Author: Leslie Westbrook

Puro Italiano to the core

PICTURED: Crostini four ways: smashed cannellini bean, marinated artichoke, traditional tomato and mushroom. Photo by Leslie A. Westbrook Peirano’s Market and Delicatessan 204 E. Main St., Ventura 805-628-9028 $4.50-20 My strongest memory of grocery shopping with my Italian-American mother at Santa Monica’s Italian Bay Cities deli is holding my nose from the strong stench of cheese and salumi hanging from the ceiling.  It took time, but I’ve come to love and appreciate these aromas over the years. There’s no stinky cheese smell at Peirano’s Market and Delicatessen. Downtown Ventura is all abuzz with the re-opening of Peirano’s —...

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Flavorful, friendly and fun picnic-style dining

Ojai Rôtie469 E. Ojai Ave.,$9-19 The sign of a successful restaurant, in my book, is one to which you want to return. Despite a somewhat limited menu (with items to go or eat outdoors on the patio), I see many revolutions back to Ojai Rôtie in my future, fate willing. If you like picnics — and flavorful food and chicken and awesome sourdough bread — then you, too, will fall in love with this new spot from Ojai-based Chef Claud Mann and business partner/longtime L.A. restaurateur Lorenzo Nicola. My friend Anne and I popped in just a week...

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Tapas Time at Herzog Wine Cellars

Tierra Sur at Herzog Wine Cellars3201 Camino Del Sol, Oxnard805-983-1560www.herzogwine.com$7-$20 I’ve been curious for some time about the locally sourced cuisine at Tierra Sur restaurant at Herzog Wine Cellars, located in an industrial park in Oxnard just a few minutes off the 101. A couple of things held me back: the location (a bit inconvenient, especially for imbibing) and the cost (prices aren’t posted on the online menu but I’m here to tell you they are “up there”). When I learned that the winery had launched an afternoon tapas menu in the winery tasting room (adjacent to the smallish...

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Behind the scenes and into The Cave

The Cave Restaurant4435 McGrath St., Suite 301Ventura805-642-9449,$3-$18 Many of you reading this have probably been to The Cave, the popular, cozy restaurant and wine tasting room tucked inside a warehouse-style wine store (The Ventura Wine Co.) in a Ventura industrial park. The place has a legion of wine and foodie fans. There’s a new executive chef, Henry Martinez, however, who introduced new menu items in January. I visited in March, when the restaurant’s small plates menu (with dishes designed to be shared, and that changes monthly) had one item that remained and has apparently become a favorite: Cool...

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A rare view into a 15-course meal

The once-in-a-lifetime dinner at The Silver Bough, prepared and served before my very eyes, lasted several hours and at $550 per person (yes, you read that right — it will take a small bag of gold to indulge in this experience) all-inclusive “ten years in the making dream” of Chef/owner Phillip Frankland Lee was a most unique culinary excursion. The stellar dining experience is served up in the three acts (with many chapters) broken into sea, land and desserts. There was spiny lobster and caviar and an extraordinary amount of black truffles from France shaved before our very eyes...

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