Letter from Paris: California Dreaming
By Alexander Lobrano
I am very much looking forward to my California book tour from October 16 to October 24, and I really hope I’ll have the pleasure of meeting my Californian readers soon.
I’ve been besotted with California ever since I was able to replace the desperate jealousy I felt towards cousins who’d moved out there from Connecticut when my uncle was transferred from New York City to Los Angeles with a real experience of the state. The excitement I felt the night before I flew out there for the first time was so turgid, it kept me up all night, and the itchiness brought on by an over-zealous haircut by the local barber didn’t help either. Me and my brother had both emerged from the cold steel barber chair with oily black vinyl insets with a haircut that was known as a ‘Princeton.’ It was basically a crewcut, except that a few short locks had been spared just above the forehead so that we still needed combs. We despised our haircuts, and we hated the new knit Rooster ties that Mom had bought for us to where with our Madras jackets–it was early June–khaki trousers and penny loafers, the outfit she had ordained for our flight. I also hated the special bag of East Coast foods that my aunt missed–Thomas’s English Muffins, William Underwood deviled ham, Cain’s pickle relish and various other things–that I had to carry aboard the plane.
We took the ties off the moment the seat-belt sign had been turned off in our glamorous new 747 and only put them back on just before we landed in Los Angeles feeling more than a little worse for wear from probably having both drunk a gallon of Coca-Cola and eaten a pound or two of salted cashews at the bar on the second level of the airplane. It took forever for our suitcases to be delivered, but finally the ugly old tobacco-colored leatherette bags tumbled down on the carousel. Then my uncle, a vice-president at a nationally known food company, showed up, and to my amazement, he was wearing shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, flip-flops, and aviator sunglasses. We drove home in the Mercedes he was so inordinately proud of and found our cousins riding bikes with their friends. It was decided that everyone would go for a swim, so me and my brother went into the bedroom where we’d be sleeping to change our clothes. A window was open, so it was easy to overhear one of our cousins’s friends when he said, “Jeez! Your East Coast cousins are just so weird! They wear penny loafers, and they have the dorkiest haircuts I’ve ever seen!” Gulp. And more gulping.
Seeing that we’d been sent west with clothing more suitable for an English garden party than a week in LA, my aunt bought us each a new pair of Levis and a Hang-Ten shirt the next day, and I’d rarely been so happy in my whole life. The ten days in California were, in fact, a dream–we saw the ‘Fifth Dimension’ in the Hollywood Bowl, we went to Disneyland, we went to Knott’s Berry Farm, we ate loads of Mexican food, and then went to Tijuana and ate real Mexican food. We saw Shamu the whale at Sea World in San Diego, and we visited the nuclear plant at San Clemente, because my uncle wanted us to learn about ‘the energy of the future.’ We went to Laguna and saw people surfing, we ate at Swensen’s ice cream parlor, where they sprinkled little plastic monkeys all over our huge ice cream Sundaes, and we smoked a purloined Chesterfield cigarette behind the garage. The time went by so quickly that the next thing I knew, I was airborne again and heart-broken to the point of a tear or two as I stared out the window at a fluffy quilt of clouds. I desperately wanted to go back to California, and I still do, so I can’t wait for October 16 when I arrive in San Diego.
Here’s the tour schedule:
October 16, 2014 – SAN DIEGO
San Diego Wine Tasting with James Beard Award winner Alexander Lobrano
A fundraising event for the American Institute of Wine & Food scholarship program
Thursday, October 16, 2014, 6:00pm
The Wine Sellar & Brasserie
9550 Waples St., Suite 115
San Diego, CA 92121
Cost: $45 per person (or $85 with signed book; includes discounted registration and donation to AIWF*)
October 19, 2014 – LOS ANGELES (West Hollywood)
Steak Frites dinner with author Alexander Lobrano
Together with L’Assiette Steak Frites
Sunday, October 19, 2014, 5:00-7:00pm
L’Assiette Steak Frites
7166 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Cost: $52 per person all-inclusive* ($5 discount if an autographed book is prepurchased at registration)
About the Event
Please join us for a Steak Frites Dinner & Wine Adventure at West Hollywood’s charming French restaurant, L’Assiette, with famed French food writer, author of the bestselling Hungry for Paris, and James Beard award winner Alexander Lobrano.
Your evening includes a L’Assiette’s signature steak frites dinner, soup or salad, bread, a glass of wine, tax, gratuity and book discussion.
*Copies of Hungry for France will be available for purchase and signing at the event, or prepurchase an autographed copy to be delivered at the event and receive a $5 discount on registration.
October 20, 2014 – SAN FRANCISCO – OMNIVORE BOOKS
Mon. Oct. 20 • Alexander Lobrano • Hungry for Paris (second edition): The Ultimate Guide to the City’s 109 Best Restaurants • 6:30-7:30. FREE
If you’re passionate about eating well, you couldn’t ask for a better travel companion than Alexander Lobrano’s charming, friendly, and authoritative books, Hungry for Paris and Hungry for France, are essential guides to a renowned culinary scene. Having written about France for almost every major food and travel magazine since moving there in 1986, Lobrano shares his personal selection of the country’s best restaurants.
October 21, 2014 – NAPA, CALIFORNIA
HUNGRY FOR FRANCE NAPA DINNER ADVENTURE WITH JAMES BEARD WINNER ALEXANDER LOBRANO
Together with Angèle Restaurant and Bar
Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 7:00pm
Angèle Restaurant and Bar
540 Main Street
Napa, CA 94559
Cost: $105 per person (or $185 for VIP package*)
About the Event
Please join us for a Hungry for France Dinner Adventure at Napa Valley’s renowned French Bistro, Angèle Restaurant and Bar, with Paris-based food writer, author, and James Beard award winner Alexander Lobrano. Your evening includes a French dinner featuring recipes from Alec’s book, wine, tax, gratuity, and book discussion.
*Why not make your evening really memorable with a VIP package that includes the dinner event, a pre-dinner reception with Alec, sparkling wine, canapes, and an autographed copy of Hungry for France. But hurry, only a limited number of VIP packages are available.
October 22, 2014 – LARKSPUR, CALIFORNIA (Marin County)
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Left Bank Brasserie
507 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur, CA 94939
5:30pm Food & Wine Reception: $75* per person
7:00pm Dinner: $145** per person (includes autographed book) or $240** per couple (to share one book)
About the Event
Please join us for a Hungry for France Food & Wine Adventure at the renowned Left Bank Brasserie, featuring Paris-based French food writer, author of the bestselling Hungry for Paris, and James Beard award winner Alexander Lobrano.
The evening includes a food & wine reception featuring French wines and a selection of classic French regional appetizers inspired by Alexander Lobrano’s book and book discussion. Autographed books will be available for preorder at registration or at the event.