, is preceded by a cooking demo in the Gaggenau Demo Kitchen and Champagne Taittinger reception.

• Taste of the World (Sunday, February 28): Experience a “strolling Route du Bonheur” in which wines, many from local Monterey County wine estates, are paired with bites from Relais & Châteaux properties from all over the world.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the 2016 GourmetFest, visit:

Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest

carmel by the sea sunset

…and while in Carmel-by-the-Sea, make sure to take in the magnificent sunset. This photo was captured a few minutes before last year’s GourmetFest began. Absolutely magical start to an unforgettable weekend.

 

Warby Parker’s Newest Collection is Easy on the Eyes

Warby Parker_SP15_Laurel_PeacockGreen_Vanessa_040-1 copy

Have you ever stepped into a Warby Parker boutique? Well, I have on several occasions and have to admit that each time I’ve left, I felt more uplifted than when I first arrived. I’m not sure if it was due to the stylish design space that surrounded me, or the adorable, helpful staff that looked like they fell off the pages of a magazine, or the no-pressure fun of trying on a number of glasses in daring new looks, but a visit to Warby Parker I’ve found is more than just a basic visit to grab some new specs. It’s an engaging and enjoyable eyewear shopping experience.

Warby Parker_SP15_Haskell_CrystalManzanita_Zach

Another huge factor that makes shopping at Warby Parker so pleasant and positive, is that the glasses aren’t only stylish, but they are affordable. With frames starting at only $95, you can add a pair into your seasonal wardrobe without guilt. And, for every pair of eyeglasses sold, Warby Parker works with non-profits around the globe to distribute a pair of glasses to someone in need. This is a 20/20 win-win for everyone!

Warby Parker_SP15_Preston_Maraschino_Alecia_028-1 copy

I’m loving the bold, bright and playful new collection that was inspired by the circus tents. The spring 2016 collection is crafted from premium acetate in spirited new hues and three new silhouettes.  I have my eyes on several pairs to add to the accessories wardrobe, but the Chelsea in Grapefruit Soda and the Haskell in Crystal with Blue Jay are definitely on my radar.

Warby Parker_Haskell_BlueJay_Fernanda_

And because all of us are busy, and not everyone has the time or proximity to venture directly into a Warby Parker boutique, they offer a Home Try-On service where you can model five different pairs for five days in your own digs with all of your favorite outfits. Does it get any easier than that? I don’t think so. I still though, highly recommend trying to visit the actual Warby Parker store since I’ve found it to be true positive retail therapy.

Warby Parker Spring 2016 Collection

For more info, and to find a store location visit:

Warby Parker 

Warby Parker Prescription Eyeglasses

Warby Parker Sunglasses

Warby Parker Progressives

Eat and Drink Charitably this Holiday Season

Mika Takeuchi, Food Fashionista GEV Magazine Cover

Thank you to GEV Magazine for featuring Liam Mayclem (CBS), Leslie Sbrocco (Check Please! Bay Area), Joel Riddell (Dining Around), Marybeth LaMotte (Red Carpet Bay Area), and I in this month’s holiday issue focusing on charitable giving. We all share a passion for dining, but we also believe in the importance of giving back to the community.

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 Love the comfy, casual vibe and cashmere-blended fabric of Kit & Ace

The photoshoot took place in San Jose’s Santana Row and it was a festive time filled with lots of laughter, stylish threads, and the ultimate glam squad from Atelier Salon.  Photographer Vinnie Gotti did a fabulous job of making the day as comfortable and fun in front of the camera as well as off.

Mika Takeuchi Food Fashionista GEV Magazine

Ted Baker Dress and extra big hair…it’s all mine though! 

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When you’re a child, it’s so exciting to see what presents Santa Claus is going to deliver down that chimney and if he’s going to indulge in those cookies you baked and left out for him. As you grow up and fast forward to life as an adult, the holidays have a whole different meaning and become much more about what you can give rather than what you will receive. The end of the year is a time when the weather is crisp, leaves are shedding and you naturally become more reflective. Like the changing seasons and foliage, I find myself looking back at life and the past year and seeing how much change and growth has occurred. The holidays are a reminder that another year is coming to a close and while we’re here, life is about giving, loving, sharing and having tons of gratitude for all the blessings surrounding us. Being grateful for the special people in our lives and all that we’ve been blessed with is so key. The holidays come so quickly every year, and in this day and age of cell phones, social media and the internet, everything happens so quickly, but it’s so essential to slow down and remember what’s truly important. The holidays are a reminder that giving isn’t an exclusive once a year, end of year kind of thing. It’s a necessary and contagious habit that we can easily incorporate into our lives all year round.

Read more about what the holidays mean to me and why I’m so passionate about giving back to the community in this issue of GEV Magazine.

 

Hello, Hoshigaki Season 

All over Instagram and in professional kitchens around California, we are seeing rows and rows of hanging, bright peeled persimmons. And if like many, you’re wondering what this current Hoshigaki trend is all about, it’s actually a very old, traditional practice and a Japanese word meaning dried persimmons.

My friend and award-winning Bay Area writer Carolyn Jung went deep into discussing Hoshigaki and its use among Bay Area chefs in an article this week in the SF Chronicle. You can read it at: Hoshigaki time: Bay Area chefs embrace elaborate Japanese dried persimmons. And for more pics on Bay Area chef’s Hoshigaki displays, check out Inside Scoop’s recap at: Hoshigaki: The Bay Area’s breakout social media stars of winter 2015.

Pictured above: Hoshigaki hanging in the NINEBARK kitchen

(photo: moelopez)

 

Urban Remedy Retreat – Carmel Valley Ranch

Urban Remedy - Carmel Valley Ranch - Therapeutic Bath

 

With all the indulging and multitasking in every day life, we often forget how important it is to take a moment, or a long weekend to relax and completely get away from it all. A break from life’s noise is not only nourishing and necessary for the body, but also for the mind and spirit. This is why I’m so looking forward to escaping to one of my favorite destinations in California soon. Carmel is approximately a two-hour drive from San Francisco, an hour from Silicon Valley, and a place very close to my heart. It’s also the location I’ll be attending Urban Remedy’s Detox Retreat at The Ranch.

Carmel Valley Ranch Hotel

Carmel Valley Ranch is a 500-acre luxury resort that offers a true nature retreat with panoramic views of mature oak trees and the lush Carmel Valley.  I can’t wait to take a breather in the hundreds of miles of hiking trails and at one of the nearby beaches to hopefully catch a beloved Pacific coast Rothko sunset.

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Urban Remedy embodies the belief that Food is Healing, and at the Urban Remedy Retreat, we’re going to delight in healthy meals and also learn how to make them. I’m really awaiting the visit to the on-site organic garden and attending a Q & A about organic farmstead practices and growing with Carmel Valley Ranch’s own Organic Farmer Mark Marino.

Meet the resident Artisans at: http://bit.ly/1RkFcfk.

Carmel Valley Ranch.

Neka Pasquale – the host for the retreat, is a licensed acupuncturist and the founder of Urban Remedy. She released the Urban Remedy Book earlier this year and is a huge believer in the power of raw foods and juicing. In as little as three to five days of resetting nutritional habits, she’s witnessed huge and positive changes in client’s health.

I’m personally excited to see how I physically and mentally feel after the detox weekend. In my world and profession, it’s unrealistic to eat raw on an every day basis, but I can take breaks from my usual dietary and work schedule and give this nourishing gift to myself. Balance. It’s all about balance.

Urban Remedy - Carmel Valley Ranch Salad

 “A retreat is time we take away from our everyday stresses in life to focus on ourselves. Taking a break from social media, our phones, eating unhealthy foods and the hustle and bustle of modern life. It is a time to create intention to go within and connect with your spirit and receive the messages of your soul. It is a reset where we eat nourishing and cleansing foods and juices that heal and balance the body. A retreat is a gift to yourself that supports overall wellbeing mentally, physically and spiritually.” - Neka Pasquale, Founder of Urban Remedy.

 

To attend or learn more about the retreat and property, visit:

Carmel Valley Ranch http://bit.ly/1oytTDj

Urban Remedy Detox Retreat http://bit.ly/1Kgua8X