Hat-Cat-moe.-B.lou-Ween Bday!

Every year, I try to put together fun events around my birthday to distract myself from paying attention to how old I am.
The run for this year was as follows:
Thursday “day of” girls dinner at Hatfield’s.
Friday dinner at Hungry Cat, then stumble over to Henry Fonda Music Box for the moe. show.
Saturday dinner at Bottega Louie, then cruise over to Ween at the Wiltern.

Dinner at Hatfield’s was great. The space has been occupied by a number of restaurants since I’ve lived in L.A. and I’ve tried them all. It was Citrus (1986-2001), Alex (2001-2004), Meson G (2004-2006), Red Pearl Kitchen (2006-2009), and how Hatfield’s. I had been to Hatfield’s a few times at its original location on Beverly (where Eva is now) but hadn’t been since it moved.
We had a round table for 6 out on the patio. I liked the feel of the main room better, but we were going to squeeze a 7th in for drinks later so the round table was the way to go. Beansie scored a cocktail at the bar while we were waiting to be seated. To me, it was too mild, sweet, and weak. But I’m very much an “in your face” cocktail girl. Less sugar, more ginger, less watery, more booze, please! I decided to stick to the wine list.
I capped our selection at $60 which was pretty limiting, but gave us a few options.
We went with a Malbec first. Home Fry had never met a Malbec she didn’t like. I didn’t like this one. It was sour, high acid, pretty foul. The sommelier insisted on taking it back and we went with a Pinot Noir. It was drinkable. We tried a Syrah for the second bottle and that one was fine too, but neither one had me running to purchase for my house.
Here’s what we ate, ordered from favorite to least favorite:
“Croque Madame” Yellowtail sashimi, prosciutto, sunny side up quail egg, grilled brioche – My favorite dish. Never disappoints.
Chilled Poached Main Scallop with bulgur salad, horseradish creme fraiche, muddled citrus – Small portion but great flavors.
Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib with blue lake beans, braised radish, horseradish potato puree – The short ribs were in slices instead of the usual braised and falling off the bone, but still delicious.
Date & Mint Crusted Lamb with roasted heirloom root vegetables, fresh chick peas, potato chive puree – All great flavors.
Warm Creamy Crab Buckwheat Crepe with pickled beets, marinated radish, fine herbs – A little too creamy, but still done well.
Charred Octopus with caramelized fennel, saffron vanilla braised hearts of palm, red wine olive puree – I wanted to love this dish, like as much as Laney did, but I thought it was a little bland. I tasted none of the saffron or vanilla on the hearts of palm (I barely tasted any hearts of palm in the hearts of palm…)
Potato & Egg Yolk Filled Raviolo with creamy goat cheese, roasted baby beets, sherry vinegar emulsion – One big raviolo in a beet heavy sauce. Pretty good.
Brown Butter Roasted Cauliflower with sauteed plantains, roasted almonds, golden raisins, parsley root puree – Not bad if you’re a raisin person.
Kabocha Squash Agnolotti with roasted chiodini mushrooms, pork confit, maple brown butter broth – This was the least memorable to me.
Our lactard was told to pick a protein and they’d make it for her with no dairy. She got salmon and it was fantastic.
Sugar & Spice Beignets with chocolate fondue and a Mexican chocolate milkshake shot – Their signature dessert. The milkshake rocked.
Chocolate Caramel Semifreddo with salted peanut crunch and bitter chocolate sorbet – Didn’t suck.
Great meal, great friends. Good attention to detail, though I wasn’t WOW’ed by as many dishes as I’d expected.

Team Hatfield's Valet

The Hungry Cat was the second set of the run.
I picked it because a) it’s rad and b) it’s super close to the Fonda. But they wouldn’t take a table bigger than 8 ppl for a reservation. So I took matters into my own hands and had three friends each get a table for 4 ppl on Open Table and then put in the notes that we wanted to sit together. Worked like a charm!

We arrive at The Hungry Cat!

Here’s what we had:
Cocktails –
The Sleepy Jean (cue The Monkees) – chamomile-infused reposado tequila, honey water, dash of dolin dry vermouth – awesome!
Luke’s Lemonade – blue ice vodka & mint, house-made lemonade *for every Luke’s Lemonade sold a donation is made to Alex’s Lemonade Stand- love the charity portion, but it was a little sugary for me.
The Michelada – Tecate, lime, hot sauce (w/ or w/o grapefruit) Nirvana! I will dream about this cocktail

The Michelada

OYSTERS! – the cherry on top to any bday

Just stick a candle in the ice bed, please!

Crab Salad – would have loved it if it actually didn’t have cilantro in it.
Octopus – Yum

Salmon Beignets – Delish

Crab Legs – Super sweet (this was the right place for sweetness!) and meaty!

Scallops – One of my faves

Striped Bass – the picture didn’t come out, but this was the best dish.

The pouty face I made when I was told we couldn’t get the Pumpkin Beignets with bacon maple sauce for dessert (because it was only on the DineLA week menu) worked as we were presented with a plate of it with a big candle shortly after. Totally worth whatever dignity I lost in the process. They were unbelievable.

The Meyer Lemon Parfait was bad-ass too.

Team Hungry Cat

On to moe. at the Music Box at the Henry Fonda, next on the agenda. Thankfully I had my pregnant friend Amy with me. We were able to cut the line that wrapped around the corner and enter through the handicapped entrance! The show was a slight bust. I love the fonda and I love moe. but this show wasn’t my fave. It was a little sleepy and spacey. The downstairs was a mess. I didn’t meet up with half of my friends. BUT, I worked us getting two tickets for the upstairs balcony (Baby Stouffer – whom I affectionately call Efferifus – gets MVP of the evening) and was able to stub my six ppl up there with us. So we had a nice seated row of the “adult section” and were able to chill. Not a rager, but it all worked out in the end.

Here’s the setlist:
Set 1: Jazzwank > Plane Crash, Where Does The Time Go? > Yodelittle > Skrunk > Yodelittle, Seat Of My Pants
Set 2: Opium > Downward Facing Dog, Chromatic Nightmare, Y.O.Y. > Puebla > Tubing The River Styx > The Pit > Moth, E: New York City, Crab Eyes

Amy, Jord, and Efferifus in the "adult section" upstairs

Bottega Louie was insanity. Happy, stimulating, insanity. Not only was there a line for a table, there was a line to put your name down for the list for a table. The waiters were super sweet, the food was great, they were hassle free for a large party, and downtown is really convenient for a Wiltern show.

Team Bottega Louie

Here’s what we got:
Caprese Salad – good, the tomatoes were peeled, I liked it.
Burrata Pizza – how could that be bad?
Clam Pizza – not bad, but wasn’t expecting sweet roasted peppers in the mix.
Pappardelle – with mushroom and fois gras duxelle- best dish by far
Fettuccini Belmundo – with cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan – good
Trenne – with braised rib eye and kale – wanted to like it better.
Brussles Sprouts – I love them always, but these were a little salty.
Meatballs Marinara – Mmmmmm.
Portobello Fries – Good, but would have liked a lighter batter.
Grilled Squid and Chorizo Ravioli – the ravioli was good but could have had a richer sauce.
Diver Scallops – wrapped the Prosciutto with lentils and salsa verde – awesome.
Dessert: Le Grand Macaron – I was stuffed, I didn’t try it, but everyone else was happy with it.

Wine:
Nebbiolo Malvira Langhe Piemonte 2006 – was a little light and boring, but drinkable.
The Prisoner – Orin Swift Napa 2008 – makes me cry with every sip. I want a case every time.

Ween at the Wiltern was killer. Shamefully, I can’t quite remember if I’ve been to a Ween show before. I think I have. But this is the one I’ll remember. My friends had a pit wristband waiting for me when I got there and the crowd was rocking.
When I said I wouldn’t be upset if dinner ran into overtime and we were late for the show, it never occurred to me that they’d play Spirit of ’76 in the lost beginning. But the entire show kicked ass so I almost didn’t notice I had missed it. We apparently arrived while it was playing but someone had to chat in the lobby for a few minutes and take a picture…

Here’s the setlist for Ween at the Wiltern Saturday January 29, 2011:
1. “Exactly Where I’m At”
2. “Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy”)
3. “Touch My Tooter”
4. “Even If You Don’t”
5. “Freedom of ’76”
6. “Spring Theme” (“Transdermal Celebration”)
7. “Bananas and Blow”
8. “Spinal Meningitis”
9. “Mister, Would You Please Help My Pony?” “Learnin’ to Love”
10. “With My Own Bare Hands”
11. “The Argus”
12. “Gabrielle”
13. “Puerto Rican Power”
14. “I’ll Be Your Johnny On the Spot”
15. “Object”
16. “Did You See Me?”
17. “Buckingham Green”
18. “Your Party”
19. “Let’s Dance” (David Bowie cover)
20. “Slow Down Boy”
21. “Ace of Spades” (Motörhead cover)
22. “Push th’ Little Daisies”
23. “What Deaner Was Takin’ About
24. “Roses Are Free”
25. “Put the Coke On My Dick”
26. “Ocean Man”
27. “The Mollusk”

Encore:
28. “Fiesta”
29. “Take Me Away”
30. “Mr. Richard Smoker”
31. “Lucky Man” (Emerson, Lake and Palmer cover)

Boogie in the Back!

Thanks so much to all of my awesome friends who helped me celebrate in such style this weekend! Your turns are next!
oxoxo

Part of Team Ween

The true closer of the weekend was TV recovery day Sunday. The ProBowl -> SAG awards on delay. Ryan made us dinner and I swooned over my latest Spanish wine discovery, Juan Gil 2008. It’s 100% Monastrell and there’s a little recovery packed in every sip.
Sunday Monastrell and Couch Recovery

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Substance Free

I’ve been on the master cleanse for the past 10 days. I do it every January. I still go out, I still do stuff sober and hungry. I just haven’t had any good stories this week. I went to the mint twice. Once for Pimps of Joytime and another for Stanton’s show. It’s not that nothing exciting happens when I don’t drink. It’s just that nothing exciting happened this time when I didn’t drink. It’s just a coincidence. Really. Don’t read into it too much.

Hollywood Palladium, I tried to stay away…

We all have our favorite magical venues. On the other hand, there are the nightmare venues only offering memories of terrible nights and bad energy experiences. The Hollywood Palladium holds the prize for worst venue in LA. After two tries, both rendering it Sketchville, USA, I swore I’d never go back.
In 1999, my dear friend Alex and I ventured out to try to go see an unannounced Prince show there. Tickets were $75 for face and they were never on sale to the public. We found a guy selling them for $100 outside the venue and went to stand in line to enter. The whole scene was shady but we felt like we had to try it. The usher took one look at our tickets and deemed them fakes. There was no way I was about to leave after coughing up a Franklin for these. Alex was so pissed off she just wanted to split. But I stood ground, and apparently was in the way of the VIP line. I told the guy working VIP the situation and he literally laughed in our faces. (He ultimately wound us letting us in and Alex and I fed parking meters and paid back whatever good karma we could think of for months. But still, it was an unsettling experience at first.)
The second time was for an Oysterhead Halloween show. It was just 6 weeks after 9/11 and when security was starting to go into agro overdrive. And it was unusually heightened at this place. I was in a Wonder Woman costume which basically meant I was in a one piece bathing suit and boots. Now everyone think back to pre 9/11 when our purses were sacred privacy. So I, of course, was walking around with a bag of bud, a glass pipe, and a bag of boomers in my purse. People were being strip searched and having innocuous belongings like their lip liners confiscated because “You could stab someone with them,” and hence they were considered weapons. Really, people?!?! I could do more damage with my fist and I have zero upper body strength. I did manage to get in, mostly because I’m talented, and also because I sacrificed my old camera to the bushes. People were abandoning their belt buckles, throwing them and hundreds of other “hazardous materials” behind the building shrubbery. It was like Christmas that day for the homeless of Hollywood. Needless to say the entire audience was frazzled and violated upon entry to the poorly laid out establishment. I’ll put money that anyone who was there would list it in their five worst show experiences, (except for this guy…).
Cut to nearly 9 years later, (that’s today). Blame it on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (shot there and I loved that show), blame it on the renovations (didn’t do anything for the layout, but the sound and paint job showed small signs of improvement, at least), or blame it on me going softer with age, I returned last night for The Black Keys. And I’ve lived to tell the tale.

Bay Cities, Longboard Red, and Dr. John at the Pier

My favorite time of day is called “The Magic Hour,” (aka The Golden Hour for its photographic offerings). It’s the hour right before sunset (so about the last hour of daylight.) The sun is low and lights up the air with warm orange tones. I originally thought of calling it “The Laughternoon” because it was the late-afternoon (well, in January at least), but it seemed like a misnomer to me. For although it brings on a natural high, it’s not really a giddy high. It’s more peaceful and beautiful. I think I’m going to take a picture for a photo journal every day during this time. (We’ll see how I do with that one…)
Yesterday I wound up on the beach just south of the Santa Monica Pier during The Magic Hour. We were setting up for this season’s final Thursday Night Twilight Dance Series with New Orleans legend Dr. John headlining. A few tapestries, sheets, and blankets spread out on the beach, plus a bunch of surrounding votive candles in sand filled paper bags created our little lantern village.

Setting up "Lantern Village" at the pier.

Large Godmother. Works. No pickles.

I had made a stop at Bay Cities Italian Deli, a Los Angeles landmark. I had a friend in from NY that was joining us. Any time I have an out of towner visiting I usually insist that they don’t leave with out having a Bay Cities sammie (or In N Out, but who’s still late for the train on that one?) The go-to order is The Godmother. If I’m “watching my figure” I’ll go with a turkey. But as my friend Mike’s declared, “I’d eat a turd sandwich on THAT bread!” You really can’t go wrong. As a pseudo bi-coastal girl, I often am faced with the “Which city do you like better?” question (NY vs. LA), which I staunchly refuse to answer. But I’m compiling a list of assets for each. It’s a pretty well balanced list. Bay Cities = Advantage LA.

I was not the only one to try this!

While I was browsing the deli aisles, I also grabbed a bottle of the Point Break red blend from Longboard Vineyards. This was our one stop the last time I was up in Sonoma for my friend Megan’s 30th bday dinner at Cyrus. The winery is owned by surfers and their tastings are a blast. A fellow taster was a man donned in polka dot trousers. One Cabernet in and I, of course, was asking if I could play Twister on his pants. We also were making friends with the staff, naming the Syrah “The Jewish” one… because it had a big nose, etc. Not surprisingly, our whole party didn’t even make it through the caviar course at dinner. We thankfully had the rental van parked right outside on North St. for him to snooze in. Clearly, this was the bottle I was choosing from the Bay Cities selection.

Langer's first Godmother experience

Whit's Bahn Mi Sammie (SANS CILANTRO for mama!)

Whit also brought fixings for Vietnamese Bahn Mi Sandwiches. I went to visit some other friends and hang with their kids when he broke out the cilantro.

Whit’s Bahn Mi:

Meatballs:
– 1/2 lb ground pork
– 2 t garlic, chopped
– 2 t green onion, chopped
– 1 T chinese 5 spice
– salt/pepper to taste
– Mix everything together. Form into little 1-2″ balls. Bake for 8 min. in a 400 deg oven. Turn. Bake another 7-8 min. until brown. Remove, cool, and slice in half.
Sandwich:
– 1 french bagutte
– roman lettuce
– kimchi
– sliced/diced carrots
– chopped green onion
– spicy mayo (2 parts mayo, 1 part sriracha)
– chopped cilantro (optional) (NOOOOOOO!!!!!)
– assemble as desired.

Herbie Hancock 70th Birthday Celebration at the Hollywood Bowl 9/1/10

Tonight was Herbie Hancock‘s 70th bday. Minutes before hearing this news I had turned to Beansie and said, “Man, Herbie’s looking good!”
“How old is he?” asked Beansie.
“I don’t know, but he’s basically looked the same for the past thirty years.”
“I want a sip of whatever water he’s drinking!” soon became my facebook status.
The show was great. His first set was more acoustic, straight up jazz, with an all-star line-up: Wayne Shorter on sax, Terence Blanchard on trumpet, Esperanza Spalding on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. (And Nathan East on bass for a hot minute).
The second set was his funkier, electric stuff mixed with “The Imagine Project” (Band members: Vinnie Colaiuta – drums, Lionel Loueke – guitar, Pino Palladino – bass, Greg Phillinganes – vocals/keys, and Kristina Train – vocals).
Kristina Train, (aka “Chihuahua Hands” because it looked like she was petting a small dog with her left while she sung… distracting, but if you looked elsewhere she sounded pretty good. Just grab the mic with your left, K. Train!), belted through renditions of John Lennon’s Imagine, Peter Gabriel’s Don’t Give Up (which I sang all the way home), and Bob Dylan’s Times Are a Changin (with Lisa Hannigan on vocals – sounds Irish, looks Asian).
Other guests included India.Arie on vocals for “Imagine,”
Zakir Hussain on tabla and Niladri Kumar on sitar on “The Song Goes On,” (apparently with a pre-recorded vocal track by K.S. Chithra. We were wondering who else was singing…),
Juanes on vocals for “La Tierra” (Laney’s dad’s favorite Columbian),
Susan Tedeschi on vocals (can we say “girl crush”!?!?) and Derek Trucks on slide guitar on “Space Captain.”
And little Paulinho da Costa on percussion trading licks with Herbie during “Watermelon Man” (my mother’s personal fave of Herbie’s). He’s adorable. We must rival each other in height. Though the perspective up in our section is skewed. “Please tell me that’s a child,” I asked of the center dancer in the Debbie Allen Dance Academy “Tatamant/Tilay/Exodus” number. (Yes, yes it is, Jordan.)
The dirtiest piece was the second song of the second set (right after “Imagine”) but for the life of me I can’t get a song title. What good am I?

Now, three out of four times at the Bowl this summer I wound up in hysterics (and the show that didn’t get me was the night before I woke up with a man-down for four days cold). None of them are P.C.; I’m a terrible person.
At the BBKing/Buddy Guy show there was an African American lady, drunken stuporly screaming her conversation through out the show. At one point she turned around and yelled, “Anyone want some BLACK EYED PEAS?!?!” I lost it.
At the Nevilles, I commented Aaron’s chorizo on his forehead and Laners nearly choked on her own oxygen.
Tonight, we wanted to commemorate the final Jazz Wednesday Bowl evening with a group shot and Laners picked the only breathing man in the city who has never operated a camera to take on the task. He tried taking the picture twice, FAIL on both. We found another girl to try; she turned to him and said, “Ya, you’re holding the camera upside-down, dude.” I have little self-control when it comes to the giggles. Laughed right in his face.
(Similar to the time I took a pic for the lovely gay couple coming out of Alice Water’s Chez Pannise in Berkeley and we went to look to see how it came out, and one of the guys accidentally pressed “back,” and up pops a fully frontal, FULLY nude, sprawled out on the bed, picture of him. DIED! Embarrassed Showmance Will.)

Thank you Hollywood Bowl for our Summer Wednesdays!!!

Herbie Hancock's Seven Decades Bday Celebration at the Hollywood Bowl

Orgone Sunset Junction Saturday 8/21/10

There are a few things I always keep in my purse, (aka my pocket book; Hi, I’m from NY).

Some are none of your business (see future post on why it’s unacceptable to ever go through a woman’s purse…).

Others include but not limited to: lip balm (preferably Jack Black), hand wipes (EO Lavender ones – you can get them at Whole Foods), ear plugs (I have the baby blues from etymotic), and I keep a bottle opener on my key chain and wallet. (Anyone notice the food (wipes), booze (opener), and music (plugs) theme going on?!?!)

Anyway, on Saturday, I mistakenly left the house w/o my earplugs (I sometimes miss something in the purse transfer depending on which one I grab). This proved untimely as I had headed to Sunset Junction.  I love the concept of this street fair and I try to go every year, but the sound is terrible and painfully loud by the stages.  The rock star parking gods were looking down on me and I got a killer parking spot on Virgil just south of Santa Monica Blvd. I made a straight shot for the Hoover (tee hee) Stage for the Orgone set. Orgone is my High Sierra Music Festival discovery 2010 (like The New Mastersounds are my Langerado 06 discovery). Two of my favorite funky bands. Thankfully there was a small sound board providing shade from the sweltering east side 4pm sun as it was too loud up front in the shelter of the stage shade. And someone didn’t have her earplugs in. Even more opportune was the Real de Mexicao Tequila stand just to the left of the sound board.  Gotta love a guy who not only will custom make my cocktail sans cilantro, but wipes the shaker out first from any lingering offensive herbs. He made mine with extra jalapeno, extra tequila, no simple syrup (I don’t like cocktails too sweet) or cilantro (duh), easy on the pineapple chunks and juice, and just a splash of sour. Mmmmm. Yes, please!

Jordan’s Jala-Pineapple-rita

Recipe:
1 t jalapeno, green, fresh, chopped
1 T pineapple chunks, chopped
1 T pineapple juice
2 oz. tequila
1/4 t sour mix
squeeze of a lime
Procedure:
Muddle the jalapeno and pineapple chunks in a cocktail shaker. Add tequila, sour, and ice. Shake. Pour into cup. Top with a little pineapple juice and squirt a lime in there. Enojoy!

After two of these, we wandered around to check out the other local offerings and fell upon this scene. There was no way I wasn’t going to take a picture. (There also was no way I was going to give them money for it. My photographic journalist friend made me promise to never pay for pictures, it makes his job around the world… or in his current position, India… really difficult.)
And, yes, I’m wearing a Kelly Nishimoto dress.

Neville Brothers, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the Hollywood Bowl Wednesday 8/18/10

I’m a lucky lady. I have a fantastic Wednesday night summer 2010 routine.
6:00pm – Beansie leaves work and packs the car with fresh tomatoes from the possum proof garden, wine, and other goodies.
6:30pm – Beansie picks up Home Fry and they leave the west side.
7:00pm – Beansie and Home Fry grab me in West Hollywood. I’m equipped with layers, and more wine and goodies.
7:15pm – We pick up Laners from her job with the gays.
7:30pm – Laners finally gets in the car. I’ve polished off half of the wine straight from the bottle due to some ex-lover coming up in conversation. We listen to Laners on the phone discussing with her co-workers whatever drama is going on in the office.
7:45pm – Laners can’t deal with the drama and we can’t deal with not talking so she gets off the phone.
7:50pm – We park in our special spot for the Hollywood Bowl (special to those not opposed to walking up hills).
7:59pm – Grab a $5 ticket to the show (Really?!?! How is the whole city not here?!?!)
8:00pm – Boogie Time

Last Wednesday we saw Buddy Guy and B.B. King (who offers his stand-up comedy in addition to his musical talents). They turned the house lights on B.B. King due to some curfew rule. We thought it was in poor taste. He’s a legend and he’s old, give the man some time to get off the stage. Apparently they turned the lights on Buddy Guy one time and he turned to his band and yelled, “Mustang Sally!! 1-2-3-4!” and proceeded to play the song in its entirety.

This time it was New Orleans night. Dirty Dozen had everyone dancing. We had a few rows to ourselves in section K2 (all the way stage right/house left). For the Pres Hall set, Home Fry and I went down to the front to visit our friend M’Kohl styling in the Garden Section 271. This was the best set to see up close as they had a fantastic dance number by the Trey McIntyre Project to go along with the music. Then we went back up to K for Nevilles. I have to say, Art looked better than I’d seen him in years. Granted, I was in section K, but I almost thought they had someone else sitting in on keys. Aaron actually shed a tear during his ballad number; that, or he was sweating. (I totally picked up the term “number” from my parents and can’t stop using it.) It was a standard fabulous evening, including Laners thinking the boys behind us were cute, me going to talk to them and bring them to our row, and Laners then proceeding to ignore them. “They were dull up close,” she decided.

Let the records show that on Wednesday, August 18, 2010, I returned home to my apartment in West Hollywood during the night time hours… IN A TANK TOP! That’s right, my layers were still stashed in my purse. Balmy evenings in Los Angeles DO happen!

Laners, Jords, Home Fry, and Beansie at the Bowl.