Luna Luna Forgotten Fantasy Los Angeles

Entrance to Luna Luna in Los AngelesI am over the moon, having just come back from seeing Luna Luna Forgotten Fantasy.

With contributions from an international crew of famous artists, this unique and unconventional art exhibition masquerades as a carnival and incorporates a variety of creative mediums and contemporary art movements.

Irreverent, joyful, cheeky, educative, and entertaining, the show spotlights a happy kaleidoscope of installations, sculpture, performance art, music, and other attractions to enchant the whole family.

Luna Luna first appeared as a real outdoor, artist-created amusement park in the summer of 1987 in Hamburg, Germany. After an initial seven week run, the park was dismantled, stored in 44 shipping containers, and lost somewhere in Texas.

Rediscovered in 2022, the “fairground” has been rescued and reassembled in a warehouse complex in downtown Los Angeles.

Today’s Luna Luna takes the visitor through 60,000 square feet of fun. Works, that cover a variety of contemporary art movements (Abstract Expressionism, Art Brut, Surrealism, Pop Art, Dada, to name a few) sit in two large room that visitors can wander at will. Carousels are deemed too fragile for people to ride, and only some of the installations can be entered with an upgraded (pricy) entrance ticket. Nevertheless, organizers promise the moon, and deliver on the promise by encouraging visitors to feast their eyes, ears and imagination on:


A colorful carousel by Erik Grauerwith figures from a fairy tale.

Carousel by Arik Brauer.


Cartoon figures showcase a carousel painted by artist Keith Haring.

Painted carousel by Keith Haring.


The back of a Ferris wheel envisioned by Jean-Michel Basquiat that show the painted bottom of an ape.

Painted Ferris wheel envisioned by Jean-Michel Basquiat .


Multiple mirrors reflect the person standing inside Salvador Dalí’s geodesic Dalídome.

Inside Salvador Dalí’s geodesic Dalídome.


A couple "getting married" inside Andre Heller's Wedding Chapel.

André Heller’s Wedding Chapel.


A white building flanked by pillars holding sculpted "poo" named Crap Chancellery mocks the Nazi's Reich Chancellor which it resembles.

Daniel Spoerri’s Crap Chancellery, enhanced by sculptures of poop, mocks Nazi Albert Speer’s “Reich Chancellery.”


A collage of a man on stilts, a feathered woman, and a puppet.

Woman dressed as a clown juggles neon colored balls.


Opening days and times vary.A collage of the exhibit's signage.

Timed tickets are available HERE.  One can enter 15 minutes before stated ticket time and, once inside, can stay as long as desired.

Prices seem sky high, especially for the $85 Moon Pass which gives access to the inside of several installations, opportunity to “marry” in the Wedding Chapel, and a discount at the gift shop. However, ticket prices vary depending on peak and non-peak times.

Signage offers  historical and artist information.

Parking is available for a fee.

The exhibit is handicap accessible.

What’s next? Perhaps a global tour. But for now, only once in a blue moon does an art exhibit showcase such festivity. So don’t miss it!  Wow—what a ride!

Click HERE for more information.

A bright colorful merry-go-round swing ride by artist Kenny Scharf.

Painted chair swing ride by Pop Surrealist Kenny Scharf.





A plated salad of butter lettuce sprinkled with herbs.The salad was freshness itself. Crispy and sweetly tender butter lettuce leaves wearing a light dressing that glistened like dew. I sampled the salad as a first course at a Sunday night dinner prepared by Scott Manlin (influencer, restaurateur, and my nephew).

Portrait of Scott Manlin

Scott Manlin

Scott credited the salad’s perfection to the Hollywood Farmers Market, where he shops every Sunday. I credit Scott’s culinary expertise.

But let me segue to the market.

Covering three blocks on Ivar and Selma Avenues, the Hollywood Farmers Market opens every Sunday from 8 am to 1 pm, rain or shine. It specializes in high quality produce and products coming from farms and food artisans throughout California.

This market is not only the darling of home-cooking Angelenos, but also a terrific spot for tourists to experience L.A.’s outdoor market scene.

In addition to stunning produce–the full monty of what is seasonally grown in California–the market sells top-notch baked goods, cheeses, herbs, flowers, and packaged products appealing to those living the good life. Live music, inviting cooking stalls and fun people watching (celebrity spotting anyone?) adds to the festive scene.

Gorgeous rhubarb glows in the sun.

Vendor and lady with leopard dyed hair study herbs.

A bucket full of flowers

Pastries from a French Baker selling at the market,

Once home, the market keeps on giving pleasure—depending on what cooks do with their purchases, which brings me back to Scott’s salad.

He shared his recipe, dipping into his pampered pantry for dressing ingredients and writing with proportions adjustable to individual needs.


A few stems of fresh chives

A few stems of fresh parsley

A few sprigs of fresh dill

Hazelnut oil

Grapeseed oil

Aged sherry vinegar

Wedge of lemon

Dijon mustard

Small shallot, minced



The freshest available butter lettuce

Mince a small amount of chives, parsley and dill and set aside.

Using a ratio of 3 parts oil (half hazelnut/half grapeseed) to 1 part vinegar, put oils and vinegar in a mixing bowl or dressing flask. Add a splash of lemon juice, a teaspoon of minced herbs, a dollop of mustard and the minced shallot. Whisk well (or shake flask) to emulsify the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste and correct seasoning.

Very gently, toss lettuce with dressing, adding only a very light amount of dressing. Plate lettuce. Sprinkle salad with minced herbs and serve immediately.

A basket inside the market telling people to take or leave a shopping bag.




Close up of top of Princess Leia Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie

This recipe for Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie double dips sweet pleasures by topping a classic apple pie with pie crust cinnamon rolls. Oh my. So good. The recipe comes from Tim Mulligan.

Close up of Tim Mulligan's face

Tim Mulligan

Tim grew up collecting recipes. “My mother was not a good cook,” he said, “so at an early age I took over the family cooking. I would get recipes from all the women cooks in the neighborhood, and, as time went on, I collected recipes from friends, travel, restaurants and …well…just about from anyone and anyplace.” Recently Tim culled all-time favorites from his vast collection to fill two recently published cookbooks:

A PERFECT 10  Ten Proven Scrumptious Recipes For Each Part Of Every Meal (published in 2022)


A PERFECT 1O Full Menus and Activities to Make Hosting Parities A Breeze (published in 2023).

Cover of Tim Mulligan's A Perfect 10 Party book.

Cooking is Tim’s passion, but not his day job. He earned a BA in Hospitality Business Management from Washington State University and a JD from Gonzaga University School of Law, before working in the hospitality and serving as the chief human resource officer for the  San Diego Zoo Global, Paul Allen’s Vulcan, and BENlabs’ (Bill Gates founder). In his spare time,Tim writes plays and cookbooks, fulfilling, what he claims, are the two major tasks on his bucket list.

Despite the high-powered, overload of activities, Tim comes across as low key, sincere and fun—traits displayed in his cookbooks.

Unpretentious and geared to cooks who may be a bit intimidated in the kitchen, the easy-to-follow recipes rely on fresh ingredients that will work to produce favorite comfort-type foods, such as a “mash-up” of cinnamon rolls and apple pie. (Recipe below).

As to tips for party giving, Tim says:

“I like to have all the work done in advance, so the minute the guest arrive I can enjoy the party too.

“I’m against setting out an open bar, which guests could find confusing. Rather I make a batch or two of a special cocktail and am ready to pour when guest arrive.

“Plan the whole party in advance–the décor, the food, the music, the games, and then, you can enjoy the party right along with guests.”

For ordering books and/or more information check out Tim’s blog HERE.

And, as promised, Tim’s  recipe straight from his party book:


Recipe photographed from Tim's book.

A wedge of Princess :era Cinnamon Roll Apple Pie




A glass of bourbon.Sorry vodka. Get lost gin. Forget about it rum. Bourbon is the glory-be American alcohol.

Born as moonshine, bourbon rose to superstar status in 1964 when Congress officially declared “Bourbon whiskey is a distinctive product of the United States and is unlike other types of alcoholic beverages, whether foreign or domestic.” Bourbon ranks right up there with the American flag, Fourth of July and the Bald Eagle as a patriotic treasure.

So what makes bourbon so special and different from other whiskeys?

To wear the name, bourbon must be produced in the United States, aged in new oak barrels that have been charred,

A stack of new oak barrells holding bourbon

and made from a mixture of grains that are at least 51% corn. Bourbon must also enter the barrel for aging at no higher than 125 proof and contain no additives (except water if needed to lessen the proof).

How do we know this?

We distilled the information from exploring THE B-LINE®, a self-guided bourbon tour in Northern Kentucky.

A decorative barrel with B-Line printing.

The B-Line tour–which happily includes a portion of the Northern Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour®–lists seven craft distilleries (each with a fascinating background);

The Neeley Family Distillery with an old car in front.

nine bourbon-focused bars (each with cool ambiance); and nine restaurants (each with delightful food).

Exterior of the Tousey House Tavern

Those who thirst for bourbon pizzazz can have a barrel of fun no matter if they hit a few places, explore all, or use The B-Line tour as a jump-off point to the longer, broader Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

To fully capture the magic of our 100% All-American spirit, beeline it to Northern Kentucky (right across the Ohio River from Cincinnati)

View of Ohio River and Cincinnati from Kentucky.

View of Ohio River with Cincinnati in background.

where you can:

Taste and compare.

The B-Line tasting stations.

Learn about the distilling process.

Collage of bourbon making .

Shop for bourbon and it’s heavenly sidelines.

Two packages of bourbon balls for sale at different distilleries.

Talk with distillers.

Visitors discuss bourbon with a distiller.

Dine well.

A plate of fried eggplant topped with cheese sauce.

Hangover in some old-fashioned, bourbon-centric bars,

A tray filled with Old Fashioned cocktails.

And make yourself a top-shelf bourbon buff.

Bike, hike, drive (with a designated driver) or take advantage of The B-Line’s Uber and Lift discounts and ALWAYS DRINK RESPONSIBLY. You must be 21 or older to participate.

A copy of The B-Line paper Guide.



For a map, a B-Line Guide, and more information about The B-Line, click HERE.

For more information about Kentucky bourbon, click HERE.

Click HERE for a terrific bourbon-glazed meatloaf recipe.

Click HERE for information on Scottish whisky  and HERE  for more about Irish whiskey.




Close up of Stephen Kalt's smiling face.I’m crazy about Stephen Kalt. At least I love his L.A. restaurant, Spartina, especially at happy hour when the prices are discounted. Apparently, I’m not the one and only. Critics rave. Influencers gush. Stephen and his restaurants have been called the best by such prestigious publications as Esquire, Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure. He is an undeniable chef/restaurateur super-star who learned as he lived, trained with the best and danced to his own tune.

Born and bred in New York with Eastern European Jewish parents who expected him to be a doctor, Stephen studied chemistry in college, but segued from the physician path when traveling in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on vacation with his brother. The brothers saw a pizza place for sale and bought it. One thing led to another. The pizza place grew to a chain, which eventually sold. Stephen moved back to New York, learned about fine dining by working for several famous restaurants and eventually became a consultant. In the mid 1990s Stephen opened his own restaurant, Spartina, in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood.

Between the New York Spartina closing and the one I love in Los Angeles opening in 2015, Stephen developed and managed numerous food-related projects in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Beverly Hills.

Today he has hands in many enterprises, but it’s Spartina on Melrose in L. A. that makes chic foodies swoon.

With polished concrete floors, wood-trimmed tables, industrial piping and open kitchen, the indoor dining space sends a casual, comfortable, contemporary L.A. vibe.

View of inside Spartina with open kitchen and blue, wood trimmed tables.

The patio, surrounded by potted plants and overhead string lights, feels romantic and private, despite being right on Melrose.

the patio at Spartina at night

Spartina’s menu runs to tasty combinations of creative Southern California, Mediterranean and market-driven seasonal specialties. Whereas unique dishes such as trenette with Spanish octopus, bone marrow, and Parmigiano send hearts aflutter, I’m hooked on some familiar favorites that Spartina makes extraordinary. Don’t know why they are so special, but Spartina’s French fries, fried chicken sandwich and bread pudding are unbeatable—at any restaurant–anywhere.

A plate of Spartina's French Fries


Yield: about 12 servings.

1 loaf artisan white breadA plate of Spartina's warm bread pudding topped with melting vanilla ice cream and blackberry sauce.

2-1/4 cups heavy cream

1-1/2 cups sugar, divided

5 eggs

4 pints blackberries, divided

Ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove crust from bread and cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes. Place cubes in a large bowl.

Put cream and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Stir over low-moderate heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm (do not overheat).

Whisk eggs in a bowl until well blended, then whisk eggs with cream and sugar, incorporating completely.

Cut blackberries in half, crosswise.

Reserve 1/4 cup egg mixture. Toss cubed bread with half of the blackberries and remaining egg mixture. (Toss bread gently to combine ingredients, leaving cubes partially intact.)

Gently press wet bread mixture into a half sheet pan (don’t compress mixture too much). Spoon remaining 1/4 cup egg mixture evenly over top of pudding.

Place half sheet pan into a deeper half hotel pan filled with 1-inch of water and place in oven. Bake uncovered until pudding is set, about 35 minutes.

Make sauce: Put remaining cut blackberries and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan and set over medium heat. Stirring often, cook mixture until sugar is completely dissolved and the blackberries turn reddish and some break apart, about 5 minutes.  (Do not overcook or puree.)

Serve bread pudding with a scoop of ice cream and top with some sauce.


For more information about Spartina, click HERE.

Spartina, 7505 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA

a painted mural points to the door to Spartina

Door to Spartina when the restaurant is closed.


Entrance to Iowa Buffet in an old St. Louis South Side neighborhood.Talk about time travel. Carolyn McKinney’s Iowa Buffet, is a thoroughly authentic, well-worn tavern–practically a leftover of bygone times–that sits on a quiet corner of an old St. Louis South Side neighborhood. Carolyn says that her building dates back “to forever” (actually the 1800s).

Despite being featured in newspapers, magazines and TV food shows, Iowa Buffet remains unpretentious and virtually the same as it has for decades.

Hollywood couldn’t design a better dive-bar set. One bellies up to the bar counter sitting on high stools or gathers at the tables at the side and back of the dimly lit room. Walls sport neon beer signs, photos, a swimsuit calendar, various ads, and just fun sayings. TVs play overhead. Machines dispensing lottery scratchers offer patrons a chance to strike it rich. Music from a jukebox supplies an atmospheric vintage soundtrack (“I love Etta James, so we play her a lot,” says Carolyn.)

Customers sitting at the bar at Iowa Buffet.

The backdoor leads to a family- and dog-friendly outdoor patio with tables and chairs edged by tidbits of garden greenery.

Outdoor tables at Iowa Buffet welcome kids and dogs.

All is aged, casual, and congenial—thanks to Carolyn, a red-headed, dynamic octogenarian who claims to have been in the business since “the beginning of time,” (actually she took over the bar in 1987).

Red-headed Carolyn McKinney wearing an Iowa Buffet shirt.

Carolyn McKinney

Today, Carolyn’s daughter and granddaughter help waitress and manage orders while Carolyn cooks and chats with customers—who all seem to be—or about to be– her best friend. Carolyn is the type who has never met a stranger.

As to food, don’t expect a buffet at Iowa Buffet. The name came with the place.  The tavern has never been a buffet but does serve food that is down-home and comforting.

Diners rave about the hamburgers, cooked in a generations-old gas broiler behind the bar.

Hamburger with onion and pickles served at the bar with fries and a beer.

On Saturdays the menu features items barbecued on the outdoor grill. A sign listing Bar-B-Q Items served Saturday at Iowa Buffet.On weekdays, Carolyn offers specials that she makes from scratch. She says that people particularly like Iowa Buffet’s Sweet Bourbon Glazed Meatloaf, which she makes from five pounds of ground beef, and/or a mixture of ground turkey and salsiccia. Carolyn warns that she never measures and that she adjusts ingredients to what she has on hand. She created a Sweet Bourbon Glaze recipe for Sweet Leisure, but we interpreted the meatloaf recipe from her instructions, cutting her recipe from five to two pounds and adding guessed-at measurements. Of course, this is a super flexible recipe just waiting for cooks to adjust. Thank you, Carolyn. Love it!


A cooked meatloaf with a sweet bourbon glazed top.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

1 pound ground beef or ground turkey

1 pound salsiccia (take out of casing if bought in links)

1 onion, cut into large dice (so people who don’t like onions can pick them out)

2 eggs, beaten

About 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (Carolyn likes Italian seasoned)

About 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup ketchup (can substitute barbeque sauce, salsa, or spaghetti sauce)

2 cloves garlic, minced

About 1 teaspoon mustard

Seasoning mix (use your favorite and be generous)

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Few dashes Tabasco

Sweet Bourbon Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Break up meats and put in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle onion pieces, eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese, ketchup or substitute, garlic, mustard and seasonings over top of meat.  Mix everything with your hands just until ingredients are well distributed. Form mixture into an evenly shaped loaf and set in a baking dish.

Spread top of loaf with a generous amount of glaze. Place in preheated oven and bake 30 minutes. Top loaf with more glaze and bake until meat is cooked through, another 30 minutes or more.  Remove from oven.

Reheat any remaining glaze and pour over meatloaf or put in a bowl to serve on the side.

Let meatloaf rest for a few minutes before serving.


4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup bourbon

2/3 cup ketchup

2 clove garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup vinegar

1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Apple juice or water to thin sauce, if necessary

Put butter in a medium saucepan and set over moderate heat. Stir in sugar. When sugar is incorporated, stir in bourbon, bring to a boil and boil 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Gently cook, stirring often, until mixture is bubbly and thicken, 2 to 5 minutes.  If necessary, thin glaze with water or apple juice. Taste and correct seasoning.

A serving of Bourbon Glazed Meatloaf with fork

Iowa Buffet.  2727 Winnebago St.  St. Louis



To everything there is a season. And this season is the time for showers. Bridal Showers. Woo-hoo!

Our favorite bridal shower is a brunch. We like the old-fashioned variety, held in a home where all is lighthearted, lovely and lovingly personal.

Here are a few tips for keeping a bridal brunch shower sweet, simple and simply splendid:

Invite a compact list of guests—the honoree’s nearest and dearest connected by family, friendship and love.

Fill the house with casual flowers. Put bouquets on tables, in the kitchen, even a small bouquet in the guest bathroom. We like flowers straight from the garden. Daffodils, hyacinths, peonies, tulips, irises, lilacs in the spring. Roses, hydrangeas, daisies, coneflowers, zinnias in the summer. Mix them. Add herbs and wildflowers for interest and greenery. Embrace the season. Nothing formal. Keep all easy—breezy.

A college of garden flower bouquets.

Choose invitations, linens and paper good to be morning fresh, light, bright and pretty–and as eco-friendly as possible.

Bouquets of Zinnias on top of a flowered table cloth.

Design a menu to have something for everyone. Include gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian dishes. Add tried and true favorites, such as a variety of cut vegetables garnished with basil,

A platter of cut summer vegetables garnished with basil.

plus  a few surprises, such as Nutella Gooey Butter Cake, cut into small pieces.



Nutella Gooey Butter Cake pieces piled on a plate and garnished with hazelnuts, fresh strawberries and chocolate shavings.

Keep beverages simple and refreshing. We suggest unsweetened iced tea accompanied by bowls of help-yourself sugar and sugar subs, fresh mint and cut lemon; a variety of bottled water—unflavored and flavored sparkling; and fresh orange juice. If you pop for Champagne or other bubbly, guests can make Mimosas. Adding a pretty pitcher of fruit-laden sangria adds both menu and décor pizzazz.

Here are some of our favorite recipes to spark a brunch celebration:

A plate of smoked salmon roses sitting in endiveSMOKED SALMON PATE ROSES

SPINACH Close Up of Spinach Egg StrataEGG STRATA

A bowl of cucumber salad sitting. in front of a bunch of mint.CUCUMBER AND MINT SALAD

A glass of white wine sangria garnished with orange  wedgesWHITE SANGRIA

A glass of red-wine sangria garnished with blueberriesRED SANGRIA

Six mini lemon bunt cakes on a doily.LEMON MINI LEMON BUNDT CAKES




A Gluten-free quiche cut and ready to serve.

Yield: 8 to 16 servings depending on how cut.

Shortening to grease pan

20 ounces frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed and squeezed as dry as possible.

1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese


Black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, thinly sliced

6 large eggs

½ cup cream, half and half  or milk

1/3 cup cooked crumbled bacon or sausage (or substitute a diced cooked vegetable such as zucchini).

1 cup shredded white cheddar, fontina, or gruyere cheese—or a mixture of shredded white cheeses

1 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan.  Put potatoes in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir to mix ingredients and then transfer to the prepared pan. Press the potato mixture over the bottom and sides of the pan; made sure the potato mixture covers pan surfaces evenly (do not leave any holes—this is important).  Place pan in freezer until crust is frozen, 1 hour or more.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Place frozen crust in oven and bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

In the meantime, melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until onions caramelize, about 10 minutes. Set onions aside to cool.

Put eggs and cream in a large bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Add bacon or sausage, 1 cup shredded cheese, and caramelized onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir until ingredients are well mixed. Pour mixture into baked crust.

Lower oven temperature to 375°F and bake quiche until eggs have just set, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove quiche from oven and run a paring knife around the perimeter of pan. Remove sides of springform pan. Place quiche back in the oven to crisp crust and brown surface, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove quiche from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chives before cutting and serving.

This quiche may be fully cooked and frozen. Thaw before reheating. To reheat, place quiche on a lightly greased baking sheet and place in a preheated 425°F oven until warmed through and crust is crisp, 30 to 35 minutes.


Close up of pink variegated roses.

Everything’s coming up roses at a lovely bridal shower.



By now you probably know about City Winery, an urban winery, restaurant, performance venue and private event space. The first facility opened in New York City in 2008. Today there are City Winerys in Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, the Hudson valley, and, the newest, St. Louis (opened 2023 in City Foundry STL).

Building facade at City Winery St. Louis

A front portrait of Chris Graziose

Chris Graziose

Chris Graziose joined City Winery’s team as executive chef in 2021. He said the job fits as he shares a passion forfood, music, and wine.

Working from a home base in Long Island, Chris oversees each facility’s food, which he describes as modern American with a wine component. His is no easy job. Chris not only designs menus and creates recipes for each establishment, but also trains and works with local chefs, who add their own specialties to menus.

Ever generous, Chris shared the recipes for a burrata dish we sampled at the St. Louis City Winery. This extravagant and utterly delicious concoction consist of a mound of soft and melt-in-the mouth burrata placed on a smear of cranberry cabernet relish and cilantro pesto. It’s topped with slivers of roasted fennel, a touch of orange zest, and a sprig of dill. City Winery serves this whole beautiful bundle with a thick slice of toasted sourdough, but other breads, crackers and even a fork will do for getting this work of art into your mouth.

Chris’s recipes follow, with some adaptations. We cut the recipe from restaurant proportions to home-cook size. The results should be enough to plate four large servings of burrata. Be aware that the cranberry cabernet relish is so thick, sticky and sweet that it should be called a jam, so we changed its name.

Here you go:

Burrata as served at City Winery St. Louis

Burrata as served at City Winery


Yield: 2 cups.

1-1/2 teaspoon blended oil (or use vegetable oil of your choice)

1clove garlic, minced

4 ounces (about 1 cup) dried cranberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup red wine

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

About 3/4 cup cranberry sauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Put oil in a medium saucepan and set over medium-low heat. When oil is hot add garlic, reduce heat and cook garlic for a few moments until it is soft, but not brown. Add cranberries and stir well. Add sugar and stir well. Cook, stirring often, until mixture starts to get sticky and sugar starts to caramelize. Add wine and vinegar and stir well. Add cranberry sauce, vanilla, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer. Gently simmer mixture, stirring very often, until liquid is reduced and mixture is a jam consistency, about 1 hour.

Cool and refrigerate in a covered container.


Yield: About ½ cup.

1 big bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped leaves and tender stems

1/4 cup slivered or chopped skinned almonds

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice



Put cilantro and almonds in the jar of a blender or food processor and puree until mixture is well-blended and forms a paste. With blender on high, slowly drizzle in oil to form an emulsion. Add lime juice. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.


Yield: About ¾ cup.

1 large fennel bulb



About 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Julienne fennel and put in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle fennel with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toss well to distribute all ingredients. Spread fennel on a baking sheet and bake in at 325°F until golden brown, 20 to 40 minutes.

Cool before using.

Serve with:

Wine and music.

Wine being served at City Winery St Louis

Two sets of wine flights from City Winery

Wine Flights from City Winery St. Louis.











Music by Steven Woolley


For more information about City Winery click HERE and HERE.

For more about Steven Woolley click HERE.



Chef Quincy Johnson in Robie's

Chef Quincy Johnson

Chef Quincy Johnson brings magic to Robies’s on 8th, a casual, classy restaurant/lounge tucked into the Magnolia Hotel St. Louis.

The Magnolia enjoys a heritage famous for hospitality and food. Originally open in 1925 as the Mayfair Hotel, the property housed Missouri’s first five-star restaurant and boasted a registry of famous guests, including several U.S. presidents and celebrities such as Irving Berlin and Cary Grant.

It was the Mayfair that initiated the world-wide practice of hotels putting chocolates on pillows. Seems that in the early 1950s, the married Cary Grant requested the Mayfair to leave a path of chocolate candies in his suite, marking the destination for a secret lover soon to arrive. The candy trail started in Grant’s sitting room, ran across the bedroom, up over the bed and ended with a single chocolate on the pillow. The Mayfair’s manager was so turned on by the gesture, that he began imbedding a pillow chocolate in the hotel’s turndown service–a practice copied by other properties around the world.

The word love written in chocolate kisses

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel passed through several owners and renovations before opening as the Magnolia in 2014.

The Magnolia’s décor sports original sparkling chandeliers and treasured stained glass windows, with new renovations adding a lobby “game room,” and sleek reception area.

Collage showing hotel entrance, lobby, reception and game room of Magnolia Hotel

But true gem of the property is Robie’s, the hotel’s dining area that includes an attractive bar with live music (perfect for happy hours); cosy lounge seating, candle-soft lighting, well-spaced tables and food made by jewel in the hotel’s crown Chef Quincy Johnson.

Collage showing Robie's bar, lounge and tables.

Quincy’s describes Robie’s menu as classical American with unique twists. The fare rest on popular appetizers, entrees, salads and sandwiches, but the twists elevate the well-loved to new levels.

A collage of four dishes from Robie's

Pate with Tomato Jam, Bacon Wrapped Dates on Blue Cheese Mousse, Parmesan Crusted Scallops, New York Strip Steak

For example, Quincy adds Nutella to his version of St. Louis’ iconic dessert, gooey butter cake, to create a rich as sin, soft as silk, cheesy, caramelly, extravagant delight worthy of adoration.


Yield: 16 to 20  pieces depending how the cake is cut

For crust:Nutella Gooey Butter Cake pieces piled on a plate and garnished with hazelnuts, fresh strawberries and chocolate shavings.

Shortening to grease pan

1 box (18.25 ounces) yellow cake mix (see NOTE)

1 egg

8 tablespoons butter, melted

For filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 ounces Nutella

2 eggs

1 box (16 ounces) powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 tablespoons butter, melted

For garnish (if desired):

Toasted hazelnuts

Fresh strawberries

Chocolate shavings

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13 X 9-inch baking pan.

Make crust: put cake mix, egg and butter in a medium size bowl and beat with electric mixer until well blended. Pat mixture over the bottom of the prepared pan.

Make filling: Put cream cheese, Nutella, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and melted butter in a medium-size mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are well blended. Turn speed to medium and beat until mixture is a custard-like consistency.

Spread filling over crust. Bake in the preheated 350°F oven 40 to 45 minutes, until cake is “set” with center still a little gooey. Do not overbake.

Cool at room temperature and refrigerate until chilled enough to cut. Garnish as desired.

NOTE: To save money, many cake mixes have reduced their box size to 15.25 ounces. We suggest that if you can’t find an 18.25-ounce box of yellow cake mix that you buy two smaller boxes and add 6 tablespoons of mix from one box to the other 15.25-ounce box to make 18.25 ounces of mix.

For more information about the Magnolia St. Louis, click HERE.

For more information about Robie’s, click HERE.

For more about gooey butter cake and St. Louis click HERE.

Stained Glass window at Hotel Magnolia St. Louis


Cover of A Return to Ireland cookbookIt’s a travelogue, a history book, a memoir of sorts. But most of all Judith McLoughlin’s A Return to Ireland, A culinary journey from America to Ireland, is a cookbook filled with great recipes and alluring photos.

Judith’s first book, The Shamrock and Peach,

fulfilled her dream of telling “the Scots-Irish immigrant story through the language of really good food.” Her new book continues the adventure and “dives into the culture of Ireland expressed through some amazing food.”

Food is the essences of A Return to Ireland. Food is the joy. Food is the medium that Judith uses to convey her love of the Celtic lands and people who inhabit them. But food isn’t all that is special about this  256-page book. Personal stories fill each chapter. Interesting information accompanies each recipe. And gorgeous photography, taken by Judith’s high-school-sweetheart husband, Gary McLoughlin, spark the appetite and stimulate wanderlust.

Judith and Gary moved to the United States in 1996. The couple landed in Boston and eventually moved to Atlanta for Gary’s work. Judith started catering and teaching about Irish cooking. Before long, she earned the reputation of the unofficial ambassador/cheerleader of all things Irish.

She says that growing up on a farm in the County Armagh in Northern Ireland gave her great appreciate for fresh Irish ingredients and Scot-Irish cooking handed down from generation to generation.

Today Judith fuses Irish cooking with that of the deep South, and not only writes cookbooks, but also caters, teaches cooking classes and leads fun food tours to Ireland—sometimes adding Scotland to the itinerary.

Judith McLoughlin with a group on a food tour.

Judith with a food-tour group.

Because all of the recipes in A Return to Ireland look so appealing, I couldn’t choose one to print for you. Top contenders were the Southern-influenced Soft Sweet Potato Biscuits with Country Ham Spread; and the purely Irish, Aged Gaelic Steaks with an Irish Whiskey Cream Sauce; and the updated classic fusion dish, White Chocolate Buttermilk Waffle Berry Pudding. Undecided, I left it up to Judith. She chose Colcannon Potatoes, one of the national dishes spotlighting her chapter on “Legendary Ireland Dishes.”Glad she did. Colcannon is remarkably easy and inexpensive to make and goes with all sorts of entrees—Irish or not. Here straight from the pages of her book


A dish of Colcannon Potatoes

A recipe for Colcannon Potatoes from A Return to Ireland.

A recipe for Colcannon Potatoes from Judith McLoughlin's cookbook A Return to Ireland

A smiling portrait of Judith McLoughlinFor more about Judith McLoughlin click HERE.

To buy A Return to Ireland, see

or click HERE to visit (where I might get a commission.)


Glasses filled with Irish WhiskeyTo know more about Irish Whiskey, click HERE.



Ashford Castle in all it's glory.For sleeping around Ireland in great style, click HERE.



A mug of Irish CoffeeAnd to top off the whole shebang, click HERE.