Michael's on Naples & Chianina: How to Throw A Block Party

Two loving grandmothers often vie for our attention. A promoter can make a cruel million by tossing Bubbes in a boxing ring to battle it out. In this corner, sponsored by Jean Nate, weighing in at 101 pounds.... 

I'm using Chef David Coleman to allegorically stir the pot of that duel. He nurtures two families, or eateries, steps away from each other in Long Beach, California.  First, there' s Italian Michael's on Naples. This is your exotic grandmother -- the one that smoked and took a lover that summer in Paris. A block away lives steakhouse Chianina, your pioneer granny that drove a wagon out West and struck oil. Maybe killed a lover along the way. 

Chef Coleman whisks between both joints with the agility of a new-hipped octogenarian. 

Renaissance Long Beach: The Great Escape

A weekend away can be refreshing. A facelift for the spirit.

I peer between the unending lines of cars dragging down the 405 freeway. I glance in my rear view mirror and see similar lines dug into my face. Reflections cause pause, then panic. I'm resigned to traffic, but not to the personal effects of stress from living in Los Angeles: The Big Ego.

I jump at the chance to sprint to Long Beach. I have friends there I rarely see because in my mind that tiny change in area code stretches to a time zone difference. Crazy; it's only half an hour away. Today, I need it to be a world away.

Blue C Sushi: Hollywood -- Roll 'Em!

I experienced my first rolling sushi at uber-swanky Harvey Nichols department store in London. The price of a Jil Sander sweater made my jaw drop. I climbed up to the 5th Floor to recover, and was met by the conveyor belt sushi bar. I picked up a soothing, cool spicy tuna roll. Satisfying; always in style. Fun.

Life presents opportunities. How we handle the choices that come along is up to each individual. Television immortalized the best example of how we react to life's offerings when Lucy worked the assembly line at a chocolate factory. Funny.

There's a new star in Tinseltown: Blue C Sushi premieres conveyor belt sushi. Really fun.

Tripel: A Gregarious Gastropub

I wonder how I'll do tonight. I win a great parking spot near the beach and walk to the nearby bar. A star shoots over the Pacific Ocean. I have a good feeling. I'm here to get lucky. 

Entering Tripel, the quiet of the Playa del Rey night is switched off like a light. My eyes adjust to the dark and I scan the room. I stride to the bar and squint to read the blackboard, hoping to look cool and not like I need glasses. I want to recognize a beer like a familiar face, but these are fun beers with long, clever names, crafted by thinkers. I worry I've stepped into an inside club.

Then buzzing patrons provide an electrifying amuse bouche. I smell garlic and sense comfort. 

Town Restaurant: Ottawa's Prince Charming

Delicious smells in a warm room make you realize that you're already in your Happily Ever After … welcome to Town.

Once upon a time in castle-laden Ottawa, Canada, lived fair maiden Lori Wojcik and her charming prince chef of a husband, Marc Doiron.

"Darling, I've got a bun in the oven," Marc announced. She widened her pretty eyes and agreed, "Of course, honey. You're a baker."

"No -- I have a dream. I want to open a full restaurant where I create the most delightful food in all of our Canadian capital's land."

And so it began. . .  after ten years of saving ducats, nigh on three years ago, they flung open the doors of their Bistronomy demi-castle.

Chef Marc is the stuff of which legendary cooks are made.

Acabar: Behold The Beauty With A Brain

I pull open the glitzy golden doors of the restaurant and her beauty takes my breath away.  But I want brains behind the blonde. The exotic seductress pulls me in close. Her luscious lips brush against my ear, making me tingle as she whispers, The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

Her name . . .  Acabar.

After spending some time together she proved that she can carry on a conversation as brilliantly as her gleaming shell.

I hope she has stamina, because I can dine all night.

My Favorite Dish: Duck Gnocchi, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok


If you have one night in Bangkok, do yourself a favor and toss your passport in the Chao Phraya River. It takes about a week to get a replacement, use that time to explore.

Ever wonder what Versailles would look like if they had money and the good taste to hire interior designers? Visit Thailand.

Some gorgeous madman with a color wheel danced into the palaces and threw passion and style around with wild abandon and expert skill. They cook like that too.