Amangani Grill – Chef Rick Sordahl

Amangani was listed in 2013 as the #1 hotel in the United States by US News & World Report, 2010 Conde Nast voted the Amangani property the number one Ski Resort in North America and its readers voted Amangani one of the best resorts in the world.

My recent visit was inspired by more than stellar ratings, the more I researched Jackson Hole, the more compelled I became to make a personal pilgrimage. The five star hotels, the wildlife and natural beauty of the Grand Tetons were more than I anticipated.

One showstopper in Jackson Hole, is chef Rick Sordahl at the Amangani Grill. The translation of Amangani is peaceful home, and Rick’s cooking is emblematic of the hotel culture.

Fabulous Filet

Enhanced by local beef ranches, in particular the family owned Snake River Farms, Rick has created a delectable menu of inspired dishes. Following my arrival Amangani lunch, I realized my restaurant research would be limited to the dining room of Amangani Grill. Why inconvenience myself and depart this Zen sanctuary of calmness and take the chance of a mediocre meal?

Recognized nationally by Zagat, earning a Top Ten Award in Las Vegas as Executive Chef for Anthem, Rick went on to receive the AAA Four Diamond and Mobil Four Star awards at his next position as Executive Chef for The Washington Duke Inn at Duke University in North Carolina. Pedigree yes, flair and sophisticated menus double yes!

With a guiding principle of sustainability, Rick’s menu incorporates beef and pork from native ranches and farms, and fresh fish is sourced from fisheries. The kitchen bakes bread every day, breakfast bread and afternoon bread. The winter sourdough was on its way out for summer bread.

I rarely dine on beef, and never imagined I would find steak comparable to Argentine steak, this notion has been dashed! Escape to Wyoming and Amangani or explore Snake River Ranch online; however, you then need chef and imaginative flourishes.

Snake River Farms Wagyu Filet served with thyme Foie gras mashed red potatoes, jumbo asparagus, makers mark vanilla bean reduction.

Blame the delightful server, Rowen for convincing me to enjoy the divine filet two consecutive nights! Accommodating a request for petite salad, the kitchen thrills.

Lunch menu is equally scrumptious! Anticipating an 8-hour travel transition, the waiter noted that the duck confit, would stick with me till breakfast the next day; excellent, no airport chow to burst the bubble of the Amangani Grill.

Duck Confit- Scrumptious!

Cobb Salad- tender grilled chicken



Shutters On The Beach – Santa Monica

Their motto, where nothing stands between you and the sand – well, the narrow strip of beach boardwalk doesn’t count! Caution, go too far and you will find yourself wading in the Pacific.

Shutters luxury hotel provides an intimate beachfront perch, more like a nest, really. Rooms designed by Michael Smith are beachy casual, but lack the typical seaside motif. Suites contain soothing colors of famed John Robshaw linens, hues are muted and serene, many of the rooms are enhanced by a book-lined library, add a balcony with ocean view and snuggle in for a long weekend. Paparazzi will never uncover you here.

Schedule a Red Flower hammam treatment. Meander across the street to their sister hotel, Casa Del Mar, and relish the spectacle of a brilliant golden sun ball slipping below the horizon, order a chilled glass of champers from the classic lounge. Lean back and savor the jazz. You’ve shifted to another world at Shutters and Casa Del Mar.

Very few on the beach hotels exist in Southern California. Santa Monica has much to offer besides gentle warm surf, the rambling boardwalk and the iconic amusement park on the pier. Built in 1909, the pier is an ideal spot to lounge, fish, or enjoy amusement rides on the historic carousel or dare to ride the only West Coast, oceanfront, steel roller coaster located on a Pier over the Pacific Coastline. Ocean sprays breeze by riders as you escalate to a height of 55 feet. I have childhood reminiscences of the scrambler; terror filled memories, probably more accurate, convinced it was my last day on earth riding the sidesplitting rotating giant barely missing the edge of the pier railings. My parents called this fun; I felt it was guaranteed death or some form of Catholic penance for venial sins.

Walking is the best mode of exploring the area; meander out at dusk and mosey right toward the iconic pier. Two blocks away is Santa Monica Place, where you will find glammy shops and delectable food emporiums, including True Food Kitchen. Located at the South end of the famous Third Street Promenade the shopping center recently received Best of the Best global shopping center award. Crafted and designed more as an open-air shopping and dining area rather than a traditional shopping mall, it has an entire floor dedicated to dining experiences. Delightful neighborhood planned for local residents and visitors.


Santa Monica Shutters– dream away, nothing compares on the beach!