Monday, February 28, 2011

Eurovision Betting Analysis: Can Getter Jaani win for Estonia with Rockefeller Street?

Eurovision Betting Analysis: Can Getter Jaani win for Estonia with Rockefeller Street?
...way more important than the Oscars

Oscar Balls

Oscar balloons... who knew?

Yesterday silly TLOML naively asked the Ralph's checkout girl, 'What are the black and yellow balloons for?'
'Oscar parties!' she said, adding an unspoken 'you fools' with her eyes.
'Oh', said TLOML, who doesn't care that we appear to be country bumpkins in glamorous Malibu. I have already ruined our reputation with my daily bike ride (only the homeless, and large gangs of California fitties wearing Tour De France outfits cycle on PCH. And me.). 'What's with the black and yellow then? Is that this year's Oscar colour?'
The checkout girl rolled her eyes so far they nearly bounced out of her bulging head. 'Black and gold are the Oscar colours every year.'

That told us. Judging by the large volumes of Oscar balloons Ralph's was shifting, we should have known that on Oscar night the only sensible thing to do was to watch the Oscars. Instead we took his aunt out for dinner, to Comme Ca. Comme Ca is one of our very favourite LA restaurants, for the cocktail mixer's excellent way with a Perfect Manhattan (for me) and an Aviation (for TLOML), and for the fabulous cheese selection presented by the shyly flamboyant Anthony. It is a good WeHo hotspot and usually jampacked with bright young things. Busy busy and noisy in a good way. Not on Oscar night. What dumbos we felt, sidling up and saying 'we have a reservation' - in an empty restaurant. The upside was that our cocktails arrived in record time. And no, since you ask, they did not have black and gold balloons festooning the place. Rebels!

On the drive home we noticed how completely deserted the streets were, too. Which made me wonder: does everyone single person in LA have such a close and intimate connection with the movie industry that they absolutely can't do anything except watch the Oscars? Why, I know it ain't so! I know a doctor, and a lawyer, and a cupcake maker, and a man who works in a liquor store and all manner of people who are not remotely connected with the movie industry in LA. And yet everyone watches the Oscars. It's like if everyone in NY paused and listened out for the Trading Floor Bell, or in London everyone is going to Will & Kate's wedding this year (I await my invitation). No, it's just silliness, plenty of people are staying in to watch the Oscars when frankly it's no more their business than my Geordie Auntie Milly's.

Still, in the heart of 'The Industry', it doesn't do to ignore the Oscars. You end up dining alone. Lesson learnt.
An inconsolable Isadora on discovering the balloons have all sold out!
As I began this blog post, craving some good Northern commonsense, I tuned via the miracle of the interweb, to Radio Humberside where my good friend Rob Cowen played his brilliant single, The Heartland (Q's track of the day, no less), and a brilliant cover of Maggie May, one of my secret running playlist tracks. Not so secret now I guess. Oh well, I'm tired of hiding my love of early Rod from the world. You too can hear the dulcet Yorkshire tones of Rob Cowen ont' radio. (Listen from 9m 48s for the good stuff).

 Tha'll be reet.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Grrr! The only thing more annoying than having something one's written be corrected, is having something one is still writing be corrected. Google Docs has a lot to answer for.

TLOML and I are cataloguing all the stuff we have in Malibu which we don't intend to take to NY. So we're working together on this shared Google Doc. Each busily measuring and then coming back to our respective laptops to document our findings. Apparently I am not doing the formatting correctly. I know this because as I type his invisible mouse appears and bolds, italicizes, etc. Without even asking! And every time I write something charming and appealing like 'cool retro style medicine box' he overtypes it with something lawyerly and precise like 'off white wall mounted cabinet with 'First Aid' logo'. He just harumphed 'It's not a print, it's an actual painting' (of the controversial 'tea cups' picture I am dying to get rid of...).

Any takers...? Free to the first person who shows an interest...

My last entry to the list was 'big ugly coffee table'. He loves that coffee table. Ha! I think it's time for me to log off and leave him to it.

Busy busy busy

Big job for today... deciding which wines to take to tonight's Taste of Pace supper club. We're leaving Malibu in a few weeks, to begin our big Eastward migration. First stop New York... then London. So we need to drink as much of the wine in the wine fridge as we possibly can - or risk it breaking in transit. It's a risk TLOML and I are simply not prepared to take. Wish us luck!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Truffling in LA

Truffling in LA is easy. There's no need to put your wellies and Barbour on, leash your pig and head into the depths of a remote Italian forest. Save yourself the hassle and just go to your local eatery.

I bet you a buck they will have something involving truffles on the menu (mail me your notarized menu to claim your winnings... frankly I'm not too worried). Or at least, truffle oil. It won't be long before the Starbucks out here do a truffle frappucino. And I'm sure pinkberry offer a drizzle of truffle oil on their froyo. I never go in Urth cafe, as TLOML says it's full of pretentious tossers with laptops - and my Big Corp Thinkpad and yellow post-its would probably get me laughed out of the place. But I bet they have truffle oil in cans on every table. Seriously, the Los Angelenos are MAD for it. (Americans, that means 'crazy for it' not 'angry for it', just to be clear).

And we're not talking a hint of delicately shaved truffle. We're talking so much truffle oil you can smell it the moment the kitchen door opens and the waiter comes towards you carrying your truffled fries. Even if you're sitting outside. And the kitchen is a block away. To quote Colette, it seems the view here is "If I can't have too many truffles, I'll do without truffles."

I first knew I had been thinking too much about truffles when in bed late one night, having had a lovely dinner at Nobu Malibu, a good half an hour after my head had hit the pillow, I sat bolt upright and announced - to the slumbering TLOML - 'I don't like truffle on white fish!'. It was true, I didn't. But I didn't notice while I was hoovering up a plateful of the stuff. It was only later, having brushed and mouthwashed my teeth like a good 'un, as the truffle oil still insisted itself on my senses, I realised that was the only thing I had tasted. Was it on halibut? Or Pacific sole? It might as well have been an old shoe for all I tasted it. Damn that truffle oil!

And no, if you're interested, TLOML did not mind being woken up for this announcement. He agreed and went straight back to sleep. While I lay awake trying to figure out what truffle oil would be nice on.

For weeks since, TLOML and I have debated this. Should the musty truffle be paired with something strong and robust, a flavour that can stand up to it, like artichoke or steak?  Or something so bland and tasteless you don't mind it fading underneath the fungus? Chicken, tofu, white fish? Hmm, maybe Nobu were on to something. But somehow we didn't think so.

Today we found the answer. Crispy fingerling potatoes with truffle oil, over brunch at Gjelina in Venice, with TLOML's charming aunt, his cousin, and her lovely boyf. You know you're going to have a good brunch when the aforementioned boyf orders 2 pizzas and those truffly spuds 'for the table' on top of everyone's eggy mains.

Yes, potatoes are the answer. They don't mind at all being hit hard over the head with some musty, fungal oil. They actually like it. Read people harping on about them  on Yelp if you don't believe me.

Finally, months after I landed, I have been converted to the truffle craze. And now, if I can't have too many crispy fingerling potatoes with truffle oil, I'll do without crispy fingerling potatoes with truffle oil. (Apologies to Colette).

Yum. And some.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

'Lard...? Is that a food?'

More culinary adventures in LA. Searching for meat-based solidified fat in a city where ‘skinless chicken breast and egg white omelette’ is offered as a hearty brunch option… frustrating times.

I was doing a roast dinner and wanted goosefat or at least lard for the spuds. Any good British cook knows that’s the best way to guarantee good crispy outsides. Having tried and failed at several big, fairly upscale supermarkets (Gelsons, Wholefoods), I ended up at the mecca of gourmet food, Bristol Farms. If Bristol Farms doesn’t sell it, it can’t be bought.

I looked in the European cheese section first, because I know from my butter hunt that’s where the good stuff is hidden. No joy. So I scanned the dairy chiller, where in addition to eggs there were about 7 different brands of bottled egg white (seriously! Egg in a bottle! I suspect they’re about as closely related to egg as I am to Mother Theresa). Also many butter substitutes. Nothing that looked like lard though. I asked at the butcher counter and he looked at me like I was crazy. Shed a silent tear for the nice butcher in Dartmouth Park who has pots of goosefat for sale.

Before giving up I asked a kid in a Bristol Farms red checked shirt, ‘Do you have lard? Or even goosefat?’.
‘Um, is that, like, a food?’ came the reply. I took that as a no.

I even tried a European cheese shop in Santa Monica, just on a whim, but all they could offer me was a pig cheek which had a lot of fat on it.

So, olive oil roasties it was. Actually, I par-boiled and bashed them about a bit, made sure the oil was good and hot, and they came out pretty crispy. All’s well that end’s well, I guess.

Oooh, searching for nice lard image for you I came across this article which is all about how good for you lard is. Read it and weep Malibu barbies.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

From Hemingway to Hollywood: Pajama Jeans: scourge of the modern american ass

This made me chuckle... The Euro asks a question that has been bothering me for quite some time - till I saw a pair at LAX. In the Southwest terminal, natch.

From Hemingway to Hollywood: Pajama Jeans: scourge of the modern american ass