Category Archives: THE ACTRESS

True Grits

SCRATCH BREAD
by the Actress

Everyone is given to decadence, even, dear reader, someone as refined as moi. You see, I’m currently convalescing (owing to a traumatic manicure where upon the manicurist launched the Tet-offensive on my cuticles) with my niece in, well, it’s quite embarrassing to admit, but, Brooklyn! And not Roebling’s Brooklyn, but the Brooklyn of some deceased, corpulent baritone named Biggie Smalls who was the 90’s Primo Uomo of rap-opera; plus a very popular fellow named Jay-Z , who I believe is the founder of a brand of exercise pants.

Since  my niece has warned against leaving her apartment at the Beyonce Pillow Factory Lofts, lest I be attacked by pitbulls, all food must be delivered…by her, since she refuses to hire my caterer! For the love of god, the idea of a strange man on a bike delivering my food…I’d order Chinese if I wanted that!  It’s bad enough that she uses wire coat hangers to hang my mink and orders in ethnic cuisine, but she insists on serving my meals on flatware by IKEA – which I believe is Swedish for Hitler-ware – instead of my beautiful 19th-Century Wedgwood China! Something about lead paint…in my day we ate lead for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Well this morning I awoke at 7am on my niece’s hideous futon (she doesn’t know this but I just ordered a velvet, clawfoot couch off  something called Craigslist and the nice man on the phone offered to throw in something called “Cleveland steaming” for free).  I was ravished and in the mood for some good-old antebellum-style Southern cooking, with lard and none of that vegan silliness the North seems to insist on. Speaking of vegan food, on the set of “The Cattle Queen of Montana,” Ronald Reagan threatened to report the caterers to the House on Un-American Activities for serving vegetables, and ever since then he’s had my vote in every election.  I don’t see why 2012 should be any different.

My niece assured me this would not be a problem and ran out to fetch my breakfast at Scratch Bread, a breakfast stand at the end of her street.

She returned with a brown paper cup full of grits, hard boiled egg, mayo and one piece of bacon floating in a pool of butter. I sniffed,  scooped, then tipped the deliciousness down my throat. I wiped my mouth with a silk napkin because I’m a lady, rifted discreetly and promptly fell back to sleep.

Scratch Bread, 1069 Bedford Avenue  Brooklyn, NY 11216

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7-course apology

Vandaag, The Actress

Dear Reader,

It’s not often that I’m wrong. Truly, I can’t recall the last time, oh, dear, now I remember. The year was 19_ and my husband’s hirsute assistant, Francis, had made it big in Hollywood. He was directing the third installment of his Italian, red-sauce drama, The Grandfather.  Frankly, I failed to see what all the fuss was about.  Really, an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, for what should’ve been called best adapted Montessori classroom role call.  “Barzini is dead. So is Phillip Tattaglia. Moe Greene. Stracci. Cuneo.”  Heavens, this is one Alfredo away from being a Mama Leone’s menu.

Anyway, Francis was desperately searching for a new actress and since I was already cast in Home Alone,  I suggested his young, pudgy, pre-rhinoplasty daughter. He thought the idea brilliant. Well, no one told me they planned to film with her real nose! Had I known, I would never have suggested her. No wonder it was a flop.

All this to say that I was wrong about my initial review of  Vandaag, which was hardly generous. Prompted by a few, as the Kid says “haters,” I decided to give it another try and found the food delicate, refined, and delicious. Food fit for a lady.. Unlike most unrefined restaurants where the waiter asks the lady what she wants instead of asking the man what the lady will have, Vandaag didn’t even ask, instead, the chef chose for me. 7 courses were brought out by a model turned waiter who described the food as if reciting poetry. I admit my manners were atrocious as I slurped down the oyster course, attacked the blood sausage like a fork wielding savage and  ate every last bite, even the bitterballen.

But, dear reader, I write this review with a heavy heart as Vandaag has shuttered its East Village location for good. But be sure to look out for the sequel, Vandaag part III in Brooklyn.

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Aces Low

ACE HOTEL AND SWIM CLUB- PALM SPRINGS

By THE ACTRESS

Recently I made a pilgrimage to the Ace Hotel properties in Palm Springs, Portland, and New York City. This is the first in my series of reviews.

Once Hollywood’s playground for the rich and fabulous, Palm Springs has devolved into a playground for screaming Northern European brats, B-listers from Los Angeles and men in gold lame shorts.   Why was I not warned?  Instead of promised glamor, gaiety, tropical inspired cocktails, I found myself at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, surrounded by tattooed, bearded hoi polloi with their pregnant women precariously close to labor, screaming children and dogs, all sullying the pool with their toxic lotions and urine. And, as if it couldn’t possibly get any worse, I had to constantly fight off packs of rabid homosexuals for my poolside chair. It was like being at the wrap party for Caligula.

Don’t get me started on the food, which was not fit for the dogs ringing the pool, served by waiters – judging by the plethora of tacky tattoos from elbow to knuckle – most likely infected with Hep-C.  King’s Highway Restaurant fare is best consumed drunk, or, frankly not at all.  The slop they called a mezze platter was the color, consistency and flavor of the foul effluence from one of the poolside brat’s soiled diapers. The spirits were stale and bottom shelf.

After a disappointing meal, I made my way to my “hotel suite.” Sweet Jesus! Was this room designed by Ahab?  I half expected to find Alan Hale Jr. fornicating with a mermaid on my bed.  The walls were covered with sailor sheets, used bathrobes and a bindlestiff’s staff.  The bed took up  99% of the room’s real estate and was so low to the ground that I practically needed a shovel to get under the covers. Don’t they know that after a certain age one’s knees begin to weaken? I ended up sleeping upright in the shower.

Stiff and sore, I treated myself to a massage in the poolside yurt, only to find out as a large woman lead me up a flight of stairs in the opposite direction, that the yurt was closed due to some “fabulous model shoot.” Really! So I plopped down on the pool deck as camera flashes went off.  Not one to sell my image for free, I asked an emaciated teenager for a release and payment…after all I’m in the union.  Rolling his eyes and mumbling “whatever,” he pointed to a large sign that read some nonsense to the effect of  “by being here you agree to release your image for any use in all media, in perpetuity on earth the universe and multi-verse.”

Disgusted I threw the sign in the pool, climbed into my Cadillac and drove to the nearest casino in Palm Desert where they happily pay for my image and the drinks are free.

701 East Palm Canyon Drive  Palm Springs, CA 92264

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A pig and a lady walk into a bar…

Momofuku Ssam Bar

By THE ACTRESS

I have no idea what came over me, but I recently invited my next door neighbor Maria Castelli out for tea.  I guess I just felt sorry for her – the lonely, lump of a woman – and I honestly thought she’d decline, as our date would interrupt her steady diet of game shows.  Seemed safe, but alas, she accepted.  What if a casting director saw the two of us together?  What would he think of me?  Sheer lunacy.  Then again, being with her can only make me look better, I suppose.

Anyway…what a trial!  I’d insisted on hiring a taxi, which is really the only sanitary way to get around in this filth pit of a city.  But, Maria – surprisingly stingy for such a cheery person – made some remark about “wasting taxpayer money,” and the next thing I know, I’ve been duped into boarding the subway.  I’ll spare you the gruesome details of that episode, even as they continue to haunt me.

I had planned on getting tea at the museum, but thanks to our subterranean misadventure, we soon found ourselves surrounded by the unwashed in the East Village.  Exhausted, we stopped at the first even remotely reputable-looking place we could find with an empty seat, which lead us to momofuku ssäm bar.  We were sat at a long, sleek bar, as the restaurant crackled with lively conversation over plates of whole roasted pig..  Alas, the menu was replete with dishes featuring suckling pig and duck, more fit for an Asian lumberjack than a couple of ladies like ourselves.  Or at least a lady like me, as Maria is built like a log cabin.

But yes, she ordered duck soup and a duck bun.  “Nothing like eating in the barnyard at 1pm!” I sighed,  as Maria just slurped  and   burped her way through her meal, blithely, without a care in the world.  I thought the poor sow was going to bloat and explode and have her blood used to make some sort of stock.  I admit I did try some of her duck soup, which looked unappetizing with bits of duck and bright green vegetables bobbing up and down in a brackish, brown liquid, yet I was surprised by its refined and delicate  flavors.  But, I simply couldn’t try any more…my agent insists I need to watch my figure if I’m going to win the Oscar over Ava Gardner, that whore.

My advice for momofuku ssäm bar: go with a fatty and catch a spoonful of their run-off, or else the Oscar goes to…someone else.

Momofuku Ssam Bar / 207 2nd avenue, new york, ny 10003 corner of 13th street and 2nd avenue

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AMTRAK NORTHEAST #186 DINING CAR

By THE ACTRESS

Yutzi’s son Robbie invited me to weekend with his theater troupe in Boston.  Let me tell you those kids could learn a thing or two about acting from someone of my talent and ability.  But do they ever ask?  Of course not.  Did I ever tell you about my time with James Dean? Well, I won’t because I’m a lady.

But I must say, I was so very excited for a real New England clambake. Finally, cultivated people, fresh brewed iced tea, and Nantucket at nightfall. But no, Robbie, that scalawag, spirited me away to a lobster pound in Seabrook, NH and instead of an acting troupe, my companions were none other than his outré father Yutzi and his crony, Wolf.

As we walked to the train station, Robbie assured me the food was top notch at Brown’s Lobster Pound. Lobster Pound?  Was this one of those Jewish delis? I thought only the gentiles were allowed to vacation in New England? But it gets worse. The lobster pound is one mile away from a nuclear power plant. “Not to worry,” said Robbie, while I gagged on the thought of air redolent of low tide and low people, “if there is a meltdown we can take solace in the fact that our last meal was spent with splendid company.” I listened then slapped him across the face.

We finally reached the station. Could someone please tell me when the grand train stations of my youth were remade into public urinals? I forced Robbie to carry me across the puddles of ill-repute. He gingerly put me down in front of the coach class car. Coach? I was horrified and screamed at Robbie –  You mean to tell me that we are not traveling first class! I was appalled. That brute had booked us in steerage.  I was forced to sit amongst the commoners in poly-blend suits, ripped jeans and some ghastly, shapeless footwear that Robbie said was all the rage: UGG Boots.  These vagrants looked like homeless Eskimos.

Meanwhile, Wolf and Yutzi’s perfume of Ivory soap, Old Spice, and stale jokes brought on a sudden bout of nausea.  I begged Robbie to escort me to the dining car. With one hand in Robbie’s and the other clutching my purse to my chest  in case one of these cretins decided to push me into the bathroom and give me a Frank Sinatra,  I told Robbie, who is really a sissy-boy, to light a fire under his tight trousers and get a move on.

Once we reached the dining car I was forced to rest from the physical and mental exhaustion of the one car walk. I ordered Robbie to fetch me a packet of saltines, but he returned with a hot dog.  A hot dog? What am I, six years old? Is this a baseball contest? I surveyed the menu in dismay. Did the stock market crash again? Where was the champagne? Where were the waiters? My choices were limited to deli sandwiches, chips, soda, and coffee.  I waved away the menu, took the hot dog to use as a weapon and proceeded back to my seat while Robbie stayed to flirt with the help.

Oh, wait. I was supposed to review the lobster pound. That will just have to wait until next week.

Amtrak Northeast Regional, Penn Station, 393 7th Ave., New York, NY

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VANDAAG

by THE ACTRESS

When my friend first suggested “Van Dog” I was horrified. Who eats Dutch-Chinese food?  She assured me there would be no actual Dutch people at the restaurant, so I agreed to meet her for dinner.   I arrived two hours late because I just couldn’t choose between my mink and sable coat.  Not that it mattered because the place was emptier than Debbie Reynold’s bedroom after she introduced Eddy to Elizabeth Taylor.

I stepped through the doors wearing the sable, wrong choice. The glorified peasant interior and scrap metal light fixtures clearly called for mink. How dare this establishment expect a woman of my standing to eat elbow to elbow with beer swilling, bearded strangers on bare wooden tables, for shame!  People pay to eat like this? My dining companion assured me this was fine dining.  If you say so! In my day, if a man took you to this type of establishment then he was paying YOU at the end of the night.

The menu was confusing and pretentious. How many adjectives does it take to describe a pickle? Well, at Van Dog it take 16.  Years of dining at the finest establishments (oh, whisk me back to Sardis!) taught me never to order any dish with more than three adjectives, two nouns, and one verb.  This limited me to ordering the pickle plate, sausages, and something called Bitterballen.

The pickle plate arrived in a dented tin bucket. My sausages sat atop a plate with a design of two mice fornicating. One was dressed as Cher and the other held a whip. How am I supposed to eat off this?

Did the food taste good? Who cares! Really, one doesn’t go out for the food. The point of dining out is to be seen and served by overly solicitous staff. My waitress, Justine, looked fresh off the boat from Poland. She’s as much Dutch as I am Chinese. I expect authenticity, damn it. Justine had fine hands and the constitution of a scullery maid.

The meal ended when I dropped a sausage in my lap and decided to call it a night.  Driver!  Bring the Bitterballen around!

Vandaag, 103 2nd Avenue, New York, NY

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