I’m a bit nervous as I head over to Chaya Brasserie in Beverly Hills early Sunday evening to take advantage of their all-night happy hour. Not because I am socially awkward and fear that I will be a blubbering mess when I finally meet Esi of Dishing Up Delights, Chrystal and Amir of the Duo Dishes, Jenn of Bread + Butter, Kirby of Kirby Von Scrumptious, et all, but because I don’t actually plan to eat or drink anything.
I stare at my reflection in the vanity mirror before vacating my car for the restaurant and wonder, “Can I really do this? Can I really just drink water at happy hour? And what will they think of me if I do? My reputation as a voracious eater is at stake here!”
It’s not as though I’ve suddenly become a sad sober Sally, but after two days of indulging – Friday with my mom, and Saturday at my dad’s rotary BBQ in the OC (there were 80 lbs of meat for 40 people), my body is in need of a break. I am craving roughage instead of fatty hunks of pork and sausage, and green tea instead of my typical glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I need, as Cathy the Gastronomer might say, “to retreat.”
As I walk into the lounge at the front end of the restaurant, I’m relieved to see that I’m not late – only Chrystal and Amir, the organizers of the food blogger shindig, are sitting at our table. I rush over, make a hasty introduction and then immediately begin gushing about my confusion with the meters on Robertson Blvd. (they now require coinage until 8 pm on Sundays). I don’t feel all that self-conscious when I depart a few moments later to move my car from the metered space (I don’t have enough quarters with me to last until 8) to park at valet. Chrystal and Amir read my blog – they know I’m a neurotic ninny. What I’m more concerned about is how everyone will react when I turn up my nose at the $6 glasses of wine, the delectable $5.75 specialty martinis like the lychee one I’ve enjoyed on previous occasions, and the adorable $8 mini cheese burgers with fries.
I’m relieved when Sam from the Punky Chef arrives and declares that she’s sticking with the quality H20 tonight, as well. As the others filter in and conversation begins to flow, I relax and decide that it is possible to get through happy hour without liquid courage and fried deliciousness. I’m already a happy person sans the assistance of consumable items, and with so many smiling faces around me, I no longer feel pressure to break my cleanse in order to be “sociable.”
While I do nibble on a couple pieces of the complimentary sushi rolls the Chef prepares for us – including the surprisingly satisfying vegetarian caterpillar roll with avocado, asparagus, cucumber and yama gobo, I get most of my kicks from finally sitting down with the previously faceless people whose blogs I read on a daily basis. I’m excited to see that I’m as comfortable talking to Esi in person as I am in our e-mails to each other. It’s fun to discover that Kirby, Jenn, and Chrystal and Amir are all just as lovely and amazing as their on-line personas would suggest. And I’m equally smitten with Sam of Punky Chef, Michael of South Bay Foodies and Liz of Yo Soy Blog, who I hadn’t known prior to the meet-up.
As I drive home, I can scarcely believe how satisfied I feel from a two hour happy hour that involved only a couple pieces of a sushi roll and several glasses of water. (Though I do make a big fat quinoa edamame salad for my dinner when I get home.) For once, however, it wasn’t about the food or drink, and how much of both I could consume before developing a food baby belly. The evening was made special (and memorable) because of the company.
8741 Alden Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90048