terça-feira, 12 de novembro de 2013

The Coen Brothers

Two years ago while visiting my friend Guy Eddon in Brooklyn, New York, I decided to go to Manhattan for a walk. I went to the Hoyt - Schermerhorn Station (love this name) to catch a subway train and when I was about to slide my card to pass the iron gate into the station I spotted a familiar face.  A long haired man making a film on the other side of the fence with his iPhone. I thought, "I know that guy. Who is he? Where do I know him from?".  I passed the iron gate and I remembered "Of course! It's a Coen brother!" but I immediately asked myself "Which Coen brother is this one?" because it would be so much stronger if I could address him by his first name and there was no way I was going to let one of my idols pass by me without a word. I put my hand out and said "Ethan Coen, I'm a big fan." He smiled shook the hand and answered "Thank you." Later when I got home I googled Coen brothers and realized I had just shaken Joel Coen's hand and he was politely laughing at the fact I switched his name with Ethan's.
Serves this small anecdote, dear reader, to introduce my latest West Hollywood adventure. Last week I went to Beverly Boulevard looking for the children's garment shop, Gymboree. I have a friend going to Japan and I want her to take something for the daughter of my friend Kiyoko. I got lost because apparently North Beverly and Beverly are different streets. Anyway I passed on Wilshire at around 5ish and saw four executives walking up the street in work casual clothing. One of them looked just like Ethan Coen. No, not like the guy I met in New York but like the other one, the one I confused with the long haired Joel. These four guys got into a building. I took a mental note of where the building was and continued to walk. I didn't find Gymboree (found their Palms store the morning after) I made the mistake of eating dinner and walked back. On my way back to my voiture I saw a group of Australians (wouldn't miss that accent if I tried) go into the same building where Ethan had entered. No one asked them shit at the entrance and the valets outside couldn't give a bigger fuck about who went in or out of the party. I got to the end of the block and turned back thinking "This will be the day I meet the second Coen brother." I got in the building, inside a fancy reception with waiters serving food to well dressed guests. I ordered a beer in the counter knowing fully well it might be 10 bucks or more, but it was worth it, I would soon meet a Coen brother. I tried to pay but the bartender said it was on the house because he thought I was part of the little gathering. I looked for Ethan, and realized the guy I had seen before was not him. Now I found myself in dire straights standing with a beer in a room full of fancy people whom I didn't know. I tried to walk around but I was isolated. I ate some hors d'oeuvres cursing the fact I had had dinner before and on the way out I took a slice of pizza.
In the end I had a second dinner but didn't find the second Coen brother. One day I hope to find the Coen brothers not accidentally, but professionally. Till then I anticipate more free food in the attempt.  

segunda-feira, 11 de novembro de 2013

Pacific French Bakery

Today I went to buy bread in the intersection of Bronson Avenue and Washington Boulevard in a place called Pacific French Bakery. Now the name is very important because it not only sums up the place it also explains a bit of LA and the way things work and are perceived around here. The bread I go there to buy is this magnificent French bread - a mini baguette of sorts- that the costumers call "bolillos" - the Spanish word for French bread. So the "French" in the title is accounted for. The owners are Korean, since the place is near Korea Town, and in my opinion that accounts for the "Pacific" in the title. What's not in the title of the place and probably should be is that the costumers are all (with my honorable exception) Mexican salt of the Earth people.
So in the Pacific French Bakery you have a very LA situation, in which Korean people sell French bread to Mexicans. And who finds the tasty warm mini baguettes they serve there really good to eat with goat cheese and wine?  Yes, your very own Portuguese  man in "Havana". It's this diversity (and this bread) that I love in LA.
I found this place when I was studying at USC and lived near by. The place still maintains the charm. There is a couple outside the bakery that sells fruit on the weekends at great prices, so you can also stack up your vitamins for the week there. The prices at the bakery are also competitive, one dollar for five pieces of bread. The pastry is not bad either.  The clientele of the place though leads me to believe that American angelinos either don't appreciate fresh baked bread or don't know where to find it. More for me! Today I bought 30 bolillos! May the wine, cheese, bread games begin! 
Great pastry.

Quality, good prices and the occasional line at Pacific French Bakery.

quinta-feira, 7 de novembro de 2013

Musso & Frank

I went to meet my friend Jonathan at the Musso & Frank Grill. We were looking for the most famous dry martini in Los Angeles. Musso & Frank has been open since 1919 in the heart of Hollywood, a block away from the Egyptian theater and two from the Chinese theater (and 7 from my place). The place looks like it hasn't been decorated in 90 years.  Everyone who's anyone in Hollywood has passed through the distinct oak room, the Chaplin booth is still there near the window and the bartender who serves you the dry martini can tell you anything about any celebrity's drinking habits. Today he told us how Orson Wells was a bit out when he met him in the 70's.
There is this old world touch to Musso & Frank, this old Hollywood flair that makes you think you are in a Stroheim bourgeois extravaganza or in a Chaplin skit in an expensive restaurant. The chef is French (like in the day of the opening) and when I've eaten there I've noticed the salads are acceptable. Nothing has changed, the register machine seems to be the same as in the opening day and there are still wooden phone booths. You can sometimes find an agent or a familiar celebrity walking around especially at happy hour. Shit, whenever I'm there I always feel like Douglas Fairbanks can walk in at any moment and sit next to me.