I have not written about the Beverly Hills 100th Anniversary Party held recently on Rodeo Drive... until now. I'm famous for not writing anything negative about restaurants, films, and events. If I can't be positive, then I just don't write about them... no need to harm the livelihood of innocent employees. But I must go on the record that I found that particular Sunday event to be a sorry mess! It was much more Hollywood than Beverly Hills... thousands of people milling about, most of them never having been to Beverly Hills before and probably never returning to it. Sure, I wrote a Huffington about the huge birthday cake being built by Guittard Chocolate with the help of the Luxe Hotel, but this publicity stunt by them doesn't warrant the ungainly mess which resulted. The sight of two large Ferris wheels on austere Rodeo was disconcerting enough, but the raucous loud rock so-called entertainment merely capped the horror of the day. Hey, folks, this is my wonderful, little sophisticated city of Beverly Hills, one of the most prestigious communities in the nation. 'Nuff said, I think I have made my point. (This is as opposed to the recent Chinese New Year's Celebration also on Rodeo in February which was tasteful, entertaining and fun.)
However, one good thing resulted from my going to Rodeo Drive that day. I didn't want to face the problem of parking so I used the Uber app on my iPhone and, in six minutes, a car picked me up and drove me eight blocks to the location. I was fortunate enough to capture a seat at a table in front of the Luxe Hotel right before the massive cake depicting the Beverly Hills City Hall. And I watched Chef Donald Wressel, Sherry Yard and their brethren dish out some of the 15,000 slices of chocolate cake to the hungry hordes. (It was delicious.) Then the 'good thing' happened. An old friend, Judy Henning, came by with a gift for me...a copy of the BEVERLY HILLS CENTENNIAL COOKBOOK. Judy told me that she and her friend, Ellyn Snowden, along with editor Judy Kessler, had spent the past eight months working tirelessly night-and-day gratis on this amazing just-published cookbook for the city.
Judy told me that this book featured 39 recipes and stories from that number of Beverly Hills restaurants and chefs. I tired of watching people scrambling for a slice of cake and ubered my way home. Then I idly opened the gorgeous cookbook... and was so hooked by what I read that I sat for the next three hours digging into its fascinating stories. My Huffington readers may remember that I have written often about my predilection for reading cookbooks in bed before I go to sleep. So then got into bed and finished it by the middle of the night. Yes, it was that good! As I mentioned, they had narrowed it down to 39 iconic B.H. restaurants, but they also went back into hisiory with a fond look at Romanoff's and The Brown Derby, with their famous food and desserts. They also wrote about power lunches at places like The Grill on the Alley (Clint Eastwood's favorite booth and how he always orders the Dover Sole.) Ah, Romanoff's...my memories of that fabulous place next to the Beverly Wilshire. where I stayed in the '50s when coming out monthly from New York. Would drop my bags in the room and rush next door to see Mike Romanoff and have their famous salad.
This 173-page cookbook is a first-ever compilation of favorite recipes, photos and anecdotes from the best of the local dining scene... casual delis and cafes to high-end dining spots. Here are just some of the spots which are featured: Wolfgang Puck and his flagship SPAGO. also CUT; Thomas Keller of BOUCHON and his BOUCHON BAKERY; Giacomino Drago of IL PASTAIO, VIA ALLORA and PICCOLO PARADISO; Scott Conant of SCARPETTA at the Montage; LAWRY'S THE PRIME RIB; THE POLO LOUNGE of the Beverly Hills Hotel; THE ROOF GARDEN and the BELVEDERE at the Peninsula Hotel. Nobu Matsuhisa is here, the restaurant which I helped make famous in 1987 with my plethora of stories about his unique Japanese food.
Reading and cooking through this book was, for me, like taking a journey through these legendary establishments, many of which I have visited in the past and continue to do so in the present. I read avidly about the early days of NATE n' ALS, about a favorite Frank Sinatra sandwich, as well as the popular dishes of many current restaurants.,,CUT's Mac 'n Cheese; IL PASTAIO'S Gnocci with Butternut Squash, VIA ALLORA'S Linguini all vongole; even SPRINKLES Cupcakes; the Cobb Salad of the famed BROWN DERBY; IL CIELO'S Panna Cotta, LAWRY'S recipe for Roast Beef; the McCarthy Salad from the POLO LOUNGE, THE PENINSULA'S Salmon Pancake. And Thomas Keller's legendary Roast Chicken. I have written often about the CHICKEN POT PIE at GRILL ON THE ALLEY but never had the recipe 'til now.
To purchase the Beverly Hills Cookbook, go to www.beverlyhills.org/exploring/centennialcelebration/centennialcookbook for $39.95 It is really worth it.
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