August 27, 2008

The Dal Rae

Every month or two, some of my buddies and I have a "guy's night out", which means booze and steak and more booze. Our culinary outings have delved into some of the older dining establishments around the LA area. I guess a lot of folks would consider these places "old man" restaurants. They're not trendy or hip, but they are kitschy locations that used be called "supper clubs" back in the 50's. There are not many of them left, but the nice thing about dinner spots like these is good service and excellent food (generally). Our most recent outing had our meager group of meat-eaters headed into the bowels of Pico Rivera to the Dal Rae.

In case there's any doubt as to what goes on inside, the word "Restaurant" is plainly visible.

You can almost smell the pipe tobacco, vodka martinis and sheer manliness.

The place didn't look like much on the outside, but it clearly had that post-war atomic-age feel. Like most things in LA it was in a crappy area... but not too crappy... but sort of a "been there for a long-time" type of crappy as opposed to "there's gangs everywhere trying to kill us and oh God I hope we don't get pulled over by the cops because they'll beat anyone in this neighborhood" type of crappy. Los Angeles has a lot of layers to its crap, you just have to know which layer you're in--- and dress appropriately.

Wait a second... I feel like I'm in "Goodfellas"...
please don't go Joe Pesci on my ass!

It's cliché to say that walking through the door was like stepping back in time, but suck it up, cuz that's exactly what it was like. You could smell the steak and seafood being cooked in butter. The hostess, bartenders and wait staff were all adults, which was a refreshing change to see. There were NO disinterested 20-nothings slouching about, in positions of authority but unwilling to do anything, hating their jobs, not caring if they waited on us or not. For a change we were treated like customers, like a valuable part of this establishment's business and not a burden to emo-boy or attitude-girl who refuse to make eye-contact with anyone over thirty.

Aw, crap. I'm bitching like an old coot... that's better than cooting like an old bitch I guess.

The main dining room was large with wood paneling and big tuck n' roll leather booths. The room had just the right mood lighting under which to have a cocktail and discuss Sputnik, JFK, and the prospect of flying cars -- fueled by atomic power of course.

Hey why does THAT olive get its own pool?

The Dal Rae is one of those places where they bring you a chilled relish tray right off the bat and then take your "cocktail order". Seems a little hokey by today's standards I suppose... a dish of ice with veggies and pickled curiosities on top... but it was nice, and a tasty compliment to my before-dinner drink.

Ummmm... I guess I'll have the meat.

The wedge salad wasn't really a "wedge" nor did it appear to be much of a "salad". The carrot and tomato seemed like an afterthought at best.. in fact, the whole thing looked like Raymond Burr had attempted to eat a head of lettuce in two bites while on the run, and then in a fit of bile-spewing fury horked it all back up onto a chilled plate. BUT... despite its appearance, the salad (and especially the blue cheese dressing) were EXCELLENT!

And then the main course came...

You're looking a little crabby this evening.

The Dal Rae is a steak joint, it's known for its pepper steak. I ordered surf n' turf. A pepper steak fillet and crab legs. Well... truth be told, the Dal Rae screwed up my order and brought me a standard fillet rather than the pepper steak... but I didn't care. The meal was perfect! The steak was outstanding and the crab legs were beautiful... they even came split so I didn't have to fight to eat them. This was one of the BEST meals I've ever had. Not a HEALTHY meal at all. This was one of those artery-clogging gastronomical orgies your doctor warns you about. Throw in a couple of glasses of wine, and BAM - it doesn't get much better than this.

But wait... there's still dessert. What?... but I didn't save room! We couldn't leave without trying the Bananas Flambé.

Hey... wait a second... Flambé is just a sissy word for fire!

They came right to our table. Set up a little stove, dumped sugar, butter, bananas, and rum into a pan and set it on fire. Who knew a desert without chocolate could be so good?! There might have been some peaches or something else thrown in there as well. I was finishing all this off with a great glass of port. At this point I was the Dal Rae's bitch and loving all that she could dish out.

I can't wait to go back for more abuse.

August 26, 2008


We have a little wine cellar where we keep our older, more expensive wines. You know, the ones you want to put in a safe place so that you can enjoy them as they get better with age. It's a way to protect your investment in over-priced grape juice.

We had a nice, but small collection of wines that we have been acquiring and saving to drink on future occasions: some beautiful '95 cabs, pinots, and some awesome blends... all just waiting to be popped open and enjoyed. Notice I used the word "had" at the start of this paragraph. Because this little guy that you see below...

You can trust me, honest!

...betrayed us. Oh sure, it promised to preserve our wine and keep it in peak drinking condition until that right moment when we were ready to grab a bottle, chase the raccoons and possums off the porch and fill our Dixie cups; guzzling the devil's sweat like back-alley Baptists at a pot-luck hog roast. But that was not to be. Oh no. The Cuisinart had plans of its own. Evil plans.

The other night I decided it was time to partake of one of the '95 Beauliu Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon's I'd been saving for close to 10 years. I was confident that it was safely stored inside our little cellar. Reaching into the cellar, I expected to feel a nice cool 55º temp that the wine was to be stored at, instead I felt this:

Did you want that '97 meritage baked or broiled?

It was like an OVEN! That's not an exaggeration. The bottles were nearly as warm as a hot cup of coffee. One bottle even had the wine bubble out through the cork. I pulled all the bottles out, each one seemed hotter than the next. Needless to say all the wine was destroyed. We would have been better off sticking them in the cupboard instead of keeping them in this hellmouth. But we wanted the security of putting them someplace made to store wine... except, the Cuisinart did the OPPOSITE! It's like hiring a babysitter to watch your children, only when you return home after the movie you find out that she cooked and ate your kids--- and there's not even any leftovers. Damn!

Well, it looks like we're back to drinking ink until we can get more wine.

Conservatively I'd say that about $700 worth of wine was destroyed... possibly closer to a grand. Dunno what happened. The thermostat must have broke or something because the unit's not designed to go much over 65º. Probably an example of great Chinese craftsmanship at work.

Oh, there is a warranty. But it only covers repairs to the wine cellar, nothing for the contents. Like we're going get this easy-bake vino-roaster repaired. It's goin' in the trash with all the wine it ruined.

So sad... so very, very sad...

August 13, 2008

Cheetah Girls Premiere

Oh man, it's been a loooooong time since I've posted to this blog. I've been busy with work (which is good), mostly battling French and Italian producers and broadcasters overseas on one (very frustrating) project that's taken up most of my days and nights, while at the same time writing another Care Bears feature film and a Care Bears DVD... but those are topics for posts yet to come. I dunno if one can actually digress before starting their topic, but I think I just did.


Emily, who works at Disney (my former employer) had tickets to the "world premiere" of The Cheetah Girls: One World which took place last night in Hollywood. To say I was less than thrilled at the prospect of attending this event would be an understatement - but it promised to be a big "Hollywood" type blow-out. Something that the Disney company rarely springs for and something that the Disney Channel never hosts - and THIS was a Disney Channel event. So it was a big deal that I had to check out.

The "Cheetahs", minus Raven.
Smirk to the camera if you just bought new boobies!

To be honest, I was not prepared for how big an event this was. After working for years at the Disney Studios as a writer and producer and experiencing cheaper, lamer, and more disappointing holiday parties and events, I was shocked to see the Disney Channel spring for a full-on Hollywood premiere like this. I guess it makes sense though, because right now the Disney Channel is king with their pre-teen and teen live-action TV movies, like High School Musical.

Just getting to the El Capitan theatre where the premiere was held was an ordeal for us. Both sides of Hollywood Boulevard were filled with tourists and fans with cameras trying to get a glimpse or picture of those who were exiting from the line of limos. We were not arriving in a limo, we had to park and walk.

It's a madhouse, a MADHOUSE!!! Soylent green is PEOPLE!

Waiting in line to get into the premiere, we were directly across from the Chinese Theatre where lotsa' people were watching... including a Marilyn look-alike, complete with air-blast rising skirt. I didn't ask where the "air" was coming from.

Marilyn moons Hollywood.

Our wait in line wasn't very long. Soon we had our "guest" badges and were strolling down the aqua/blue carpet - Disney couldn't spring for the Red Carpet, I guess that was not in the budget. It was wild walking past all the fans, reporters and paparazzi who at first looked at us expectantly, then frowned in disappointment once they realize that we were nobody. Similar to the looks I get when I go back to my High School reunions.

Emily, ready for her close-up.

As we headed into the theatre, we passed plenty of notables who were getting their pictures taken or signing autographs for fans.

Kim Kardashian... not in Cheetah girls, but working
that "I'm famous without trying" look.

In fact, ALL the Kardashian's were in attendance, even Bruce Jenner (not in the picture below) - whom I got a look at - and to say he looks creepy due to all his plastic surgery is like saying a soup sandwich is messy.

Quick! Take the picture while Bruce is busy reattaching his nose.

Once we got past all this craziness we pushed on into the theatre. Our tickets said we were in the balcony - Oh boy!

Row KK, seat 2, this must be a GREAT seat!

As it turned out, our seats were nearly all the way at the back, up near the ceiling. We were up where the pigeons roost.

Our view of the screen. We were in row "suck".

The movie was supposed to start at 6pm. We were seated just a little before 6. And then we sat... and sat... and waited... for the cast and crew to be seated on the main floor. We sat there for nearly an hour. But that wasn't so bad, at least they had music playing the whole time! Oh wait. It was bad. It was the just title music to the Cheetah Girls movie, played over and over and over in an excruciating loop of torture!

Darn, I just had my nails done! Now they're all waxy!

It was HELL being stuck listening to the same whiny, over-produced track repeatedly. Everyone around us was ready to kill each other just to end the misery. But at last it stopped. And then the real torture began, the movie started... and began with the same track of music we'd been tortured with for the last friggin' hour!

The Trailer for The Cheetah Girls: One World

The movie was pretty awful. Look, I know that I'm a crappy animation writer who's responsible for his share of horrible kid's stuff, so I'm not putting myself above any of this. I'm sure that the pre-teens will eat this up and love it - good for them! But the acting (of the three Cheetah girls) was horrid. All of the songs and the singers' voices were so over-produced and tonally modulated that each girl (and even the guys' who sang) sounded exactly alike. I mean exactly. It was nearly robotic. In the previous Cheetah Girls films Raven Symoné was the featured actor, and now I can see why. She was carrying the other girls, big time. This film really needed her. And the story?... um, what story? This had all the flash and depth of a car commercial. I know, I know... this coming from a guy who writes Care Bears movies.

The real stars of the film should have been these two:

Rupak Ginn and Deepti Daryanani

They were the best performers and most engaging characters in the film. Sadly, they weren't featured enough. Anyway, this post isn't meant to be a review of Disney's latest effort at doing what they do best, selling product - but for what it is, the film is wholesome, harmless, and forgettable.

After the film, we all walked one block to the Roosevelt Hotel for the after party. This is where things got good!

This is just a lot of sheet, you know that don't you?

Since the movie had taken place in India, the downstairs of the Roosevelt Hotel, lobby and all, was decked out to look as if we were in the heart of Mumbai... but without all the poverty, overcrowding, beggars, and unsettling aromas.

Dancers on the tables, makin' with the Hindi moves.

There was plenty of food and booze to be had-- and the food was actually good... and so was the booze. Since there were a lot of younger kids in attendance, the menu did not include much authentic Indian food, but there was plenty of mac n' cheese, chicken fingers, and fries. Who says Disney doesn't know their audience?

No, I said get your hand off my glass.

All in all, we really had a good time. I got to reconnect with some of the Disney people I hadn't seen in awhile and I got to meet some of the folks Emily works with at the Disney Channel.

We even got our picture taken with the cast... via green screen and Photoshop trickery.

Us on the left side... I'm the floating orb next to Emily.