Wednesday, December 27, 2006
the beginning of indie as we know it. it's the 20th anniversary of the issue of NME's C-86 compilation. tonight at spaceland, the c-86 all stars, featuring dave newton from the mighty lemon drops, will cover all the pop songs from the eighties that will reawaken your hidden twee heart. you can come again, with vodka in your veins...splendour in silver dress, velocity possessed, the world can be yours again!
i'm just filling up the spaces in my happy head....i'll dig out my anorak and meet you there.
Monday, December 18, 2006
just before the holidays, i met up with a close friend and spent the day with her and her lovely family. we hadn't seen each other in years, and we fell in like old times, only this time with her toddlers and amenable husband in tow. we had a very yummy mummy sort of brunch in a neighbourhood joint popular more for its location, agreeable attitudes towards large parties with more children than adults, and pet-friendliness than its food or ambiance, although to be fair, the latter two attributes were more than satisfactory. she is as vivacious and kind as ever, she has married a good man, and her children are adorable as children get. however, i found myself exhausted from their exuberance and vigour, and feeling a little alien in this cosy family unit. i left them with well-wishes and a sincere hope to keep in touch, but with also a desperate desire for a tall alcoholic beverage and some room to breathe.
luckily a quick phone call and even quicker ride down sunset brought me to the cat and fiddle, a pub in hollywood that we--old friend and i--had frequented much during university years but i had not been to since. the building is a spanish-style stone complex built around a large courtyard, and dating from the 1920s. it is quiet and calm at any given time, and takes you away from the rush of sunset boulevard just yards in front. i found it to be the same as ever, although a bit foreign in the light of day. it was bright but chilly, and my friends were already ensconced in a cozy corner of the courtyard, nursing pints of stella. (i don't know if we've talked about this before, but i gave up drinking awhile back. i was a teetotaler up until...sometime this summer, but haven't really imbibed much in the ensuing months. however, when i was younger, i was a bit of a lush.) i was quite fond of snakebites; besides completely dating me (and apparently outing me as a former goth), i don't think there's any pub in la that will serve them. still, pubs get extra points from me if they've got cider on tap; cat and fiddle has strongbow, a pint of which suits me fine in my creakity older years.
i admit to have gone to the cat and fiddle for food, not drink, before, even though ye olde king's head has better batter on their fish and chips. it's still california, though, and i feel like the vegetables are more abundant and fresher than typical pub grub. we ordered plates of cod and chips, which came with either soup or a big green salad, and welsh rarebit, an abundantly cheesy toast made with double gloucester and served with a broiled tomato. everything was hearty, well-prepared, and reasonably priced. they've got typical fare as scotch eggs, shepherd's pie, and bangers and mash; of course you are in los angeles, so like other pubs, there are healthier, grilled fish and meat, and vegetarian alternatives. good side salad. good bread rolls (if you don't get one, ask).
the pub, at night, can get lively and horribly overcrowded in the late evening, but the afternoons are generally calm and genial--the perfect respite. it has been awhile since i've had the time to just hang out with my friends, and do absolutely nothing at all except sit and enjoy each others company. as the afternoon wore on, the christmas lights were turned on, and some of the employees began to decorate the tree outside, laughing and joking as if it was a christmas tree and not just the garden ficus. i began to appreciate my morning of familial chaos more, but also really treasured the "family" i was with at that moment. it was good to catch that breath before another season of chaos, stress, and overwhelming festivities began, but also to remember and experience a little of the real reason for the season: caring, compassion, friendship and family.
(and a little tipple to grease the wheels never hurt either--but don't drink and drive, folks!)
the cat and fiddle
6530 w sunset blvd (x-street shrader)
Friday, December 08, 2006
ray ferra's iron 'n antique accents lamp shop on la brea. complete tip, but great resource for old lamps, parts, and fabrication. and of course, ray, who has probably lit everything that can be lit. i hear he's retiring soon, and i'm not sure what will happen to the shop. check it out while you can.
ray ferra's iron 'n antique accents
342 n. la brea
los angeles 90036.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
eggnog. huell. dairy. cheese.
imo, strauss creamery has the superior eggnog, but broguiere's has the better packaging. huell howser, host of "california's gold" and subject of a very entertaining drinking game, graces some of the regular glass milk bottles throughout the year as a tribute to being the dairy's favourite visitor; the "california's gold" episode featuring broguiere's dairy is one of the most popular episodes of the series. however, his visage is most apropos on their holiday eggnog bottles. the 'nog a little overly sweet, overly viscous, and best in small doses, but full of cheer and holiday spirit. just like huell. real california gold, y'all.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
mama says yes, papa says no,
make up you mind 'cause I gotta go....
rip this joint, gonna save your soul,
round and round and round we go.
roll this joint, gonna get down low,
start my starter, gonna stop the show.
oh, the inevitable mozza post. after a couple of false starts, more than a few canceled and re-appointed reservations, i finally made into the mario batali/nancy silverton pizza joint, mozza. i went to dinner with a friend, whose previous experiences in that space on highland avenue included a collapsed lung, so you know this night was destined to make some sort of impression.
i do have to say, it was probably not a good idea for me to check out a new restaurant right after thanksgiving feasting, and on a bitterly cold night where lethargy was the highest form of energy i could muster. however, i had been really curious about this place, and after canceling out on three reservations in a row, it was a very kind thing of them to actually let me in (and not ban me for life). during regular dinner hours, even. i got there, actually found a space on the street to park (otherwise, it's $6 for valet parking--which is somewhat cheap, i think, considering how the valets risk their lives crossing highland all night), and opened a giant barn-like door to a high-ceilinged largish room that was darker than it was out on the street, and about 5 times louder. heaving with people, "exile on main street" on the stere-ereo. loud. we were seated promptly, at a banquette table at the back, and then handed what looked to be a stylized folded street map. oh, wait, that was the menu. it sorted reminded me of a font catalog, someone spent a lot of time on it. too bad they didn't hire that person to paint the dark orange and ochre walls, which seemed hastily done. guessing from the colour underneath the framed mirrors, the space was a little more soothing at some point--maybe nancy silverton influenced?--but now i'm told it looks similar to batali's pizzeria in nyc, otto, all orange-hued and honey wooded. i'm told orange is a colour that stimulates one's appetite. mario batali is very orange. i, er, am pretty sure that batali does not whet my appetite. the menu items do not seem very much like otto, but very much more like nancy silverton's doing (as other blogs and reviews have mentioned), even though the press kit says the food is not only "silvertonian" but "batalian" as well. (ergggggh. i just got the batalian/italian pun. bleah.)
our server asked us if we wanted anything to drink, i think, i couldn't tell as mick jagger was telling me how got his rocks off in a very loud yet muffled way. my companion ordered quartino (a 250ml carafe, maybe a third of a bottle?) of a dry-ish house wine, never found out which one as i couldn't hear him, even though our knees were touching (and even though i was at elbows with people at the tables next to me, i couldn't make out their conversations either).
we ordered the fried squash blossoms, because everybody orders the fried squash blossoms. they were filled with a fresh ricotta, and lightly battered in what i venture to guess is a rice flour/soda water batter, then salted with maldon sea salt. light and delightful. i don't know if this was a dish about flavour as everything seemed quite delicate; i think it was more about the creamy texture of the cheese and the delicate shards of batter that were only the tiniest bit greasy. no sauce to speak of, but also unnecessary. i think it was at this point that i realized there wasn't any salt nor pepper at the tables (my friend merry hates this, that the house presumes the chef's seasoning should suit everyone--what do you think?). also, that while the blossoms weren't cold, they mightn't have seemed a little greasy if they were warmer.
these were followed by a crostini with cannellini (white) beans, caramelized onions, and capezzana olive oil. beans on bread. carby, but packing more flavour than i expected. however, i found myself doing that thing where you start mentally calculating how much this dish actually cost to make, and thinking if you made it at home it might be just as good as the restaurant version.
then the pizza. you know about the crust: woodfired, crisp and bubbly on the edges, still crisp on the outside towards the center, but with a thin, chewy middle. you like it or you don't. i like it. it's not as hard as some of the bread crusts i've encountered in silvertonian breads (i am using that foolish phrase from now on), but there's enough heft to not sag under the weight of the (albeit modest) toppings. pizza not sliced all the way through, so for a minute i had a vision of a pizza tussle where half of it goes flying as i try to sink through the possibly impermeable crust. luckily it was easy going. the gorgonzola dolce, fingerling potato, radicchio and rosemary pizza was exquisite; the sweet creaminess of the gorgonzola matched the sweet creaminess of the roasted potato, the wilted radicchio cut through the fattiness, the fungal tang of the cheese and the pine-iness of the rosemary lent a very earthy, woodsy quality to the 'za. very very nice. if just a touch cold. the white anchovy, tomato and hot chilies (? the menu says olives. there were no olives) pizza wasn't as successful--the white anchovies were marinated in vinegar, which didn't quite blend well with the tomatoes. the spiciness of the chili was dull and one note. spice and acid, not much else. also a touch cold.
by now, i was fully carbed out, but still got dessert. the butterscoth budino (pudding), which many people have already raved about, and a fig crostini with a meyer lemon pannacotta.
the butterscotch pudding was something like a not-to-sweet caramel dairy thing, texturally a cross between a creamy pudding and a mousse. it was topped with a layer of caramel, a sprinkling of maldon sea salt, and whipped cream. i can't say i cared for the pudding part of it--the texture was great, like something i'd want in a hair product--but the flavour was mild (neither buttery nor burnt sugary) and not particularly interesting. the caramel topping and maldon was much better, like a liquid version of a very good candy. very rich, but the blander pudding balanced this out. it was served with pine nut and rosemary butter cookies on the side, which were tasty on their own, but didn't enhance the pudding itself in any way.
the fig crostata was a small free-form pastry with a buttery shortcrust and stewed (?) figs. fig jam. something. like an adult fig newton. the figs were quite good, but very one note--i didn't notice if there was any other flavours in there, of which it could have benefitted, maybe a little citrus or anise? the crust was okay, but again! cold. i would have been happier with a warmer pastry, to contrast against the very good meyer lemon pannacotta on top, which was like a sunny, citrusy greek yoghurt--tart, jiggly, sweet, refreshing.
oh, and coffee, which was really, completely, stone cold.
impression so far: effing loud. is "exile on main street" really restaurant music? orange paint does not whet my appetite. also, overall, while the food was competently prepared, i would have been much happier if the meal was hotter in temperature overall. i'll definitely return, but maybe during the afternoon, or any off hour. see if there's a difference in temperature and acoustics.
641 n. highland (x-street melrose)
los angeles 90036.