Monday, May 16, 2011


Today, after we got up, ate breakfast, returned to our room with every intention of going down to the beach to contemplate the vastness of things, but instead took a little post-breakfast nap, we then got up in time to pursue part 2 of our agenda, which was getting in the car and driving to the Miracle Mile, aka Museum Row, aka the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, aka LACMA, and it was so great.

Reason 1 it was great: I have apparently become expert at navigating the Los Angeles freeways and byways. So we drove to the LACMA like it was our job, and we just got merit pay for doing our job very very well.

Reason 2 it was great: upon arrival, we ate at Ray's, which is kind of a fancy restaurant for a museum. But lucky you, I have taken extensive notes on our dining experience for your delectation and delight. We saw some other great stuff today, believe me, and I wouldn't say this lunch trumped them all. But this lunch was damn good.

First of all: we love to eat at museum eateries. On this we agree. But it turns out that the historian prefers a more democratic eating experience at museums, whereas I like all kinds of eating experiences, but if pressed, must admit that I often enjoy a fancy lunch. This means that, when we both say, "We love to eat at museum cafes," we have different experiences in mind. This is a lesson, by the way, in the instability of language. Woe!

So when we walked in and it was clearly an order-from-the-menu, sit-down type of experience we were about to have, if we decided to stay, the historian briefly demurred. But I clearly had the tragic air of a person about to be denied her heart's desire, so instead, we sat down.

The first item I saw on the menu was this: "Foraged Lettuces."

I said, "Look, we can mock the menu."

The historian said, "No, this is fine," because he had made up his mind to enjoy it no matter if he would rather have had a lovely sandwich with perhaps a fancy bag of chips alongside. And though I felt mildly guilty for my fancy preferences, I thought, oh what the hell. So we turned to serious menu-reading, after ordering drinks (iced tea for me ["We have two kinds ice tea. Plumberry--it's black--or green, it's ginger and peach."] and water for both of us ["Sparkling or flat?"]). See? Fancy.

When they brought my iced tea, they also brought this:

The people, that is four kinds of sugar. FOUR. And all of a sudden, I knew this lunch was going to be awesome. So here is what we had:

The historian ordered a cold artichoke soup, with goat's milk yogurt, fried mint, and some food item that started with a "v" that I can't remember, sadly. It was tart and beautiful. He also ordered a flatbread for us to share, which turned out to be a pizza, a very very delicious pizza, made with taggiasche olives, what must have been the freshest ricotta in the universe, some broccolini, and black pepper.

I ordered an albacore salad, which was a variation on a Nicoise. It had cannelini beans with a little bit of broth, rare seared tuna, haricots verts, chopped piquillo peppers, shaved red onion, and--wait for it!--black olive aioli. That aioli was so good, it just about blew my mind.

Also, that iced tea was just about the best iced tea I've ever had, and that's with no sugar added. The sugar was just iced tea scenery. It was iced tea ambiance, and a very good ambiance it was, as it turns out.

So our guy, who is about the most charming waiter known to man, says he hopes we've saved room for dessert. Fat chance, we say to ourselves, but he is charming. So we say, sure, we'll look at a menu. And on the menu, under the name "Citrus," is this:

That is, for your information, an orange marmalade cake, with grapefruit curd, then a little meringue, topped with thinly sliced mandarinquat. With a little fancy sugar. And by its side, a suave spoonful of bergamot sorbet. BERGAMOT. I am not kidding you. It was without peer, and I say this as a person who has made lemon verbena ice cream which is, up until this afternoon, the best ice cream I ever tasted. Also, this is a video because I forgot to set it on a photo setting, and it is sideways because I don't know why. Just accept it, okay? Bergamot sorbet, for crying out loud.

Lastly, although actually this was more like firstly, the utensils and napkin were contained in this manner:

In conclusion: the people, why not go to Ray's?


  1. It's good to see Hightouch back in high form!

  2. I wish you had been my tour guide in LA. I like the fancy. Perhaps as much as you. This lunch. I'll dream on it all day.

  3. Most excellent. Bergamot sorbet. Excellent plus. But foraged from where, in LA, exactly?

  4. This is just the inspiration I need to whisk my wife over there for some lunch one of these days. Never eaten at Rays, but we have a LACMA membership this year... The Tim Burton exhibit arrives in a couple of weeks so we'll definitely eat there!

  5. In addition to being my favorite poet, you are also my favorite food writer. Carry on, please.

  6. I missed too much when I missed months of chekcing into the hightouch. Now I'm having a day sickabed and curiously happy with my magic window onto other people's lives.



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