Thursday, October 16, 2008

Salt and Pepper

My barber of eight years, Rafael, told me at the last cut that my hair is almost purely white. No more passing it off as salt and pepper even though people say it looks blondish in the right light. My white hair was totally appropriate at my friend Jeff's impromptu 25th birthday celebration this week on account of the surroundings.

A group of four, we spent an evening at Musso and Frank's before Jeff left for New York. He, Me, Pete and Matt had a lovely time. Jeff, a devoted vegetarian, dined on Macaroni and Cheese, Pete had the Salmon with Asparagus (so beautifully green it provoked a similarly colored envy). Matt had Deep Fried Shrimp with Fries and I had the Grilled Pork Chops. Man, are their martinis good? 'Continental Cuisine' at its fuzzy best. Jeff usually gets Charlie Chaplin's old booth but we waited this time for his favorite waiter. Said truly excellent waiter pointed out the location of The Back Room, orifginally leased from the Vogue Theater next door and which is now accessed from the parking lot and now in disuse since they lost their lease to it in 1954. That was where Faulkner, Fitzgerald and Chandler used to pass out. The bar from there was transplanted without the hood to the large dining room when the lease was lost though the original wallpaper remains apparently. Musso's is reputedly the oldest restaurant in Hollywood since 1919 and it keeps that clubby flavor. Its last makeover was in the early nineteen fifties. On another occasion we were seated in the large dining room and some starlet was seated next to us while her boyfriend made a beeline for the bathroom. She said, "I hear the food isn't so good here". I said, "It's not just about the food, and the food is fine." Needless to say they moved. I love Musso's, you don't just go there for the food, which at the very least is better than any Stuart Anderson's, you also go for the life, the whole kit 'n kaboodle.

A Guilty pleasure this week was lunch at El Cholo Cafe, in Pasadena, an offshoot of the original LA fixture founded 1923. We went for a Margarita lunch with blue corn enchiladas on the side (my lunch partner will remain nameless). I sobered up for an hour afterward by the pool while my friend workhollicked. Believe it or not it was a productive lunch. Sadly, a hired hand intimated that business was not good at the moment. I'm assuming he was talking about localized events that have resulted from the ridiculous overspill of the sandbox we Americans have all stood by and allowed any kid to build castles in during the last twenty years. One wonders if the nod and the wink by Daddy for some kind of baillout wasn't given years ago. These are mostly clever people up there, you know.  I was talking like Maureen Dowd about this particular parallel twenty years ago.

Tonight it's Loin of Pork with Prunes. This is based on an antique Roman recipe by Apicius. The pork, salted and peppered and with fresh onion and garlic, dried prunes, is roasted with chicken stock and a little white wine. Soft Potatoes and Young Broccoli will accompany. Plate, knife and fork, will present it. Salt and pepper, without allusion, will be served on the side.