It seems we have started a wedding anniversary tradition. Last year I had my heart set on spending the night at the Bel Air hotel for our 20th wedding anniversary (same spot we spent our wedding night). We stayed about 4 days in Los Angeles and had a great time. This year we were invited by Michael's parents to spend the weekend before our anniversary with them in Los Angeles. We decided to not only do that, but also to extend the trip to include our 21st anniversary.
We just returned from our trip at about 2am this morning. Thank you United Airlines for getting us back to Portland before our next anniversary :). We stayed with Michael's parents for the first three days of our trip. They took us to a fabulous (a word pretty much owned by Michael's Mother) restaurant for Friday night dinner. The Ivy Restaurant on Robertson in LA is a movie star hangout and it is a beautiful place. Filled with so many gorgeous flowers. If there were movie stars dining there, I did not see them and the paparazzi were not there that night, so my guess is we were dining with just regular old "normal" people. The food was really really good!
We dined on crab cake appetizer
and an amazing papaya, avocado, shrimp salad
We had a halibut entree and a decadent pecan pie square with hot fudge sauce for dessert.
Oh yes, this disclaimer is a little late, but there will be food pictures included with this post because we had so much great food, I had to chronicle it.
Saturday was an amazing day. The weather was absolutely perfect (in my book) every day we were there: 75-78 degrees and sunny. We had lunch with Linda and Stuart's friends at the Mountain Gate Country Club where we got married 21 years ago. Many of these same friends had been at our wedding.
July 29, 1989-Mountain Gate Country Club, 10th tee
Saturday evening we were Linda and Stuart's guests at their Terrace Box at the Hollywood Bowl for a spectacular showing of selected footage from the BBC Series 'Planet Earth Live' accompanied by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The footage shown on a large screen in high definition was breathtaking.
On Sunday we had dinner with Michael's Sister Debbie, her husband Steve and their daughter Marisa out at the Calabasas Commons. I love the Calabasas area where Michael grew up--so very different from where I grew up in SE Portland.
Monday afternoon we moved to our gorgeous hotel, The Four Seasons Beverly Hills. It was a bit of a splurge, but we did take advantage of a one night free deal AND we told them it was our anniversary and they kindly upgraded us to an Executive Suite--a nice step up from our booked room. We ended up with a separate living area from the bedroom, separated by french doors.
When we arrived in our room, we found a lovely bottle of chilled champagne (which was a nice gesture, but we don't drink so we gave it to my brother Chris) and a beautiful dessert. At first I thought it was a fondant sugar fruit bowl thingy. But then, after eating some of the fruit I could see that it was indeed filled with cake and it was the most decadent buttermilk chocolate cake filled with a big layer of chocolate butter cream frosting that I have ever eaten (and I have eaten A LOT of chocolate cake). It was so rich, that I did get a little sick and ruined my appetite and we had to postpone our dinner reservations for a couple of hours, but OH, WAS IT WORTH IT!!!!
but I think the most wonderful thing about this hotel was the pool area. I could have just lived at the pool in one of the cabanas:
We had dinner Monday night at the hotel's new Italian restaurant, Culina. We ate on the patio surrounded by tropical plants and a cozy fireplace.
We dined on appetizers of grilled eggplant, proscuitto and parmesan, plus a second appetizer of heirloom tomatoes stuffed with Burrata Cheese, ravioli filled with mascarpone cheese and topped with grilled corn, fried sage and browned butter plus a rib-eye steak topped with fresh tomatoes and herbs. We shared everything and we savored every delicious bite.
I wish I had a picture of that rib-eye. Well, actually, I wish I had that rib-eye sitting right in front of me. When I give up meat for good (which could be very soon), I will have to have that rib-eye one more time, just one more time. Actually I am glad I do not have a picture, because once I do give up meat, I would be looking back at that picture often and it would be torture.
Tuesday was a fun day filled with professional tennis and reconnecting with an old friend. Tuesday morning we picked up a rental car and headed over to UCLA to watch the afternoon session of the Farmer's Classic Tennis Tournament. I absolutely love tennis and it was so great to be able to see Robbie Ginepri and James Blake play (not each other... they both played players from other countries and both Americans won). Michael's Mom had a couple extra tickets for Tuesday and she invited us to join her and a friend. The seats were amazing! Three rows back. I want to do that again. Michael really likes James Blake.
Oh, wait, did I mention I did not have a real camera. Yeah, no, I only had my iphone. Kind of a disappointment, but I got a few decent photos.
Tuesday night we had dinner at a Chinese Restaurant in Beverly Hills with Aunt Amy and her beautiful daughter Grace. It was so much fun to reconnect with Amy after so many years.
On Wednesday we did something neither of us had ever done before... we went to the taping of a TV show. We have been offered tickets to shows before, especially at Universal Studios where they run around desperately trying to get audience members for the Jay Leno show, but there was always an age restriction of 16+ years old and the kids never qualified. While we were waiting for the driver at the hotel to take us to the CBS Studios, paparazzi were lurking outside the front of the hotel. Then film crews started pouring out of the hotel and loading up into vans. The Four Seasons town car arrived and we were not interested in sticking around to see what all the ruckus was about. We love the hotel town car service because as long as you are going within 2 or 3 miles of the hotel (and there is a lot of great things located within this distance including all of Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, Farmer's Market, The Grove, Century City and at least a couple other large shopping malls and about a bazillion excellent restaurants), they will drop you and pick you up in their gorgeous black Mercedes and you don't have to worry about driving or parking. Anyway, so we later found out that they were doing a press conference for The Expendables. So the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Eric Roberts, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis were all just a few feet from us, but hey, we had places to be :).
We had tickets to The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and we love Craig Ferguson.
Unfortunately, the process of actually getting into the show is tedious. They tell you to arrive at least 45 minutes prior to the 3:00pm arrival time. We were actually there at about 1:45pm, but they over"sell", well, over"give" because the tickets are actually free, but you have to go online in advance to reserve them. So, first they line you up outside the gates of the studios on the busy street of Fairfax (next to The Farmer's Market/The Grove) and make you wait there for a while. We thought about going over to Farmer's Market, however, we didn't want to lose the opportunity to actually get to see Craig, so we stayed put in line. We were very close to the front of the line, VERY CLOSE. We waited out on the street for approximately an hour and 15 minutes. The line got very long. Then we were moved inside the studio gates, but not into the studio. They send you through a metal detector and then line you up in rows. They bring out a warm up comedian and give you a bunch of rules. The warm up comedian was quite funny. He actually gave Michael a mug and vowed his undying love for him, which of course had the audience howling. It was actually quite funny since the "sexy" girl next to Michael thought she was getting the mug... ha, that will show her. The sexy girl with skin tight jeans, knee high boots and low cut top does not always get the guy... sometimes Michael does? Hmmm, well, moving right along.
Finally, after about 2 hours, they escort you into the small and FREEZING COLD studio where the show is filmed. They have this whole selection process where they decide who is going to sit where. They look at you and then make you laugh spontaneously. On the late late show they really do not show the audience, but how you laugh and how much you laugh is very important. We ended up about three rows back in the center with about 12 microphones pointing right at us. This is really like a job... you are supposed to laugh at everything whether you think it is funny or not. They don't have signs or anything, but the warm up comedian spends another 30 minutes or so in the studio prepping you to laugh at EVERYTHING. By the time Craig Ferguson actually comes out, you are exhausted. Also, since we were right in the middle of the audience we really could not see Craig at all because he was pretty much covered up by the large camera that is right in front of him. The one he knocks around and walks right up to, so we were watching him mostly on the TV monitors and, of course, laughing very hard at everything he said. Now, I love Craig Ferguson and think he is the funniest nighttime talk show host, but it is just generally a lot easier to watch him at home and laugh when I want to laugh. Plus he looks better on TV. He looks younger and more tan on TV. In the studio he looked a little tired and pasty? Now really, I am not complaining because it was an extremely interesting experience, especially watching the skill of the cameramen. Craig's guests were Carrie Fisher (who is crazy weird) and Ron Livingston (kind of a boring guest, but Craig has such skill at stream of consciousness comedy, that he can make anyone look good). Craig did talk to the audience a little. Generally, the whole experience just made me think about how we, the audience, the fans, sometimes think that these people that we see on TV are real. They're not. They are all playing characters, even comedians. My guess is that Craig Ferguson goes home and does not make one joke until he has to come back to work the next day. Being a comedian looks absolutely exhausting.
After the show we walked down the street to meet Michael's oldest and dearest friend and the Best Man at our wedding, Elliot. We had dinner with Elliot and his lovely girlfriend Michele. The restaurant, The Little Door, was quaint and pretty and the food was Mediterranean French deliciousness.
Thursday was our actual anniversary. We relaxed by the pool and split a lobster club sandwich for lunch. YES, it was as good as it sounds. They also handed out treats like homemade root beer float popsicles.
For dinner, we went to an Italian Restaurant very close to the hotel and very highly recommended. It was excruciatingly expensive. Again the paparazzi were in full force. Frankly, everyone there was so beautiful any one of them could have been a celebrity. I didn't see anyone I recognized, but I also didn't have my glasses on. My Brother Chris was coincidentally in Los Angeles at the same time we were, but he was there on business. We stole him away from his Japanese co-workers to share our anniversary dinner with us. We shared Heirloom tomatoes and Burrata Cheese (I am officially addicted to Burrata Cheese--if you haven't had it, it is like a super creamy buffalo mozzarella), Eggplant Parmesan, and Grilled Langoustines that were very very good. It was a lovely dinner.
Friday was our last day in the city. We had a Jewish deli style breakfast at Nate n Al's with Aunt Amy (Michael craves Jewish deli food--Portland is lacking). We called the Four Seasons car to pick us up and we were looking for our favorite driver and his black Mercedes, but what pulls up to take us back to the hotel... a big black Rolls Royce. Crazy! I felt so conspicuous. We spent the rest of the day picking up pastries at Bea's Bakery (thanks Grandma Lindy for getting everyone hooked on Bea's Chocolate Chip Danishes) and eating lunch at the Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas. If we had known that our already very late flight (scheduled at 10:00pm) was going to be two hours late, we could have stopped at In n Out Burger and put on a few more pounds. This has got to be a record... we spent almost 8 days in Los Angeles and Michael did not eat one In n Out Burger. Amazing! But it does seem we ate EVERYTHING else!