Wendy’s Word

Not your mama’s blog….

Hussalonia Covers January 19, 2011

Filed under: Music — wendy @ 11:23 pm
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Regular Wendy’s Word readers know that I love cover songs.  This blog entry is not about the band Hussalonia, because despite the fact that they’ve recorded tons of music, I’ve only ever listened to their cover songs.  Which I love.  They have two cover albums, Steely Danielle, which — no surprise — is Steely Dan covers, and the other covers Billy Joel’s Glass Houses album.

I’ve listened to Deacon Blues from Steely Danielle about a hundred times.  Unlike Steely Dan’s smooth sound, Hussalonia’s version is more rock and roll, but still sounds like Deacon Blues, just a harder edged version.  At one point, the song goes into a lower octave, which sounds dark and kind of creepy but also kind of cool.  The other songs on the album are just as good.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I really like the original Glass Houses album.  My good friend in high school was a Billy Joel fanatic, so we knew that album backwards and forwards.  Which is why it’s so fun to hear the Hussalonia cover.  Hussalonia picks up on the pop beat, but makes it a little harder edged, almost punk (particularly since the songs are so short, as are many punk songs).  Far from being self-serious, the covers are funny without being mocking.  Some of the songs are (gasp!) pretty and melodic, such as C’Etait Toi and Don’t Ask Me Why.  If you know the album Glass Houses, you should definitely give Hussalonia’s version a listen, and if you don’t, then start out with the hits, like It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me or You May Be Right.

And the best part is that they’re all free downloads.


Bottega Louie January 4, 2011

Filed under: Food — wendy @ 7:22 pm
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I resisted going to Bottega Louie for the longest time for the most LA of reasons – there’s nowhere to park downtown!  But as I now work downtown, my co-worker led the way taking the DASH.  (If not for her, I’d still be figuring out which DASH bus to take.)  I also thought it would be a trendy, overpriced place.  But when I tasted one of the appetizers, I knew it was worthy of a blog entry.

We went around the holiday time, so I don’t know whether it was extra crowded or whether it’s always that way, but it was a little stressful until we were seated at a table.  You can either wait for a table in the main dining room (there was a 30 minute wait when we went), or you can wait for a table to open up in front, closer to the bakery/gourmet shop.  You mill around, waiting to pounce the minute someone looks ready to stand up. 

Once we were seated, I could appreciate the beauty of the restaurant.  It’s a large space, with high ceilings.  The front is a gourmet shop and bakery with the most luscious looking pastries.


We each ordered soup, and we shared two small plates.  One was Portobello fries, which were long spears of mushroom with a light breading and served with a garlic aioli.  What could be bad with garlic aioli?  The small plate was arancini, rice and cheese balls in breading with a marinara sauce.  I think they used smoked cheese, because the arancini had a delicate smoked flavor.   Delicious.  It was hard to decide what to order, because all the small plates looked appealing.  The soups were good too, especially the cauliflower veloute, which was flavored with fennel.  The onion soup was regular – not fantastic, not bad.  Probably not the most interesting choice on my part, but it was cold out.

For dessert, we shared an order of four macarons.  They were out of all the interesting flavors, but we did really like the flavors we got, especially the orange-dark chocolate one, which tasted kind of like Sabra liqueur.  The coffee was also good.


I will definitely go back to Bottega Louie.  I only hope my friend will come too, so I don’t get lost on the DASH!


Cookies January 2, 2011

Filed under: Food — wendy @ 10:34 pm
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What’s a better way to spend a rainy afternoon than baking cookies with your daughters?

Recently, the LA Times published an article in the Food section about the top ten holiday cookie recipes submitted by readers.  One of them was submitted by a former co-worker – I felt so close to fame!  Since she was an amazing baker, and I’ve been using her terrific brownie recipe for the past 20 years, I decided to bake her holiday cookies.

It looked easy enough.  They’re molasses-spice cookies, and the recipe was straightforward.  Or so I thought until I tried to roll out the dough.  I had it all worked out.  My younger daughter was going to help make the batter, and older daughter was going to roll the dough and make the shapes.  She retreated to her room to fashion a dinosaur cookie cutter out of aluminum foil.  Unfortunately, the dough was sticky and hard to roll out, and exceedingly hard to make into shapes, especially a dinosaur made from a homemade aluminum foil cookie cutter!  She persisted for a while — way longer  than I would have — but finally got frustrated and gave up.  I ended spending the rest of the afternoon patting out the dough, cutting it into indistinguishable shapes, and baking them.

The description in the LA Times is that these cookies won’t win a beauty contest — they look like potatoes.  Truer words were never said.  But they only tasted ok.  Don’t know what I did wrong.  I got got a big workout stirring all the flour into the dough, and then the dough was super sticky.  I wasn’t sure how large to make the cookies and it wasn’t until the last batch that I got it right (most of my batches were way too big).  They have a spice flavor, but not as much bite as I would like.  Basically, not worth the effort.  If any of you have tried the recipe and have advice, feel free to share.

My greatest satisfaction was throwing the recipe away when I was done cleaning the kitchen.  But I’m hanging on to the brownie recipe for dear life!