Thursday, June 10, 2004
La-La Land… I’m sitting here in LA (this ain’t no disco) at the desk of my longtime friend and brother-in-spirit Stuart Matranga, a real writer. I am hoping that somehow, by sitting in his workspace, using his tools, some of his greatness may rub off on me and suddenly I’ll create sentences that sing and paragraphs that dance (hey, I’m in fantasyland right?).
I’ve been hanging out with the Matrangas, as well as my other buddy Mad Mike McSweeney, an old bartending brother. He’s taken me around to a few of the hot spots in LA like Norman’s (Norman Van Aken), a ridiculously overpriced paean to a chef’s ego that will be out of business within a year; AOC, a beautifully conceived wine/tapas-style food bar and restaurant with a 50-bottle, two-tiered Cruvinet (the nitrogen-driven wine preservation system that was popular back in the ‘80s until people realized it really doesn’t do what it’s supposed to) in jeopardy of blowing it with a little too much LA attitude; and Mix, a great little spot in West Hollywood on Crescent and Santa Monica Boulevard with a wonderful patio, really nice people, great food and a good vibe. I’ll be glad to get back home though, this town’s crazy.
Sweet Thing and I stayed in a little hotel on Sunset Strip, right in the middle of all the craziness. You should have seen the comedy when she and I were out walking around at 11:30pm among a sea of twenty-something’s rushing around looking for…whatever the hell it is that they look for. For you trend-watchers, the chicks are all wearing halters, jeans and high heels, the dudes are all wearing regular button-down shirts that aren’t tucked in. I was wearing a halter that wasn’t tucked in, along with high heels.
Wine With Food… Back on the Peninsula, I got the latest on the upcoming wine dinners at Fifi’s. They’ve been doing incredible stuff every other Saturday for quite some time. You can catch a great wine pairing with the delicious food of Chef German Perez. The lineups for the next few are: Jadot Corton Grand Cru with Escolar; Murrietta Ygay Grand Reserva 1970 with Leg of Lamb; Smith Haut Lafitte with Soft Shell Crabs; Chateau Beycheville with New York Steak…call Calvin at 372-5325 for details and ressies.
I’m really disappointed with those of you who didn’t run to Talbott for the Diamond T retrospective. There was so little response that it was cancelled. It better be because it was Memorial Day weekend and you all went away and not because you procrastinated…you’ve got to jump on opportunities like that. I hope Talbott gives us all a second chance at that one. Meanwhile, it’s not too late to get in on their other great tastings coming up. Call them at 659-3500 to find out what you don’t want to miss.
We were at Stoke’s having a bit of a cocktail and a few apps at the bar with Mario, one of the Sultans of the Shaker, and I ran into an old friend, Hugh Wilson. He was sitting with a nice couple who turned out to be Tom and Cynthia Verga—Tom was the guy who started and ran the Boiler Room, in the space where Planet Gemini is now.
Man, I was enthralled listening to stories about how the place was built and what it was like on a nightly basis. Tom literally glowed with pride talking about what must have been a great spot. I can tell by the stories he told and the way he told them that this guy is a full-fledged superstar of hospitality and one of the many reasons why some of the best people in the world find their way into that business. I hope I get to listen to more great stories from him. Next time I’ll bring a tape recorder so I can pass them along…you know the memory’s the first thing to go…well, the second thing.