Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mi Piace 2009

Pasadena, California.

I'm sorry to report that this is now my FORMER favorite Italian restaurant.

What Happened?

I haven't been back in a year and I don't understand how the taste and quality of the food just plummeted.

For one thing, this restaurant was not as crowded as it usually is. Is that a bad sign? There was hardly any wait and the outside tables were not cleaned (dirty dishes and all!) and remained un-touched for the duration of our dinner.

Then, the table next to ours ordered a Cinzano and they didn't have any. So he ordered a shot of Martini & Rossi Red and a shot of Martini & Rossi White in a glass with ice and a twist of lemon. The waitress came back with a tumbler of M&R red and another tumbler of M&R white. Shit! He repeated the order three times! I could have gone behind the bar and did that myself!

Also, I'm noticing that the food tastes ASIAN!  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but, if I wanted Asian food, I would not go to an Italian restaurant.

Let's start with some calamari.

The calamari was still tasty, generously portioned with plenty of heads which I likey. Traditionally served with marinara sauce, this one arrived with a sweet and sour sauce which I thought was unusual but nevertheless refreshing.  And eerily Asian! 

(Mi Piace Chicken)

Neil ordered his usual Mi Piace signature chicken dish which is chicken with bell peppers and angel hair pasta.  He had no complaints about it.  I tasted it.  I swear it almost tasted like chow mein!  I felt like dousing it with some calamansi and soy sauce to complete the experience!

(Shrimp and Calamari Fra Diavolo)

I ordered the Fra Diavolo with Shrimp and Calamari. The verdict:  It was MEDIOCRE!  I could have done the same thing at home with a bottle of store-bought spaghetti sauce.  The dish was way too salty and not spicy.  It did not have the depth of flavor I remember the last time I ordered it.   Really sad.

(Espresso Bread Pudding)

For dessert, I wanted the usual TiramisĂș.  They were out (it was not even 7pm).  What should I get? Mango cake or Coconut cream pie? (These were really on the dessert menu).

Thankfully, they had Espresso Bread Pudding which was great, especially the choco-caramel sauce.  Of course, now I'll be awake till 3 in the morning.

On the bright side, the search is on for the next great favorite Italian restaurant.  Any suggestions?

Year of the Ox

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

We're finally putting that horrible Year of the Rat behind us! Here's to a more stable year of the Ox!

Pictured above is a detail from Roelandt Savery 's (Dutch, 1576-1639) Landscape with Ruins and Animals from the Norton Simon Museum's permanent collection.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Best Commercial. Ever.

YSL JAZZ, 1986

Of all the commercials that I've seen since we got our state-of-the-art 13" SONY Trinitron Color TV in the (ahem!) 70's, this one influenced my style the most. I still want to dress like this, move like this and sing C'est Si Bon. This was from 1986 and directed by Jean Baptiste Mondino starring Naomi Campbell. I still remember standing in front of the video display at The Broadway Department Stores watching this over and over.

Every frame is a style statement:

View the complete commercial here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

That Bad Eartha

Eartha Kitt, 1927-2008

I received the news of Eartha's death over Christmas Day lunch. I remember her most for singing Waray-Waray (which I heard was taught to her by Sylvia La Torre) and which she included in her concert repertoire up until her recent death. I was planning to see her concert in San Francisco in May of this year, but I guess not!

Speaking of Waray- Waray, here is what she says about the song and the most famous Waray of them all (excerpted from the CD, Eartha at the Cafe Carlyle):

"Now this is a song that I learned while I was travelling in the Philippine Islands. And my daughter and I used to stay with Mr. and Mrs. Marcos. And sometimes she would come here (in New York at the Cafe Carlyle) and she would sit somewhere in this area, and she would yell out - Eartha! Sing Waray-Waray! This was one of her favorite songs. But of course, she always insisted on singing right along with me!"

She will be missed!