I had great intentions of rising early, dressing in my finest mourning attire, and heading out to the Grammy Museum to weep at the Joan Rivers exhibit. I was going to go through a dozen tissues as I wailed, but then the morning came, and there was no force that could get me going. Joan would understand. Actually, she wouldn’t, she had an incredible work ethic, and looking back on it I’m pretty ashamed of myself. It’s for the best, really, I probably would have been medicated by an emergency crew if I had gone. Instead I had a rather relaxing afternoon. I tried to persuade myself to go on one last hike through Runyon Canyon, and I even put on my hiking outfit, but the second I headed out the door, I knew I wasn’t going to exercise. I’m basically morbidly obese from all the eating I’m doing, so I did the only logical thing I could do and headed down to the Grove to buy a kale smoothie and then stop at Potato Chips deli for a magnificent caprese sandwich and then devour a meringue I had bought the night before. I was living for me. Then I tried to go on a hike again, but I got distracted and headed down Melrose to buy some more meringues. Every time I walk by the intersection of Melrose and North Stanley, there are people that are trying to get you to sign petitions. I never sign these. I don’t care what the cause is. It could be the best thing in the whole damn world, but there is no way you are going to get my signature. “HEY JAMBA!” one of the people shouted at me. I glared. “HEY JAMBA!” she repeated, “HEY JAMBA THE HUT!” I glared even harder and walked away, mainly because I was jealous at her quick comedy. That was a good one, I thought, slurping my smoothie.
Didn’t take long to get to Bo Nuage, and the shop is an absolute triumph. Their meringues are a French pastry known as merveilleux, which are either HORRIBLE or DIVINE. Thankfully the ones at Bo Nuage, especially the passionfruit variety, are absolute perfection, and I have added them to my list of approved bakeries. Sometime this summer I am going to build a page on this site about the perfect bakeries I’ve visited around the world. Back in the apartment, after a few hours of relaxing, Jessica and I got ready to visit Musso & Frank, allegedly the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, for her birthday dinner. It was a simple journey up Hollywood Boulevard, and we were soon in the luxurious restaurant in a comfortable booth looking at all the other patrons. Esquire magazine says they make the best martini, so I ordered one. I have never loved martinis. They don’t taste that great…why would you choose to drink straight vodka or gin? I love gin…but it’s not really my thing by itself. This martini, though…I don’t know what they did or how they made it…but it was one of the finest cocktails I have ever ordered. The alcohol was perfect, smooth, and it instantly transported me to a happy place. They even serve a little carafe to enjoy a second martini without having to order another. (GENIUS!) I could easily have swallowed a dozen. Instead I devoured the perfect white bean soup and a plate of Alfredo. The Alfredo is the reason I knew about the place at all. Ages and ages and ages ago, when Mary and Douglas Pickford were still the rulers of Hollywoodland, they stopped in at a little restaurant in Rome where they fell in love with pasta al burro. This dish has a history that has nothing to do whatsoever with the very different Alfredo sauce we are accustomed to now. In the very early 20th century, a Mr. Alfredo was cooking pasta for his pregnant wife. She wanted something cheesy, so he made a sauce of near equal amounts parmigiana reggiano and butter that he tossed with fresh fettuccine. The rest is history. I first experienced the original dish years ago in Orlando, Florida, when they had a branch of the original restaurant in Disney World. It was incredible, and I vowed to visit every iteration of the restaurant. I make odd promises to myself, and this one, like most, came true. For my 16th birthday, my mother took me to New York City to eat at the Alfredo’s there on Fifth Avenue. Then when we went to Europe for the first time, we made sure to stop in Rome for some. Here I am then:
That was probably the best, but I only have the vaguest memories of it now. Last year, I visited the latest iteration of Alfredos…now called Alfredo 100 in New York City. I’ve been to them all! There was one for like a second in Vegas, but I missed out on that. Anyway, Mary Pickford loved this Alfredo, so she begged the chef for the recipe, and he finally gave it to her. She gave this recipe to the chef at Frank & Musso, her favorite restaurant in Hollywood, and it became a staple there, even though it was never on the menu. And that is why we were eating there for Jessica’s birthday, and it was perfection. The restaurant oozes old Hollywood, the chatter is quiet, the lights were low, the menu was old-fashioned, the waiters are fabulous in their red suits. The entire experience is worth every pretty penny you’ll fork over. Jessica died for the steak she had. I was thoroughly satisfied, and now I have two reasons to visit Hollywood Boulevard — dinner at Frank & Musso and a pilgrimage to Joan Crawford’s handprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Back at the apartment, we packed up, because it was time to leave Hollywood and head to San Francisco.