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September 24, 2020:

WHEN RIBS ARE PRIME

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I am sitting here like so much fish, listening to a double box of performances by the New York Philharmonic, said box containing both volumes one and two entitled An American Celebration – all American composers and all radio broadcasts, a lot in mono and some in stereo but the sound is surprisingly good on everything.  Some of these were the world premieres of the pieces, which is fun, as you can sit and imagine yourselves in front of a radio hearing a new piece by a composer you may or may not know.  The music is great, even some of the newer pieces towards the end of the set are strong.  There’s a bit of Hanson, some Barber, some Copland, some David Diamond, William Schuman, Virgil Thomson, and their ilk.  There’s also a fantastic suite from The Devil and Daniel Webster, Bernard Herrmann’s Oscar-winning score.  Otherwise, I can tell you this little story.  As you know, my father was a restaurateur, so I grew up going to his steak house, one of LA’s best, since I was very young.  So, he loved to eat out, to take us to coffee shops, Mexican jernts, exotic places like Kelbo’s, our two local and great Chinese jernts, Kowloon and Wan-Q.  But then there were the special dinners, where we’d all just be piled in the Cadillac and we’d end up on Restaurant Row (La Cienega north of Wilshire and stretching north maybe a half-mile to a mile.  We’d go to Richlor’s sometimes, a huge and wonderful place on the east side of La Cienega, and if not there we’d have the magical treat of Lawry’s Prime Rib directly across from Richlor’s.  We loved Lawry’s, we kids, because of the spinning salad bowl, the tableside carver, and the weird stuff known as Yorkshire pudding, which none of us ever actually ate but my brother and I used to toss back and forth like a football.

But in the end, it was all about the prime rib, which was absolutely amazing.  I used to have the idea that they’d look at ribs and say, “This one’s prime, this one isn’t,” and then we’d get the benefit and the non-prime ribs would go to the dogs or something.  We’d joke, when ribs are prime, we eat them all the time.  In those days, we’d never have dessert there.  We’d usually stop at 31-Flavors and get some ice cream.  Years later, Lawry’s would up and move across the street into the Richlor’s building after that restaurant bit the dust, so most people only know Lawry’s on the east side of La Cienega.  To me, it’s never seemed quite the same.  Over the years, I’ve been to Lawry’s only a handful of times, the last of which, I think, was when the Wechters and I went after a performance of Deceit in 2006.  It was good, but just not as much fun as I remembered.  And by that time, they’d bought the C.C. Brown’s hot fudge formula and we had that for dessert, but that, too, wasn’t the same.

Now, I’ve been to Tam O’Shanter only a couple of times.  It’s in East Hollywood on Los Feliz, and I don’t think I’d ever actually eaten anything there, just joined folks.  And I always thought that glancing at the menu that it seemed just like Lawry’s and only later did I finally learn that it was owned by Lawry’s and served mostly the same food at the same prices.  So, Doug and I decided to have a nice meal there yesterday and we surely did.  I went to their house at 5:10 and then we, Doug, myself, and his ever-lovin’ Dorathy, moseyed on over to the restaurant.  We parked, they’d made reservations already, and we were seated right away at a nice outdoor, socially distanced table.  Frankly, I’m ready to social distance from social distance, but that’s another story for another day.  Now, at Tam O’Shanter they don’t do the spinning salad bowl or the tableside carving.  I’d already figured out the calorie count of everything I’d be ordering, which was just slightly over 1000.  The house cut has 750 calories, and the rest added up to just over 300 calories, as the portions of the sides are very small.  I was a good boy and didn’t have any bread and hence no butter.  They both had the smaller cut (only 450 calories), and I did the creamed spinach side as it was less calories than the creamed corn.  Well, the prime rib was indeed prime and absolutely, mouth-wateringly yummilicious and I ate everything I could of it.  I’d say the ten ounces is a bit of a red herring, though, because at least one or two of those ounces is fat that you cut away.  The creamed spinach was good, and I had a few bites of the mashed potatoes – I don’t love mashed potatoes, but these were pretty good.  And of course, the temptation was high to do C.C. Brown’s, but we all held tough and didn’t.  So, a truly fine dining adventure and it was so nice to actually be with people and have conversation.

Prior to that, yesterday was a day I got through.  I got seven-and-a-half hours of sleep, answered e-mails, did stuff that needed doing, did some organizing, made some progress on figuring out the November show, and somehow the entire day went by rather quickly.  There was no mail or anything to pick up, so I just hung out here, did some work at the piano for a little project I’m thinking about doing if I can figure it all out, and then I shaved and showered and had to do a little three-minute video for a Great Britain David Cassidy group.  I got that done, and then it was time to leave.

Dinner you know about, and then we hung out at Doug’s for a bit, and then I came right home.  Then I decided a walk was in order, so I did a brisk 2.5-mile walk.  Walking down Ventura towards Ralph’s I noticed a large number of cars, and then a bunch of police.  I had a bad feeling that maybe there was some demonstration going on, but no, it wasn’t that.  I saw a whole slew of production trucks from Warner Bros., so they were obviously setting up to shoot something.  There were a lot of vehicles parking, so I’m not sure if they were shooting inside a small restaurant or if they would be shooting later in the evening with all those production cars, which were all vintage, maybe 1970s.  So, in the middle of a pandemic, with business after business having to shutter, somehow it’s okay for a huge movie crew to go on location and shoot something.  Something is wrong somewhere, folks, and I think people have just about had it with all these mixed messages, but that’s another story for another day.

Once home, I rinsed off some dishes and put them in the dishwasher and then began listening to this New York Philharmonic set, which I haven’t listened to since I got it several years ago.

Today, I’ll be up when I’m up, I’ll do whatever needs doing, I’ll continue to pray for little miracles, although if they don’t show up soon it won’t matter whether they show up at all, hopefully pick up something important at the mail place, eat – not sure what, yet – maybe tuna sandwiches, maybe more hot dogs, maybe a chicken Caesar – and then I have to do a test for the first of Friday’s Partridge Family events.  That won’t take long, and then I can watch, listen, and relax.

Tomorrow, I’ll relax until it’s time to do the two events – the first is at four o’clock my time and I’m the only guest at that one.  Then the big event is at five-thirty my time.  I’ll leave the first event around five, so I have time to rest my voice a bit, and then do the second one and then I’ll probably be ready for the funny farm.  Not sure what’s up for the weekend other than having to kill some time on Saturday due to the presence of she of the Evil Eye.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up when I’m up, do whatever needs doing, continue to pray for little miracles, hopefully pick up something important at the mail place, eat, do a test, and then watch, listen, and relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: Where have you had the best prime rib and what are your favorite prime rib sides? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, fondly remembering that when ribs are prime we eat them all the time.

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