The FoodboombloggerWest snags a ticket to an open air animal roast in a secret L.A location.
It was high time I did it. I’d been fantasizing about it for years. I wondered if it would ever happen to me. If my time would come and more importantly with who?
My buds had all had the experience and made fun of me every chance they got. I was embarrassed, feeling left behind and inadequate.
Then suddenly, without any expectation or warning there she was like Ulysses’ Siren. Her face was exotic and, her body delicate but strong. Just the way she stood there, one hip cocked, hair cascading down over her shoulders was alluring, enticing, sensual and inviting.
“Come,” whispered Debbie. “I want you to come with me. Join me, celebrate me, let me take you to paradise.”
“Click here to pick your date”, urged the screen. “Reserve now” implored the secret site hidden behind a nom de plume. My finger poised over the key in midair, I hesitated, and then with the last reserve of resolution, I let my hand stray and clicked gently.
“Sorry, that date is sold out.”
I’d been sold out.
Cast into the pit of despair and disappointment yet again, I sat back and pondered my fate, when suddenly a new screen appeared, “Just added, a second date. Click here to reserve.”
I let out all the air in my lungs and quickly pushed the key down. Instantly I was whisked to another site, www.Pop-UpGoesTheWeasel.com
Create an account it demanded. Establish a Password, but the first five I tried were already taken. The sixth evoked the following response, “Hey, that’s your pet’s name, stupid. Try again.” Fine, the entire ingredient list for a box of Costco Trail Mix is now my Password.
Then there were additional required fields. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Next, it wanted all my credit/debit card info and before I knew it the screen had sucked $329.04 from my AMEX for the promise of a passionate night with Debbie.
These passions would involve the roasting of and feasting on a wild boar prepared by none other than Chef Debbie Michail a high priestess of roasting meats in the traditions of Persia. Debbie and her pop-up gigs are legendary in L.A.
As my purchase was for an event more than two months in advance, the thought occurred to me that my data had been successfully mined, bundled and possibly re-sold to an Eastern European crime syndicate.
I was advised, the Event Organizer may soon share the location. The screen went black and disappeared leaving a wisp of smoke trailing out the back of my monitor.
A week before the Wild Boar event I still had not received my final set of instructions. They must know where it’s supposed to be by now, don’t they? Yeah right, these creeps were probably drinking the night away on my AMEX Platinum card at some subterranean dive in the outskirts of Grozny, Chechnya.
With growing desperation, I googled Pop-UpGoesTheWeasel.com “That site has been taken down and dismantled,” replied the screen. “The URL cannot be found.” After Hours of monkey barring from one link to another, finally, I found the Food Event Organizer’s Web Site and I banged out an urgent note to the Event Organizer, which generated an auto-response indicating that my e-mail had been re-routed back to Pop-UpGoesTheWeasel.
I was disconsolate. It’s not like I hadn’t pissed away $329.04 chasing down a dream before. I’m single, after all. The difference was at least with the former I got to stand in the batter’s box and now I won’t even get to find out where the goddamn Ball Park is located.
Finally with less than 36 hours to go before the Boar would be suspended on the roasting pit, the mysterious Pop-Up Event Organizer revealed all of the details.
The beginning of this adventure had hardly begun when I learned more tasks and tests lay ahead. Apparently, a two-hour slog on clogged freeways was required. Crawling out the 55 and then down the 91 then back to the 5 and up the 710 to some place that existed in a parallel Universe only accessible through a tiny worm hole at just the right non-rush hour moment.
The location was so forlorn and forgotten that not even the hapless, the hopeless, or even the survivors of the Apocalyptic Zombie Army knew of its existence let alone how to get there.
What was the world like before Waze? What did we do before that magical calming voice took the helm? We endured two hours of vigorous and enthusiastic argument culminating in a mutual agreement for an uncontested divorce. And just before I gave up and flipped the Toyota Hilux around to head home, there it was, a desolate train track trestle tunnel in the badlands, rat shack center of darkest L.A.
Ah, leave it to those Pop-Uppers to find some place as remote as a CIA Black Site. The whole scene looked like out takes form Orson Wells’ A Touch of Evil.
The Tingle of the Mingle
“Livingston, I presume,” I said to the knuckle dragging monster holding a clipboard. “No Livingston on my list, Pal,” I gave him the real name. He looked down on my head feet below his chin and sneered until he found me at the very bottom of his sheet. “Okay, Pal, you can go in now,” he growled as he shoved open the iron gates.
Inside there was a clean gravel lot, with two long linen-ized tables set up accommodating 26 people each. Expensive Euro Lanterns swung gently with the breeze coming off the rail yards nearby. Beautiful matched bone China service and crystal stemware was arranged as if Martha Steward had provided tech support.
Embossed menus described the twelve course belly beating bounty about to be bestowed upon the attendees.
A staff of ten circled like bees around a buzzing a jury rigged kitchen with several roasting stations along with an authentic Patagonian Asador where the 175 pound boar was impaled on a stake, glistening with dripping fat and crackling like Joan of Arc.
The participants who were being delivered by a motorcade of Ubers congregated at a small bar in the darkest section of the tunnel. Cocktails and curated wines were served while live music wafted thru the tunnel inaugurating the tingle of the mingle.
There were eggplant explorers, artichoke adventurers, meat mercenaries, restaurant baggers, wannabes, really ares, family friends, pro pop-uppers, the culinary curious and many “Tehrangeles.”
Our Chef Debbie Michail was from Iran by way of some the finest restaurants in L.A. where she’d defined and refined her chops. She was charming, a perfect hostess, and ran her “kitchen like Anna Wintour”.
The evening’s offerings comprised all the chow you’d get off the chuck wagon on a camel drive from Teheran to Isfahan.
Ghondi (Chickpea Flour, Limu Omani, Turmeric)
Dolmeh (Bulghar Wheat, Herbs, Beef, Barberry)
La-Buch Tandoori (Beets roasted in coals)
Kashk o’Bad-Em-Jan (Eggplant, Whey Aioli, Cucumber, Radish, Aleppo Pepper)
Mast O’Musir (Yogurt, Dehydrated Shallot, Israeli Paprika)
Kah-Dou (Fairytale Squash, Tahini, Dukkah, Mint)
Kubaneh (Savory Monkey Bread)
Lu-Biyih (Beans cooked over the fire)
Hilbeh (Fermented Fenugreek, Spices, Skhug)
It was a party of strange strangers, who became less strange as the night wore on and the wine flowed and the food showed. At course number four I was stuffed like a Steiff Bear and I soldiered on with the encouragement of my convivial tablemates of beefy BFF’s and pop-upstarts. Everyone loved food and the art of its carefully considered preparation.
At home I lay back, still somewhat breathless from enjoying the evening, an après porc smoke and then the sleep of the overfed, satiated and satisfied.
I’d been tested and the Chew-cible had been met.
Should I do it again? Hmmm…would you?