Ellen in Lalaland Pandemic-Style

La Poubelle was my first foray into the all-outdoor-all-the-time dining scene we’ve become in Los Angeles. I knew LP as an after-UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) improv show hang. And aside from the masks and spaced tables, it still lived up to the almost psychedelic sidewalk scene I love-hated. Heady with booze and real glamour and wannabe-glamour and cigarettes. Also suddenly Beck was there and the paparazzi caused the restaurant to run out and surround him with ferns. It was SOOO LA. Pandemic-style. I also ventured west, to meet a few cautious friends at The Auld Fella, a gastropub-ish vibe in Culver City. Downtown Culver on a Wednesday evening was bustling. All I know is I arrived for the tail end of happy hour, and (oops) left after midnight, and there was a steady stream of people coming through the whole time. My friends and I may or may not have gone through four bottles of wine: unmemorable rosé , reasonable-for-the-place-and-times DeLoach Pinot Noir , Prosecco of some sort, and another bottle of rosé. Who was it by then and who cared? And there were several cocktails. All ballasted by a cheese plate and French fries and other sundry dishes. But those thick cut, skin on, perfectly browned and crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside French fries were fire. My fry game has not been active since lockdown, but baby, I can rebound. But I needed to see how my girl-who-goes-to-bars-solo experience would be. I’d adored taking my writing or a book to my local watering holes to chill and work and get distracted by strangers and/or other regulars, with the occasional pool game thrown in, at my favorite walk-able spot. I miss the thrust of bar life in Los Angeles. So I put on my boots and clomped on down to said walk-able bar Crawford’s, with its cozy booths (off-limits for now) and “Fried chicken and ice cold beer”. But how would it be without fellowship and strangers and a hearty handshake from all my favorite bartenders? Pre-pandemic, one jostled for a booth or a bar stool at Crawford’s no matter what night of the week. I felt a tug at my heart to see my watering hole so calm. Once inside, despite a plexiglass divider, and once I revealed my face, I was warmly greeted. I love being a regular. And there was Dodgers baseball on the television. I felt reassured. Even if I had to go outside to enjoy my Pinot Noir. In my sidewalk seat, despite the lack of crowd, I still felt indelibly in Los Angeles. To my left and across Rampart (o’er the rampart how quaint) the sign for Tommy’s World Famous Hamburgers twirled. That was an outdoors-only place already! To my right and just before Rampart, the Taco Bell drive-through was swamped. Not that that is SOOO LA except… I’d say I’m ashamed of the nights Crawford’s fun has ended with a Taco Bell run and the small thrill of running home with my crunch wrap, except I’m not ashamed because Taco Bell rules, even if they are robbing us vegetarians of our 7-layer burrito and potato dishes now, the traitors. I digress. I mourned that there was not going to be any meeting of new people. Or playing pool. I mourned the 9pm closing time; 9pm was typically closer to the tip-top of an Ellen night out. I’ve been known to walk to Crawford’s at midnight. Also to Uber to random winemaker-hosted parties at 1am but that’s another story (or so). But it felt good to walk in my neighborhood. In Westlake. Or Rampart Village, if you please, we are a city of mini-cities. Walking down my neighborhood’s streets, passing the street vendors and food carts felt idiosyncratically Los Angeles, even behind a mask. My time at LaPoubelle and the Auld Fella had been reassuring that we will party on even if it requires masks and space. I realized that so much will still go on, and my city is doing it as safely as possible. Things may never be “the same”, but this will always my home. A pandemic can’t kill Los Angeles.

Domaine Marquis d'Angerville

Domaine du Pélican Arbois Savagnin Ouillé 2013

Wow ...drinking great in the pandemic. Clean, crisp , ample acidity . Something slightly different and a prefect break from Chardonnay and Riesling. Need more of this in my wine world. — 3 years ago

Severn and Ira liked this

Jansz Wine Company

Premium Vintage Rosé Blend

Extroverted elegance! Quite a bit of white nectarine/strawberry purée softly spread on toast and dipped in cream. Or mayhaps that it just feels like cream. Really the texture on this is exquisite. It is wearing elbow length gloves with a fuchsia satin dress and pearls. This wine is. Or maybe that’s what I feel like I’m wearing drinking it. — 3 years ago

Paul, Bob and 15 others liked this
MaJ CappS

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Is this the sparkling? I really like that - and most wines from Tasmania. Yummmmm
Ellen Clifford

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@MaJ CappS yup! Tis sparkling rosé. Tasmania is doing some great stuff with Pinot Noir these days!

Cline Cellars

Ancient Vines Contra Costa County Zinfandel 2018

Zin goodness. Classic Zin goodness. It’s like the well worn blue jeans of Zins. Comfortable, friendly, familiar and casual. That’s a lie I hate blue jeans and really like this wine but I hear normal people do like jeans, very blueberry, vanilla scented, and there’s so raisins and licorice to boot. Oh maybe this is the perfect pair well-worn boots. As opposed to jean. Yeah that’s it.
On another note, has anyone actually worn blue jeans or boots since pandemic?
— 4 years ago

Eric, Paul and 15 others liked this
Ellen Clifford

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@Vasanth Balakrishnan nice, yeah you gotta love a good zin!
Paul T- Huntington Beach

Paul T- Huntington Beach

Ran out of 😷 so I used cut up blue jeans with some leather from the boots instead.
Ellen Clifford

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@Paul T- Huntington Beach oh good as long as you have a glass of Zin on the side you should be okay

Pippin Hill Farm

Winemaker's Select 103 Cannon Red Blend 2017

Super delicious, awesome pairing with red meat or a delicious home made meat sauce. Also great for a fantastic indoors wine date with the hubby during a pandemic. 😁 — 3 years ago

with Chuck
Paul liked this

Bird in Hand

Sparkling Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir Rose 2019

Rather delish! Heavy on the cola notes with lots fresh strawberry but a nice bit of minerality to boot. Could be a party person. Could be wearing a tiara. Could be the type of person who wears a tiara to party. Totally worth it. — 3 years ago

Paul, Jason and 18 others liked this
Scott Rowe

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This winery is in our town of Woodside, Adelaide Hills.
This sparkling sells well for the company. it’s hard having delicious wine only a light stroll from our place 👌🏽
Ellen Clifford

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@Scott Rowe sounds like a delightful problem 🥂


Auxey-Duresses Chardonnay 2001

Nicely developed with nutty and caramel notes on the nose followed by a candied lemon and apricot flavors on the palate. Easily Premier Cru quality as it blends a great mix of weight, texture and flavors. Saw this on a to-go wine list of a restaurant we like and support through this pandemic and couldn’t resist the urge. This is what a quality producer can do with a less followed appellation. — 4 years ago

Ron, Paul and 21 others liked this

Ravenswood Winery

Vintners Blend California Old Vine Zinfandel 2017

Very good selection, in the Under $10 range ($5.97 at Total Wines)

Having been to the Ravenswood winery, and trying a good portion of the portfolio, grabbing this was a no-brainer. Decanted for an hour, good fruit in the Boysenberry range (Blackberry x Raspberry, Loganberry being a similar hybrid), nice spicey character. Would purchase again in the price range.

Ravenswood has a nice portfolio, and I hope after this Pandemic period, Gina Gallo opens the doors to the tasting room once again.
— 3 years ago

Eric, Josh and 3 others liked this


Tre Vigne Barbera d'Alba 2017


Dark cherry and the color to match. Thick bone in pork chop hanging out by the pool. Even in a pandemic this is an enjoyable day. Stay safe!! — 3 years ago

with Jeni
Keith, Jae and 12 others liked this


Vinho Verde Rosé Blend

Spritzy rich and wtf...overdelivering. Ripe peach Melba covered with a sweet (not actually but the flavors of sweet) reduced grapefruit coulis. My sweet spot for Vinho Verde lives on. — 3 years ago

Paul, Eric and 14 others liked this
Ellen Clifford

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@Severn Goodwin an undersung delight! Although being less renowned makes it a serious steal
Matt Perlman

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Portugal ftw once again