Sunday, January 31, 2016

Off the Map: REGIS IS HERE!

Original Chopped Salad -- La Scala, Beverly Hills, CA
La Scala

To understand what happened to us at La Scala, you have to know  something about Vodka and celebrities.  Namely, that there are only a handful that she truly cares about, and would ever dare approach.

One such celebrity just happens to be Regis Philbin.  
Let's Just Say That She Generally Has the Celebrity Tastes of a Golden Girl
A dozen or so years ago, Vodka was a frequenter of Live with Regis and Kelly tapings, along with an occasional audience member at Regis's touring concert production.  While she had met Regis multiple times during that period, she hasn't seen him in years, though he still holds a very nostalgic place in her heart.
What? Like You've Never Been to a Regis Philbin Concert?
And so, when we arrive naively and a bit woozily at La Scala, we are already on the bemused side, due to Ginger's insistence at Crustacean that she call La Scala and ask if we could sit at the bar and "eat some food" (exact quote).  For some reason, Ginger had been extremely concerned that we were not going to be able to consume Gail Simmons's Best Thing I Ever Ate original chopped salad from the OLD SCHOOL episode of the show, and that La Scala was instead going to insist that we sit at a table.  In her gin stupor, she decided to clarify this point by phone, which in retrospect, now seemed like a ridiculous question.  ("I can't wait until we get there and say, 'We were the ones who would like to sit at the bar and eat some food.'").  In what has become a running theme with us and Los Angeles, rather than looking at us with derision, the hostess says that she would be happy to give a couple at the bar our reserved table and sit us there instead, and could we just give her a minute to do so?  Sure we can.
What Is With Everyone Being So Nice to Us? Even We Find Ourselves Annoying
This circumstance is how we end up on the sidewalk outside of La Scala, swaying back and forth in a merry haze.  And how Ginger says -- it turns out sarcastically -- to Vodka, "Oh look, it's Regis," not knowing that the man approaching La Scala's doors was not merely a Regis lookalike, but actually REGIS HIMSELF.

In this moment, in what Vodka would later swear was a whisper but was actually more of a screech, she calls out, "REGIS!"  In proof that Vodka shouted this a bit more loudly than she meant to, Regis and his accompanying wife, Joy, both turn around and smile before entering the restaurant.
And now, Vodka is out of control.  
It's Like a Scene Out of The Real Former Talk Show Hosts of Beverly Hills
By the time the hostess comes to fetch us so we can enter the premises, Vodka is in the process of texting everyone she knows three words: REGIS IS HERE.

Once we take our places at the bar, and dutifully order another cabernet and gin and tonic, respectively, Vodka has a decision to make.  While she doesn't want to bother Regis, she also doesn't want to let this moment go by ignored.  Which is how she comes to decide that she is going to write Regis a note.
Here's a Hint: Effectively Writing a Letter to Your Favorite Celebrity After Countless Glasses of Wine Is Harder Than It Looks
Acquiring a pad of paper from the bartender, Vodka begins scrawling various versions of her sentiments, usually tearing the paper off of the pad and beginning again within a few words.  Thankfully, Ginger has the foresight to collect all of these drafts, lest Vodka's ramblings end up in the wrong hands, and it takes seven full drafts until she has come up with something that both she and Ginger approve of.  Vodka rises from the bar stool to bring the note to the hostess, as her plan is to ask her to deliver it to Regis at her convenience.  However, at this time, a few fatalistic things happen:

a) With the hostess stand suddenly quite busy, Vodka loses patience and chooses to deposit the note on Regis's table herself, placing it under his wrist as he consumes, ironically, the original chopped salad (she would later recount this dropoff with the phrase "I slipped him a note," which for some reason made us guffaw), and
b) Despite Vodka's relatively short absence (considering she literally ran from Regis's table back to the bar in the hopes of not further embarrassing herself), Ginger has managed to procure herself another drink.
Alcohol, Alcohol Everywhere, and Not a Bite to Eat
While this will later prove to be a poor move on her part, in the moment, it is exactly what she needs in order to bring herself to the same level as Vodka's Regis-induced revelry.  This festive atmosphere is only heightened when a La Scala waiter appears in front of us and asks, "Is one of you Vodka?"  (Real name removed to protect the not-so-innocent).  With that, he hands Vodka a note from Regis himself, which manages to make her both giddy and verklempt.  
This Is Also When All Photos, Much Like the World Before Us, Begin Getting Blurry
It is in this moment that the infamous chopped salad appears before us, which at this point is a bit of an afterthought.  
Perhaps We Could Have Just Asked Regis for a Bite of His Salad and Saved a Couple of Bucks
While we lap it up willingly (despite Ginger's recent fear of all things green and fibrous), we can't recall much about it without consulting the La Scala menu (it seems it consists of lettuce, salami, mozzarella cheese, garbanzo beans, and "Leon dressing," whatever that is).  
The Irony of Us Writing a Food Blog But Never Actually Knowing What We're Eating Is Not Lost on Us
By this point in the evening, Vodka is drunk with happiness over her note from Regis, and Ginger is just drunk.  So while we know we enjoyed the salad, and would almost certainly order it again, if forced to pick it out in a blind taste test, we're not sure we'd be able to differentiate it from a SaladWorks creation.
Unless, Of Course, It Came with a Side of Regis Philbin
And with our La Scala experience, it almost doesn't matter what else happens to us in Los Angeles, because we already have an appropriately ridiculous story to serve as our favorite west coast anecdote.  Because in LA, it turns out you don't have to go to the Hollywood Walk of Fame to find the stars -- you only need to head to La Scala.

La Scala's Original Chopped Salad: 4 stars

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