|This was Karen's destiny . . until restaurant reviews came along.
Since I’m still in NY this week, I figured I’d make this column worth your while by telling you one of my deep, dark secrets. Well, actually it’s not that deep, but my sane friends (yeah, the whole 2 of them) consider it dark.
Back when I was still a teen, I ran away from home to join the circus. No fooling. A well-educated Jewish girl from Brooklyn as the star of the sideshow! Who could make this stuff up?! Details will be in my as-yet-to-be-written memoir, and boy are they juicy!
As the saying goes, you can take the girl out of the circus but you can’t take the circus out of the girl. (Or something like that.)
So, I’m arriving back in LA in time for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus opening at the Staples Center. It moves to the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim the next week and I just may, too. Depends on if they’re looking for a new clown.
I heard that this edition is very different from all the previous ones. One ring instead of 3 and no specific star. I was in NY in April and was very tempted to view it at Madison Square Garden, where I had seen it every year when I was little.
The only night I had available was the night that UCLA was playing for the NCAA basketball championship, so though the choice was tough, it was obvious. Sports comes first, always. And I got to watch the game in a bar filled with only UCLA alumni. Which, actually, technically I’m not, but it was one of my favorite colleges among the four I attended. (Variety being the spice of life and all.)
Is there anyone who can digress like I can?! I think not. So, back to the circus. (Oh no--yet another name for my autobiography!) Since I didn’t see it in NY, which is the point of the previous paragraph, I will review it in this column next week. But, I’ll give you a hint right now: no circus could ever be bad for me. Even the one that I was in, with all the drama.
I felt like I was in a Jimmy Stewart movie! And not one of the charming ones.
Ringling Bros. And Barnum and Bailey Circus
Staples Center July 19-23
Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim July 26-Aug. 6
The view from Brentwood- Osteria Latini
The week before I left for NY, Eadie, Marcia and I had a girls night out at Osteria Latini in Brentwood.
It was a Friday at 8PM and a good thing that we had made reservations a few days earlier because it was jam-packed.
Eadie pointed out that they did the most with a small space. I’m very claustrophobic, but hadn’t even noticed, due to the light-colored wooden walls, and several high bookcases filled with wine bottles.
The outgoing owner, Paolo, took care of us himself since he had met me before. While a lovely gesture, making our visit that much more special, it also means I can’t comment on the service because we didn’t have a waitperson. But I can tell you that we all loved the food, including Mr. X, who got a doggie bag. (Am I a good girlfriend or what?!)
The bread isn’t special enough to fill up on, so don’t. The winner of the whole meal for me was the special beet salad. It’s not the one on the main menu, so if they don’t mention it, definitely ask. It consists of chopped beets, pine nuts, dried cherries, tomato, endive, and goat cheese. What a combo! Pure paradise. The caesar salad, which Marcia and I are sticklers on, was second to only the Ivy, which is saying a lot.
We all agreed (stop the presses!) that the Spaghetti Bolognese was the best pasta we tried, though the rebellious Eadie also loved the slightly strange butternut squash ravioli in red cream sauce. Not necessary was the porcini mushroom risotto, which was very bland.
The filet mignon was heavenly and not even as pricey as at most restaurants. The veal chop was one of the best I’ve had, and both meals came with mashed potatoes and generous vegetables, which is a relief to see in this town.
We tried the house specialty fish, Branzino, which they de-bone at the table and cut up for you. Eadie gave it her “melt-in-your-mouth” stamp of approval as did Mr. X, my fish expert.
If you thought we wouldn’t have room for dessert after all this, you’d be way wrong. Here’s my reviewing secret: I eat all the rest of the meal just to get to the chocolate at the end, which indeed we did in this case. In spades!
They make a special chocolate truffle cake that’s not on the menu, so you have to request it 20 minutes prior to when you want it. If they have the time, and the inclination, it’s yours. Otherwise, you’ll have to settle for gelato or mousse, which are both good, but not in the same league with the rich, molten-chocolate-oozing cake.
I brought a tad of mousse to Mr. X, though, and he said it was ridiculously good.
Eadie combined 2 light desserts; refreshing mixed fruit sorbets and warm vanilla bean panne cotta, and went to town on them!
They serve everyone a complimentary special treat at the end of the meal, thereby rendering dessert really unnecessary for some. It’s a mixture of lemon sorbet, meringue and champagne and is served as a beverage, but can be eaten with a spoon.
Those loyal viewers of my show know 2 of the 4 tastes I hate most in the world are alcohol and lemon, but the consistency of the sgropino looks so delicious I was almost tempted to try it. Almost. I know a lot of people who dine here regularly and can’t wait for it to arrive. Mr. X feels the same way about the doggie bags.
Osteria Latini 11712 San Vicente Blvd. Brentwood 310-826-9222 osterialatini.com