The Venice Canals...of California

As a California girl who has spent most of my life in SoCal I was shocked, shocked to find out the canals of Venice had eluded me until now. Granted, when you grow up in Orange County, L.A. and its environs can seem a world away but during my marketing careeer I was in Santa Monica at least once a week and was within a stone's throw of Venice dozens of times.  I knew Venice Beach  for its circus-like boardwalk frequented by amusing performeers, fanatic bodybuilders, sexy skaters and wide-eyed tourists, but little did I know a fascinating piece of its history quietly resided just blocks from the hustle and bustle of the coastline.  Less than a mile southeast of the crazy boardwalk scene is a neighborhood of tranquil canals surrounded by upscale homes, thriving gardens and glimpses of whimsical art, perhaps giving a nod to the colorful decades of the past. To find this magical neighborhood is like stumbing upon a secret garden which may be why this little eden had eluded me all these years.

The six canals - Carroll, Linnie, Howland, Sherman, Eastern and Grand - are all that remain of the original 16 miles of canals dug in 1904 and completed in 1905 just in time for a Fourth of July celebration to showcase the former marshland into the "Venice of America." The canals were part of the grand plan of visionary Abbot Kinney to create a resort town reminiscent of Venice, Italy.  The plan included a casino, amusement piers, miniature train, hotels, Venetian-styled structures and canals complete with gondolas.

When Venice was annexed to the City of Los Angeles in 1925 most of the canals were filled in to accommodate the increase in motor traffic and in the 1960's it became the hangout for beat poets, artists and musicians including Jim Morrison of The Doors.  The residential area surrounding the canals has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the canals offer quaint walking courts joined by wooden bridges and foot paths.

Now that I've found this little wonder I want to share it with everyone.  It's worth a short side trip next time you visit the L.A. area. 



A lovely encounter for Valentine's Day 


I never tire of the romantic feeling I get standing in the middle of an international terminal staring up at a departures board, listening to the distinctive clicking noise as exotic destinations flip before my starry-eyes. Even if I'll never get to most of the places on that board half the fun is just thinking about going.

For Valentine's Day, the Encounter Restaurant at LAX with its retro-futuristic interior is giving flightless romantics like me a reason to visit the airport even if I don't have a ticket in my hand. The Encounter is offering a Valentine's Day menu including two glasses of champagne and a rose for the lady for $160.00 per couple. The dinner includes jumbo shrimp appetizer and choice of soup or salad; an entree of grilled filet mignon topped with rosemay mint demi glaze served with Cajun jumbo shrimp and garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus spears; and for dessert - a "chocolate loving spoon cake" served with chocolate covered strawberries. The price includes tax and gratuity.

The Encounter Restaurant is located in the famed Theme Building which has been a landmark at the airport since 1961. The "flying saucer" design of the building was an instant head-turning fixture in L.A. and has been designated a cultural and historical monument by the City of Los Angeles

After dinner you can stroll over to the Tom Bradley International Terminal and watch harried travelers hustle by on their way to long security lines. And what about you and your sweetie? Well, stand right-smack-dab beneath the departures board, find a place you both want to visit then go home to your own bed and dream.







Enjoy a little R & R (rugged relaxation) at Red Mountain Resort & Spa




Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin


DUBLIN, Ireland - The Daniel Libeskind designed Grand Canal Theatre opened on St. Patricks Day breathing new life into the formerly rough and tumble area of the Docklands on the south side of the river Liffey.  Flanked by a new glass office building designed by Duffy Mitchell O'Donoghue and a planned 5-star hotel designed by Manuel Aires Mateus, the Grand Canal Theatre will feature classic and contemporary musical performances, opera, ballet, family shows, dramatic and comedic theatre. 

A striking "red carpet" extends across the Grand Canal Square from the canal dock to the doors of the theatre.  The "carpet" is made of bright-red, resin-glass pavers accented by red glowing angled light sticks.  The square is a lively addition to the area and a gathering place for "brown baggers" from nearby office buildings and condos.  The Grand Canal Square was designed by Martha Schwartz, an American landscape architect and artist with interest in urban projects.  American Pie-man, Don McLean, performs at the Grand Canal Theatre on May 9. 



Sláinte! Toast St. Patrick’s Day with an Irish Coffee

FOYNES, Ireland - With Ireland braving its coldest winter in years, it's nice to know you can count on a hot Irish Coffee made just the way it was first poured in 1942.  I enjoyed that experience on my recent visit to the Foynes Flying Boat Museum in Foynes, Ireland - once the hub of transatlantic air travel for Pan Am's "Yankee Clipper" luxury flying boat.  It was on a cold night in 1942 that Chef Joe Sheridan whipped up Irish Coffees for crew and passengers aboard a Pan Am flying boat forced to turn back due to weather after 10 hours on a flight from Foynes to Botwood, Newfoundland.  The owner of the airport restaurant challenged his chef to have something warm waiting for the passengers when they returned.  

Want to make an authenthic Irish Coffee for St. Patrick's Day?  Here's how -

1.  In an Irish Coffee glass (a medium-size wine glass or brandy snifter will do), place a teaspoon and fill with with boiling water for five seconds (the spoon will keep the glass from breaking), then empty.

2.  In this pre-warmed glass, put one teaspoon of brown sugar and a good measure (1-1/2 to 2 ounces)of Irish Whiskey (they use Powers Irish Whiskey at Foynes). 

3.  Fill the glass to within a half-inch of the brim with really hot, strong black coffee.  Stir well to melt all the sugar.

4.  Then carefully pour lightly whipped cream over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the coffee.

5. Do not stir after adding the cream, as the true flavour is obtained by drinking the hot coffee and Irish Whiskey through the cream.