Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nobody Walks in LA

Every year around this time the fabulous Weezermonkey hosts her kareokefest. Normally, I drive up, stopping on the way to pick up K1 on the way. This year with the amount of weekend driving Thatboy and I have been doing, I decided it was going to be WAY too much to drive up to LA and back in a single evening. Instead Thatboy and I decided to make a weekend of it and act like real LA tourists.

First things first, we pricelined a hotel and got a dirt cheap deal at the Marriott. The location was fabulous since it put us within walking distance to one of our destinations, more on that later. And Thatboy and I have a tendency to stumble upon celebrity - which would impress probably anyone but us. Some rockstar was staying at the hotel with us, be we only knew because some guy ran up to him with a stack of records (kids - this is what people listened to before cds) and had him sign them all. Then I got to ride up the elevator with one of his band mates. I don't think I was in reverent awe enough for whoever it was because he made a big show of pushing the penthouse button by walking across the elevator and in front of me, instead of the panel in front of him.

The second plan of events was to figure out where we were going to eat. And of course, I contacted my LA food expert - Weemo again. Even though Thatboy and I lived in LA for a combined total of 6 years, we rarely ventured to the downtown area. That's the scary part of LA! But it's Weemo's playground and no one knows it better. With her help we were able to plan a weekend of culinary delights.

Saturday morning we dropped Thatdog off at "camp" and headed up to Los Angeles. The original plan was to arrive before noon so we could have a nice leisurely lunch at Bottega Louie.

Unfortunately, Thatboy and I had a late Friday night which became Saturday morning before we knew it. So we slept in a bit later than we were planning. We didn't get up to LA until 1, and that gave us only a little over an hour before the reason we came up so early. Luckily, Weemo is a genius and her suggestion of Bottega Louie was perfect. In addition to a sit down restaurant, Bottega Louie also houses a gourmet market!

Thatboy and I grabbed some fresh sandwiches, sodas, and macarons and headed to the hotel to check in. We had a picnic in the room, before heading out. Thatboy and I had big LA plans for this weekend. This summer, I had noticed that one of my all time favorite shows was coming to LA - Parade! And it was starring T.R. Knight! (Yes friends, George is NOT dead...although he does die every night...and twice a day on weekends.) I didn't expect to make it up to LA to be able to see it, but once we decided to make a weekend of it, I booked us tickets immediately. And was able to get them for over 50% off - because I hate paying full price.

Parking (and driving) in LA is such a pain, I've actually gotten panic attacks on the freeway. So Thatboy and I decided, since we were less than a mile from the show, we would hoof it. As we left the hotel they tried to get the car for us, and when we told them we were walking, every head turned to stare at us.

But after a couple of blocks, we reached our destination:

Parade is a musical with the book written by Alfred Uhry (of Driving Miss Daisy fame) and Jason Robert Brown (who is my all time favorite composer). It opened on Broadway in 1998 and won the Tony award in 1999 - just a few months after it closed. I never got a chance to see it on Broadway, but fell in love with it during the award show and ran out to buy the cd which I listened to over and over and over again. It's based on the true story of Leo Frank - a superintendent of a pencil factory in Atlanta who was tried and convicted of the murder of a 13 year old girl because he was a northerner and a Jew. It's not a warm and fuzzy musical, but it is beautiful and poignant. This version of the show was reworked by Uhry and Brown. The venue was perfectly intimate and the cast was phenomenal. I was definitely impressed by the fact that T.R. Knight can sing - something I was not expecting.

After the show we headed to dinner - another one of Weemo's recommendations: Rivera.

As usual, Thatboy and I made friends with the bartender (or as Weemo says "mixologist" and she's usually right). When they didn't have his usual brand of scotch, the bartender/mixologist made him a little taster menu of their scotches so he could try them all and pick his favorite. After that we were in her hands as she made him fascinating drink after fascinating drink.

We began with the tortillas - corn tortillas baked with the restaurant's signature edible flowers. These things were on everything.

The tortillas are served with Indian butter, which we decided must just be avocado. Thatboy said he hoped it wasn't butter because he put so much on his tortillas he would guarantee himself a heart attack.

Next came a chile relleno stuffed with burrata. Did you see the magic word there? Yup. Burrata. I'm a sucker for it. That beautiful design at the top of the plate? Spices and completely edible.

There were too many interesting choices on the menu, so Thatboy and I decided to order two and split them so we each got half.

I preferred this duck confit with goat cheese and blue corn tortilla - kind of a deconstructed enchilada. It has 4 magic words! "duck confit" and "goat cheese."

Thatboy liked to go back and forth between this pork which he deemed delicious and rich. Somehow he came up with the theory that the goat cheese and duck cut the richness of this dish...yeahhhhhhh - he'd had a lot to drink by this point in the night. Meanwhile, how fabulous is the presentation at Rivera?

For dessert, it was recommened we try the olive oil cake - even though it wasn't on the menu. This is why it always pays to be sweet to your server. After raving about how it was her favorite dessert, she went and checked with the kitchen to see if they had any, even though it wasn't on the menu and soon enough, a plate of it showed up in front of us.

After dinner I dropped Thatboy off at the hotel and headed to Kareokefest - and I'll let Weemo cover that since she will do a much better job that I could. Around 1pm I stumbled back to the hotel and crashed.

We slept in till 9 - which is a HUGE deal for Thatboy and I. After leisurely getting ready and packing up the room, we headed to our last Weemo rec- the Nickle Diner.

The gourmet doughnut phase has not hit San Diego yet, but apparently it's hit Los Angeles. Shortly after we sat down, an amuse bouche of doughnut holes were brought to us.

I LOVED the strawberry crumb doughnut on the left, and Thatboy was impressed with the "Clockwork Orange" on the right.

Weemo sent me a warning earlier this week telling me to stay away from the Huevos Rancheros - so I did. She recommended the scramble and I listen to experts.

Mine had the goat cheese, bacon, and spinach. And I had the polenta with it - OH MY this is fabulous polenta. Some of the best I've ever had.

Weemo had mentioned that next time she went to the Nickel Diner, she wanted to try the pork hash, so Thatboy figured he'd try it for her. He liked my breakfast better. He didn't think there was enough egg, and wanted a saltier pork instead of a carnitas style pork they used in the hash.

Once we were all good and full, we headed back home to San Diego so Thatboy could get some weekend surf. It was fun to have a weekend away - even just going someplace close. Even when that someplace is LA.

We brought a little treat home with us - a red velvet doughnut and maple glazed bacon doughnut. Thatboy thought the maple glazed bacon doughnut was much better than he thought, but I wasn't all that impressed. I did like the red velvet though - mmmmmmmm.


  1. This really was quite the ode to me. ;)

    Thanks so much for coming last night! So good to see you!

  2. ok so this isn't the first time thatboy likes your breakfast better :)

    Thought you might enjoy reading this

  3. OMG, I can't believe they put that road sign on that plate!

  4. I love vacationing in the city next to where you live. :) I'm glad you had a good trip and am bummed I missed you at the Karaokefest. Next year!