Tuesday, May 30, 2006

happy birthday to me

a week ago it was my birthday -- already i've been 41 for a week. the celebration began the friday before with dinner at grace, courtesy of the divine ms. m, who also gifted me with a dangly silver coin-and-cord necklace. we sat in the quieter back room and started with champagne. i had oysters on the half shell with three great accoutrement, the best of which was the champagne granita, although the vinaigrette-ish one was good too. and we had salads, she of crab, me of smoked marlin, which was the absolute bomb. incredibly good. greens and lovely candied lemon peel (? i think) and whatnot, but that. smoked. fish. omg. tdf. etc.

she ordered me a half-bottle of something red and good, cannot remember what. and i had the wild boar, medium rare, with some sorta potato thing and roasted baby artichokes, omg sfg. it was a huge pile of boar, and i took some home to 00soul, who swooned over it, cold straight outta the box. and then for dessert we shared the "after-school special": a warm, melty chocolate chip cookie each, plus a small chocolate frosted yellow cupcake, a mini scooter pie, a shot of chocolate milk spiked with cinnamon, and an evil peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich -- all amazing and so much fun. a perfect b-day dessert.

french kicks

although the chocolate souffle i had on my actual birthday after dinner at mistral in sherman oaks was pretty incredible too. after much waffling, i chose this unexpected bistro -- unexpected b/c it's between a smoke shop (not a head shop) and an exotic-automobile repair shop on ventura blvd. but inside it's all flattering amber light, mirrors to add dimension and intimacy, polished dark wood, and proper linens. not to mention appropriately attired wait staff serving absolutely properly, and a handsome dark wood bar in one corner, with a tv set looming, playing the "american idol" final competition with the sound off and closed captions on, which is fairly hilarious considering it is a singing contest. but they couldn't have the sound on, b/c that would disturb the people. who were in fact blathering up a rather deafening storm, and probably would not have heard taylor kicking kat's ass anyway.

it basically felt like musso & frank, only smaller, in the valley, and french. if that makes sense.

the waiter knew just what wine to order when i told him the price range and said i wanted a red that was velvety, dry and not sweet, but fruity. i had a glass of champagne to start, and 00soul had his irish whiskey. i of course ordered the escargot -- a reason i had chosen the place -- and was rewarded with the traditional garlicky buttery still-in-the-shell critters (damn i have a hard time with those tweezery clampy things that are supposed to hold the shells fast while you dig in), dark and chewy and basically perfect. the freshness of the flavors -- garlic, parsley, butter -- was heady. mr. man had the house-cured salmon with a dill sauce and toast strips ... as soon as it arrived the scent of dill suffused the area as though direct from a garden. i had a taste, and the fish was lovely, with and without the garnishes. and i don't even like dill.

surprisingly, my boy ordered fish -- halibut, i think? with a fine dust of a mushroom crust, and a champagne sauce, atop mashed potatoes and with garlic spinach. he gave me a bite, and it was actually quite sublime -- the fish firm and substantial, the sauce ethereal yet striking. i had a special of kansas city strip steak in a shallot sherry butter sauce that was -- how you say? -- omg sfg tdf kwim? again, a blend of earthy and sublime. it came with lyonnaise potatoes (quite akin to home fries, really, except less fried) and a super-vinegary pile of arugula that was bracingly wonderful up against all that butter. i mean, as i chewed the lovely steak, savoring the sauce as well as the flavor of the meat, atop it all floated the wonderful essence of butter. and i loved it. (sorry about that, arteries.)

after all of that, what else could one eat but the chocolate souffle? one of the servers came and brought the setup to the table; with a flourish he gouged a slash in the middle of the dark, crusty pudding and deftly inserted a spoonful of the dense whipped cream, so that the swirled top was not disturbed but merely tilted down into the crevice, the better to melt artfully into the chocolate lava. as if it lasted long enough to actually do that; we attacked it with spoons and made short work of it, despite it being pretty damn hot from the oven. i swooned from the goodness. we went home and made the feeling last.

chinese rocks

the very next night i went off to k-town for the finale of lost and a spicy stir-fry by the magnificent coiledsoul. we snacked on potstickers with homemade spicy dipping sauce and celery smeared with evil blue cheese spread before she did wield the wok to create a veggie/chicken feast that burned with that rare fire that scorches but doesn't scar -- and later there was chocolate angel food cake with raspberry sauce. and then there was the total mindfuck of the finale, but that's another blog entry.


on thursday CS and i went to the australians in film screening of x3 at the DGA. what fun it was -- i could quibble with stuff all day, and perhaps this wasn't as good as the previous ones, but wtf. it was a damn good comic-book flick. there were points where i was genuinely moved, and a lot of the action was ass-kicking, but there was more cheesiness in this one too. i admit i don't expect much; i have never even read the x-men, although i'd like to check out the grant morrison ones and the joss whedon ones. it's just, too many costumes make me dizzy. anyway, after the screening we snacked at the reception and drank much shiraz, mate. and found ourselves entertaining some lad whose name i believe was chase? was it really? who poked his head around the pillar we were positioned behind and asked us what we were talking about. thus ensued a wide-ranging geek-like conversation covering time travel, the zodiac, psychic powers, hollywood bogusness, and day jobs. and toward the end, something about hot tubs, i think. which meant it was time to go.

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