Open Sesame Restaurant Serves Inspired Authentic Mediterranean Cuisine

Founder Ali Kobeissi Offers a Fresh Take on Traditional Lebanese Dishes

Open Sesame is a great name for Ali Kobeissi’s restaurant not just because sesame is an essential ingredient in the Mediterranean food he serves, but because dining there is akin to a magical experience like the Ali Baba tale full of adventure and hidden treasures.

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The Los Angeles location of Open Sesame, sister to its location in Long Beach, offers guests an experience that combines the best of meticulous big city service with the familiarity and coziness of a small independent restaurant, coupled with outstanding Middle Eastern fare.

Kobeissi has created an intimate eatery for those who crave authentic Lebanese cuisine, with flavors not just of exotic spices, but also an ambience of romance and the warmth of a family kitchen.  As with his first location in Long Beach, opened in 1999, the Los Angeles restaurant became popular quickly.

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As a youth in Beirut, Kobeissi worked in a spice factory, and he developed a love for healthy, flavorful made without animal fats or additives.   His menu is a delicious testament to his dedication to this wholesomeness.

I was lucky to get a table on a Saturday night with a friend for a feast of Kobeissi’s authentic dishes.  We started with the Kibbi, a shell of ground beef filled with roasted pine nuts, caramelized onions and herbs, with a side of yogurt dip.

For entrees we had the Sultan, a combination plate of marinated lamb chops, grilled tiger shrimp, and filet mignon served over basmati rice and Kafta skewers of beef and lamb with parsley, onion and Lebanese spices and hummus.  Of course we couldn’t go Mediterranean without falafel, so we ordered a couple patties a la carte.

Falafel

The food was plentiful though light enough that we did not feel overfull.  To finish off our very satisfying meal, we ordered two desserts:  Baklawa a la mode, which was the freshest we had ever tasted, and the Ashta ice cream made a perfect complement; and the Chocolate Molten Lava Cake, which was just the right amount of rich, topped with Lebanese almond ice cream.

While we did not order any of the salud juices, the Spicy Ginger Shot of ginger and cayenne sounded like a blast; or other exotic beverages to choose from included Turkish coffee infused with cardamom, or Laban, a chilled yogurt drink with dry mint.

Kafta

As we looked around the room, many patrons had finished their meals but lingered for the enjoyable ambience.  Kobeissi roamed the room, graciously greeting and chatting with his customers as if they were long-time friends, welcome to stay the entire evening.  But with food this good, the crowd of guests arriving for their reservations would be glad to have their tables soon.

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Open Sesame is located at 7458 Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles.  For menus and more, go to www.opensesamegrill.com

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Celeb Gay Parents Celebrate at Family Equality Council Dinner in LA

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Proud mom Melissa Etheridge and her fiance.

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The legendary rocker joked with the audience about how good it was to be at the event, which celebrates gay-parented families.

“I’ve got two teens and two seven-year-olds.  I don’t go out and do anything anymore. I’m too tired.”

Etheridge then reminisced about the media clamor 17 years ago when she was one of the first gay moms to come out; and she remarked about the commonness today of families headed by gay and lesbian parents.

“Is it just me, but are we everywhere?” Etheridge laughed.

She then told a story about going to Lulu Lemon recently to get a pair of soccer shorts for her daughter.  The sales clerk, a young woman, showered Etheridge with praise for coming out as a lesbian mother.   The young woman was herself raised by two moms, she had just bought her moms tickets to Etheridge’s show.

Etheridge may have been one of the first to go public, but gay parents were in no shortage at the awards event.  Funny man and gay dad Alec Mapa of Ugly Betty fame emceed the event of more than 300 gay parents and their supporters.

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Alex Mapa and Pearson Brown

Honorees of the evening were Peter Paige & Bradley Bredeweg, creators of ABC Family’s groundbreaking drama series The Fosters, produced by Jennifer Lopez, about a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms; and Jennifer Tyrrell, a gay mom honored for her advocacy after being removed from her leadership position with Boy Scouts of America because she is gay.

One of the poignant moments of the evening was a short, heartfelt speech by a gay dad whose home was repeatedly vandalized and his children harassed because neighbors in his small Arizona town learned that the household was headed by two dads.  As a show of support, the two fathers and their family were treated by Family Equality Council to a vacation in Provincetown for the organization’s annual Family Week.

“Instead of being hated for being a two-dad family, we were embraced,” he said, choking back tears.

As he accepted his award, Paige survey the audience of mostly thirty-something and middle-age mom and dads and remarked, “It’s staggering that anyone could be threatened by anything happening in the this room.  It’s appalling and it has to stop.”

The message of the evening was that gay parents are just regular moms and dads, trying to do laundry, get their kids dressed and ready for school, and all the other mundane but normal things that other families do.

As Alec Mapa summed up, “We want the same things, but we’re gay, so we want nicer things.”

Also on hand at the event were Orange is the New Black’s Laura Prepon Scandal’s Dan Bucatinsky, David Miller, and Casey Bloys, Darren Criss and Amber Riley of Glee, Adam Lambert, Glee creator Ryan Murphy, actress Busy Phillips, and the cast of ABC’s Scandal including Scott Foley, Tony Goldwyn and Jeff Perry; Tim Allen, Pauley Perrette (NCIS),  George Takei, Harold Perrineau, Aisha Tyler, Kathleen Robertson, Tuc Watkins, Alex Newell (Glee), Tamara Barney and Heather Dubrow of Real Housewives of Orange County, Carlon Gebbia and Joyce Giraud, and Yolanda Foster of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Dale Dickey, Debbie Holliday, Amanda Bearse, and the cast of ABC Family’s The Fosters including Maia Mithcell, David Lambert, Cierra Ramirez, Jake T. Austin, Danny Nucci and Hayden Byerly.

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Peter Paige & Bradley Bredeweg, creators of ABC Family’s groundbreaking drama series The Fosters.

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Pearson Brown, Laura Pepron and Angela Robinson.

Making a Sweet Cup of Coffee for Valentine’s Day

ImageEven non-coffee drinkers — and yes, for those addicts who can’t imagine it, there are people who do not imbibe — need to know how to make coffee.  Coffee cannot be avoided.  It’s part of our vernacular, meaning, “Let’s talk,” or, “Let’s get to know each other,” when someone says, “Let’s get a cup of coffee.”  And even more crucial, it is a gesture of love to make coffee for your sweetheart, especially on Valentine’s Day. Whether you are half of an old married couple, or waking up next to a new best squeeze, making coffee for your Valentine is a sure way to show you care.  Here are a few ways to win your lover’s heart, when it comes to coffee.

  • Get a special coffee mug for Valentine’s Day so that every time your sweetheart drinks from that cup, thoughts of you are on his or her mind, and lips.
  • Keep your sweetheart’s favorite blend in the cabinet and never run out.  Any proper coffee addict knows, a good morning starts with a good cup of coffee, or it’s not going to be a good morning.
  • Even if you are not an early riser, prepare the pot to brew first thing in the morning, so it will be hot and waiting when your sweetheart awakes.  Better yet, set the timer so it will be ready a few minutes after the alarm goes off.
  • Take a little extra effort to make your sweetheart’s coffee just that much better.  Go rich and buy the premium beans — it’s worth it and shows you care enough to buy the best for him or her; grind the beans just before brewing for extra fresh flavor; use filtered water for purist of taste; and brew a new pot if it’s been sitting a while.
  • Give your sweetheart a coffee maker for Valentine’s Day. While there are many fancy and expensive brewing systems, you can get a great coffee maker for a reasonable price that can make an excellent pot of coffee, like KRUPS KM611850 12-Cup Coffee Machine.  It features an oversized shower head to evenly deliver hot water to ensure even flavor extraction, a flavor control aroma selection, a programmable clock to set the daily start time with auto-off and dual auto-on presents, and a Duo Filter water filtration system.  It also looks sharp in any kitchen with a black and stainless steel finish. $69.90, available at retail locations nationwide and krupsusa.com.

PMBC Group’s Client Momentage Featured on Lifehack’s 21 Must-Have Free iPhone Apps

PMBC Group’s Client Momentage Featured on Lifehack’s 21 Must-Have Free iPhone Apps.