Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Things I Learnt this Christmas

"Merry Christmas" must be a perfectly fine holiday salutation after all if it is used freely and without abandon in Beverly Hills, CA.

If you are going to make mince pies from scratch, at least do them the justice of buying real ice cream (and not Edy's Slow Churned, 1/2 the fat, Caramel Delight) to eat them with.

Green Bean Casserole is much better made with less than a 1/3 of a cup of milk and an extra can of cut green beans.

A Christmas Story is now shown on TBS, not TNT.

ICON man Brian Wade works out at 24 Hour Arclight as well as Gold's (as do I... Sort of... Well I have two memberships now anyway).

When Will Smith squishes, so do I (as least when watching his latest flick, The Pursuit of Happyness, which with it's obvious ending is maybe at best worth the price of a matinee ticket).

The Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale (for Men) should only be considered a sale if you think $159.00 for a pair of jeans or $55.00 for a T-Shirt cheap.
Watching Fraggle Rock without "The Captain," played by Fulton Mackay, and is a little bit disconcerting.

No matter how much you're craving one of their Spanish Lattes and a slice of chocolate cake, do not go to Urth Caffé on Melrose when there's the possibility of rain (kudos however to the staff for getting those umbrellas out so damn quickly).

A "passing shower" in the rest of the country is considered a "torrential downpour" here in LA.

Pit bull puppies and hummus - not the best combination.

And lastly... Joe has confined himself to the kitchen on all future Christmas Eve's since he's going to have to make those great roast chicken enchiladas year in and year out from now on.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Deathly Hallows

As in "Harry Potter and the..."

So announced J.K. Rowling through her publisher earlier today.

But what exactly these Deathly Hallows are is yet to be revealed.

What has been leaked however is that *spoiler alert* two more major characters will not make to the end of the novel alive; both hot Quidditch star Viktor Krum and Dolores Umbridge are set to return; Kreacher, Harry's inherited house elf, will play an important role (hence J.K.'s insistence that he appear in the Order of the Phoenix movie); we'll learn lots more significant back story stuff about Peter Pettigrew, Dumbledore, Harry's mum and Aunt Petunia; and most importantly we will finally learn who's side Severus Snape is really on!
What a great Christmas present from one of the richest women in the UK... now, if we only had a publication date...

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Worst is Over...

Or is it?

A week before Christmas and the parties do seem to be slowing to a halt. With the big day on a Monday this year there may be one extra weekend to get in that last minute shopping, but when it comes to events, no one really wants to party.

Friday the 15th was the big one. With the busiest lunch of the year (of about 300 covers, plus the special events in our private dining rooms) upper management was rightfully crazed early that morning. Ultimately the day seemed to proceed without a hitch, nevertheless, it's on days like these, true "Black Fridays," that we in Special Events close the door, keep our heads down, and order super expensive Chinese for lunch.

Those ubiquitous holiday staples, See's Candies, have reared their ugly heads once again (and seriously ladies, you can't expect me to work Saturday, with an open box of chocs at my disposal, and hope to have any left upon your return Monday). Boxes from Harry & David's have made welcome appearances, and even a nice little candy dish from Tiffany's arrived Friday.

One of the more interesting gift's that I have partaken in however was a nice slice of banana bread handcrafted by none other than Buffy's former beau, Riley Finn, aka Marc Blucas. Now while not the nuttiest of loaves, this was one particularly tasty tea bread. I now have my fingers very much crossed for a signed glossy black n' white to add to my collection.

So with no real disasters (OK, so that one guest had to wait for their chicken after a second guest switched from pasta at the last minute... we thought the world was going to end for a moment there), and the only concerns being the strange prevalence of Pink Floyd and The Stones over soothing holiday/dinner, the season is winding down nicely.

Cards have been sent (is it still a faux par to wish people a Merry Christmas?), gifts have been readied, and vacation time has been booked - and yes, this time, it was approved!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Quest for South Coast

South Coast Plaza that is, one of the preeminent malls in the country!

Located down in The OC (Costa Mesa, CA to be precise), South Coast Plaza has over 2.8 million leasable square feet, 280 plus stores and the highest per square foot sales in California (eat your heart out The Beverly Center), from Abercrombie to Zegna, American Eagle to Valentino, this mall seemingly has it all.

The effort getting there however was akin to Frodo and Sam's quest for Mount Doom in The Return of the King.

Starting with traffic at a standstill on the 101 (an abandoned burnt out wreck was strewn across the middle two lanes). And ending with getting lost entering the mall from the wrong direction off of the 5 (rather than the more direct route from the 405). It took us almost three hours to go 47 miles. Oh, and did I mention the blown out tire near Anaheim!

Crossing the Carpool/HOV median we hit something that put a gaping hole in the driver's side back tire. Drifting across the five lanes to the shoulder, we ground to a halt, called MINI Roadside Assistance (that's AAA to you and me), blistered in the heat for 45 minutes waiting for the mechanic, and all the while my little car continued to be buffeted by the air currents of the passing traffic. An unnerving experience to be sure, but less so for me since Joe never told me that people get killed waiting in their cars on Californian highway shoulders.

(And that's the second time I had to call Roadside Assistance this week - my battery went flat Monday when I left the blinkers on for an extended period of time - Oops! Silly me!)

So was the trip to the mall worth the trouble? A few select Godiva truffles, a romantic dinner at Claim Jumper, and being come on to as the "not from around here" muscle boys by the cutie in Quicksilver. Well, a good day was finally had by all.

And it only took us an hour and a half to get home... in the pouring rain... and on the donut!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Family Meal

Sorry Chef Lee, but some of the best food at Spago isn't necessarily found on the regular dining menu.

Fondly known as "Family Meal," this twice daily ritual, served first at 10:30am, then again at 4:30pm, brings the Spago staff (from bussers and dishwashers, to sous chefs and management) together before service begins.

It doesn't matter that we're not getting grilled Carpenter Ranch squab breast or Snake River Kobe beef when there's coconutily spicy chicken curry, melt-in-your-mouth buttered cornbread, damn good corndogs, and the "all white meat" chicken pot pie which... well, it even puts Marie Callender to shame!!!

"Family Meal" is that welcome "second breakfast," after a protein shake and coffee, which entices me into the office in the mornings. It's the perfect "tide-you-over-til-dinner" afternoon snack, which, along with my double-shot latté, I wouldn't make it through the early evenings without. And most importantly, it's certainly helped me bulk this fall, I'm a whopping 196 as of last weigh in!!!

PS - Don't forget to set your Tivos for Chef Lee's upcoming appearance on Bravo's Top Chef.

PPS - I'd never had a corn dog before working at Spago!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

2006 Excalibur Championships

The 2006 Excalibur Bodybuilding Championships, another local bodybuilding contest that Joe and I didn't go to, was held this past weekend at the Veteran's Memorial Auditorium just down the road in Culver City, CA.

The winner of both the superheavy weight class and the overall title was a "wee slip of a lad" by the name of Trey Brewer from Atlanta, GA.

Brewer, a former high school star fullback, relinquished the pigskin in favor of the fulltime pursuit of the iron game. Back in 2005 at the tender age of 19, the 6 ft tall, then only 225 pounder, earned an impressive third place finish in the heavyweight division at that year's NPC Teen & Collegiate National Championships behind the crazily coiffed Steve Kuclo.

Now at only 21 years old, not only has Brewer ballooned up into the super heavyweight class (weighing well over 225 lbs), but he's won a major Californian contest that now qualifies him for one of the big national competitions (like the NPC USA or NPC Nationals).

This is one “little one” who can now truly play with the “big boys.”