Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Graceful Reunion

Grace is like your best guy friend -- reliable, warm, comfortable, and masculine.
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But, like your best guy friend, there's a certain sexiness that's missing. You love Grace to pieces. You love Grace with all your heart. But you don't burn for Grace. Know what I mean?

The key, though, is you do love Grace. It is worthy of your love, and it loves you back. Grace's dineLA sets ($44 for starter, entree, dessert) are some of the best offered this year. I thought it was the perfect place for my friends to reunite.

My blogging friend Insomniac recognized my work friend Bax on my blog awhile ago. They not only went to the same high school, but they sang together in their vaunted school choir. The two hadn't seen each other for years, so what better time to reunite than dineLA Restaurant Week?

We each started with a curator ($15).
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Bax started with the shrimp cavatelli ($5 addition). Great texture and flavor.
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Insomniac started with the dungeness crab salad with English peas and Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Cool, fresh, and delectable.
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I started with the roasted chestnut and squash soup with pistachios and duck confit. A creamy rich mix of so many things I love! Highly recommend.
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Bax had scallops for her entree ($5 addition). A seared party in your mouth.
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Insomniac and I both chose the braised beef short ribs with red wine risotto, cavolo nero, and red wine sauce. The risotto was good, but the real stars were the meat and vegetable. The short ribs were tender and savory, and the cavolo nero paired very well.
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For dessert, Insomniac opted for the orange-filled doughnuts with chocolate gelato ($5 addition). The doughnuts were sugary, warm, and infused with a pleasant citrus surprise.
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Bax and I enjoyed our sticky toffee pudding with hazelnut gelato and bruleed bananas. "Enjoyed" might not be a strong enough word for me. I cherished every single buttery fantastic bite.
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I had a lovely time laughing with these two.
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dineLA officially ends February 6, but Grace is offering its dineLA menu for an additional four days from February 8-12. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this extended deal.

A Tale of Two Teams

This town's not big enough for two basketball teams, but we have two anyway. I went to the Clippers-Blazers game and the Lakers-Bobcats game this week. Let's compare.

Clippers: Cheesy montage video encouraging Clippers to "play loud," whatever that means. Not worth capturing.

Lakers: Cheesy montage video projected onto a cylindrical screen.
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Winner: Lakers. Their montage actually had triumphant moments.


Clippers: Free food in the CIA's suite.
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Lakers: Jodi Maroni sausage.
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Winner: Clippers. It was free and unlimited, and there was dessert.


Clippers: A female ref!
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Lakers: The usual men. Not worth capturing.

Winner: Clippers. Girl power!

Clippers: Two words -- Clipper strippers. Not worth capturing.

Lakers: I love Laker Girls! So in-sync, so talented, so awesome!
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Winner: Lakers. Duh.

Clippers: Faux Bollywood!
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Lakers: Lame audience contests. Not worth capturing.
Winner: Clippers.

Clippers: Christopher Reid. Who is that? Imagine him with a really tall flat top. It's Kid from Kid 'n' Play!
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Lakers: Jack Nicholson. Too far to capture.

Winner: Lakers. Sorry, Kid. Jack trumps all, even when unphotographed.

Clippers: Not much to say here. Poor poor Clippers.
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Lakers: Amaaaaazing. So exciting! Double overtime! Kobe fouled out!
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Winner: Lakers. They may have lost this game, but, man, was it awesome.

Clippers: My co-workers! Lots of fun chillin' in the suite.
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Lakers: Amber! We were sad that the Lakers lost.
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Winner: Tie!

Lakers! Lakers! There's a reason why everybody in this city loves the Lakers. Unlike people at Clipper games, Laker fans actually jump up and cheer!
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Great for morale and spirit. Not so great for pictures.

Special thanks to Amber for letting me be her substitute husband for the night!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Lots of work.
Lots of play.
Lots of pictures not yet uploaded.
Not a lot of sleep.

Stars! They're Just Like Us!

I got 898 hits yesterday, and I thought, "Huh? People are that interested in BLT Steak?"


Apparently, my quick shot of Jared Padalecki as we left the restaurant has caused quite the furor on Television Without Pity and Supernatural message boards and fan blogs. Namely, there is a debate as to the identity of the woman in the photo. Is she or is she not Genevieve Cortese, his co-star? There is also speculation about who the guy in the white shirt is in front. Some proffer it is Jensen Ackles.

Um, no. If it were Jensen Ackles, I would've identified him as Jensen Ackles, and there would've been swooning. I love me some Dean Winchester. I even loved him way back on Smallville.

Who knew there were so many Supernatural viewers? Mr. Monkey and I are the only people I know who watch the show. Maybe we're the only two old people.

To my usual readers, I'm sure this post makes zero sense, but (1) it's almost 1 a.m., (2) I'm too tired to blog for real right now, and (3) I need to go to bed because I have an early conference call.

Faux Paparazzi Monkey

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stupid Name, Great Restaurant


BLT Steak has nothing to do with bacon, lettuce, or tomato.
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But the steak part is for real.

And, yes, I know what "BLT" means here. See picture above.

The ambiance is "typical modern steakhouse." Tastefully dim, warm, and chic.
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Bread and chicken pâté appear on your table almost immediately.
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If you think free pâté is impressive, wait until you see the popovers.
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Oh, popover! Big as my head! Laced with Gruyère! Warm! Crusty! Yum!
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Perfect with butter!
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And we didn't even start our actual meal yet!

Mr. Monkey, Brother Monkey, and I all had the dineLA set ($44 for starter, entree, and dessert), which was a steal at BLT Steak. Normally, our dinners would've cost about $60 each.

Wild mushroom risotto and mushroom cappuccino. Perfect texture. Good flavor. That's saying a lot, as I'm not a mushroom fan. BroMo said he was pretty full just after this starter. Huge portion!
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Chestnut, apple, and celery soup with sage croutons. Smooth and rich. A lovely mix of savory and sweet. Loved this. Mr. Monkey let me eat most of it. Yay!
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BLT wedge salad with crisped bacon and bleu cheese dressing. Obviously the least impressive of the three starters, but still damn good for a simple salad.
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Grilled hanger steak with shallot marmalade and pommes lyonaise. Both Mr. Monkey and BroMo got this with peppercorn and red wine sauce, respectively.
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Thickest hanger steaks ever! Charred on the outside, juicy on the inside, delicious on the everywhere-side. The accompanying roasted garlic was fabulous. You could spread it like butter.

Pan-seared skate wing with crunchy fava bean tabbouleh. An elegant marine surprise at a steakhouse! Lightly crunchy on the surface, moist, and flaky. Fish done right. I must admit, however, that the tabbouleh did nothing for me. Bleh.
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Warm chocolate pudding cake with amaretto whipped cream. I had one bite. Rich, rich, rich. BroMo couldn't finish it. That's how rich. Chocoholic dream.
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Doughnuts with coconut cream and caramelized pineapple. Warm, airy, and not too sweet. Very good.
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Lemon panna cotta with grapefruit and pomegranate. My surprise favorite! I thought I'd be on Team Doughnuts for sure, but the panna cotta stole my heart. Light and tart, this was my ideal ending to the meal. Very very happy.
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A cute little petit four for each of us.
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As I was taking photos of the outside of the restaurant after our meal, we ran right into Jared Padalecki (Sam on Supernatural, Dean on Gilmore Girls). I snapped this quickly as we left.
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Good meal? You bet. Good service? Absolutely. Our server Mark was super. Excellent choice for dineLA. Get thee to BLT Steak!

A special bonus for my friends who like to bake -- the BLT Steak Popover Recipe:

Serves six (approximately twelve popovers)
4 c. milk, warmed
8 eggs
4 c. flour
1 ½ heaping tbsp. salt
2 ¼ c. grated Gruyère
1. Place the popover pan in the oven. Heat the oven and pan to 350º.
2. Gently warm the milk over low heat and set aside.
3. Whisk the eggs until frothy and slowly whisk in the milk (so as not to cook the eggs). Set the mixture aside.
4. Sift the flour with the salt. Slowly add this dry mixture to the egg mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth.
5. Remove the popover pan from the oven and spray with nonstick vegetable spray.
6. While the batter is still slightly warm, fill each popover cup three-fourths full.
7. Top each popover with approximately 2 ½ tbsps. of the grated cheese.
8. Bake at 350º for 50 minutes, rotating pan half a turn after fifteen minutes, until the popovers are golden brown.
9. Take out of oven, remove from pan, and serve immediately.
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