Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Mourners

Marble mourners from the Court of Burgundy, the tombs of Philip the Bold and John the Fearless, are on display at LACMA. As we were going into LA for a baby shower/cocktail party we decided to go early, beat the traffic and visit the exhibit. The thirty-seven mourning figures are delightful, almost elfin, being sixteen inches or so tall. In their original positions, under the tombs in Dijon, they apparently couldn't be seen very well. While redoing the museum, where the tomb is housed, the mourners were released by their captors after centuries of living in the dark, to travel on exhibit around the world. At LACMA they stand in brilliant light, uncrowded, and you can see each of them from every angle. Some have their faces hidden or are pictured brushing away tears; we found them all lovely, in particular the marvelous flowing robes in marble; their beauty and artistic genius negate their mournful aspect.
On we went to the famous Pizzeria Mozza for dinner, where we optimistically ordered three starters: stuffed squash blossoms, bone marrow, pig trotters - followed by the fennel pizza and the butterscotch boudin for dessert. Our meal was pretty terrible - only the dessert was acceptable.  The squash blossoms were greasy and tasteless, the bone marrow so over-salted it was almost inedible (although service, sizzling hot in the bone was great) and the pig trotters could have been anything; they tasted like nothing. The pizza looked beautiful and the edge of the crust was divine. About an inch in from the crust the bottom was downright soggy and doughy in the center. Even the fennel sausage was bland. Despite our disappointment, lines of diners,waiting for a table, snaked out the door - it's hard to get a seat in the place. I can only think we hit an off-day. We should have sent the pizza back, but I stupidly thought it might be a pizza style, new to me. Looking at reviews on line I realize it should have been crisp all the way through. Some people say it's the best pizza in the country. Hmmm.

Menu, after the fire

At least we had a laugh. The menu was presented on a large piece of paper; the tables are small and adorned with an uncovered candle. Richard let his menu sag slightly and in a second it was afire. He snuffed out the flame with his hand, but it did flash up and once out, leave that burned paper smell hanging in the air. The shocking thing is that nobody looked up; nobody looked our way - the incident seemed to go unnoticed. Why? When we told our waitress what happened she said we were the 4th party to do it on her shift that day. What!!! Why wouldn't they cover the candles? I got the feeling that the place is such a roaring success that even the things which are clearly dangerous or undesirable are left alone. Kind of a ritualistic thing (I've run into this in the food service business before) - "we're a success - so don't change anything". 
The Talmadge
Our day ended with a chic cocktail party/baby shower at the Talmadge on Wilshire Blvd. in a beautiful gracious and spacious apartment; four bedrooms with servant's quarters and a large foyer, where the bar was set up. A gorgeous home - it belonged to the parents of one of our hostesses. About fifty people milled around snacking and drinking and rubbing our cousin's tummy. She's having a boy in July; we are her only currently available family but thankfully she has a mob of great friends. The Talmadge was a present to Norma Talmadge from her director husband. They lived in the penthouse at one time and many other movie stars have resided there over the years. Quite a place.

Apartment at the Talmadge

The Talmadge


  1. That picture of Richard and the menu is priceless!!!
    The mourners are beautiful.
    I've passed The Talmadge many times and never knew it's history or how it got it's name.
    I hope your "last day" today lives up to expectations.

  2. A day without pig trotters is like...

  3. The medieval Burgundian sculptures are really gorgeous!
    So sorry for your unlucky dinner instead...