Food & Wine Restaurants Travel

The Best Italian Food in Los Angeles

Dan Tana’s on Santa Monica Blvd. Listen to Joe Rogan talk about it below. This is written in the middle of this unbelievable pandemic. So let’s it’s still open by the time you or I or anyone is able to try it out.

Arkansas Culture Food & Wine Lifestyle Restaurants Travel

Great Places to Eat in Arkansas

  1. I saw a Facebook friend of mine post that he was at Taylor’s steakhouse. I’d never heard of it, so I figured he was in another state. Nope. He was in Dumas. Everybody in the comments was raving about the place. Ever since I got back from Charleston, Little Rock has seemed like a Wasteland at least in the eating department. Of course, nothing compares to Charleston, but it would help if I’d get outside the city limits every once in a while. This is a gorgeous state, but I probably know less about it and have seen less of it outside of Little Rock than someone living half way ’round the world.
    Of course, when I clicked on Taylor’s facebook page, they don’t even list there address, much less have a website, and of course they’re closed this Saturday because their daughter is graduating from grad school. That’s par for the course when it comes to a real rural restaurant, but it’s also a pretty good sign that when they are open they really get into what they do. Also, the fact they didn’t have their own website was actually an upside surprise for me because what they did link to was a website of a “gal” as we like to say who specializes in discovering new great little gems of restaurants all around the natural state. Her name is Kat Robinson. The name alone has me closed as a fan. Expect me to do some traveling in the Natural state exploring her finds. Who knows, maybe I can bring my guitar and find a place that’ll let me sing my ditties as well.

2. [Update 8/14/20] Another Foodie friend of mine posted this tonight with the caption: “THE BEST Charcuterie In LR.” The Restaurant is Sonny William’s Steakhouse in the Rivermarket district. Here’s the photo she posted:

Culture Food & Wine

The Best Wine to Have with Turkey


“This would be an outstanding Turkey wine”John C. Dvorak

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2009, according to John Dvorak, a noted wine expert. He also notes that 2009 is known to be the best year for Beaujolais since the 1940’s. So, if you are considering a wine for Thanksgiving, you might check it out.

The snippet of video below is taken from This Week in Tech (TWiT) Episode #222 from Sunday, November 22, 2009, where he, Leo Laporte, and Becky Worley talk about the virtues of this wine and this year for wine.

Culture Food & Wine Health & Fitness Lifestyle

Lose Weight By Eating What You Love

a guest post by Debbie Brodsky. Write Debbie!
[email protected]

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Start by picking the size you want to be – who says you have to be a size 0 or even 2 or a 4. What is wrong with size 6 or 8 for women?

Keep in mind that you will not be dieting! There are only a few principles to follow and you will need to be consistent with them, but there is no deprivation whatsoever on this eating plan!

Begin today! There is no need to go eat a cake or a gallon of ice cream for fear you will not be able to eat these foods. And yes, I do eat dessert everyday! This is necessary for my well being.

Eating the foods I love are essential to my happiness. Don’t believe the maxim that “you are supposed to only eat to live”. I say the opposite is true “live to eat”, but eat really delicious foods that you love and leave off the rest.

Cultivate a love for fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as fish and cheese and yogurt and pasta and anything fresh and homemade or just plain sounds good to you!

It really is not what you eat that matters so much as firmly sticking to the principle of eating only at a “meal time”. I eat three times a day. Period. That is it. Nothing in between. No snacks. You don’t need snacks. Look at snacks as fillers and killers of having an empty stomach to enjoy a really good meal! And having a good meal is really what it is all about!

Begin today! There is no need to go eat a cake or a gallon of ice cream for fear you will not be able to eat these foods. And yes, I do eat dessert everyday! This is necessary for my well being.

If you don’t know how to cook, now is a really good time to learn, because preparing a good meal is also one of life’s great pleasures, at least it is essential to my happiness and well being.

If you love dessert, then have two meals a day and count your dessert as your third meal. Maybe that sounds unorthodox, but who cares, you are eating for your energy and sense of well being, not for what the crowd is doing.

Now you know you can eat anything you want within a meal, then decide what sounds good to you and eat it for your next meal. If a hamburger sounds good, go eat a really good hamburger and enjoy it, every bite of it. Then do not put anything in your mouth caloric until your next meal. I drink hot tea in between meals. It tastes good and is good for you, being high in antioxidents, but also I enjoy the ritual of making a good cup of tea and drinking it. I really love the Tazo brand wild sweet orange tea. It is fun to go to Starbucks and buy a cup of hot tea to go and have it for the mid-morning or afternoon while you work. Or if you have some time, stay at Starbucks and enjoy your tea with or without a friend.

If you a trying to lose some weight, then eat what you are craving, but use little tricks for cutting back on intake without feeling deprived, such as leaving off the bread as a side of pasta, when it is the pasta dish you are really wanting. Eat a whole serving of whatever it is that you are craving, because wholeness leads to feeling whole and satisfied. Taking a bite of cake or of a cookie does not leave me feeling whole. Usually it will lead to eating too many cookies and then feeling bad about yourself.
This approach to eating is not fun. Having a whole piece of pie or cake or brownie and really enjoying it, really is fun and will not increase your waistline if you close your mouth and do not put anything in it calorically until your next meal. And then at your next meal, eat what you are really wanting and leave off the extras that you don’t even want. Just because a basket of bread is put in front of you does not mean you are required to eat it. Use a little discipline and push it away! Unless the bread is really good, then go for it and leave off the potatoes. Or if the potatoes are fabulous too, eat them and have a big bowl of fruit for breakfast and lunch the next day so your pants won’t be tight!

Having a whole piece of pie or cake or brownie and really enjoying it, really is fun and will not increase your waistline if you close your mouth and do not put anything in it calorically until your next meal.

You have to use your clothes as your guide. If they are not getting looser, then make some cutbacks or increase your fruit and vegetable intake. If my clothes are a little tight, I just start that very day by eating a large bowl of fruit, it will help you with water retention. But I will still eat a portion of dessert and have a glass of wine with dinner. I have to have my dessert!

So think about what you can cut back on and what you are not willing to give up and go from there.

Also getting in some form of movement everyday is essential. Notice I did not say exercise. You can exercise. I just prefer not to call it exercise! Somedays I go to a very nice gym close by my house, but the point is to move!! And do something you enjoy. I have a new puppy and she also needs to move every day for her sense of well being, so now I mostly take her out for walks and skip the gym.

This plan really works. I follow it everyday and wear a size 6, sometimes 4 clothing and I eat really well. My cholesterol and iron levels are normal and I say that because I bake alot and use sweet unsalted butter and eggs and chocolate. Yum!

Now for a sample day –

Yesterday I started the day with 2 cups of coffee with whole milk and drank a Verve* mid-morning. I skipped breakfast and had a large bowl of creamed tomato soup with asiago croutons and a hunk of whole wheat bagette at Panera
Bread. Yum! This was around 1:00 p.m. It was so good and very filling, so I had tea later in the afternoon. Around 5:00, I started cooking and baking and poured myself a small glass of red wine. Yum! I made huge chocolate cookies with M&Ms and a my own version of vegetable lasagna (I am not vegetarian, but tend to eat little meat, mostly fish and chicken, but on occasion a good steak, hamburger, barbequed ribs, or one of my favorites, osso bucco – Yum!). I ate a large, whole piece of lasagna, more wine and then a whole cookie for dessert. Yum! I was not only full, but feeling happy and satisfied.

This is the goal – feeling happy and satisfied ; having your clothes fit, well, is just “icing on the cake!”

*Verve is a vitamin, mineral and energy drink containing mangosteen, aloe vera as well as green tea extract. I drink one every day and have noticed such a boost of energy as well as rarely being sick. I had a cold a few weeks ago and I was astonished at how quickly I got better. It must be the high antioxident content of Verve.

This amazing product cannot be found in stores, but is easily ordered and shipped straight to your door. The company, as well as the product, Vemma or Verve, promote a sense of well being, which fits into my own philosophy of eating and living. Please consider adding the supplement to your daily plan. You can order the product by calling my mother, Mary Pickering at 501-416-7476. For two to three dollars a day you can increase your health and sense of well being immensely, not to mention noticing a boost of my metabolism!!! Who doesn’t want that?

Now you may be saying to yourself, “how can this plan fit my lifestyle? I don’t know how to cook, don’t have time to cook, don’t want to learn how to cook!”
Well, I do know that you have to eat, so just adapt it to your lifestyle. If you eat at fast food places everday, well then so be it. Just be sure that you eat only at one of your three meal times, then close your mouth. Then drink lots of water – adding lemon or lime helps. Try sitting down and eating and not doing anthing else, except maybe conversing. And remember to eat what really sounds good to you, which if it is a Big Mac, so be it, just leave off the fries and don’t forget to enjoy it! Also cut back on calories and fat at the next meal and you can have your ice cream sundae!

Most importantly, let me know how it is going with the plan.

I will include recipes for easy and wonderful meals soon!


Questions, suggestions, personal consulting? Write Debbie!  [email protected]

Culture Food & Wine

XXL Restaurant: Shanghai















Culture Food & Wine

Why Oolong is the Best Tasting Chinese Tea

Chinese Tea Set
Chinese Tea Set

Xiaoyan (Little Sparrow), a Sichuan girl originally from Chongqing, now residing and working Guandong Province, cultivating some of the most beautiful orchids one has ever seen, is a friend of mine. We talk about all things culturally related, and especially love to converse on the similarities and differences in Eastern and Western culture and tastes. We love to talk about books, ancient stories, art, history, precious objects, unique places to visit and the histories behind them, and a whole host of cultural topics. Our discussions are quite interesting and stimulating, and often we talk hours without realizing how much time has passed.

Recently the topic of tea was brought up in one of our conversations. It happens to be one of Xiaoyan’s passions, and from the sense I get, a passion of China and the East in general. The West though, sans Great Britain, is Coffee passionate. I know that I am, and so every time before that we spoke about the subject, I always wondered why Coffee wasn’t as appealing to Eastern Culture as it was to ours.

I’ve come to believe that it has to do with the matter of intricacy. I know that many a Brasilian will take issue with this statement but, in general coffee is coffee. Sure you can flavor it, dress it up in all sorts of toppings and such, but basically the bean is the bean. I know that some beans are better than others, depending on the climate, the roasting, and many other factors, but these are varying degrees of differences concerning the same thing, whereas tea, especially Oriental tea, as a plant, like the grape, has a number of different varieties of the plant itself and not just where it’s grown or how its processed.

Note the differences in types of tea and coffee consumption from


  • Drip Coffee
  • Espresso
  • Brewed
  • Instant
  • Decaf Brewed
  • Decaf Instant
  • Plunger
  • Filter


  • White Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Oolong Tea
  • Black/Red Tea
  • Post Fermented Tea
  • Yellow Tea
  • Kukicha

Note the coffee consumption differences are based on ways of processing, whereas the teas’ are based on varieties of the plant itself. So with tea, one has a variety of different palettes and experiences based on the herb itself, rather than, basically, the one experience of Coffee: the extreme caffeine high. So this leads to a more genteel sense of the tea culture versus that of the Coffee. This intricacy of experience is symbolic of the Oriental inclination towards finding its bliss in relationships and engagement with life, rather than the end product of relationships, and in all the various textures, colors, and contours found in the many different relationships one finds in daily life. “Being” for them is found through the relationship, engagement with relationships, rather than the benefits gained from them.

Chinese Tea Pot
Chinese Tea Pot

Well, I won’t go on about philosophy. Let me instead introduce you to some of Xiaoyan’s thoughts and preferences in tea itself. This is a good introduction to start me on my tea adventure, and maybe, if you’ve come upon this interest, a good one for you too. I’ve begun to notice more and more interest in tea in America lately, whether in be in the media, the internet, or friends and family, so this seems to be a timely topic.

Here are the words and Chinese tea preferences of my friend, Xiaoyan, a genteel, refined China Girl:

Do you know Chinese tea , the tea culture has been took long history in Chinese culture. there are many kinds of tea in each area of China , there are some famous teas in china , such like Xihu Long Jing,HuangShan MaoFeng” “Jun Shan Yin Zhen,Tie Guan Yin”……

Generally,  tea  is classified in to two sorts , red tea and green tea , red tea is fermented tea , green tea is  unfermented tea. My favorite tea is Ur long Tea, Which is a kind of tea between unfermented tea and fermented tea , it is half ferment tea .

Ur-Long Tea is light green brown colour on apparent, taste sweet like liquorices, no bitter taste like green tea , no acerbity taste like red tea, its fragrance can keep long time .

I like have a cup of Ur-long tea after my hard work when take break in my yard .or meeting friends when we chat. It is really a good drink for healthy and get energy.

Sounds like a good starting place for me, and a happy one. Also I found from here, that indeed the health benefits of tea are substantiated, while that of coffee are not and may even be, if anything, more harmful than good for the body. “Tea contains Tannin and Catechin have been associated with preventing cancer and heart diseases,” to quote this article from
So there you have it. I hope you may find this little refined insight from my Chinese friend interesting, intriguing, and possibly valuable, if you have an interest in exploring the benefits, pleasures, and culture surrounding tea. I’ve got my tea press ready. Time to go search for some Oolong Tea today!

Chinese Tea Table
Chinese Tea Table

Wuyi dark roast oolong (Photo Credit: Emily Chang)
Wuyi dark roast oolong (Photo Credit: Emily Chang)

Photo: Emily Chang 2009.