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Lobster Festival

16 Sep

Karl and I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon hanging out at the Port of Los Angeles with Arianna, her hubby Steve, and a couple of their friends. The event? Lobster Festival 2012. We missed it two years ago because it was around the same time we moved to our new place so I’m glad we were able to come.

We all decided to meet at 4:30pm when it got a little cooler. Traffic was heavy when we arrived, and  we had to drive to a designated parking place more than ten blocks away from the port. But it didn’t take us long to find a parking along 22nd Street. We walked crossed the street toward the bus stop where shuttles were transporting people to and from the event. Pretty clever of them to use school buses. I was impressed at how organized everything was.

Although parking was free, we had to pay a $10 admission fee. It was easy to spot Arianna with her salmon dress and red lobster hat already standing in line for her lobster meal. We snuck in line, which was moving pretty fast, and before we knew it we had a large juicy lobster on our plate with slices of lemon, butter, and a side of coleslaw salad and potatoes. All that food for only $19. What a deal!

Good thing they had large tents set up where people could eat in the shade away from the blistering heat of the sun, otherwise, it would’ve been torture. The temperature had risen to about 103f. Eating lobster is incredibly messy, but fun at the same time. Arianna’s hubby took some videos of her for her blog via a Flip cam. (I learned from them that Flip had recently gone bankrupt and no longer exists. Ours got chewed up by Miles two Christmases ago.)

Not satisfied with his lobster, Karl moved on to Cajun Chicken Sausage in a French Roll. Talk about an appetite.

Only $19 for the entire plate.

The lobster wasn’t enough…

Refreshing pina colada with cherries and whipped cream. Plus, free refills!

Just hanging out and listening to a live band performing.

Time to go home.

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Basia Live at Club Nokia

24 Sep

I was browsing Ticketmaster.com late Friday night for upcoming shows when Basia’s name popped up. I’d loved her songs growing up and admired her style of music from afar, but it’s been ages since I’d heard about her. Next thing I knew I was printing out two tickets for her concert Saturday night. I don’t think I’d ever bought tickets on a whim like that before. Well, I somehow felt like she’s one of those legendary singers that only comes along once every few generations and thought it may well be worth it. And I was about to discover that it was.

On Saturday morning as I rushed for work I told Karl to be on his way by 5pm because we were going to see Basia. “Who’s Basia?” he asked. “What!?! You don’t know who Basia is?” I responded in an exaggerated manner and started giggling uncontrollably. This was the first time he didn’t have any idea who I was talking about. You see, it’s usually the other way around. Karl loves schooling me with all these trivia questions about entertainers, musicians, film composers, etc. and oftentimes I fail. For the next few minutes I tried giving him a really hard time about it. It was all in good fun.

I worked until about 3pm then I had head over to Filipinotown in LA for a meeting at this Filipino restaurant. I did my makeup in my car before I started driving the realized I had left my dress at home! Oh no. I had to call up Karl and remind him to bring it. Because the directions given to me weren’t clear, I ended up getting lost around downtown even passing by Skid Row. Seeing that place completely broke my heart. Anyway I finally arrived at the restaurant and stayed for an hour and a half before Karl picked me up. I did a quick change in the bathroom and off we went! Rush, rush, rush. I didn’t even have time to do my hair!

We got to the Nokia Theatre, presented our tickets to the usher and she told us that we were at the wrong place. She pointed towards the entertainment strip where Club Nokia was which we already passed. The sign was so small it was easy to miss. The whole area I learned was all brand new. It certainly wasn’t around when we came to watch the American Idol Finale three years ago. There were escalators leading up to the entrance where there was already a line going inside.

Club Nokia had one of the coolest and most sophisticated lounges I’ve ever been too. The vibe was sooo…LA. The colors of the lights inside changed every few seconds complementing the modern interiors. I was really impressed with how they arranged the bottles of alcohol behind the bar.

At round 7pm we took the elevators down to the stage area. The set up reminded me of the House of Blues, but just a more upscale version of it. We were a little disappointed that the show started an hour late. We don’t know what caused the delay.

When the Polish singer-songwriter came out, the crowd erupted in cheers. Hearing her speak, she immediately struck me as a gracious and humble person. During her opening spiel, she thanked everyone for coming to see her and her band perform and “not forgetting” them. Her sentences were often punctuated with raspy giggles. She is definitely much older now than what we see on her previous album covers, but her ethereal voice and inner beauty haven’t aged at all.

She started off with a melody of three songs from her new album, which came out only three days ago. If I recall correctly she said, “The first song is about falling in loving, the second song is about heartbreak and the third song is about not giving up on love and finding love again.” I thought it was a beautiful message to send out.

Then somewhere in between she threw in her classic power ballads like “Time and Tide” and “Promises.” The audience (especially me) went insane. Yes, I sang my heart out together with everyone else. Well, mostly the women. I have to say the samba/Bossa Nova-based rhythms of most of her songs make you want to dance like no one’s watching. And she was right about her band too. They were certainly all remarkably talented and I love how they all manage to produce a very unique sound for Basia. Definitely refreshing compared to what we hear on the radio these days. Even her two back-up singers who happened to be twins were a joy to watch as well. Their voices sound so close to Basia’s. Basia gracefully thanked them for flying 12 hours from Mauritius. She gave each of her band members a chanced to shine by making them perform solo briefly. What a nice thing to do. Towards the end of the set she introduced her long-time guitarist Peter White who now lives in LA and is focusing on his solo career.

It was a pretty good set; not too long, not too short. But when they left the stage, the audience screamed for more and they didn’t have a choice but to do an encore. Then one lady started dancing her way towards the stage and as soon as she did that everyone else started getting up and dancing too. It was a phenomenal feeling. I was able to get close to her and shake her hand.

One of the most surprising moments of the night was when a teenager with funky braces and eyeglasses, who totally didn’t fit the age profile of a Basia fan, turned to me and said, “Best concert ever!” I started laughing hysterically, not because she didn’t fit the age profile, but because I felt the same way. Her music is certainly one of a kind and transcends generations. I am glad it is still alive.

After the show proceeded Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill for a late dinner. It was located at the food strip on the first floor. Besides eating at his airport restaurants and the one at the Griffith Observatory, this was my first time trying out an authentic Wolfgang Puck restaurant.

The line leading up to Club Nokia.

Inside the lounge where we waited before the show started.

The fully stocked bar.

Ordering drinks. With this lighting we could probably pass as vampires, don't you think?

Another bar down below and right across the stage.

Looks like someone may have skated their way to the show.

There's the stage!

Waiting for the show to begin.

There she is!

Honey, I know you're trying to make a style statement, but you are blocking my view!

Karl flashing the peace sign.

The final bow.

It's over. 😦

Wait, maybe an encore?

They finally came back on stage for the encore!

This woman couldn't help but dance her way to the stage. Everyone followed suit.

The LA crowd was amazing! I'm sure Basia felt the love.

Basia shaking hands with her loyal fans.

Ugh! She's blocking my view again. So funny.

Peter White, Basia's former guitarist, and his replacement behind him.

Basia just loves her band members.

Right outside Club Nokia.

There was a fifteen-minute wait for our table.

Their simple one page menu.

Karl fiddling with his phone and getting impatient because our order took forever!

Enjoyed sitting on this comfy pastel green couch while sipping iced tea.

Some Sweet Corn Soup to ward off the hunger. It tasted great!

My first real meal of the day- Ricotta Gnocchi served with Italian sausage Bolognese and shaved Parmesan.

Karl's choice-pizza!

The restaurant was so well-lit it looked like daytime.

Real Simple Recipe: Blackened Salmon with Broccoli Rabe

23 May

This was easier than I thought it would be. It’s so easy even a fifth grader can do it. Indeed pictures can be deceiving. Vons didn’t have any broccoli rabe so I had to settle for regular broccoli. (Or maybe they had it but I didn’t know what it looked like.) Haha. They also ran out of golden raisins so I substituted it with Sun Maid’s mixed jumbo raisins instead. Until today I didn’t realize how complementary raisins can be to salmon flavor-wise. I think I’ll have to turn down the heat next time to prevent the sides from turning black too quickly. It may look like it’s overcooked but it still came out fine. If there’s a certain technique to this I need to know.

Blackened Salmon with Broccoli Rabe