13 October, 2011

The Duchess At The Weekend (Almost) . . .

Vogue reports the opening of The Writers Room, a bar replacing the former cocktail lounge in the back of the legendary Musso & Frank's, that for the last 50+ years has been used as storage space for the neighboring Vogue Theater.  Night life "impresarios" (is there any other kind?) Nur Khan and Abdi Manavi, along with a few others, throw open the doors (to the public; industry insiders have had access to the space for some time) to the "Old Hollywood"-vibey joint this weekend.  Looks quite groovy, but the Duchess won't go.  Most certainly you'll have to go out onto Hollywood Boulevard to smoke, and then there's never enough white wine. 

Instead she'll just stay home and finish Alexandra Fuller's Cocktail Hour Under The Tree of Forgetfulness (Penguin), the story of Ms. Fuller's African childhood under the governance of her larger-than-life mother, Nicola Fuller.  Enjoying this one very much. 

And finally, she'll try to make it over to the big sale at Hollywood at Home's new La Cienega showroom (750 N. La Cienega).  It runs through this Saturday, each day from 11 am to 3 pm.  Probably the Duchess should simply stay away.  The very tight pre-wedding budget does not allow for glamorous furniture and accessory splurges.  (Here's hoping Mr. Dunham throws another discount party sometime early next year!)

11 October, 2011

The Duchess Enjoys a Spot of Tele . . .

"George Harrison:  Living In The Material World"

You'd have to be living under a rock for the last several months not to at least be aware of the newly released Martin Scorsese documentary about the life of the now late George Harrison.  Yes, yes--he needs no introduction, but the Duchess feels obliged to say it--"ex-Beatle."  Though the documentary does attempt to expand its view of Harrison's life beyond the decade+ he spent as the moodiest member of the Fab Four, it's hard to argue with the conclusion that that early and literally life-changing experience set the stage for the rest of his life (and for the final 2.5 hours of the Scorsese film).

Harrison's no saint, according to Scorsese (the women!  the drugs!  the rock and roll!), but at least he wasn't boring.  (He took up with the wives or partners of Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, and Ronnie Wood, to name a few.)  That would be a fate worse than death, the Duchess thinks.  So, raise your glass for George and catch "Material World" (surely on HBO OnDemand by now, but also playing at the Laemmle Sunset).  It's time well spent.

With Pattie Boyd (later Mrs. Eric Clapton)

Tea & Sympathy

With Pattie, both a little older and wiser

With Eric Clapton

With President Gerald Ford, and on the right, Ravi Shankar

Really loving this hair (his not hers)

All Things Must Pass

10 October, 2011

The Duchess Dines . . .

Salsa and Beer

This weekend, on a somewhat lazy Saturday morning, the Duchess enjoyed one of the best meals she's had all year, and the best Mexican food by a long shot (perhaps ever).  Duchess and fam, in the general vicinity of the Van Nuys airport (sadly not to fly private, nor to explore the previews for the most recent Los Angeles Modern Auctions event (results here)), finally made their descent on Salsa and Beer, a festive little dive on the corner of Vanowen and White Oak Boulevards in Lake Balboa (Van Nuys adj.*).

What took the Duchess so long?  Her trusted sage a/k/a hair stylist (ask for Sheyanne) had informed the Duchess of Salsa y Beer's glory months ago; the Duchess's weekends, however, have been more than overwhelmed with activities social, work-related and otherwise, and she has never made the grand quest.  Readers, don't wait.  Salsa and Beer is worth it.

It's a brightly painted joint with D.I.Y. seating, a warm atmo, and a salsa bar.  The service is mucho slow, but is more than overcompensated for by the deliciousness of the meals.  El Senator had the shredded beef and potato burrito, natch, which was sublimely unbelievable.  Duchess enjoyed a plate of tender beer-marinated fish tacos, with corn tortillas made approximately three minutes before she walked in the door.  The kids' meals come with either rice and beans (unreal) or fries (equally good), and with drink max out at $2.99.  That's practically free for those of you who have the misfortune of not living in Los Angeles.  (If only we'd known that full service catering is available before booking the nuptial venue.) 

For discerning foodies or snobs in general, here is the real proof of the genius of Salsa and Beer.  We arrived at approximately 11:10 a.m.  The resto was bustling, but not totally full.  By the time we were rolled out on gurneys to our car at 11:50 a.m., people were waiting for tables.  Some people with larger parties (6 or more) came a half hour ahead of the rest of their compadres solely to reserve a table--remember, no reservations.  Oh, and our grand total?  $24.00 for a family of four.  This is factually cheaper than McDonald's (the Duchess's other favorite restaurant).

Viva Salsa y Beer! 

*Vanowen and White Oak intersection is no longer Van Nuys.  In 2008, Los Angeles County approved a motion renaming a larger portion of Van Nuys to Lake Balboa--this includes all of White Oak Avenue south to Victory Boulevard.  Vanowen is the next major intersection with White Oak north of Victory, and thus is squarely within the Lake Balboa boundaries. 

Picturesque Lake Balboa


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