As it was, I've had information pouring in for months now about tomorrow's special night from restaurants both high-brow and low, far and wide, interesting and...not.
Welcome to Eric the Epicure, where all things epicurean are fair game. I am a food, wine and travel writer from Los Angeles, and you can find links to my articles on my blog, as well as random ruminations about what's new, what's next, and what's for dinner.
Fremantle is sort of like a suburb of Perth, but it is just far enough away to be its own entity. Its 19th century streets are lined with old facades that were restored in teh past two decades. It looks kind of like a frontier town, or what I imagine streets in San Francisco must have looked like before the 1906 earthquake. In Australia, they call it "gold rush architecture." Basically, it looks like there were lots of saloons, bars and cheap hotels, but now it's all very charming.
These days, the buildings house cute little boutiques, galleries, microbreweries and Fremantle's famous "Cappuccino Strip" of coffee houses, including one where I had a long white (or latte in American parlance), Gino's. The town is also home to the Sail and Anchor Pub, the oldest continuously operated bar in Western Australia, founded in 1898. The other famous sight in town is the notorious Freemantle Prison, which was built by the Aboriginal convicts it eventually housed, and which still stirs up bad feelings (and ghosts!).
The real reason we had come to Fremantle though, apart from enjoying the pub grub and brews at Little Creatures, was to take the "Highway To Hell" Tram Tour of sights connected with ACDC frontman, Bon Scott, courtesy of Fremantle Tram Tours.As you see from the picture above, the tour starts with the life-sized statue of Bon Scott--he was 5 foot 3, and, let's just say disproportionately endowed. Tee hee. Then we took a whirlwind tour that included his old high school, a glow-in-the-dark portrait of him painted under one of Fremantle's bridges, Fremantle Prison where he was incarcerated for two days, and finally, the grave to which he went at the young age of 33 after an overdose. All the while we were chauffered around town in a huge red tram, with commentary underscored by ACDC's greatest hits.
The tour normally only operates on Sundays, so if you're planning a visit, be sure to time it right. Before you say, "oh, I'm not really an ACDC fan, so who cares?" I will just say that, until I took the tour myself, I had no idea how many ACDC songs I knew by heart, nor what a big fan of the band I actually was. Plus, it sure as hell beats your average tram sightseeing tour. In case you doubt me, take a look at the video below and judge for yourself.
In any case, take a look at it, because the restaurant is the new one where the Boulevard used to be, just a couple blocks from me in the former West Hollywood train station on Crescent Heights. Yes, that's correct, WeHo used to have its very own train station before the car and tire lobbies doomed mass transit in the city forever. Ah, bygone times! At least you can enjoy some classic cocktails in the bungalow atmosphere. Find out more about the gastropub grub in my Frontiers review.
The menu sounds good, mostly small bar bites with exotic twists, and fancy wines and cocktails. Still, it's a step in a more casual direction for a Ritz, so hopefully it is the beginning of a new trend for the chain. Based on my hard-hat tour of the new joint JW Marriott Ritz-Carlton tower in downtown Los Angeles at LA Live the other day (will write about that next week), the chain is definitely looking to parcel out spaces in its properties for more casual (though not down-market) experiences. The new hotel complex will have cute little wine/bar areas in its restaurants and common areas, and is very open to the surrounding LA Live venue, so maybe this is the start of a friendlier, less stuffy Ritz-Carlton.
To read more about "Bites" in Naples, though, click here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/11/24/174228/50/hotels/New_Bites_on_The_Menu_at_The_Ritz_Carlton_Naples
Ambitious, heavy-handed, mostly entertaining...I'd say the play was mixed bag overall, but take a look at my review and see for yourself: http://www.edgelosangeles.com/index.php?ch=entertainment&sc=theatre&sc2=reviews&sc3=performance&id=98225
Unlike many other operations where tourists get to touch the dolphins, hang on to them, play tricks with them, etc., Rockingham Wild Encounters is about interacting with wild dolphins in their own habitat. That means you get in the water and be respectful, simply floating and watching as the dolphins swim and play around you. There is no touching, no feeding, no playing with them, nothing that would interfere with their normal routine. It is an opportunity just to observe up close. This is essential to the RWE experience, since a large component of these swim trips is learning not only about the dolphins themselves (and the staff recognizes each and every one of the 200 or so that might swim up to the boat on any given day since they have been doing this for 17 years), but about their daily lives, their individual histories, and about their environment and the challenges facing them.
That might sound boring to some readers, hoping for a chance to pet the dolphins, or at least hang on to their dorsal fin for a fun ride, but to be honest, the experience was so simple, pure and exhilirating, I can't imagine how anything else could compete. The dolphins were so playful yet graceful. Majestic, but smiling. I feel--and I am not the kind of person that talks this way usually--that the good vibes they sent out into the water resonated through me and carried me around in a aura of positivity for days afterwards. Then again, that might have been the fantastic Margaret River wines we tried (more on those in a later post), but there was something extremely moving about my experience in the water.