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Monday, September 24, 2007

Weekend 9/22-9/23

Last Saturday morning, Jojo and I stopped by my BILs place to greet Roy a “happy birthday”. Since we could not make it to his birthday dinner that night, we decided to pop by early and bring him his present. We spent a good part of the morning catching up with my in-laws and visiting with my nieces. After that, we swung by the house to pick Jeff and Yam up for a quick lunch at Chipotle. Jules met us there. We headed over to downtown LA after lunch since we had tickets to see Avenue Q.

Of all the theaters in LA, I think the Ahmanson Theater is my favorite. Located in Downtown LA amidst the complex that houses the Mark Taper Forum and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the theater is a stone’s throw from the Walt Disney Music Hall. Ahmanson is a modern theater without the usual modern attributes of starkness or austerity. Parking is convenient, the lobby and theater décor is muted yet functional, seating is quite spacious, and the restrooms are ample enough for a full house. The actual theater is neither cavernous nor cramped – and feels like an intimate concert hall. We got there right as the show was starting and sat back to enjoy the performance. I’ll reserve my Avenue Q review for my next blog post. The play is simply too marvelous to limit to a one-paragraph description.

After the show, we drove over to visit with Ray, Janice and baby Colin. As we sat chatting with his folks, Colin slept soundly in his mom’s arms. He was a well-behaved baby and even though he was mostly swaddled in a baby blanket, you could see he was an adorable baby. Kudos to Ray and Janice, who are first-time parents, but made parenting a 3-week old baby look natural and easy. We stayed for about an hour before heading to The Grove over at Fairfax.

We had reservations at Maggianos and were being joined for dinner by someone we literally did not know. Yes, you read right. We were meeting a guy named Adrian and his cousin, Christina - none of us knew either of them nor did they know us. I know that sounds strange so let me explain. My best friend Les works with Adrian back in Manila. She is constantly telling Adrian about me and how she thought he and I would click should we ever get the chance to meet. When Les was here last year, she told me countless Adrian stories and convinced me that I would absolutely find him fun to be with and extremely likeable. Little did I know, Adrian would be in LA this weekend – till he actually texted me and asked if we could meet up. How could I say no? I asked him to join us for dinner that night. Luckily he could make it. As we sat at the Maggiano’s bar waiting for him to arrive, Jojo asked me how I would recognize Adrian (since we never met and had no idea what each other looked like). I admit that I was a bit stumped. We spent the early part of the evening calling out “Adrian” to every Filipino-looking guy who walked into the place. Finally at 5 past 7, Adrian walks in and we immediately just knew each other. By the way, Les was absolutely right – Adrian and I did click and we were chatting away like old friends. He also got along really well with Jojo, Jules, Jeff and Yam – and we all thought his cousin, Christina, was nice to hang out with too.

Dinner at Maggianos is usually a sure thing. The place is really nice, the food is very good and the service is really impeccable. But that Saturday night – sadly they struck out on all 3. The place was so crowded and we were kept waiting for almost an hour till eventually being seated by the kitchen. Service was incredibly slow (strange since all the servers seemed to be rushing to and fro but none of them could stop and take our orders – this went on for about 15 minutes). When we finally gave our orders – our server got them wrong too (Jeff’s Coke never arrived, we got a chicken salad rather than a steak and arugula salad, and our side order of onion rings never arrived). But the worst part was the food. The Rigatoni D (a cream-based chicken marsala dish served with caramelized onions over penne pasta – which is Jojo’s and my favorite dish) – was bland and too way too watery. The garlic shrimp linguine had overcooked noodles. And the spinach and artichoke dip was a tad too salty. The meal’s saving grace were the crabcakes (which were good) and the calamari rings (but really who can mess up deep fried squid rings!). We passed on dessert. Adrian told us they had to meet with some of his other cousins and had to go. The rest of us walked around The Grove (outdoor shopping area), enjoying the cool night air, browsing Barnes and Noble, window shopping and hanging out at the Apple store while waiting for a table to clear up at The Cheesecake Factory. Of course since Jeff and Yam were visiting we had to give in and had to “force” ourselves to have cheesecake and coffee drinks for dessert with our guests.

Sunday was sleep in day and then lunch at Lucille’s Southern Barbecue (now that place is consistently good). We made a quick stop at Costco for Jeff’s pasalubong shopping – I picked up two books The Kite Runner (by Khaled Hosseini) and The Jane Austen Book Club (by Karen Joy Fowler) - both good books I’ve been looking forward to reading … now all I have to figure out is when I’ll have time to read them! Then it was off to Hollywood for our second “Broadway” experience of the week. We had tickets to see “Wicked”.

In stark contrast to the Ahmanson Theater, the Pantages Theater located on Hollywood Blvd., is the anti-thesis to modern. Instead it is a throwback to the Hollywood era of glamorous art deco but sadly with hints of architectural wear and tear. The theater which is a historical institution has decor that can be described as rather heavy and very dramatic complete with velvet curtains, intricate carved walls and ceilings, dark wood and brass décor and dim-lighting. Also, as with many older establishments the place had a severe bathroom shortage – especially for the ladies. Again, my review for Wicked will follow in another post – as the show deserves much more space on my blog. After the show, we were hungry but since it was late an the next day was a work day, we decided to head home to leftovers, hit the sack and call it a weekend.


jol said...

A colorful weekend never fails to perk up a person! Looking forward to your reviews for the two plays.

leslie Ty said...

i can't believe I just read this now !!! I was wondering what happened to your dinner with adrian.... :)

I knew that you guys will hit it off! :) I bet adrian was laughing away all night..he's my greatest fan hear cause i always make him laugh but i told him wala akong sinabi sa yo... :)

Thanks for meeting up with you know ginger, jamie n adrian...the next friend you should meet is pam...jogo is always saying pam reminds him of you...curious???? :)

Junarakasa said...

Hi Les, funny how I kinda felt that Adrian was an "old friend". Like I had known him forever. Looking forward to meeting Pam. Yes, I'm intrigued knowing Jogo thinks she reminds him of me ... I hope in a a good way! :)

Pablo said...

Pablo O.
As I read your articles describing your trip with your dad and mom, your sister and brother in law, I have the feeling I was with you over there encapsulated in words that I felt I was in the trip with you people. I guess, as I fast- read your article I lost a lot of the beautiful scenery, sights and tasty and wonderful food. I am reading your works now, savoring the lost time that I did not get to know you in your younger days.
But I think the advent of blogsite will help close this gap for me to get more acquainted with you through your blogsite.