Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Summer Suppers

By Paul Levine

Cornelia’s ruminations about food last week made me hungry and also raised this question. What’s your favorite summer meal? I just had mine last Saturday night.

Cold poached wild Pacific salmon with a tomato fennel salad at Boneyard Bistro in Sherman Oaks. Aaron Robins, (center, above), the inventive chef-owner, serves the dish with a fingerling potato salad seasoned with mustard and spiced with chopped cornichons. For starters, keeping cool, an unusual gazpacho with sliced shitakes and a sweet soy. I also speared forkfulls of Renée’s appetizer, a fire-roasted artichoke filled with cerviche. Mmmm.

Renée (“She Who Must Be Fed...But Not Too Much”) opted for the seared ahi tower as an entree, even though it’s listed as an appetizer. Why do women do that...order two appetizers for dinner? (There’s Renée, pictured with lethal Lee Child and me in Phoenix at Thrillerfest. That night, we enjoyed rib eye steaks with Carol Fitzgerald and Michele Martinez at Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale).

But back to last Saturday. It hit 92 degrees in the San Fernando Valley. Did I mention the banana split in a martini glass for desert? The bananas are caramelized.

The Boneyard Bistro is an unusual restaurant, with hip, nouvelle entrees (ancho-chocolate pork tenderloin) on one side of the menu and traditional barbecue on the other. We’re talking St. Louis spare ribs, back backs, pulled pork, brisket, collard greens, and of course, fried macaroni and cheese.

Anybody getting hungry?


Regardless of your political views, doesn’t Ann Coulter debase public discourse with her hateful diatribes?

Is there a more irritating television commercial than “The Video Professor?”

The Big Lebowski gets my vote for funniest movie ever made. Sample dialogue: The Dude (Jeff Bridges), on being forced into a limo while holding his usual White Russian: “Hey, careful man. There’s a beverage here!” Related question: Is Bridges the most underrated actor of our time? Consider his body of work from “The Last Picture Show” to “The Door in the Floor” with “The Fabulous Baker Boys” and nearly 60 other movies thrown in. Then get back to me.


“My father [John Kenneth Galbraith] always said that in the fifth draft he introduced that note of spontaneity for which his writing was well known.” – Peter W. Galbraith, in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.



  1. That's my favorite Lebowski line, too. Runners-up, both from the Dude:

    "My only hope is that the Big Lebowski can kill me before the Germans cut my dick off."

    "I could just be sitting at home with pee stains on my rug ... that rug really pulled the room together."

    Paul, perhaps you should attend Lebowski Fest

  2. I don't know why women order two appetizers and call it dinner, since I usually order the bacon cheeseburger deluxe and call it an appetizer. Ah, sweet mysteries of life...

    And now I have to go rent the Big Lebowski. AND I want to go to the restaurants you guys go to!

  3. Love Jeff Bridges!

    My favorite summer supper is eating a mac and cheese TV dinner over the sink.

  4. I'm still envious of Bob Morris for the world's funniest titles, inter alia (a Latin term meaning "I know Latin, ha!) "Jamaica Me Dead" and the forthcoming "Bermuda Schwartz."

    Damn it! "Bermuda Schwartz" is an even better character name than Larry Shames' "Bert the Shirt," the retired mobster with a penchant for silk guayaberras.

    As for this year's "Lebowski" festival, it's Sept. 29 in Louisville, meaning it conflicts with both Bouchercon and the Santa Barbara Book Festival. Wonder which is the most fun? I'm guessing the one with unlimited bowling. [I don't want to brag, but I have a scoresheet somewhere showing I once started a game with 8 straight strikes at the PINZ Lanes in Studio City].

    As writers, we all appreciate freshness and originality, right? I could be wrong, but I think "Lebowski" is probably the first film in which a major plot point is a thug urinating on the hero's rug.

    And...while mistaken identity is a really old setup, "Lebowski" takes it to new dimensions:

    Jeff Bridges: "Nobody calls me Lebowski. You got the wrong guy. I'm The Dude, man."

    Thug: "Your name's Lebowski, Lebowski. Your wife is Bunny."

    Jeff Bridges: "My wife. Bunny? Do you see a wedding ring on my finger? Does this place look like I'm fucking married? The toilet seat's up, man."

    Anyway, I'll be interested in Cornelia's review, as she represents the hip, young, polysyllabic female perspective.

    And more food...next week.

  5. Well, the polysyllabic perspective, probably. Also the "I am a wife who gets called Bunny" perspective, which might make me biased......

  6. Some of JK Galbraith's spontaneity spilled over into the Big Lebowsky.

  7. Omigod, Cornelia. Are you forcing us to reveal our pet names?

  8. LOL! Thanks, David Thayer.

    Okay, call me sappy. My fave Jeff Bridges movie is Starman.

    Worst Jeff Bridges film: The Jagged Edge. But that wasn't Jeff's fault. It was the horrendous script.

    I actually have my characters discussing The Jagged Edge in one of my books. Shit, I can't remember which one. My brain is tapped out from too much blog activity [I write my Murderati blog on Tuesdays, then read Paul's blog]. I guess it's time to shut down my computer and watch The Mirror Has Two Faces...

  9. Patty, I would NEVER force anyone to reveal their pet names. But I gave away mine in my book already.

    BUNNY, though... WTF? Still have to wonder over that one. I think it's an irony thing?

  10. Cornelia, isn't Bunny sort of an East Coast WASPy nickname? I actually know a couple of East Coasters who are called Bunny by friends and spouses alike. It's just one of those great EC nicknames like Bitsy and Nookie and...ah, the list goes on.

  11. from Jacqueline

    I have always thought Jeff Bridges was great, so you can imagine how I felt when I was with my dark horse brother one day, driving through Montecito, as JB passes us going in the opposite direction, and waves to my bro. "Do you know him?" I asked. "More to the point, does he know you?"

    Turns out that when my brother was driving limos (he was laid off from a job and vowed never to be out of work again, so he made sure he had various commercial driving licenses, including limo driver to "fall back on") he had a gig to take JB to LAX where a private jet was supposed to be waiting. The flight kept being delayed, which meant my brother had to wait in JB's driveway. Eventually, JB strolled out and told my brother to come in and wait - so they hung out in JB's kitchen chatting for a few hours. My bro says he is just one of the nicest people you'd ever meet.

    I really liked Starman too, and I have yet to see The Big Lebowski - better go out to rent it soon before there's a run on it!

  12. Well, let's see. I'm guessing The Tour Card at Calloway's in Oxford, Michigan, which is honey-glazed ham slices and swiss cheese on a large soft pretzel that's grilled.

    Or, given my all-time favorites, a beef burrito at Sagebrush Cantina, formerly in Lake Orion, MI, closed after a fire, moved to Fenton, MI, and should soon be re-opening in Lake Orion.

    Haven't seen The Big Lebowski, but the Cohen brothers can really make a movie when they're turned on. I've always like The Fabulous Baker Boys not only because I used to teach piano and my brother is a musician, but because Michelle Pfeiffer looks pretty damned good in a velour dress. I've always loved the line when Michelle Pfeiffer tells Jeff that something along the lines of, "I saw you at the bar last night dusting off your dreams."

  13. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    That sounds like a terrific sandwich. (And better for you than the one they serve at the minor league ballpark in Gateway, Illinois: a cheeseburger between two halves of a Krispy Kreme donut).

    Yes, you remember Susie Diamond's (Michelle Pfeiffer's big line to Jeff Bridges (Jack Barker). She'd seen him play the piano from the heart, instead of "Feelings" at the Luau Lounge. The exchange is the high tension point of a terrific movie, which most of us remember mostly for Michelle Pfeiffer sprawled across the piano in that red dress. Here's the dialogue:

    Jack Baker: Listen to me, princess. We fucked twice. That's it. Once the sweat dries, you still don't know shit about me. Got it?

    Susie Diamond: I know one thing. While Frank Baker was home putting his kids to sleep last night, little brother Jack was out dusting off his dreams for a few minutes. I was there. I saw it in your face. You're full of shit. You're a fake. Every time you walk into some shitty daiquiri hut, you're selling yourself on the cheap. Hey, I know all about that. I'd find myself at the end of the night with some creep and tell myself it didn't matter. And you kid yourself that you've got this empty place inside where you can put it all. But you do it long enough and all you are is empty.

    Jack Baker: I didn't know whores were so philosophical.

    Susie Diamond: At least my brother's not my pimp. You know, I had you pegged for a loser the first time I saw you, but I was wrong. You're worse. You're a coward.

  14. Great dialogue. I loved that movie, too. What's Michelle Pheiffer up to these days. I haven't seen her in anything for ages.