Located between the barrel room and the vineyards at the historic Bernardo Winery, Café Merlot combines Europe cuisines with Southern California flare. Café Merlot co-owner Toni Kraft grew up in a home with the smells of baking bread, and counts planting, harvesting, and consuming fava beans with her grandmother among her fondest childhood memories. After a career in catering in the Midwest, where she worked alongside the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Wolfgang Puck, Toni brings an experienced but experimental philosophy to her current restaurant’s seasonally-changing menus. And with the help of executive chef Ferdinand, Toni also helps with the cooking classes, which range from cooking with wine to Super Bowl snacks, spreads, and marinades.
The bistro uses the 123-year-old winery’s rustic surroundings to great effect. On the patio, olive trees and grapevines gossip above diners. Indoors, a warm-toned Tuscan ambiance welcomes guests. Sundays see Chef Daniel roll out some of his specialties on the brunch menu, such as lobster eggs benedict and Kahlua French toast, making the cafe an enticing destination for a romantic breakfast date or a confusing business meeting.
Reflecting on this childhood, Chris Keating sometimes feels as if he didn't exist. His parents' divorce left him with very little tangible evidence of his formative years, so he's spent his adult life as a photographer making sure children can look back fondly at warm family memories. Chris Keating and his Calgary staff have made this a reality for more than 3,000 families since opening the doors to Towne Photography in 2006. There, the professional photographic crew shoots posed and candid shots of families, children, couples, and babies at picturesque parks or against their studio backdrops, and they also snap triumphant graduate portraits, intimate prenatal shots, and provocative passport pics that make border crossing a breeze. Their ironclad guarantee allows unsatisfied clients to request reshoots, reprints, or resizing on all photographs, and they vow to remake or recapture any artwork that sustains damage over the years. Chris also takes his photographic knowledge on the road to conduct Betterphoto Workshops across the United States and Canada, teaching novice photographers how to artistically preserve their most precious memories.
It's only been a decade since shutterbug Barbara Steinberg devoted her talents to boudoir photography, but her portfolio brims with a lifetime's worth of lens-fogging efforts. She creates boudoir images for a variety of occasions, from a significant other's birthday or anniversary to surprise romantic nights.
Barbara's work with more than 1,000 Southern Californian women has landed the photographer on several San Diego news programs. More than 100 outfits accompany the lingerie, jewelry, and accessories in her private studio, where taste runs tantamount to titillation during one- to two-hour boudoir sessions helmed by the all-female staff. As they ease into the session, subjects may also opt for one of the studio's signature silhouette poses, which conjure an air of erotic mystery and effortlessly arouse hunky Alfred Hitchcock?aficionados. Custom calendars, folios, and albums preserve each blush-worthy image, which Barbara lightly touches up for no additional cost.
Holy Smokes For Less empowers smokers to create their own cigarettes using Kentucky-grown tobacco and accentuates smoking experiences with lighters, incense, pipes, and fine cigars. First, guests take a sample of one of the shop's all-natural tobacco blends, which match the flavor of name-brand cigarettes without any additives or preservatives. Cigarette artisans fine-tune each blend based on the client's individual tastes, then guide guests through the rolling process, where an automated apparatus turns loose particles and paper into 200 consistent, machine-made smokes in as fast as eight minutes. Customers watch the hypnotizing mechanical process in awe, adjusting the amount of tobacco and tightness of each tube with helpful touch screens. As visitors sample the shop's finest burning leaves, they can lounge inside the studio puffing away to perfect their impersonation of a donut factory.
The brim of a giant bowler hat shades the entry to the Village Hat Shop in San Diego’s Hillcrest district, a nod to the store’s decades in the headwear business. A tall display case full of ethnic headdresses just inside the door might give the impression that you’ve stepped into a museum, but the space beyond is filled with current fashions, each one for sale. There are shelves of bejeweled Arturo Rios’ designs with towering tropical feathers, or slip into a Stetson, a newsboy cap or peruse the shelves crammed with costume and knit caps, each rich in color and pattern. One corner caters to Steampunk style, another to historic recreations from years past. Informed and helpful assistants know intuitively which styles best flatter every face, and the sheer lack of headwear diversity has led Hollywood films, musicals and fashion shows to turn to the Village Hat Shop.
The staff of JenniferAnn Spa & Wellness Center have devised a holistic service menu that aims to address physical, emotional, and spiritual woes. This mission is most prevalent in the selection of massages—in this single menu, one may find craniosacral treatments that calm the nervous system and spiritual healing sessions that guide the soul alongside classic Swedish and deep-tissue massages.
Natural therapies and assorted vowels sprout up throughout the menu as well, including pumpkin and sugar cane peels that estheticians use to harvest fresh complexions. In the salon, stylists straighten unruly texture with natural keratin treatments or build curl with organic perms.