Sunday, August 24, 2008

More Than A Food Blog

Our new blog is but a puppy.

omgomgomg. I've moved! Find the new baby blog, now co-run with my pal Daniel, at! New posts there shortly! Update your bookmarks & feeds!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Original Boston Creme Pie

The original Boston Creme Pie can be found, allegedly, at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston.  Liz told me this over the phone, and I later saw it in a pamphlet (albeit, the Omni Parker House's pamphlet), and later, etched on the window of the hotel.  Because I love my blog more than I hate sweets, I decided to try it during my trip to Boston.

Liz was in Boston too, skipping all of the conference (lucky!) and instead doing fun things like shopping during Tax Free Weekend and taking yoga classes.  We met up for lunch at the Parker's restaurant (called, literally, the Parker's Restaurant), and were promptly ignored for about seven minutes.  I guess you have to be SEEN to be ignored.  No one was around, so we left and decided to eat the pie ("It's actually a cake," says Liz) at the little shop in the lobby, where they also sold it.

It was...ok.  The outside was encrusted with almonds which I thought did not belong.  Aren't BCPs (Boston Creme Pie, not Birth Control Pill) supposed to be smooth and creamy?  This was crunchy (due to said almonds) and cakey ("Didn't I tell you it's actually a cake?" says Liz again).  The creme center was nowhere near adequate.  It was the thickness of a stick of gum (NOT Wrigley's!  Freaking Wrigley's.  Freaking Chris Brown, you sellout.).  Completely inadequate.  I guess what I was expecting was a choux creme, just big and flattened out and with chocolate on top.

The moral of the story is, sometimes the authentic original isn't great.  It drives me crazy anyway when people say, "It's SOOO AUTHENTIC!" as if that's the holy grail.  I think Panda Express is just as yummy, in a different way, than the Chinese food I had in Hong Kong.  And even though the last BCP I had was when I was a tween and I decided randomly to make it and it took me SEVEN HOURS, I think the modern interpretations on the BCP are for the better.

It certainly wasn't worth it for Liz, who, by sharing it with me, exposed herself to the virulent cold strain from which I am currently suffering.  Sorry Liz!

Parker's Restaurant
60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shimi's Wedding Cake~*

This is it. The big one. The one I had been working towards for a year. The one that I took sooo many lessons for. The one that I had tirelessly practiced for, every single month, since last July.

Of course I'm totally kidding. I think I practiced two whole times for Shimi's wedding cake. Hey, Shimi, if you're reading this, all's well that ends well, right?

But what a fucking journey it was. Last July, on a hellish drive from Seattle over the border to Vancouver, the crazy idea was hatched for me to make her cake. Being a wedding cake decorator has always secretly been the thing I wanted to be when I growed up, so I was really excited.

But then the week of her wedding came around, smack in the middle of one of the busiest summers I've ever had professionally (three deadlines the Friday before her wedding), and I started to hyperventilate. I barely slept the Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday preceding her wedding, not because I was working on her cake, but because I was freaking out about it. My friends said, "What the fuck were you thinking?" and I would respond, "WAAAAAAAAAH!"

When Asians get stressed, they get organized. But there was too much to think about! I had to remember to buy wire cutters to cut the dowels to insert into the cake! Did I really need to spend more than $20 only on BUTTER? And what the fuck kind of CAKE was I going to make?

Well, the abomination above is test recipe #1 (I started testing recipes on Tuesday). Let's see. It did not rise at all. It was burnt on the edges. Oh, and it tasted like grainy feces. I definitely cried a little bit when this came out.

But as Liz/QJ/Tinx would say, I am persistent as a mosquito/heat-seeking-missile/Michael Phelps. I picked myself back up and went back to the drawing board.

And then promptly dropped a fucking egg on the ground. As I was dumb and only bought exactly enough eggs as the recipe required, this was tragic indeed, and incited a barrage of "shits" and "fucks" and "cunty cunts!" and a couple more tears.

These are the pans that I lined with parchment paper. I didn't realize that just lining the pans takes a million years, and requires tons of measuring, precise cutting (don't look at the top one), and many, many diagonal cuts that are to be spaced 1 cm away from one another. Once lined, they look very profesh and cute at the same time.

The winning recipe. That Martha Stewart. She is the goddess of all things, including wedding cake recipes.

Totally Kidding Part II! It's totally cake mix (Hey, Shimi - all's well that ends tastily, right?). In my darkest moments of despair, I asked myself WWTCS1CD? (What would Top Chef Season 1 Contestants Do?). They, of course, got into major shit with Collichio for using cake mix for the wedding cake in the wedding challenge! I remember one of them saying, "You just can't beat cake mix - it's so consistent and the texture and taste are always perfect." So, the perfection above is industrial-sized yellow cake mix from Smart & Final.

I mean, LOOK AT IT! Moist, yet perfectly dense enough to withstand the weight of the tier above it. The same rise everywhere, crisp edges - perfect for stacking. And completely delicious. Simon and I dragged the trimmed-off pieces through the tub of icing and at a shitload of it.

I have a schmancy icing spatula, but the bottom tier was styrofoam (which cost, in total, $12. TWELVE DOLLARS for fucking STYROFOAM!?!? Shoulda just made it out of cake!) so I just got down 'n dirty with my hands. It's better than expensive hand cream - my hands were sooo soft.

Oh, by the way, having the bottom tier be styrofoam was bride-approved, so there.

The middle tier, post-icing. It is soo cute and fluffy looking, even though it was ten pounds of icing and cake. I wanted to hug it and squeeze it.

So this is fondant in the raw. I needed Simon's strong hands to knead it for me, but otherwise he was totally unhelpful. During the MOST DIFFICULT moments he was like, "Oh, I'm no good at this part. You do it." Mofo.

Anyway, you add the height of your cake plus the diameter, add two inches, and then roll out the fondant to the appropriate size on the mat. There are many details here that I won't go in to (like how you have to Crisco AND powdered-sugar the rolling mat, but the sugar has to be applied using a special powdered sugar bag thing, but they don't tell you that you can't touch the Crisco with the special bag or else it will clog the holes and no sugar will come out, etc.)

Using a combination of voodoo and blind luck, your cake will look like this after the fondant has been applied. It's tricky, because you're putting a flat circle onto a cylinder so there's tons of extra fondant that hangs down like a skirt. It takes special hands (WINK) to get the fondant smooth. Oh, and the Wilton brand fondant smoother (such a thing exists).

With the cakes safely made and safely covered, I realized the CAKE boxes I bought were way too wimpy to hold the CAKE. The bottom tier, being styrofoam, was light. The middle tier weighed around 10 pounds, and the top tier weighed about 7. I had to go to a special box store (BoxBros, where the shop dude asked me if there was a Verizon store around there...what?), where I also bought fragile tape (not tape that is fragile, but actual tape that says FRAGILE! FRAGILE! FRAGILE! on it).

So, the cakes were done, save for some last-minute assembly. OH, but I forgot - I had to DRIVE SIX HOURS UP TO BERKELEY with these fuckers. I drove like a grandma the whole way, and left the car running even while filling up on gas to keep the A/C going. Fondant-covered cakes can last up to 5 days unrefrigerated, but still.

When we got to the hotel, we were in a suite so Cara and I took out the shelves in our fridge and stuck the cakes in. I was anxious - would the cakes dry out? Would the fondant warp or crack? I put the fridge on the lowest setting and tried to forget about it for two days.

The day of the wedding - EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I took my social support entourage (including a STRUCTURAL ENGINEER! SCORE!) to the reception site an hour early to assemble the cake. Cheez and Cara were most helpful, mostly because they were the two that stayed behind when I realized I forgot stuff in the suite and sent Emry and the engineer back to the hotel. They nearly missed the ceremony due to my stupidity and traffic, and for that I apologize.

The construction was surprisingly easy. A couple air bubbles had snuck in, so I just pricked and deflated them. I had never doweled or stacked before, so I was a wreck, but I had read about how to do it 20 times. Basically, the main concern is that the top tiers will sink into the tiers below. So you have to stab wooden or plastic dowels vertically into the cake, right under the cake board of the tier above. But of course each cake is a different height so you have to custom-cut your dowels (thus the wire cutters). Then we used my makeup pencil sharpener (which I had not because I was prepared but because I am vain and had my entire make-up kit with me) to sharpen the ends and poked them into the cake.

The ribbon wasn't glued all the way around - it just rested at the base and I attached the ends with the daintiest dollop of piping icing. I left a little window on the top layer so that the bride and groom had a place to cut.

Then some lady came around with a huge, messy bouquet. "Flowers for the cake." "Oh, REALLY?? Because I was told that I was getting a bag of just loose orchid blossoms. Can you find the florist and make sure?" "I AM the florist." Oh.

Good thing I had NOT found wire cutters, and instead gotten stem-cutters from the garden shop. WOooOO! We snipped off the dahlias and a bunch of orchid blossoms, and then proceeded to do about three hundred permutations of flowers. Orchids on top, dahlias at base. Dahlias at top, orchids at base of every tier. Dahlias AND orchids on top, orchids all around the bottom. Just three bunches of orchids on the bottom, two dahlias and one orchid blossom on top. Only dahlias on top, orchids on bottom with a carpet of orchid blossoms covering the entire table. No orchid blossoms carpeting the table (took forever to clean), dahlias on top, bunches of orchids at the base.

PHEW. Anyway, behold the final product:

I was pretty fuckin' proud of myself.

Shimi and her hubby cut exactly where they were supposed to (I warned them that fondant is pretty tough, so they would have to use muscles, and further, that fondant is not tasty [though my hamster LOVES it] so they should peel that off before they fed each other the cake). They fed each other and didn't grimace (SCORE!) and did not keel over from food poisoning. In the end, the caterers cut the cake and served it to the masses (it was really only supposed to be for the bride and groom) and I was told by many that it was the best cake out of the three that were served. Thanks, Top Chef!

I owe so many thanks to my good friends who helped me along the way. And to Shimi, for taking a HUGE risk and letting some random punk make her cake. And, of course, I am thankful to my mother, who will never let my head get big and who would not acknowledge any sort of innate talent in me and said, "Wow, those lessons really paid off! You must have had a great teacher!" Thanks, Mom!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

E Tutto Qua

I'm headed up to the bay AGAIN, this time for Shimi's wedding, for which I am making her cake (and am working on it furiously right now)...and that reminded me of the LAST time I was up here, for an entire bachelorette party WEEKEND! After driving up from LA with Cara in her fabulous but fabulously expensive-gas-guzzling Mercedes, and after a bottle of wine in the hotel, and after presenting Shimi with her goodie basket that included a his/hers joint vibrator/cockring from me and Cara, and after walking in the extreme June cold, we finally arrived, one hour late for our reservation, to E Tutto Qua, in the North Beach neighborhood.

The manager couldn't be mad, though, after seeing 18 girls totally decked out and rushing into the restaurant with nipples erect from the cold. We were seated at a lovely window table on the second floor, and I snagged prime real estate directly across from Shimi, the bride-to-be.

Cara is my food soulmate. She is also the only other non-married/engaged one out of our high school group, so we often stick together at these weddings. Now we can get officially stuck together thanks to the same-sex marriage ruling. Perhaps we'll take a jaunt over to Sacramento and make our love official this weekend.

Anyway, both of our eyes (all four of our eyes??) lit up as soon as we hit on it on the menu: steak carpaccio!

Cara: Do you want to-
Me: YES.
Cara: The carpaccio?
Me: YES.

It's pictured top. Isn't it gorgeous? Though there was too much crap on it. The parm slices should have been as thin as the meat, and they would have done with half as many capers. When I eat raw meat, I want to TASTE it, you know? WINK WINK.

This is MY kind of beet salad. Many many beets, just barely cooked through, and a mountain of goat cheese and pine nuts. Despite what the inimitable Bourdain says, I loved the verticalness of the presentation. I don't care if it's played out. It hasn't been played out in the beet salad arena!

Let me backtrack a moment to describe our server. He was extremely nice. Extremely. He also had the most over-the-top Italian accent ever. Like Mario and Luigi combined, except much more verbose, and sprinkle in a little Domenico from Tila Tequila. Blend, simmer, reduce. Using a large wooden spoon, scoop the Italian accent reduction and splash the entire mixture into someone's face. That's what it was like. It couldn't have been real.

Oh MAN! They don't have their menu online and I was too busy enjoying wine and company to take notes. Let me recreate from my memory. Alright. My entree is pictured above. It was a chestnut ravioli with sage butter and crispy pancetta. But what are those black bits?!?!? Surely not truffles?!? I don't remember truffles. What on earth are they? Anyway, my entree was the winner of the night. I'm so happy that the inside was chestnut rather than butternut squash, which I don't think is meaty enough. The salty bite and crunch of the pancetta with the chestnut - OY!

The special of the night was rabbit, which was also ordered. [Waiter: "YES-a PO-ra BAH-nee!"] This one was not a hit. The meat was just SO dry, and the time and effort it took to debone the poor thing made it all the more not worth it. I might as well fry up Cheeto (our hamster - don't tell Tinx). The accompanying veggies were great, though! I must exclaim the name of the food before I eat it, if I really love it. Do you do that ever? The carrots were so good that they made me yell, "CARROT!" before every bite.

This is Cara's gnocchi. How interesting. I've never encountered gnocchi with a clam sauce. I'm sure that's what intrigued Cara, too. And who doesn't love gnocchi? (Secret time: I don't really...but I feel like it's like proscuitto, where everyone's supposed to like it no matter what.) However, something went wrong in the execution of this dish, as Collicchio would say. I didn't even try it.

This is not a breast implant in a pile of blood. This is panna cotta with raspberry sauce. I love all jello-ey substances. As a texture eater rather than a flavor eater, I just adored the slippery smoothness of this. Despite the rather barbarian presentation, the sweetness was very refined.

For the bride-to-be, a complimentary dessert. I didn't have any of the thing in the corner, but I did partake in the poached pear and mint leaf. I believe they were going for a heart motif with the creme anglaise? Looks like something else. Labia.

I have been told that my posts follow a template. Photo, description of food that is in a city that's not LA, some mention of balls. So I thought I'd switch it up and go with labia today.

E Tutto Qua
270 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sad Food

I have many ideas for photo essays. I have these ideas, sometimes, before I even have the photos. For example, I'm currently working on my "Dogs That Should Be Named Oreo" photo essay. So far I have two pictures. Both are blurry (dogs do not stay still in the same way that entrees do) and one of them has a bandana on the crucial "creamy center" so you can't even see it.

ANYWAY! Sometimes, however, the inspiration comes from the subject. The very, very sad subject in this case.

It all started during my conference in Baltimore. Every year, there is a super cute girl who doesn't know anyone and I pick her up at the mentor-mentee reception and turn her into my BFF for three days. This year it was Betty (clearly not her real name as she would never be so unstylish as to be called Betty). Anyway, Sharisa and Betty and I and some others hit up a local sushi joint, the name of which I have now forgotten. As we, collectively as a group, didn't know each other that well and were shy, that thing happened where NO ONE touched the last piece of sushi (see top).

Isn't it sad? It's sad. This is the culinary equivalent of the kid who didn't get picked for...kickball? It's always kickball in TV shows. But it's not like this piece of sushi was sickly and inhaler-toting. It was just on one end of the roll, and we just happened to start eating at the other end.

Anyway, I had great fun framing the photo so the plate looked huge and the sushi sad as can be.


The next day, Sharisa, Betty and I went to a very very delicious Mexican place. Even being from LA, I liked it. I had some sort of beautifully proportioned bowl with guac, salsa, cheese, rice, and... carne asada.

I was innocently eating when a lone piece divebombed off my fork, bounced off the table, and came to a sad stop on the ground. We all got immediately excited. Picture #2 in the photo essay! This pic is the view from between my legs. Sad, sad piece of cow.

Then, we went to the Whole Foods down the block to pick up fruit and other organic produce that is so difficult to come by during conferences. Haha, totally lying. I wanted to get a big fucking bag of potato chips to binge on that night after stumbling back to the hotel room wasted.

But anyway! They were serving, for St. Patrick Day, samples of fun things like bangers and mash, bread with Irish butter, and this cheese made with black beer. I speared a tiny cube with a toothpick and...

GASP! Too good to be true! I inadvertently dropped the cheese! It tumbled down into a tiny and desolate crevice to live out its last, uneaten, sad existence. Giggles as Betty and I snapped a bunch of photos and the Whole Foods lady looked on like we were crazy.

I had grand visions of compiling a collection of such photos worthy of filling a coffee table book. It's difficult, though, when one's #1 rule is that this shit has to happen naturally. No fake posed sad food photos.

Fast forward to now, July, almost 5 months later, and it has NOT HAPPENED ONCE. So it's time to post this already. It did happen once to Betty, who posted this on my wall:

Betty wrote
at 3:43pm on March 21st, 2008

I had one remaining cheerio in my bowl was yearning to be photographed by you.

lol. Miss you Betty~

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Western Spaghetti

I'm having a computer meltdown, sorry for the delay in posts~

Until I can get access to my own pics, here: Geekologie found this amazing PES stop-motion video of making toy spaghetti. That description does not do the video justice. Just watch it.

Now back to "fixing" my lappie (alternately pleading at it, spitting on it, and having staring contests with it).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sugar Butter! [Giggle]

Last night I went with Dr. Z to his ex-girlfriend's wedding. Dr. Z's current girlfriend was out of town digging up fossils or whatever it is that she does, and he didn't want to show up alone (on account of the whole EX-girlfriend thing). I assumed he scoured his friends for the hottest one to show off so I was flattered, and indeed, did my best to look smashing, but it turns out that he asked me merely because I'm "game for everything." I guess that's a compliment.

I've blogged weddings before, because for some reason they are so funny! I think it's the fact that many different people are brought together, and there are so many instances in which to display (your lack of) taste, whether it's the dress, the cake, the flowers, etcetera.

This wedding was VERY tasteful. It was tasteful, polite, tame, nice. It did not start out well, however. The invitation said 6pm; we arrived at the country club in beautiful Bel Air at 6:00:30. Apparently, that was thirty seconds too late, as the parents were already walking down the aisle and we got yelled at by the wedding planner and were not allowed to go to the wedding area, but were instead relegated to an area about 200 yards away like losers.

The ceremony went off without a single hitch. Very nice, very smooth (except for the fact that there was a guy who was golfing right next to the couple. WTF?). I enjoyed schmoozing with the wedding guests, who seemed to ALL be from Dr. Z's church. I made sure Dr. Z had a drink in his hands at all times, cooed at the appropriate moments when talking to family friends' moms, and walked the fine line of reassuring Dr. Z that yes, the bride was very very hot, but not hot enough to deserve him.

Anyway, next to me at Table 5 was David, one of Dr. Z's oldest friends and a youth pastor. Who doesn't drink. And sings really really high (he sang the upper harmony in the Indigo Girls song that they sang during the wedding). Overall, a very nice but slightly off chap.

For example. He suddenly shrieked, "SUGAR BUTTER!" and started giggling. Intrigued, I looked over and decided to document what was going on.

Step 1 [pictured top]: Put ball of butter inside your empty wine glass (because you don't drink, remember?)

Step 2: Put in a packet of sugar. You may have to raid the super fancy custom-made cappuccino bar for the sugar packets, as at this point the salads have not even been served and there is no sugar on the table.

Step 3: Mix with a fork. Be focused - do not, for example, listen to the wedding speeches, or pause to place salad dressing on your salad. Definitely eat your salad dry.

Step 4: Not enough sugar!! Grab one more packet and sprinkle the contents onto the ball, which is stuck to the end of your fork. Do this with a frenzied, trembling sort of excitement, as you are SO CLOSE to getting to eat your sugar butter!

Step 5: GRATIFICATION! Eat your sugar butter! Smooth it all over your tongue and enjoy the crunch of the sugar crystals and the creamy saltiness of the butter. If your eyes feel compelled to roll back in your head, let them.

I, for one, was much more enthralled by the MASHED POTATO BAR! A huge line there the whole night. I have recently been over mashies, but now I am firmly back in the MASH camp.

Aside from a couple awkward moments (e.g. where I had to lean over, place my hand gently on Dr. Z's shoulder and say, "Don't take that personally," when the bride's father said, "When we first met [groom's name which I've already forgotten], we instantly thought, 'Now THIS is the kind of guy we want for our daughter!'" and when Dr. Z brought a conversation to a screeching halt by saying, "Yeah, but there's a rape in it" about a book that everyone was raving about [Pillars of the Earth]), I had a surprisingly fabulous time at this wedding where I knew no one. Dr. Z kept saying, "You're doing great!" so I think he would agree.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Gas Lite Karaoke Bar

Our free margarita, courtesy of Travis.

Tinx, every night we drive home together:
OOOOOOOOH let's go to Gas Lite!!!
Me: OK, maybe this weekend.

But it never happened. Until one fateful Friday when we decided to walk Simon's puppy for him first and then hit up the karaoke bar on the way back. Tinx and I both like to sing, and when we perform we like to get dolled up. So we got semi-dolled up (our final outfits that we walked out the door with were actually quite scaled back from our original ones), walked the dog in our heels, and then headed over.

They have a parking lot, and we found a spot. Incredible. I felt like I was in Peoria, Illinois, not fucking Wilshire Blvd. Amazing.

We walked in to a divey bar where someone was singing an Offspring song. There were books strewn about with songs in them, but after seeing the rather shabby clientele and nary a skirt nor high heel in sight, I decided liquid courage was in order so we got drinks. Then we chose our songs. Tinx: Kelly Clarkson's Never Again. I sing a mean, mean No Doubt, so I put in Bathwater originally, but then re-gauged the crowd and changed my song to Madonna's Like A Prayer. It was that sort of karaoke bar. You know, where white chicks "sing" California Love (she actually really brought it - I was impressed) and a random scary white guy sings Possum Kingdom by the Toadies. If you don't know this song, the refrain is "DOOOO YOU WANNA DIE?? DOOOO YOU WANNA DIE???"

Anyway, I had been burned by karaoke bars in the past where the DJ won't play your song unless you tip them, so I put in our two songs and tipped him ten bux. The DJ was CUTE! A mix between John Mayer and Joaquin Phoenix, but cuter than both. I confirmed with him that my song had not been sung yet (to re-sing a song is a definite faux pas and a definite danger with that song). He said no with a smile and I further tipped him with a smile and a wink and single shoulder shrug.

And we sat. And waited. The drinks were good, except for the warm shot of Stoli Vanil that we did blech. We were awkwardly seated, so people kept coming in between us to order drinks/bother us. Example 1: Some girl named Laura and her friends, for whom I took several very good pictures, who were called up TWICE to sing. Example 2: Some high-powered white cougar lady who worked for Oprah. I have here in my drunken post-bar notes "fucking ugly terrible extensions." My guess is that she was rude to us. Example 3: A guy who said, "Good work!" when I popped my birth control pill at midnight. I said, "No babies!" and he flashed me a thumbs up.

Tinx is...not a patient girl. So she was getting visibly irritated and flustered (probably also due to the three thousand degree heat - goddamn), so our very cute bartender named Travis gave us free margaritas. Thanks, Travis! But then he, too, betrayed us by being called up to sing (seriously - can't the patrons sing before the staff??), where he performed a passably sexy Usher.

Like a silly, idealistic fool, I didn't want to pee in case our songs came up. But I could wait no longer so I ran into the bathroom and peed, and ran out, where I was stopped by a man named Max H., who gave me his card and asked me out. On his card he has some terrible clip art on one side, and it says his title is "Web Programmer and Rock Singer." lol. And a 323 number. He would have a 323 number. Also - weakest handshake ever, which makes me think it unlikely that he shreds anything in his rock band or can even type faster than 5 wpm when programming.

Anyway, I'm sure you can predict how the story ended. Last call and the DJ saying, "Sorry guys! That was the last song." OMGWTFBBQ?!? Does tipping mean nothing in this world anymore? Piece of shitty shit cute DJ. We drove home in a perfumed, curly-haired self-righteous huff and jotted down furious, drunken, bitchy notes, to be blogged at some later point. Done.

Gas Lite
(I see your spelling is as good as your karaoke DJ-ing)
2030 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

No Cookie Left Behind

As part of the Share Our Strength Great American Bake Sale, my friend Connie invited me and Burtis to her friend's 2nd Annual No Cookie Left Behind bake sale. In my head, it was a sleek, Billion Dollar Babes-esque sample sale of a bake sale. It was in Silverlake, after all. In truth, it was a darling/charming ("darming?") normal, normal bake sale on a sidewalk.

But first, Burtis, bless his heart, started whining for tacos. Every dirty, divey taco stand we drove by he would start crying like a very cute puppy. He kept asking Connie "But what are we going to eat for LUUUUNCH?" and she would keep saying, "CUPCAKES!" and he would keep replying, "NOOOOOOOO TACOOOOS!"

So we set out on foot, away from the bake sale, to score some tacos first. We walked around a couple blocks and then, like the clouds parting to let through glorious sunlight, we saw it.

Que Ricos.

It was a cross between a McDonald's and a taco shack. Love it. The menu, pictured above, is not me inadvertently stretching the picture out width-wise. That was literally their menu. (The same thing happens on their business card, I see. Someone should teach them to click "lock aspect ratio.")

It was one of those places where they have mysterious desserts that have likely existed for decades, untouched, by the register. The marshmallow-ey things on top piqued my interest, but good sense overruled this train of thought and I stuck with an asada taco with a side of rice y beans.

Drinks, made from pure cane sugar. Mmmmm. I wanted to save my cash for the baked goods, so I declined the tamarind soda, but seriously tamarind is like crack, no? I did help myself to copious amounts of their homemade salsas. They had those pickled carrot things that I really love, too.

I'm sure you could imagine exactly how this tasted. Like every other taco truck taco - fresh and perfect. The rice was freaking yum, too. It had CORN and POTATOES! I loved it.

Over our taco lunch, Burtis happily chattered away about how he had learned the art of hypnosis, and we talked about what craft he should learn next. I believe we agreed on American Sign Language for the both of us so we could (a) talk shit about people during seminars across the room at each other; and (b) go to bars and "game" girls, with he acting the part of a deaf guy and me being the translator, making girls' hearts melt with his gentle sensitivity and poeticism in his eyes.

Back to the bake sale. Why is it that the homemade goods are so much more appealing at bake sales? There were cakes and cookies from profesh shops, but the things that went first were the big cookies in good ol' ziplock bags. That's what Connie got.

I settled on three items. 1. Baklava; 2. Carrot Cake Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting (they should call it the CCCCCC); 3. Sour Cream Fudge Cookie.

All three were winners~! I have been on a crazy workout schedule this summer, and I believe my body is screaming at me to consume more glucose, and my usual salt-tooth was gone and replaced with a normal person's tooth. The baklava - what's that seasoning baklava that makes it baklava? Tinx says cardamom. Whatever it was, it was SO INTENSE that it went straight up my nose into my brain pleasure neurons.

The sour cream fudge cookie was tiny (the size of a silver dollar) and was neither fudgey nor cookie-ey - almost cakey, but velvety smooth and with a nice sticky sour cream smell.

Connie says this bundt looks huge and that we should have held up a dollar bill next to it for scale. This bundt cake is actually TINY, thus making the baby baby bundt cakes behind it squealingly microscopic. These were on sale courtesy of a new bakery called Kiss My Bundt bakery. Whatever you need, we've got your BUNDT covered! is their tagline. Love it.

All of this took place in front of Scoops, a gelato joint. So after the sugar bomb on the sidewalk, we went inside to explore the crazy mindfuck gelato flavors that they had to offer. Behold:

-Brown Bread
-Chocolate Guinness
-Lemon Hefeweizen
-Avocado Vanilla
-Blueberry Lychee
-Salty Dulce de Leche
-Pear Champagne
-Watermelon Triple Sec
-Maple Oreo
-Orange Rootbeer
-White Chocolate Jim Beam
-Raspberry Balsamic
-Almond Honey Ginger
-Green Tea Irish Cream

I sampled the salty caramel and my eyes rolled back into my head. Burtis got a scoop of the watermelon triple sec from one of the two hotties behind the counter, which was refreshing, though I'm not a fan of triple sec. I appreciated that refills were a mere $1.75, which we were going to exploit by eating multiple flavors among the three of us. But...the insulin spike was killing me, so we didn't.

While we lounged around, nursing our sugar comas, I turned to Vani and said, "These gelato attendants are SO freaking adorable!" From all the way across the fucking store, one of them looked up and smiled at me and half-waved. Eagle ears! I was embarrassed.

I don't know why. I should have owned it. Like "YEAH MOTHERFUCKER YOU HOTT!"

End childhood hunger by donating here

Que Ricos
712 N. Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Kiss My Bundt
8104 West Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90036

712 N. Heliotrope Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Monday, June 23, 2008

RIP Tongue Piercing. And also Pizza Protein Stick.

Dr. D, my dentist, just can't get enough of ruining my life. Now he wants to take out my wisdom teeth with only local anesthetic. Not only that, but he says I have to take out my tongue piercing for the procedure and the entire time while I heal. I guess he doesn't understand (I mean why would he when he's a FUCKING DENTIST) that the mouth is the fastest healing organ, and even having the piercing out for several hours can close it, let alone several days. Boo. Cry. Hiss. More cry.

Further, I worry about Dr. D's skills. When he said my three wisdom teeth (I only have three? I guess I'm evolutionarily advanced) needed to come out, he said - well, here is a transcript:

Friday, June 20th, 10:02 am Pacific Daylight Time
Dr. D: Do you want to take them out today? Let's just do it right now.
Me: Ummmm, really? I mean, I drove here alone so I don't know...
Dr. D: No, no, you'll be fine.
Me: Actually, I teach aerobics today so there's no way I can do it.
Dr. D: What time is your class?
Me: Noon?
Dr. D: Oh, you'll be fine.
Me: Ummmmm, actually, no I think I'll wait.

What the fuck and are you fucking serious me. This man is crazygonuts.

Then I had to take the piercing out for the fancy X-ray where you stand up and the thingies go around your head. So, rather than be sentimental about my tongue piercing (which I've had for [sniff] eight years), I just said "FUCK IT!" and took it out and never looked back. Except right now as I recreate it for CM.

No one, and I mean no one, has noticed anyway that it's gone.

Oh, and a side story about my dentist being a dummy. He was looking at my teeth and was like, "Janet, I think you are grinding your teeth at night. There should be pointy peaks here but they are ground down, and right here your tooth is chipped. I think you should get a mouthguard." Of course the mouthguard costs $450, but more importantly, all of this damage is because of my tongue piercing clanking around in my mouth. I wonder why it didn't occur to him that the HUGE METAL THINGIE in my mouth was to blame for all this tooth damage?

Anyway, it was a sad week overall, as I must end with a lament about Jamba Juice's glorious Pizza Protein Stick, which has been discontinued. Oh, OK, so in the ENTIRE interweb there is not a single photograph of the fucking pizza protein stick? This post just gets sadder and sadder.

The PPS was the hidden gem of JJ. It sounds gross but it was really deceptively delicious. Warm, chewy, with delightful hidden chunks of tartness with sundried tomato and a nice whiff of oregano. Everyone I coaxed into trying it loved it, too.

So, RIP, PPS. Here is a poem that I worked really hard on to commemorate your life.

Oh, peppery, pitiful Pizza Protein Stick.
Who discontinued you? What a dick!
Life without you makes me sick.
PS Did I tell you my dentist sucks balls?

Bacon Flavored Floss

By way of Geekologie by way of OhGizmo by way of NerdApproved by way of Archie McPhee [phreeew exhausted!] comes...

BACON FLOSS! OMG best idea ever! Only, it's a terrible idea. But still, the bacon-loving, floss-loving (no shitting you I love how my gums feel hurty/itchy after I floss - creepy?) gal in me is so intrigued. This is the kind of gag gift that people might give me like, "haha" but then I would actually use. In fact, I wonder what it would be like if I threaded it through my recently-deceased tongue piercing hole? That would make for the ultimate bacon experience.

Buy it here.

Monday, June 16, 2008


A Happy Hatch Day to Liz. I'm just going to go ahead and publish on the interweb her age: 40. I think she is handling it well. I think the word "aplomb" is a good one to describe it.

Speaking of Liz, this is a wall post that I got from her:

at 6:17pm on May 15th, 2008
What about our lovely meal at Spoonriver?

Indeed, what about our lovely meal at Spoonriver?

Sometimes, when the light is low and I have forgotten my mini tripod, the pictures take a lot of finessing before they are CM-ready. It's funny because this gives rise to a phenomenon where all my lunches get posted quickly (sunlight = good light, no finessing), whereas my dinners take longer to go to press. Not that it's that much finessing. It's seriously just clicking, like, 3 buttons in Picasa. But still.

Also - isn't "Finesse" a type of shampoo? Whatever happened to that shampoo brand?

Before I get too off-track and risk Tinx saying, "You're so random" from across the living room as she reads my posts on her laptop, let me get back to Spoonriver. It is a resto in Minneapolis, and the fancy meal that Liz took me to whilst on my visit there ( January...sometimes when finessing is saved for later, the entire post gets forgotten about...)

Liz's kids were safely with their excellent sitter (whom they were trusting, for the first time, to actually put their kids to bed rather than just the post-school-fun-crafts-type of babysitting. I was honored that our meal was that important). We were joined by the sweet Alfred (a mutual friend) and by Liz's husband Jamie. Alfred ordered the above cocktail, which is so amazing it deserves its own paragraph for the description.

Fall Monk: Butternut squash martini, Benedictine, Frangelico, and maple syrup, with a toasted walnut rim.

I'm sure you can imagine how good this tasted. I love egg nog and it tasted like egg nog to me. But if you hate egg nog, don't worry - the others at the table didn't taste egg nog at all.

Ok, like "finesse," the word "nog" is looking funny to me now.

To start, we ordered the Caspian, pictured top - Humous and roasted red pepper walnut spreads, vegetables, olives, foccacia. There were more exciting apps, but after much angst, Jamie decided to combine two appetizers into his entree, so we were anticipating tasting his food.

The humous was great but we were all feeling polite about the accompanying bread and were smearing it on the veggies, which was not as great of a combo. If I could nitpick this appetizer I would say that the crostini was in the weird middle ground between regular soft and appropriately toasted, and the red pepper spread was just this side of slimy (rather than smooth walnuty) but it had a very delightful carbonation fizziness to it.

You know when someone else orders something that you instantly crave? This is Liz's Fischer Farms Pork Tenderloin with miso caramel glaze, apple slaw, and root mash. ROOT MASH! I mean, what the hell was I thinking not ordering this? Goddamnit. I had one bite of everything on her plate, and briefly considered knocking my own entree onto the floor and getting it replaced with this pork dish. Failing that, I could always knock Liz unconscious and steal her food.

Luckily, I was then distracted by Alfred's Minnesota Lamb and Vegetable Stew in Moroccan flavors. Spoonriver is organic and all that, but surprisingly un-local. Good for Alfred, therefore, for choosing this. I contemplated stealing a taste, but he was kitty-corner from me, and it looked just too too complicated to get a perfect bite without hacking at it with a knife. Pity. It's 10:30 pm right now as I write and with no dinner in my tum, I would give anything to have a taste of this.

Jamie ordered both the Savory Wild Mushroom & Pistachio Terrine with fruit chutney, mustard sauce, croutons, and cornichons as well as the Quesadilla with local free range smoked chicken, greek Keseri cheese, mango, and cranberry coulis. No amount of finessing could make my quesadilla photos presentable. The terrine was a bit dry (I would have gone for the Wild Acres Duck & Chicken Liver Pate myself - no prospect of dryness when there's liver involved). However, the terrine is nowhere near as dry as my "dinner" is a microwaved Boca burger with ketchup on top, so I should just shut the fuck up.

Oh, also - cornichons: surprisingly tasty.

So what did I order? I went local as well, with the Minnesota Farm Raised Lamb Burger with house Bois Boudran sauce. Bois Boudran sauce = schmancy ketchup.

Initial thoughts: Why is this patty so shriveled? Looks dry. Why the fuck are there tortilla chips on this plate? Weirdage. I should have fucking gotten the pork tenderloin.

Then, these thoughts: Holy flavorful! How did they put so much flavor into this? One ounce of this lamb basically necessitates its own bun! Oh, and what is this ketchup-like substance? Oh, my goodness! I'd like to take a pint of this home and eat it with a spoon, like soup!

After our entrees, Jamie got all excited. "If we skip dessert, we can get home in time to give the kids a good night kiss before they go to bed!!!" To which Liz said, "I'm not fucking skipping dessert!" which is why I love her.

Spoonriver's website is failing me now by not listing their desserts. But so are my iPhone notes, which end after "...toasted walnut rim." Great. My note-taking abilities died with the cocktails, apparently. Well. It is clearly some sort of mousse. With chocolate shavings. And what is that? Pineapple? No, mango. Peach? What is that? Also, there appears to be some...poo? Just kidding. That's clearly caramel. I do remember the poo being the most amazing part of it. As we dug our spoons through the goo, the caramel became even more poo-like by smearing up the sides of the glass.

After dessert, we contemplated walking around the Guthrie (immediately across the street). This conversation, however, put such a pained look on Jamie's face (10 minutes to bedtime! STILL time for a goodnight kiss!!!!) that we skipped it. We rushed home, where Jamie successfully planted kisses on their totally unappreciative boys' faces.

750 S 2nd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Frogo - Rhymes with Frodo

Frogo is a new, under-chattered frozen yogurt joint that opened just two blocks from my house (Stalkers: 1, Janet: 0). Tinx and I were coming back from school laaate, and even though she had to pee something fierce, she obliged my wishes and went there with me. We weren't even sure if they were open, but indeed it is open until 11 pm weekdays, midnite on Saturday, 10pm Sunday (this is not yet etched on the doors but that's what the hours are).

The decor was the requisite ultra sleek / ultra modern combination, though Frogo has a million plasma screens on the wall. One of these was playing what looked to be a Michael McDonald concert, which gives them major points if they are being ironic, a la 40-Year-Old Virgin, but major minus points if it was just straight up.

Tinx had done some earlier reconnaissance and discovered that their berry yogurt is fantastic. So I followed suit. Hers sits front; mine in back with the kiwi.

Frogo attempts to differentiate themselves by using fructose. Not high fructose corn syrup, which is the root of all evil according to some, but bonafide, true fructose. An information sheet detailing the benefits of fructose (doesn't spike blood sugar [in fact, fructose is metabolized without the use of insulin so it's good for diabetics], helps you feel full, "healthy," etc.) sits on the counter.

The kiwi was underripe. You shouldn't need your teeth for kiwi - just your tongue. But that is nitpicking, I gues. The yogurt itself is not quite "like Yoplait, but frozen!" like Tinx claimed, but is exactly in between Red Mango and Pinkberry in terms of its tart/ice-ness.

To be honest, I was really distracted while eating it, because we were (albeit nicely) accosted by an Asian dude named Jason - the owner. I am usually a little more on the down low when it comes to snapping photos, but at 10pm on a weekday I really didn't think that any higher-ups would be around (indeed, upon first glance, it was just two really cute employees who looked like they should be working at Abercrombie instead). He just appeared out of nowhere.

Jason: I noticed you're taking pictures. Can I ask you why?
Janet: Oooooh, well, you know, it's a hobby of mine - I just like to take pictures of my food.
Jason: Oh, because you know you're taking pictures of my store, too, so I was just curious you know why is this girl taking pictures?
Janet: Haha yeah well it's just what I do. Haha I'm not a journalist or anything. [Hello defensive.]
Jason: [Not buying it for a minute] It's ok if you want to take pictures and put it up on a blog. I just wanted to tell you more about our product.
Janet: Well you can tell me about it if you want but I'm not a blogger or anything! [Dig dig dig]
Tinx: Giggle. [Squeezing legs together to avoid peeing]

So he told us about the miracles of fructose, the fact that he got out of a career in banking to open this shop, chatted with us about what we did (he's a fellow UCLA alum!) and then offered us another yogurt. I had hit my sweetness threshold .75 yogurts ago, so I declined, and Tinx did as well. So then he gave crack tea!

If you read the few reviews of Frogo on the interweb, people talk more about the coffee than the yogurt. This tea was fucking awesome. You don't often see people's eyes light up when they sip on iced tea. But Tinx (despite her full bladder) bounced up and said, "MMM!" so I tried it as well. Tangy, but not sour. Mellow, but not sweet. Full of crack, but not heroin.

The reason we think it is full of crack is because (a) it tastes so good, and (b) Tinx was ricocheting off the walls of our apartment when we got home [I took mini sips and saved the rest for the following morning - so fucking AZN].

I hope they make it, because the employees, beginning with Jason the owner, are so nice, and their products are good. And Silverlake is far too far to go for crack - this is much more convenient.

1300 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403