Thursday, August 27, 2009

White shark on display in Monterey

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has done it again. For the fifth time, the Aquarium has put a great white shark on display, giving visitors a chance to see this fearsome predator up close. The shark was collected August 12 near Malibu, California, and placed in the million-gallon Outer Bay exhibit on August 26.

The Aquarium's first shark was on display for 6 ½ months; the second, for 4 ½ months; third, for 5 months; and fourth, for 11 days. The happy ending: all were successfully returned to the wild. But you never know how long it'll be there. So grab the family (kids go bonkers for sharks) this weekend and take them to check this puppy out while its on display.

Details: Get Aquarium tickets in advance by clicking here. For info on lodging and dining in Monterey, contact the Monterey CVB.

CAPTION: Female juvenile white shark in the Outer Bay tank (above). The three-story living Kelp Forest (right), the centerpiece of the Oceans Edge galleries at the aquarium.

PHOTO CREDIT: shark photo: © Monterey Bay Aquarium/Randy White; Kelp tank: © Monterey Bay Aquarium

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More memories of Julia Child

I got a nice note from my pal Kathleen Iudice in the Napa Valley. As its marketing and media gal, Kathleen was a big part of COPIA's early success and as such, she had many lovely encounters with Julia Child. My post on my own memories of Julia Child spurred her thoughts as well. Here are her memories:

"I'm sure you've heard it before, but I must say that I don't know anybody who knew/met Julia Child that didn't adore her. I've met a lot of celebs, but she truly "took the cake." Despite her celebrity, Julia was a genuinely gracious and fun-loving person. She looked everyone in the eye and acknowledged their presence - from the person holding the door and the clerk in the store, to the adoring fans that swarmed her for autographs. A couple of friends drove Julia to her Santa Barbara home after a COPIA visit (she didn't like to fly at that point) and had the time of their lives. she regaled them with stories, and had them stop at an In-N-Out Burgers for one of her favorite meals: burger and fries (she once innocently requested a burger in *Julia's Kitchen, not knowing that they didn't have hamburger on premise, and Chef Mark Dommen cheerfully chopped up a steak and served it to her like "of course we have burgers!").

She was an Honorary Trustee of COPIA and lent her name to the *"dining room" - Julia's Kitchen (we couldn't call it a restaurant), which was a tremendous honor. When her Cambridge kitchen was dismantled, she kindly donated the pegboard, designed by her husband, with the copper pots to COPIA. These arrived prior to the month-long celebration of her 90th Birthday (August, 2002), which COPIA celebrated by offering special programs, tastings and events, including butter tastings, lemon meringue pie cooking demos, meals with oysters and foie gras, and, of course, plenty of bubbly. The festivities culminated in a grand weekend of events that she personally attended (in a wheelchair), including book signings, a public party and a black-tie dinner/fund-raiser. One of the COPIA chefs made Julia’s favorite cake, which I think was Le Marquis (chocolate spongecake), plus a cake sculpted in the form of a stove-oven, which sat on display near Julia's Kitchen for weeks. The Copper Cookware wall was officially unveiled at the black-tie event with her niece by her side, and it remained on display within the permanent exhibition, Forks in the Road, until it was finally moved to the “Library” area between Julia's Kitchen and the CafĂ©.

When COPIA closed, there was only one thing to do: reunite the cookware with Julia's Cambridge kitchen at the Smithsonian. It's a good thing."

Thanks Kathleen. And good luck with your current venture, the Napa Fresh Aire Festival, happening the last weekend of August:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tahoe's Wine and Food Fest really cooks

It's not just another food fest. The Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival always makes an effort to spotlight the latest culinary trends. This year, the September 11-13 gourmet gathering at the Village at Northstar in Truckee is focusing on Asian grilling techniques. Plan ahead to attend the fest and who knows, you may end up to be a better backyard barbecuer.

Your guide to the mysteries of grilling: Lars Kronmark of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley. Kronmark, a regular at the 24th annual festival, says that the difference between Asian grilling (Yakitori) and grilling as Americans know it, is the focus on high heat, thin cuts, and marinades, similar to a skewering style. Kronmark recently returned from a chef tasting tour in Japan where he was inspired by the growing popular spin on grilling and small-bite dishes.

Yakitori – The Secret to Great Japanese Grilling is a free event at the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival and takes place Saturday, September 12, at 11 a.m. And there are lots more freebie demos.

Details: Call 888/229-2193 or go to Some events are free (like the Gourmet Marketplace), others cost, because the Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival is a fundraiser for the Community Fund of North Lake Tahoe through the 501c(3) Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation. My old pals at Sunset Magazine are a co-sponsor of the event.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Stay In LA steals my writing

A blog called My Stay In LA has repeatedly stolen from me. How? By ripping off my blog posts and using them on their own site, as if I were one of their writers. How can I stop them? Any ideas?

If you must, check it out at
And wouldn't it be funny if they stole this posting, too? They seem to like my weekend getaways, so that's how I'll tag this post. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Memories of Julia Child

I just saw the movie Julie & Julia (most enjoyable) then went to the Left Bank Brasserie for a French dinner (yum) with my pals Phyllis and Alan (read about my earlier dinner at the Left Bank here). The movie brought back some nice memories.

I met Julia Child once at Copia: the American Center for Food, Wine, and Art (sadly, now closed) in the Napa Valley in 2001. She was old then, but still spirited; she embodied joie de vivre and the movie captured that side of her. I was a senior writer with Sunset Magazine, and part of a media group that helped clelebrate the opening of the ambitious food/art museum; also at my table: artist Wayne Thiebaud, one of America's leading painters. Famous for his whimsical paintings of pies and cakes, Thiebaud explained his choice of subjects to me this way. "If you don't have a sense of humor, you don't have perspective."

It was quite a day. I could see that simply showing up was an effort for the then-89-year-old Ms. Child (her health was not strong in her final years), but that she was determined to be a part of the day. She had given her support to the museum, and to Robert Mondavi, the leading force behind the museum (and himself, a force of nature--in his 80s then). They named the restaurant after her: Julia's Kitchen.

The next event I attended at Copia was a celebration of Julia Child's life, shortly after the death of the most famous foodie of them all. So many celebrities of the food and wine industry were in attendence, I couldn't keep track of them all. But one did stand out: Martha Stewart came (even though she was then embroiled in her famed insider trading court case --which would ultimately send her to jail). No matter. Ms. Stewart took the time to fly cross country and stand up for Julia. Impressive.

In her memorable talk, Stewart explained how Julia Child touched so many lives in the food industry. As I recall-this was back in 2004- Stewart said that she and Child had met only a few times, but Stewart was a big fan of Child's. One thing I'm certain of: Martha Stewart said that in her early years she, too, had gone through Child's magnum opus, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and had cooked every single recipe in the book. I wonder if blogger Julie Powell had ever heard that about Martha Stewart, and thereby got the idea for her own project?

Julia Child, Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Mondavi, Martha Stewart. I was walking amongst giants.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Robots invade Santa Ana

Robots invade Taco Bell Discovery Science Center this summer--at the Santa Ana science-for-kids museum; visit now through Sept. 7 and build a robot, or learn about how these amazing machines work in Robots and Us. Then, check out Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl: Home Sweet Home - a new exhibit highlighting conservation - making its debut here in Orange County. The center is celebrating “A Decade of Discovery” as The Cube turns ten this year.

Details: Ages 3-17 $9.95; adults $12.95; ages 2 and under free. To hear about new exhibits and events, visit their website and sign up for the newsletter. Discovery Science Center, 2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana; 714/ 542-2823

COPYRIGHT Lora Finnegan 2008-2009

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