10.12am Friday 26th March, Starbucks, MacArthur Boulevard, Newport Beach, CA, USA
Here’s the thing. When you open your computer first thing in the morning and you have trouble remembering your password, that’s fair enough. But when you stare at the panel where you have to enter your name and you have to think about it, then you know you’re in trouble for the day! That’s how I started, after giving the idea of doing my blog last night away as a bad joke.
We finished the third of the three HWG tastings in Los Angeles around 5.30pm yesterday, then took my partner in wine education this week, Diana Malloy, out to the airport, sent her back to the Bay Area, gave Hertz back their Prius, and I got a car with height for what I have to do over the next two days. I’m done with feeling scared on the road, and being tired, need every advantage! So I got a Subaru Forester SUV with height and headed back into the city to chase some dinner.
Of all the fru fru wah wah dining options in Beverly Hills, guess where I ended up?
In the Whole Foods Market on Santa Monica Boulevard, made my own chicken noodle, chicken and ginger, ginger carrot soup combo, and a small cup of southwest turkey chilli, made up a salad and took it all back to the hotel. Just shredded after it all, and hit the sack. Big times in the City of Angels!
So this morning I thought a treat was in order. I thought … pancakes. I am doing a wine presentation at the General Sales Meeting for the Henry Wine Group’s southern sales force at 1pm today – first session after lunch – so I had a 90 minute drive down south to Newport Beach where the venue is scheduled, but I knew with an early start I could fit pancakes in. I chased down this hole in the wall – The Griddle Cafe – up on Sunset Boulevard. (How cool is that! I’m shaking my head this morning laughing cos I’m driving down Sunset, in LA, to brekky! For real.) It’s pretty deceptive from the street, but walk in and the place smells right for starters – all fresh, bacony and sweet! My kind of scratch & sniff!
I pulled in at one of the 20 chairs at a tight U-shaped counter leading off the kitchen and spent 20 minutes reading the menu. They’re serious about their stuff here – over 16 pancake, 10 waffle, and 15 omlette options, without counting the standard brekky items! You could come in three weeks in a row for breakfast and have something different every day and not exhaust the menu. Being my first time, I went for a gentle start, so chose the House Special Golden Waffle, with their own selected pure Vermont maple syrup, and the special turkey maple breakfast sausage links on the side. Yum! Couldn’t finish it because it was the size of a small pizza, but I am fast being converted to waffles from pancakes and may have to invest in a proper waffle iron. How to explain that machine at customs!
I headed out as a lighting and film set crew headed in to fill the place and jumped on the road. Now I’m set up down here for an on-time start with the sales team.
**The whole film industry thing is a constant in this neck of the LA woods. Yesterday morning I walked down to the Westwood Starbucks to pick up breakfast, and on the way back I followed the plastic signs that get put up by film crews on location. This one said “biscuit” and led around the corner to the location – half a dozen pan tech trucks and various equipment, and a lovely dining area custom built for the day off a taco truck mobile kitchen – flowers, chairs and tables. I asked the security guard what they were filming … a credit card commercial! All that set up for a commercial. Yep, he said, just for that morning. A huge employer no doubt.
So, back to yesterday’s tasting, held at the famous “pink palace'”LA landmark – The Beverly Hills Hotel. This is what I wrote yesterday during the day (again no wi fi).
” Come with me as I step through the front doors and back into the golden age of art deco greatness that
was that Hollywood moment when “star” meant a great deal more than a split-second of reality show profile that shot across the TV screen for six months then fizzled to nothing. Here it all is. The Crystal Ballroom at the base of an extremely elegant, gently spiralling staircase with a double landing. It makes me think we should be in long and strapless taffetta gowns that rustle as we walk, and have names like Lauren and Ava – boyfriends with names like Frank and Humphrey – just to qualify to be there. The ballroom is dominated by one central ceiling fixture made up of 300 – 400 individual crystal roses, each one with a globe in the centre. Special.
The hotel itself is a delightful maze of carpeted hallways, staircases and lift wells – all leading more or less off the central lobby. Downstairs I found the Fountain Cafe, a little 14-seat diner serving breakfast and fresh pies. Then there’s the Polo Room, goodness knows what deals have been done in there, and the maitre d’ is just sliding today’s menu into the brass holder at the front door. Down and around to the Promenade Shops and Spa – more stuff of legend. You almost expect to see the gals in their flashy one-piece, cutting-edge bathing suits and Catwoman-style sunglasses heading from the spa to the poolside bar.
The place has ghosts. Good ones.
And everything’s styled with the ever-present flamingo pink and white – and it looks so right. All the waiters working the tasting are wearing the old-school black pants, white jacket, black bowtie Riccy Riccardo bandleader combo – I like it. That’s because I’m old school too!
But hey, time to stop daydreaming, the doors are open and we’re on!”
Speaking of going quick – it’s 11.30am so I have to pack it up and get over to the sales meeting for lunch with the team. I’ll catch up the tasting notes afterward.