Me, out with the wife and kid.
Me, out with the wife and kid.

“This is your home security calling,”said the woman on the other end of the phone.  “We have a burglar alarm going off at your residence.  Would you like me to send the police?”

That was the call I received about an hour after touching down in L.A., putting a most decided crimp in our afternoon stroll.  I spent the next twenty minutes anxiously awaiting word.  Finally, Kerry, who is staying at the house, called to tell me she’d run a perimeter sweep (her days on S.W.A.T. sure came in handy) and it was all clear.  All three dogs present and accounted for.  Not sure what happened. Although Kerry surmised she may have screwed up in setting the alarm, I highly doubted it was her fault since there was fully an hour between the time she left the house and the moment the alarm went off.  The only other options are: a) Someone tried to break in and was scared off by the burglar alarm, b) The alarm system is faulty or c) The dogs were trying to escape.

Biding their time before the big jailbreak.
Biding their time before the big jailbreak.

Anyway, all in all not a great first day.  Akemi was faint with hunger when we finally checked into the hotel.  Apparently, her nine cherry breakfast feast would NOT tide her over until dinner.  “I’m so hungry, my stomach and back touching!”she informed me.  So we stopped off at Bouchon Bakery by the hotel where she lunched on a yogurt parfait, and I snacked on a peanut butter and jelly (excellent!) and pistachio (fine) macaron.

The new digs.
The new digs.
The new neighborhood.
The new neighborhood.

We were saving our appetites for Stop #1 of our L.A. food tour: Stefan’s at L.A. Farm.  This one was Akemi’s call and she was particularly looking forward to it, having watched and enjoyed owner/chef Stefan Richter on both of his Top Chef appearances.  Our experience was…well…mixed.  First off, I have to say that the service was fantastic.  Our waiter was professional, courteous, knowledgeable about the menu, and went above and beyond to keep things positive after I discovered a piece of metal in our hummus.  It was our second plate of the meal and, unfortunately, killed my appetite (and, almost, one of my teeth.  I made two trips to the bathroom to make sure I hadn’t chipped it).  The mini corn dogs appetizers were fun but I was disappointed with the pork cheek component of the pork cheek and confit duck risotto (a diced charcuterie version over the straight braise I was expecting).  Akemi was also let down by the dessert apple-cinammon beignets that were really more apple fritters than beignets.  Terrific service aside, we both left disappointed, wishing we’d chosen Michael Voltaggio’s Ink or the consistently good Scarpetta instead.

We caught a taxi back to the hotel.  Our driver was an – surprise (!) – actor working toward his big break.  Very nice, positive guy.  We spent most of the ride talking about “the business”.  Sigh.  You know, there are times I really regret listening to my parents and giving up on that professional hit man correspondence course.

We capped off the evening with a second visit to Bouchon, this time for coffee and a chocolate and salted caramel tart:

1Big day tomorrow: Spago!  The Third Street Promenade!  Akemi visits a Japanese nail spa!  And, of course, Martin Gero’s birthday bash!  I plan to get REALLY drunk and eat all his house plants.  Can’t wait!

24 thoughts on “July 5, 2013: A rough start to our L.A. foray!

  1. Why the two forks on the chocolate and salted caramel tart? You’re not sharing it, are you? Oh, I get it. One fork to eat it, and the other fork to stab anybody tryng to steal it.

  2. Does Martin have a spare bedroom for you to crash in so you and Akemi are not wandering the streets of L.A as two drunks? I mean, think of the stories on E-online and TMZ. 🙂

  3. Sorry about the bad start to your trip. Glad the dogs are okay and Kerry too. Have a great time at Martin’s party, Spago, the promenade and the nail spa.

  4. I have well over three decades of eating food under my belt and metal in served food hasn’t happened to me. That’s messed up.

  5. I wonder if that piece of metal was someone’s filling…ya know…from when they scraped the leftover hummus from a previous diner’s plate onto yours just so nothing went to waste…

    And if you’re anything like my BOO! kitty, you don’t need to get drunk in order to eat eat all the houseplants. 😛

    Have a great time, you two! 🙂


  6. Ponytail: 😆

    That’s it, shake off the bad start and have a blast! Pictures from the party please?

  7. Metal in your hummus? Ick. Best I ever got was a piece of rubber spatula in a burger. And a shard of glass in a jar of black currant preserves; I didn’t bite into it, the whole jar went into the trash.

    I have an alarm system. I don’t use it as often as I should, because I set it off all the time on accident. My friends are considering a system down in SLC, their home was broken into on the 4th. They lost a laptop, some books of checks, and a couple change jars. Who steals coins? They have two very large Rotties, and are taking them to the vet today, poor guys stiff and sore. Looks like they may have defended their home. Hope they bit the jerk who broke in!

    That salted caramel tart looks like it could solve everything wrong with the universe.

  8. Poor Joe and Akemi. Well, you’ve compressed all of the bad vacation things into one day and gotten them out of the way, so now the rest of the vacation will be great! Have fun at Martin’s party – can’t wait to hear the details.

    @das: i saw The Lone Ranger yesterday and enjoyed it very much. I think you will, too. Johnny Depp is excellent as Tonto. I wonder how many episodes of the old series he watched to get Tonto’s voice just right. Silver is outstanding. And the guy who plays the Lone Ranger is okay. If you watched the Luther BBC TV series, you’ll recognize the “love interest”.

  9. Joe, if you plan to get REALLY drunk, you better hand over the phone to Akemi for pictures and put her in charge of the next blog entry. I can see it now, “Here’s Joe with the toilet eating his head. Lost his pants wrestling a plant.”

  10. How did you pause long enough to take this dessert picture or any for that matter, before you have to dig in, thanks for sharing. I typed a comment and it went into a black hole so if you get this 2 times,sorry..
    ~Akemi have fun shopping and the nails sound wonderful.!
    >and Joe some plants are edible, but maybe these,,,might not be, but what the heck, have fun and give Marty a big old sloppy bd hug from us!!

  11. I’ve worked as a cook in restaurants and hospitals for 35 years. I found more stuff in food later in my career as the food ingredients started coming from China and India. Broken glass, metal bits, lots of rocks. At the hospital we had to throw out 500 gallons of navy bean soup because we found navy bean sized rocks in it. And not just a couple. We made huge quantities, then froze it in 2 gallon tubes in a blast freezer for distribution to other hospitals. It was very good food for a hospital system but if you lived in the care homes you likely got tired of it.

    There has been a lot more processing plants either moved offshore of Canada and the US or started offshore, especially if they required a lot of workers.

    Under Canada labeling laws, if the packaging cost more then the ingredients they can state it is a product of Canada. This is rarely the case for institutional and commercial ingredients though since they tend to buy in large quantities, so the country of origin is usually written as the actual country of origin.

  12. What a bummer. I have a client whose alarm will go off if I have it on “away” with the dogs in an enclosure where they would not set the alarm off, and she has something simple like the air conditioning coming on and it moving something that should be stationary (like a plastic bag), or something like that. So it could be something simple like that versus someone breaking in.

    The hotel looks beautiful. I hope the room is more satisfactory than the last one was. Sounds like you both have a full day ahead.

    METAL in FOOD? Unacceptable. They better have comped your meal. I would have gone to Ink. When I was out at the American Idol finale that year, we had both dinner and breakfast at Gordon Ramsay’s place and I was totally disappointed in my dinner. I remember being unimpressed with breakfast. My two companions liked their dinners, but how can you screw up chicken? Sometimes a name attached to a restaurant means diddly squat.

  13. Just to take the edge off of our envy of Joe and Akemi’s fabulous meals, we are doing plum and ginger glazed duck breast on the grill with couscous, steamed green beans and a romaine salad with blue cheese crumbles and a a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Leftover berry cobbler for dessert.

    All of this eating will be preceded by a trip to the gym.

  14. I think I just gained five pounds looking at that tart. YUM!

    @Sparrow_hawk: Oh my gosh, that sounds FABULOUS! Save some for the rest of us! 😉

    ~ LJ

  15. a piece of metal in my food would kill my appetite too.
    like PBMom said; sometimes a “name” on a restaurant means nothing. i heard that a big name chef or celebrity is often only one of several owners (i heard 20 for one place) and has little or nothing to do with the operation of the restaurant.

  16. @Brent
    @Joe, if you plan to get REALLY drunk

    He could let Cookie Monster transcribe his thoughts on that day. 😉

  17. G’day

    Please…Please…Please post when you are super drunk, could use the laugh at the moment.

    Metal in food is not good, hope you did not get charged for the meal.
    I once found a plastic thingy in a cheesecake from The Cheesecake Shop.

  18. so glad you 2 finally got dog siter, and a nice one too!! or perhps Jelly does not share my enthousiasm, since i am sure she tried to join you in LA 🙂 hUGS and have a super time! so enjoyed Akemi’s butter bisque 🙂 xoxo

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