As strange as it sounds, I really miss having the dogs around at night, especially their snoring, snarfling, and hacking that has, in time, become comforting background noise that lulls me to sleep.  Still, I managed to get in a good night’s rest in preparation for the big day.

By the time we woke up, it was too late for breakfast (given our noon lunch reservations) so we headed up to the 9th floor hotel restaurant and enjoyed drank tried a couple of breakfast “juice” blends. Akemi got a swamp green concoction that contained kale, green apple, cucumber, spinach and possibly moss, grass, and Fern, Shamrock, and Electric Lime color variations of Crayola Crayons.

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Bottoms up!

It tasted pretty much how you’d expect something that looked like that would taste. My drink, the carrot-ginger-(something that tasted like old flip-flops left out in the sun), was actually worse.

We strolled around a bit, picked up a couple of bottles for tonight’s birthday festivities, then walked the single block down from our hotel to our lunch destination: Spago.  I know, I know.  The restaurant and its owner, Wolfgang Puck, have become L.A. cliches of sorts – but I must admit that, of all the places we had booked for our four day stay, this was the one I was most looking forward to.  I have never had a bad meal at Spago.  I have never had an okay meal at Spago.  I have never had any less than a great meal every time I’ve gone to Spago.  And – let me save you the suspense – this time was no different.

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Ah, MUCH better.  Should’ve started the morning with this instead.

We took a seat at the bar while we were waiting for our table and, while scanning the top row, I happened to catch sight of a bottle of 18 year Yamazaki Japanese single malt whisky.  Wow.  Ungettable back home, so I ordered a glass.  Pricey liquid perfection!

We sat down to a spectacular lunch.  A little of this.  A little of that.  And, the piece de resistance, the ever-awesome Wiener Schnitzel: the breading crisp and thin, the meat melt-in-your-mouth tender…

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The spicy tuna tartar cone.
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Squash blossoms stuffed with goat cheese.
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Sweet corn stuffed agnolotti with black truffle.
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Sweet corn soup and mushrooms.
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The Wiener Schnitzel.
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The chocolate and hazelnut bar with banana sorbet.

While Akemi was off having her nails done this afternoon, I was at the hotel having a massage.  I am now relaxed and ready for action.

A full rundown of the birthday festivities in tomorrow’s entry complete with pics of the mayhem!

20 thoughts on “July 6, 2013: L.A. Day #2! Now THAT’S more like it!

  1. Now you are on track…well, without the “blends” that did not look that appetizing anyway.

    Lunch – looks fab…and of course, your dinner will be to brag about.
    yes? Can’t wait for your report…
    Happy Birthday to Golden Boy!!!
    Please also tell us you decision on gift, enquiring (nosey) minds want to know.

  2. For the juice drinks – eeeewwwww! I tried a really healthy kale concoction at a raw food place once. But the whiskey and lunch look amazing!

    Have a great time tonight. And I’ll second Sylvia’s question – what did you get for Martin?

  3. Yay for a better day today. Looking forward to party pictures and hijinks. Have a great time at Martin’s birthday bash.

  4. Did they massage your lung for you? Dessert I would definitely try. Maybe the corn soup. Let me scroll up again….hmmmm…yep….that’s it.

  5. 1. Remember BAIL $$.
    2. Charge phone. Keep GPS on.
    3. Write YOUR name & Emergency contact number with a Sharpie on a clothes covered body part. — Amnesia. Ya never know! just saying…
    4. Don’t let Marty get BEHIND you…
    5. Update WILL.

    PARTY HARD, DUDE!!
    😀

  6. Ah, the massage, and dessert, all sounds wonderful! Ready for some live action!, Hope the party was everything you and Akemi and of course Marty expected. The malt whiskey looks great, and I am still working on my squash blossoms, so good to see a terrific finished product. Thanks for sharing. (p.s. i am saying all this entry softly in case anyone there has a bit of a morning affliction of the morning after, oh you know what i mean,,,)

  7. Wow! The food sounds great. Those breakfast drinks sound healthy. Did you manage to chug it down?

    I know what you mean about missing the dogs. I could move my legs last night. (At my mom’s house) I miss my kitties.

    Keep having fun.

  8. I was hoping for a drunken post. Maybe something titled “Splergh Blan! Dgo Pics!”, with entry text, “IOU Dog pIcs. Can’tfind teh dog pcs.”

  9. Spago has at least one dessert cookbook, it’s my favourite dessert cookbook.

    Spago Desserts by Mary Bergin and Judy Gethers.
    http://www.amazon.com/Spago-Desserts-Mary-Bergin/dp/067942248X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373206513&sr=8-1&keywords=spago+desserts

    My favourite recipes are Vanilla Icecream and Spago’s Old Fashioned Apple Pie. I started buying vanilla beans in bulk for these two recipes.

    When I’m feeling lazy but want apple pie I make apple crisp, cooking the thin sliced apples by sauteing in a pan with butter at fairly high heat until caramelized, then the recipe calls for, adding whipped cream, reducing then adding a touch of brandy, vanilla bean scrapings, cinnamon and brown sugar. I dump it in a casserole dish and top with Spago’s streusel. The streusel is pre baked until just lightly browned. It must not be over cooked, I substitute ground hazelnuts or pecans for almonds.

    The streusel is pretty standard, flour, white and brown sugar, cinnamon, butter (unsalted, I use salted because of the price difference) and oats. He grinds the almonds coarse, I prefer nuts ground fine, so I add them to a food processor and chop them first, add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, pulse a few times, add the butter, process to a pea stage and put on a parchment paper covered pan and bake at 325f for 10 minutes, in a convection oven, stirring frequently.

    It goes on top of the apples in the casserole dish. The apples should still be hot so I usually keep the dish on the stove warmer and cover when sauteing the apples. I bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes, covering when the streusel is brown. If it gets too brown I cover with foil.

    It gets served with the vanilla icecream. The icecream uses 2 cups whole milk, 2 cups whipping cream, 2 vanilla beans (cut and scrape pods, add scraping and pods) and 1/2 cup of sugar. I use 1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon, otherwise it’s just a little too sweet. I prefer less egg yolks, so I use half, or 4 egg yolks. I use extra large eggs, the egg size is not specified. Most restaurants use regular eggs, but I don’t know what Spago uses.

    Since I made homemade vanilla I use 1 vanilla bean and 1 tsp of homemade vanilla extract. The homemade extract is double strength made with real vanilla pods, Basicaly I take a wine bottle, very clean, stuff with sliced vanilla pods but not up to the neck. You want room for shaking. cover pods with good quality vodka or everclear. I used 60% everclear. Cork. Shake. Keep in a cool dark place for four months. Shake whenever you can. After four months, shake and pour into another bottle, leaving the pods. Label and use. I then add more everclear, and do it again. If it’s not strong enough on the second go around, I shake then remove the liquid into a second bottle with fresh pods. Not quite as many.

    It’s the best vanilla I’ve ever used. Nothing has come close that can be purchased in a store in my area.

    The icecream is basically a custard sauce. let the sugar sit at the bottom of the pan, it helps keep it from burning. Use max heat on electric if you can stir constantly, otherwise medium. Add everything but the egg yolks. stir constantly. Once it begins to thicken turn down to medium low. Stir until thickened, turn heat to medium low setting. Add 1/3 cup of sauce to egg yolks. Stir well. Add yolk mixture slowly to custard mix. Cook until just bubbling. Taste to make sure the eggs yolks are cooked, but don’t overcook or the yolks could become grainy or lumpy, ruining the texture. The more egg yolks the easier it is to ‘burn’. When separating the egg yolks make sure you remove the white stringy bits so you don’t ruin the texture, but it’s not huge deal.

    Cool fully in an ice bath or better, cool in the ice bath (bain-marie) let sit overnight in fridge. Take out and take out the vanilla beans. Scrape again putting scrapings into custard. Then add to icecream maker and follow directions. Best served just a few hours after being made so it doesn’t get too hard. I keep a 2L heavy glass casserole dish with Rubbermade cover in freezer to put icecream in. I never keep in the maker, it’s too easy to ruin the sides. Keeping it in the freezer helps hasten the freezing process.

    I keep large quantities of ice and icepacks in my freezer (I have two plus my side by side fridge freezer) for cold bain-maries. You shouldn’t put anything in your fridge if it’s medium to large and warm. Nothing hot.

    I also keep waffle cones around for serving the icecream in. I’ve been thinking about buying a wafflecone iron, but I’m already overweight. If I got one of these, I might not be able to get in my car.

  10. ARG!

    I forgot to say I add 1 TBS of cornstarch to the sugar for the vanilla icecream. Mix the sugar and cornstarch together well, this will prevent lumps of cornstarch. Without the cornstarch the milk mixture won’t thicken until you add the egg yolks.

    I find this gives a smoother texture then egg yolks alone and it survives the freezing process well. It tends to break down when melting so when you eat it the icecream has a more pleasing texture, IMHO. I use special freezer starch that is meant for freezing, but isn’t available in small amounts, so just use regular starch

  11. Mmmm, schnitzel. Best I ever had was in a hole in the wall place in Shiraz. With a side or real Persian lemonade, which was actually more like limes, but not.

  12. Everything looks delicious! One of my pet peeves at restaurants is the stupid little lemon pieces/slices they give you, especially with seafood or something like Weiner Schintzel. Seriously, charge me for the freakin’ lemon!

  13. Veggie Drinks. It reminds me when I was trying to be healthy and bought one of those protein powder mixes. This purchase was of vegetable protein and had a color of what was like the green concoction above. It was the WORST thing I ever tasted. Dumped the glass and brought the container back the next day. ANYTHING to be good for you should not taste like that. I will stick with my V8 and organic Vodka.

  14. Maybe, with the knowledge that Joe will be three sheets to the wind tonight, I should send him an email and ask for something, (waggles eyebrows).

  15. Oh, my. That lunch looks heavenly. Wish you could ship us some of the banana sorbet! Glad day #2 was better! You’re right, Joe. If you have dogs or other fur babies, a room seems empty without them in it! (I miss my furry girl.)

    Mike from Canada — Thank you for the recipes for apple crisp and vanilla bean ice cream! That was a lot of work. When you mentioned using vodka or everclear for making vanilla extract, I had to laugh. Brings back fond memories of my Wisconsin grandma, who had a French-Canadian accent. She was pretty staid and conservative, but boy, only the best vodka would do for her Cherry Bounce! (Cherry vodka.) We loved it too, but she rationed it when we were around. I remember begging for just the cherries when I was 17. Heh! I was out like a light (asleep) in no time! 🙂

    If I’m not mistaken, a special greeting is in order today for someone who lives in NJ. 😀

    H a P p Y B i R t H d A y,

    DeIrDrE / DaS!!!

    ~Lise

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