Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Mama Mia! Bars are still watering drinks?

I’m almost 43. I’ve been drinking since I was 18 or 21. (I can’t remember what the limit was in Michigan when I turned of age.) I’ve been around bars since Dad took me to the Detroit Press Club when I was in Kindergarten. Heck, I’ve been mixing drinks for just as long, like little Patrick Dennis in “Auntie Mame,” and have never had any complaints.

I have never had a watered drink in all those years, until tonight at an American Italian restaurant in Los Feliz. I’ll identify it only as P------ because there are many positive reviews of it on Yelp! and because people don’t seem to go here for good mixed drinks.

See the “martini” here?

It’s really dry vermouth and water, shaken, not stirred, with extra water.

I ordered it specifically 3-1 Bombay Dry Gin to vermouth. The waiter delivered what looked like a delicious icy martini, with two (actually very tasty and huge) olives. When he returned, I told him, “I think they reversed the proportions. There’s not nearly enough gin in this.” He brought a fresh one back, no argument. It was exactly the same. But since I didn’t want to make a fuss, I sipped it and enjoyed the olives.


Two winners in the Off-Ramp EatLA contest!

In this week’s Off-Ramp newsletter, we offered four brand new Eat LA guides to food and drink in Los Angeles. (On this week’s show, I interview the editor, and she gave us some books to give away.)

The contestants needed to send us a photo of themselves and food. Two winners came in quickly.

Kelsey McConnell, who says she loves Off-Ramp and had a ramen adventure with her girlfriend in Torrance:

And Imelda Hinojosa …

… an artist who writes:

The picture is me snacking on a homemade tortilla. My son wanted "breakfast" for lunch, so I made sausage/eggs, fruit salad … and flour tortillas. I had just sat down at the computer, to check my e's (and snack on his left over food) when I got your newsletter. How's that for timely? Tortillas are one of the things I learned to make from my mom & Grandmother. I regret never learning to make the other traditional foods. My Mom could make the perfect fluffy chili rellenos stuffed with melty cheese … mmmm. And of course, she made the Holiday Tamales.


The (Doo-Dah) Queen is Dead! Long Live the (Doo-Dah) Queen!

The 33rd Occasional Pasadena Doo Dah Parade – the significantly more light-hearted relative of the Rose Parade -- is on May 1, and the Doo Dah organizers are looking for a new Queen.

Tryouts are on February 13 at 2pm at the American Legion on 179 N. Vinedo in Pasadena. I’ve encouraged Queena Kim, Off-Ramp producer and co-host of CyberFrequencies to try out. She is wise, cruel, and is already named Queena. But she doesn’t want to have to get up really early on the day of the parade. (Please use the comments section below to encourage Queena to try out. Offer enticements like cocoanut macaroons from El Pavo, money, dry goods, free landscaping services, etc.)

So what does being the Doo Dah Queen entail?

I asked Michelle Mills (above), the Pasadena Star-News reporter and blogger, who reigned under the name Naughty Mickie two years ago, how being Queen changed her life, and if she has advice for the new Queen – or Queena. Michelle writes:


How did they know? CIA releases new soup recipe book -- “The New Book of Soups” -- just in time for Rabe’s cold.

All babies’ middle names should be Vector. Enough said. Several doses of generic Alka Seltzer Plus® (effervescent) and Gypsy Cold Care® tea later, I still need the best remedy of all, preferably poured directly into my nostrils: soup.

Lo and behold, my inbox today included a note that the Culinary Institute of America has updated its soup Bible and has now published “The New Book of Soups” with over 160 new and improved recipes. Buy it now and have part of the proceeds support my weekly show Off-Ramp and the rest of the fine programs at 89.3-KPCC.

Here’s a free recipe from the CIA:

Chicken Broth
Makes about 2 quarts

Chicken broth is a crucial ingredient in soup making and the flavor of homemade broth is hard to beat. You can double or even quadruple this recipe and freeze the extra so you always have some on hand. To make a double chicken broth, substitute cold chicken stock or broth for the water in this recipe.


Angst doesn't taste good. So drop the drama and use the "Eat Los Angeles" food and drink guide.

It happens all the time. You and your friend/lover go out to eat, and the drama ensues.

“Where should we go? Is it any good? Yelp! has conflicting reviews. I’m getting hungry. Let’s try this place here. But where was that other place I saw? What do you feel like eating? What do YOU feel like eating? Do you feel like Italian? I could eat Italian. But do you really want it? I’m hungry and cranky. Let’s just go to X” (the place they’ve been going for twenty years and eating exactly the same thing).

You shouldn’t be making these decisions on an empty stomach, and you shouldn’t be making these decisions alone. Which is why the “2010 Eat Los Angeles” guide exists. When the mood strikes, check the guide, which has been compiled by the EatLA folks, who, by the way, only bother to include places they consider tasty. The guide also includes purveyors of uncooked/unmixed food and drink so you can go home and make dinner and cocktails yourself.