Diary For 11/23/2018. In LA: Hanging With The Babies. The Langham’s Luxuries. Our two grandsons go to bed earlier than we recall from the other newborns Mary Ann and I have watched over the years. And when the babies go to sleep, everything shuts down to a whisper in the home of Jude and Suzanne Fitzmorris. Which worked well for us, because even with the glittering promise of Jackson’s birthday in the next few days, MA and I are dog-tired from the Thanksgiving dinner we cooked and hosted and–could it be yesterday? The stressful all-day flight that brought us here is no bonus.
Jude has somehow found a spare automobile that MA and I could use full time while we’re guests of their family. We used it immediately to carry us to the other emolument for the duration: a room at The Langham, one of MA’s favorite hotels. And she is such a connoisseur of luxury hotels that this is really saying something.
I wouldn’t want to calculate the number of nights MA has spent at The Langham, but this is my fourth time. That adds to the comfort a pleasant familiarity. I’m almost to the point where I can go directly from our room to the Terrace dining area next to the pool without having to backtrack.
When I awaken Saturday morning, I do so in stages, as my phone gives me changing estimates of the time. (It had something to do with airline mode.) I finally get up at six-thirty, the first customer today for the generously-equipped Terrace. Although it’s kind of chilly, I know that MA will want a table on the outside perimeter. I manage to find an active overhead heater that makes me comfortable.
I am no fan of buffets, but this one is so well-stocked with such good ingredients that I looked forward to dining in there every morning we would spend here. I got to talking with Chef Bill Yee while he was making my omelette. He wears the tallest chef’s hat that I think I’ve ever seen, with the possible exception of Chef Andrea Apuzzo back at home. Yee is a Cordon Bleu Chef, and is the director of the Alhambra Culinary School in Los Angeles. With those kinds of credentials, this is the man making an omelette for me. No wonder that it’s exactly as I ordered. When I drifted back over to grab a waffle, I wasn’t surprised that Yee’s buffet had genuine, light maple syrup–not the less-good dark maple, and certainly not the fake syrup made of high-fructose corn syrupstuff served almost everywhere else.
We also are very pleased to find the same waiter who has taken care of us on every previous stay at The Langham. The guy can’t do enough for us, and the fact that he remembers not only my name but what table we like best. Remember–we come here about once every two years at most.
The Langham is the former estate of the late-1800’s railroad magnate Henry Huntington. It’s about the size of a golf course. Taking a walk across the property takes a while. The grandeur is well communicated in anything you do on this property. This is right up MA’s alley, and I must say I have learned to enjoy just being at The Langham.
Goal Number One: To spend the maximum time playing with Jackson and Bennet, our grandsons. Both of them keep us and them well amused. Mary Ann cannot possibly give them more of her attention. She loved being a mom, and she is as engaged with these delightful boys as they are with her. Can’t get enough of it. Jackson and his constant zooming around, always while laughing incessantly and screaming past. His favorite task is raking leaves in the yard. He’d do it all day if he could. He has perfect technique and gets the job done faster than most adults would. (He’s three.) This is no task for Jackson, but high entertainment. At seven months, Bennet is much more subtle, but he’s always smiling as he shoots brilliant blue light beams from his smiling eyes. He’s having a great time, too, with his big brother ever showing him new ideas for fun. Most important, they are thoroughly lovable. We never get enough of them.
The day is spent in unleashing Jackson’s birthday celebration to an unsuspecting world. It’s a picnic in a big, park, with tables groaning with the weight of a wide variety of eats from a much-loved catering outfit called Sharkey’s. I was astonished by the number of friends, relatives, and little kids in attendance. Fifty or sixty, at least. Jackson goes bananas on the swings and chutes, but I would expect nothing less. I know most of the adults, and I’m surprised by this. I don’t go to Los Angeles often. I notice a very pretty little girl who Jackson hugs. I decide that she will be Jackson’s date at his prom in fifteen years. She reminds me somehow of Mary Ann. Wow. This is getting deep. Meanwhile, the whole place is awash in fun. Happy everything.
We were there for hours before the party ended. Jackson and Bennet return home, there to fall asleep instantly. Mary Leigh stays there. She has at least as much fun with the baby boys as we do.
MA and I return to The Langham, where I get a desperately needed nap. Then we go downstairs for dinner at The Royce, The Langham’s high-end restaurant. It’s a steakhouse, and we explored that aspect in past visits. And we’re not all that hungry anyway. Mary orders a wedge salad. I have lobster bisque, which I remember from last time. I decide against a steak or anything like it. The waiter suggests that I try a risotto made with black truffles direct from France. The price is $47. I get it anyway. It’s the first time in decades since I last encountered black truffles anywhere. It is delicious. Thinking about it now, I should have asked for seconds, and hoped they might let me have them. I doubt they will lose money on the deal.
The Royce. In The Langham Hotel. 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena, CA. (626) 585-6410.
No Menu Tomorrow.
Yesterday, I told you two things that weren’t true. First, the Reveillon menus begin not yesterday but on December 2 (December 1 in some cases). Second, I said I am back from vacation. But I will be away tomorrow, as I take another day off for my annual retreat at Manresa. On Monday, I really will be back without interruptions for the foreseeable future. Too much going on in November! Thanks for your subscription