Fines for big drinks? hmmm…

September 30, 2012 § 3 Comments

As little league baseball parents, we were required to work the ballpark snack bar from time to time.  There was a menu offering called “pepper bellies.” You scissored off the top  of a bag of Fritos (TM), spooned in some meat-n-beans chile, added yellow shredded cheese and ladled on (insidious) green peppers, then handed it over in the Frito bag itself, with a spoon.
I never ate it but I did expect the bag to go up in flames as I handed it over to the eager customer.

With some curiosity and raised eyebrow I digested this sign last week: Frito Pie.
Sounds  like it might go with one of those huge quart-sized soft drinks, except in NYC?

There is always pie…

September 10, 2012 § 21 Comments

This summer, there was pie. And funny little tablescapes. Apple pie, cherry pie, French silk pie, peach pie…
Sometimes there pie was for breakfast, which seems like the only breakfast entry that could possibly rival a delicious bit of  bacon, one egg cooked just so and a lovely piece of French bread with sweet butter.
Such late night thoughts…

(what’s in the little white dish? Why, raw sugar of course, to sprinkle on top of the pie when it’s hot from the oven…)

What’s your favorite breakfast?

plum crazy…

September 5, 2011 § 4 Comments

Actually I’m not a fan of plums, but HM is.  And they looked appealing at the fresh market. What doesn’t?  A person is likely to pick up food simply because fresh markets play on the fresh pure natural “now” artfully-stacked just-in-from-the-field concept. 
Now that’s marketing worth falling for.
Still, I’m not  plum crazy.

I am, however, holiday crazy.
And whilst I hum and polish and rake and scrub around the house and grounds this morning, I wish everyone the right to a holiday and a holiday proper, fitting their definition.

Happy Labor Day, whether your labor is your leisure or vice versa.

(some) Cali cuisine…

July 16, 2011 § 12 Comments

Marinated beets and avocado with a sprinkling of nuts and orange slices at GJendal which is pretty, everything about the place is pretty and nouveau proper. The drink is a Pilsner with ginger added…(I did think wistfully & momentarily about a burger, tho’.)

And this is GJendal’s interpretation of bottled water. The server brings small chubby glasses and then pours the water from this bottle. (tap? spring? elsewhere?  Water IS precious on this coast.) No ice. All of that is fine, just…different. A nice spin on the water scene, actually.

This is a dessert at El Torito and thank God we shared it and didn’t order one each!  It was delightful delectable and fine. Don’t give me that “chain” restaurant nonsense. This particular El Torito used to be a Don Jose’s that HM and I and Nor frequented 24 years ago! It’s in our “old” neighborhood in Torrance. It was a nostalgic stop for HM and I and worthy of whipping out the camera for this fresh fruit dessert. Sure, we have fresh fruit in the Midwest, but the West Coast keeps the good stuff and ships out the rest. These berries were ambrosial.

Fish and chips at Finn McCool’s Irish Pub in Santa Monica. I was starving so this was the midday meal. You know, being a tourist and temporary resident of a neighborhood is hard work, and a person can work up an appetite. The coolest thing is that the newspaper on which this was served has an article about Carmaggedon.  And the pub was fabulous, all wood, high original tin ceiling and it reaked of the wood and fresh air (all windows and doors open).

Lunch and dessert (dessert shows first – carrot cake!) at the Getty Villa Museum Cafe. Egads, who knew the Cafe food could be as good as the art at the Villa? One fabulous treat after another there as well as the 3 different cheeses, raisin flatbread, apricots, dates, figs and almond pictured above. Wow.

And wha’ts pictured here is the tip of the iceberg, culinarily speaking. Also note that dining buddies make or break the meal. GJendal was the only place where the company was dicey, but that’s another story and suffice it to say that dining with upbeat people is the only way to dine! Kudos to HM, Nor and Knight for great times at the table!

A winner of a writing place…

January 25, 2011 § 17 Comments

Bissinger’s is a chocolatier, in the business of luxe sweet treats since the 1600s but it wasn’t ’til the 1800s that the family came stateside.
St Louis has two stores, the newest one having opened in 2007 which I refer to as “the bistro,”   a sweet little location. 

It sounds all haute and unapproachable but – not true! The Central West End embues it even more with charm and allure.

You can sit and sip and socialize. There is plenty of room yet it’s cool-cozy. It’s modern but no hard edges.

It’s warm despite its front being nothing but glass – the better for people watching.  Yes you can sit and look out. Or, look in.
Whatever you like.
And there are things to buy if you want to take home something Bissinger-y.

And we went in, not intending to have anything really, other than the comfort of a lovely hot chocolate…

OK, not a great picture but look at the size of that hot chocolate compared to the “normal” size water glass! Oh, yum.  This is the stuff of comfort food in the dead of winter whether the sun is shining or not.

And, there are things to buy if you are so inclined.

And then, because the place is new to you and you are “exploring” and checking it out as a future “writing place,” your date (HM himself) might order a little something, just to see what the “fare” is all about. Egads – yum. A blue cheese and spinach quiche…and a double chocolate scone.  With butter. So British.

So, a writing place – really? Oh, yes. In the middle of an afternoon, with a little urban-ness and a discreet wait staff and the rich hush of a library gone sweet on chocolate, it’s the perfect place to write. Even if the only thing you have is your planner and a Bic stick pen.

Can chocolate replace coffee? Replace it? No. Complement it? Yes.
Thanks, I’ll take both.
They fuel the pen-to-paper activity.

You can order from Bissinger’s, too, and then just stay home and snack on the stuff.
But for a chocolate adventure, you have to go see…and sip…and sup a little.

Get out of the house, get out of your usual skin to sit down and do some serious writing. Changing venue/location changes everything about how you see the (same old) things on your page.

CHOCOLAT, of course!  We saw Joanne Harris two years ago when she stopped in St. Louis and as she started out on her evening “lecture,” I thought ohgeezshedoesn’twanttobehereandthiswillbeboring.
Oh, how wrong I was. As she warmed up (shy), the anecdotes poured forth and she drew us into so many stories we lost track of truth and ficiton. And she spoke of the sequel at that time to CHOCOLAT. If you loved the CHOCOLATE world, the sequel will be a bit of an adjustment. Titled  THE GIRL WITH NO SHADOW in the U.S.  (and THE LOLLIPOP SHOES in the UK), it takes place in Paris, following the story of the Vianne and her daughters.  (sorry, Johnny Depp, the river pirate, is not in the story.)

Beginning with thanks…

November 25, 2010 § 11 Comments

The Holiday begins with Thanksgiving. Not purposely.
But really, it’s the eve of eves.
It’s the holiday of holidays, with feasting and remembering, thanking and praising.
I love it. I love Thanksgiving more and more, more than I remember from last year and the year before that:
   the creativity of being in the kitchen after days and days and days in corporate settings and deadlines
   the family around, hooting and laughing and reminiscing and tasting things and trying things on the stack of  platters that translate from pantry to pieces of art stacked with food on the table (and I wish everyone could come to share in it)
   the dogs so polite, staying close but remembering what “back up” and “go!” mean
   the ease of cooking, in fact the enjoyment of it when one has time
   looking at HM across the room and silent affirmation of thanks for being able to put on a Thanksgiving production
   having Christmas music on the sounds system and holiday movies (sometimes on mute) playing on the TV
   calling friends and family and going long on the conversations and making plans
   emailing e-cards even tho’ yeah, we’ll be doing the hand-written ones, but this is the first blush of the holiday season and it’s silly not to effervesce
   Skype-ing with friends and family and getting a video tour thus of my brother’s house
   unplugged, not thinking (in a pressured way) about decorations or shopping or anything. Just putting out piles of things, like celery sticks and sliced cukes with Ranch dip and stuffed dates, three kinds of olives, and cheese & prosciutto roll ups and slices of cinnamon cake and wait, what? egg nog? oh, yes please, pour me some, thanks, the turkey isn’t ready yet, but all the other things are done and clapping in their pots, waiting….

Scenes from Lochcrest today.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. Thank you for every single thing and for all of you.

(photo using the “backlit” filter)
Always first up on the stove top T’Day morning – the fresh cranberries, boiling and bursting and gorgeously red

Steamy in the kitchen, freezing outside.

hmmmm…snow trumps outdoor hors d’oeuvres…

(photo using the “sketch” filter)
the dining room, getting set for the feast

Snarl, showing the Ancient Beagle some love


July 13, 2010 § 7 Comments

aaaccckk! can’t believe it!!!!!
Time off, time out, time on the East Coast…

In the land of stars and stripes, lawyers and feds, suits and blue shirts, politicos and pretty darn cool conversations as they go by on the streets, in the hotel lobby, in the garden restaurants and at the convention center.

Snapping pictures like crazy – there is so much red, white and delirious blue, it could affect a girl’s wardrobe! Glad I brought a navy dress – absolutely NOT boring here.

And experienced my first blog meet up – only as a guest, but what a trip, what a wonderful time, what sincerity,and hello to Mandy, Becky (new blog buddies!) and many thanks to Nora for breakfast, for including me, and congrats for her recent shout out from WordPress!

Will write more about Blog Meetup, also thoughts on swimming laps and getting lost in museums and getting around above ground, although the Metro is cool – give me air! huge, hot, din-ful, energy mad, wonderful urban air!

Rethinking Twitter. It’s a hot restaurant tool here, with comments and come-ons and invitations and “dialogues” from chefs to patrons happening here. Food is hot in social networking but even more so in terms of “new” regarding vegetables in their own right and NOT as substitutes for meat…and the White House kitchen garden DOES exist tho’ no glimpse of that innovative 30-something baseball-to-kitchen chef . 

Gotta get off this lovely biz centre PC and get to our room to write.
More later!!!!

Miami Nights…

January 22, 2010 § 5 Comments

All the energy on South Beach’s Ocean Drive blurs the picture…

The waiters and cigarette girls line up, chittering and whispering about their food, their restaurant as you walk by: “eat here, best service ever, food you’ll never forget, we’ll make your dinner an eating experience…”  But we had eaten dinner already, at Lario’s, Gloria Estefan’s restaurant. It did not disappoint. And so after a raucous dinner – there were 25 of us! – HM and I melted outdoors into the Beach crowd and walked the Drive, headed east toward the ocean and in search of the Adrian Hotel where we had stayed about a decade ago. It was right across the street from Versace’s mansion. Which is still there.

The Adrian is not. 
It  has morphed from hotel to apt lease property. It has colored from maroon and pink to soft white.
It’s still lovely, though.
We looked up at the windows of the rooms where we stayed.
Lots of light. It was someone’s apartment now.

HM turns off Ocean Drive and down the sidestreet, flanking the old Adrian.

Miami is a kaleidoscope. We enjoyed having a look and staying in its oceanic embrace.

Sunday morning scenes from the Cafe du monde …

August 2, 2009 § 16 Comments

NOTE: I went to the Cafe without a book … or notebook! But I was with HM, Laylou and Irish, so it would have been rude to sit and sip and read.  However, it’s a great place to “hide out,” observe all kinds of things and read.

The Cafe du Monde Coffee Stand originated in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market.  It is open every day, all day, that is, 24/7.  Except Christmas Day, and as its web site notes with tongue in cheek, it is closed on the occasional day that a hurricane passes too close to the City.

The mugs are thick and plain. The coffee, chicory flavored, evokes an “ewww” from many but the cafe au lait, omg, is excellent. I didn’t realize we had ordered the cafe au lait. Our waitress, a mere slip of a girl with an accent as big as eastern Europe, took our order and having heard us mention milk-and-sugar with our coffee, please, she delivered cafe au lait and now it’s my bigtime favorite. Laylou ordered hot chocolate and if you want to see our tiny table set with our coffees and chocolate and BEIGNETS, you can sort back a few entries to find it. The cafe’s website descriptions are short and to the point defining beignets as “square French style doughnuts, lavishly covered with powdered sugar.”
(Note that beignets were also brought to the Crescent City by Acadians who made them as fried fritters sometimes filled with fruit.)

“Lavishly covered with powdered sugar” is akin to dumping a near-half pound of the sweet stuff on the beignets.
Oh, I couldn’t eat that, people say when you tell them about beignets.
Oh, yes you could.

Here is the Cafe’s menu:
White and Chocolate milk
Fresh squeezed Orange Juice
Coffee and Chicory (chicory is the root of the endive plant)
Beignets (these are served in orders of 3)

Here are other things around the Cafe where you can sit at your leisure:

There are fans under the cafe roof and morning at the cafe is lovely, fresh, breezes off the Mississippi River which is less than a football field’s distance from the Mississippi.

The Cafe is a convivial place, a meeting place, a time out, a reading place, an in-the-midst-of-everything place.

No, this fine mule was not in the cafe! He was trotting along with a carriage on the street alongside the Cafe.

It’s not always easy to find a seat at the Cafe but if you’re there early enough in the morning, you will also find it easy to park!

A scene from our table! 
I noticed that there is very little ice in the city. They chill their glasses and their drinks, so you’re pouring a cold drink into a frosty glass. It’s rather nice, really and seems efficient.  Oh, but this was not true at Pat O’Brien’s, which is another story to follow.

Sunday … Shoutout #5 to ballooners …

September 28, 2008 § 5 Comments

(photo taken at Forest Park Balloon Glow, 2007)

Not circus balloons. Not birthday party stuff.
These are hot air balloons.

The Balloon Glow occurs Friday night before Saturday’s Hot Air Balloon Race annually in September, in St Louis. At the Glow, the balloons are “set up” and tethered and the show begins just after twilight.

A siren sounds, and at that moment, the owners fire up their hot air balloons and the hillside magically lights up. This can only last for less than a minute at a time because the balloons inflate and  begin to lift, restrained only by their tethers and in some cases, by awesome burly pit crews that also hold restraints. (good idea! these things are huge!)

Hundreds of people, hundreds of families attend to walk around looking at the balloons, enjoying refreshments at the food booths and just kinda camping out on blankets and chairs that are freely allowed wherever the balloons are not.

It’s like a small town festival in a grand urban park. It’s pretty much magic. The “glow” thing goes on for about 90 minutes, with the siren sounding regularly. From a distance, like standing in front of the Art Museum on Art Hill or anywhere in the park really, you get a completely different perspective,  and it is just as magnificent to witness.

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