Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Radio Room @ The Edison, Red Rover @ First & Hope Supper Club, Lazy Ox Canteen

Radio Room
Since Gourmet Pigs posted so quickly about the Radio Room Press Preview, I guess I should also give a quick rundown. 

My favorite drinks at Radio Room were:

Wild Orchid
WILD ORCHID - Straight from the mind of New York’s Giuseppe Gonzalez, this is a delicate gin cocktail with notes of almond and elderflower, kissed with red wine. The Edison might be indoors, but the first flower of spring happens to be this cocktail.

GLOBO ROJO #2 - An intensely aromatic yet refined blend of strawberries, mezcal, tawny port and bitters, fruit, smoke and tannin in perfect harmony, courtesy of Zane Harris.

GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM - An eye-opening blend of gin and ginger with a dollop of orange marmalade. From Simon Ford, this is clearly his breakfast of champions.

Runner Up (because I would only have this if I'm in the mood for something strong):  
VIEUX CERDE - Another aromatic creation by Seattle’s Zane Harris. 12-year Irish Whisky mingles with VSOP Cognac with a light drizzling of Elisir M.P. Roux and bitters. Good enough to make the Hotel Monteleone jealous.

Absinthe shots
I couldn't resist trying a shot of absinthe since they came in such cute little souvenir bottles.  I have to say that I'm not really a fan of absinthe, so I preferred the pineapple flavored shot.  If you love absinthe then go for the pomegranate. 

I'm glad it was a press preview night because there were less people, the atmosphere was much more relaxed, and the lighting was brighter for better photography.  I also feel like the bartenders (Simon Ford - Pernod Ricard / London & NYC, Giuseppe Gonzalez - Dutch Kills & Painkiller / NYC, Zane Harris - Rob Roy / Seattle, Don Lee - Momofuku Restaurants / NYC) were more at ease and having much more fun.  It was kind of like they were hanging out together and happen to be making drinks for a few people at the same time.  They were really friendly and it was nice to actually get a chance to converse with them in a quieter environment.  I also really liked that they all solely made their own cocktails, so the drinks were always made consistently well.

We were also treated to crab claws and deliciously fresh British Columbia Fanny Bay oysters personally shucked by Maitre Ecailler, Chef Christophe Happillon. 

For tonight's Radio Room, look out for the band March Fourth marching band.  I listened to some of their stuff on mySpace and I liked the mix of gypsy, jazz, swing put to a marching band beat. 

Q&A with Simon Ford - FoodGPS
Q&A with Zane Harris - FoodGPS
Cocktail descriptions - FoodGPS
Radio Room recap -

Red Rover
My favorite drinks at Red Rover were:

EASY LIVING - “This drink recipe is a modern twist on the classic combination of rum, sugar and lime juice – the ‘island trinity’ – The Modern Mixologist. STRAIGHT FROM HIS NEW BOOK, CREATED BY THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND…TONY ABU-GANIM! Rhum Clement VSOP, Ginger Liqueur, Fresh Pineapple and Lime Juices

LITTLE MONSTER’S EXOTIC PUNCH - From the depths of the Caribbean comes this spicy and flavorsome punch that is said to be the boon of sinful pleasures and visceral delights. Yet, who are we to pass judgement on the lustful hearts of others? WICKED FUN BY MIXOLOGIST EXTRAORDINAIRE, ERICK CASTRO! Clement VSOP Rum, Dry Sack Oloroso 15 year Sherry, Allspice Dram, Fresh Lime Juice, Organic Cane Sugar, Fresh Grated Nutmeg and Sparkling Water

Xante - I loved the flavor of this pear-blended cognac I sampled   

Cocktail descriptions - FoodGPS

Lazy Ox Canteen
H.C. and I FINALLY got to check out the mythical Lazy Ox Canteen (that once told me I had to make reservations a week in advance) thanks to Sam Kim.  I have to say, it lived up to all the hype.  Here's what we tried:
  • Yellow Beet and Wild Arugula Salad with satsuma orange, radicchio & yogurt dressing - for a salad, it was heavier than I thought it would be, but I enjoyed the beets and dressing
  • Dashi Marinated Yellowtail with avocado, hash brown & creme fraiche - I thought the crispiness of the hash brown went really well with the very fresh fish
  • Hand-Torn Egg Pasta with sunny-side egg, brown butter & fine herbs
  •  Brick-Roasted Mussels with white wine, house made siracha and French feta - the broth was delicious.  I would have eaten all of the leftover broth if I had had bread to soak it all up
  • Burger with fries - those fries were awesome and the burger, I'd have to try a whole one to fully judge what Sam calls the best burger in LA
  • Lamb Hash - was delicious.  I would definitely order it again
  • Veal with potato salad - I was expecting hot mashed potatoes to go with the veal, so I'm not sure how I feel about the dish overall.  The veal was very tasty though
  • Chilled Rice Pudding with caramel and hazelnut brittle - it tasted good, but the thick, heavy texture of it kept throwing me off, so I couldn't really eat too much of it
  • Strawberries and Butter Biscuit with peppercorn ice cream - I liked the way the butter biscuit tasted with everything else.  I never would have expected to see a biscuit with something other than fried chicken 
I don't know if this is restaurant policy or not, but the waiter gave us a 10% discount because we had a downtown LA resident with us.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Crazy Heart

Photo by Nashville Music Buzz

I was curious about the movie after seeing Jeff Bridges win an Oscar for it.  I went into the theater not knowing much about it except that he was a musician and there was country music involved, which made me a bit concerned because I'm not really a fan of country. Surprisingly, the music didn't really distract me from the movie at all.  I even shocked myself by actually LIKING some of the songs. I enjoyed the bluesy piano playing of Wesley Barnes (the uncle of Maggie Gyllenhaal's character, played by Rick Dial).  Robert Duvall's freestyle singing of Live Forever made me think of a John Mayer song.  I could imagine those lyrics not being restricted by a style of music.  There was a Johnny Cash quality to Brand New Angel that Jeff Bridges sang in the bar after getting out of rehab.  I found this old school style of country music to be more blues and more meaningful than the current country crap today that irritates me to no end.  After watching Bad Blake (Bridges) go through the journey that was the movie, I found The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart) to be sad and beautiful.  I didn't want to leave the theater until the song was over.

I can see why Bridges won the Oscar; he was amazing in the role.  I also loved the landscapes in the film.  They reminded me of warm vintage photographs.  The sweeping shot of scenery at the end of the movie made me want to return to the Grand Canyon.  The cinematography was fantastic.  It really emphasized the grittier, darker times in his life with the dingy clothing and shadows leading into a sudden lightening and cleanliness after sobering up. 

I did get a bit grossed out by the relationship between Jean Craddock (Gyllenhaal) and Bad Blake because she was young enough to be his daughter!  But I can see why they were attracted to each other. I chuckled when I saw Colin Farrell as a country singer, but I guess he had a really good speech coach because if I hadn't known he had a heavy Irish accent then I would have been convinced he was an American country singer. 

Track List:
  1. Hold On You - Jeff Bridges
  2. Hello Trouble - Buck Owens
  3. My Baby's Gone - The Louvin Brothers
  4. Somebody Else - Jeff Bridges
  5. I Don't Know - Ryan Bingham
  6. Fallin' & Flyin' - Jeff Bridges
  7. I Don't Know - Jeff Bridges
  8. Once a Gambler - Lighnin' Hopkins
  9. Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way - Waylon Jennings
  10. Fallin' & Flyin' - Colin Farrell, Jeff Bridges
  11. Gone, Gone, Gone - Colin Farrell
  12. If I Needed You - Townes Van Zandt
  13. Reflecting Light - Sam Phillips
  14. Live Forever - Robert Duvall
  15. Brand New Angel - Jeff Bridges
  16. The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart) - Ryan Bingham

NY Times Review

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Mezz Bar, Downtown LA

is located in the Alexandria Hotel on the second floor (The Gorbals is on the ground floor of the hotel that has been turned into apartments).  They barely opened and seem to still be in their soft open phase. 

Half the place is a dance floor and the other half has a small stage, where live jazz is played, and some small tables and 2 pews.  I'm not sure what they plan on doing with the dance floor, but I think it would be fantastic if they used it for swing dancing while a big band plays. 

Since the bar is still being advertised by word of mouth, I got the feeling that the people in there were really hardcore jazz fans, which I really appreciated.  I loved the dark secret jazz club vibe of the place and the musicians were really talented that night.  Unfortunately, there isn't too much information about the bar yet, so I have no idea what the name of the band is.  I did, however, really enjoy the Louie Armstrong-ish voice of the singer and I thought the drummer was great. 

I adored the detailed ceiling plaster.  I mean, I could actually see individual grapes on vines and different types of fruit strung across the ceiling.  I couldn't stop staring at it.  I thought it a bit strange that the ceiling was so ornate and low until the bartender told us that it used to be the ceiling of the hotel lobby, which made complete sense to me.  I found it really added a historical element to the bar and made me forget that I was in the middle of dirty downtown LA. 

Now I'm not sure if it's because The Mezz Bar is still testing things, or that I had just come from The Edison, but the drink I had was kind of awful.  I hate to say anything bad about the drinks because the bartender was SO friendly and told us the history about the bar (how it went from bar to rave club to classy jazz bar).  Honestly, the variety of liquors was very limited and it seemed like they were sponsored by a certain brand of vodka because I saw several huge bottles of the same alcohol lining the bottom shelf.  I saw Chambord and figured they couldn't really go wrong with that, but I was mistaken.  It seemed like all the bartender did was add some tonic water to it.  Also, Matt didn't even finish his drink (I believe it was something basic like a Jack and Coke). 

I'm really hoping the cocktails improve once they get settled in because I will definitely be returning to catch the live jazz bands and take a break from the city. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Musical Tweets

Monday, March 1, 2010

Captain EO, "Remember...Dreams Come True" Fireworks Show @ Disneyland

Disclaimer: Okay, so I love Disneyland...a lot. I often went there when I was a kid, which eventually led to me getting a job there during college. It's one of the few places I wouldn't mind visiting alone. There's just something about the nostalgic rides and the unforgettable food that just improves my attitude for the rest of the day.

By the way, Disneyland now sells annual passes with monthly payment options ranging from $8.09 to $30.59. If you visit the park at least once a month, you already get more than your money's worth AND the passes get you discounts on food!

Anyways, I stray. So, I went to Disneyland yesterday on a free ticket, a week after I participating in the "Give a Day. Get a Disney Day" program.

Captain EO Tribute

was the main thing I wanted to see at the park because it had just reopened a few days earlier on Tuesday. As soon as we entered Disneyland, my sister and I pretty much ran straight to the attraction. I was super excited because I hadn't seen it since the 90s (it ran from 1986 - 1997), and it was always a favorite. I would watch the 3D movie at least once, if not more, every time I came to the park.

I really enjoyed all the behind-the-scenes video they showed right before the start of the movie. What other film will ever have George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and Michael Jackson working on the same set again?

I have to say the movie was even better than I remembered, thanks to the 70mm print, improved acoustics, and awesome 4D effects. This is a must-see for anyone who has ever been a fan of the original or of Michael Jackson. Hearing the music tracks (Michael Jackson's We are Here to Change the World and Another Part of Me as I leave the theater) brought back so many memories. Classic MJ songs, just classic.

I really wish they had sold the white rainbow shirt that Jackson was wearing in the movie because I would have bought that in a second.
(Closest thing I could find to the shirt without it being
the original vintage one sold in 1986)

It's pretty crazy to think about how my sister and I were part of the first generation of kids to see the movie and now a whole new generation will get to experience it. I really hope they keep the Captain EO Tribute for a very long time.

"Remember...Dreams Come True" Fireworks Display
Was I the only one who was kind of moved by this fireworks spectacular as it helped us board the Disneyland Railroad and took us on the same journey through the park that we took, not only earlier in the day, but throughout the times that we've visited the park? I was reduced to a childlike state of wonder as I listened to the recordings and music and watched the fireworks represent The Main Street Electrical Parade (the fireworks actually looked like one of the floats!), Enchanted Tiki Room, Indiana Jones (music epic as usual. Loved the balls of fire), Haunted Mansion (fireworks shot up all around us to create something similar to the stretching room), Pirates of the Caribbean (felt like I was caught between the battle of two ships), Matterhorn Bobsled announcement, Space Mountain, Star Tours, and more, while Tinkerbell flitted in and around the castle to signal the beginning and end of the fireworks show. It was just amazing, one of their best fireworks displays.

The Untold Story of Captain EO
Fireworks details