Last night I joined in a GrubwithUs meal. I’d been to three other GWU events in the past but nothing on the scale of last night’s dinner.
There were at least thirty and perhaps forty in attendance. The meal was hosted by Starry Nights Cafe which is what Tiana Cafe turns into after lunch.
We got to meet the owner of the restaurant Nguyen Tran who readily and rapidly told us how SK Nights came into being starting from an illegal restaurant in his apartment. He was speaking very fast so I’m not certain I heard all he was trying to tell us.
We were given a limited menu to select from, which didn’t include his famous crab. Each pair of diners got to choose one appetizers and two entrees. Since the idea of GWU is that you don’t come as a pair figuring out who would pair up became a bit tricky. We finally figured it out. The food was terrific and the servings large enough for four to share so there was much passing of dishes and sampling going on.
The deep fried tofu and the green curry tofu were my favorites. I liked but wasn’t over the moon about the various pork belly dishes, including a poutine one! (for those who read my earlier poutine post – this was not traditional poutine at all but still tasty) . You can check out what Jonathan Gold had to say at SK Nights at: http://la.eater.com/places/starry-kitchen
The added bonus was the impromptu vodka tasting. The Barley vodka was really tasty as was the one made from sweet potatoes. Now I want to start a Vodka and Poetry salon!
Following dinner we walked to three nearby galleries to see three extremely different art styles. Our first stop was at Take My Picture Gallery – there the focus (pardon the pun) was on the photography of Gary Leonard. http://takemypicture.com/Gary_Leonard_-_Bio.html
My favorite were the prints Gary made from the old Ektachrome slides he’d gotten from of the larger billboard companies just before they went out of business. I love the slice of time the served up.
Next we went to a tiny gallery on the 8th floor of one of the garment district buildings where the digital photos of John Rabe (from KPCC’S “Off Ramp” show) were on display. John treated his photos (some taken only with his iphone) to get a deeply saturated palate. They were almost psychedelic. They were interesting in that he showed you simple, every day scenes but in a way I’d never seen them before. I really like the playful nature of his work.
The last gallery we visited was the most eclectic. The Blackstone Art Gallery featured the art of unknown artists from LA and points beyond. Many were very raw and gritty, some were just bad and one artist I really liked. Had I been in the market for art, I would have left that gallery with a piece in hand. Because of my current living situation, I took away just a photograph – the one you saw at the head of this post.
The most intriguing artist of the evening was a gentleman who, to illustrate how little our identity means to us or perhaps how much we should value it, is giving away his art in exchange for a person’s identity (information which he points out we give out without hesitation to Facebook and Yelp and dozens of other web based organizations. You can read up about it at http://www.ProjectArtExchange.com
John Rabe said that our GWU event sounded like a great first day with 38 other friends. That about describes it except I don’t think anyone left with anyone else’s number. It is unique in that people get together to enjoy the company of others without feeling like it has to turn into something more or the evening was a failure.
As with my past GWU events, I found the company and the food very enjoyable.