Scenes From The Weekend
Huh. I guess I didn’t take as many pictures as I thought I did. I’ll just use Ian’s until he sends me some of the good ones.
On Friday night, my friends Ian and Beth touched down in Los Angeles after a long flight from New York. The husband and wife duo decided to take a West Coast vacation, starting in Los Angeles and ending in San Francisco. They spent three days in town, and I did my best to show them around while they were here. Our interactions and destinations mostly revolved around food, but there was other stuff involved too! I might eat a lot but it’s not the ONLY thing I do. Plus, Ian and I have been friends since high school and this was the FIRST time he’s decided to visit since I moved here six years ago.
Some friend he is…
…Fancy big-time Jew lawyer…can’t afford a trip for himself and his wife more than once every six years…Pssh…
Sorry, where was I?
Saturday morning I got an early phone call alerting me that Ian and Beth were marking their first official activity breakfast at The Sycamore Kitchen, home of the salted caramel pecan babka roll. Also, a ridiculous scrambled egg and chorizo sandwich with melted cheddar and roasted onions. I told them to eat without me because they were already en route to the La Brea eatery and I was…uh…just waking up on the other side of town and not quite prepared for an early breakfast. They promised to call afterwards so that we could meet up for lunch, and they did.
Our first group meal occurred at Tacos Villa Corona for a breakfast burrito. I went with chorizo even though I usually opt for bacon, and it was a bit of a disappointment. Beth went with steak, Ian didn’t even eat a breakfast burrito, he ordered some tacos. I think everyone was pretty nonplussed by the brunch/lunch. That would be the first (and probably not last?) time Ian and Beth took food advice from someone on TV (in this instance, Anthony Bourdain (lookin’ good, Taylor!)) and it didn’t live up to the hype. Oh well. Whatever. Never mind. (Hello, Hello, Hello, How Low…ugh what the hell is wrong with me?)
From there we started our driving tour of Los Angeles. This included a leisurely drive down Sunset Blvd., a very brief foray into Beverly Hills, walking around the Farmer’s Market at the Grove (where Ian purchased some “fresh” strawberries, leading to a debate about whether they were really locally sourced and organic or from a big farm just playing pretend), and a lot more driving, plus a stop at Vacation Vinyl before returning to my house to get ready for dinner at Osteria Mozza.
Both Ian and Beth were expecting to be wowed by Mozza. Keith Law raved about it. Some other people too, I think. Our order went something like this:
Burrata with speck, pickled shallots & ane al pomodoro
Grilled Octopus (potatoes, celery & lemon)
Salumi et proscuitto
Tagliatelle (with oxtail ragú)
Bavette cacio e pepe
Grilled Beef Tagliata (rucola & Parmigiano with ace to balsamic)
Honestly, the burrata might have been the star of the meal. The grilled octopus was cooked nearly to perfection (perhaps a tiny bit past perfect) and the celery/lemon with it was an excellent pairing. The oxtail ragu was, obviously, well-received by all three of us. The cacao e pepe was the biggest disappointment of the meal. It was all pepper (to this palate, at least) and no cheese, plus a lot of oil, which I think is a no-no. I’m not as familiar with traditional Italian cooking as Ian and Beth are, but they were pretty much appalled by what we were served. Also, Beth had this ridiculously good rabbit special where they gave her the hind and legs, then made little sausages out of the leftover meat. It was delicious, and in hindsight would have been a much better option than the beef, which was way too heavily seasoned with the balsamic glaze.
After dinner we drove to Seven Grand so Ian could experience one of my favorite bars in the city. We ordered Blaton’s neats (except for Beth, who drove) which were surprisingly less expensive than Buffalo Trace or Elmer T. Lee. And way less expensive than the Pappy Van Winkle varieties currently in stock. Seriously, I should sell my 20-year bottle. Or bring my 15-year bottle along with me and charge $95 per drink to undercut the bar’s price by a dollar. The husband and wife started to tire (they’d been up since 6am) so they departed. Then I got stranded downtown. All hope was lost. Then I wound found! By Ben! And Fran! And Mike! I wound up at Good Luck. It was a long night.
Sunday was spent taking care of things around the house, catching up on caffeine intake, various games of phone-tag, and — eventually — dinner at Jeon Ju. We had Kalbi Dol Sot Bibimbap, a large seafood fried pancake, a pork belly and kimchi dish, a ton of banchan, and probably something else I’m forgetting. We had Ben (a bonified Korean boy!) with us and he conversed with the waitress, who was initially concerned about the amount of food we’d ordered. She kept asking, “Are you sure you’re going to eat all that? It’s a lot of food” but we did really well, the four of us. Afterwards we drank at Beer Belly, then Ian and Beth departed for UCB and I departed for my bed. It was right around the time my head hit the pillow that I started to feel like maybe I’d eaten too much in the past 48 hours. And there was still one day to go.
Monday started early with Beth and Ian arriving at my house sometime around 10am. No, there was no breakfast. Who could eat after all that Korean food and beer the night before? Not I. Our day commenced with a drive to Santa Monica so that Ian could see and photograph and walk the Pier. While there, I stopped in the Coffee Bean for a triple latte (“Who needs that much caffeine!?” Beth worried) and I was shocked to see a 40% markup due to the high tourist traffic on the pier. Not cool, Coffee Bean. I thought we were bros for life. I took some pictures of Ian and Beth. Beth took some pictures of Ian and I. A nice woman offered to take pictures of the three of us. It was like we were a regular…uh…Ezra Pound, Dorothy Shakespear and Olga Rudge!
Nice obscure reference, Evan.
From the pier we walked to the promenade. From the promenade we walked to…some building Ian thought he recognized from a TV show or movie. Then we returned to the car. I drove us up the PCH to Sunset Blvd., which we took almost all the way back across the city. Ian and Beth got to see Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, the street OJ lived on, UCLA, and eventually a lot of Beverly Hills. Neil Diamond’s house? Some other famous houses? I would turn down a random street and Ian would be on his phone looking at addresses and pointing out who they belonged to. It was like our own little TMZ tour. Lunch was at (you can tell how excited I was about driving through Beverly Hills by the rapidity with which I transitioned to lunch) La Conversation. The French bakery/cafe on Doheny whose website boasts, “there is no microwave at La Conversation,” and whose restroom requests a five-minute time limit. That said, my warm chicken, goat cheese and sun dried tomato salad was quite tasty. After our salads we continued our driving tour. There were record store visits, a quick visit by Beth and Ian to Beth’s cousins who apparently live three blocks away from me, and eventually dinner at Animal. Our meal went like this:
chicken liver toast [JPG]
shishito peppers, aged soy, white anchovy, katsobushi lemon
heirloom tomato, stone fruit, pistachio, red onion, celery blossom
ricotta gnocchi, anchovy, lola rosa, baby tomato, nasturtium berry
melted p’tit basque, chorizo, grilled bread
marrow bone, chimichurri, caramelized onions
pig tails “buffalo style”, celery, ranch
crispy pig head, short-grain rice, bulldog sauce, soy egg
barbecue pork belly sandwiches, slaw
poutine, oxtail gravy, cheddar
The highlights would have to be the peppers, the pig head (minus the bulldog sauce, which was applied way too heavily), and the poutine. I really liked the marrow bone but Beth and Ian thought the chimichurri was too much. Nobody liked the pork belly because the slaw-to-belly ratio was off. Dessert was skipped, and instead we drove to Scoops for ice cream. Our night (and our time together) concluded with a drive up Mullholland, where Ian set up his tripod and took some incredible pictures of the city at night. I, of course, took some terrible iPhone photos so as not to feel left out. Up above Runyon Canyon and the Hollywood Bowl, we had solid seats for the Phish concert below us. I could totally hear Jon Fishman play his infamous vacuum cleaner solo! (just kidding)
Home. Bed. Slept like a rock. It wasn’t difficult. It was a long — and fun — weekend. Come back soon, guys!
Oh. Here’s the only photo I took all weekend! I was too busy driving to do anything else.
True Widow – Creeper [MP3]
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