Fabulous Girl's Boudoir

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Screw California II

Or the wait-staff, at a minimum.

Let's be clear that the vast majority of those involved were more than pleasant and helpful. The hotel staff put up with us politely (although the expression on the face of the bar supervisor on the night we went out for unlimited margaritas in Santa Monica, followed by karaoke night back at the hotel made me want to slide up next to her and inquire, quietly, whether she'd like her face to freeze like that), and in a few instances (when my non-smoking hotel room was clearly in violation of the rules, for example) were stellar.

The night we went to Elevate for drinks before eating at Takami Sushi, I handed the bartender $15 for a $12 cocktail and he made no attempt to provide change. Ahem. I was definitely planning to tip, but I like to choose the amount, thank you very much. The good news is that the dinner that night was excellent (various sashimi and sushi dishes), and the restaurant staff dealt well with the mostly tipsy party of 16 (it was only a semi-voluntary party of 16, let's be clear).

But I digress - this was supposed to be the post about Osteria Mozza.

Josh Lyman and I took a (relatively) long cab ride from downtown to the restaurant. (Oh, and I wore my new Ted Baker top with brown tights & boots.) We were early, so waited at the bar with a cocktail and tried not to be over-engaged in conversation with the gentleman at the bar who was clearly interested in keeping us around. We were seated at the end of a banquette row - amazing how much more room there is in non-NYC restaurants, I wasn't even close to sitting on the annoying women next to us. The waiter, Roman in appearance and hoity-toity in attidude, reviewed the menu with us thoroughly, and we chose the following: Grilled Octopus with potatoes, celery & lemon, Burricotti with braised artichokes, pine nuts, currants & mint pesto, Linguine with clams, pancetta & spicy Fresno chiles, and Guinea Hen Crostone with liver pancetta sauce.

The sommelier, who could have been 12 and was clearly wearing a well tailored Ted Baker suit, ignored Josh's Pietmontese heritage and recommended ... something else (am really going to have to start making tableside notes on the wines), white at any rate, that was fantastic. There was a duck dish on the menu that was served with a side of brussels sprouts (my other regular must have is octopus, as you may have noticed), and Josh asked if we could have the sprouts sans duck. The Roman checked with the kitchen and they agreed to side them for us.

This is where things got ugly.

The brussels sprouts were well cooked, al dente, if you will, but over-vinegared. I tried them several times, but really couldn't eat them. Let's be clear that the rest of the food was delicious. I'd had a recent vinegar-y experience at Smith's (so backlogged I've been there again in the intervening weeks, but soon to be blogged) that suggested serious restauranteurs and their staff sometimes appreciate honest feedback. So when the Roman asked how the food was, I told him that I thought the sprouts were overly piquant. He looked a little surprised (perhaps people in LA fake it with their food?), and said he'd go and check with the kitchen. He came back shortly and proceeded to inform us that the fault was ours.

You heard me. If we'd ordered them as paired by the restaurant, instead of as a side, he said, the sweetness of the duck would have ... counter balanced or mitigated or somehow overcome the vinegar, and everything would have been just fine. Followed with a slight sneer. I was appalled, as was Josh. Given that he'd ostensibly checked with the kitchen in the first place, this is surely a point that could have been made in advance. And he left them on the bill, after we'd complained and clearly not finished eating them. So we skipped dessert and docked his tip. Not a lot, but enough to be noticeable.

And then proceeded to meet a friend of Josh's at a bar called Lola's to wash the taste from our mouths with dirty martinis. Mmmmm.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shuesday: Setting the bar

The thing about being known for your fabulous shoes, is that, well, you're known for your fabulous shoes. And then you have to have more and more of them.

I'm just saying.

What do we think of these boots? Gray is increasingly a wardrobe staple, and I could use another pair of boots (who couldn't?). Plus they'll rock my new Ted Baker top ... (apologies, can't find a link. You'll have to visit!)


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Screw California

Fresh from the beaches of Hawaii, I had three days back in my apartment - of which I am increasingly fond, perhaps because I am so seldom there - before getting back on a plane and heading west to sunny Los Angeles.

Did I say sunny? How about storm of the century?

So far it doesn't seem that bad. Lots of rain last night, and more coming this afternoon, but I don't actually have to leave the hotel if I don't want to (which cuts both ways), except for coffee, and people are good about doing coffee runs en masse.

But I've jumped ahead of myself, because there's a dinner at Mario Batali's Osteria Mozza to review.

Rogue Wave


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Oh the Places You'll Go: Oahu II

The rest of the trip was primarily spent on North Shore beaches - Waimea, Malaekahana and Pupukea. They were practically deserted, extraordinarily beautiful, and exactly what the doctor ordered. Yes that's a real photo to the left. Totally worth the drive from Waikiki.

When traveling, the FG thinks it's important to sample local food (pu pu platters excluded), preferably with a good story behind them. One such item is the malasada, and damn they're good. "Malasadas are made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar. Traditional malasadas contain neither holes nor fillings, but some varieties of malasadas are filled with flavored cream or other fillings." The FG doesn't believe in tampering with an original, and stuck with Leonard's Bakery malasadas, cinnamon sugar coated. Also visited Hale'iwa Eats and had delish Thai food.

The Vintner recommended a visit to Alan Wong's, and it was worth it. The customer service was excellent - we were 20 minutes late and were happy to have a cocktail and wait at the bar a few moments for our table, but the entire staff apologized repeatedly for making /us/ wait - and continued through the evening. Choosing the five course tasting menu with wine pairings was a no-brainer. I didn't get the wine details, apologies:

Crispy Won Ton Ahi Poke Balls on Avocado with Wasabi Sauce

Lobster Bisque (two tone, served in a martini glass in a yin-yang symbol), with a foie gras and pork mini grilled sandwich balanced atop a parmesan crisp, balanced atop the martini glass

Shrimp, Honda Tofu Cake, Jalapeño Tokyo Negi Sauce

Organically Grown Hamakua Mushrooms and Corn, Miso Sesame Vinaigrette

Gingered Shrimp, Ko Choo Jang Sauce

Chocolate “Crunch Bars” and Coconut Tapioca

The wine pairings were excellent. I loved the soup appetizer, but the poki-pine was warm, as the poke was deep fried in the wonton, and it was a little like the tuna burgers I remember from summer camp days. Let's be clear that I like tuna burgers, but I also really like poke, and this wasn't that good. The lobster was delicious, and beautifully poached, but the tofu cake was too salty. The Onaga was good, and the shortrib was beautifully cooked, but had a strip mall teriyaki dose of sauce that took away from the amazingly tender texture and smokiness of the meat. The desserts were fine and the muscat that came with them outstanding.

As you might imagine, the trip home was a little less exciting, and landing at ORD with a two hour layover didn't help, but I survived. And yes, I tossed my leis into the sea before I left, so I'm bound to return.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Shuesday: Not in this lifetime

Adding patent leather to a Birkinstock ... doesn't change the fact that it's a Birkinstock. Shame on you, Daily Candy.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Requisite celebrity sightings 4

Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson*, in December, at Momofuku Ssam Bar.

Ali Larter, also in December, at Smith's.

And yes, I know I owe you blog posts about the food at these places. Clearly I'm running behind. You know you love me.

* Yes, I know they're not together any more. What can I tell you?


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Shuesday: Sometimes

all I need is the air that I breathe.

And yes, the water on the North Shore is that colour.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Oh the Places You'll Go: Oahu

The thing about spending 10 hours on an airplane, both in terms of anticipation and in actual experience, is that it's tremendously less stressful than a shorter trip. Once you're on board, there is literally nothing you can do about it for the forseeable future, and even the most high-strung people tend to let go a little. A 777 has more headroom than my apartment (OK, a slight exaggeration), but there's ample time and space to get up and move about the cabin, there are plenty of restrooms, the flight attendants preface every announcement with "Aloha and mahalo" (I realize it sounds annoying, but it's actually soothing with time), and everyone is generally in a good mood. How could it be otherwise? You're going to Hawai'i, for crying out loud.

Plus, there were rumours that a snowstorm would hit The City the following day.

So you watch the movies, have your first "The Office" experience, sleep, drink water, walk around, read, sleep more, chat a little (I know! Even the FG wasn't quite herself on this trip.), and the time passes. You watch endless, endless, endless ocean waves until the islands finally come into view, and then it's freaking Fantasy Island, complete with leis, flowered shirts, and overwhelming friendliness. Not to mention Mai Tais and Blue Hawaiians poolside. I keep expecting to see Tom Selleck come around the corner.

But seriously. Am staying in Waikiki, which translates as tourist hell, for the most part, and trips up island are going to have to wait until the work is done. I did make it to Jimbo's for fresh made udon one night, and am resolved to remain pu pu platter-free. There's nothing like sipping gin & tonics on your balcony, watching the sun go down. There are plans afoot for at least one visit to the North Shore (where the beaches should be quieter and the waves much bigger), and a drive down the windward side to see the mountains. And, I have a reservation at Alan Wong's on Saturday night ...

And it's much cooler and cloudier than it's supposed to be at this time of year, btw. I'm not making that up.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Close Guantánamo


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Thursday, January 10, 2008

First, they came for the shoes

I've mentioned in the past year or so the seemingly ridiculous limits upscale department stores place on the number of pairs of identical shoes one customer can buy, but clearly (and unusually) I didn't over think it, because now it's happening to designer handbags, and the smarty pants people in Thursday Styles have figured it out. Note: as you'll gather from the first sentence, the author is a man, bless his heart.
For products that are truly in demand, like Wii game consoles, tickets to the Super Bowl or cans of corn Niblets on double-coupon day, it may seem reasonable to limit the number a customer can buy at one time.

But readers of the fine print on the Web sites of luxury retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman may be surprised to discover that such a policy also now applies to designer handbags.

“Due to popular demand,” potential shoppers are warned, “a customer may order no more than three units of these items every 30 days.”

On its face, the policy sounds odd; that is because it really doesn’t have anything to do with popular demand. Rather, it is the fear that foreign buyers, taking advantage of the severely weakened United States dollar, will hoard the bags, then resell them in Europe or Asia, where the same items in Prada and Gucci stores typically cost 20 to 40 percent more.

Foreign tourists who are treating American department stores as if they were a nationwide outlet sale have largely been viewed as beneficial to retailers, and by some estimates those shoppers were the only bright spot in what was otherwise a feeble holiday sales season. But that spending power has not been so welcome to luxury companies like Gucci and Prada, which have spent the last decade trying to reach those customers in their home countries by opening expensive new shops throughout Europe and Asia.

Clearly I'm not spending enough (read: any) time bargain-hunting. Oh, to be paid to think and write about such things all day ...

BS, any thoughts?


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Shuesday: Light as a

I passed on the turquoise jewelry trend a few years ago, and generally think feathered shoes should be lighter in overall appearance than these, but I love them. With a simple black dress - no reason to distract from the shoes themselves. Thank you Manolo.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Quote of the week

I'm not planning to make this a regular feature, but this was too good to miss.

Do you think of yourself as attractive to the opposite sex?

Are you kidding? To the opposite sex, the same sex and sexes that haven't even been invented yet.

Love that WendyB!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Shuesday: Snakes and ladders

I know this is delayed, but the holidays, NY Eve ... you understand, don't you my darlings? Besides, I was searching high and low for this shoe - Valentino Couture - to no avail. At least there's a photo, although I don't think this one does the shoe justice ...