While many flock to brunch for endless champagne and the option of pancakes & bacon at 2pm, Cast & Plow at the Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey is giving brunch lovers another reason to devour this beloved weekend ritual – a themed dessert station (yes, that’s your sweet tooth rejoicing). Every week, pastry chef Adina River Schaefer & her team of confection wizards will whip up a customized dessert display too large for any standard size menu. No, this specialty spread gets its very own buffet table. And you’re going to want to make a stop (or two…or three…) to satisfy that dessert desire.

I had the pleasure of visiting Sunday brunch Halloween week & was blown away with the spook-tacular display of treats. Think a chocolate chunk tarantula, a mini-cemetery of chocolate pudding, bat-shaped chocolates, and a syringe that oozed raspberry sauce onto a perfectly shaped tart. My group & I “oohed & awed” with each custom creation that was brought back to the table. It was such a fun way to dine & I especially loved the creativity & thoughtfulness that was baked into each item.

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The dessert station’s theme changes each week & I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the holidays – a Santa sleigh of sugar? A caramel-made turkey? I’m sure Ms. Anita & her pastry elves are already putting their little workshop of creative confections into motion.

And, with that said, you can find me at the dessert table.

Happy brunching!

Marina love,

Valerie

Marina del Rey is a waterfront haven for meeting planners. Because we’re located in the heart of the Los Angeles coastline, we’re able to put a creative twist on traditional meetings as we showcase the harbor with unique venues like luxury yachts, on-the-water activities, and waterfront dining. Signature events in the Marina include sunset cocktail receptions, enjoying a private yacht club, and team-building events such as mini-sailing regattas, group rowing, and deep sea fishing.

Recently, Successful Meetings Magazine featured Stephanie Ginzburg of FantaSea Yachts & Yacht Club by sharing her top tips for planning a meeting and/or event on the water. Read on to find out!

Marina Love,

Valerie

How to Hold a Meeting at Sea
FantaSea Yachts delivers some insightful tips for yacht meetings and events

By Stephanie Ginzburg

Meet on the Water

Meet on the Water in Marina del Rey, CA

Warm weather year-round in Marina del Rey, CA makes anything to be celebrated a festive occasion in this city. Who doesn’t love a yacht party and who wouldn’t want to go to a meeting aboard a yacht? Whether it be the annual holiday event or a sales meeting, a yacht event is a great way to spend time with your captive audience while enjoying the beautiful ocean scenery. Here are a few trips for hosting a meeting or event onboard a yacht?

Chart your budget. Hosting an event offers endless possibilities in food, drink and entertainment. FantaSea Yachts offers various packages and amenities that fit every budget.    Prioritize what is most important to your group and state clearly what you need.

Plan for your event needs and space. The number of meeting attendees and agenda for your event will help you in choosing the right yacht, floor plan and set-up.

Don’t sweat the decor.  Need an awesome and unique setting for your meeting? Let nature’s natural beauty be your Designer. Surrounded by the beauty of the blue coastal waters and soft sun kissed warmth of the Marina, a few scattered candles, sand and seashells can do the trick nicely.    This a good way to save money and maximize your meeting budget.

RSVPlease! We all want to do something for the environment – try sending an Evite or Paperless Post Invite to guests. This also helps keep track or your guests and allows up to the last minute responses and comments.

Best of Both Worlds.  FantaSea Yachts can offer you the best of a traditional land based meeting space in our water-front ballroom and then head out after the meeting for a scenic lunch, dinner or cocktail cruise aboard a beautiful yacht.

Enjoy. Front load the work and planning. Hosting a meeting or event aboard a yacht allows you to relax, mix and mingle with your group as you all share the adventure of cruise.

Stephanie Ginzburg has been the creative director of Marina del Rey, CA-based FantaSea Yachts & Yacht Club for more than 20 years. Owner-managed FantaSea is celebrating 34 years of business with an event team that has been together for more than 20 years. The company’s four yachts and waterfront ballroom can accommodate groups that range in size from 12 to 300.

For a glimpse into what it’s like to host a charter or event onboard a yacht cruise in Marina del Rey, CA, click here.

Nothing says weekend quite like brunch, and here in the Marina we’re famous for our waterfront buffets and flowing mimosas. In honor of this momentous (and glorious) meal, Today Marina del Rey rounded up their top picks for brunching along the coast. Click here for the full article or check it out below!

Did your favorite make the cut?

Marina love,

Valerie

Six Sweet Brunch Spots in Marina del Rey

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With spring in full swing, we officially have an excuse to heartily indulge in one of our favorite culinary past times: Brunch! In actuality, we don’t need a formal excuse to dig into plates of eggs benedict, French toast and bottomless Mimosas; we live in Marina del Rey after all. What we might need (if we brunch as often as we dream about) is a Boot Camp membership to prepare for summer…but that’s a whole different topic. Our focus today is squarely on breakfast fulfillment. So let’s take a look at six of the Marina’s most divine brunch destinations. We guarantee that at least your taste buds will be getting a killer workout.

1. Cast & Plow 
4375 Admiralty Way
The Ritz Carlton’s new Cast & Plow restaurant has a fantastic breakfast/brunch available every day of the week.
MUST TRY: Shakshouka (sunny-side up egg, tomato stew, harissa, feta and pita)
Pancakes or Waffles (with Strauss Family Creamery organic ricotta cheese and bing cherry compote).

2. Killer Café
4211 Admiralty Way
Head to the Killer Café (part of the Killer Shrimp restaurant) any day of the week to enjoy gorgeous waterfront views, a great atmosphere and their one-of-a-kind breakfast items.
MUST TRY: Killer Shrimp Benedict (Poached Eggs, Killer Shrimp and Hollandaise over English Muffins with choice of Hash Browns, Home Fries or Fruit) *Fan tip: Choose the Hash Browns.

3. Beachside Restaurant
4175 Admiralty Way
The gorgeous Beachside Restaurant at the Jamaica Bay Inn offers two brunch menus: Weekday and Weekend, but the latter’s menu is the one that goes all-out decadent.
MUST TRY: Country French Omelet (Shiitake mushroom, tomato, asparagus, fresh herbs, garlic, pesto sour cream & truffle wild arugula salad w/ shaved parmesan)
French Toast (Thick cut egg bread, vanilla cinnamon custard, vanilla maple syrup and fresh berries)

4. Café del Rey
4451 Admiralty Way
Café del Rey’s fabulous three-course prix-fixe weekend brunch is definitely an indulgence—and well worth the $38 price tag. Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, Sparkling Wine or Sparkling Cider are all included.
MUST TRY: 1st Course: Fruit Parfait (granola, fresh fruit, berries, fage greek yogurt)
2nd Course: Egg Norwegian (house cured salmon, poached eggs, brioche, arugula salad, hollandaise) 3rd Course: Dulce De Leche Éclair (pastry cream, kiwi coulis, raspberries)

5. Café Buna
3105 Washington Blvd.
Café Buna may say they’re the “Best Kept Secret in Marina del Rey,” but the weekend crowd tells a different story. Head there any day of the week and taste what the fuss is all about.
MUST TRY: Michael’s Corn Bread French Toast and/or Neal’s Cornflakes French Toast

6. Tony P’s Dockside Grill
4445 Admiralty Way
Tony P’s never fails to serve up the goodies—and that goes double time for their brunch dishes. The menu goes on for days so prepare for some serious food decisions.
MUST TRY: House Smoked Salmon (With sunny side up eggs, caramelized onions, garlic, house smoked salmon, fresh scallions & a roasted pasilla pepper hollandaise.)
Crab Cake Benedict (An English muffin topped with crab cakes, two poached eggs and fresh hollandaise.)

Recently, our team took a little field trip to our friendly neighbor, the Ballona Wetlands.  If you’ve never visited Los Angeles or lived in the city, there is a good chance you may not have heard of this nature lover sanctuary.  It’s filled with wildlife, unique vegetation and offers a special sense of serenity, which can sometimes be lost in a bustling city.

Bright flowers peak through the wetlands

Bright flowers peak through the wetlands

The preservation of the wetlands is run by a non-profit called Friends of Ballona. Through this organization, groups can organize tours and volunteer opportunities (we shared our tour with a group of 3rd graders). You can also sign up to train as a docent and participate in monthly restoration activities.

On our visit, we were led by tour guide Patrick who explained the history of the area and how the wetlands current state came to be. Because of its location, the wetlands are an estuary and sees both freshwater and saltwater marshes. What also makes the area so popular amongst nature lovers is its attraction of birds. The wetlands are located right in the middle of the Pacific Flyway  and with 600 acres of land, it’s no surprise that the habitat has seen more than 300 species of birds and is home to such wildlife as the Great Blue Heron and Snowy Egrets. Can you spot one below?

A Great Blue Heron walks through the wetlands

Nature’s Serenity

We had a wonderful time learning about the area and the special history of the wetlands. Be sure to add it to your Marina del Rey “to-do” list!

Marina love,

Valerie

Sailing is a popular pastime here in the Marina – and rightfully so! Sailboats dot the harbor with their tall masts, clever names, and unique designs. Seasoned sailors glide through the Marina channel, while hopeful beginners learn the ropes (literally) from veteran instructors. So when travel writer, Max Hartshorne, wanted to take a sailing lesson on his recent visit, we directed him to the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center, which is known for its sailing programs.

Max shared his experience on the travel website, GoNomad.com, but you can read all about it below!

Marina love,

Valerie

Sailing in Marina del Rey on the Shimmering Bay

By Max Hartshorne

When I first saw Marina del Rey, California, all I could think of was, “I wonder exactly how many boats there are here?” That’s because when you look at the harbor of this city of about 8,000 people, all you see are the bobbing boats and masts that go on for miles. Take a ride on the bicycle path that winds its way from Admiralty and you pass row upon row, what seems like miles of boats, all docked and waiting in the shimmering water.

It’s a beautiful site if you’re a boat lover, and it makes you want to get out on the water. We got that chance today when we discovered the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center, where even paupers can afford to rent a sailboat or a kayak and get lessons on how to sail in the pristine harbor of Marina del Rey.

The Catalina 14 is a sturdy, reliable sailing vessel.

The Catalina 14 is a sturdy, reliable sailing vessel.

We met up with our teacher, Ceasar, who has mentored hundreds of UCLA students through the process of learning how to sail at the center. He’s a patient teacher who has seen it all, from a yacht t-boning a delicate 8-person skull to capsized boats on busy Saturdays in the harbor. The first thing Ceaser showed us was how to rig the 14′ foot Catalina sailboat, a simple craft with a jib and a mainsail but no other frills.

The Marina del Rey Bay is where we sailed. It is bordered by rip rocks, and the channel is marked clearly where only powerboats can go. It was a Tuesday, so there were not many other watercraft to distract us two novice sailors. Despite the calm winds, a LA Lifeguard boat was soon speeding toward a sailboat in distress with sirens wailing. Later we saw the boat being towed into shore with an apparently damaged sail and non-working outboard auxiliary motor.

At the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center, Ceasar teaches sailing at all levels.

At the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center, Ceasar teaches sailing at all levels.

Caesar patiently taught us the terminology, from the simple starboard and port, (right and left) to the more complicated aspects of who has the right of way as  you sail toward another boat (it depends on who is directly in front of the wind).  We asked him about how many of these sturdy boats have tipped over, and he said that because of the bulb at the top of the mast, they can’t “turtle” but they can and will go over on their sides, requiring standing on the centerboard and pulling on a line to right the mast.

But happily, today’s sail was in calm winds and gave us that delirious feeling that the sound of slicing through water under sail power gives.  We took turns at the tiller and watching the little green and red cords up on the sail that showed if were were angled in the right way to catch all of the breeze and keep the sails from luffing.

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The UCLA Marina Aquatic Center has sit-on-top kayaks, small sailboats and paddleboards to rent and offers lessons.


It was a great way to see this beautiful city and if you want to take a lesson, visit the UCLA website. It takes 16 hours of training over a weekend to become certified to sail without an instructor, after this you can rent a sailboat for $20 an hour.

- See more at: http://blogs.gonomad.com/readuponit/2014/03/sailing-marina-del-rey-shimmering-bay.html#sthash.lfrWLvIC.dpuf