My Oscars Fan Experience, Part 1
Welcome to Hollywood! Everybody has a dream! What's your dream? What's your dream? Hey mister - What's your dream?" - See more at: http://shankman.com/whats-your-dream/#sthash.GIpMPFFk.dpufWelcome to Hollywood! Everybody has a dream! What's your dream? What's your dream? Hey mister - What's your dream?" - See more at: http://shankman.com/whats-your-dream/#sthash.GIpMPFFk.dpuf
Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Somecome true, some don't; but keep on dreamin' - this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin'. --Pretty Woman
Sitting in the bleachers for the Oscars Fan Experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I had a wonderful time; The Beloved and I both did. We crammed so much into two short days it's hard to give you all a chronological account of our time in Hollywood. We're both left with the memories of the sights, sounds and tastes of our trip, so I will share them with you in the best way I know how.
The Loews Hollywood Hills Hotel sits on a small piece of land and anchors one corner of the Hollywood & Highland complex, which includes the Dolby Theater where the Academy Awards ceremony takes place as well as the iconic Grauman's Chinese Theater and many retail outlets and restaurants.
Sitting on the benches by the porte cochere and looking out towards Highland and Yucca at the start of our Oscars Fan Experience, our view is blocked by a long, black granite water feature. The wall holds Hollywood at bay. Signs for Thai massage, check cashing and Highland Liquor in the strip mall crowd hard against the water feature. On the other side of the intersection looms a large vertical billboard, and we can see Spiderman poised to breach the wall.
The fairytale masking the mundane, making an oxymoron of the phrase Hollywood Glamor.
Inside, the hotel lobby is cavernous and loud, hard surfaces doing nothing to dampen the hysterical pre-Oscar day din. The tall, handsome and delightful Rich takes care of us at the desk, bumping us up to a junior suite from a standard room since he says our wait has been too long. Happy to be off of planes and out of egregiously expensive taxis, we would have stood patiently for minutes longer, but Rich would have none of it.
Key card in hand, we hied ourselves to the fifteenth floor and into the largest hotel room we've ever been in, one wall a giant window and with more pillows on the very comfortable bed than we have in our entire home. Shades of gray. Not 50, but close. Some deep purple and an occasional bright burst of orange. Swanky.
Odd that there was no floor-length mirror for guests to see themselves from head to toe. Not so bad for casual us, but a little lacking for the well-heeled set. Also odd, the Soviet era toilet paper. The opposite of Charmin, it seemed rude and out of place in the midst of all the luxury.
We walked slowly, taking it all in. The buildings so close together, the seediness. I could well imagine Julia Roberts' Vivian and Laura San Giacomo's Kit working the streets here. I would have been more surprised to see a movie star on Hollywood Boulevard than a prostitute. I was struck by the dissonance. I guess people who live here know, but the red carpet, like our hotel, is insulated from Hollywood by stands of plastic greenery, miles of temporary chain link fencing and more cops than you would ever expect to see outside a police state. Hollywood isn't tamed for the Oscars so much as it is held back.
Nobody except tourists looks down as they walk on the stars. The Hollywood Walk on Fame. Terrazzo stars, some cracked, outlined in gold. A silent roll call of the people whose contributions to film, radio, music and television afforded them this honor. Bought today at $30,000 per star and payable to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Hollywood royalty embedded in the grimy sidewalk.
Our stroll down Hollywood Boulevard was motivated by food, not fame. The concierge at the hotel, who despite my hopes was not named Serge, described Loteria as his favorite place to eat in Hollywood. Upscale Mexican? Sold.
We found Loteria Grill between Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor.
The margarita was fantastic, and the food was authentic and delicious. Their homemade corn tortillas, slightly thicker and a bit sproingier than their mass-produced cousins, alone were worth the trip.
Their guacamole was milder than I usually like--I tend to use a lot of lime juice in mine--yet I could not stop eating it. The salsa was fresh and crisp if quietly seasoned. There was a third "dip," a highly spiced mole-type sauce, smoky with a hint of cocoa, that was also quite nice.
We ordered their taquitos appetizer which came with more guacamole for dipping. Shredded chicken was expected. The potato filling was not, but I was a fan of the "Mexican Samosa."
I asked our server, who was attentive and a wonderful resource (I do wish I had written down his name) for recommendations, and he steered us in the right direction. The Beloved had spicy-sweet sword fish and pineapple tacos, a special that evening. I had their carnitas in spicy "salsa morita." We were both in heaven. Heaven! The food was delicious.
And for dessert? Flan of course. I am addicted to flan, and I order it at every restaurant that has it on the dessert menu. Sadly, I have been disappointed more often than not. This night, they recommended the Caramel Flan, and coconut flan was also on the menu. It was as smooth as silk and very dense. Most flan I've had offers little resistance to my fork. This one had some backbone, almost a jamminess, requiring me to apply a bit of downward pressure. Sweet but well balanced, I detected a hint of salty cheese in the finish. A finish that approached gaminess was, rather than off-putting, very more-ish.
And the color was pure butterscotch. This was a flan of a different color. I asked if it contained cajeta (dulce de leche made with goats' milk) and indeed it did. Our server said they make it with both dulce de leche (cow's milk) and cajeta. No wonder the flavor was so complex. While the entire meal was fantastic, the flan was simply stellar.
And that takes us to Sunday. I have loads of photos and "sightings" to share, so please stay tuned!
Have any of you guys ever been to Hollywood? Do you live close and have you visited? I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments.
Thank you so much for spending some time with me today. Have a lovely day.