Kathy Leonardo

Kathy Leonardo  Photo:Gregory Dahl

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LA Art Party Newsletter

LAArtParty is an arts and entertainment website. Established in 2010, it is an online go-to guide for what's happening in and beyond the LA area - this includes dining, travel and more.

Founded by journalist, and "Blues Mama" Kathy Leonardo (a longtime performer), the campy site has an unusual slant which will keep you entertained. Leonardo has been writing for the past 15 years about various subjects for the Huffington Post, THRIVE GLOBAL, LA Weekly, etc.

Each month the LAArtParty staff, led by Kathy Leonardo decides which events will be featured. Posted at noon on the Thursday prior to the last week of the month, LAArtParty.com features the Top Ten Art Parties, plus other fun events each month. VIP subscribers find out ONE week prior to the public and receive discounts and invites to VIP parties throughout the year.

See Contact Page to find out how to become a VIP subscriber so you don't miss any more great ART Parties!! See Contact/Rates Page to find out how submit and promote your own events!

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Mayor Garcetti

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Former Mayor Villaraigosa, Levitated Mass LACMA

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Pulitzer Prize Winning Food Critic, Jonathan Gold

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Bernie Taupin

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Actor, Martin Mull

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Herb Alpert

 Graham Nash

Graham Nash

Ed Moses

Larry Bell

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Shag

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John Van Hamersveld

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Andy Moses

Peter Alexander

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David Trulli

Ellwood T. Risk

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Stuart Kusher

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Brooke Harker

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Sona Mirzaei

Jules Muck

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LA Art Show



On site with LA Art Party's Video team

First Fridays on AK

view on youtube.com

”Magic Circles” at MOCA

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Mammoth Mountain - A Quick Weekend Trip!

With the recent rain in LA, the drought situation has improved...thank goodness. If you love snow and everything that comes with it, spend the weekend in Mammoth Mountain. Los Angeles offers some incredible weekend getaways (see my travel/wine review of my trip up to the central coast of California).
THRIVE-2-mammoth-withpeoplePhoto by Richard Bilow, skiers enjoying the mountain

The fact that Wave Rave Snowboard Shop owner and 5-time Verbier Xtreme champion Steve Klassen calls Mammoth his home says a lot. Klassen is one of the true pioneers of the snowboard industry. He takes lines down extreme terrain that seem impossible to survive, let alone navigate with the precision and style required to be a champion. Steve collaborated with Arbor Snowboards to create the Steepwater Snowboard, a big mountain "rocket" designed and built for pushing the limits of the sport. Wave Rave Snowboard Shop has helped create the style and spirit of snowboard culture worldwide. http://www.waveravesnowboardshop.com/

Mammoth is also the home of legendary downhill mountain bike world champion "Insane Wayne" Croasdale, who still holds the record for the fastest Kamikaze run down Mammoth Mountain. "There's nothing like the feeling of being surrounded by towering mountains while ripping down the trails with my dogs by my side," says Croasdale. "The Eastern Sierras is an endless playground for me, and I can't imagine living anywhere else."
laap-2-Mammoth-drive-from-owens-vally-tomammothPhoto by Richard Bilow scenic view driving to Mammoth

Watch the weather closely. The mountain is just over five hours from LA...so it makes for a perfect last minute trip. Call in sick, grab your skis and snowboards, and hit the 405 by no later than 2:30pm. You'll miss the traffic and be to the Eastern Sierra town of Mammoth Lakes by 8pm...that is, if you don't speed through any of the small towns. Do that, and you will have a very expensive delay. By 5:30pm, you will be far from the city and driving through some truly beautiful landscapes known as the Eastern Sierra Scenic Corridor. The first town you will notice will be Lone Pine, base camp for those climbing Mount Whitney, the over 14,000-foot peak that is a challenging hike to say the least. You may want to hit Lone Pine during the summer and give the hike a try, if you are both athletic and in great shape.
laap-3-Sierras-MountWhitneyPhoto by Richard Bilow, Mount Whitney

The key to a successful trip to Mammoth, if you are determined to get the best conditions, is subscribing to Howard Schecter's Platinum Powder Alerts

Photographer and avid snowboarder Richard Bilow said he has been using these reports to determine when to hit the mountain for years. Predicting the perfect conditions is both an art and a science, with a healthy dose of gut feeling. Fortunately, if calm winds and blue skies don't prevail, the mountain staff works diligently to keep the slopes set for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, spinning the lifts whenever possible. This year, due to the massive amount of snowfall, you still have many months remaining to enjoy the winter sports.

The views from the top of the mountain are panoramic and truly stunning, and the lower runs offer a spectacular perspective as well. Bilow said he allocates time in between runs to marvel at the landscape. "I once sat looking up at the top of the mountain, which by the way is over 11,000 feet high, while the wind blew swirling powdery snow dust into the sky," said Bilow. "It looked like a vortex of diamonds." Bilow's childhood memories include trips to Mammoth with friends. "I grew up going there with my best friend Mike, whose family had a condo and who always invited me along," explained Bilow. "I think of Mammoth as a home away from home, and I still make it a point to chase a few powder days each season, but these days, I find myself more inspired to take photographs in the area than to risk life and limb on the mountain."
laap-4-Sierras-viewtowardsparanoidflatsfromthetopofmammothmountainPhoto by Richard Bilow, view from the top of Mammoth

Mammoth offers something for everyone – at every skill level. In fact, you may see celebrity athletes such as Brandon Davis or Tina Basich practicing their jumps on the mountain. Look up from the main lodge towards the terrain park or take the lift over the park. You are likely to see these world-class athletes pushing their personal limits as they prepare for upcoming competitions.

For those who prefer a more old-school mountain experience, June Mountain is another option. It's about forty-five minutes from Mammoth and is known for its great powder runs through the trees. Crowds are lower, and views of the June Lake Loop are something really special.
laap-5-Sierras-junelakeloopfromthetopofjunemountainPhoto by Richard Bilow, June Lakes from June Mountain

For additional info about this area, visit these websites: http://www.visitmammoth.com/ https://www.mammothmountain.com/

Review: The Good Pizza

I love to review food, and even though my taste buds are drawn to the complicated cuisine of upscale restaurants, I am still open to finding terrific versions of basic food, at all types of venues. One can find delicisous quick bites at many casual pay-at-the-counter type food establishments...such as this one in Marina Del Rey.
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Image: courtesy of LAArtParty;

I was recently introduced to The Good Pizza on Lincoln Boulevard. And as a New Yorker, I am especially particular about my pizza. My boyfriend had been raving about this place, so I decided to give it a try.

Although not a vegetarian, I love vegetables while still enjoying pepperoni on my pizza from time to time. While my boyfriend chose a few slices loaded with meat, l was drawn to a slice covered with artichoke hearts, spinach, and mushrooms. Underneath the veggies, I found pepperoni - an added bonus. Very often pizzerias offer one or the other (meat or vegetables) on its pies...not a combination of both. I am assuming a true vegetarian would first confirm that the pizza was meat-free, but I was delighted by the topping variety. The pizza was easy to fold (important for us New Yorkers) and covered with a delicious tomato sauce. The crust was chewy with just enough crunch...delish!
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Image: courtesy of LAArtParty; a meat eaters dream

If you are looking for NY quality pizza, pop by The Good Pizza, 4222 Lincoln Boulevard, Marina del Rey, CA 90292; 424 835-4243; http://www.thegoodpizza.com

Travel Review: Re-discover Harlem, NYC!

Music has long been a big part of the culture of New York. Growing up in this city, I spent many a night in Harlem hanging out in clubs such as Bill's Place, Showman's Jazz Club, and of course the very popular Apollo Theater. Back in the day, the neighborhood was very different. Today, the signs of gentrification are everywhere, but thank goodness Harlem has managed to keep some of its retro soulful dives alive.
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Les Goodson Soul Jazz Band, photo by Richard Bilow

Paris Blues is a classic dive bar located in West Harlem. It's a throw-back blues venue featuring local jazz and blues. I stopped in to see the Les Goodson Soul Jazz Band. The bar was relatively quiet when I first arrived at 9:45pm, but it soon filled up...standing room only. I met owner Samuel (Sam) Hargress, Jr., who informed me that he just turned eighty. He had always been a lover of music and opened Paris Blues fifty-eight years ago. When I asked if the name was inspired by the Paul Newman/Sydney Poitier/Joanne Woodward movie with the same name, he replied, "No, it was inspired by my family's history with the Harlem Hellfighters in Paris." Paris Blues, 2021 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10027;

Red Rooster Harlem has an excellent reputation. Chef and co-owner Marcus Samuelsson's signature cuisine is just one of the many attributes this club has to offer. Featuring a weekly mix of styles - Jazz, Latin Jazz, World Music, and DJs - it creates a wonderful community atmosphere. Talented veteran musicians play the Red Rooster along with special guest musicians and singers allowing an off-the-cuff experience to unfold.

Manager Tynae Lester gave us a quick tour before leading my travel partner/photographer and myself to our table. We ordered a delicious Malbec (Susanna Balbo Crios, 2014, Mendoza) - a fruity full-bodied red, with cherry overtones. The place was starting to jump when the Yep Chicken and Waffles circa 1930 (Jesus' hot breath, Vermont syrup, pickle chips) arrived at the table. The chicken was perfectly fried with a spiced batter that tantalized my palette. The waffles were soft with a delicate crunch and complemented the dish, along with the zesty cilantro dip.
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Yep Chicken and waffles circa 1930, photo by Richard Bilow

Next, we enjoyed the Warm Beef Kitfo (beef tartare, berbere spiced yogurt, awase vinaigrette, fried Injera) and Sister Franny's Crab Toast (blue crab, cheddar, ginger, yum tom, crispy shallots, cilantro, grilled flat bread). Both dishes were sensational. The Warm Beef Kitfo offered a multi-dimensional spice pairing. It was an exquisite flavor, but Sister Franny's Crab Toast knocked my socks off. The delicate crab mixed with cheddar was a wonderful savory combination, but the spicy sauce and jalapeños on top brought my taste buds to a whole new level. Dessert was also delightful. We enjoyed La Isla Bonita (tres leche cake, rum, passion fruit, and banana) Coffee and Doughnuts (dulce de leche ice cream and mocha).
RedRooster-SisterFrannysCrabToastSister Franny's Crab Toast, photo by Richard Bilow

For a Monday evening, the Red Rooster attracted a huge crowd. The Rakiem Walker Project (RWP) played to a group of enthusiastic fans. The jazz band played from 8-12am and featured horns, drums, vocals, guitar, keyboards, etc., with many guest performers jumping in.

Supervisor and artist Leon Johnson came by to say hello and recounted his personal history with the restaurant. Johnson was recently promoted to supervisor at the Red Rooster, but has been a server for the past five years. Johnson is an artist and first met the owner at the Red Rooster. Samuelsson was working on a new cookbook. "I actually became involved with the cookbook when I handed Marcus my business card in passing," explained Johnson. "Later, he mentioned that he was putting together a cookbook and asked if I would be interested and I, of course, was totally honored." Johnson's illustrations that were used in the book are also on display at the Red Rooster. "I like my work to come together like jazz - incorporating every line, every mark, every splat of ink in order to create my visual song."
RedRooster-LeonJohnsonArtArtwork by Leon Johnson featured in the Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem; Original art is on view at the Red Rooster

The restaurant sports additional art on the walls by artists such as Derrick Adams, Howard Cash, Brandon Coley Cox, Bobby Fisher, Mark Leckey, Lorna Simpson, and more.

After talking to Lester and Johnson, I soon realized the restaurant staff and musicians were a tight-knit family, blending food, music, art, and cookbook to boot. Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem recently published, features recipes of many of the restaurant's top dishes. Samuelsson has long been a lover of jazz. His book tour in October/November of 2016 featured the Rakiem Walker Project. Samuelsson's idea was to bring a slice of Harlem life with him on the book tour, so he invited the band and the dance group W.A.F.F.L.E., thus creating a one-of-a-kind experience for all. Red Rooster Harlem, 310 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10027; http://www.redroosterharlem.com

If you happen to be in New York City and love music, take some time to re-discover Harlem...it's fantastic!

Restaurant Review: Hyde Sunset Kitchen + Cocktails

Hyde Sunset Kitchen + Cocktails is located in West Hollywood, just above the bustle of the Sunset Strip. The hotspot starts to stir after 9pm, attracting a later crowd for its California cuisine. Chef Chris Crary (the executive chef of Hyde Sunset Kitchen + Cocktails) started working for SBE two and a half years ago. We recently met at The Taste (an annual food event presented by the LA Times and CITI). He invited myself and my photographer to review his restaurant.

We didn't have a lot of time, as we were rushing off to cover another event, but I did manage to squeeze in one cocktail. I chose the Porn Star Martini, which featured Absolut Elyx, Licor 43, passion fruit purée, simple syrup, Madagascan vanilla, and Prosecco. An easy to drink martini - perhaps too easy - I could have sipped down five without even realizing it. I especially loved the Prosecco on top which tickled my nose as it buzzed around the classic martini glass.hydeSunset-Bilow-dishes-72dpi-550
Then, the appetizers started appearing. Seared ahi tuna, was served with celery, radish, heirloom tomato, and avocado. The tuna was pink, its edges encrusted with ground sesame seeds. The fried chicken sliders on butter biscuit with mustard kimichi honey aioli were heavenly. Peach + Barrata sported an unusual combo - peaches and arugula with peach mustard, balsamic, and pretzel crouton. The Grilled Smoky Cauliflower offered a whole new take on the vegetable. The roasted tomatoes combined with salami aoli, walnut, and capers brought it to the next level.

Then, Chef Chris brought out two of his most popular dishes. Torchio Bolognese is a basic chicken Bolognese, with parmesan…a simple dish with a big bold flavor.

Obviously the highlight of the menu, I cannot give high enough praise about the Local Black Cod, which was beautifully placed on miso cauliflower purée. Kumquat and puffed rice were added accents to this dish. The cod was cooked perfectly, flaked to the fork, and simply melted in your mouth.

hydeSunset-Bilow-blackcod-72dpi-550We were just about too full to eat dessert, but we managed to squeeze in a bit more. A chocolate coffee cake topped with almond crumble featured caramel sauce, chocolate pudding, and two luscious scoops of spiced strawberry ice cream. Chocolate chunks were randomly scattered on top of the dessert with sweet caramel dots. It was a beautiful marriage of mousse and coffee cake. From start to finish, it was an unbelievable meal.

Crary has a lot on his plate. He is currently overseeing the opening of two additional establishments - a night club called Nightingale Plaza and the James Hotel - all this with a four month old baby at home. Not sure how he does it all, but keep doing it Chef Chris - your cuisine is amazing!!!

Hyde Sunset Kitchen + Cocktails, 8117 West Sunset Blvd., LA, 90046; 323 940-1650; http://www.sbe.com

Hotel Review: The Hermosa Hotel (Catalina Island)

casinoCatalina has long been a great summer vacation destination for many Los Angeles residents and tourists alike.

See Image: courtesy of LA Art Party

A one - two night stay can work wonders on eradicating the stress of one's busy life, so I was quick to say yes when my boyfriend suggested we take advantage of a rare leap year special offered by the Hermosa Hotel.

A one night stay was $29 plus $29 each way per person on the Catalina Express, a fairly large fast-moving boat which transfers visitors from one of three ports near Los Angeles to the island. My boyfriend and I left out of Long Beach for our quick getaway to the Catalina, saving over $100 on our great escape. When planning your trip, do forget to factor in the $17 per day cost of parking at the boat terminal.

hermosabalconyApproximately 2 hours after leaving Long Beach we arrived at the Hermosa Hotel. At first glance the room was simple, clean, but small. Next we noticed the bathroom was situated between two rooms. It was a shared bathroom.

Little did we know we would soon be sharing something else. Our room was located in the front of the building on a busy street. Just outside the room was a shared balcony, accessible to all of the Hermosa hotel guests. It turns out that the Hermosa commonly hosts large groups of scuba divers, so the shared balcony is great for those groups.

Since we had just gotten off of the boat to Catalina along with several other hotel guests, we were immediately taken aback by seeing two to four people right outside our window. They too had just arrived and were checking out the hotel as well as its occupants. That's when it became apparent we would soon be putting on a show. The vertical blinds were missing sections which would ultimately compromise our privacy. We came to understand the value of the shared balcony for large groups, but the broken blinds could easily have been replaced with drapes.

Basichermosinnblinds 1ally since several of the individual blind slats were missing, any one standing on the porch (which remember was open to all hotel guests) could peer into the window and enjoy the show. I looked at my boyfriend and said "well, if you're an exhibitionist, this is the room for you." Fortunately, my boyfriend is quite handy and was able to rig up a home made curtain using the bedspread.

The employees running the Hermosa were quite pleasant but had no idea how to fix the situation, other than posting a "wet paint" sign on the door of the balcony to deter entrance. Be aware, we did not make a big stink of it with the front desk ( so there is no way to tell what would have happened if we did). The staff was kind enough to recommend where we could find an inexpensive cup of coffee as well as directing us to other points of interest. They also held our bags after we checked out, so we could explore the island.

Again the staff was great and I suspect other rooms (with a private bathroom and working blinds or at least rooms with curtains) would allow for a more pleasant stay. We were told cottages were available at the same price for the leap year special but on a first come basis.

If you are bothered by street noise this also may not be the hotel for you (unless a room situated in the back of the building was requested). There are more expensive hotels located off the busy streets as options for those who need a quite setting. I personally had no problem with being close to the busy street (unlike my travel companion) but I am originally from New York City and feel at home with the lively city sounds.

Serichardbilow-march2016catalinalights72dpi600 2e Image: By Richard Bilow

So if booking a room at the Hermosa Hotel, they do offer affordable specials...just remember to ask questions. There are great deals to be had in the winter season. Just make sure you don't book room # 15 unless you're into that sort of thing! 

Hermosa Hotel, 131 Metropole Street, Avalon CA 90704, 310-510-1010, http://www.hermosahotel.com

Eat, Drink, Relax in the Dutch Caribbean!

There is no denying that everyone loves to eat, and as an avid foodie, fine cuisine is consistently at the top of my list. However, when I decided to head to Bonaire (in the Dutch Caribbean) for a scuba diving trip, little did I know that the dining options available on this sleepy island would be so fantastic.
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Image: shot from Ingridients; Photo by Richard Bilow 

Ingridients is an upscale restaurant located at the Buddy Dive Resort. Situated above the dock, it offers panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea. The menu features a wonderful array of dishes rooted in Mediterranean style cooking.

We arrived just in time for the sunset. I ordered a Terrasses du Sud Merlot from Chili. This is a delicious full-bodied red with a fruit forward flavor of black currant and a hint of licorice. My companion ordered the Bonaire Blond. Our server explained the beer is a local favorite and is brewed right on the island. The pale beer is fermented and contains yeast which sits at the bottom of the bottle. The beer was poured first into a tall glass, then the yeast was placed into a shot glass, allowing the customer to have control over the beer's flavor by adding more or less of the yeast.

We were encouraged by our waiter to try the Parmesan Truffle Pasta (Tagliatella, truffle, and Italian Brandy). It was a great choice it was not only delicious, but it was prepared at our table in a giant wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese with truffles and flaming brandy.
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Image: Parmesan Truffle Pasta; Photo by Richard Bilow

Another delightful appetizer was the Lobster and Scallop Salad - a delicate union of seafood and greens brought together by a sublime cadushy liquor and lime dressing served with a traditional Dutch kletskop.

Our entrees - Gamba's al ajillo and the Blue Marlin - continued to impress us. Gamba's al ajillo features giant garlic flavored prawns with head on, along with aioli, shrimp infused ketch-up and premsela. The Blue Marlin (locally caught) was delicious - seared and served with a traditional antiboise. Chef Daan Scheffers van Soelen came out to say hello as we praised him for the terrific meal.
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Image: Gamba's al ajillo (foreground) Blue Marlin and steak; Photo by Richard Bilow

The following day, we decided to spend the afternoon in Kralendijk, the main port of Bonaire. We stopped for some lunch at a casual eatery called Rumba Café. We shared a delicious Greek salad and some tasty pizza. Then we did a little shopping and picked up some of Bonaire's biggest export - salt.

For dinner, we popped into a scenic restaurant named Karel's Beach Bar, adjacent to Cappuccino, located at the edge of a pier. It offers a romantic setting and brings to mind the feeling of dining in the middle of the ocean. Owner Karel J.C. Visser has three restaurants in close proximity...the two adjacent restaurants (on the pier) and Zeezicht Restaurant located directly across the street.
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Cappuccino & Karel's Beach Bar; Photo by Richard Bilow

I had a chance to meet the owner and find out about his background. Karel J. C. Visser was born in Bonaire in 1987 and is a fourth generation owner of this business. His great grandfather started it in 1929, and it has remained in the family ever since. "Back when Zeezicht was in my grandmother's hands, it was one of only three restaurants in town," said Visser. "It was always packed with people...my father was in his twenties, and he had the idea to create a bar so people could wait at Karel's to be seated. Karel's became so popular that it outgrew Zeezicht very fast. In 2002, my father purchased Zeezicht from my grandmother and started serving food on the pier."

Visser said he loves being a business owner on Bonaire and will be opening a new restaurant called Islander soon. "My favorite thing about Bonaire is the ocean. It is literally my backyard...everything we do has to do with the ocean...even work." Needless to say, he is also a certified scuba diver for over fourteen years.

I ordered a Cavazza merlot from Italy, while my dining partner chose a Goose Juice (coconut rum, triple sec, pineapple, and lime juice with curacao). I stole a taste of the yummy refreshing blue fruity cocktail.
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Image: Mahi Mahi and Shrimp, Chantal Seafood kabob; Photo by Richard Bilow

We began with a house salad and then shared two entrees. One was the special of the evening...Mahi Mahi and Shrimp was prepared in a delicate garlic sauce...so fresh and delicious. The other was the Chantal Seafood Kabob, exquisitely presented on a metal skewer dangling vertically. The dish sported grilled shrimp, fish, conch, onion, tomato, and bell pepper.

Although we were quite full, our server insisted that we try the dessert special. The sweet sensation included strawberry ice cream topped with a fried wonton drizzled with a tart, yet sweet green apple sauce. http://www.karelsbeachbar.com/
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Image: Dessert Special at Cappuccino; Photo by Richard Bilow

At this point, I was truly impressed with the fine dining on the island. However, if you are interested in a casual local favorite and amazing BBQ, be sure to stop into Babbejan's. It is only open on the weekend and sometimes it's a long wait for a table, but it is definitely worth it. While my travel companion and I waited for a table, we started talking to a local couple having a drink, as they waited for their to go order.  Since the restaurant has become so popular, ordering to go is apparently the preference of many locals.

Rumrunners is another waterfront restaurant located at Captain Don's Habitat. The view is magnificent and just before sunset was the perfect time to arrive. Offering an eclectic menu with a variety of specials, the restaurant is known for its pizza. We ended up sharing a salad and of course, a pizza. It was delicious and can be customized at request.  https://www.habitatbonaire.com/

Last, but not least, we had a spectacular meal at Harbour Village Beach Club's restaurant La Balandra which is open to people staying at the exclusive resort. Here, one can dine on an antique Spanish ship on the water, next to the resort's private beach.

We started with Mai Tais (white rum, dark rum, amaretto, triple sec, pineapple, lime), and moved on to wine.
harbourappetizer-wahoosashimiImage: wahoo sashimi appetizer; Photo by Richard Bilow

The first course was a true delight. Beautifully designed, the delicate wahoo sashimi (caught that day) melted in my mouth. It was marinated in soy, lime and olive oil, and was served with wakamé and wasabi cream. Vitello Tonato, another appetizer was also fantastic and featured antiboise and pine nuts.

The main course took us on a trip to foodie heaven. It was a perfect trio of taste - shrimp, filet mignon, and wahoo with a white and red wine sauce and seasonal vegetables. Delicious!
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Image: shrimp, filet mignon entree; Photo by Richard Bilow;

Now it was time to truly indulge ourselves. Who can say no to dessert when it offers three homemade exquisite treats such as Key Lime Pie, Flan Caramel, and Coconut Cheesecake? http://www.harbourvillage.com

Needless to say, my week in Bonaire featured scuba diving, hiking, and sightseeing...in addition to enjoying unparalleled cuisine. If you enjoy fine dining along with scuba diving, kite surfing, and more – Bonaire offers it all! http://www.tourismbonaire.com/

Santa Monica Eatery, Lula Cocina Mexicana Inspired by Chef Lula Bertran!

California is home to an incredible amount of great restaurants ...If you love mexican food, head to Lula Cocina Mexicana. This past July (2016) the restaurant celebrated twenty five years. Although Geraldine Gilliland, owner of Lula Cocina Mexicana, is originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, she was always intrigued with Mexican cuisine. "One day, as I was casually flipping through the latest edition of Bon Appétit magazine, I stumbled upon an article that profiled the best female Mexican chefs of the time, including Lula Bertran, explained Gilliland. "Now I’ve always had a lot of moxie, so I just went ahead and called up the editor and asked her which of these chefs she would recommend to teach me true Mexican cooking. Without missing a beat, she told me to call Lula. The next thing I knew, I was standing in a farmers market in Mexico City with Lula herself, picking out produce, touring the city, and learning to cook in her home!"
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Photo courtesy of Lula Cocina Mexicana, Beef Fajitas

It was during this first trip to Mexico City that Gilliland's vision for the restaurant first began to truly come alive. "I had fallen madly in love with the sights, sounds, and colors of Mexican culture and knew I would incorporate that beautiful levity into the restaurant, mimicking the designs of my favorite architects Luis Barragon & Ricardo Legoretta." Gilliland's husband, Theodore Lonsway, owned an antique store at the time. "Together, with our vision - and the help of a dear friend and famous local architect, Michael Bedner - we designed our dream restaurant, on a shoestring budget, of course!"

Some of its most popular dishes include Fajitas, Baja Fish Tacos, Shrimp Ceviche, Tiger Shrimp Tostada and lots more.

Outside of the restaurant business, Gilliland is passionate about the protection and rehabilitation of abused and abandoned animals; a cause for which she frequently hosts and produces charitable activities and events. In 2011, Gilliland launched Chiquita’s Friends, a non-profit dedicated to this cause and in it’s honor, all of the proceeds from this book will go towards the mission of helping abused and neglected dogs in the Los Angeles area. Find out more, on the nonprofit's website -  http://chiquitasfriends.org/

For additional info on Lula Cocina Mexicana, visit http://lulacocinamexicana.com

Boardwalk 11...More than just Karaoke!

It was a busy Tuesday at the LAArtParty office. Each Monday,July1-Boardwalk11-HH-LAAPCrew we notoriously argue about which events to choose that week out of the 30-50 we receive weekly…it’s gotten way out of hand. That particular week…we were still arguing about which event would be the Pick of the Week...and it was already a Tuesday afternoon. We had already moved on to the planning of the layout stage for the week's post...while a certain staffer (you know who you are), could not let our POW choice stand.

My videographer, Steve DePena stopped in and somehow seduced us all into going to Boardwalk 11 to sing karaoke. Now as many people know, I’ve been singing all my life and am still performing in about four bands, but karaoke is different (its actually much harder). I’ve always been a bit shy about doing it.

I sJuly1-Boardwalk11-HH-wingsaid to Steve…”It’s Tuesday night, are you sure they are having karaoke tonight”…”Yes,” he sighed, ”they have it every night. He added that Boardwalk 11 also has a great happy hour. SOLD! Mama likes to eat for a good price...and it sounded like a great way for our crew to let off some steam. Next thing I know we are headed to Boardwalk 11 in West LA to sing for our supper. 

It was a Tuesday night (early evening), and I was stunned as I watched the place fill up … singers were signing up, customers were bustling in and the restaurant became alive. Apparently this is THE place to do Karaoke. After hanging by the bar, we finally slumped in a booth started ordering more drinks (wine for Mama) at very nice happy hour prices and then we ordered a barrage of food from the HH menu.
 
WeJuly1-Boardwalk11-HH-maccheese-eggrolls just shared a bunch of different items…spinach dip, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, and chicken wings. I think we ordered every flavor (yes we were hungry) - sweet chili sesame, honey BBQ sauce and spicy buffalo…really tasty. One more item, was the hit of the night - Mac and Cheese Eggrolls - these tasty buggers were amazing (though not so good for my thighs). Who would think to wrap mac and cheese in a wonton and deep fry it? It was served with buttermilk ranch dip…so good we ordered a second.

July1-Boardwalk11-HH-mozzarellasticksBy this time the wine had kicked in and I actually got up to sing…not once but twice. Steve got up several times and crooned like Sinatra. It was pretty impressive, of course it could have been that happy hour wine I so enjoyed that made him sound astounding. Needless to say, after a long day, our LAArtParty team enjoyed a much needed fun night out.

Head to Boardwalk 11 for a great time. Happy hour runs Monday thru Fridays but you can do Karaoke every day of the week. Boardwalk 11 is located in West LA - 10433 National Boulevard, LA, 90034; 310.837.5245; http://boardwalk11.com/