The Coconut Club: A Tiki Dining Experience

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 0 No tags 0

I had the very good fortune of drinking and dining with The Coconut Club a few nights ago at Sonny’s Hideaway in Highland Park. The whimsical and kitschy tiki-inspired experience created by chef Andy Windak and cocktailian Nathan Hazard is QUITE a production. They, with help from Elena Lepkowski, pop up from time to time and offer a multi-course meal with cocktails, and the whole thing is emceed by the fabulous Darren Herczeg (and his brass gong.)


There are personal pu pu platters with mini tiki torches, jello shots in an oyster shell, a smoke-emitting prop volcano, a literal shrimp cocktail and obscure films from the 60′s and 80′s (even a island-themed Golden Girls episode) projected onto a screen in the dining lanai. Everything is so well done, creative and thoughtful. And fun! For more information about how this whole thing came to be and a fun Q & A with Nathan and Andy, check out this article I wrote for Liquid LA.






Sign up for their mailing list to find out when they are hosting the next tiki extravaganza! Oh, and Happy Halloween you crazy kids.

Montreal-Style Bagels at Black Seed, NYC

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 3 No tags 0

I was in New York last week for a quick trip and sure did have a good time. Some food and drink highlights were: Estela, Uncle Boon’s, Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, ZZ’s Clam Bar, Raines Law Room, Roberta’s, Maison Premiere and…Black Seed bagels!  My friend Hourie, a professional baker, heard about their Montreal-style hand rolled and wood-fired bagels and chose that spot for an early lunch. I just so happened to be a tiny bit hungover that day, making her a genius. What’s better than a warm everything bagel with egg, bacon and cheese after a late night of drankin’? I mean.


So the thing about Montreal-style bagels is that they have egg (and no salt) in the dough and they take a little bath in honey water before they hit the oven. They are smaller, more compact and a bit denser than a New York bagel. The poppy bagel, or black seed, is the most popular style, hence the name of this stellar spot in Nolita. I believe I’ve found my new bagel boo.

Are we friends on Instagram yet? You can find me at @ubriaca for more fun adventures!


Black Seed Bagels

170 Elizabeth Street

New York, NY 10012

The Restaurant at Meadowood’s Garden, St. Helena

Monday, October 13, 2014 1 No tags 0

Chef_Kostow_Meadowood_NapaWhile in Napa with the Napa Valley Vintners recently, I was lucky enough to visit with Chef Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood. We didn’t go to the restaurant or taste their three-Michelin star menu. Nay, we went to the garden behind St. Helena Montessori they have been so lovingly cultivating for the last few years. I was stoked. Yes, eating at Meadwood is quite the experience, but this was even better.

Chef Kostow is most definitely a man with vision, and an amazing team. Garden manager Christine Kim works with Chef and the kitchen to constantly experiment, grow new varieties, sprout seeds, dry harvested plants. They try to utilize every part of a plant during every stage of its life. It’s truly inspiring.




While touring the grounds and the greenhouse, we got to snack and drink cocktails. My preferred method of touring greenhouses. Chef brought bartender Sam and a few more staff members from the kitchen and front of house to pamper the crap out of us.  Both the cocktail and the snack included herbs and vegetables from the garden – a very fresh cucumber and thai basil vodka gimlet and some fun little puffed kale bites.





Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: ice lettuce! This shit is the bomb. It looks like it’s covered in a thin layer of frost and it tastes like it’s already been dressed with lemon juice and salt. Crazy! How cool is nature?

PS- Chef Kostow’s beautiful book  A New Napa Cuisine comes out tomorow!


The Restaurant at Meadwood

900 Meadowood Lane

St. Helena, CA 94574

Scribe Winery, Sonoma

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 1 No tags 1


If I could construct the perfect tasting room, it wouldn’t be a room. It would be a grassy hill under big old trees, with dogs running around, picnic tables full of people and rows of vines as far as the eye can see. Oh wait. Scribe already did that. Scribe built the perfect tasting room. But, it’s really more of a gathering place - a spot to hang and drink (very) good wine with friends. Which is really what this whole wine thing is about anyway, right?

Scribe_Winery_Cheese_PlateHow about a perfect little cheese plate to go along with your tasting? Done. All local and fresh and simply presented. Those figs y’all. Damn delicious.

2013_Scribe_RieslingScribe is the work of two brothers – Adam and Andrew Mariani. They are making lovely, balanced wines from vineyards in Sonoma and Napa. Focusing mainly on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, they also make smaller amounts of Riesling and Sylvaner (the vines you see in these pictures). I happen to especially love the latter two, an ode to high acid whites and the original owner of the property Emil Dresel. Fun fact: Dresel brought the first cuttings of those varieties from Germany to the States in the mid-1800′s.

Scribe_Winery_SonomaIf you are traveling to Napa/Sonoma and looking for a wine experience, a visit to Scribe can’t be missed. Mkay?


2300 Napa Rd.

Sonoma, CA 95476