Monthly Archives: August 2010

Olympic Spa is Druckin’ Boob Town, USA

…and I LOVE it. Awesome pal Mary Z was in for the weekend from En Zed (that’s New Zealand to seppos like you and me), and I wanted to give her many unique LA experiences. Olympic Spa (playfully christened ‘Booby Town’ by awesome pal Bri) in Koreatown was tops on my list.

Looks like a PRISON from the outside. But parking is included!

It’s women-only, which is refreshing, so check your modesty at the door and leave your shoes and clothes in a locker. Prepare for maximum exposure.

There’s a hot pool filled with a healing tea brew, another super hot tub, and an icy plunge pool or two. A sauna and a steam room. And a bigger room filled with stainless steel sinks and hoses and gurneys where the take-no-prisoners rubdowns happen. Burke Williams, it ain’t.

Bare bones decor and bare bodies everywhere. Help yourself to tea.

At first the plunge pool concept scared me. (Brrrr.) But it’s an all-natural, stimulant-free RUSH. If you can make it past the first step on the ladder, you won’t be sorry.

And the Akasuri Scrub ($30, plus $15 for use of the pools, etc.)  is SERIOUS. These Korean ladies are NOT playing. You will be scrubbed within an inch of your life. As Mary said, “they actually got behind my EARS.” And my friend Alex, visiting L.A. from Chicago a few weeks ago, could not believe her baby-soft elbows.

They also feature luxury toilets, which apparently spray your lady parts with a welcoming mist. Some people get excited about this double-duty toilet/bidet. I’m a bit more cautious. I have a mental image of myself leaping off the thing when the ‘mist’ turns out to be a ‘geyser.’ No thanks.

Words escape me.

I wish I could find a picture of the heated ‘jade’ floor — it’s fabulous. Before, between or after your treatment, you hop up on what looks like a stage, sandwich yourself between blankets, try not to think about the sweaty, greasy person who blanketed herself before you, and take a luxurious, warm and therapeutic NAP. Best part! (Next to the elbows.)

But back to the boobs. EVERYWHERE. Who knew they came in so many shapes and sizes?! Guess I wasn’t paying enough attention in my high school locker room. Plus, it’s LA, baby — so some of them are jumbo-sized, gravity-defying orbs of awesomeness. (Not the case at Hinsdale Central.) I was transfixed.

That seal USED to be a Red Devil. Why'd they get rid of it? Because of SATAN.

Now, before you judge me as a voyeuse (I can feel you judging me!) know that these pools are TINY. It’s hard enough to find an empty place to put your bootay, let alone your eyes!

I’ve heard people say that this is a great place for a girlie gathering, as opposed, say, to an afternoon garden party at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Hm. I love my galpals, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not so sure I’m ready to introduce ‘my girls’ to ‘the girls.’

Care to weigh in, ladies? C’mon. Don’t be a boob.

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Druck You, Gyenari Korean BBQ

I am so mad at Gyenari Korean BBQ that it hurts me to even talk about it. (Warning — even their LINK is annoying.) Perhaps a haiku will help:

Gyenari is
Korean for sad service.
Ahi salad. No.

Gyenari looks pretty, leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Or a limerick:

Gyenari Korean BBQ,
you did a good job of making me hate you.
That beef is a joke,
all mirrors and smoke.
Overpriced, underwhelmed, boo hoo.

I jumped into a burning ring of proteins. And they burned, burned, burned.

The menu is super-confusing and our waiter was flagrantly disinterested. Sample: “Oh, you want rice? Be sure to mention it to the guy who delivers your food.” (?!?!) I had to grab the corner of his shirt (for REAL!) to keep him around long enough for a short, half-assed explanation of all the kim-chi and side dishes.

I asked him what to do with the accompanying sheets of seaweed (a.k.a. nori) and was met with a vaguely disgusted stare, a shrug, and the sight of his back as he beat a hasty retreat into the kitchen.

According to Yelp, these pickled dishes are called banchan. I would call them exorbitantly overpriced.

The ahi salad was practically inedible — uneven, one-note wasabi dressing, horrifically chewy ahi and huge mushy wedges of unseasoned avocado — and no bargain at $17. The Gyenari galbee (prime aged beef short rib/house signature marinade) was, in fairness, nicely seasoned. But for $28, we each got about five quarter-sized pieces of beef. NOT AN EXAGGERATION.

Thank God the busboy brought me that rice I asked him for, or I would’ve had to follow up my $70 meal with a $2 In & Out Burger. (That’s $70 for one cocktail, one cup of tea, a salad and under a 1/4 lb. of beef.)

Please don’t give these people any money. If their business makes like kim chi and goes sour, maybe something GOOD will take their place! Yay, something good.

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Deep Fried Oreos = Druck Yeah I Did

I like things that aren’t good for me. Especially the three Bs — booze, bacon and butter. (Wait, make it 4 — better add ‘boys.’) Two of those items are available deep-fried at the Orange County Fair, and where deep-fried butter (garlic or cinnamon) and bacon go, can deep-fried martinis be far behind?

A small step more prudent than deep-fried cupcakes, also available.

Scoff if you must, but deep-fried Oreos (DFOs) are druckin’ delicious. And why wouldn’t they be? As my mom astutely pointed out, it’s basically a doughnut (hush puppy, fritter, etc.) golden and crisp on the outside, fluffy and cake-like on the inside, filled with a warm, melty Oreo. YUM.

I took that little red basket DOWN. Final tally on the DFOs: Debra, 2.5. Awesome pal Chi, 1.5. In fairness, he’d already eaten one of these:

Taking food porn to the next level.

I can’t BELIEVE I’m posting this, people. I hope you feel the love, because that picture is blackmail worthy. Thanks, Chi, for taking my picture and letting me hold your weiner.

ANYWAY. As I was saying. Corn dogs make people smile. As Chi said, maybe we should just rain corn dogs down on Iran. Everyone would be so fat and happy. We would look like heroes now, and have the last laugh later when everyone dies of heart disease brought on by obesity. Welcome to our world, skinny Middle Easterners! Better look into a plus-size caftan and an extra-sturdy camel.

And speaking of plus-size:

Kinda like a latke on steroids.

We also put a big dent in a huge portion of Australian battered potatoes with (what else!) ranch dressing, nacho cheese and a side of sweet chili sauce, just like I used to love in New Zealand!

Somewhere during this pig-out of epic proportion, we squeezed in a pig race:

Chi called it a bacon race.

Why don’t they take bets on this thing?! My favorite little girl pig Strawberry won it ALL! I like to think that maybe the farmer will spare her now, like Wilbur or Babe. (She’s a celebrity! She’s hit the pig time and she’s gonna hog the spotlight.)

The sweet faces of ALL the animals made me wish most sincerely that cheeseburgers and lamb kabobs would stop tasting so good.

I want him to come home with me. And for him to stay small forever, like Gary Coleman.

But what can I say — I like bacon and baby-back ribs. I like them a lot.

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Rebirth Band Is Smokin, Slightly Drucked Up

Now, puh-leeze don’t get me wrong, I loved every second of Rebirth Brass Band‘s set at the Mint last week. Phenomenal New Orleans funkadelicious sound. Unbelievable talent, dedication and skill. Big love for the Crescent City and its Saints. And one SUPER STONED trumpet player. It was HYSTERICAL.

Yankees cap, second from left.

He stood on the stage, horn at his side, seemingly oblivious to the deafening decibels, studying his HAND. “Dude dude dude. Look at my HAND, dude.” But then, in between his eyes rolling up into his head and looking like all 6-feet of him might topple off the stage and crush awesome pal Nicole, he’d pick up his trumpet and play a fairly respectable solo.

This dude is SMOKIN.

How the HELL do they do that?! There’s no way I could do my job that stoned. (But I’m a piss poor smoker and have never claimed to be otherwise. I melt into a pool of paranoia, praying for the rollercoaster to stop so that I can get off.)

He’d sip a shot, blow his horn, then wander off (right in the middle of a song) and come back with another shot. The poor short dude next to him had to support his vocals during his absence and stood on tippy-toe to reach his mike.

This mike is JUST RIGHT.

I just read an article in the Times-Picayune about how the band was started by two brothers who played for their high school marching band. (Sweet.) And how Rebirth celebrated its official 25th anniversary in 2008. (Established.) It also mentions how snare drum player Derrick Tabb recently started the Roots of Music, which conducts after school music classes for children.

Obviously, these are some seriously NICE guys. And I can’t blame Stoner Trumpet for sampling our LA kind. (We got medicinal grade up in here.) But I do feel compelled to mention that Trombone Shorty runs circles around Rebirth, energy-wise. So maybe next time, guys, sample an Ice Blended at Coffee Bean before your show instead?

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Brunch at Primitivo is A Druckin Secret

LA folks are used to waiting. For groceries. For In & Out Burgers. For See’s Candy. FOREVER. So when awesome Aunt Trish and I sauntered into Primitivo Wine Bistro in Venice on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I expected to fight my way to the hostess stand. After all, the place is BANANAS on weeknights/weekends:

Evenings are prime time at Primitivo. Lots of 2, 3, 5, 7 and 11.

But instead, the clouds parted. The angels sang. And we had the entire outdoor patio to ourselves, gazing out at a plant nursery filled with bright flowers and bubbling fountains. My first thought was — what’s wrong with this picture?

This is what it would have looked like if I took this picture!

Where IS everybody?! I knew lots of people were eating brunch at Joe’s and Gjelina, and who could blame them. But still. CONFUSED. Luckily, the brunch menu distracted me. So did this:

Is there a way to make sangria with Belvedere?

I was torn between the brioche French toast and a decadent cheese, bacon and avocado chicken sandwich on soft slabs of olive-oil infused focaccia. (It’s the breakfast vs. lunch dilemma. I’m sure you’re familiar.)

I rolled the dice on lunch, and was delighted with my selection. Trish tried their interpretation of paella, highly recommended by our friendly and super fab waitress, who happened to be from Wisconsin.

Paella with chicken, tiger shrimp, mussels and chorizo.

We LOVED it! (She gave me a bite. What? We’re family.) The chorizo really gives the creamy, saffron-scented rice a rich kick in the pantalones. Prices were very reasonable, especially considering each generous portion was enough for two lunches. When we asked our waitress why the place wasn’t packed, she explained that brunch is relatively new, and maybe people don’t know about it yet.

A peaceful, soul-satisfying retreat in the heart of bustling Venice Beach, close to the ocean but far from the madding crowd? Great food, no waiting? Well, thanks to me, the secret is OUT. (Mwahhahhaha.) Enjoy it while it lasts.

P.S. They take reservations. Operators are standing by. Call now!

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3 Tasty Druckin Options in Oahu

I know, enough already! You get it! Mother Drucker went to Hawaii and all you got was a stupid blog post! I just don’t want you to miss out on tasty treats like tender, slow-cooked pork, deep-fried Portuguese doughnuts, and spicy mahi mahi tacos. Okay?! I DO IT ALL FOR YOU.

Let’s start with melt-in-your-mouth malasadas from local legend, Leonard’s Bakery:

Look how it glistens! How badly do you want it?!

I wanted these SO BADLY that I actually took a city bus, something I’ve NEVER done in LA. You can get your warm, fresh-from-the-fryer malasadas filled with a chocolatey pudding (not so much), fruit, custard, or my favorite — plain, with a crunchy coating of cinnamon sugar. (They remind me of the ‘doughnuts‘ my sister learned to make at camp with a tube of Pillsbury biscuits. IT WORKS. Try it!)

Why stop at 6?

They smelled so heavenly that I was diggin’ into my half dozen as I walked back to the bus, licking my greasy fingers, loving every second of it, when I saw this place and remembered a favorable review:

I'm considering a sign like this for my office. Please wait outside. No get mad.

Ono Hawaiian Foods normally has a line out the door and down the block. The place probably seats 15 people at most. When I peered in the window and found the dining room nearly empty, I knew I had to go in and try their famous pork lau lau. (Even though I’d eaten dessert first.)

A divey dive dive. LOVE IT!

To make lau lau, pork is wrapped in taro leaves and steamed on the stove. The pork fat keeps the meat super tender, juicy and flavorful. There’s a squeeze bottle of ‘chili water’ on the table — good but could’ve been even hotter. Prepare yourself. It ain’t pretty:

Looks like a football, wrapped in slimy sea leaves, and filled with pork. Hut, hut, HIKE.

I know. It’s hideous. HIDEOUSLY DELICIOUS. I ate the whole thing, and the slimy, pork-flavored leaves, too. (Kinda like Hawaiian collard greens.) Even my waiter was astonished when I finished it. I believe he looked at me with newfound respect.

After drinking from 2-9pm, an early night sounds like a good idea.

Finally, for a good time, call Duke’s in Waikiki Beach. (I love the Malibu version, too.) I spent a long, happy Saturday afternoon day-drinking, listening to the fantastic live band, drunkenly dancing to re-interpreted classics like Van Morrison’s ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ and feasting on fish tacos:

"Cajun" mahi mahi tacos. I asked for extra spicy. You should too.

My vow to only eat fresh fish, fruit, veggies and vodka lasted until Monday night, when this exhausted Chicago girl was ready for pizza and pay-per-view. (Right?! It’s the best.) And that’s all I have to say about that. Promise.

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Drunk as Druck in Waikiki Beach

As I may have mentioned, I was in Waikiki Beach last week. Wikiwiki is Hawaiian for quick. Waikiki, however, is Hawaiian for “Hello, sailor!” If you’re female, and in need of an ego boost gleaned from a parade of young Navy dudes, Air Force pilots and Marine aviators, all vying for your attention, get yourself there wikiwiki.

Frangipani? Plumeria? White jasmine? A lei by any other name is still a damn good time.

I was staying at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach, and they clearly have a contract with the US military. You couldn’t throw a coconut without hitting someone wearing a camouflage jumpsuit and sporting a nickname patch over the left breast like “Warthog,” “Chaos” or “FITS.” (Those are all real. I did the legwork. Buh dum BUH.)

Funny, I don't remember that waterfall. But I did drink a LOT of vodka.

Hotel itself is fine. Liked the Starbucks in the lobby. Would’ve liked it better if my keycard stayed magnetized for more than an hour. Surprisingly tasty food at the Kana Ka Pila Grille though, which even in nicer hotels is often an afterthought. Fresh ahi tacos, adorned with a crown of fragrant cilantro! Kalua pork quesadillas! Live music! Yay. Another hotel restaurant, the Shore Bird, is right on the water:

You have to cook your own steak here. Why go to a restaurant at all?

I took the Outrigger Catamaran for a combo snorkel and sail — and it was awesome. I loved it! The crew was friendly, laid-back and chill. No flippers, just snorkels. No life jackets except in an emergency situation. Mai tais, $3. We checked out a few of these guys:

Look who's coming out of his shell.

Favorite part? The 82• ocean water. LA’s coastal waters hover at just above freezing (only a slight exaggeration) and are filthy dirty, so warm, clean sea water is a refreshing change. I could’ve stayed there, letting the undulating waves gently lift and lower me, all day long.

That catamaran on the left is mine. ALL MINE.

More Hawaii tomorrow. Mahalo!

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