Kenley and I entertained our first guests in April when my brother, Patrick, and his girlfriend, Laura, visited from Atlanta.
After picking them up from LAX, we immediately went to In-N-Out Burger and ordered a cheeseburger, “animal style.” Any good Los Angelean will tell you that’s the best way to enjoy In-N-Out.
Patrick had scheduled the trip around the Braves playing the Dodgers, so we had tickets to two games — Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.
Earlier on Wednesday, Commissioner Bud Selig announced that MLB would take over operation of the Dodgers from owner Frank McCourt, who has financial troubles and is battling his ex-wife in court over ownership of the team.
And on opening day, Dodgers fans beat up a San Francisco Giants fan, who had to be placed in a medically induced coma.
It was impossible not to notice the increased security, and all the Dodgers workers went out of their way to be friendly to their foes.
The Dodgers stadium was built in 1962 (it’s the country’s third-oldest) and could use some upgrades, but the location makes it a great place to watch America’s favorite pastime. From the parking lot, there are great views of downtown, and from the stadium, you look out at the San Gabriel Mountains. A “Think Blue” sign on the hills looks like the Hollywood sign nearby.
Thursday’s game was billed as “throwback day,” with each team wearing their original uniforms, and with offers of half-price Dodger Dogs and other food. Beers were supposed to be included in the half-off promotion, but the organization thought better of it after the opening night fan beating. So we paid $12 for Miller Lite.
While Wednesday’s game was slow (Dodgers won 6-2), Thursday’s game lasted 12 innings, with the Dodgers winning 5-3 on a home run.
After making our way back to the Westside, we picked up Kenley from work and went to eat at The Alibi Room. The bar/restaurant is the only place where you can order chef Roy Choi’s Korean-barbecue, other than from his famed Kogi Truck.
Choi is one of the pioneers of the food-truck craze and specializes in making street food fit for a foodie, while keeping the street-level prices. The menu for the Kogi Truck is a fusion of Korean barbecue and Mexican tacos. At the bar, we ordered Korean spiced fries, calamari tacos, a Pacman burger, a blackjack quesadilla and a sweet chili chicken quesadilla. Sounds weird, but it’s yummy!
For lunch Friday, I had my first meal from an actual food truck. More Asian and Mexican fusion: a sushi burrito from the Jogasaki Burrito Truck parked across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The ingredients of a sushi roll (crab and shrimp tempura, rice in my case) are wrapped like a burrito in soy paper instead of a tortilla.
Clarissa, a childhood friend of Laura’s, works at the LACMA, so we walked through the museum’s contemporary art exhibit. My favorite piece was the bright-blue balloon-dog sculpture, by Jeff Coons.
We worked our way back to the Westside on Mulholland Drive, where I learned that my brother is scared of heights — and perhaps of my driving on narrow and winding roads.
Our dinner reservations that night were at The Bazaar, the restaurant of celebrity chef Jose Andres. Kenley and I had eaten at Andres’ Oyamel restaurant in Washington, D.C., a couple of times, so we were excited to try his Los Angeles locale.
From the minute we walked into the Philippe Stark-designed restaurant in the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, we knew it would be an interesting experience. Andres practices molecular gastronomy, which is a complicated way of saying he enjoys experimenting radically with food and dining.
The menu is divided into traditional and modern Spanish tapas. We resisted the urge to try the Jamón Ibérico (acorn-fed, free-range Ibérico ham, known as the best in the world), because 2 ounces would set you back $40. Instead we started with Jicama-wrapped guacamole. It was the perfect mouthful of creamy guacamole dip and crunchy chips.
We also tried a dish called tortilla de patatas “new way,” which did not look anything like an old-way Spanish omelet, but was delivered in an egg-shaped dish and tasted like a light, yet rich and savory custard.
We also ordered foie gras (or duck liver) sandwiches, which were surprisingly yummy.
Soon after our meal at The Bazaar, Andres won the James Beard Foundation’s award for Outstanding Chef of the Year.
After dinner, we again met Laura’s friend Clarissa and her boyfriend at The Dresden Lounge, an old-school bar in the hip East L.A. Los Feliz neighborhood. The Dresden was featured in the movie “Swingers.” Marty and Elayne, a couple who have seen their better days, still sing old standards, as they do in the movie.
On Saturday we headed up the Pacific Coast Highway to Paradise Cove in Malibu, where we had lunch. The fried seafood is overpriced and not very good, but you get to sit on the beach near million-dollar manufactured homes owned by Minnie Driver and other celebrities.
As we drove south on the PCH, a DeLorean passed us on its way to 88 miles per hour. We were disappointed it didn’t have an “OUTATIME” license plate, but Kenley still called it the highlight of his year.
Our next stop was Moonshadows, which is where Mel Gibson allegedly went on an infamous bender and first gave the world an idea that he may be losing it.
As for us, we pretended to be celebrities (of the classier and saner type) as we lounged on the restaurant’s deck in large cushioned chaises. We escaped without incident.
We ended our beach day at the Santa Monica pier, where we got to the Ferris wheel and once again tested Patrick’s fear of heights.
As I’m finishing up this post, I’m multitasking and cleaning the apartment in preparation for my parents, who are arriving today. We also are looking forward to hosting Kenley’s parents the first week of June, assuming his dad gets on the plane, and assuming all those billboards about Saturday being Judgment Day are wrong.
We welcome visitors. The Casa de Shenley is free, and so are our concierge services.