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A few things can make a good night out to dinner an exceptional night out. When the company, food, wine pairing and service all come together, this elevates the evening. And, my outing to Redbird in Downtown LA was all that. My winemaker friend Dan Glover of L'Objet Noir in Sonoma was in town and we were lucky to get a last minute reservation on a Saturday night. And, I knew I was in for a special night as my dining companion is a fellow foodie who is open to sharing lots of dishes and drinking lots of wine. Redbird is the long anticipated (5 years of waiting) restaurant by Chef Neal Fraser and his wife Amy Knoll Fraser.  Located in the old 1933-built rectory inside the Vibiana Cathedral, you enter into a lounge space and then continue into the main dining room which is an outdoor patio space with a retractable roof. In the center of the room is a 360 degree bar that can be accessed from the dining room or the lounge. As we perused the menu, Sommelier Diane Pandolfini came to our table. So personable and outgoing, we started chatting with her as we reviewed the dynamic, creative wine menu that includes a section (both by the bottle and by the glass) for Rose and Orange wines. (There is an extended wine list upon request that includes an entire page to Orange wines.) With so many lesser known wines, wine regions and wine styles, Diane makes sure that her staff can comfortably discuss the wines with customers in a manner that can be understood. Anyone on the service team can describe the wines and assist in making suggestions. Sommelier Diane Pandolfini (1)
Last Sunday, the sun was shining when the fourth annual L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade benefit for pediatric cancer research was held on the lawn of Culver Studios. Founded in 2000, Alexandra "Alex" Scott (1996-2004) was a four-year-old neuroblastoma patient who held a charity lemonade stand in front of her home to help raise money for cancer.  In one day, she raised $2,000 and by the time she passed away in 2004 at the age of 8, she had raised, with the help of others, more than $1 million. Almost 10 years later, more than $60 million has been raised to fund over 300 research projects with the goal of ending childhood cancer. Los Angeles Chef Suzanne Goin and her business partner Caroline Styne (AOC, Lucques, Tavern), along with Chef David Lentz (The Hungry Cat) created LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade Stand and each year an extraordinary group of chefs, vintners and mixologists donate their time for one of Los Angeles’ best and most worthy food and wine events. To date, the Los Angeles event has raised more than $1 million and this past week’s event raised more than $530,000.

Everyone’s favorite fruit or vegetable (we’re still not sure) has its very own season dedicated to the height of its ripeness. As we are in the season of tomatoes, and...