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I'm doing this:

 

"Heirloom Beans" by Steve Sando and Vanessa Barrington, Chronicle Books, $22.95. "Beans," a talk by Sando and Ken Albala, in the Mark Taper Auditorium at the Los Angeles Public Library, downtown branch, 630 W. 5th St., 10:30 a.m. Saturday. For more information, call (323) 663-5407 or go to www.culinaryhistoriansofsoutherncalifornia.org.

 

It's Saturday morning. The rest of the day is full before I fly back home but I fly in Friday night.

I'm up for a drink or a nearby dinner but I need to make it not too late a night so I'll be fresh for the next day's presentation.

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One of the things I miss about L.A. are those Saturday mornings with the Culinary Historians. I arranged a couple of events for them and learned some amazing tid-bits through the wide variety of speakers they arranged.

 

Steve, you'll be meeting Richard Foss - a gregarious, heavily-bearded man. He's one of my oldest friends and on their organizing committee; please give him a big hug for me...

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No worries, you southern deadbeats. I've made plans with some pals.

 

Steve, you'll be meeting Richard Foss - a gregarious, heavily-bearded man. He's one of my oldest friends and on their organizing committee; please give him a big hug for me...

 

I think you introduced him to me at the market once. I'm still not sure I'm ready to hug but I will send him your best!

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No worries, you southern deadbeats. I've made plans with some pals.

 

Steve, you'll be meeting Richard Foss - a gregarious, heavily-bearded man. He's one of my oldest friends and on their organizing committee; please give him a big hug for me...

 

I think you introduced him to me at the market once. I'm still not sure I'm ready to hug but I will send him your best!

 

 

Oh yeah........ :blush:

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WARINING: Long. And probably boring.

 

I flew into LAX and you wouldn't recognize it if you haven't been there for awhile. It's still a hell-hole but there are signs of improvement and I'd still say avoid United at all costs. My hosts put me up at The Standard, which everybody knows but me. It is silly-modern and yet there are lots of nice touches. The lobby has no signs so you're not sure where to check in. What this proves, I don't know but it's modern! The room had a shower in the middle of it. The bed was futon (and very comfortable). There was no bad art on the wall but it was silly stark and sleek. There was one plastic chair and the futon so there was no real place to get comfortable. But there was free wireless and an ipod station.

So downtown LA is a real wild ride. I walked the few blocks to visit La Monkey and it goes from Manhattan to Mexico City to Skid Row all within blocks. The buildings are beautiful, especially if you look up and I was reminded of when I was a kid and my grandmother and great grandmother moved from Chicago to downtown LA. I'd almost forgotten that. Anyway, the Nickel DIner is adorable without being too cute. It's sort of gentrification that fits in with the existing neighborhood. Monica and Kristen have performed a miracle and you really owe it to yourself to check it out. I came too late to eat but you just know the food is glorious.

We all went for drinks. first at Cole's, which is famous for it's french dip sandwiches. The sides we good but the sandwiches were lackluster and somewhat of a rip. But the bar is fun and the bartenders smart. Then we went to The Association. It's a bar but it's pure theater. It looks like the set from the Thomas Crown Affair and you could easily imagine Faye and Steve playing chess. Pet Clark and bossa nova were the music. Very cute. Model type bartenders and it was fun until it started to get crowded. It's a lounge and should be gracious. Once it was more like a club, it was less interesting.

It was great seeing Monica and Kristen again (they'd been over to my place for dinner with GalPalJoan right before they opened the Nickel). I am intrigued by downtown LA. You expect to see Tom Waits around every corner and the ghosts of old Hollywood that are long gone have all moved here.

The presentation was less magical. The auditorium was pretty full and the crowd was an interesting mix. But of course I botched the Powerpoint presentation and fumbled at first. I used OpenOffice Impress, which should have been fine, but I placed all the photos and instead of saving the photos in the file, it made references on my hard drive, so there were no images. Luckily, I had a mini-hard drive with all the images and I was able to use those and just click through them. It was fine once I got my rhythm but those first moments were sheer hell. Ken Albala, who wrote Beans: A History is a college professor and of course was very comfortable in front of an audience. He's really interesting to hear but his history about beans contained more fart material than I've ever known. At one point i had to point out to the audience that my book addresses the subject in less than a paragraph.

After, a nice reception and all of the books, from Ken and me, sold out, which was nice. Then the board took us for good dim-sum and a tour of Chinatown. Then a flight home.

 

Anyway- just like I felt after NY, I need to travel more in the US. Next plan is spring in Denver for the IACP meeting.

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