Happy Halloween And My Emmy Weekend (Part I)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!  This is my FAVORITE day of the year!  My favorites things in life all come together: scary movies, eating lots of candy (and it’s totally acceptable), dressing up like a fool, and getting together with friends!  What could be better?  On a more serious note, I have many friends and family that are affected by Sandy, so I will continue sending good thoughts your way!!  I was supposed to be on a red-eye flight to NYC last night, but Mother Nature had other plans. Now I can finally finish this post!  More importantly, now I need to go out and get Halloween candy for trick-or-treaters!!  And I’ve heard Halloween is being delayed in some areas, so here’s an image that will keep you in the Halloween spirit . . .

I apologize for taking so long to write about my weekend in L.A. I’m sure you’ve all been on the edge of your seats! Through People Magazine and L’Oreal, I won a trip to sit in the bleacher area of the Red Carpet at the Emmys. So on Saturday, September 22nd, a driver picked me and my husband up at our house and whisked us away to the airport to begin our star-studded weekend. Franz was looking forward to a weekend in L.A., but he had to ask me what the Emmy Awards celebrated. In his defense, there are a lot of award shows.

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We stayed at The London (http://www.thelondonwesthollywood.com/), my new favorite hotel in L.A. The complimentary breakfast at Gordon Ramsay‘s Boxwood Cafe was amazing! It reminded me of a scrumptious hotel breakfast I had once in Vienna – but this might have been even better! The hotel is perched on a hill in West Hollywood, so the view from the dining room was beautiful. Watching the sun rising as I had a delicious croissant and latte was a perfect way to begin the day. The decor was a cross between Restoration Hardware and a tea party in a doll house. That sounds bad, but it worked and I loved it. Our hotel room was so spacious. Maybe I’m getting too used to hotels in NYC and San Francisco, but this room was huge and so comfortable. The roof top pool had great views of the surrounding WeHo area (as I discovered it was called) and hosted the BBC party for the Emmy weekend. So not only did Franz and I take a dip, we were able to see a few stars. Unfortunately, I have yet to watch any of the nominated shows – but now I will! The cast of Sherlock was getting a ton of attention. The fans were not allowed into the hotel, unless they were guests, so many were camped out in front of the hotel. Of course, now I want to see what all the buzz is about, so I’ll have to rent the first season.  Another great thing about this hotel is the complimentary driver available for relatively short distances.  I love when hotels have this perk.  The car is beautiful, comfortable and clean, and the driver is always friendly.  Just grab the driver’s card, and most likely he can pick you up as well.  Not having to take a taxi: priceless.

Gordon Ramsay at the London on Urbanspoon

There have been two restaurants I’ve been wanting to check out: Animal (http://www.animalrestaurant.com/) and The Bazaar by Jose Andres (http://www.thebazaar.com/).  Friday night, we checked out The Bazaar and wished we hadn’t.  Maybe it was all of the hype, maybe it was because I thought Chef Andres was awesome on 60 Minutes when he described his philosophy on life and cooking, or maybe it was because I really wanted to try a molecular twist on a Philly Cheesesteak , but I was disappointed.  I ordered “The Ultimate Gin and Tonic”.  $18?  It better have been the ultimate!  I will say it was a beautiful drink.  It is served in a stout glass with a wide mouth.  It was perfect for taking in all of the lovely smells within the glass.  You have a choice of gin: Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Oxley or Hendrick’s.  I opted for Bombay Sapphire, my favorite gin.  I needed help on my next choice – tonic.  I will admit that I have never given tonic a second thought, and I thought it was a little silly to start at this point. There were two choices: Fever Tree or Stirrings.  I asked our server for guidance in this matter.  He explained that Fever Tree has tighter bubbles, and that was his recommendation for this drink.  Alrighty!  I will admit, I tried the tonic on its own, and it was really good!  Since my trip, I started reading about different tonics, and I was amazed how much I have to learn about this one little beverage.  I will not even attempt to go into it at this point, but I will suggest that you keep an eye out for restaurants that offer various tonics and give them a go.  It’s always fun to taste new things!  And because of this, I will never look at tonic in the same way.  I will also add that it was the best G&T I’ve ever had in my life.  At least it lived up to its name!

Franz and I proceeded with ordering a few items of the tapas menu: Papas Canarias (salted wrinkly potatoes with mojo verde), Seared Scallops (AMAZING!), Veal Loin with Cippolini, Roasted Sweet Long Peppers with a Romesco Sauce, Roasted Beets, the  famous “Philly Cheesesteak”, and Japanese Tacos with Eel and Chicharron.  The scallops were so tasty that after one bite, we asked for a second order.  I guess I was expecting to be blown away.  Everything was o.k., but The Bazaar wasn’t inspiring in its presentation or with its flavors.  Maybe we didn’t order the most creative items on the menu?  I was expecting more molecular gastronomy in each dish.  The Philly Cheesesteak was the only item that came close due to the way the flavors suggested a cheesesteak, but in fact was nothing like one you would get in Philadelphia.  If you decide to go here, make sure you eat before you go or plan on visiting another restaurant afterwards.  You will not leave full, and you will have spent a lot of money.  I was fine with that because I was looking for “the experience”, but I never got that experience.  I’m glad I tried it, but I will not go back.

The Bazaar By José Andrés on Urbanspoon

Check out Chef Andres on 60 Minutes: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6754666n

After dinner, we checked out a band at The Viper Room, another place that has always spiked my curiosity (http://viperroom.com/).  I didn’t like the beers available, so I ordered a gin and tonic.  Big mistake!  The Bazaar may have ruined me for life! The band playing, Brainspoon, was good.  I wished we could have stayed longer to see the headliner act, Boy Hits Car, but we knew we had a long day ahead of us.  Even if I’ve never heard of a band, I love hearing live music.  I don’t do that enough anymore!

The following morning we had the delicious complimentary breakfast offered at the hotel, and headed back to our room to await my make-up artist, Christiane Gendrey, and hair stylist, Joey, provided by People Magazine and L’Oreal.  Joey did a casual and fun up do, and Christiane kept the make-up light and natural.  Both were perfect ways to go considering it was a crazy hot day in L.A.  I have no idea how all of the actors wore tuxedos and heavy gowns without sweating right through them!  I did notice assistants wiping people down and reapplying sunscreen to women’s backs, especially the reporters.

Attending the Emmy Red Carpet was a very interesting and unusual experience.  There are many people who obtain the passes to sit in the bleacher area every single year.  I can’t imagine doing that.  Once was fine for me!  It’s an entire day that begins with a lot of waiting – and then more waiting.  Once you finally make it to the secured entrance, you are seated in the bleacher area, and you wait some more.  We watched Fashion Police on the Red Carpet being recorded (http://www.eonline.com/shows/fashion_police).  I love Giuliana Rancic, so that was kind of cool.  And I loved seeing Kelly Osbourne’s purple hair in person.  We were able to participate in some of their fashion polls.  Franz was wondering what the heck he got himself into at that point.  He was one of the few men in the bleacher area.  He was a trooper!  It was fun to have family and friends call us throughout the event to say they had spotted us on t.v.

Once the stars started rolling onto the scene, it was pandemonium.  I thought the Red Carpet would have some sense of order.  It was a sea of penguins and ball gowns.  After a period of time, it almost became overwhelming.  I was taking so many photos, but I realized I should put the camera down and just start watching.  Franz loved seeing “Al Bundy” (Ed O’Neill) and the cast from Modern Family.  We thought it was really cool seeing Michael J. Fox and Tom Hanks.  However, Franz didn’t have the same reaction to seeing Jon Hamm as I did.  That was awesome!  I couldn’t believe Don Draper had to go through metal detectors!  That’s not right!

I still have to write about a few places we checked out during our L.A. weekend: The Surly Goat, Hamburger Mary’s, Rosewood Tavern, and Animal.  A couple were hug hits, and one was fun, but the food was a miss.  Spoiler alert!  I think Animal is one of the best restaurants I’ve visited.  I promise Part 2 will be posted soon with some more food details!

Until Then, Take Care and Happy Eating!