July 14, 2009

My Trip to LA & A GIVEAWAY!

My trip to Los Angeles was a bit surreal, since it happened so quickly and since I was treated like a rockstar by Sony Pictures, who paid for everything...my flight, transportation, hotel, and "incidentals" (ie champagne from the minibar).

I flew first class on the way out Wednesday afternoon. First class is nearly just like you see in the movies...warm nuts, warm towel, free booze, handsome & charming guy sitting next to you. Victor was his name. He was actually very nice to me. I got a little scared on takeoff and shed a few tears. Afterwards, Victor made a point to talk to me the entire flight to keep me distracted. He's from LA and was returning home after doing some business in St. Louis. He showed me a picture of his gorgeous family, and we talked about food.

Flying over the mountains of California

When I got to LAX, there was a driver with my name on a sign. It made me giggle. He drove me to the legendary Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, birthplace of the Academy Awards. It's decorated in a minimalist rock-n-roll/Hollywood theme. My room featured a huge black and white photograph of Debbie Harry and a funky shower with no curtain, only a small glass partition (s0, yeah, I got water all over the bathroom each time I showered).


The hotel is on Hollywood Boulevard, right across the street from Grauman's Chinese Theater, where they have all the stars' handprints & footprints. I was touristy for about 15 minutes while I walked around.


I took only one picture there, Meryl Streep's square. I thought that was appropriate for the trip since she stars as Julia Child in the film Julie & Julia.

Photobucket

I then saw a huge crowd of people all huddled together on the sidewalk. I got closer and realized they they must be crowding around Michael Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I am very glad I missed the fiasco of his memorial the day before.



In the hills across the street looms the Hollywood sign. I took a quick picture, then headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.


I met Amy from Cooking With Amy that evening (she was the only other blogger who flew in for the event), and we ate at Mario Batali's Pizzeria Mozza. Dinner was wonderful:

Fried squash blossoms with ricotta

Bone marrow al forno
(I finally understand why people go ga-ga over this stuff.)

Margherita with mozzarella, tomato & basil

Rapini, cherry tomatoes, anchovies, olives & chiles

Before the big event on Thursday, I woke up early to have breakfast and read out by the pool.


I met Matt of Matt Bites at lunch, then we (along with Susan of Food Blogga) were chauffeured off to the Arclight Theater to see Julie & Julia. (I LOVED it. More details about the film will be posted later; I'm not supposed to talk about it yet.). But first, we had to do these awkward on-camera interviews as we walked into the theater. That was so not my thing. I hated it. But, I did get to meet another food blogger there, Nicole of Baking Bites. All of these other bloggers are pretty well-known in food blogging world, so it was like meeting celebrities to me since I read all their blogs. I also felt pretty out of place.

After the movie, we walked over to Le Cordon Bleu for a cooking demo, a food styling demo, and an interview with author Julie Powell & actor Chris Messina. (Details of all that is posted HERE.)

The highlight for me was meeting Julie Powell. As I've said before, her book inspired me to start cooking new recipes and blogging about it. I was absolutely thrilled to get to talk to her. She signed my book (I think I was the one of the only people there who had actually read the book!) and we chatted for a while. I really liked her, even though some of the other food bloggers didn't (more on that later, too!).

photo courtesy of Sony Pictures


I always look like such a goon in these kind of pics!

At the hotel after the event, I took it easy...had a glass of wine in the hotel lounge and digested the day. It was such an experience! Since I wasn't leaving the hotel until the later the next afternoon, I ate breakfast in bed then got a massage & pedicure at the hotel spa (incidentals, indeed!). The "massage garden" is a private outdoor patio. A massage under palm trees and blue skies...so awesome.


For lunch, I walked down to Hollywood & Vine for sushi at Katsuya, where they were filleting whole fresh fish right at the sushi bar! It was so good that I'm now ruined; I'll never be able to eat sushi in St. Louis again.

To top the trip off, I got a ride back to the airport in a limo...another thing that made me giggle. I felt kind of silly actually. The flight back was a little more difficult for me. Four xanax and a beer didn't seem to calm me much, especially since there were lots of clouds and bumps and no Victor to provide a distraction...just a dry Boeing guy who didn't seem very happy to be sitting next to a sobbing, shaking girl.


But, I made it home saftely. I am proud of myself for flying alone to make this trip! All in all, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me that held personal, sentimental value. I can't thank Jaden enough for offering it.

And now for the giveaway!

Sony Pictures gave us each a gift bag after the movie, including copies of Julie Powell's novel and Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (vol. 1), which I'm giving away to one reader!



To win, simply leave a comment here. I'll pick a random winner next Tuesday.

99 comments:

Rosa said...

glad you liked LA! So much good stuff to eat here.

Kamran Siddiqi said...

Seems that you had a great time! And that Margherita pizza looks super delish!

Average Jane said...

Ooh, count me in!

simpson1172 said...

Howwww exciting....I can't wait to read your posts about the movie! I hope I win...I picked up this book at Borders last week, intent on bringing it home with me but my 4 yr old distracted me.....left w/o it! BLAH!!!!

ironstef said...

Can't wait to hear the "more on that later"s!! ;)

Dianna Shank said...

OK, Kelly, you are obviously a brilliant writer because I felt like I was right along on the trip with you! I didn't realize this was the book that inspired your blog -- and so maybe this is inspiration inspiring inspiration but after reading about this book (I have to get a copy now -- but I am worried that the Julia book might be too hard for me) and watching "Food Inc" yesterday, I am dedicating myself to actually trying to be a cook (instead of getting scared off the first time I make a boo-boo -- and there are always a lot of those!!). So now I am off to read the calendar at KC. I need to find a "cooking for dummies" class!

So thanks for the post! I am so glad that you got to have this experience! No person deserved it more! (as much as this sounds like I am sucking up, I'm not! Honest! Maybe a little ...!)
-- Dianna (Shank)

Dianna! said...

OK, Kelly, you are obviously a brilliant writer because I felt like I was right along on the trip with you! I didn't realize this was the book that inspired your blog -- and so maybe this is inspiration inspiring inspiration but after reading about this book (I have to get a copy now -- but I am worried that the Julia book might be too hard for me) and watching "Food Inc" yesterday, I am dedicating myself to actually trying to be a cook (instead of getting scared off the first time I make a boo-boo -- and there are always a lot of those!!). So now I am off to read the calendar at KC. I need to find a "cooking for dummies" class!

So thanks for the post! I am so glad that you got to have this experience! No person deserved it more! (as much as this sounds like I am sucking up, I'm not! Honest! Maybe a little ...!)

Dianna! said...

OK, Kelly, you are obviously a brilliant writer because I felt like I was right along on the trip with you! I didn't realize this was the book that inspired your blog -- and so maybe this is inspiration inspiring inspiration but after reading about this book (I have to get a copy now -- but I am worried that the Julia book might be too hard for me) and watching "Food Inc" yesterday, I am dedicating myself to actually trying to be a cook (instead of getting scared off the first time I make a boo-boo -- and there are always a lot of those!!). So now I am off to read the calendar at KC. I need to find a "cooking for dummies" class!

So thanks for the post! I am so glad that you got to have this experience! No person deserved it more! (as much as this sounds like I am sucking up, I'm not! Honest! Maybe a little ...!)

Kelly said...

Your story is very inspirational...I find myself thinking a lot lately about what it is I am "meant" to be doing. I have a a home and a family and all of the responsibilities that come with it, but once the kiddos are all into school in a few years, what am I to do? What is my passion? Thanks for sharing!

slush said...

so jealous! looks like you had a blast!

Angela N. said...

What an amazing trip! Reading about your fabulous LA meals made me hungry!

Wayne said...

Hopefully this is just the latest in what will be an ongoing series of food-related travels that you will be able to enjoy [including the flying] and then convey to your appreciative readers.

Tracy said...

Nice preview! So looking forward to more details. Those squash blossoms look tempting....

Marthe said...

Wow, it sounds like you had a blast! You really enjoyed yourself. LA sounds wonderful, I hope to visit it one day!!

pinkstripes said...

It sounds like a very fun trip. I still need to eat at Mozza. It sounds amazing.

Rach said...

How fun! I have missed reading blogs---esp yours. I should take more time to read and less time doing some of the nonsense, mindless things I do....which I don't even know what they are b/c I now have "mommy brain" which, by the way, is totally real. Miss you!

jillbert said...

You're so lucky - it's great to hear how much you enjoyed the trip (minus the flights) and I cannot wait to read your post on Steamy Kitchen!

Jules Someone said...

That sounds like an amazing experience! I'm actually going to see the movie with my friend Julia. We'll be Julie and Julia!

Heather B said...

wow! Sounds like a great time! I can't wait to see the movie!

kat said...

I've been meaning to read that book forever!
LA was probably temperate compared to hot humid St. Louis! Glad you survived the flights!

BKWQRM said...

I can't wait to see this movie. I've read Julie's book several times, and even looked up her blog online earlier this summer. The book was laugh-out-loud (I refuse to write "LOL")funny. Glad you had such a great time. I'm super jealous of your trip...especially since I'm still teaching summer school.
-Kristen Miller

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

What an awesome trip you got to go on! Jaden did an great job choosing you! Can't wait to read the whole post on Jaden's site!

Caitlin B. said...

Sounds like you had a blast. Been meaning to go out that way at some point.

lgaumond said...

I can't wait to hear what you think of the movie.

I've had Julie & Julia on my to-read list forever and the movie coming out really is the kick in the pants I need to read it. Winning a copy wouldn't hurt either!

Thanks for the chance to enter.

Diana said...

What an incredible time! Good for you for stepping out of your comfort zone and creating memories to last a lifetime.

Tangled Noodle said...

I won't say that I didn't wish I'd won SteamKitchen's contest!! 8-D But I'm truly happy that someone who was so inspired by the book on which this movie was based did - it is just as it should be.

I look forward to reading your follow-up but I must say that your excitement and joy at having this opportunity really came through on your post. And kudos for overcoming your fears to seize it with such gusto!

Charlynne said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip (with wonderful food!).

Julie Dill said...

What's the next cooking class you're teaching, Kelly?

Lee said...

so glad you were picked to go see it! your writeup was fantastic and really well done, thank you!

Kara said...

Sounds like it was a fantastic trip! :)

Fresh Eats said...

It's great to live this vicariously through you. Sounds like a fantastic trip and opportunity. Been a big fan of Julia and Julie for years and am really looking forward to the movie, and your next dispatches on the trip/screening.

KELLY said...

Julie,

I'm teaching some Girls Night Out classes coming up:

Aug 22 - southern food
Aug 29 - vegetarian
Sept 26 - lavender

And a couples' sushi class on Sept. 19.

You can check the schedule at kitchenconservatory.com and put my name in the "Chef" search box.

Raven said...

I'm excited to read more about the movie.

Eliz said...

Thanks for the great report!

Liza said...

Loved reading about your trip. What an incredible experience! Glad you had a great time :).

Angela said...

Oh wow, this looks awesome. I'd seen previews at the theater but now I'm excited to read the book.

The Duo Dishes said...

Just read your post on Steamy Kitchen. Sounds like you rocked it out on the food tip. Happy to have found your site!

Barbara said...

Sounds like a fun time...can't wait to see the movie!

TeaLady said...

Sounds like you had a great trip. Lucky you to meet "Julie'. I cannot wait to see the movie as I have actually READ the book - twice!!!

Thanks for the chance to win Julia's book.

Chu This said...

Read your review on Steamy Kitchen and now I'm quite excited for the film!

Ivy said...

congratulations on winning the trip. :) Sounds like you had a great time!

friedapplepie said...

what an awesome experience!

ellen said...

great post, i can't wait to see the movie and start eating more food-good excuse. i love the roosevelt hotel-great place to people watch-your pictures were great!!!

Jen H said...

So excited you got to have a first trip to LA and that you had the fabulous sushi that can only be found on the west coast. I'm from LA but living in Toronto and I was so dying to win this trip, but I def think you deserved it more! Love Pizzeria Mozza too!

slynch@navc.org said...

I do not like flying either and I love baking, I wonder if they go together? Thanks for the post, I can't wait to see the movie!

Vivian said...

Hooray! I'm gathering all my bookclub friends (we cook for all our meetings trying to match food to current book) to troop to the movie when it opens here. I'm so happy that Steamy Kitchen and this contest introduced me to your blog as well!

eroica said...

I gave up on Julia ages ago when I watched her cook an artichoke. She never stopped! It involved multiple steps and multiple sauces when I would have just stopped right there and ripped it apart and dipped it in butter. I guess I really need to check these books and give her another chance!

Katrina said...

What a trip of a lifetime! Awesome!

Sooz said...

You pictures are terrific, and your descriptions inspiring! It 'reads' like you had a great time. Congrats!

RR said...

Congratulations. What a wonderful opportunity and a memory created to last a lifetime. Saw the commercial for the movie and SO want to see it now.

Michelle said...

What a fantastic experience for you!! Count me in on the giveaway - Mastering the Art of French Cooking has been on my wish list for awhile!

Kate said...

Count me in! Sounds like a fabulous trip!

Knitopia said...

I came over from the Steamy Kitchen. Meryl's hands and feet look so tiny in that photo! Congrats on the great trip!

Junith said...

Goodness Gracious! I wanted to go on that trip SOOOO bad! My husband had just started a two week stay in the hospital. I searched all of the archives of my devious mind trying to come up with a reason why I should try for a trip to LA. (Let alone leave my husband in the hospital and ditch my three kids.) What if Meryl Streep was raising HUGE SUMS OF MONEY for cancer...I should probably be there on behalf of my husband. Alas, it was not to be. I am glad though that someone won who had such a wonderful time and deserved to go. I really have enjoyed the pictures and and am still enjoying the visual of the shaking, sobbing girl on the plane (that's almost me). So glad that you had a great time. Big congrats to you!

kamailesfood said...

I read your "report" on Steamy Kitchen. Sounds like a dream trip. Hopefully sitting in first class made the flight a little bit better for you...although it sounds like not so much.

spatulascorkscrews said...

Sounds like a great trip! Wish I was there! We'll have to chat about a follow up for the National Food Blog.

Maxine Parrish said...

Just found your blog - I'm so jealous of your trip! Can't wait to see the movie, too.

Meghan said...

What a fantastic opportunity! I haven't read the book or seen the movie yet, but every time the commercial comes on TV, I tear up! I wish the book would become available at the library!!

C. said...

I came over from Steamy Kitchen. Great post! The bone marrows from Mario Batali look amazing. I can't wait to see the movie myself. Thanks for overcoming your fear and taking the trip.

C. said...

Loved your post from Steamy Kitchen and on your blog as well. Thanks for overcoming your fear and taking the trip to blog about the event for us. Loved the pix from Mario's restaurant!

C. said...

Thanks for overcoming your fear and taking the trip to blog about the event for us. Loved your post on Steamy Kitchen as well.

Dawn in CA said...

Flying has never really bothered me, but I could feel your fear as I ready those portions of this post. You are very brave to overcome that fear for this trip. At the risk of sounding motherly, well done! Thanks for the giveaway, and for sharing the story of your trip. :)

Anonymous said...

glad you had such a great time!
stefydavis@yahoo.com

Nat said...

Flying alone can be tough - glad it was so worth it for this trip!
I can't wait to see the movie (or read your review!!)

Melynda said...

Julia has been an inspiration to many, I can not wait to see this film. thanks for sharing, and your trip looked like a lot of fun!

Yui said...

Glad you had so much fun :)

Sandra Kisner said...

I'll admit to being jealous I wasn't the winner of Jaden's contest, but at least I've found yet another food blog to follow! It must have been a marvelous time.

Nathalie said...

I can't wait to see the movie!!

Denzil said...

Congrats on winning the contest! Sounds like a really good time. I've spent some time in that area while I was in the Air Force, but I obviously didn't get the star treatment you did! Glad you had fun. Sorry to hear about the flying jitters though. I'm the exact opposite. I fall asleep before take off.

RubyBean said...

What a great experience! I have a culinary degree and yet I still find so much inspiration in the blog world...With a toddler in one arm and a newborn on my hip, I've recently committed to getting back to what I love...cooking. Thanks for sharing :)

Kirsten said...

You have inspired me! My next read will be Julie & Julia. Affairs of the heart have nothing on the affairs with food. Then again...

(wink ;)

niabassett said...

I can't believe you're about to give these books away! They are on my to-read list for reading before the Julie & Julia movie comes out.

By the way, congratulations on your LA trip. What a great opportunity for a food blogger! Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

cheri said...

Congrats on the trip! Isn't Mozza wonderful! I love both the Pizzeria and Osteria next door.

Jamie said...

Wow, what an incredibly cool experience. Loved reading this post. You lucky woman.

Tamara said...

I'm glad you had such a great trip. The flying gets much easier the more you do it, so I think you should just travel more ;)

I heard about the Julie and Julia blog months ago, but have not picked up the book yet. I am REALLY excited to see the movie and would love a copy of the books to get me going on more of my own cooking.

Amber2Zoe said...

Sounds like a fab trip! I hope I win as I've been wanting to try out that book!

Nicole said...

I am completely dying to try out this cookbook and read the book now! Glad you had fun in LA :)

terri said...

found your blog through the steamy kitchen blog. thanks for posting about your trip--it sounds like it was fabulous!

Ashley said...

Sounds like you had an incredible adventure (well, minus the scary flights)! I'm looking forward to your post at Steamy Kitchen.

Lia said...

Interesting blog. Thanks for sharing!

terriavidreader (IN-USA) said...

Sounds like a really fun trip and something you'll remember fondly! And how wonderful that every single thing was paid for!

KBO said...

Pick me. If you do, I'll know it is rigged.

Southpaw said...

Congrats again on the trip, an thanks for sharing the stories!

Justin said...

Thanks for sharing, what a fun experience.

Tracey said...

Sounds like a marvelous trip!! I can't wait to see the movie.

Susan said...

looks like you had a blast! the pizza looks so delicious! i just started the book this weekend

Melinda AKA medialady said...

LA is wonderful! We had to opportunity to visit there last year in July and I fell in love with the town and the beach!

Jenifer said...

What a great trip! I can't wait to take my friends to see this movie. Thanks for sharing!

Carrie said...

sounds amazing!

alex said...

Seems like you were the one to win. I don't think anyone else would've appreciated this opportunity like you. So glad you won....also, brand new to your blog, came over from white on rice through steamykitchen.

I'd like to say that your story inspires me. Paying it forward, now you are inspiring someone else.

I've never read the book, but can't wait...let's hope I win!!

uptonhome said...

Sounds like you had a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing!

ailad said...

I'm so jealous... *drool* And you're absolutely right about the sushi!

Rachael said...

Wow, all the food looks so good!

rachaelclj@yahoo.com

Lmoor said...

I'm so sorry the flights were so hard for you!

I laughed reading about your "incidentals". I'd love to be treated like a star. I think I'll add it to my wish list. I'm curious about the marrow - can you talk about what it tastes like?

Chef Gwen said...

You know what? That was a lovely account of your trip. No wonder Jaden picked you for the important job of representing Steamy Kitchen. Can't wait to follow your stories over there. Congratulations (and you most certainly do not look like a goon). You look like one happy camper, er, blogger.

Seattle Tall Poppy said...

Knowing how difficult the flight was, I'm so proud of you! Sounds like a fantastic trip...Thanks for the recap.

SinoSoul said...

you stayed at the Roosevelt yet didn't grab a burger from 25 Degrees (just downstairs) nor try their Guiness milk shake? For shame..

KELLY said...

Oh! I DID eat a burger at 25 Degrees. But I missed the Guinness milkshake!

PinkDevora said...

Just discovered your blog via Jaden's blog, and I'm so glad you had a nice time. The hubs and I saw the movie on Saturday night and *loved* it.