A Warm Greeting, Maybe Even a Friendly Hug



Nutritionists agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Counting fast food fats and calories is part of a healthy regimen, so here’s the score. McDonald’s popular Egg McMuffin has 300 calories and 12g of fat. Dunkin Donuts Egg-white Veggie Flatbread Sandwiches deliver 290 calories plus 9g of fats, and their Egg White Turkey Sausage has 280 calories and 6g of fat. Opt for Starbuck’s Vivanno Fruit Smoothies and you get 250 to 300 calories and from 1 to 5g of fat.
Still, at the breakfast table, be skeptical about health claims on cereal boxes. Under media scrutiny, Kellogg’s is removing its  claims that its Rice Krispies and Cocoa Krispies products “now helps support your child’s immune system” but will continue to emphasize its recent increase of antioxidant vitamins. Whatever the nutritional claims, it’s the sugar-sweet taste that appeals to kids. General Mills has been chided for claiming Cheerios could lower Cholesterol by the Food and Drug Administration which stated that only FDA approved drugs are allowed to make such health claims but the aggressive Cheerios promotion continues unabated.
Amateur cooks will compete for culinary glory on “Master Chef,” a forthcoming FOX Network reality series to be hosted by Gordon Ramsay. The format echoes successes in the UK and Australia.
Who says it’s a woman’s world? For decades, Lawry’s upscale dinner houses featured exclusively female service staffs. The policy was launched way back in 1922 with the opening of the Tam O’Shanter Inn on Los Feliz Blvd. Now, the family-owned corporation is paying over $1 million in fines to settle a bias suit filed in 2006 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after a busboy complained that he was refused promotion to server status because he was a male. That occurred in 2003 and a year later, Lawry’s began hiring a limited number of male servers. The court evidently determined the firm’s efforts to comply were too late with too little. Through the years, I’ve reviewed numerous places where only male servers were employed and, for that matter, the servers at the Playboy Clubs or Hooter’s were all females—viva le difference!
In a timely merchandising promotion now through January 3rd, the El Pollo Loco chain is offering a free 1 lb. Bundt cake with every order of a 9 or 14 piece flame-grilled chicken feast. Come and get it!
Feeling antsy and adventurous? Here’s an outing with low mileage and high expectations. The beaches are chilly even in Malibu but the view is grand from the Cornell Winery (29975 Mulholland Hwy in Agoura Hills) is spectacular year-round and the tasting room samples and sells the bottlings of 18 neighboring vintners. A tasting of 8 wines costs $15 per person ($25 per couple) and you’ll want to proceed to the nearby Saddlerock Ranch for more tasting and an adjacent handsome picnic area, complete with tables, chairs and umbrellas. (The Cornell tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 til 6.)
A favorite Italian restaurant for Valleyites for over two decades, the owners of the quite intimate, very ‘un-corporative’ La Finestra are passionate about their high quality at low prices menu of authentic Sicilian-style specialties. Pasta portions are generous, the pizzas are wondrous and there’s a wisely selected list of California and Italian vintages. The partners refer to their place as ‘the ultimate comfort zone for the best in Italian home-cooking,’ and I can’t fault their claim because they certainly aim to please. La Finestra, is a piece down the road at 19647 Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana, and well worth the drive. Expect a warm greeting—maybe even a friendly hug—when you arrive.

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The Curious Palate

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