Friday, September 23, 2016


Of course it's the record player that's really cool.

You’ve probably heard me say before that James Bond, fictional as he was, must have been the worst customer in the world when he came into the bar where you were working. He’d be there telling you how to make his drink, telling you how to do your job, being an all round clever dick.  I imagine a certain amount of spit might have gone into the shaker if he ever turned his eyes away.

Well, thanks to a book titled The Man with the Golden Typewriter, a collection of Ian Fleming’s correspondence, edited by Fergus Fleming (Ian’s nephew), it seems that Bond’s far from fictional creator wasn’t much less annoying.

Fergus has tracked down Ernest Cuneo, an American lawyer, newspaperman, author, intelligence liaison officer,a spy during World War Two, and a long time friend of Fleming.  Cuneo is quoted in the book, “Of all the maddening trivia through which I have suffered, nothing quite matched Fleming’s instructions on how his (martinis) were to be made. [He] was painfully specific about both the vermouth and the gin and explained each step to the guy who was going to mix it as if it were a delicate brain operation. Several times I impatiently asked him why the hell he didn’t go downstairs and mix it himself, but he ignored me as if he hadn’t heard and continued right on with his instructions. Equally annoyingly, he always warmly congratulated the captain when he tasted it as if he had just completed a fleet manoeuvre at flank speed.”
Oh dear. 

     According to some credible, if not cast-iron, online sources there was a time when Fleming was drinking a bottle of gin a day. His doctor convinced him to substitute bourbon.  Where do people find these doctors?

I can’t for the life of me find a photograph of Ian Fleming with a martini, unless that's one above in a wine glass (surely not): hard enough to find one of him with a drink.  Cigarettes and guns no problem whatsoever.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


I was thinking of the opening line of Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights Big City, “You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this ..”

I was in Beverly Hills – and I always feel like I’m an illegal immigrant when I slide over the border into Beverly Hills. Everyone there is (or at least gives the impression of being) so slick, so moneyed, so untroubled by the realities of existence, so veal-calf-ish, that I think the secret police are going to ask for my papers, find I don’t have the right ones, and then, if I’m lucky, they’ll give me 30 minutes to get out of town.

In this case I was there because I’d been to a wedding at the Beverley Hills Courthouse (congratulations Elina, congratulations Anthony) and this was the post-reception drink.  We were in Wally’s, which sounds like a modest kind of place, but this being Beverly Hills it isn’t.  You want to read their blurb?
“Creating a space that allows Wally’s to elevate its core mission of providing quality, value and service – with the inclusion of a restaurant under the same roof – has spawned a unique environment in which to enjoy both an elegant dining and a unique shopping experience.”

Well it’s not untrue.  The cheese counter in the back is hard to resist.  And as you can see, the walls are lined with bottles of wine, which seems a very reasonable design choice, though I couldn’t help thinking that once in a while somebody must grab one of those bottles and try to stick it in their bag.  Maybe there are security cameras – and I’m sure if they catch you they beat you up very discreetly, if very thoroughly.

Anyway, this cocktail is the main reason to blog about the Wally’s:
POMP IT UP - Belvedere vodka, Pamplemousse liqueur, grapefruit juice, up - $14
     Personally I’d have squirted some lemon or lime in it – but that’s me all over, never quite sour or acidic enough.

These days I also find it impossible to hear the word pamplemousse without thinking of the song, “Foux Da Fa Fa” by Flight of the Conchords, currently being used in a TV commercial for milk:

And I did wonder why the drink was pinkish – pink grapefruit I supposed, which it is, but channeled (I’m now pretty sure) through pamplemousse rose liqueur, there are quite a few of them apparently and I can't swear this is the kind they use at Wally's, but you get the idea:

And the fact is, Wally’s do serve some kick ass charcuterie and cheese plates, almost worth the risk of crossing the border:


Thursday, September 8, 2016


More sausage lore:  There’s a terrific Thai place in a mini-mall on Sunset Boulevard (the address is the ominous 6660 W Sunset Blvd) called luv2eat, where the staff is wonderfully gender fluid.

And the food is really good too.  This is Thai Isaan Sausage, which was beautifully sour and acidic, which which may have been because of fermentation, though it could easily have been lime juice: there’s sticky rice in there too.

And there’s this, 3 kinds of barbecue (that’s 2 pork, one duck) over jade noodles:

And also on the menu is something that caught my eye as “pork leg over” – which sounds pretty obscene if you’re an Englishman – though of course in fact it’s “pork leg over rice” – but a man is entitled to snicker, fluidly or not.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Well it's true, but there's no need for the potty mouth, is there?