Before and After Pintxo

With twelve hours to spend in Los Angeles between flights, tapas at Bar Pintxo wasn’t the only way I spent my time.  As I mentioned, Gary was kind enough to shuttle me around the west side of the city, checking a few items off the to-do list and engaging in a wild goose chase to buy a DVD for a friend in Singapore, only to discover after stopping at a few different stores that the DVD hasn’t been released yet.  Yea for iPhones…

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Funniest airplane-related site: a Southwest Airlines gate that is right next to a public area between terminals 1 and 2 at LAX.  It looks like the wingtip almost hangs over the wall.  One wonders what happens if he pulls into that gate just a wee bit fast.

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Gary’s magnetic personality attracts the reflection of palm trees at the Westside Pavilion.

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We also stopped at the Century City shopping center, where I had my first chance to see the new AMC Theatres.  Back in the mid 1990s I actually managed the old AMC Century 14 that used to be at the front part of the mall.  Even then, plans were afoot to build a new mega-cinema but I had not been back in the five years of so since the new cinema opened.  This cinema (or, at least, the old one but I think it still holds true for the new one) is where many of the who’s-who of Hollywood, especially the power brokers, come to see their films.  On any given weekend evening there would be a full log at the Guest Services counter of passes that had been approved by AMC’s film department for studio heads, movie stars, directors, etc. 

There was also no shortage of people who were not on the list who would try to pull the “do you know who I am?” routine to try and score free tickets or, worse, free tickets and seats specially reserved for them.  Pathetic, when you think of how much money these people have.

One person who was always a charmer, though, was Faye Dunaway.  Somehow she got hold of my name and then would call and ask for me.  She never asked for free tickets and I don’t recall her asking to reserve a seat for her.  She just wanted to make sure we would save a ticket so she could get into her movie, and most of the time it was for a matinee performance when there was plenty of room anyhow.

“Hi, Chris?  It’s Faye,” she would say as if we were the best of friends.  “Look, I’m circling around downstairs looking for a parking space and I’m worried there won’t be any tickets left when I finally get upstairs.  Of course I’ll pay for it, but can you set a ticket aside for me?”

“Sure, Ms. Dunaway, it would be my pleasure.”

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After dinner we strolled the few short blocks from the restaurant to the Santa Monica Pier, which was quite crowded despite it being an overcast and chilly evening.  I asked if anyone wanted to ride the roller coaster which, I might add, is only a kiddie coaster.  Nobody was brave enough!

 

Food in LA: Bar Pintxo

On my way back to Bangkok, I had a twelve-hour layover in Los Angeles.  I’m super-fortunate that Gary seems to have an infinitely flexible schedule (although he swore that if I had been in town the following day, he wouldn’t have had any free time) and an inexplicable willingness to spend the afternoon running me around town.

I also really fortunate that Gary and W are such foodies and do all the legwork of trying and evaluating restaurant, so that when I stop by for a brief visit they always have the perfect recommendation.  Tuesday evening’s recommendation was Bar Pintxo, a Spanish tapas bar in Santa Monica.  We were graced with Steve’s presence, as he had a break in his globetrotting and drove up from the OC to join us.

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The restaurant is just a block from the beach, conveniently located near the Third Street Promenade.  They have a happy hour until 6:00 and we managed to sneak in just beforehand and order our first round of drinks and some of the tapas specials.

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The restaurant isn’t very large and is built around the kitchen area.  It is very cozy with tall tables and bar stools and bottles of wine and a huge mirror adorning the walls.

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Of course, one must start Spanish tapas with some sangria, right?  This red wine concoction was very good, not too sweet.

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The happy hour specials include 6 pintxos (“pinches”) for $6, so they loaded up two platters for the four of us.  The platter above has crimini mushrooms stuffed with mushroom mousse and manchego cheese; fresh tomato and garlic; and huevos rellenos con vinagreta vasca, deviled eggs with a pepper and onion relish in a vinaigrette dressing, all on grilled bread.

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The second platter had Serrano jamon (ham) on grilled bread with olive oil; chorizo Bilboa (spicy sausage) with cherry tomato halves; and tomato conserve and manchego cheese, all served on grilled bread.

The pintxos were all very tasty, a nice variety of simple but bold flavors.

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W continued the ordering with frisee and shaved manchego cheese dressed with a quince vinaigrette and served on a flatbread.

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Next came a paella with razor clams.  Very nice and clean flavors.

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You can’t order tapas without ordering tortilla espanola, the Spanish style frittata with egg, potatoes, and caramelized onions served with a side of aioli.

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We also ordered the brocheta de cerdo, mojo verde – the pork loin skewer with vegetables and a herb and lemon pesto.  The pork was nice and juicy, although the meat itself didn’t have a lot of flavor.  The sauce, though, packed a punch.

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Me enjoying the meal.

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For dessert we shared a plate of churros with a chocolate dipping sauce.  This was pretty unexceptional and the sauce was like thick hot chocolate, not really thick enough for dipping.

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The arroz con leche, rice pudding with fresh peaches, was much nicer.  They bruleed the top slightly, adding a nice texture.  And of course rice pudding is a favorite of mine.

The service was friendly although not super-attentive, the atmosphere was convivial, and the food was tasty.  Just what I needed before a long flight back to Thailand.