Nine Thirty/The Backyard at The W Hotel
930 Hilgard Avenue (@ Manning)
Westwood, CA 90024
It was a pop-up ad.
But before I cursed and wished 24/7 of not only Emeril Live but 30 Minute Meals as well, on the tivo of the Evil Internet Overlord who invented pop-up ads, I thought for a moment about what the ad was advertising.
The ad very proudly proclaimed an offer of a mortgage. It was blinking and flashing with silhouettes of people dancing in celebration because it is a. Big. Fookin'. Deal. That’s right. Apparently a mortgage for $145,000 is reason to party like it’s 1999. For only $484 a month! Holy smokes! $145,000!!! w0000t!!!11!
As my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Galayda used to say, “Hold your f**kin' horses.” (I went to a pretty progressive elementary school, so it is highly likely that Mrs. G really did say "f**kin'.")
Why is $145,000 a reason to drop down on your knees, throw your hands heavenward and praise the Lord? Why? It assumes that $145,000 is a sizeable sum of money. It assumes that $145,000 can buy you something. The question is...Where? Where on God’s great earth can you purchase a home with a mortgage of $145,000? Tell me. Please! Oh, I know. *nods head in understandaing* Duh. A condo. In Death Valley.
But it’s still a time share with eleven other couples.
Where does the target market for this pop-up ad live that $145,000 is a sweet deal? They certainly don’t live in Los Angeles. There is nothing, I mean nothing, within 200 miles of the edge of LA civilization that can be boughten with $145,000. At least not real estate. Not the kind where you have to sign something in triplicate, with witnesses. With $145,000, I think you could probably pay for your gasoline for about a month; maybe three weeks if you commute from the Valley. Or you could use it as a second mortgage for your 10x10 public storage space in Watts, assuming you are retarded and would actually get a mortgage for a rented space.
Living in la la land has completely brainwashed me with respect to real estate prices. They are astronomical. The condo conversion next to my apartment building is selling one bedroom condos for $825,000. One bedroom. Surely they mean one extraordinarily large bedroom and two other “side” bedrooms along with a library, a den, a formal dining room and four bathrooms? Or maybe the condo really only has one bedroom, but it also comes with a “happy ending.” $825,000 is, oh, just a little more than I can afford right now. Even with a $145,000 (w00t!) mortgage.
So what does this mean?
I need a f**king pop-up blocker.
It also means that if I ever ever ever plan to buy a “place of my own” in LA at some point in the distant future, I have to save. That’s right, save all that unearned cash.
You ask, “How does a girl live a Champagne and Chanel lifestyle on an Arbor Mist and Old Navy budget?”
I ain’t saying I’m a gold-digger.
But I ain’t messin’ with no broke *RADIO EDIT!*
Unfortuantely, sugar daddies aren’t easy to find in LA. At least, not on the Westside.
And that means one must rely on socialite savvy for invitations to super fab-ooh-la-la-lous parties around town. I don’t know how I swindled it because I have absolutely ZERO socialite savvy, but on a certain evening, I had two, yes, two, count them, kittenz, two parties for which not a dollah had to exit this princess’ pocketbook. Except for the valet. But hey, that’s why you take a date. ;)
The first “party” wasn’t really a party so much as an “event.” In the PR world, I think it might be called “promotions.” Regardless of what it was, it was in The Backyard of the sleek and chic W Hotel in Westwood and promised luscious bites of something to eat from Nine Thirty (the restaurant) and fancy schmancy drinks mixed by an official Bombay Sapphire mixologist.
Bombay Sapphire is gin. If I'm a die-hard Citron/soda girl now, there was a point in my life when I was a hard core "G&T" girl. Gin and tonic. But like most people do after a weekender bender on cheap tequila or perhaps Jager, I permanently swore off the swill that pickled my liver and seeped pine sap out of my pores for five days afterwards. I can barely stand to be within 10 feet of the stuff, as liquid Tannenbaum is fairly easy to sniff out. But hey, like I always say, boozers can't be choosers. ;)
Now to me, Christmas Tree doesn't mix well with anything but...oh, I don't know, tinsel and fake snow flocking, maybe? But apparently Bombay is trying to show the public that yes, indeed, gin can be transformed away from the image of an older, distiguished gentleman drinking a martini in an evergreen forest into "young! hip! fun! crazy up-in-da-club!" cocktails.
Hm. Re-he-he-heally?!?! We’ll see about that.
The Backyard of the W is the outdoor patio area by the pool. In all my three times I had been to the W before, I had never once been in The Backyard, which is strange because you’d think I would have been able to sense the small bar back there. A patio area with umbrella’d tables and chairs and cushy sofa lounge spaces is enclosed by a backlit, rocky waterscape, which would be nothing like a Sandra Lee tablescape made of cheap ocean-print tablecloth hot glue-gunned with plastic starfish and coconuts. (omg, I have now mentioned Sandra Lee twice, which means I am probably hatefully obsessed with the woman).
By the time we got there, the party was in semi-full swing, and no, we didn’t purposely arrive fashionably late enough to make an ooh-la-la entrance. This is Sarah here. I am a wee bit socially retarded, and prefer to slink in the back door unnoticed, hover by the food table, hide behind an enormous cocktail
glass, then slip back out again anonymously with a camera full of secretly stolen photos and mental notes of what I ate and what everyone was wearing. I can’t help myself. I live in LA.
The crowd wasn’t exactly what I’d call “the beautiful people,” but it certainly wasn’t a meeting of the Math Club. Bombay had taken over the patio by the bar, but the pool was cordoned off for another party that really was a meeting of the Math Club. Or maybe they were investment bankers and financial planners. I am not entirely sure, but there were lots of khaki Dockers and brand-less pique polo shirts.
Bombay had set up their oh-fee-shyul mixologist toward the back, so that’s where we headed immediately. Unfortunately, free drinks always draw a crowd, and the mixologist was mobbed. From the sidelines, I could see him in his shiny blue suited glory, and could hear his booming, deeply accented voice. I almost fell over when I realized that he was Austin Powers, Shaken Not Stirred.
Nine Thirty and Bombay had worked together to produce a menu of pairings - gin cocktails that featured lots of herbal essences and whatnot, paired against foods from both Nine Thirty and The Backyard (I assume they have the same kitchen and that The Backyard serves Nine Thirty "Light.") We had missed the first taste, Pineapple and Ginger Sapphire Martini, but I didn't mind. The food pairing was fois gras mousse. I am not fond of fois to begin with, and the idea of washing it down with pineapple and ginger flavored gin sounded too horrible to imagine. A pineapple and ginger martini should have been paired with a damn Hawaiian ahi tartare, duh. I did, however, think it quite clever of Austin Powers version 2.0 to name the cocktail with both the words "pine" and "gin." Of course, he probably didn't plan that.
The second course, like the fois gras mousse, was also from Nine Thirty's menu. The servers brought out tiny espresso cups filled with a thick mushroom soup laced with black truffle and topped with barely a kiss of creme fraiche. I loved the idea of serving cocktail-sized servings of soup in espresso cups, but passed on actually tasting it for a second taste of the Apple and Green Tea Sapphire Martini. I was surprised at how much I liked it - very light, crisp, and very little gin taste. Then again, I'm sure Mr. Mixologist was light-handed with his Sapphire. The only thing I couldn't understand was how apple and green tea were supposed to pair with a thick, strong, earthy mushroom and truffle soup. Two great tastes, not great together.
The next two tastes were from The Backyard, and I began to realize that there was probably no thought whatsoever put into the actual food and drink pairing. Either that, or Austin Powers had dipped a little too long in the oversized Sapphire bottles that were supposed to be for display purposes only. Sausage Pizza with Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions would have been fine by itself, but with a Jamba Juice-like Blueberry Basil Sapphire Martini attached to it, suddenly reminded me of something Noah might do for a breakfast pizza bagel. The idea of blueberry and basil is excellent. The execution was miserably thick and sickeningly sweet. Next time, muddle basil and blueberries, add gin (of course, next time, I wouldn't even be using gin), then strain it of all those nasty filtrates like you're a damn DNA chemist.
The last course, Shellfish Salad in Endive, looked downright frightening, no offense to the chef. Not only was there was so much shellfish piled into a tiny endive leaf I didn't think it would hold if I actually lifted one off the serving plate, but one teeny tiny angry histamine and I could have exploded into a blistery, blustery allergic mess. I did however, think the final cocktail, Cucumber and Kiwi Sapphire Martini, was the best tasting of the four. I didn't say it was great tasting in an absolute sense, as it had a bit of that Bath & Body Works character to it, but it was the best of the four.
Though it may not seem so from the way I've written about the odd pairings and the fact that the whole evening was built around gin, I did enjoy myself immensely. The Backyard setting is a mini-oasis in the midst of Westwood chaos. I met a deliciously gorgeous girl with whom I exchanged promises to meet again (silly, silly, not in that way) and I got to watch the sky go from afternoon delight through twilight and into night, sippin' on Sapphire, without so much as spending a Bud Light.
Next time, we'll do it at my million dollar condo, on the veranda, with vodka. ;)
** a year ago today, i did an extreme makeover, blog edition, but ty pennington wasn't there **