Monthly Archives: June 2010

Little Door Is for Lovers (and Druckers)

Enjoyed a very romantic evening at The Little Door in Beverly Hills adjacent last night with awesome pal Jefferson. (Yes, that’s his real name. No, he’s not a stripper.) As my dad would say, this place is rotten with romance. It’s tenderly nurtured, like the glowing flames of the five zillion candles tucked in every nook and cranny. (The cutie-pie bartender even let me light a few. Fire is FUN!)

Over 29? Meet candlelight, a.k.a. your new best friend.

A favorite with celebs, supermodels and common folk alike, Little Door is a comforting mélange of French and Moroccan influences. Dining on the patio, surrounded by lush bougainvillea, under a retractable skylight, is certainly a trip. In fact, by the end of the meal, when they served us a complimentary pot of mint tea served in dainty, gilt-ridged glasses, I was ready to book a flight to Marrakesh. (Or at least shop for tea glasses online.)

Minty fresh. Thanks, 'Traveler's Lunchbox' Flickr person.

Our meal got off to a promising start with a buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and tomato confit appetizer. Creamy, salty and tangy, respectively. Very nice with a Santa Ynez red. (Wine and beer only. No vodka. Stupid France.)

My rack of lamb entree with potatoes, carrots and lentils was cooked perfectly — in that sweet spot just between too rare and not rare enough. And look! This is the actual DISH! Not a reasonable facsimile thereof! Thanks, helpful Yelper!

Shanks for the memories, Little Door.

It was very good, but was it $40 good? Hm. It is to laugh. And Jefferson’s halibut (IMO)– not so much. Very dry and flavorless. If that was fresh fish, it was a tragedy. If it was a frozen one, well… You get what you pay $42 dollars for?

We finished with peach cobbler, and I wasn’t too impressed by the ice cream to fruit to brown-sugar-buttery crust ratio. After a few bites, we were left with what was essentially a bowl of stewed peaches. FAIL. More crust, s’il vous plait.

Les peches sont tres sexy, non?

FINALLY (Mom stop reading now) I can’t help but share this last morsel of deliciousness — this very handsome, 60ish Arab gentleman came in and sat down right beside us with not one but TWO… um… rent-a-friends who were clearly NOT his grand-daughters. Beautiful girls, one black, one white, both super slender, both barely legal. It was like a mini-harem! That guy is only 68 virgins short of his heavenly due!

In short, I would recommend Little Door for a wedding proposal OR for a dessert/tea stop after dinner somewhere else. At the far less pricey and handily adjacent Little Next Door, perhaps? But that’s just my deux francs.

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Two Druckin Distractions & A Nifty Gift Idea

First, please, visit this Hyperbole and a Half blog. Just click. Do it for yourself. It’s Monday, you’re bleary-eyed and underpaid, and you deserve to laugh so hard that you wet your office chair and then fall off it, forcing your cube-mates to wonder which one of them slipped an acid tab in your corporate coffee mug.

THIS GIRL IS DRUCKIN HYSTERICAL. Awesome pal Amanda called this a vacuum of awesomeness, in terms of it being a black-hole time suck. Once you read the first one, you feel compelled to read everything this woman has every written. I have a girl-crush on this brilliant 24-year-old comedic prodigy the size of TEXAS. She’s the kind of brave, honest and unflinchingly funny I only wish I could be. And she’s clean! Except for the odd F-bomb, even your mom can fall in love with Ms. Hyperbole. (Just like a regular bole. Except way more EXCITED.)

She’s very clear that I’m not allowed to draw you in by displaying her HIGH-LARIOUS drawings here, which is kind of a shame, but here I am giving you YET ANOTHER link to click on, and I like this post ALOT: HYPERBOLE AND A HALF. Ignore at your own peril.

Then there’s this. I know this is old news, but I can’t stop watching it. Tom Cruise can DANCE. Forty-seven years old. Un-druckin-believable. Be sure to stick with it long enough to see the high kick; it’s priceless:

Click the pic to view the video on wwtdd.com.

Sorry, but you have to go to WWTDD (What Would Tyler Durden Do) to see this video. If you’re male, feel free to look around and enjoy some other posts. If you’re a LADY, please watch the video and leave immediately. Mother Drucker hereby absolves herself from responsibility for any offense you may rightfully take if you have a uterus and choose to explore this site.

And it would hardly be an MD post without some deliciousness, so may I proudly present:

Merci Molly for la belle photo du pain perdu!

Awesome pals Virginia and Molly whipped up this pretty plate for me last weekend and I’ve been so druckin busy, I’m only posting now. It’s your basic French toast, made with a fresh baguette, and drizzled with salted caramel sauce. (I haven’t tested this Food & Wine recipe, so proceed at your own risk! Then perhaps send me some, for research and quality control purposes, of course.)

For Molly’s birthday, I gave her a gourmet sea salt sampler that looked a little like this:

Pretty salty.

I got it at Andrew’s Cheese Shop on Montana in Santa Monica, but clearly you have other purchasing options, and I think it’s a fun present for your fave foodie. And with that final morsel of mediocre musing, back to advertising copy.

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Druck Soup, Eat More Pho

The other day, I had to have pho. (Pronounced like ‘duh,’ with a ph.) It was non-negotiable. I needed it hot, fast and close, with a choice of proteins (chicken, shrimp, beef or tofu). Luckily, Pho Show in Culver City was there for me:

Thanks for the picture, yum tum.

When I walked into the clean, compact restaurant, I was greeted with a smile and the good news that my takeout order was ready. For a mere $7, I had a styrofoam tureen of delicately-flavored, lemongrass-scented chicken broth, a separate bowl filled with a fist-sized bunch of licorice-y sweet basil, rice noodles, and a generous mound of juicy white-meat chicken.

This is rare steak pho. But you get the idea.

Plus, I’d asked for cilantro on the side, because I love the flavor, the smell and the pretty green leaves floating in my broth. (Cilantro is probably more of a Thai thing, but I don’t care. Let the haters hate. I could eat cilantro on cereal. So there.) In a separate bowl, cuddled up next to a big pile of bean sprouts, was a bunch of cilantro big enough to sell at Albertson’s for a dolla ninety nine. That’s a good deal, Pho Show. Color me coming back next time I need a phix.

Eggroll, vermicelli and salty lemonade. Hello, sodium, my old friend.

It’s on Sepulveda, between a Cuban restaurant (El Rincon Criollo) and a Thai massage place. So no matter what you’re jonesing for, whether it’s a Cuban sandwich, a Vietnamese spring roll, a Thai treat for your sore muscles or a combination of all three, you’re bound to find your happy ending.

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Druckin Sexy USC Potatoes

Hold onto your mittens, my kittens — cause we’re gonna talk about awesome pal Adra’s grown-up, gourmet, 9021Oh yeah dinner party. She made a grilled cheese app that’s like a firework display of flavors. BEHOLD:

(Doesn’t quite have the impact I was looking for, but thanks for the tease anyway, Food & Wine.) She sautées shallots, adds mushrooms and spinach and sprinkles the whole shebang with truffle salt. (Truffle salt is available at Surfas in LA — a store which deserves its own post at a later date.)

Then she puts this tasty mix on good bread with nutty, buttery, meant-for-melting fontina, grills it all up, and slices into sticks for a nice two-bite app portion. Did I mention that she is my best friend? (LUCKY DRUCKIN ME! Homegirl can COOK.)

"We're the two best friends, that anyone could have..." Photo credit, awesome pal Molly S.

She also took on rack of lamb, which is a brave, expensive risk. Turned out perfectly, natch. I suffer from wholly irrational baby animal guilt, and rarely eat Mary’s little pet. But this baby baa baa was treated with love, respect and breadcrumbs, so I made a wise exception :

Is it whiskey tango to pick up with fingers and gnaw on bone? Or just common sense?

She accompanied her little lamb with grilled asparagus and what have come to be known as USC potatoes. (They are rich, expensive, and like to hate on UCLA.) To be truthful, I’m kind of a potato skeptic. When I do the dessert math (savory carb vs sugary carb, % by amount of room in tummy), cake almost always comes out on top.

But I stand converted.

Earthy appeal, heavenly flavor.

If you’d like to try them and then do your own dessert math, here’s the recipe, lovingly transposed directly from the USC cookbook as my Monday gift to you:

Potato Gratin with White Cheddar

Preheat oven to 375•. Peel 4 lbs. russet potatoes and cut into 1/4″ rounds. Butter a 9×13″ baking dish. Whisk 2 cups whipping cream, 1/2 cup shallots, 1 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp ground black pepper in medium bowl to blend. Place half of potatoes in baking dish, overlapping slightly. Cover with 1 cup of white cheddar cheese. Top with second layer of potatoes. Pour cream mixture over potatoes in dish and cover with another cup of white cheddar. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes longer. Let cool slightly before serving. Makes 10-12 servings.

Recipe from Debbie Exley, Trojan League of Orange County.

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LA Spinsters Have a Druckin Ball

So I went to a black tie ball last weekend. It was a swell soirée, see, thrown by the LA Spinsters. I know what you’re thinking. But these Spinsters are young, pretty and privileged, not old, decrepit and reliant on a generous relative. (Can’t find a website for LA, but these SF cuties are probably sister Spinsters.)

How much spin could a Spinster spin, if a Spinster could spin stirs.

Luckily for you, I’ve already gotten all my ‘ball/balls’ jokes out of my system, so they’ll get no play today. (See what I did?) It was held at the fancy-pants Jonathan Club downtown, which features hotel-type rooms for its members, a restaurant, a parking garage, ballrooms, and probably butlers (upon request).

Dude, where's my Bentley?

I can’t find an interior shot, but the architecture and decor are classically elegant (they’ve been in LA for over 100 years), and while it may reek of money, honey — it doesn’t reek of mothballs and condescension, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down. We feasted on filet and lemon tart, and everyone hit the dance floor when the live band played “Don’t Stop Believing.” FUN!

Finally, in true Cinderella fashion, my Jetta turned into one of these at midnight, just as the valet handed me my keys:

"Get in my belly."

AWKWARD. See you tomorrow.

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World Cup & Druckin Big Wang

Drucker was a busy little Mother this weekend. First, bloody mary(s) and World Cup soccer at Big Wang’s bright & early Saturday morning. A black-tie ball at a historic private club on Saturday night. Hiking in Malibu Sunday morning, then basketball at Baja Cantina followed by Pho Show Vietnamese noodles.
Let’s start with the Big Wang theory:

Wang dang doodle.

The original Big Wang spawned three locations, but the one in Hollywood proper is an LA rite of passage. It’s the defining sports bar east of the 405. Even snooty Westsiders (like me) respect the Wang.

Why? Because they have more HDTVs and screens than anyone else in LA. Cheap, greasy-good bar fare, but no breakfast menu. (Right, Nicole?) Friendly staff and an eclectic crowd that includes Hollywood hipsters, hotties and hard-core fans.  And they open at 4:30 a.m. for World Cup viewing. (It’s BYO until they’re legally allowed to serve, which I think is 6am.) Inside, it’s dark:

Note huge, self-serve beer stein. (Mug? Container? Vat?)

As a recovering Chicagoan, it’s hard for me to spend daylight hours in a dark bar. If the sun shines and it’s warm enough for you to feel your toes, you should MAKE HAY, dammit. Or mow your lawn, paint your house, the list goes on.

What you should NOT be doing: getting drunk in a dark bar at 11 a.m. with 200+ people you’ll never see again, alternately cheering, crying and high-fiving in a big room that reeks of stale beer, sweat and the ghosts of fried things past.

But no matter how bad I feel about missing out on the sun, I know I don’t feel as bad as this guy:

Not the best video, but I wanted something short and sweet. (26 seconds to GOALLLL!) Look on the bright side, England goalie Robert Green. At least you’re not a brain surgeon! Think about what a bad day means for THAT guy!

And on that note, I’m gonna go to work now and write some ad copy that hopefully doesn’t kill anyone! (Fingers crossed.)

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My New Druckin Love Affair

I have acute anxiety about posting today. I may have discovered my favorite sandwich EVER, and I fear that I can never do it justice. I’ve loved sandwiches before. I once had a fling with a fried chicken sandwich at the Cracker Barrel. But never like this. Ahem. Everyone, meet Bouchon’s Croque Madame Sandwich. Sandwich, meet everyone:

Isn't she GORGEOUS?!

I was a bit concerned about that sauce. It’s blindingly white. What does something that color taste like? I needn’t have worried. This dude (and his many Michelin stars) makes it all okay:

Chef Thomas Keller, a.k.a. Mr. French Laundry, himself.

That white blanket of joy is actually mornay sauce, a creamy, cheese-laced cousin of bechamel, and a second cousin once removed from the white gravy gracing biscuits all over the South. The recipe, here on the Food Network website, also calls for ham, Swiss cheese, and buttery, melt-in-your-mouth brioche, alternately browned in a pan and warmed gently in the oven.

If that doesn't look just like challah, I'll eat my mezuzeh.

These simple ingredients are SO MUCH GREATER than the sum of their parts, I can’t even tell you! Every bite is a creamy, crunchy, buttery, melty symphony of flavor and texture and baby smiles and puppy licks. I could NOT put this sandwich down, people. I actually paused, stopped talking, and stared at the sandwich, thinking, “Who ARE you?! And when can I SEE you again?!”

Oh right, I should probably describe Bouchon for you. Let’s speed through the details, shall we? And we’re walking, we’re walking…

Restaurant/bar/hostess stand/loo on 2nd floor. First floor, fairly pointless.

AMBIENCE: Like an authentic Parisian bistro, but within easy reach of uber-agency William Morris in Beverly Hills. (Think Ari Gold. Awesome pal Michael tells me Pacino was there last time! “Say hello to my little sandwich.”) Gorgeous zinc bar, a few outdoor tables on the balcony that overlook the Beverly Hills Gardens, and a noisy, brightly-lit dining room with a lovely high ceiling.

SERVICE: Impeccable. I was so hungry when we sat down that I was too weak to speak. Our server took one look at me and said, “I’ll get you some bread” in the same serious fashion that an EMT might say, “I’ll get you some plasma.”

Perfectly acceptable poulet roti.

OTHER THAN THE SANDWICH: The bread, butter and hummos dip were divine, but we split a ho-hum salad, and Michael had the signature roast chicken, which wasn’t as juicy as I’d hoped and just kind of a yawn. I shared my sandwich. It wasn’t easy.

LAST BITE: Bouchon is known for pastry, and our wedge of lemon tart didn’t disappoint. It’s the most generous dessert portion I think I’ve ever seen (half the size of a big NY slice of pizza) and they were tres accommodating when I asked for a side of whipped cream. (Doesn’t come with it. Druckin’ PURISTS!) The crust wasn’t transcendental but the custard was lovely and tart.

I shouldn't eat a portion this big but I'm TOTALLY GOING TO. Damn you, Keller!

And then, my sandwich and I walked hand-in-hand, into the sunset. THE END.

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