wine

Spend the Night in a Cable Car 9K Feet Up

I have always been a fan of Airbnb and staying in unique places so when I saw this I just had to share. How cool would this be? I am not a skier but I would love to win just for the experience. Maybe I could tube down the mountain the next morning?

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By way of Airbnb, France’s world renowned ski resort – Courchevel – will be offering Airbnb a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ski lovers around the world. The ski resort will be listing one of its famous cable cars on Airbnb for one exclusive night only, transformed into a cozy spot for up to four nestled high above of the mountain.

Starting that day, guests will be greeted with traditional mulled wine after climbing the ski runs via snowmobile and treated to a typical savoyard dinner. Suspended 2700 meters over the Combe de Saulire (the highest point of Courchevel), the cable car will offer a prime location for guests to hit the slopes the next morning after a night overlooking the mountains. After all, guests have the privilege of laying down the “first tracks” over an untouched snow run the next day.

With more than 1M listings, Airbnb is known for providing unique experiences around the world. This one-of-a-kind experience is the latest addition to Airbnb’s ‘A Night At” initiative, designed to unlock places around the world where it’s never been possible to spend the night, which so far have included Gallery Lafayette in Paris, an IKEA store in Australia, a KLM plane in Amsterdam, and a Waterstones book store in the UK.

How to win a spot?

For a chance to win this unique experience, visit Courchevel’s listing on Airbnb no later than February 26th at 11.59pm (CET) and tell the host why you would like to spend the night in the Saulire cable car. The contest is open to families or groups of friends, four people maximum. All terms and conditions of the contest are available on http://www.airbnb.com.

 

Celebrate the Holidays at Baleen Kitchen

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Photo by Gloria Plascencia
We recently visited the waterfront Baleen Kitchen in Redondo Beach to check out their new menu. Fresh, holiday libations started off the evening! This is the Anti-Oxident Mojito with Appleton Rum, Pomegranate juice, muddled blackberry, raspberry and mint. Cheers!

Mezcalero - Mezcal, Aperol and strawberries.
Photo by Wade Hammond
Mezcalero – Mezcal, Aperol and strawberries.

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Photo by Wade Hammond
As a starter we all shared the decadent Duck Carnitas. We had them earlier in the year and have been dreaming of them ever since. They are perfect for the holidays!

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Photo by Wade Hammond
The First Course was the Baleen Garden and was delicious. It was baby beets, farrow, tomato, quinoa, avocado, pea shoots, almonds with a soft lime vinaigrette. The texture of the farro, quinoa and almonds made this salad very unique. I would love to eat that for lunch everyday!

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Photo by Wade Hammond
The Second Course was a gorgeous Crab Salad full of avocado, haricot vert, and lollo rossa. They use both soft-shell crab and fresh Dungeness for this dish.

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Photo by Wade Hammond
The Third Course of Roasted Black Sea Bass with roasted mushrooms and sweet potatoes in a fabulous aromatic broth was so mind blowing that I took half of it home – it was just as amazing the next day!

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Photo by Wade Hammond
Last but certainly not least, our Fourth Course was the giant “Tommy Hawk” Rib Eye!

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The “Tommy Hawk” was quite impressive…tender and delicious!

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Photo by Gloria Plascencia
As you can see, a fun night was had by all! Book your upcoming holiday celebration at Baleen Kitchen or stop in for happy hour with snacks and cocktails!

Baleen Kitchen is located in beautiful Redondo Beach, CA at The Portofino Hotel right on the harbor at 260 Portofino Way. (310) 372-1202

Christmas Day they will have their famous À La Carte Brunch and “Build Your Own” Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar from 6:30am-1:00pm. Then a 3-Course Dinner from 1:00pm-10:00pm adults $59 with wine pairing $70/$22 kids.

NYE They will have a fabulous 5-Course Dinner from 5:00pm-11:00pm for $85pp with wine pairing $110.

 

Staples Center Food Tour

Being a huge Lakers fan (yes, sadly I’m still hanging in there) and partial season ticket holder I find myself at The Staples Center several times a year but have never eaten there. The most I have ever had was a beer. I always get there hours early to go eat somewhere else downtown because I had no idea there was anything noteworthy in The Staple Center until now! How crazy is that? This video shows what looks like a vibrant culinary scene going on inside and I can’t wait to explore it. First up will be LudoBird! I will keep you posted!

 

Carmel-By-The-Sea = Cute-As-Can-Be

Wade and I were recently invited to stay at the Hofsas House and experience the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Little did we know, we had never actually been there before. We had been to Carmel, Carmel Valley and even the neighboring 17 Mile Drive which winds through Pebble Beach, but somehow we missed this quaint little 1X1 square mile of food, wine, shopping, beach, art and fun! I am so happy to have had this opportunity because Carmel-by-the-Sea is now one of my favorite places on earth and I can’t wait to go back!

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The charming Hofsas House has shared 6 decades of European hospitality with travelers from all over the world!

HH-7This festive mural was done in 1957 by family friend and local artist Maxine Albro and welcomes guests when they arrive. Maxine painted with Diego Rivera and some of her other work can be seen in the lobby and in room 47.

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There are 38 Bavarian inspired rooms at The Hofsas House and they are a PET FRIENDLY hotel! We had room 29 which is one of the largest and has 2 bathrooms, a fireplace, a large balcony facing the ocean, a kitchenette and a pull out couch.

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The Wine & Cheese package was the perfect way to start our trip after a 5 hour drive! After we settled in we walked a few blocks to The Grill on Ocean Avenue for dinner. It was cozy and delicious. The highlight of the meal was fresh, locally caught Sand Dabs from Monteray Bay.

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I really enjoyed relaxing on the spacious balcony after a day in the car!

HH-14The view is absolutely stunning so request a room at the top facing the ocean!

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Our bedroom was simple and clean and reminded me of staying at my grandmothers beach house. The Hofsas House was started by now owner/operator Carrie’s grandmother Donna in 1957 and has been family owned and operated ever since. Carrie started working with her grandmother at age 8 escorting guests to their rooms. So cute!

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The Hofsas House offers a complimentary continental breakfast every morning that you can enjoy in the lobby or take back to your room.

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There are no addresses on the buildings in Carmel-by-the-Sea and all of the signs are wooden to keep the charming village feel. The city also requires a permit to wear high heels over 2 inches and you can obtain a free one at City Hall. The local police don’t cite for this violation as the law was set in the 1920’s to protect the city against lawsuits from women falling on the uneven sidewalks caused by the many trees given sanctuary here.

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The next day we did the Wine Walk which is a self paced, self guided tour of the 14 tasting rooms nestled in-between the restaurants and shops of the 1X1 square mile of Carmel-by-the-Sea. (Wear comfy shoes!) You get 9 tasting cards for $65 (or $50 with a 1 night stay at The Hofsas House) and they don’t expire! It’s the perfect set up – food, wine and shopping without having to drive.

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The picturesque beach of Carmel-by-the-Sea allows fire, dogs, and alcohol on the beach until 10pm. Bring on the picnics and bonfires! The Hofsas House offers a package that includes everything you need for a beach fire and S’mores!

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This quaint little town has so many amazing art galleries. Pictured above is the Winfield Gallery which is also home to the Figge wine tasting room! A 2-in-1!

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And a food photo. There must always be a memorable food photo. In between all the wine tasting we stopped for a bite to eat at Carmel Belle and had this simple, yet yummy avocado toast and truffled egg toast with melted cheese and asparagus. It was perfect and delicious to soak up the alcohol!

If you aren’t already planning your trip to The Hofsas House and Carmel-by-the-Sea here are a few more fun facts to seduce you!

The Hofsas House
* It’s a dog friendly hotel and the entire 1X1 sq mile city is dog friendly. This concept was actually started by Doris Day at the Cypress Inn.
* There is no charge for parking, wifi, and no resort fee which is charming.
* It’s within walking distance of everything in town.
* They can perfectly accommodate any group large or small and are one of the few hotels in the area with a poolside meeting room.
* They offer a variety of packages like The Family Reunions Package, The Beach Package, The Tail Wagging Package, The Wine and Cheese Package and a variety of other things to meet your needs.

Upcoming Events at The Hofsas House
* Fri. Nov 21st 5:30-7:00 Cima Collina wine and light bites for $15 and 100% of the proceeds go to Peace of Mind Dog Rescue
* Sat. Dec 7th 2:30 Make your own Gingerbread House fundraiser for the Carmel Library Foundation. $20 for kids and $10 for adults and includes a glass of wine for the adults.

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* Clint Eastwood was the mayor from 1986-1988.
* Its a very safe city making it appealing for single travelers, especially women.
* Yearly events include an Antique Car Show and International Film Festival.
* It is close to hiking, wine, good food, whale watching, Monteray Bay, and Big Sur.
** Golfers tip-the single person secret-if you want to play Pebble Beach and not have to spend the $ to stay there call the day before or day of and see if you can get in with a group of 3.

Thank you to Carrie at The Hofsas House for your enthusiasm about this great town, your extensive knowledge and warm hospitality! We can’t wait to come back and visit you again!

 

Escape to Holman Ranch

Looking for a unique place to host an event, retreat, holiday party or get married? I’ve got the spot for you…Holman Ranch! Nestled in the tranquil Carmel Valley in Northern California Holman Ranch is absolutely magical. Wade and I were invited up to spend the night, have dinner, and tour the property and we fell in love with the history and breathtaking views. We need an excuse to host a party here! Maybe we can renew our vows for our 10 year wedding anniversary?!

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Holman Ranch offers the ultimate private ranch retreat experience and is a place where anything and everything is possible. Along with being an event venue and having all inclusive packages as well as the a la carte approach, they offer themed retreats such as Culinary Escape, Wine Lovers Delight, Sports, and Great Outdoors. The accommodations are super relaxing and luxurious enough for any event one could dream up. I love this place! There are 10 beautiful guest rooms, each themed with posters from old Hollywood movies and the entire ranch is PET FRIENDLY! During our stay we met a couple and their 2 adorable dogs who live in an RV (one of my “if I win the lottery” fantasies) and writes a blog called GoPetFriendly.com about how/where to travel with your pets. I was fascinated!

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For dinner, our hosts Hunter and Nick had us in the carriage house for a catered family style dinner paired with Holman Ranch wines. It was so festive and I could easily imagine it being the perfect setting for a wedding. With the help of their event professionals, it would be so fun to create your own one of a kind experience.

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Heres a little history of the Holman Ranch. In 1928 a modest Spanish-style hacienda was constructed on the ranch nestled in the Oak trees and was nicknamed “Casa Escondida” or “Hidden House” and served as an exclusive hideaway for Hollywood celebrities like Charlie Chaplin and Theda Bara. In 1940 Clarence Holman of Holman’s Department Store purchased the ranch and converted it from a “gentleman’s retreat” to a resort which hosted many parties and community events. The Holman’s also entertained a bevy of Hollywood’s finest like Joan Crawford, Marlon Brando, Clark Gable and Vincent Price. In 1989 Dorothy McEwen took over, planted vineyards, founded the stables and outfitted the hacienda (which remains 95% original) to accommodate celebrations of all kinds. In 2006 Thomas and Jarman Lowder fell in love with the property and purchased it. They have refurbished and restored it and are continuing the tradition of hosting magical events with the help of their daughter and Director of Hospitality Hunter and son-in-law Nick.

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The hacienda

HR-84 The interior of the hacienda

HR-92 The chapel

HR-94 The game room

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Photos by Wade Hammond

The historic Holman Ranch is in Carmel Valley which is the perfect location as you are close to Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur and San Francisco. To inquire about having your next event there contact the lovely Director of Hospitality Hunter Lowder at (831) 659-2640 and let your dreams unfold!

 

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