Thursday, December 14, 2017

dinner and a show?

it's not often that we get to do a date night with another couple, especially one we enjoy spending time with.  actually, this evening was supposed to include a third couple, but with the holiday party season in full swing they went through not only their regular sitter not being available but their second, third AND fourth backups not coming through.  both couples are folks we actually met because of the bean - they're her BFFs' parents.  and while we don't really have a regular sitter of our own, she was able to spend the evening at her friend's house, giving us the chance to carpool to the restaurant.

we'd opted to try a restaurant none of us had been to before - alexander's steakhouse in pasadena.  i'd heard nothing but good things about it and it has a bazillion positive reviews on yelp.  i didn't really take any pictures of the restaurant itself, but there really wasn't much to show you anyway.  it's pretty simple and modern, with all the waitstaff dressed in full suits.  it was kind of a funny contrast to the handful of tables we passed that were occupied by folks in much more casual ensembles.

the menu told us before our server did that it was a fusion of japanese cuisine and traditional steakhouse fare:




we ordered some edamame, warm and coated in truffle butter and lime.  the hub wasn't a fan, but i couldn't get enough of it.


the item that kept popping up in those yelp reviews were the hamachi shots.  our server described them as deconstructed sushi, meant to be taken in one shot out of the shot glasses they were served in.  each order contained a 6-pack of them, which worked out as only three of us were interested in them anyway.  so you pick up a glass, stir the contents together and then shoot it - but i've never been good at taking shots, so i ate mine with a seafood fork in about three different bites.


the yelp reviews didn't lie, by the way.  they were really good, and i kind of want to just go back and eat these all night long.  heh.  i'd also ordered a "gordon's cup," which was their version of a pimm's cup, and it was really tasty and delicious.  i was feeling pretty good by the time the bread service arrived, so i couldn't tell you what kind of bread was in the basket besides one made with squid ink and another one that had some sort of cheese in it that looked like a cinnamon roll.  and it came with four different spreads, one that was like a honey butter and served in what looked like a bone.  and another that had some sort of meat mixed into it.  i don't even remember - i just know i tried them all and they were all yummy.


the charcuterie arrived not long after that, and it gave me flashbacks of the paté i'd tried at bouchon on thanksgiving.  that's not a good thing, by the way.  the server did explain everything else on the board - i heard things like cherry compote and liver and coriander, and i swear he said "intestine" or something like that.


it was while we were exploring these items that we noticed the older gentleman who was sitting at the table next to us with what i'm assuming was his wife getting louder and more animated as time went on.  i'd seen him served at least one martini, and he was sawing into his steak like he was trying to do some woodworking.  anyway, i noticed him lean over to pick up the napkin he'd dropped on the floor, but he became disoriented and lost his balance, falling all the way to the floor in what looked like slow motion.  three of us at the table jumped up, with the hub making it over just in time to keep him from slamming his head against the table leg.  waitstaff and managers came rushing over as everyone helped him climb back up onto the bench seat, where he stretched out and waved away any offers to get medical assistance.  my friend, who's a nurse and had already had an adult beverage of her own, leaned over to take a look and said to me "he's fine!  just wasted."  hahahahahaha!

despite his quiet protests, the local fire department arrived with medical gear and a gurney within a few minutes (likely called by the manager immediately to make sure the restaurant didn't end up liable for anything).  they asked him what he was feeling, took his blood pressure, tried to keep talking to him as he drifted in and out of consciousness, and eventually took him away on that gurney.  his wife seemed as concerned as my friend, and she left the restaurant a few minutes after he was wheeled out.  we had what seemed like the entire restaurant staff come over to see if we were okay after the trauma of the evening, and we ended up having a round of drinks comped for the table.

main courses, anyone?  this was the 8-oz filet mignon that three of us ordered:


while the 12-oz prime rib looked like a side of freaking beef on a plate in comparison.


the brussels sprouts were really good:


as were the sautéed mushrooms.


there were mashed potatoes too, but those don't really photograph well and you know what they look like anyway.  everything was super tasty, and the dessert menu offered things like a peanut butter souffle:


guava cheesecake (which was deep fried and added a fun texture):


and a fun chocolate dessert that was served with gold flakes and popcorn sorbet.


mignardises:


and later at home, two of those gordon's cups had obviously had quite an effect.


best sleep i've had in months.  hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

parading on through december

as december rolls along, so do the annual school performances.  friday was the elementary school-wide "christmas sing" program, where each class gets to go up and perform some sort of christmas song and dance they've been working on for a solid month.  it occurred to me that this is the second-to-the-last one of these i'll get to see the bean in, which made me kind of sad.


i had to get a shot of her with one of her longtime BFFs, who came in all decked out in this pimped-out christmas suit.  i love this kid:


and afterwards, we had just enough time to snap a couple more pictures.


the next morning, we got up early and headed out to the downtown area to meet up with the school choir, who was going to be walking in the annual christmas parade.  it's kind of crazy to think that she's participated in this event for, like, 5 years in a row - whether it was with cheer, girl scouts or choir.


and this year, the school stepped up their game and actually had a float that the principal and a handful of students got to ride on.  at this past week's book fair, each purchase earned you a raffle ticket and the prize was a seat on the float, which had been decorated by the students and parent volunteers over the last week.


while they got started on their half-mile route, the hub and i went to the coffee bean to grab some drinks.  we usually head to the end of the route to watch the parade, which makes it easy to pick up our kid when it's all over.  after a slight mishap during which i managed to spill an entire hot tea all over my leg (ouch), we finally made it over there.


even after all that, we managed to catch the parade almost in its entirety.  i was amused at this firefighter, who hitched a ride the whole way while dangling on the end of this fire truck:


i had no idea we had a local chapter of the daughters of the american revolution.  interesting.


performers from one of the local performance arts schools are always a hit:


the school's orchestra got to ride on a tow truck while playing christmas carols:


with the choir singing along right behind them.


the bean and two of her BFFs had a great seat on the curb to watch the rest of the parade, which included an in-n-out truck and the chick-fil-a cow:


more locals having a blast waving to the paradegoers.







and you know the parade is over when you see santa waving at you as he floats on by.


so much fun!  really puts you in the christmas spirit, if you weren't already.  too bad it was like 85 degrees and everybody was sweating.  merry christmas to all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

KOST-ing right into the holiday season

the local radio station that plays christmas music 24/7 during the holiday season also does an annual private party at disneyland that i think combines an employee party with a fun giveaway for their listeners.  the old lady has literally been trying to win tickets to this thing for years - like when she was in high school.  when the christmas music started, so did the ticket giveaway - caller number 20 wins a 4-pack of tickets every hour, monday-friday, from 6am to midnight.  like she does every year, she started calling every single day as often as she could, and made sure i remembered to call too.  we tried and tried and tried, and as the date of the party came closer we started to lose hope and figure we'd try again next year.

and then on the day before the party, the bean and i were chatting on the way to school about how hard it was to win those tickets.  i explained to her that you not only had to call and actually get through while everyone in the greater los angeles area was calling at the same time, but that you had to be caller number 20.  and then i went on about how it would be really hard anyway because the party was on a thursday evening and didn't even start until 9pm, and that would make going to school the next day super hard.  and so i'd just dropped her off and was home making coffee when the old lady called me.  she doesn't call often, as we usually just text back and forth, and so i knew it must've been important.

"mom.  were you listening to KOST just now?"
"uh, no.  i just got home."
"well, guess who just won tickets to the party?"
"i don't know, who?" (DUH, CAPTAIN OBVIOUS.)
"ME!"

almost as much as i was excited that she had won, i was bummed that i'd totally missed hearing her voice on the radio.  bah!

even though she'd basically won the golden ticket(s), her special friend opted out of joining us because his work hours just weren't going to allow it.  instead she invited the hub to come along, and while he's not the biggest disneyland fan he was pretty excited to go (and made sure she knew how much he appreciated being invited).

so after the bean got home from school and went to her thursday music lessons, i sent her off to bed to get a nice long nap in before our nighttime disney adventure.  she managed to get almost 3 hours of sleep before we got dressed and headed down to anaheim, armed with this letter that got us free parking once we arrived at the parking structure.


the party was on the california adventure side of the resort, which closed to the general public at 9 that evening to allow for the KOST party to have the whole park to ourselves.  everyone was arriving at the same time, so it took awhile to get through security and then onto a tram.  once we got to the esplanade, it wasn't hard to figure out where we needed to go to grab our tickets and wristbands:


the check-in process was faster and easier than it looked, and in no time we were wristbanded and ready to enter the park.



the instructions had said to head back towards the pier where the "world of color" show would kick off the evening's festivities, but we were hungry.  while most of the restaurants were closed for the evening, the festival of holidays food kiosks were open for business.  we ordered mac & cheese and the warm polenta with chilled crab salad:


and somehow scored a little disney magic as they handed us one of the warm chocolate floats that had just been made for someone else who opted not to take it.  it was vanilla ice cream floating in hot chocolate with brownie chunks and whipped cream, and it was super delicious.


we made our way back towards the "world of color" and found the area wonderfully empty.  this is their signature nighttime water show extravaganza, and we've never experienced it without having to elbow through a huge crowd of people.


not too far away from us were two of the station's most well-known on-air personalities - ellen k and mark wallengren.


as they welcomed everyone to the party, they handed the microphone over to a guy who was waiting anxiously at the front of the crowd.  he'd made arrangements with them to give him the floor so he could propose to his girlfriend, who happily said yes.


and then some holiday fireworks went off as the "world of color" show started.




after it was over, we consulted the event guide to see what restaurants were open for business.


we ended up heading to flo's v8 cafe in cars land for some grub.  this was my turkey dip sandwich:


with a 70-minute wait for radiator springs racers (the entire party must've been there), we decided to head across the street to ride "luigi's joy to the whirl" instead.




"mater's jingle jamboree" was next, with practically zero wait.



it was pretty fantastic to stroll through the park with almost no one to dodge and weave through.


with time winding down to the end of the party, we decided to get in line for guardians of the galaxy.  it only had a 30-minute wait, and that's pretty rare - not to mention, the hub hadn't been on this ride since it switched over from "tower of terror." and i finally managed to get a decent shot of harold, the abominable snowman from matterhorn mountain!  he lives here now.


it was super fun, as always:


then we took a quick selfie in front of the tree:


and that was that.


such a fun night.  we got home right around 1:00, with the bean snoring in the back seat almost from the moment we got in the car.  and she managed to get herself up for school on time, without a single "i'm tired" or anything.

disney magic, indeed.
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