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R2 Wine Luncheon Take 4

February 16, 2019

The fourth LA wine luncheon run was excellent and fun as always. This time the highlight of the day was an absolutely top notch menu put together by Bistro 45. (FWIW, Bistrot 45 already held the top dining position for these wine lunch things and knocked themselves right out of first place into first and second place.)

Your gracious host donnie sporting a svelte new look

All hands on deck

The fun end of the table

The menu features all organic ingredients

Carpaccio

Ravioli

Duck and polenta

Did we mention the polenta?

Of course, there was lots of wine, good conversation, and laughter.

The whites

The reds

Note to self that wine tasting is much better without the last vestiges of a chest cold.

After lunch we headed into greater downtown Pasadena for a cocktail or two. The bar at Smitty’s Grill is remarkably good. Excellent standard cocktails and a bartender who is even experimenting with milk punch.

smitty’s grill bar

milk punch

Plaza la Reina is a new property originally developed as long term housing for people with family in the nearby UCLA medical center. That plan did not materialize, and the property was transformed into a luxury hotel.

The quaint little courtyard

Room 205 is off the courtyard next to a side entrance to the property featuring some interesting tiled stairs. The room has a quirky layout and in put together well. The furniture is elegant and old school and about as anti-hipster as you can get. Heavy solid chairs, oriental rugs, solid wood cabinets. Very nice indeed.

205

The bed is back in its own nook next to the gorgeous bathroom.

Comfortable sitting area

The bathroom is beautiful, and the shower is excellent.

NPS approves of this shower

A personal note and a very warm welcome on check in was icing on the cake.

Five showerheads for Plaza la Reina. Refined elegance.

R2 Wine Luncheon Take 3

March 12, 2018

There are rumored to be more wine luncheons than those that we can attend, but rumor is just rumor unless there is photographic evidence. The latest incarnation that can be shown to exist happened in LA on March 9th. The target was Little Sister.

As you can see, nobody enjoyed themselves, least of all Donnie.

Also there was not enough wine.

The weather was terrible. Cold and snowy.

Obviously, we drove the waitress completely insane.

The food was delicious, a fusion of Asian and American (kind of like that helicopter sound that immediately brings to mind Vietnam).

Many courses, only one of which included shakey beef.

There was little wine.

Pinot noir from the wine club.

There was big wine.

Pinot noir from the cellar.

There was plenty of wine.

The selection

Then all of a sudden we were on a quest. First to the Athletic Club of LA. Very old school, but willing to learn how to make a Corpse Reviver #2.

Then to Miro (under an Italian eatery), which was very suave but still willing to make a great Sazarac with Willet Family Reserve 12 year old rye. Perfection.

Sazarac (with only ywo dashes of Peychauds)

Then to dinner, where the political state of Virginia became a problem for some of us with an overly sized buzz. No GOP weenie has been elected to state wide office since 2009 in Virginia DAMN IT! And that was before the sheer idiocy of fake president Twump.

Dinner was somewhere near these very tall buildings

Then to Cafe D’oro in Santa Monica to hang with Vincenzo and drink whatever the dealer dealt.

Dealer’s choice (mezcal)

By 1am we were back at the Georgian Hotel, a good thing since our departure was slated at 5am sharp.

Would we do it again? Of course.

Wine luncheon one was so much fun that even in a month of intense travel (three countries and 7 cities so far this May), NPS just had to attend edition two.

A great time was had by all. Our gracious and knowledgeable host was the owner of Bistro 45. The food was as outstanding as the wine and included Mexican shrimp, dry scallops, organic beets, and waygu beef.

Arrival

The supply grows and pairing planning begins

Wine range

Bistro 45 is highly recommended

The crew

The kitchen crew minus chef

Cigars and cognac spontaneously appeared after lunch.

Someone is having fun!

I know, lets do it again!

The quick answer is: there is no stay short enough to justify a plastic shower.

NPS set out to prove this aphorism at the truly style-free Renaissance hotel at LAX.

Renaissance is a Marriott property, so we of course made great use of our friend Mr. X who is a Lifetime Platinum Elite member. Mr. X books for us and NPS shoves all the points in his direction. This gets us superior rooms and concierge level hoo hah and whatnot at Marriotts. Sadly they are all still Marriotts.

The front lobby is in the middle of a massive renovation at the Renaissance at LAX. So that may be a good thing (but likely it just won’t matter). NPS was assigned a newly renovated suite (number 425) after much furious typing by the front desk staff on our very late arrival around midnight. If 425 is evidence of the style that is driving this renovation then NPS is worried.

You see, 425 looks like this. But looks (even marginal looks like this) can be deceiving. Super cheap, thin, veneer style is what we have on evidence here.

Like this crooked too big TV. WTF?

No. Not how to hang a TV. Why is there even one here?

The bed is comfortable, but the lights are so cheap a light wind would blow them over. Fortunately the windows do not open.

Comfy bed.

But what is this?

The windows overlook a glowing Burger King sign That pretty much says it all.

Yeah, no. This is not really a cool city view.

More sad, thin style evident in the sitting room.

Your mother in law called and she has some design ideas

There was a sad little plant on the desk wishing for some light. Flourescent bulbs should make it happier than they make the humans trapped in here.

And then there is the plastic shower bête noire—an actual plastic shower with an obesity bar.

no

no

no no no

Everything in the bathroom is very new, very clean and completely devoid of any taste.

no sense of style

Well anyway, the trip to LA was fantastic and the time in this hamster cage was short.

There was this wine thing with new friends.

Wine? Wine!

There was an old school whiskey bar.

And there was some sportsing with the boys.

So all told we would do it again in a second but we would get a real hotel without a shuttle bus and shlep to the airport from Santa Monica.

Speaking of the airport, this Virgin America meets Alaska thing is getting chunky. Remote gates? Wolfgang Puck bullshit? Overfull lounges gussied up in the ’70s? Uh oh. Where is my high style airline?

Let the record show that the Renaissance LAX barely rates two showerheads. Not going back ever. Nice people in a beige land devoid of style.

LACMA

January 24, 2017

When in LA, we do try to go to see our old friends at the LACMA.

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Like this.

Chris Mac's ancestor

Chris Mac’s ancestor

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Blue period Picasso

Blue period Picasso

Frenimy

Frenimy

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No pictures of the shadow

No pictures of the shadow

Ahead of its time

Ahead of its time

Burn brightly while you can

Burn brightly while you can

Rodin

Rodin

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Blue sky (by me)

Blue sky (by me)

Maybe you get a pass on the plastic shower thing if you are an historical property and you have peepholes like this??

Peep hole in 504

Peep hole in 504

Of course, we’ve been here before, so we know which end is up and exactly why this property rocks. This time we made double sure to get the right room with an incredible (yuge?) view of the Pacific—especially after our Kimpton debacle last week). 504 is sweet!

The view on arrival

The view on arrival

And it is on the proper side of the building as well.

504 side windows see this

504 side windows see this

So what to expect? A very spacious suite with reasonable furnishings only slightly dated. Plenty of room to work (and to entertain, as it turns out). A large bathroom with the exact wrong kind of shower. Creaky net. Busted speakers. Buy your own flowers. But the view. And the location. And the view.

Flowers. Buy self.

Flowers. Buy self.

Of course it does actually rain sometimes. All day. For three days!

Of course it does actually rain sometimes. All day. For three days!

Entrance hallway 504

Entrance hallway 504

504 sitting room

504 sitting room

504 sitting room

504 sitting room

View into the bedroom

View into the bedroom

504 bedroom

504 bedroom

This is actually from my brother's inlaws house, so ignore it

This is actually from my brother’s inlaws house, so ignore it

Bathroom

Bathroom

Nooooo! A plastic shower. Eat crow and stay here anyway.

Nooooo! A plastic shower. Eat crow and stay here anyway.

Enough room even for certain travelling companions

Enough room even for certain travelling companions

Anyway, did we have fun in Santa Monica? Sure. We started off in LA at the wine thing.

Breakfast crepe was delicious.

Then we visited McCabe’s Guitar Shop (owned by our very own peeps). if you are a music person, just visit, play, hang out, learn. There are ghosts.

McCabe's Guitar Shop

McCabe’s Guitar Shop

Which made us want stuff like this beauty of a guitar. Hurry up and buy it, or I will.

Want

Want

And we had a delicious dinner up the canyon at the very old school and very very good Saddle Peak Lodge. The highlight of the night was talking to Bob while eating elk. Bob is just bob. Maybe one day we’ll tell you. Or maybe not. Talk to Bob you lucky bastard.

Anyway, fütbol in the room on the rainiest Sunday in maybe 8 years in Santa Monica. Mud slides, rocks that closed roads, leaky roofs that (who knew) are supposed to keep water out?! And all of the fütbol teams that we liked were beat. Kind of like the election. At least there was beer and a smidge of bourbon.

Followed by Bourne on OK glass with super bad speakers. Dear hotels, why is it that home cinema situations even among those who mostly don’t give a shit are 10 years ahead of you? No, really. Why? One decade ahead.

Which catches us on up to Monday. Work and LACMA.

LACMA

LACMA

LACMA

LACMA

About which more here.

Then dinner at the very not bad Manchego, where they have yet to discover both Priorat and twitter.

Four showerheads and a wish for glass showers and speakers that are not blown.