dineLA and the Los Angeles Food & Wine festival

As Mayor Anotonio Villaraigosa graced a stage yesterday near two of my favorite downtown restaurants; DRAGO and CHAYA, he gave us his mega-watt smile. He comfortably faced a crowd of chefs, media and VIPs welcoming everyone to the 5th dineLA week starting on October 2-7 and 9-14.

“dineLA is becoming tops in our city due to our diversity,” announced Villaraigosa. “Our chefs combine food from all over the world.” Mayor Villaraigosa enthusiastically revealed a new event to Los Angeles, the Food &Wine festival, with over 100 celebrity chefs, 300 wineries and 70 events from Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Downtown LA and Hollywood. “Los Angeles used to be second, third, fourth or fifth in the culinary world, behind New York and San Francisco. Now we are becoming #1,” enthused Villaraigosa. “This event demonstrates the strength of our culinary community.” dineLA brings in about $6.2 million to the city of Los Angeles.

The Mayor introduced celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck, to the podium to discuss more about the Los Angeles Food & Wine festival on October 13 -16. “Mayor, with your smile and ease shaking people’s hands, when you are finished with your term as Mayor of our city and after you are Governor, will you please be a maitre d’ at one of my restaurants?” solicited Puck.  As the crowd laughed, Puck shared that the first restaurant he worked at was three floors below where we were seated.

Puck is extremely excited to bring the Food & Wine event from Pebble Beach, CA to Los Angeles. The hope is to bring an additional $4.9 million impact to our city. With 70 events ranging from wine tastings to intimate dinners with celebrity chefs and a Wolfgang Puck Sunday brunch at the newly re-opened Hotel Bel-Air. All the proceeds from the tickets will go to the Saint Vincent Meals on Wheels foundation.  Puck has been involved with this wonderful philanthropy for 28 years.

dineLA begins October 2-7 serving lunch courses from $16, $22 or $28 and three-course dinners from $26 to $44. If diners enroll an eligible American Express card by scanning QR code or visiting sync.americanexpress.com/foursquare to sync to foursquare. Load your dineLA special discount by going on foursquare and check-in. Use your synced American Express card between Oct. 2-7 and Oct. 9-14 at one of the participating dineLA restaurants and receive a $5 statement credit when you spend $21 or more.

(Photo 1: Mayor Villaragoisa and Celestino Drago)  (Photo 2: Wolfgang Puck)

To learn more about these exciting culinary events, go to www.dineLARestaurantWeek.com. For more information on the Los Angeles Food  & Wine event October 13-16, go to www.LAFW.com.

Funky Reel Inn in Malibu

Walking into the Reel Inn in Malibu with sand between my toes is one of my favorite summer activities.  We have to visit this funky order-at-the-counter and serve-yourself fresh fish market/cafe at least twice a year.

There is always a line to order your fresh grilled fish meal. Sometimes it’s out the door, other times it’s near the large fish aquarium.  No worries, it moves quickly and there are plenty of seats inside and out on the patio.

Last Sunday we ordered fresh halibut and swordfish for $17.95 each. All the items offered are listed on a big chalkboard. Give the cashier your name and it will be called once the fish is grilled. The white plastic plate always has a generous portion of fish, plus a side of delicious potatoes with grilled onions and a chunky cole slaw. 

It’s not ocean-front dining, however if you snag a wood booth next to the window, you can sneak a peek at the glorious Pacific Ocean beyond the line of cars on PCH. It’s a great stop, allow the traffic its time to die down, and then head home after a wonderful day at the beach.

We’ve been coming since our oldest was in her infant seat. Sometimes we sit inside, but during the summer we grab a table on the wood deck or down on the gravel patio.

Beers on draft at $5 and a glass of house Chablis or burgundy is only $3.50. Share 1/2 a carafe for $6.50.

There has been a threat for years that this dining dive will close.  The nearby market and old motel are long gone.  I’m always pleasantly pleased when I see the sign out front with some corny saying like – “Green Eggs and Clams.” Oh now that sounds appetizing.

Don’t expect fine dining or impeccable service. This is a great beach/surfer place to sit down to a nice piece of grilled fish and a cold beer.

18661 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265-5528 ( near PCH and Topanga Canyon)
(310) 456-8221
Open Daily from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.


Pigs are Flying in Little Tokyo

Rick and I had the opportunity to meet celebrity gourmet food truck chef, Joe Kim at his new cafe, Flying Pig. Ever since his debut on Oprah and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, Kim has attracted quite a following on Facebook and Twitter. Fans crave his braised pork belly bun, duck fried rice and peanut butter carnitas.

Now with an urban chic cafe half a block from the Japanese American Museum, Kim offers draft and bottle beers, wine and sake to be paired with his fresh halibut with a spicy chocolate sauce and pineapple salsa or a marinated skirt steak with lemongrass, garlic and green curry.

Prices are reasonable, atmosphere is fun and if all goes well, Kim is planning to open another cafe in Hollywood, maybe on Sunset Blvd.

Follow the Flying Pig truck daily by going to facebook.com/flyingpigcafe.

The cafe is located at 141 S. Central Ave. (213)621-0300.