Sunday, March 29, 2009

Eating and Star Gazing in California

We had a few noteworthy meals in California. We had gone to Roy’s in Philadelphia some time ago and the food and service were great. The one in Rancho Mirage is equally good. We had the same Aloha Roll (huge portion and delicious),

the Lobster Potstickers,

plus great entrées, but the BEST thing on the menu was their special 1988 cocktail, which was the most delicious cocktail I have EVER had. (I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture.) Here’s how they describe it:

1988 Martini - A tribute to our opening year in Honolulu. Perfectly balanced blend of tart grapefruit and tangy pomegranate with ABSOLUT Ruby Red Vodka, SoHo Lychee Liqueur & Patron Citronge Liqueur echoes the idyllic island lifestyle.

Plus there was a HUGE lychee in the glass which only added to its delightfulness. It was tart and not too sweet, and really refreshing and lively. It was sooooooooooooooooooo good.

2 noteworthy meals in LA:

We went to Michael Mina's XIV, which was a beautiful space designed by Philippe Starck. The website is quite a beauty too.)

The food is prepared with A LOT of care and very professional (and attractive) servers.

Two interesting cocktails: “English Breakfast” with Plymouth (my daughter told me this is gin), Cointreau, Apricot Marmalade, Fresh Lemon Juice and a "Scottish Mule" - Hendrick’s (she said that was gin too), with Cucumber, Fresh Lime, Ginger Beer. I LOVED my English Breakfast (not as much as Roy’s 1988, though.)

The tataki of American Wagyu skirt steak was fabulous. It was soft as buttah with lots of delicate flavor. The Dungeness crab crepe with basil, capers and scampi hollandaise was a rich and luxurious dish.

I have to admit I was confused by the Sea Scallops Tempura.

I have no idea what was tempura-ized. The scallops seemed SEARED and the teeny tiny pieces of cauliflower were definitely not battered up and fried, but it was yummy.

The last main course was Black Cod served with spaghetti squash, bluefoot mushrooms and foie gras dashi.

I didn’t taste it, but H(usband) said the fish was really tender. I wish I’d tasted the foie gras broth, but next time ;-).
My Liberty Duck Breast was thick, fatty, rich and oh so good.

My daughter liked her Chicken with Truffled Mac & Cheese.

The highpoint for presentation was dessert. They were clever and playful, but, surprisingly, I found one of them very disappointing. The vanilla custard was served in a glass and studded with mandarin sorbet, which to me just got in the way of tasting the custard.

Plus the pastry chef must have thought it was cool to use only tiny amounts of sugar and so everything seemed to be missing something. The custard was smooth, but you wanted something more…SUGAR. I honestly couldn’t tell if the accompanying beignets were sweetened at all. The Root Beer Float was a bit of a blur, well, actually just the picture.

The root beer tasted freshly harvested from a sassafras tree (although, I believe sassafras root is illegal now.) But it was exceptional and a lot of fun.

Note: They also have a tasting menu type of option which is explained in such a confusing fashion that we didn’t have the patience to order it. But they do have very inventive vegan and vegetarian menus.

Back to LA for our last meal - Hal’s Bar and Grill.

I had told H we needed a quiet place to go, because we were dining with my daughter and her Y(oung) M(an). We’ve met YM several times before and like him a lot, but I wanted to be able to hear them both. We arrived at Hal’s to a HUGE echo of voices and clatter. I asked H if this was his idea of a quiet restaurant and he said last time he was here, it was fine. We SCREAMED across the bar to the young folks that we had arrived and that our table was ready…

This is where it gets good. After a bit, at the very next table - which I was facing and of which I had a PERFECT view - a FAMOUS movie star arrived with her FAMOUS movie star boyfriend…both of whom I could watch unimpeded by pillars or heads or anything! Even H knew who she was, which tells you she was big! Her companion had to be explained in terms of his last few movies and then H knew exactly who he was.

Should I keep you in suspense some more while I describe our meal OR should I tell you how I got to converse personally with said movie star and how she couldn’t have been lovelier?

But I know you want to hear about the sashimi.

The tangerine vinaigrette didn’t taste spicy and the sesame seeds seemed anemically toasted. My Mano de Leon Scallops with a Cara Cara orange sauce were perfection.

The ravioli they were served with was splendid and I loved the sweet smoked bacon. Everything else was good, but my overwhelming sense (maybe from watching too much TC on Top Chef) was that nothing was particularly well seasoned. Beautiful ingredients, masterful cooking, gorgeous presentation, but the flavor was flat.

But my star sighting more than made up any lapses in the food. Okay, I’ll tell you who it was the really lovely…the just adorable…the truly friendly Rachel McAdams. Quick, do you know who she’s seeing now….it’s…Josh Lucas, who is REALLY hot in a not-obnoxious, not-overly-Hollywood way, but just plain really good looking. Sorry, but I couldn’t bring myself to take a picture.

BUT here’s how great YM was. He works in the movie business…and he had worked on one of her films…post-productionally. For ME, he went up to her, chatted with her for a good long while – she looked really interested, by the way, in whatever he was saying, and THEN…AND THEN, she GOT UP and walked right up to our table…right up to me and came to say hello.

And, honestly, she wasn’t pained or put out or anything. She was lovely and when I started gushing, she didn’t back away; she was gracious and sweet. I can only imagine what YM said to her, but I don’t care…for those brief moments, she was all mine. Okay, okay that would have applied more if it had been Josh, but it was with Rachel that YM had the connection. Anyway, I was charmed and, boy oh boy, did he ever get brownie points!

Oh, we did manage to have dessert. The bread pudding was very moist,

but unless it’s served with an equal amount of runny rich custard, I have no use for it. I like it mainly as a vehicle for getting to the custard, not on its own, but the others liked it. The cheesecake was good too.

But the real treat of the evening was a pretty movie star who gained herself a table full of fans.

See? I wasn’t kidding.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I confess to not having seen a single vehicle that Rachel McAdams has starred in. I don't get out much.

That drink you decribed sounds fantastic. Now I want one, even if it is 9AM.

If the plant is illegal, how do they make my beloved root beer? Do I reallywant to know?

Sue said...

Okay, Rachel, I admit it wasn't Meryl Streep, but I'll take my celebrities when I can get them! The Notebook? Wedding Crashers? And you two even spell your names the same! HE was in Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon.

I want one of those cocktails too, even though it would be cheaper to find a Roy's somewhere than to buy a half dozen bottles of fancy liquors.

Yeah, it's really illegal, since 1960. Something about cancer and hallucinations. They use artifical sassafras flavor with wintergreen to make root beer now. Interesting.

LK- Healthy Delicious said...

I love gin and those cocktails look great.. as does all that food!

Tracy said...

You had me at lobster pot stickers!

Emily said...

WOW! That is crazy! I can't believe you got to talk to Rachel McAdams! I wouldn't know what to say, I'd be so nervous.

All of the food sounds delicious, but you MUST recreate the first martini you mentioned. I'll be waiting for the recipe.

Sue said...

Everything was soooo good, especially after a few of those cocktails.

THEY had me at 1988.

Well, honestly, it wasn't like she was the Pope or even Colonel Sanders, but it was pretty great.

I tried to find Lychee Liqueur. I guess I have to try harder or I could just go to to Roy's with an empty bottle. ;-)