Show 78, July 5, 2014: Miguel Rodriguez, General Manager and Executive Chef Marc Johnson, Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge, The Island Hotel, Newport Beach Part Two

At Oak Grill there are over fifty wines available by the glass. Hundreds more by the bottle. Oak Grill boasts one of the most extensive wine lists in the area, all curated by Miguel.

They offer a robust program of craft beers on tap. Most are local.

Aqua Lounge Newport BeachAqua Lounge
“Afternoon cocktails. After work drinks. An evening out, or a late night rendezvous. DJ’s and pop-up performances. A casual menu of gourmet shareable bites and late night delectables and trendy street foods. That’s what we are. What we do is bring a whole new take on nightlife to Newport Beach.”

“Tableside mixology reinvents traditional bottle service and is one feature of a truly imaginative and engaging approach to craft cocktails, guided by renowned mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim. Assemble your own mule, or sit back and enjoy a delicious summer punch bowl.”

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights Chef Marc offers a special late night street food menu in Aqua Lounge. It’s satisfying comfort foods ranging from street tacos to poutine. It even includes his signature Moki Breakfast Burrito. It starts at 11:00 p.m. and goes until 1:30 a.m.

Play

July 5: Tiffany Derry, FoodGPS Rib Fest, Oak Grill, Aqua Lounge, Tal Ronnen

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris preview the show
Segment Two: Celebrity Chef Tiffany Derry of Dallas, Texas Part One
Segment Three: Celebrity Chef Tiffany Derry of Dallas, Texas Part Two
Segment Four: Food GPS’ Josh Lurie and Chef Chris Oh of Seoul Sausage Co. and Escala
Segment Five: Miguel Rodriguez, General Manager and Executive Chef Marc Johnson, Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge, The Island Hotel, Newport Beach Part One
Segment Six: Miguel Rodriguez, General Manager and Executive Chef Marc Johnson, Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge, The Island Hotel, Newport Beach Part Two
Segment Seven: Tal Ronnen, founder and executive chef of Crossroads restaurant, Los Angeles Part One
Segment Eight: Tal Ronnen, founder and executive chef of Crossroads restaurant, Los Angeles Part Two

Jet Tila and Producer Andy preview the show.

Food TV fans know upbeat, Dallas-based Chef Tiffany Derry from Season 7 of Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All–Stars.” She is back as co-host of FYI’s (formerly Bio) new series, “World Food Championships” which launches on July 10th.

Our friend food journalist Josh Lurie is at it again with the 1st Annual Food GPS Rib Festival on Sunday, July 13th in Chinatown. 12 of L.A’s best forward-thinking chefs will be there preparing unique rib preparations and tempting sides. Josh and Chef Chris Oh of Seoul Sausage Co., Escala, and Houston Hospitality preview the Festival.

The Island Hotel in Newport Beach has a rich history of offering highly regarded destination dining. As part of a major refreshening of the property The Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge have just debuted. This is easily the most anticipated restaurant opening of the year in Orange County. You’ll hear why…

One mission of Chef Tal Ronnen’s Crossroads Los Angeles is to bring tasty vegetarian fare to patrons who aren’t necessarily vegetarians or vegans. Our own Jet Tila just prepared a Sunday Supper at Crossroads serving plant-based versions of his signature pan Asian dishes.

All of this and lots more absolutely incredible deliciousness on Saturday’s show!

Tiffany DerryFood TV fans know Dallas-based Chef Tiffany Derry from Season 7 of Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All–Stars.” She is back as co-host of FYI’s (formerly Bio) new series, “World Food Championships” which launches on July 10th.

Chef Tiffany is a graduate of The Art Institute of Houston and now serves as a national spokesperson for the Art Institute’s Culinary Arts Program.

World Food Championships on FYI“Hosted in Las Vegas, The World Food Championships is one of the most ambitious and authentic food competitions held annually. The series (6 one-hour episodes) follows talented home cooks and professional chefs from across America as they compete to create dishes mouth-wateringly creative enough to win their food category. From BBQ, to bacon to family recipes – there is a winner for each competition, culminating in a grand finale with a shot at winning a $50,000 prize. Co-hosted by Jeffrey Saad, chef, author and LA-based restaurant owner; and Dallas-based chef, Tiffany Derry. Produced by Sharp Entertainment.”

Chef Tiffany is performing a cooking demo at the Napa Valley Festival Del Sole on July 12th as part of that day’s “Taste of Napa.”

Chef Tiffany provides an overview of the dynamic Dallas dining scene. It’s about getting out to the neighborhoods…

Joshua Lurie of Food GPS“The inaugural Food GPS Rib Festival is taking place on Sunday, July 13th, from 4 to 7:00 p.m., at Chinatown’s historic Central Plaza. This chef-driven, all-inclusive event spotlights 12 of L.A.’s best chefs preparing unique rib preparations and sides. Guests will also enjoy desserts, craft beers, cocktails and soda.”

Food GPS Founder Josh Lurie and Chef Chris Oh of Seoul Sausage Co., Escala, and Houston Hospitality preview the Festival.

Marc JohnsonThe Island Hotel in Newport Beach has a history of offering distinctive destination dining. As part of a major refreshening of the property The Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge have just debuted in the space that was previously the well-liked Palm Terrace. This was an over 5-month redo on a major budget…This is easily the most anticipated opening of the year in Orange County.

The Executive Chef is Marc Johnson and the seasoned General Manager is Miguel Rodriquez. Both moved over from the popular Mastro’s Ocean Club in the Crystal Cove Promenade on Newport Coast.

Chef Mark was previously with Studio’s (Montage Laguna Beach) opening executive chef, James Boyce for several years and then followed him to Huntsville, AL to help open Cotton Row, one of the most recognized restaurants in Alabama.

At Oak Grill there are over fifty wines available by the glass. Hundreds more by the bottle. Oak Grill boasts one of the most extensive wine lists in the area, all curated by Miguel.

They offer a robust program of craft beers on tap. Most are local.

Aqua Lounge Newport BeachAqua Lounge
“Afternoon cocktails. After work drinks. An evening out, or a late night rendezvous. DJ’s and pop-up performances. A casual menu of gourmet shareable bites and late night delectables and trendy street foods. That’s what we are. What we do is bring a whole new take on nightlife to Newport Beach.”

“Tableside mixology reinvents traditional bottle service and is one feature of a truly imaginative and engaging approach to craft cocktails, guided by renowned mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim. Assemble your own mule, or sit back and enjoy a delicious summer punch bowl.”

Tal Ronnen of Crossroads KitchenTal Ronnen, founder and chef of Crossroads and author of The New York Times Bestseller, The Conscious Cook, became known nationwide as the chef who prepared the meals for Oprah Winfrey’s 21-day cleanse. He made his culinary mark at a number of high-profile events, having catered Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s wedding, Arianna Huffington’s party at the Democratic National Convention, and a U.S. Senate Dinner.

A graduate of the National Gourmet Institute, Tal conducts master vegetarian workshops for students and staff at Le Cordon Bleu campuses nationwide. He is the collaborating chef at The Wynn and Encore hotels in Las Vegas.

One mission of Chef Tal Ronnen’s Crossroads Los Angeles is to bring tasty vegetarian fare to patrons who aren’t necessarily vegetarians or vegans. Our own Jet Tila just prepared a Sunday Supper at Crossroads serving plant-based versions of his signature pan Asian dishes.

Jet Tila Sunday Supper at Crossroads KitchenJet’s plant-based menu started with Sew Mai Dumplings and concluded with Thai Tea Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Jet adapted his signature Drunken Noodles (Giada De Laurentiss’ favorite) for the evening substituting tofu for pork. The dish earned high praise from the guests.

The Featured Cocktail was Mekhong Smoke. It’s Mekhong rum, mescal, thai basil, tamari salt and blistered shishito pepper.

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris preview the show
Segment Two: Celebrity Chef Tiffany Derry of Dallas, Texas Part One
Segment Three: Celebrity Chef Tiffany Derry of Dallas, Texas Part Two
Segment Four: Food GPS’ Josh Lurie and Chef Chris Oh of Seoul Sausage Co. and Escala
Segment Five: Miguel Rodriguez, General Manager and Executive Chef Marc Johnson, Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge, The Island Hotel, Newport Beach Part One
Segment Six: Miguel Rodriguez, General Manager and Executive Chef Marc Johnson, Oak Grill and Aqua Lounge, The Island Hotel, Newport Beach Part Two
Segment Seven: Tal Ronnen, founder and executive chef of Crossroads restaurant, Los Angeles Part One
Segment Eight: Tal Ronnen, founder and executive chef of Crossroads restaurant, Los Angeles Part Two

All Hands on Deck with Tony Abou-Ganim and Shellback Rum

SoCal Restaurant Show recently went to the Mark for Events in West LA to check out our past guest, The Modern Mixologist, Tony Abou-Ganim in a special mixology class called ‘All Hands on Deck’. Presented by Shellback Rum, we created three signature cocktail creation and had some great bites provided by the Mark of Events caterers. Great way to celebrate National Rum Day! As always, we’re all over Southern California to share more great events with our amazing audience. Where will we be next?

Life is Beautiful Festival

life-is-beautifulBig news for everyone in the Vegas Tila Army! I’m part of the Culinary Advisory Board for the upcoming Life is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas from Saturday, October 27th to Sunday the 27th. You’ve probably seen the full page ads in LA Weekly emphasizing the incredible music lineup featuring bands like Vegas’ own the Killers along with Kings of Leon. But there’s also an amazing lineup of celebrity chefs as well! Not just me but pretty much everyone associated with the restaurant scene in America. As for as I’m concerned, the food is the main event and the music? That’s kind of dessert. Here’s the press release about the festival and I hope to see my Army in Vegas right before Halloween for this blowout of a party!

Life is Beautiful Festival Announces Culinary Experiences & New Chefs

Two-Day Festival of World Class Music, Food, Art & Learning in Downtown Las Vegas includes “Grills & Guitars” by Blue Ribbon Restaurants, “The Culinary Village”, and “The Alchemy Garden”

New Chef Additions include Nancy Silverton; Headlining Chefs include: Bruce & Eric Bromberg, Jonathan Waxman, Hubert Keller, Aaron Sanchez, Cat Cora, Rick Moonen, Scott Conant, Tom Colicchio, Michael Symon.

Friday, October 25th – Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (July 16, 2013) – Life is Beautiful (L.I.B.) Festival announces the lineup of culinary programming and experiences for the inaugural festival taking place Saturday, October 26th and Sunday, October 27th, 2013, with a kickoff event the evening of Friday, October 25th . With more than 60 chefs and restaurants, 24 wineries and 24 breweries participating in the culinary part of the festival alone, L.I.B. presents its attendees with a full-scale food festival experience and expects to draw tens of thousands of people to Downtown Las Vegas. The culinary programming includes experiences that are included in the price of a general-admission festival ticket, such as The Culinary Village, The Alchemy Garden & Chefs on Stage, as well as unique ticketed events that do not require a festival ticket like the Grills & Guitars kick-off party hosted by Blue Ribbon Restaurants and the Take a Stand charity soiree; an eight-course dinner hosted by Elizabeth Blau & Hubert Keller benefitting Three Square Food Bank and Communities in Schools.

The creative direction of the food festival portion of Life is Beautiful Festival was shaped by a culinary advisory board of 12 top chefs chaired by Bruce Bromberg of Blue Ribbon Restaurants. The food festival will be anchored by The Culinary Village a Moroccan-style bazaar featuring stations manned by more than 60 well-known chefs. Within The Village, guests can enjoy an entertaining and informative series of chef demonstrations (Chefs on Stage), culinary affairs, intimate meals and a beer, wine and spirits garden (The Alchemy Garden). All experiences within the food and wine program will allow attendees the opportunity to engage with these talented chefs up-close and gain insight into their creative process in the kitchen and beyond.

“The food experiences of Life is Beautiful Festival were carefully designed to be interactive, innovative and unexpected,” says Jolene Mannina, Head of Culinary Arts for the festival. “Working with the vision of our Culinary Advisory Board of 12 world-renowned Chefs, we’ve created an approach that we feel will set us apart from other food festivals, giving both our patrons and chefs a chance to enjoy something new, fresh and, of course, delicious.”

The current chef lineup features: Bruce Bromberg and Eric Bromberg, Scott Conant, Jonathan Waxman, Hubert Keller, Cat Cora, Michael Mina, Chris Cosentino, Rick Moonen, Kim Canteenwalla, Jet Tila, Donald Link, Tom Colicchio, Michael Symon, Aaron Sanchez, David Burke, Charlie Palmer, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Paul Bartolotta, David Myers, Todd English, Kerry Simon, Carla Pellegrino, André Rochat, Sven Mede, Marcel Vigneron, Mike Minor, Megan Romano, Elias Cairo, Josh Graves, Jason Tuley, Rebecca Wilcomb, Ben Hammond, Grant MacPherson, Michael Kornick, Natalie Young, Dan Coughlin, Sean Kinoshita, Massimiliano Campanari, Carlos Buscaglia, Vinod Ahuja, Manuel Hinojosa.

New Chefs / Mixologists Added to the lineup: Nancy Silverton, Akira Back, Richard Camarota, Frank Goriceta, Carlos Guia, Joseph Leibowitz, Hiew Gun Khong, Nina Manchev, Tony Abou-Ganim, Drew Levinson, Andrew Pollard, Eric Swanson, Kent Bearden, Thomas Burke, Michael Shetler, Kevin Vanegas, Jack Kramer and Mike Tadich.

Tickets for the Life is Beautiful Festival Culinary Programs go on sale July 19, 2013 at

www.lifeisbeautifulfestival.com

Link to Culinary Experiences video: http://youtu.be/-SBlmQ6lTx4

Life Is Beautiful Festival – Culinary Experiences Premier Sponsor: Whole Foods Market

– The Culinary Village: Located in the heart of the festival and home to the world’s best chefs and restaurants, The Culinary Village is where the aromas of earth’s four corners collide. Over 50 restaurants will partake in this bazaar of epicurean delight that takes festival food options to a whole new level.

Restaurants: Blue Ribbon Restaurant, Honey Salt, Fleur, Strip Steak, Wolfgang Puck, Nobu Hard Rock, DMK Burger Bar, Due Forni, Yellowtail, Kumi, D.O.C.G., Herbsaint, LAVO, TAO, Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina, EAT, Chocolate & Spice, Origin India, Barbuto, rm Seafood, Kuma Snow Cream, Curbside Cafe, LBS Burger, Smokin Bros BBQ, Sin City Hot Dogs, Forte European Tapas & Bistro and more.

Price: General Admission or VIP festival ticket required, a la carte selection Date: Saturday and Sunday, October 26th & 27th Time: Saturday, 1:00pm – 12:00am Midnight; Sunday, 12:00pm – 11:00pm

– The Alchemy Gardens Presented by Wirtz Beverage: Craft brewers, wine makers and distillers will pour a-la-carte libations at this garden, overflowing with liquid creativity. Enthusiasts can also choose to purchase additional tickets to meet and mingle with master brewers, wine makers and distillers over flight tastings.

Price: General Admission or VIP festival ticket required a la carte Beer, Wine, Spirits and Sake; must be 21 or over. Date: Saturday and Sunday, October 26th & 27th Time: Saturday, 1:00pm – 12:00am Midnight; Sunday, 12:00pm – 11:00pm

– Flights Tastings (In The Alchemy Gardens): For a better understanding of the passion and history poured into each glass, additional tickets may be purchased for tastings with master brewers, wine makers and distillers.

Price: $40 for 9 tastings, General Admission or VIP festival ticket required Date: Saturday and Sunday, October 26th & 27th Time: Saturday, 1:00pm – 12:00am Midnight; Sunday, 12:00pm – 11:00pm

– Chefs on Stage Presented by Sub-Zero Wolf & Whole Foods Market: Over two days, 20 of the most highly regarded chefs in the industry give attendees a chance to get up close and personal as they showcase their skills live on a Sub-Zero Wolf stage located in a climate-controlled tent. These demonstrations will tantalize taste buds and teach viewers how to create the same experience at home.

Chefs: Bruce and Eric Bromberg, Scott Conant, Jet Tila, Jonathan Waxman, Cat Cora, Chris Cosentino, Rick Moonen, Aaron Sanchez, Hubert Keller, Kerry Simon, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Mike Minor, Donald Link, Grant MacPherson, Carla Pellegrino, Jason Tuley, David Myers, Elias Caro, Josh Graves,Todd English

Location: The Culinary Village Price: Free Event with Festival General Admission or VIP ticket Date: Saturday and Sunday, October 26th & 27th Time: Saturday, 1:45pm – 9:00pm; Sunday, 12:45pm – 8:00pm

– Take A Stand: Elizabeth Blau and Hubert Keller will host the Life is Beautiful grand opening soiree to benefit Three Square Food Bank and Communities in Schools. Showcasing the mystery and wonderment of Old Vegas at its finest, this charity dinner will feature eight award-winning chefs serving eight courses

in various styles throughout the night paired with priceless wines and crafted cocktails by Wirtz Beverage mixologists and sommeliers.

Chefs: Hubert Keller, Michael Mina, Todd English, Akira Back, Paul Bartolotta, Grant MacPherson, Charlie Palmer, Megan Romano Location: Secret Downtown Location to be revealed upon purchase confirmation Price: $5,000

(1) VIP two-day festival ticket included

(1) Grills & Guitars ticket included Seats: 40 (must be 21 or over)

Date: Friday, October 25th Time: 7pm – 10pm

– Grills & Guitars: Start the festival weekend with 15 well-known chefs, gourmet comfort food and live music. A twist on the traditional backyard barbecue, the festival kick-off party will pair beer, wine and cocktails with flamed-kissed fare that will satisfy all the senses.

Chefs: Bruce & Eric Bromberg, Jonathan Waxman, Cat Cora, Tom Colicchio, Michael Symon, Nancy Silverton, Jet Tila, Scott Conant, Kim Canteenwalla, Aaron Sanchez, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Rick Moonen & David Myers Price: $175, VIP $225 *Does not require purchase of a festival ticket. Must be 21 or over.

Date: Friday, October 25th Time: 8pm VIP, 9pm – Midnight

– Culinary Crawl: This three-hour dining tour is designed to introduce palates to a variety of tastes. Guests will be escorted to three different venues, each with a different chef host who has customized a unique experience that pairs their creative dishes with specially selected drinks provided by Wirtz Beverage Group.

Saturday Chefs & Locations:

“Pig & Whiskey” hosted by Kim Canteenwalla and Sven Mede at The Flame Steakhouse “From Korea to Japan”, hosted by Akira Back at Park on Fremont “Amaro & Amare”, hosted by Richard Camarota & Megan Romano at EAT

Price:

$130 – Single pass to the Culinary Crawl, GA or VIP festival ticket required for purchase

$290 – Includes a two (2) day General Admission festival ticket Date: Saturday, October 26th

Time: 5pm – 8pm Sunday

Chefs & Locations:

 “Rare & Rosso” Jonathan Waxman & Nancy Silverton at EAT  “Tongue & Cheek” Rick Moonen at Le Thai  “Bones & Brews” Iron chef Cat Cora & Jason Tuley at Park on Fremont

Price: Date: Sunday, October 27th

$130 – Single pass to the Culinary Crawl, GA or VIP festival ticket required for purchase $290 – Includes a two (2) day General Admission festival ticket

Time: 5pm – 8pm ***Chef and event details subject to change.

Regular Two-Day General Admission & VIP Tickets for the 2013 Life is Beautiful Festival are available for purchase at www.lifeisbeautifulfestival.com

General Admission Tickets:

 Regular Two-Day GA: $159.50 VIP Tickets:

 TWO-DAY VIP Ticket: $349.50

o VIP tickets include: Exclusive VIP lounge with shade, lounge seating, activities and more; Viewing Areas at Main Stages; VIP restroom facilities; Access to special VIP food concessions; Access to special VIP beer, wine and spirits concessions; Commemorative Poster and more!

Life is Beautiful Sponsors

Sponsors of the inaugural Life is Beautiful Festival include Wirtz Beverage Group, Heineken, Zappos, Cirque du Soleil, Las Vegas Review Journal, Red Bull, Esquire, Whole Foods Market, Caesars Entertainment, and many more. *Sponsors listed are current as of release date.

L.I.B. is being developed by Aurelian Marketing Group in partnership with Another Planet Entertainment, MAKTUB Marketing and Downtown Project. Visit www.lifeisbeautifulfestival.com and sign up to receive information updates via email. Connect with the Life is Beautiful team socially at Facebook.com/LIBFestival and Twitter.com/LifeIsBeautiful.

 

Show 33, June 29, 2013: Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist

The Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-GanimTony is based in the classic cocktail capital of America, b. When it comes to being the ultimate master bartender (and part magician) Tony is the recognized go-to guy on the national scene. When Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” needs a star mixologist they use Tony in the episode!

When Steve Wynn built his enduring masterpiece, the Bellagio, the ultimate destination resort of modern Las Vegas, Tony created the ambitious, trend-setting bar program for the entire project and trained the staff.

Tony is talking about summer cocktails. He takes us through the creation of a special daiquiri made with fresh bing cherry infused rum as the base.

His favorite spirit is Campari (the Italian aperitif) and his favorite cocktail is the Negroni.

Just out is Tony’s signature line of custom specialized bar tools.

Play

Show 33, June 29, 2013: Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist Continued…

The Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-GanimOn our return Tony went through the steps in mixing the perfect Negrino.

He also emphasized the importance of the proper glassware and hard, clear ice in creating truly great cocktails. Ice is often overlooked and that ultimately creates problems with presentation and possible dilution.

On Tuesday, July 2nd Tony Abou-Ganim is a guest on NBC’s “Today Show.” He’s going to be sharing “do it yourself” cocktails for the 4th of July.

On August 16th, Abou-Ganim is going to be in Los Angeles for the “All Hands on Deck” cocktail tour for National Rum Day. Over the course of the evening’s program Abou-Ganim will explore with the guests the modern mixology applications of Shellback Caribbean Rum.

Play

June 29: Kedric Francis, Tony Abou-Ganim, Thornton Winery

Podcasts

Segment One: On the Road with Chef Jet and Producer Andy
Segment Two: Kedric Francis, Executive Editor of Coast Magazine Part One
Segment Three: Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist Part One
Segment Four: Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist Part Two
Segment Five: Kedric Francis, Executive Editor of Coast Magazine Part Two
Segment Six: David Vergari, Winemaker at Thornton Winery in Temecula

Time to talk dining…

Providence RestaurantChef Jet celebrated Father’s Day at Providence in Los Angeles. This is celebrity chef Michael Cimarusti’s (ex-Water Grill) much-praised, fine-dining seafood restaurant. In addition to the expected great seafood non-stuffy, attentive service is part of the experience. There is also a very deep wine list and an outstanding bar. Jet talks about his meal there and why this is such a popular special occasion establishment.

We’ll also answer some e-mail inquiries.

Kedric Francis of Coast Magazine and the Orange County Register MagazineMr. Suave himself, Kedric Francis, is back with us. He’s the Executive Editor of Coast Magazine and co-founding editor of the revamped OC Register Magazine.

Kedric is in-studio talking about local travel opportunities for Summer. He’s got some inspired ideas for traveling on the rails and previews the new attractions at The Disneyland Resort. It’s all child-friendly, too.

The Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-GanimWe’re delighted to welcome The Modern Mixologist, Tony Abou-Ganim, to the show. He’s a master barman and part magician. Tony is based in Las Vegas. He created the entire bar program (nothing short of spectacular) for the opening of Steve Wynn’s  original Bellagio, the trend-setting casino resort of it’s time.

Tony will share his inspirations for Summer cocktails and the importance of quality ice. It really makes the difference in a properly-prepared cocktail!

The Modern Mixologist also previews his new line of custom-designed bar tools.

Man about Orange County, Kedric Francis encores for another segment. This time he’s  chatting about the just-released June Restaurant Issue of Coast.

One feature profiles up and coming areas where there are pockets of distinctive dining places. Downtown Santa Ana is one of these spotlighted dining neighborhoods.

The most interesting piece, we think, is on the best restaurants in Orange County located in the worst spots. What a fun idea…

A truly underappreciated local wine country destination is the Temecula Valley. It’s 90 minutes, or less, from most areas of Orange County. It’s probably best known as the location of the Pechanga Casino Resort (largest Indian casino & hotel property in the West) but there is lots more out there.

Thornton Winery in TemeculaWhen you cross Butterfield Stage Road going East on Rancho California Road you hit the picturesque, and delightfully rural,  wine country. The first winery property you pass is the eye-catching Thornton Winery celebrating their 25th anniversary of proud family ownership in 2013. They are especially known for their premium California sparkling wines but also produce a  distinctive line of still wines under the stewardship of winemaker David Vergari.

Since the beginning Thornton has staged a highly regarded summer Champagne Jazz Series at the winery showcasing renowned contemporary jazz artists. Dave Koz performed two concerts there last weekend. It’s a superb environment to enjoy a concert in. You can also sip wine and enjoy a three-course seated dinner in the concert area.

Podcasts

Segment One: On the Road with Chef Jet and Producer Andy
Segment Two: Kedric Francis, Executive Editor of Coast Magazine Part One
Segment Three: Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist Part One
Segment Four: Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist Part Two
Segment Five: Kedric Francis, Executive Editor of Coast Magazine Part Two
Segment Six: David Vergari, Winemaker at Thornton Winery in Temecula