Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tell It Tuesdays: Shutters Hotel | Santa Monica

Shutters Beach Hotel
1 Pico Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Let's look at numbers 1-8 and for this review. I think you'll know where I stand.

1. I crossed out the server's name. I'd give the service a D-.

2. The cucumber splash cocktail looked so promising on the menu but the vodka was completely overwhelmed by flavored syrups. And when serving a drink in a small champagne glass straight out of The Great Gatsby, you can't float a cucumber garnish big enough for a veggie platter.

3. Mozz D' Buffa... I think they shortened the name on this app because it was short on flavor. The toasted bread was burnt on the edges, the pesto was bland, and the mozzarella was as good as a slice of Elmer's Glue.

4. I've got no problem with a 16 buck burger, but it better be damn good. When the bun scrapes off the roof of my mouth, it's not a good start. One kernel of Gruyere cheese is not enough to even mention that it's part of the burger. And if someone orders their burger medium plus, and you don't know what it means, ask me, or the chef, or the doorman.

5. When you make a request for a variation of something on the menu, I guess this is what happens.

6. The third member of our party was only charged for one glass of Kistler and the second glass came as a freebie from the waitress. Yes, the other wine glasses on the table were empty too.

7. When I asked for the house Champagne, the waitress told me there is no house Champagne. Honey, there's always a house.

8. $211.69 is a lot for what we got. At least the view didn't let us down.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Manners: Rule #91 | Top-off and Free Wine Etiquette

Rule #91: Top-off and Free Wine Etiquette

If the party dining or drinking is bigger than one person, you cannot top off or refill one person's glass of wine and not anyone else's. I don't care if he is your priest, your shrink, or your boyfriend. It's rude, and your motive could be misinterpreted. If you know the guy so well that you want to extend that kind gesture, wait until he comes in alone to give out the freebie.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jordan's Book Club Pairings

BOOK: My Malibu Death by Amy Weitman

SPIRIT: Stiletto Vodka

The central character in Weitman's book is Deborah, a woman who seemingly has it all but who feels empty and lost.  Deborah resides in one of the wealthiest parts of Southern California and is living the dream most women only fantasize about: beach house, rich husband, expensive clothes, and no need to work. But she is not caught up in any of it and instead feels almost burdened by the luxury. And with no career and no kids, she has too much time to think about how unhappy she is.

Despite our introduction to the heaviness of Deborah's world, Weitman manages to keep the story moving. We're routing for Deborah from the first page and hope that the other characters she meets during her journey to self-discovery help her and don't hurt her. She's a character you feel like you know... maybe your neighbor, or your best friend, or even yourself.

With a little bit of romance, a tad of suspense, and several moments when you pray the story will end well, it's a great book that is sure to please everyone.

Oh, and the vodka drinks I'd suggest for your book club party are: Sex on the Beach, Sea Breeze, and Salty Dog. Happy book clubbing!

Next Week: Through Eyes Like Mine
Last Week: The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Kanon's Midsummer Cocktail

This Friday Kanon Organic Vodka is hosting a little "Midsummer" event at the Soho Grand Hotel in New York City. 

I wish I was able to jump on a plane to join in on the festivities but for now I'll have to sip this delicious cocktail from the left coast. 
The Midsummer Cocktail
2 parts Kanon
¾ part St.Germain
¾ part lemon juice

Add ingredients to the cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Garnish with lemon twist and enjoy.

Wordless Wednesday | Tequila Shots

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tell It Tuesdays: West 4th and Jane| Santa Monica

Restaurant: West 4th and Jane
1432 4th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Drink Damage: Elements Chardonnay | $9

Interior Swag: Not much swag but so packed with people that it didn't matter. I loved all the little booths and the high ceiling. It's the kind of restaurant/bar you'd find in a small college town: unpretentious, open, and inviting.

Service: The place was extremely busy due to the televised 5th game of the NBA Championship yet this didn't keep our waiter from providing excellent service. Of course, his intense eye contact (something between American Idol's Constantine Maroulis and Joaquin Phoenix in the Commodus role) helped to diffuse any tension that may have been built up from waiting for that second glass of wine.

Food and Drink: It's beer and wine only here, but they've got a good selection, and the prices are extremely reasonable. Our group ordered many different items from the menu all to satisfaction. It was my first time trying a cornmeal crusted crusted calamari and it was delicious. Ironically more filling than the fried, breaded version.

Go-Back-Again-Ness: I think I'll chose a night when basketball isn't the center of attention, but this is a lively place that serves as the perfect meet-up spot for friends.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Manners: Rule #26 | Wrong Check Etiquette

Rule #26: What to do when you give someone the wrong check.

Scenario #1: Without knowing it, you set down a bill for two beers instead of the bill for two pricey cognacs. As you drop the check for the people drinking the beers, you notice your mistake. Luckily, the cognac drinkers haven't even peeked at their check. You politely say that you've made a little mistake and will fix the error quickly. No one needs to know what happened or why.

Scenario #2: You drop the bill for the cognac drinkers and instead of paying for two expensive V.S.O.P.s the customers pays for two inexpensive beers. Did they realize what they were paying for? Maybe, maybe not. Unfortunately, once the bill has been paid, it's over. You cannot go back and ask them to cough up the difference. Depending on your bar's policy, you will either have to promo the mistake or pay for it out of your own pocket.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jordan's Book Club Pairings

This book is a must-have for your next book club assignment. It's honest, hilarious, well-written, and just plain fun. But I also think it's a book that could foster a lot of discussion between friends about relationships. And by the way,  it's not just for the single girl who is looking for that perfect guy. A lot of married women might also benefit from some of the authors' tips and red flags. You might have a friend or a relative who is in a committed relationship but who is in denial about how she's being treated. This book could be a platform for women to share their own stories and gently address the issues of others. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments but enough personal stories to make this book a little gem for every bookshelf.

The wine is a light Pinot Grigio with hints of apple, pear, and some citrus. Chill it well before your party and serve with  fruit, creamy cheeses, and thin buttery crackers.

Book available now at Amazon.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sophisticated Drinking Games: Bunco Night

Bunco baffles me. The objective is elementary and the game's complexity is comparable to "pin the tail on the donkey." Yet it took three of my friends to explain the game to me and even as we were playing I was still trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

I have decided that since Bunco requires some basic math skills, decent penmanship, and the strength to move from one table to another without wiping out, that it is a notch above the rest on the drinking game IQ barometer. One must be able to add without fingers or a smart phone calculator. Your W's and L's cannot look like each other. And you must consider the likelihood of moving from one table to the next before you pour that one last glass of wine.

The good news is that you don't have to stress about the materials required for the game. They can all be found in your home: dice (3), paper, and a pencil.

Here's a gist of how to play:
1. Create a scoring sheet with 6 columns of numbers, and six rows. Number each column 1 - 6.
2. Form groups of 4. Two people at each table will be partners until one individual wins or loses.
3. Roll the three dice with the intention of hitting the target number. For example, if you are beginning the game, you start with the 1 column, and try to roll ones. When you get to the 2 column, you will try to roll twos. Every time you roll a target number, you give yourself a point. If you roll three of a kind of a different target number, you get 5 extra points. If you throw the dice without rolling a target number, your turn is over and the person to your left gets a turn. Your turn continues as long as you are rolling at least one target number.
4. When someone rolls the target number on all three dice, she shouts, "bunco," and wins that round. She also gets 21 points for winning with bunco. On her score card she puts a B. The other players add up their points and the players with more points put a "W" on their score card and the other two put an "L."
5. The scores are tallied at the other tables. The two players with the highest points get to stay at their table and mark a "W" and the two players with the lowest points have to move to the next table with an "L" on their card.
6. Continue playing until every column and row has been filled. The played with the most points at the end wins.

It's a super silly game but it's fun. Give it a shot and share your experience here when you recover.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Screwdriverino

Today I threw a wrench in the ol' screwdriver recipe (sorry...couldn't resist that one). This variation includes orange Sanpellegrino, which lightens up the drink and yields another option for the morning cocktail menu. I should also mention that this is a good drink for baby showers, since the mocktail version (sans vodka) is just as delicious.

2 ounces vodka
2 ounces orange juice
2 ounces sparkling orange Sanpellegrino

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tell It Tuesdays: Cafe Habana| Malibu

Restaurant: Cafe Habana
3939 Cross Creek Road
Malibu Lumber Yard
Malibu, CA 90265

Drink Damage: Virgin Cuba Libre | $4

Interior Swag: Love, love, love the interior and exterior. Large tropical plants line a patio furnished with big, comfortable wicker chairs and benches. The design is simple, open, and clean with tasteful design details on the walls and around the bar to create a cozy and warm environment. And of course the fact that the entire staff looks camera ready for the latest fashion spread doesn't hurt either. Our waitress wore sunglasses, bright pink lip stick, and jeans wrapped tighter than a burrito.

Food and Drink: The food is made with the freshest ingredients and presented in giant portions. Our party ordered guacamole as an appetizer, and for our entrees, chicken quesadillas, bean cheese and rice burritos, and shrimp tacos. Dessert was made up of $7 scoops of gelato with a tablespoon of chopped fruit.

Service: Our server had a huge personality and was the master at up-selling. "How about adding chicken to the quesadilla?" $4. "The fish tacos are great but the shrimp tacos are even better." $2. "Maybe the kids would like a scoop of ice cream?" $7 + $7.

Because I liked our server so much I was really surprised by her lack of interest in the long black hair draped over my second shrimp-add-two-dollars-more taco. I had scarfed down the first one and despite being full, was fully committed to cleaning my plate.

She looked at the hair and said, "Ew." Then, "Do you want me to get you a new taco or are you full?" The rest of my party was done, and I was full, so I said that making a new one wasn't necessary. However, I never expected to be charged $16 for the one taco I did eat.

I tried to let the charge go. I kept telling myself that I could have asked for a to-go shrimp taco, even though I knew it would sit in the fridge for a week and then be tossed out. I also tried to tell myself that I was full and could have skipped the second one anyway. But I couldn't get it off my mind.

The next morning I called the restaurant and asked to speak with a manager. The nicest woman helped me and was horrified that A) there was hair in my food and B) the dish was not taken off the check. She apologized several times and immediately credited my card. That made it all better.

Go-Back-Again-Ness: Too good not to go back. Just beware of waiters wearing sunglasses.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Manners: Rule #19 | Where to Open a Bottle of Wine

Rule #19: Always open a guest's bottle of wine in front of him/her.

Whether a customer has ordered off the wine list or arrived with their own selection, you must open the bottle at the table. If the wine opener gets stuck or begins to destroy the cork, you may be tempted to excuse yourself with the bottle to avoid further embarrassment, and open it in the kitchen, the break room, or God forbid, the bathroom. However, this is considered ill-mannered and impolite.

Opening the bottle at the table assures the customer that their wine hasn't been compromised. If the cork is rotted or the wine smells off, oxidization, maderization, or leakage may have occurred. You'll be free from blame.

If you are having difficulty opening the wine, enlist the help of a colleague or hand the bottle over to the customer to cork. You'd be surprised how many people are just hoping you'll ask.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Porch Bubbles

Briana Guy and Crystal Guy are two young entrepreneurial sisters who are baking up a cupcake storm in Michigan with their company Michigan Cupcakes. Soon after we met I learned that Briana had invented her own brilliant cocktail appropriately named Porch Bubbles. The following is Briana's story of how this original drink came to be.

It was a beautiful Michigan, spring day when the cocktail Gods decided to shine down on me with my drink creation. I was particularly excited to get my baking for the day started because someone had ordered a dozen of our Champagne cupcakes with Pink Champagne Frosting. For me, this means I get to take the leftover champagne and make a Mimosa (naturally). 

I got busy with my sifting, mixing, baking, frosting and decorating. About 30 minutes later, as I was looking down on the pretty pink dozen of Champagne cupcakes, I thought to myself, “now for the good part.” I grabbed my favorite wine glass out of the cupboard, poured it half full with my remaining champagne, and headed to the fridge for the Orange Juice.  I opened the refrigerator door and my eyes began frantically searching the shelves for that orange gallon of Vitamin C. The sadness started to set in as I realized my searching was hopeless.  I sighed, disappointed as I closed the refrigerator door.

I turned to my glass of champagne with my hands on my hips and thought how unnatural it would be to drink a plain glass of champagne at 3pm, alone, with nothing to celebrate. I decided there had to be a way to lift my spirits (both literally and figuratively).  I went back to the fridge to explore some options. Milk? Yuck. Soda? Barf.  Iced Tea? Eh…might be weird, never tried it before, but it’s my best approach.  I filled the rest of my glass with the freshly brewed Iced Tea and took a sip. As the quenching and refreshing, yet lightly bubbly concoction slid down my throat, I was a happy girl.

I have since titled the cocktail “Porch Bubbles.” It’s a great drink for warm, summer days. Just like Iced Tea, but with a little extra, bubbly oompf. Additionally, since Iced Tea and Champagne both go well with tart fruits, I have paired my Porch Bubbles cocktail with my Cherry Cupcake! I think I’ll be serving Porch Bubbles and Cherry Cupcakes all summer long!

Visit Briana and Crystal's website at www.MichiganCupcakes.com and follow them on Twitter @MichiganCupcake

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mix masters: Must-haves for the serious cocktail lover!

Today, the article Trae Bodge wrote came out in the Bellingham Herald. It's a great read! Oh, and I'm mentioned of course. ;)

Mix masters: Must-haves for the serious cocktail lover - Wire - Lifestyle - bellinghamherald.com

Wordless Wednesday | My Empty Tequila Sunrise

Wednesday Gadgets: Labels and Shot Glasses

Fred and Friends has created a silly shot glass appropriately called the BOTTOMS UP SHOT™. "Drink up, drunk down."
Jason Amendolara, who came up with the idea at  Fred Studio, has introduced the perfect bachelor or bachelorette party gift. Fun and not at all offensive, this little glass will get the party and surely be the reason for many memorable photos.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

City Tavern

RestaurantCity Tavern
9739 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Drink Damage: Renegade Blonde | taste$4, glass$8 share$17 | Double IPA | taste$4, glass$8 share$16

Interior Swag: Exposed steel beams, wood rafters, and brick walls, large chalkboard menu, booths, shared community tables, and cocktail tables. Very urban industrial feel filled with young professionals and local residents.

 Service: Eli was an excellent server. Although she was busy, she was very attentive and could answer any questions we had about the long list of draft beer selections.

Food and Drink: We chose to enjoy some beer and sample their tapas-style menu. I enjoyed the fact that you could order a "taste" of beer. It comes in a small 4 oz glass, that way you can sample a few and get a feel for what you like. I'm never crazy about the tapas-style menu since I always feel like I've had more to drink than eat, but what we ordered we inhaled: meatballs, baby greens salad, grilled crudites, and because we were still hungry after all that, french fries.

Go-Back-Again-Ness: I'd go back, although only if I want to learn sign language first. The place is SO loud, that you can't even hear the person sitting across from you, so end up yelling through your "dinner".

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Manners: Rule #29 | 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Bartender

1. I'll have my martini shaken, not stirred.
2. That's what she said.
3. Can I pay for half a glass of wine?
4. This drink is too strong.
5. This drink is too weak.
6. I'll get your tip the next time I come in.
7. Can I have ten dollars in quarters?
8. Here's how you make my drink.
9. Would you mind topping my drink off?
10. Can I get one on the house?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Weekend Night Dinner: Linguini with Fava Beans

This recipe comes from a cookbook written by the two Franks who own Frankies in Brooklyn. We dined there last year, ordered the cookbook when we got home, and have made this recipe one of family favorites.

Linguine with Fava Beans, Garlic, Tomato & Bread Crumbs: Serves 4
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly shopped
1 cup shucked favas (from about 3 pounds of whole beans), blanched and peeled
                                       1 cup vegetable broth
                                       1 cup tomato sauce

Large pinch or red pepper flakes
Box of Linguine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4  cup olive oil
4 teaspoons grated Pecorino Romano
4 heaping teaspoons dried bread crumbs
Freshly ground pepper

1. Boil large pot of water and salt it well

2. In another pan, heat the grapeseed oil. Add the garlic, then the favas, then the vegetable broth. When it comes to a boil, add the tomato sauce, some salt, and the pepper flakes.

3. Boil the pasta, then drain and add to sauce

4. Garnish with olive oil, bread crumbs, grated cheese, and black pepper if desired

Friday, June 3, 2011

Non-Fiction Friday: My Arnold Story

Finally! The Arnold Schwarzenegger story I now have good reason to tell. My cousin shared it with me one night after finishing up her lunch shift.

She waitressed at an upscale westside cafe and local spot for several celebrities. David Mamet made it a regular place to write, sometimes sitting at a table for three hours. Frances McDormand and Joel Coen also dined there with their kids from time to time. But her interaction with Arnie is the most memorable one.

He came in with his whole family for brunch. The restaurant manager wanted to be sure they got amazing service so she gave away all of my cousin's tables to other waiters. The Schwarzeneggers took their time eating, staying long enough for the morning rush to pass and the cafe to thin out. Arnold's family ordered half the menu, ran my cousin ragged, and left the table and floor a mess.

The $200.00 bill (breakfast food!) was paid. The wife and kids left. Arnold stayed to leave the tip. He opened his wallet and thumbed through a wad of hundred-dollar bills. Finally he found the bill he was looking for.

Out came a five dollars. A five...dollar...bill.

He plunked the cash on the table, tucked away his wallet, and walked out.

Some people want it all without having to pay a price. His legacy lives on.