Visiting Los Angeles For Food.
However, there was one welcome escape: the Langham Hotel, a magnificent but calm refuge from all the buying and selling. MA discovered the Langham some ten years ago. She loves luxurious hotels as a hobby, and this one fits the category. So we begin our days with breakfast on the edge of the pool at the Langham. This is not cheap, but it’s not bad. Indeed, the same can be said about the room rates. When the bill for the five days we spent at the Langham arrived, we were very pleasantly surprised–although I must add that when I saw the first such bill years ago, I was on the edge of screaming. I somehow got used to it. But then I also got used to walking around the house with a baby who needs constant attention in the crook of my arm. Bennet started smiling most of the time, if I held his body the right way, and added a pacifier if necessary.
Diary July 26-28. Mary Ann called every morning to say that she’d meet me for the buffet breakfast, at a table next to the Langham Hotel’s swimming pool. She added that she was less interested in breakfast, but that she wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting ripped off by the $32 buffet. Indeed, my breakfast I had today was a chorizo-spicy poached dish. MA said that when the juice, coffee, toast, and other items were add to the chorizo, that I may have been better off if I want to the buffet. But when we met, the item most on her mind was the Saturday/Sunday breakfast buffet. I told her that I didn’t need all that food. By that time we were tapping into the other elements of the buffet, and was maxing out. I still don’t think anything is saved here, but she says otherwise.
Diary 7/26&28/2018. In the remainder of the morning, I began to wish I had brought my laptop, so I could get ahead on the Diary. But that was before all the breakfast action got started on July 27. Between then and the kids’ activities on the 28th, the Marys had numerous food affairs. The first of these was a hip Mexican restaurant that the girls knew all about from past visits.
Indeed, the Marys knew their way around this hip section of towntown. The Mexican eats are just what they liked. And I liked it myself. A dish involving what the menu called Molé Oaxacana is just the kind of thing I like to find in a Mexican place. It was redder and sweeter the flavor of a molé poblano, but I’m always eager to find any molé-based dishes.
From there we returned to the home of Jude’s family, where a mix of playing, reading, and other kid activities had set in. My grandson Jackson was especially active, running around the house for hours with hardly a stop for anything.
The main event of our gathering was in late morning on 7/28/2018. The christening took place in an expansive church. While the adults conversed with the priest, the Jackson-age kids ran up and down every pew, collecting fistfuls of pencils from the pockets. It was as entertaining as a major sacrament could get.
The cadre returned to the hosts’ home to begin the reception party. It was mostly a cold buffet, but the highlight came from what I was told was the best barbecue restaurant anywhere in Los Angeles. My sampling made that claim credible, and we went through a great deal of brisket, ribs, and side dishes. Many of the adults in attendance brought with them their children, including a goodly number of girls of Jackson’s age. His abilities as a suave host are impressive.
The party continued well into the early evening. The most interesting guest was Jude’s wife Suzanne and Jackson’s grandfather Howard. He’s had a long career as an attorney, and he’s a well-versed historian and raconteur. Many of his stories include many from the World War II era. I was engrossed by it all. Meanwhile, Jackson and friends kept tearing around the party. It was quite an afternoon.
Later that evening, Mary Ann found one of the events that always seem to decorate the lawns at the Langham. This one featured grilled marshmallows. A crew of staffers mounted the multi-colored marshmallows with cookies and chocolates. It seemed frivolous, but when our little kids got in on the game, it became memorable. So much so that the fun was repeated the next day.
When the wonderful old Berdou’s was still around in Gretna, one of its lunch specials was field peas and rice. Mr. Berdou told me he didn’t sell many orders of it. “But I like them, so we cook them almost every week.” I’d never given the things a second thought before, but these moved me to add them to my regular bean rotation at home.
Field peas are a lot like crowder peas, but smaller. They’re a light brown, bigger than lentils but shaped like red beans. They have a unique savory flavor that I find makes a great side dish. This version steers away from the bacon-fat, salt-pork kind of thing we do for red beans. If anything, it’s inspired be the way they cook beans in Italy. So I suggest serving them with orzo pasta instead of rice. These are also wonderful as a side dish with any seafood you can think of.
- 1 lb. field peas, sorts, rinsed, and soaked for a few hours or overnight
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium bulb fennel, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp. thyme
- 1 tsp. summer savory
- 1 1/2 Tbs. salt
- 1 Tbs. Crystal hot sauce
- 6 sprigs parsley, leaves only, chopped
- 8 oz. orzo pasta, cooked and drained
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and fennel and cook until soft.
2. Drain the field peas and add them to the pot. Add six cups of fresh cold water, the bay leaf, nutmeg, thyme, savory, salt and hot sauce. Bring the pot to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook for one hour.
3. Check after an hour to see that the peas have not absorbed all the water. If so, add more. The pot should still have a soup texture.
4. Cook another 30-45 minutes, until beans are completely soft but not falling apart. Remove the bay leaf. Taste for seasoning and adjust. There should still be enough liquid so that the beans have a stew-like But not runny) texture.
5. Add the cooked, drained orzo to the pot and gently stir into the beans. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley.
Serves about six.