HERMANO SEGUNDO LOST IN LA LA LAND: DAY FIFTEEN
There are few things when I am on the road that can beat a home cooked meal. I still recall simple dish of roast chicken prepared for me by my dear chum, Tana in Santa Cruz when I was exhausted and beginning to regret my decision to ‘go everywhere, eat everything” It lifted my spirits as well as filled my belly.
There are, however, home cooked meals and there are home cooked meals and Saturday’s “end of trip” invitation from my new chums, Liz and John Haskell promised to be as memorable as any meal I experienced on the whole trip.
As I mentioned before, John and Liz are uber-diners. I don’t use that term lightly, they are easily the most experienced restaurant goers I have ever met with filing cabinets of menus a testament to their visits to just about every great temple to dining in Europe and The USA. It turns out that Liz is not just a great eater, but also an extraordinary cook and when Sybil and I arrived at their beautiful home in L.A, we were presented with a menu not only for the eight courses she had spent days preparing but also for the wine pairings chosen by John in conjunction with their son, David, a former L.A sommelier of the year.
You only need look at the pictures to know that it was a memorable meal, but they don’t tell half the story. Light cornets were filled with salmon tartar, a nod towards Thomas Keller and The French Laundry and an egg shell laboriously cleaned and filled with egg yolk, cream and a hint of maple syrup was a tribute to Alain Passard’s signature dish at Arperge. Around that, dishes whose simplicity belied the effort that had gone into their preparation. A tomato tart with oregano and a crumbly crust, tuna tartar with crispy wantons speckled with sesame and poppy seeds and a pumpkin soup with more depth than Jonathan Miller.
By the time we reached the main event, we were already reaching capacity, but still found room for a perfectly moist roast chicken with a stunning slow cooked, creamy potato gratin, before leaving the table and facing down moist Heath Bar brownies and a persimmon cake that tasted like Christmas.
Liz, ever the critic gave herself a B-, but this was a meal that pushed many supposedly memorable meals from my brain, particularly when complimented with interesting wines like a sparkling white from New Mexico (who knew?) a Riesling from Slovenia and finishing off with a fine Madeira with the cake.
By the time we flopped on their sofa and turned our attention to their two small, well behaved dogs, it was nearly midnight and six hours had passed in a happy blur. We were sorry to leave, but now I am headed back to London, I feel very fortunate to have such generous and talented new friends who, if I needed any persuasion, have made sure that a return visit to La La Land is going to be on the cards very soon.