Archive for November, 2010

Free Agent

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Robin's Thanksgiving table being set

I felt fine about Thanksgiving. Well, fine until today when I kept reading on everyone’s Facebook page how great their leftovers taste; writing in full description how they all make their turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce and mayonnaise. Some put stuffing in that sandwich. I wouldn’t. But did I mention I don’t have leftovers?

This was finally the year to go to Robin’s. She has invited us for a few years but we are too big a bunch to feed unless it’s without all the kids. This year my husband really wanted to be with his family, so he chose to go to his cousin’s and I became a free agent and traveled far for me, Calabasas. I already knew Robin was a good cook, I have been eating her food for years, and her mother Abbe was actually my first cooking teacher. I knew I was in for something great and it was!!!! Perfect. My favorite was Robin’s stuffing and Gene, her husbands green bean casserole was outrageous. He uses haricot vert green beans and fries the onions, doesn’t use canned shit. Didn’t realize Robin can be militant about “her” kitchen, “her” turkey dinner and that I might be stepping on toes when I said I’d be bringing a few pies. She said it was a good lesson in letting go of some control when she allowed me to bring them.

Robin and Gene, their kitchen, HER turkey...don't walk in there!!!

I will mention — and I did mention this in last year’s blog (remember?) — that the Gelson’s Market bakery, Viktor Benes, has an amazing pecan pie — almost as good as my mom’s, which was the best. However, their pumpkin is not as good as other homemade pies, like the one my friend Bruce makes. Bruce had invited me over on Wednesday for a Watch-Me-Make-My-Pies party. I’m sure it was lovely and the aroma in his kitchen must have been intoxicating. But I couldn’t bring myself to go and then not have a taste right away; I’m not that much of a masochist.

At this time of year, I am reminded of what my dad often said: “You didn’t choose your family, but you do choose your friends and can make them your family.” In case you haven’t noticed, I will be forever quoting my father. Let’s face it, he was my hero and I love just about everything that came out of his mouth, including the word cunt which seems to offend the rest of the world.

In the spirit of “my friends are my family,” I chose Robin’s house. She is family and I told her that when she asked everyone at the table to please say what they are grateful for. I also love old people. They are often the forgotten ones and I said during my what-I’m-grateful-for speech that I also came to Robin’s to see her mother again. Abbe, her mom, told me that the way she gets enough exercise is by walking back & forth cleaning up dog and horseshit — an image that in itself was worth the trip to Calabasas.

Tradition. This is the premiere holiday of tradition, isn’t it? And I for one have never been that traditional. But the special fragrances of the turkey feast is something that I always long for and associate with my mother who I miss being in the kitchen making her great Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, I made a big sort of failed attempt at it myself – but this time I was fine with my kids going to their dad’s house. (more…)

La Scala’s Chopped Salad and Ellen Barkin’s Hair

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Gabriel Byrne, me Matthew Winter, Tara, Augie and Barnaby at Fourth of July parade, Palisades

Today, Barnaby, my youngest turned 20. Sounds pretty old to me. When he was very little he was quite shy; he would turn beet red and look down if he had to speak to someone. I remember when he was only 4 years old he had a huge crush on Cameron Diaz and couldn’t get enough of her from, “The Mask.” He also fancied Kate Moss and Ellen Barkin. I thought, wow, good taste for a kid that age. My husband, not his biological father, thought this kid will be knocking someone up by the time he’s a teenager. He seemed pretty girl or rather women crazy. But then real life takes a turn and by the time he was a teen he was determined not to have a girlfriend. And he held to that as long as he possibly could. He’s not holding to it anymore. He’s been dating someone for nearly a year, and he’s head over heels.
We didn’t know Kate Moss or Cameron Diaz, but we did spend a lot of time with Ellen Barkin. She was very close to one of my best friends and a group of us spent most Sundays hanging at Kimberly’s, swimming. Let me say this, Ellen Barkin is one of the sexiest women alive. I totally got Barnaby having this early crush. She is smart, sultry, engaging and funny. Did I mention that she also had one of the best haircuts around? I was certain she went to one of the top cater to celebrity hairdressers, and as much as I wanted her great haircut, I thought, probably out of my price range. I actually go to Supercuts — or rather went to Supercuts — now I go to Rudy’s Barbershop. I like fast and cheap. I’m not fussy about hair or makeup and spend very little on either. But at that time I was kind of longing for Ellen Barkin’s fabulous haircut, so one day I asked her where she got it and how much it cost.
I thought if you’re ready to cut your hair into a bob it’s better to spring for the big bucks and do it right. So, I made my appointment. The minute I sat down, I told the stylist I was Ellen’s friend and that her cut was the exact one I wanted. That part was easy. In no time at all I was transformed into Ellen Barkin. No fucking kidding. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, wow, this is great! (more…)