Inside Kimpton

Kimpton Directors of Pet Relations: It’s a Dog’s Life

Charlie mans his post at the Hotel Monaco Alexandria.

Charlie mans his post at the Hotel Monaco Alexandria.

Some of Kimpton’s most popular employees have a tendency to drool and lie down on the job. It’s true. Our Directors of Pet Relations are our honorary staff of the canine persuasion. They eagerly greet guests in our lobbies, quality test our pet amenities, and lord over the nightly wine hours.

Our Director of Pet Relations program started in November 2000 with Lily Sopris, a good-natured and lovable Jack Russell Terrier. As a four-month old pup, she accompanied her mom, Caroline Czirr, the Director of Sales and Marketing for Hotel Monaco Denver, to work each day. Turns out, Lily was not an under-the-desk kind of gal. She had work to do and people to see, so she made it her mission to roam the lobby and welcome each guest with an extra dose of Kimpton love. Soon, Lily was the most lauded staff member on guest comment cards.

With Lily’s popularity, other Kimpton hotels began to recognize what an enhancement a staff dog was, so they brought on a Director of Pet Relations too. We’ve been pet friendly since our founding in 1981 — even our founder, Bill Kimpton, would bring his dog, Chianti, to work knowing that dogs have the innate ability to lift spirits. As Kimpton grew, it seemed only natural to formalize that philosophy with our Director program.

As with all our employees, we have a pretty intense screening process for our Directors of Pet Relations. Dogs that possess a loving spirit, follow directions well, and know when it’s appropriate to engage with a guest and when to give them space are top candidates for the job. A love of the limelight doesn’t hurt either, as many of our directors have been featured in articles and on television.

The most common question about our Director of Pet Relations is, “What do you pay them?” Naturally, the answer is a generous salary of the most valuable dog currency: tasty treats and belly rubs.

Meet our current Directors of Pet Relations:

gallery01

Timmy is a 7-year-old yellow Lab at Hotel Monaco Portland who loves hiking, giving tips on Portland’s many pet friendly spots, and collecting designer sunglasses. 

dorothy

Dorothy works at The Prescott in San Francisco. She’s fond of chasing squirrels, frolicking at Ocean Beach, and discovering the city’s best alfresco dining.

Bosco

Hotel Palomar Phoenix, you’ll find 9-year-old Bosco, a Cocker Spaniel with velvety mocha fur. He’s a simple guy who chases bugs and runs from vacuums.

posh

The name says it all with Posh Parker. When this lovely Jack Russell Terrier isn’t working  at Hotel Palomar San Diego, she’s living the good life at the dog spa or lounging by the pool.

maverick

Maverick is a cuddly chocolate Lab at Hotel Palomar San Francisco. At more than 10 years old, he’s our oldest Director, but still eager to learn new tricks, especially if it somehow involves a muffin.

charlie

Charlie, an energetic Bichon Frisé, is representing the East Coast at Hotel Monaco Alexandria. He once crashed a wedding at the hotel but is otherwise a model employee.

As for Lily Sopris, although she moved on from Kimpton after seven years of service, guests still ask about her to this day. We’re happy to report that she just went for a run at Red Rocks in Colorado last week, apparently enjoying a well-earned retirement.

— Kristin Slye

Add a comment

Eat + Drink

Let the Springtimes Roll: Recipes for the Season

Sheesh. Enough of winter, already. We’ve had our fill of rain, sleet and snow, so now it’s time to celebrate spring and all the bounty that comes along with it. So we’ve selected a few choice recipes from some of our left coast eateries — from Seattle to Santa Barbara — to get the spring fling rolling. After all, the West is blessed with some of the finest produce-growing regions in the world, so who better to lead us out of the dark? So say hello to spring. Boy, have we missed you.

Artichoke and Preserved Lemon Pesto

Chef Tom Dunklin

Chef Tom Dunklin

Chef Tom Dunklin, Three Degrees Waterfront Bar & Grill, Portland, OR

1 cup artichoke hearts, fresh, boiled and chopped (outer leaves and sharp tips trimmed)

2 tablespoons preserved lemon peel, chopped

1 tablespoon shallots, chopped

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

1 tablespoon mint, chopped

1 tablespoon garlic confit

¼ cup pure olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a mixer and blend until smooth. Season with Tabasco, salt and white pepper. Serve with pasta, as a dip for flatbread, as pizza sauce, or brush on crostini and bake to enjoy with steamed clams or mussels.

 

Asparagus With Egg and Chorizo

Chef David Bazirgan, Dirty Habit (opening next month), San Francisco

(Check out David in action, creating this dish for a Tasting Table video!)

Asparagus no spoon

4 cups water

1½ teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 eggs

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

2 tablespoons diced Spanish–style chorizo

1 tablespoon finely diced shallot

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1½ pounds fat asparagus, ends trimmed

Prepare an ice bath and set aside. In a medium saucepan over high heat, add the water, one teaspoon of the salt, the white vinegar, and the eggs. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let stand for four minutes. Shock the eggs in the ice-water bath. Once the eggs are cool, peel and set aside.

In a medium bowl, smash the eggs into small pieces using the back of a fork, then stir in ¼ cup of the olive oil, red-wine vinegar, chorizo, shallot, pepper, and the remaining salt until well incorporated.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss the asparagus with the remaining two tablespoons olive oil and grill until cooked through and slightly charred (about two to three minutes on each side). Serve warm with the egg mixture spooned over the top. Serves four.

 

Raw Artichoke Salad With Parmesan

artichoke

Chef Walter Pisano, Tulio, Seattle

Serves 4 people as a salad course

3 large artichokes (tightly closed, not browning)

4 lemons

2 tablespoons of sliced flat-leaf parsley

3 tablespoons shaved Parmesan

3 tablespoons fruity virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Fresh black pepper to taste

Have all of the above ingredients completed except the artichokes. To avoid discoloration, prep the artichokes when you’re about ready to serve.

Make sure you have a bowl of lemon water to start this process for the trimmed artichoke, prior to slicing. Cut off the artichoke stem and discard. Using a serrated knife cut one inch of the top of the artichoke. Bend the outer layers of leaves until they snap off close to the base (you may want to wear plastic gloves). Continue until you reach the pale yellow leaves with pale green tips.

Using a sharp knife, remove the remaining leaves flush with the top of the choke. Remove the purple leaves and the fuzzy choke with a spoon. During this process you must be rubbing the artichoke continuously with a lemon half. Then trim the remaining dark-green fibrous parts from the base and sides of the artichoke. Keep rubbing the choke with lemon juice. Place the artichoke in the lemon water and complete the process with the other artichokes.

Shave the artichoke as thinly as possible with a slicer or mandolin and toss immediately with shaved Parmesan, lemon juice, parsley and olive oil. Season with salt and fresh-ground pepper, and serve. Try it with grilled salmon, gravlax–style salmon or grilled beef. Serves four.

 

Grana Padano With Celery Heart and Sweet Pea Salad in Red Wine Vinaigrette

Chef Jason McClure

Chef Jason McClure

Chef Jason McClure, Sazerac, Seattle

Celery hearts from 3 bunches of celery (use the outsides for another application), leaves left whole, the stalks cut on the bias

2 pounds English peas, shucked and left raw

4 ounces Grana Padano or other hard aged-cheese, crumbled into thin, bite-sized pieces

salt and pepper to taste

Red Wine Vinaigrette:

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup of the best red-wine vinegar you can find

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup pure olive oil

whisk all ingredients together and set aside

To plate the salad, take a small ladle and create a small pool of the vinaigrette on each plate. Toss the celery hearts, English peas, Grana Padano, salt and pepper, and dress with remaining red-wine vinaigrette. Compose a small pile of all the ingredients in the center of each plate and serve immediately. Serves 4.

 

Sweet Pea Risotto

Chef Walter Pisano

Chef Walter Pisano

Chef Walter Pisano, Tulio, Seattle

1½ cups Arborio rice

1 teaspoon fresh mint, thinly sliced

1 white onion, finely diced

1 leek, finely diced

1 gallon vegetable stock

1½ cup blanched fresh peas

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons crescenza cheese

6 tablespoons olive oil

salt and white pepper to taste

In a heavy-bottomed saucepot, start heating four tablespoons of butter and add the diced white onion and leeks. Keep on a medium heat and stir constantly until they are soft. Add the rice and start toasting it. When this is done, begin to add the strained vegetable broth (which should be warm) by using a ladle of broth at a time and stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to add the broth. When the risotto is almost done add the fresh mint and blanched peas and mix well. This process should use approximately four cups of broth. To test the risotto, take a little grain out and taste it; the rice should have a little crunch. If the risotto is too crunchy then continue to add broth, but in very small amounts at a time. When the risotto is done, finish with crescenza and season to taste, and place into serving bowls. Serves four.


Honey Lavender Crème Brûlée

Chef James Siao

Chef James Siao

Chef James Siao, Finch & Fork, Santa Barbara, CA

7½ ounces egg yolks (approximately 11 large egg yolks)

7 ounces granulated sugar

2 pounds heavy cream

½ ounce vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean)

12 sprigs fresh lavender

5 tablespoons honey

Granulated sugar, for the tops

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and honey until light and fluffy. In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine the heavy cream and scraped vanilla bean and slowly bring to a boil. Temper the hot heavy cream into the egg mixture. Continue to whisk in the heavy cream until well combined. Add the lavender sprigs and let steep in the warm custard mixture for one to two minutes. Strain the mixture and remove the foam from the surface. Fill small custard molds or 5½-ounce-sized ramekins with 2.75 ounces (78 grams) of the mixture and place in a water bath. Bake in a 325-degree oven until firm (approximately 30 to 35 minutes). Refrigerate the baked custard until ready to serve. Immediately prior to serving, remove the custard from the refrigerator and sprinkle sugar on the surface. Using a broiler or torch, caramelize the sugar. Makes eight 5-ounce servings.

4 Comments

Inside Kimpton

33 is a Magic Number

600px-US_33

In 1981, a gallon of regular gas cost a cool $1.38; the top selling album was REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity; Sandra Day O’Connor made history as the country’s first female Supreme Court justice; and we were introduced to Indy Jones, our favorite swashbuckling archaeologist (sorry, Lara Croft). But to us, we fondly remember another important milestone: When a former investment banker by the name of Bill Kimpton decided to go against the grain and pioneer the boutique hotel concept in the United States. Thus, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants was born.

33 years later, we’re 60 hotels and some 70 restaurants strong, in 26 cities from desert oases to urban cityscapes, and still holding the torch for everything our founder believed in. To have a bit of a festive hoopla around our 33rd birthday, we uncovered some little known facts about this seemingly random numeric. So c’mon and celebrate our birthday with us!

• The LP (long play) vinyl record, or 33, is named for its revolution speed of 33⅓ revolutions per minute.

• Amethyst is designated as the 33rd wedding anniversary present.

• Virginia Woolf did not publish her first novel, The Voyage Out, until she was 33 years old.

• Spanish-speaking doctors use the phrase “diga treinta y tres” (“say 33”) when they listen to their patients’ lungs with a stethoscope.

• Michelangelo was 33 years old when he started his historic work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

• According to the Newton scale, 33 is the temperature at which water boils.

• Oregon became the 33rd U.S. state on Feb. 14, 1859.

Clockwise from upper left: Sammy Baugh, Larry Bird, Eddie Murray and Patrick Ewing.

Clockwise from upper left: Sammy Baugh, Larry Bird, Eddie Murray and Patrick Ewing.

• The human spine contains 33 vertebrae.

• The animal kingdom is divided into 33 phyla.

• Some of sports’ all-time greats rocked the number 33, including Slingin’ Sammy Baugh of the Washington Redskins; Boston Celtic Larry Bird; Eddie Murray of the Baltimore Orioles; and the New York Knicks’ Patrick Ewing.

• In numerology, 33 is considered a powerfully significant master number (along with 11 and 22). According to Numerology.com: “A 33 used to its full potential means that there is no personal agenda, only a focus on humanitarian issues.” Sweet.

— Faith Yi

4 Comments

Destinations

Pretty in Pink: Kimpton Celebrates the National Cherry Blossom Festival

lad_destination_6535

Widely known fact: The nation’s capital goes bonkers for its beloved cherry blossoms. Little-known fact: We here at Kimpton do, too. There’s a serious petal party going on in D.C. and we are certainly never ones to miss out on a good celebration.

Each spring, the city’s thousands of cherry blossom trees burst into stunning pastel displays around the Tidal Basin and beyond. The blooms, a gift of friendship from Japan in 1912, signal the coming of a new season, something particularly welcome after a winter that’s seemed to last forever. And ever. (And ever.)

Along with the gorgeous puffs of pink come citywide celebrations, plus blossom–themed displays of art at local museums and galleries, spring-accented menus at 100-plus restaurants, and cherry-geared tour excursions by bus, bike, boat and foot. This year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival continues through April 13. Upcoming highlights include the Grand Sake Tasting (April 3), the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival (April 5), and the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade (both April 12). Download the free festival app to get real-time info on the festivities.

In honor of the world-renowned fest, Kimpton offers the Blossoms & Bubbles Package at all 11 of our D.C. and Virginia hotels. As a way to add the cherry on top of your festival experience, the decadent deal includes the gift of cherry blossom soaps (handmade locally), a $25 daily credit to put toward parking or dining, and bubble makers for the kids at check-in. Japanese culture even takes over Kimpton’s wine hour — in addition to the usual reds and whites on offer, scrumptious sakes gets poured throughout the festival, too.

Other ways to enjoy the blossoms include:

• Exploring the Tidal Basin and National Mall by bike (and we have free ones!) with Monaco Washington D.C.’s General Manager Ed Virtue, every Wednesday afternoon from 4:30–5:30 p.m. 

• In Alexandria at the Lorien Hotel & Spa, indulge in the flavors of the season at BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier, thanks to Pastry Chef Erin Reed’s cherry blossom cheesecake, a sweet combination of bubble gum meringue, lime graham-cracker, and hibiscus gelée.

• On Thursday evenings, the Donovan House’s Zentan restaurant offers an omakase–style chef’s tasting menu that pulls together the week’s best selection of fresh fish, quality meats and of-the-minute produce.

It’s time to savor that flower power and paint the town pink.

— Corinne Whiting

Add a comment

Destinations

Final Four Frenzy in Dallas: Hotel Lumen’s Got Game

Soak up the Final Four at the Hotel Lumen in Dallas.

Soak up the Final Four at the Hotel Lumen in Dallas.

When March Madness comes down to the final four teams, people get pretty fired up. This year, the NCAA men’s basketball final happens in Dallas, and since everything’s bigger in Texas, good times are definitely ahead. The frenzy begins Friday, April 4, and continues through Monday, April 7, with the championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, just up the road a piece from the Hotel Lumen in Dallas.

The Lumen is getting into the spirit and will broadcast games in the living room for guests who won’t be at the stadium. You’ll spot Lumen employees loyally sporting their favorite college team jerseys, whether they made it to the big dance or not, doggone it. All during the tournament, you’ll be able to stop in to check your bracket against a display with the most up-to-date results.

Even if your bracket’s a bust — and especially if it’s not — come join the party at the hosted wine hour from 5 to 6 p.m., which during the Final Four will also include some cold ones and sophisticated stadium snacks to munch on. Think classic nachos with a signature Kimpton twist like fresh, local produce to garnish all that cheesy goodness.

If you want to get in on some other Final Four festivities, Dallas is chock-full of them all weekend. Here are a few highlights around town:

Bracket Town

If you’re up for something billed as the Ultimate Final Four Fan Fest, then you need to come on down to Bracket Town. Something will always be going on at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center from Friday, April 4, through Monday, April 7, including a pep rally and chances to rub elbows with legendary coaches and former college stars.

mgh_ls_002

3-on-3 Tournament

If you’d rather get some hands-on action on the court, set up a team and play in a 3-on-3 tournament, happening April 5 and 6 in Bracket Town at the Convention Center. Really anybody, including men, women and children, are welcome to enter.

March Madness Music Festival

It might just be the hottest ticket in town, but you won’t need a ticket to get in. This three-day, outdoor music festival at Reunion Park in downtown Dallas will have live music April 4 through 6 from The Killers, Tim McGraw, fun., and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band — all for absolutely free.

Road to the Final Four 5K

If all this sporty atmosphere has you itching to get in a run, you might as well make it for a good cause. On Saturday, April 5, you can run or walk in Dallas’ Fair Park with other Final Four revelers to benefit pediatric cancer research and other American Cancer Society initiatives.

— Rachel Bell

3 Comments

Destinations

Hot Blocks: Carless in Seattle

alx_ls

When visiting any city you want to act like a local, right? In Seattle, that means getting outside. And when you stay at The Alexis Hotel (or any of our hotels for that matter), they’ll hook you up with a complimentary PUBLIC bike so you can take in the sights from atop a sweet ride. If you left your outdoor gear at home, or — gasp! — don’t have any, you’re in luck because there’s a North Face on the same block as the hotel. Consider any piece you purchase here a multipurpose investment that will get you through 90 percent of the city’s social situations. If that seems like an exaggeration, you haven’t been to the Emerald City yet.

Unless you’re a Tour de France yellow-jersey contender who doesn’t mind a 10 percent slope here or there, you’ll want to head down the hill and turn right on Alaskan Way, which runs along the waterfront. Here, you can meander on a rare flat street with plenty of potential stops along the way, including:

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop: Not content to just be a tourist shop filled with postcards, T-shirts and key chains with your name possibly spelled right, this local institution displays things like shrunken heads (yep, they’re real human heads), jumping beans, and the Lord’s Prayer on a grain of rice.

The Salmon Cooker: Already famished from the 0.3 miles you’ve biked? Stop at this walk-up window for alder wood–smoked salmon with potato wedges. A Northwest treat.

The Seattle Great Wheel: Step right up to the 280,300-pound spinning contraption that juts out 40 feet over Elliott Bay for a ride inside one of the gondolas — and a chance at some pretty fantastic photos of the city and Puget Sound.

Seattle Aquarium: Touch a sea urchin. It’s fun.

Myrtle Edwards Park/Olympic Sculpture Park: Once Alaskan Way ends after about a mile, keep riding into shoreline-hugging Myrtle Edwards Park, which is also home to the Seattle Art Museum’s outdoor extension. Take a break on the benches shaped like eyes, or cruise by works like an abstract eagle and a rotating ampersand. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you spot two naked males in a fountain. (Note: These should be statues. If they’re real people, you might not be in the right place at all.)

If you’re loving the feel of the wind in your helmet-head hair, keep going — there’s a quiet path that stretches all the way to the Magnolia neighborhood. You’ll find some great restaurants here as well as Discovery Park, Seattle’s largest green space, offering sweeping vistas, hiking trails and beaches. Maps available at the front desk will point you in the right direction.

You can easily do this same route if you’re staying at Hotel Monaco or Hotel Vintage, too, just with a little more downhill action at the beginning — and probably a nice walk uphill with your bike at the end.

— Haley Shapley

Add a comment

Inside Kimpton

Meet K.I.M.

K.I.M. is taking the Internet by storm. And no, we don’t mean Kardashian. Our K.I.M. is short for Kimpton Instant Meetings and it’s the fastest, easiest, 24/7iest way to book a meeting or event at a Kimpton hotel.

Do you need to set up a last-minute meeting, group or business retreat? Our newly launched K.I.M. can guide you through a variety of options from the comfort of your home (or seat on the subway). With as little as five days’ notice, you can plan an event for six to 50 people, and snag six to 25 guest rooms for up to seven nights.

K.I.M. can set you up in a meeting room at the Sir Francis Drake in San Francisco.

K.I.M. can set you up in a meeting room at the Sir Francis Drake in San Francisco … or anywhere in the Kimpton universe for that matter.

We have eight packages ready to choose from, such as the “Smart Eating Meeting” that is designed to power-up a group with healthy snacks and a brain-food lunch. It also includes all the A/V gear and supplies you need for a kick-ass brainstorming session.

Speaking of food, take a look at this video of some of our chefs talking about our philosophy on creating inspired and delicious options for events. The carefully crafted, individually customized menus are not an afterthought but an extension of our seasonally driven, locally inspired restaurants. This isn’t meeting food. This isn’t event food. It’s great food, crafted by the same chefs who lead our restaurants, so you know you won’t be getting any funky chicken.

Going hand in hand with K.I.M., which isn’t easy since it doesn’t have any hands, is our new Kimpton iPad sales app, which our sales teams can use to show off all our beautiful hotels and inspiring meeting spaces. This powerful, interactive little tool takes all the guesswork out of what can be a pretty stressful task. Browse through for photos, floor plans, venue specifics, menus and more. You’ll be able to get the look and feel of any of our 60-plus properties — and since cookie cutter isn’t our thing, no two hotels are the same. The app allows us to be immediately in sync with you and your needs.

So check out the app and take K.I.M. for a spin.

Add a comment

Inside Kimpton

Q&A With Barry Pollard, SVP of Hotel Operations

Barry Pollard, Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations

Barry Pollard is a hospitality lifer who started his career as an underage busboy and now oversees more than 60 properties as Kimpton’s Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations. What does that entail, exactly? Well, basically it means everything you experience in one of our hotels is his responsibility. Whoa, big job. But he’s a 12-year Kimpton veteran who’s been instrumental in our growth and has a wealth of knowledge and experience on which to draw. And since he loves Italian shoes and the movie Up, you know he has both style and heart, too.

Q: Describe your job in five words or less.

A: Awesome, challenging, exciting, intense, collaborative.

Q: How long have you worked in hospitality?

A: I’ve worked in hospitality my entire life. I started in a snack bar bussing tables before I was legally able to work and they paid me a few dollars on the side. My last restaurant stint was as a room-service waiter in a hotel while going to college. A job as a bellman opened, I asked for it and got it. That’s where my career in hotels started.

Q: Do you remember the first time you spent the night in a hotel or motel? How old were you and where was it?

A: Our family vacations were usually spent in a cottage on Cape Cod or the Rhode Island shore and there were so many kids it was usually sleeping on a couch, the floor or a sleeping bag. My first hotel stay was on a vacation with my aunt and uncle’s family when I was 17. We went to Mexico and we stayed at the Ambassador Hotel in Monterey. It was quite an elegant hotel at one point but it had seen better days by the time we got there. It had a fancy restaurant with tuxedoed waiters and I was in awe with the tableside service. But I still remember how bad the mattresses were.

Q: What’s your favorite travel/hotel–related movie?

A: Up. I loved, loved that movie.

Q: What’s your favorite place on earth?

A: Anywhere in Italy. I love all things Italian: the country, the food, the wine, the people and especially the shoes.

Q: What super power would you like to have?

A: Given a super power, I would choose to be a secret healer.

Q: What’s the most challenging thing about your job?

A: Prioritizing — because everything is important. And going to work in an office building every day instead of a hotel.

Q: What’s the best thing?

A: I work with enormously talented and creative people. Transitioning from the “boots on the ground” hotel world to that of the home office and working side by side with people who are charged with the continuing evolution of the Kimpton brand is exhilarating.

Q: What’s the short-term goal for your job?

A: As our brand continues to grow and evolve, my short-term goal is to be sure that we are staying focused on delivering our brand promise of excellence and difference while maintaining the unique culture that has been a hallmark of Kimpton.

Q: What long-term goal have you set for your job?

A: The long-term goal for my job is to create an innovative and successful operations structure that is focused on exceptional guest service provided with spirit, style and delight.

4 Comments

Travel

Los Angeles Takes a Bow During Oscar Time

Hooray for Hollywood ... it's Oscars time again.

Awards season. It’s enough to make an A-lister’s heart flutter and a producer’s ulcer flare. Meanwhile, film critics and pundits are sharpening steely prose and crafting lofty praise for their loved and loathed projects. Not everyone of course is going to make it to the podium during this year’s 86th Annual Academy Awards, being held Sunday, March 2. But there actually is one category where everyone comes out a winner: Visitors. If you’re lucky enough to be in LA during Oscar time, you don’t have to sit on the sidelines even if you haven’t secured a spot on the red carpet. The following is our Hollywood cheat-sheet of how to enjoy this highpoint of the LA social calendar even if you’re “Almost Famous.”

• Check Out the Heroes Exhibit at AMPAS

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is Oscar’s boss. As in the governing body which votes for nominees and is comprised of a who’s who in the industry. The Beverly Hills headquarters’ Grand Lobby also regularly features exhibitions during awards season. This year the focus will be on celebrating movie heroes, which will also be the theme of the Oscar ceremony. Open through March 5, the exhibit features photos, posters and film clips from 80 films spanning nine decades ranging from The Grapes of Wrath to The Dark Knight.

• Dressed for Success, Hollywood Style

Often overlooked but really one of the most remarkable elements of filmmaking are the incredible costume designs that set the tone for people, places and time periods. Each year, LA’s FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) mounts an exhibition of the previous year’s Oscar winner for Best Costume Design, which means that through April 26, you can view the gorgeous designs for Anna Karenina designed by Jacqueline Durran.

• Party Like an A-lister at the Global Green USA Event

There’s nothing Oscar likes better than a party, so why not join the fun? Especially when it’s the greenest of all the Oscar parties, raising funds for environmental causes. You don’t have to be a nominee or even a Hollywood type to attend. Just be willing to fork over anywhere from $125 to $1,250 for individual tickets to rub elbows in the heart of Hollywood with 1,000 of your closest new friends including celebs like Orlando Bloom, Willie Nelson and Helen Hunt. This year’s pre-Oscar party is scheduled for Feb. 26 and features a live performance by Moby and a DJ set by The Crystal Method.

The Hotel Wilshire VIP lounge.

• Stay Stylish at Kimpton During Awards Season

Maybe you’re hosting a watch party or just want to kick it up a notch during your next LA stay. Kimpton’s Hotel Wilshire in the Miracle Mile district and Hotel Palomar Westwood both feature suites and packages designed to let you stay like a star and celebrate in awards-season style any time of the year. Hotel Wilshire options include our 1,100 square foot Penthouse suite and The High Life package featuring a couples’ massage, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne and a special amenity prepared by our celebrity chef, Eric Greenspan. The Hotel Palomar Westwood dials it up with suites featuring soaking tubs, living rooms and panoramic views of the city skyline. And the hotel’s BLVD 16 restaurant serves tempting fare including in-room options like the Made In LA package — it’s brimming with goodies like blue corn tortilla chips, fresh pico de gallo and warm cinnamon churros perfect for your viewing party.

— Eric Hiss

Add a comment

Spirited Conversation

National Margarita Day

Ah, agave ... it just wouldn't be Margarita Day without you. Photo: Mark Hiss

Some say she’s from Baja California, others from Acapulco. There are those who are certain the El Paso–Juárez border region was her original stomping ground. Whatever her mysterious origins, what’s certain is that since the 1940s wherever this gal goes a party is sure to follow.

So it’s time to chase away those winter doldrums with a little Latin flavor and get prepared to celebrate National Margarita Day on Saturday, Feb. 22, with the tart Tequila concoction Esquire magazine described in 1953 as “lovely to look at, exciting and provocative.”

We’ll help you get the fiesta rolling with our resident spirit guide, Kimpton Lead Bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout. We asked Jacques for a primer on Tequila and Margaritas (his Twitter handle is @LoveTequila), and just for good measure he threw in a couple of sure-fire recipes, too.

¡Salud!

Jacques Bezuidenhout

Q: Blanco, Añejo and Reposado Tequila. What are the differences?

A: Blanco is Tequila that has not been aged in any oak barrels. Reposado means the Tequila is aged anywhere from two months to less than a year. Añejo means the Tequila is aged for a minimum of a year and under three years. Extra Añejo means that the Tequila is aged for a minimum of three years and up.

Q: Does it matter which goes into your Margarita?

A: Normally we use Blanco Tequila as it’s bright and the pure expression of Tequila, and it really shows through all that citrus. I don’t mind using Reposado or Añejo Tequilas as they make for a different experience. The two most important things, though, are using only fresh-squeezed lime juice (bottled sour mixes should be illegal) and 100-percent agave Tequila. Life is too short to drink cheap Tequila.

Q: There are a bunch of different stories about the creation of the Margarita, including one involving Rita Hayworth. Do you know who invented the Margarita?

A: There are several stories and none of them are really accurate; the dates are all over the place. They’re tall tales told by the characters that claim to have invented it. There is no chronicled story of where it was invented. It could have been anyone. For now, I will stake claim to inventing the Marg.

Q: Mezcal has a high profile now. What’s the difference between Tequila and mezcal?

A: There are many differences. Tequila is mainly produced in the Mexican state of Jalisco and mezcal is mainly produced in the state of Oaxaca. With Tequila you can only use the blue agave variety to produce Tequila. With Mezcal you can choose from 28 different styles of agave. One of the key differences is that the agave hearts in Tequila production are normally cooked in stone ovens, while in mezcal production they are cooked in stone pits in the ground, which sometimes leads to a hint of smokiness in the mezcal. Remember, life is too short to drink cheap Tequila … or mezcal. At the end of the day they are both delicious. Source quality producers and pay a little more for a better product.

Q: What are some of your favorite brands for making Margaritas and/or drinking neat?

A: Here are some of my favorite Tequila brands. They can be used to make delicious Margaritas or to be sipped neat.

Partida Tequila

El Tesoro Tequila

Siete Leguas Tequila

… And here are two of my favorite Margarita recipes:

Tommy’s Margarita (from Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco)

2 ounces Blanco Tequila

1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

1 ounce agave nectar (cut 50/50 with water)

Shake all ingredients with ice in a shaker. Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass or up into a chilled glass.

Breakfast Margarita (to be enjoyed with buttered toast before 10am)

2 ounces Blanco Tequila

1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

¾ ounce Cointreau

¼ ounce agave nectar (cut 50/50 with water)

2 bar spoons orange marmalade or jam of choice

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

1 Comment