Friday, August 18, 2006
food - the brown derby

I was thinking one day about memorable meals and memorable foods...particularly foods that you cannot get anymore exactly as they were back when you had them....And a few things came to mind. One of those things was a Cobb Salad---amd I mean, The "Original" Cobb Salad which was created by the owner of the Brown Derby Restaurants who's name was Cobb. The first and Original Brown Derby Restaurant here in Los Angeles, was on Wilshire Blvd., down near the now closed Ambassador Hotel, but across the street from it. As you can see from the picture below, it was indeed in the shape of a Derby. I have been to this location, but by the time I went there it was no longer the place it had been, sad to say.


The legend of how the Cobb Salad came into being is this: Mr. Cobb, the owner, had some dental work done and was unable to chew just about everything! And one late night he was very hungry, so, he went into the kitchen and took out all sorts of goodies from the fridge and created this salad for himself, putting in protein, and veggies so that he would be able to eat something nutritious and by chopping everything in it very very finely there was a minimal amount of chewing needed. The salad was held together by the famous Brown Derby French Dressing. Within a very short time they began to serve this salad to their customers and it became one of the most popular items on The Brown Derby Menu. This is where I first encountered the true original Cobb Salad. And the ingredients below have actually been modified just slightly to reflect today's palatte...but not so much to ruin the actual salad. The most important thing about this salad were these three words. "Very Finely Chopped", and this applied to ALL the ingredients, each and every one.

This was a brilliant salad which was so completely memorable that you always wanted to order at when at The Brown Derby. And I have never had this salad anywhere else that was actually made correctly. Never. What restaurants dub as a "Cobb Salad" is usually a completely basterdized version of this salad---their own little twist on ingredients and---never ever ever chopped finally enough, the way it should be. Sad but true. Even this recipe below does not direct you to chop everything finely, so it too, is no longer the original authentic recipe that people still wish they could wrap their mouths around! I know I sure wish I could!

This was the second Brown Derby which was located on Vine Street in the heart of Hollywood. It attracted lots of Hollywood people; movie stars and movie moguls and even the two reigning queens of the Gossip Columns of the day, Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper. It had these beautiful generous red leather booths and caricatures on the walls of all the famous movie stars of the day....it was a great place to go and have lunch or dinner, especially after the Huntington Hartford Theatre opened across the street from the restaurant. A perfect evening was dinner at The Brown Derby and then off to a play, across the street. And then, after the theatre going back to The Brown Derby with your friends who were in the play at The Hartford. That was a beautiful theatre. Very much like a Broadway theatre, actually...many wonderful shows played there when it was The Hartford and later too, when it was the Doolittle Theatre. I spent many happy times at the Derby and at the Hartford/Doolitle too, before the Deerby's closing.

One of the things about Los Angeles that is so disheartening is how so very many of the famous landmarks of the 20th Century, like The Brown Derby Restaurants have not been cherished and preserved because of the value of Real Estate. The only Brown Derby that remains is in the Los Feliz area and there is much talk of that last one being torn down, too! (The only one that was actually in the shape of a Derby was the Wilshire location...). The Beverly Hills Brown Derby is long gone, as well, replaced by a big huge office building of course.

So all that is left of these great restaurants with their rich history are ones memories of the good times one had there and the great meals one had there and those very special concoctions like The Cobb Salad. Here is the recipe, below. The dressing by the way can be purchased through the Disneyland/Disneyworld organization, so I have read, if you don't want to try and make it yourself, but if you do want to make the dressing, here it is, along with the recipe for the "original" Cobb salad:

COBB SALAD (serves 4-6) 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, 1/2 bunch watercress 1 small bunch chicory, 1/2 head romaine lettuce, 2 medium sized tomatoes, peeled; 2 breasts of boiled roasting chicken, boned; 6 strips crisp bacon, 1 avocado, 3 hard-cooked eggs, 2 Tablespoons chopped chives, 1/2 cup crumbled imported Roquefort cheese, 1 cup Brown Derby Old-Fashioned French Dressing
Cut finely lettuce, watercress, chicory and romaine and arrange in salad bowl. Cut tomatoes in half, remove seeds, dice finely and arrange in a strip across the salad. Dice the breasts of chicken and arrange over top of chopped greens. Chop bacon finely and spread over the salad. Cut avocado in small pieces and arrange around the edge of the salad. Decorate the salad by sprinkling over the chopped eggs, chopped chives and grated cheese. Just before serving mix the salad thoroughly with French Dressing.
BROWN DERBY OLD-FASHIONED FRENCH DRESSING 1/4 cup water (optional), 3/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, Juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon English mustard (dry), 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced; 1 cup olive oil, 1 cup salad (vegetable) oil;
Blend together all ingredients except oils. Then add olive and salad oils and mix well again. Chill. Shake before serving.


Moving along a bit....

As to my quiz yesterday...here is the photo once again of these two people.... And they are......(drumroll)....

FELICITY HUFFMAN & WILLIAM H. MACY....

The Macy's live in the neighborhood having built a huge house up on a hill of a connecting street to mine, further up towards Mulholland Drive....I've never seen them running before but just happened to be outside photographing another one of my plants that is flowering and there they were, running right by me....

Thanks everybody for playing and I loved all your answers...particularly Tom & Katie....yeah! (lol)

More To Come....







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37 Comments:
had this to say:

This is a nice site. Good stuff. I'm visiting here from Michele's.

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 4:24:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I really wish I had more time to visit sites on my blogroll, yours is always a treat and I mean that sincerely. Sadly I've never eaten at the Derby but I remember it being vividly portrayed in one of the I Love Lucy episodes when Ricky was shooting a film in L.A. Huge Lucy fan here and the visions of her loving the Derby, the characictures on the wall, and her peeking over the top of those red leather booths were hilarious. So every detial of your post came alive for me with those memories. Much love to you and psst Michele says hi.

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 7:50:00 AM PDT 

Blogger mar
had this to say:

Didn't know about this salad but it sounds perfect! thanks for the story and the recipe, I must try this one.
Happy weekend!

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 8:03:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

This is my first visit to your site (although I see your name on several). I love it. I remember the old Brown Derby.

I have to agree, the loss of so many historical site in LA is really sad. Especially when you think about how huge the enterianment industry is in California.

I hear rumor that the old Capitol building may be coming down as well. That one really makes my sad.

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 8:06:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

That photo of the Cobb Salad is gorgeous. I've never seen it, even here in NYC, finely diced.

It's so sad that Hollywood/LA doesn't treasure their history. They need a Historical/Preservation Society. I'd love to take a tour of restaurants, theaters, etc where old Hollywood legends use to play.

HA! I kind of thought that if it were TomKat they'd be surrounded by bodyguards. I love Felicity & William Macy! They are so talented & seem very down to earth.

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 8:20:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

OK, now I am hungry and craving a big ole salad!

Great neighbors! LOL Tell them I said hellooo!

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 8:34:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Hi. Thanks for dropping by and wishing me well. I am much recovered now and only the weather is stopping me getting out and about now!

Thanks for sharing the history of the Brown Derby. It is very interesting and it is such a shame that these old places are not treasured as you say. The same is true over here as well. in Newport in the 1970's they actually pulled down half of their ruined castle to build a main road!

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 10:16:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Ahhhhh! The brown hair through me off. How fun! You could work for the Enquirer. Ha!

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 10:46:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I didn't realize the original Brown Derby was shaped like hat! What a great photo!

I didn't think it was Felicity Huffman because her hair looked too dark...lol!

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 11:12:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Felicity!! I didn't recognize her with dark hair.

I fell in love with The Cobb salad at Disney MGM Studios in FL, when they built their own Brown Derby to commemorate the original, and they use the original recipe! And they tell the story of how it was "invented" and everything.

So few restaurants make a *real* Cobb Salad. But I too have the recipe, and love it!

Great post.
~S :)

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 11:57:00 AM PDT 

Blogger srp
had this to say:

This is a nice thing about New York and even Chicago; they remodel the buildings but try to preserve the rich architecture the way it was. I think that is what makes the areas of Brooklyn and even downtown Manhattan so interesting.

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 1:29:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a lovely looking salad and actually fit for my dieting routine now. I always love to hear about old restaurants since they are always the pioneer of some food that we have today. Sadly, most of them closed down due to stiff competition especially during the rise of fastfood chains.

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 1:50:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

When I was a little girl, maybe about 8 or 9, my mom took me to the Brown Derby and we had cobb salads. Your pictures look VERY authentic. I remember how cool the restaurant was, and there were a lot of stars there. I think it was the one on Vine St, because it wasn't shaped like the Derby, but I do remember the Derby one too, which disappeared a long time ago, IIRC.

I have gotten my kids hooked on your blog. It's just the best record of what my early childhood was like in LA, and I thank you for that. I don't have any pictures or memorabilia at all, so you're like my pseudo grandma, bringing out the photo albums to show the kids what the 'old days' were like.

I love reading your blog, Naomi.

And I NEVER would have guess Felicity and Willian H. You have the coolest neighbors. All I had was Bob Crane, Lee J Cobb (who was interesting), Bea Benederet, whose daughter Maggie Bannon was one of my best friends and Dennis Weaver. Definately not your caliber of neighbor! :-)

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 1:52:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Larchmont... I'll have to spotlight that sometime. Great idea. ;)

I think you are right... I think it was near Arden. I took many of the photos I posted when we were scouting for historical color palettes for painting our own house. So I can't be sure of where any of them are anymore, lol. I just figured, hey, I have all these great house photos, might as well post them on SAT's when blog traffic is slow. :)

Just looking at your photos of the Cobb makes me want one. There is ONE restaurant that comes very close. But the dressing is wrong. Finely chopped though, and most of the correct ingredients. Crocodile Cafe, a small chain of restaurants. And you'll laugh, I wrote them and asked them if they were going to go to the trouble of making a Cobb salad, why not make the original dressing *crikcets chirping* (they never responded. lol

~S

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 1:58:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh my gosh, I'm SO HUNGRY now and the only cure will be a salad like that! GAH! :)

I saw the quiz yesterday, most of the people took any guesses I would have had. I would have never guessed that was Felicity with the long dark hair, wow, I would love to see what she looks like from the front. Very cool!

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 4:05:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a coincidence! I had a Cobb Salad at a restaurant today and no...it sure didn't look quite as nice as the original. What a fascinating history you shared with us. The Brown Derby has always been so famous...sorry to hear it's slowly fading away.
I loved reading about this, so share more of your memories with us.

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 4:26:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

LOL on the quiz.

I am so saving that recipe! I've had cobb salad, but, you are right never one like that, and it sounds awesome!

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 6:36:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

The Cobb salad is my favorite! And the Brown Derby? It makes me think of my favorite I Love Lucy episode. The one where she meets Bill Holden and her nose catches fire.

I love all your old pics..thanks so much!

Damn, Felicity has KILLER legs!

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 7:20:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

You've made me hungry and the only things in the icebox are beer and carrots. Rats.

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 8:54:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Flicka and Bill I knew it !!
lol
Pedicure all booked for tomorrow so I will have summer feet after them being in boots and socks all winter.
I am so bad I promised people pics on my blog of the dress. I really need to update before the peasants revolt and storm the castle ;)

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 10:06:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Oy, I am SO making that salad and dressing soon. I was lucky enough to have eaten in that big hat. It was already closed when I moved here 20 years ago but we went during a trip when I was a kid in the early 70s and I loved it. Of course I thought of the "I Love Lucy" episode with William Holden and Lucy's fake nose catching fire (but I forget why she was wearing a fake nose--as a disguise, I guess?).

Don't even get me started on all the important L.A. buildings that have been bulldozed. I still get sick when I drive by where the magnificent Carthay Circle Theatre stood and see those hideous half-empty office buildings. I'm so grateful our wonderful 1909 house survived but I get angry thinking about all the grand structures on our block that didn't. But it's getting better thanks to groups like the L.A. Conservancy. Our historic neighborbood has been protected since the early 1990s, no more houses can be torn down.

(At least Musso and Frank's is still there!)

Saturday, August 19, 2006 at 11:44:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I guess you're lucky that El Capitan and Mann's Chinese Theater are even still around.. pretty sad. You'd think since they survived earthquakes that they should stick around for historical reasons.. sigh.

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 4:23:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

oh wow! thanks for sharing that recipe! can't wait to make it myself. how lucky was it that the macys happened to run by just at that particular moment? ;)

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 6:17:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I love Cobb Salads!!!! One of my favorites, and I never knew the history of it! Very neat!

As for the picture of the joggers, I LOVE William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman! They are the cutest couple in Hollywood I think. I love how they are with each other, they are a true couple. And both are wonderful actors! If they are not as sweet in person as they appear to be on camera, I'll be very disappointed.

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 9:00:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Mmmmm, that salad is just mouthwatering! I love all your memories of old Hollywood and all the little details, like the salad, the leather booths, dining before and after the plays, etc. that help me envision what all these places must have been like. What a treasure you and your blog are! As for the Macy's, they have very muscular legs! Envy!

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 1:12:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

One Cobb Salad, please! The old fashioned way!!

I'm starting to get hungry for dinner, so it sounds very good to me right now.

Felicity has dark hair in that photo. I would have never guessed it was them.
They are both marvelous actors.

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 3:04:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

That salad looks and sounds delicious and what a story behind it too :)

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 3:23:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

That was interesting to find out about the Cobb salad. The only one I've had is from Bob Evan's Restaurant and it's pretty good but not nearly so pretty as the one you showed in the photo! No doubt not nearly as good either! I love salads though.

I have never heard of the two joggers! Told you I wouldn't know even if you had shown their faces! I just don't keep up with those folks like I did in my younger days!

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 6:22:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

What a wonderful.........
Story

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 6:25:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

It seems I remember a Brown Derby, but it certainly was not that round hat one! Wasn't it cute and tacky? ALL the stars went there thought, huh?

Felicity, I adore her! She's my favorite character on "Desperate Housewives." I just saw her in "Transamerica", too, she was wonderful. My husband even liked the movie, I was surprised, and he agreed what a good actress she is.

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 7:44:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Great Cobb story!
Wonderful pictures! It is sad that the original is no longer there.
I love the picture and sound of the salad.
I have never had one but now I know how to make one thanks to you!
Thanks! It looks yummmy...Even the dressing sounds great..
Have a wonderful day!
*^_^
(=':'=) hugs
(")_ (")Š from da Raggedy one

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 9:47:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I know you always wanted to see a picture of my toes so I blogged one today LOL
Pics of the dress and Emmy feet are up.
I thought I had better do it to placate people.

Sunday, August 20, 2006 at 9:48:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Oh! Now I'm hungry!!

Sorry to about the marred landscape 'next door.' I'm dreading when they start construction to the lot across the street from us. :(

Monday, August 21, 2006 at 2:42:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

This Cobb salad looks delicious!
Thanks for the recipe! I also love to know this interesting story!

About the Quiz... I would have never guessed who were the couple and I am looking forward to another Quiz! I love Quiz!

Monday, August 21, 2006 at 3:44:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Hi Naomi sweetie - have been on the road and just caught up. Glad you are well - love the Cobb Salad - yum, thanks for the salad dressing recipe bet it's good on lots of salads. Take care -

Monday, August 21, 2006 at 8:09:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I want to say I ate at the Brown Derby as a kid, but it might just be stories of my mom telling me that SHE went there. But I definately know I've heard of it.
I never would've guessed that was Felicity Huffman, her hair is dark. Both her & her hubby seem down to earth.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 at 9:19:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Mmmm...that Cobb Salad has made me hungry!! It looks fabulous, I may just be tempted to try and make some!!!

I agree that it's a shame that so many wonderful old theatres/buildings are torn down in the name of big bucks. One of the worst things they ever did in the city (Sydney) was to tear down the beautiful old Regent Theatre so it could be replaced by office blocks. They ripped down the theatre, the deal fell through, and this huge gaping hole just sat there for over 10 years. It was heartbreaking. What a waste!

Thursday, August 24, 2006 at 6:19:00 AM PDT 

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