Writing about food in and about Los Angeles has opened up a world for me in that I'm getting out and trying new things, and making new friends along the way. Last year, I made a friend in the Wine Pimp extraordinaire David Haskell. Perhaps not the likeliest pairing, but he's someone that I've gotten to know and truly enjoy. When he first started doing the Magnum pop ups with Joseph Mahon, I was on board as a general cheerleader and avid enthusiast. Their first pop up at Biergarten was delightful and I was sad to have missed their turn at Pal Cabron. Thus, I was overjoyed to have been able to attend the 3.0 version at Royal T in Culver City.
What was most interesting about this last pop up, is that I got the opportunity to spend opening day with David playing assistant which allowed me to see what goes into taking over a space for a few nights. It has created a new found respect for the King of Pop Ups, Chef Ludo Lefebvre as it is no easy feat.
April 17, 2011
My morning began at 8am when I woke up to head over to Pacific Marukai market in Gardena, CA. Two days prior I had been speaking to David on the phone when he mentioned he needed miso soup spoons. I offered to find them for him as I live in the South Bay which is the Los Angeles Asian mecca. Marukai opens at 9am on Sunday, and I wanted to be there promptly when they opened on the off chance I wasn't able to find what I needed in the amounts needed. As luck would have it, I hit gold on my first try. After my purchase was made, I skipped over to Sea Empress restaurant in the Pacific Square plaza in Gardena for dim sum with a friend. A great way to kill time as David was planning on being at Royal T at 11.
My plan was to drop off the spoons with his nibs and then head back to the South Bay, but somehow, that's not how my day went. Soon after meeting at Royal T and discussing everything that was needed that day, I was shanghai'd into a trip to the printer to get table tents and posters made. After that it was a jump over to Surfas for various needs. Akilli, whom, as it would happen, was my server at Magnum 1.0, met us on our return and we jumped into the wine pairings.
Safe to say, this was my favorite part of the day. I hadn't planned on being there, but if you're going to be there and David brings out the wine to explain the pairings, you stick around. He went through each and explained the dish and what he was trying to do with each. A few of the wines on their own needed some help, which is where the food came in. A few were amazing on their own. I was also introduced to an amazing beer and a sake that comes in a can. My own reservation wasn't until the next day, but the wine/beer/sake had me excited and more than a little bummed I had to wait.
After the sampling, it was back to the printer to pick up the goods and another trip to Surfas. Upon getting back to Royal T, which had been operating all day in their normal business function, it was time for the FOH (front of house) crew to arrive and start their own prep. The kitchen crew had arrived at around 1pm and was already underway with all things food. Royal T closed at 3pm that day and all but one table had left as the tables were moved around to accommodate that evenings reservations. Wine glasses were set out and polished, silverware was polished and organized. Table tents went onto the tables (courtesy of yours truly) and the posters went onto the easels to stand next to the silent auction table. I made one more trip to Surfas to pick up a tablecloth and was told by the staff there that they don't sell bedding. I guess after 3 separate trips there, I deserved that.
The next thing I knew, it was 5pm and time for me to leave. Somehow, my entire day had flown by. Before I left, David decided to share one of his favorite pairings with me: Whoppers and Pinot Noir. Boxed Pinot Noir, if I'm to be accurate. Truly a surprising pairing. I don't know of many other people (read: any) pairing junk food.