Have a Zinful ‘Cinco de Vino” at Rosenblum Cellars in Alameda

Zinfully delicious

Get ready to party on Cinco de Mayo– Mexico’s Independence Day which is celebrated with a passion throughout Los Angeles and most of California. Every Mexican restaurant worth its margaritas with salt in Los Angeles puts on a party on the 5th of May. Downtown bursts with piñata parties and fiestas and people pretty much use the day as a good excuse to get well, blotto with tequila, beer and wine.

Speaking of the latter, if perhaps you’d like to get away from it all but still have fun, you might enjoy a drive up the coast from Los Angeles to Alameda (well you have to go to San Francisco and hop a ferry because this  quaint, picturesque place just across the Bay.

One of the best little wineries of northern California, Rosenblum Cellars, known as the original “urban wine experience”, winery is tucked away in an old railroad building in the center of Alameda shipyards. It is there you will taste some zesty Zinfandels. If you go up there for Cinco de Mayo, you can also enjoy a wine soaked barbecue picnic from Noon to 4 p.m. (prices are $29 for club members and $39 for others when booked on-line).

The Zinfanatic winery staff exude an old town warmth and friendliness with any of the pomp and ceremony of Napa, but with wine just as good. It’s just a short ferry ride across San Francisco Bay. You can fly up to SFO from Los Angeles on Southwest (www.southwest.com)  or Virgin America (www.virginamerica.com), or drive. If you pick the road route, go on-line for directions at www.rosenblumcellars.com.

The Travel Diva’s Trip to New York

The view from our suite at the New York Palace Hotel

Gavin Couper, manager of the Executive Lounge–an amiable Brit imported from the Dorchester, Gavin gave a pleasant, sophisticated touch to the room.

The extravagant entrance to Gilt.

It was an eventful week away. All came up roses until our Avis rental car was stolen. But let’s start with the good stuff first.
We flew Virgin America to JFK–our first time on this carrier. It was okay. Seats a bit cramped in main cabin (really coach) but didn’t look much better in “main cabin select” or “first class”. Had to buy food–opted for chicken wraps which were pretty good for $9 each. Anyhow it got us there on time.
First stop the New York Palace–now operated by the prestigious Dorchester Collection, the handsome hotel sports one of the most accommodating staff’s in town (at least they treated us well), gorgeous appointments and public areas. We had a massive suite on the 41st floor in the “Towers” which offers private check-in and privileges. We also opted for the executive lounge add on and were thrilled we did.
The suite life: huge living room WiFi, views, two baths, one big one with tub, shower, two sinks, lushes Acqua di Parma toiletries, comfy bed covered in divine, upscale linens; flat screen tvs, robes, slippers and of course hair dryer etc. . There’s a fully equipped fitness center that’s free for all and has it all including a locker room with steam bath and showers, workout clothes to borrow, toiletries and best of all it’s free for hotel guests.
We needed the gym to counteract all the tasty food. But of course we got plenty of exercise walking around the city. We even did museums. We were actually in town during restaurant week and had a price fixed three course lunch at Alto, nearby for $24 each, unheard of here. We did the museums, took out Mexican one night from Chipotle nearby and even watched a Yankee game on the flat screen.

We made good use of the Executive Club Lounge–a tres elegant spot for breakfast, lunch and evening drinks and snacks. The morning spread is a real feast with everything from fresh raspberries to scrambled eggs and bacon, breads, cheeses and a whole lot more. Our yeah, I discovered I could actually order an espresso or cappuccino, so I did ’causee I could. Lunch is slightly less generous but enough with great sandwiches and salads. Evening is just a few nibbles served with wine, beer and soft drinks.
And a glorious dinner at Gilt……..the piece de resistance
Where we had a romantic table with a view of the knock down gorgeous room. Richard (my mate) sipped a Martini while I started on a bottle of mighty fine Talbot
Chardonnay. We dined on a truly amazing English pea ravioli–delicate and delicious, perfectly prepared halibut with poached oysters and baby veggies, Tangy Ono ceviche, moist and deliciousblack cod, authentic NY cheesecake (man it was good) and Strawberry short cake. Since we just flew in from the west coast and were guarding against jet lag we skipped coffee but I sure was jonesing for a cup.
Some Gilt-toids: two Michelin star rating, housed in Landmark Villard Mansion. New American cuisine created by executive chef Justin Bogle. Gorgeous appointmentsAn 8,000 bottle wine cellar, artisanal breads, real 14 K Gold bar.