Traditionally January is an exceedingly boring month. The movies that are
released this month, are usually the dregs of the studios roster. Restaurants are more likely to be empty and striving for anything that will bring in some customers, and there is a decided lack of tourists in town.
That general malaise in the city however, was decidedly not present this past week as I had two amazing experiences. The first was a demonstration of the latest in on-location virtual reality at the Viceroy hotel.
Exit-VR.com was in town with their virtual reality truck and a portable VR environment. The basic construction fit into the lobby of the hotel and is a three sided cubicle with lots of electronics and soundproofing. For the fans the Star Trek:Next Generation it’s a mini, movable Holodeck.
Essentially you stand in a five foot by five foot box with a headset on and two controllers and the computer begins to run a simulation based on your choices. I took The Blue. It’s an underwater experience that has a sunken ship, and schools of fish that swim all around you. The crowning moment was when a whale comes by to say hello. It swims up to you, and with a giant eyeball inspects you. As it moves through the “scene” the giant tail gives a final swooping thrust that barely misses the sunken ship and off it goes.
I was agog with the realism of this environment compared to the last time I checked out VR which was only about a year ago. The technology and the graphics are changing at lightning speed it seems. Stepping out of the box I remarked that the only thing missing was a burst of air and some water to add to the effect of the giant tail. I was assured that they’ve thought about how to make that happen.
The other wonder-filled experienced I had last week was a bourbon tasting at Del Frisco’s Grille sponsored by Jim Beam/Suntory. I was invited to join in the festivities, along with 14 others for an intimate evening of food and bourbon. I don’t drink bourbon, but I was down to enjoy the food creations of Executive Chef Daniel Tiger. While I can’t speak to the cocktails, they all seemed to be disappearing with great rapidity. From the first Maker’s Mark inspired aperitif which featured a fig flavored sweet and sour to the Knob Creek Rye served in a martini glass – the drinkers in the room were ecstatic.
I was there for the gastronomy and Chef Tiger didn’t let me down. He started with a chicken liver mousse topped with onion jam that was smooth and light. I didn’t care for the delivery vehicle of hunks of hardened toast – I think a flakier crusty cracker would have been better suited for the delicate mousse. Any flaws in the first dish were quickly forgotten and forgiven when the second dish of a Nueske Bacon au Poivre on grits arrived. This was no 1/8 th of an inch diced bacon mixed in, no these were 1 ½ inch cubes of melt in your mouth deliciousness with the smoky sweetness of bacon and the consistency of filet mignon on a bed of creamy grits and red eye jus. Pure heaven.
For a main course, there was Root Beer Braised Beef Pot Roast. At first blush that sounds horrid. Only vanilla ice cream goes with root beer – but I withheld contempt and was satisfyingly rewarded with an intriguing interplay of the herbiness of root beer and the beefiness of the pot roast. Chef Tiger paired this with a sweet potato that was twice baked and would have been superb but for the presence of a marshmallow blanket that I am no fan of. I know many people like the super sweetness on top of the sweet potato, but to me marshmallows have one place – around campfires.
For the actual dessert there was one of my favorites – a sticky toffee pudding that was superb with a bourbon infused whipped cream. Overall I’d say Del Frisco’s and Jim Beam did a great job for a wonderful evening.
The night was topped off with a raffle drawing for a couple of cigars from the Lone Wolf Cigar Company on Broadway. Christopher Haynes and Dennis Lees brought over a couple of their favorites to share. My tablemate, Evi of EvsEats.com won the Davidoff Millennium blend and was excited to try it. She was a delight throughout dinner with her tales of foreign travel and discussing her food blog.
Lastly, if you want to do a little cultural trip without packing a bag, this coming Saturday is the 5thanniversary for my client Z Garden on Pico. They are having a party with live music all night, and belly dancers at 7 and 8:30 p.m. so come down and get some of the best Mediterranean food in town and dance a little.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra