Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Miscellaneous food from California

These items didn't fit anywhere else. First up, the giant donut:Chocolates in the shape of the Buddha in Berkeley:
Excellent selections from Thai Boom in Culver City, this is tiny chunk of bacon-like pork chunks deep fried and served with Chinese broccoli:
Green curry at Thai Boom:
This was weird, I went to this fabulous restaurant supply store in CC called Surfas. They had all these whimsical but slightly scary retro foodstuff, apparently all essential for the making of carnival snacks:
Dipsy Dog--don't try to make corn dogs without it!
A raspberry in sis's backyard in LA:
Beautiful potatoes at the lavish Santa Monica farmer's market:
Fish tacos in LA:
An all-omlette restaurant. Why not?

California, it sure was tasty!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

California eats: Father's Office

The word on the streets of LA was that Father's Office was the greatest burger phenomenon since Micky D's first opened their doors. With the burger craze in NYC in full swing, I was anxious to try it. Cue the requisite hipsters and remember you're not at Fette Sau:

This is apparently the second version of Father's Office. This one is down the street from my sister's place in the charmingly revamped Helm's Bakery. The restaurant has a host of weird rules that New Yorkers would love: no vodka, no ketchup, no diet soda, etc., etc. Also, it's swank but totally open seating. You order at the bar and then some dude delivers it to your table. When I heard this I started to panic, but apparently ordering at the bar at a mega popular spot isn't as horrible as it is in Gotham.
More about the bar...they've got a million obscure beers on tap, blah, blah, blah, you've been to Spuyten Divul, you've heard it all before. They're really locovore, with a host of brews from microbreweries up and down the coast. Bit of a shame not to have their east coast brethren up there, though--Six Point and Dogfish Head to name but a few.

I might point out they are selectively locovore--one of the specials was a soft-shell crab dish.

I of course ordered the burger, plus a beet salad and a famous appetizer composed of smoked eel, a poached egg, dill and some other stuff.
I'm a bit hazy on the burger. You're not allowed to change it's composition. I believe it actually has two kinds of cheeses--blue and Gruyere--plus an onion compote that reminded me of brisket in texture.
LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold compares FO to New York's the Spotted Pig, and I could see where he gets that. The thing is, if you can squeeze into Spotted Pig, the burger there is really amazing. This one, I don't know...I feel like I'm being finicky lately, but it struck me as a bit cloying. The food hit a lot of rich/sweet notes, so maybe that's why I wasn't so jazzed about it. The ever divisive shoestring fries seemed to get better with time.

So, Father's place to go after a long day slinging screenplays at the Sony lot, if you're a New Yorker, maybe not so much. Perhaps if you're able to get over your East Coast microbrew enthusiams and expand your horizons, and maybe aren't too picky about the food.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Review Thursday: Oceans

In a freak coincidence, the past week has seen me floating on my back, toes pointed toward the sky, in *two* count 'em two oceans.

First: the Atlantic. Covering approximately 22% of Earth's surface, the Atlantic Ocean is second only to the Pacific Ocean in size.

Cultural significance: Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby, Hart Crane, The Pearl, The Old Man and the Sea, Jaws

Pro: always freezing cold, which is nice on the hottest, muggiest days of August.

Cons: Scary. When we went swimming on Fire Island, the swells were four feet and breaking close to the short. Strong cross-current = large chance of panic and drowning.

Second: the Pacific. Above, me at Santa Monica beach.

Cultural significance: Baywatch, Hawaii 5-O, Gauguin, Life of Pi.

Pros: bathwater warm, easy, rolling waves, lack of sharks (at least in L.A.)

Cons: too many people, slimy seaweed.

An East Coast sunset

The winner was easy--I had so much fun in the Pacific. Realizing you're not to old to body surf? Priceless.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A bite of the Big Artichoke (or whatever Los Angeles is calling itself these days)

Okay, first things first...

After I satisfied my long-standing double-double fixation, I went to the Culver City Farmer's market, where there are flan stands and cops on Segeways:
The catch of the Pacific:

The largest peaches I've seen in a while:

Move over Treats Truck, L.A. has a cheese truck!

Strawberries on steroids, the kind that comes from the California sun: Boozing it up at the Trader Joe's:

You know how everywhere frozen yogurt is the new obsession in NYC? Well, the Angelenos started it, and here's the offerings from some new Pinkberry knockoff chain. It's pink grapefruit. I like.
All that foodie adventuring made me hungry. So I went home with my bag of goodies and considered the potato.
Look at me! I'm a vegan now!
Well, at least until tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No cliches were harmed in the making of this video

Let's not lie...air travel is the place where it's totally cool to watch eight hours of Kathy Griffin. On my first Virgin American flight, I got drunk on chardonnay and played video DJ and watched the following. Not having had MTV for quite a while, I was unsure about what the kids were into these days. Herewith, a sampling of my amateur observations.

Lupe Fiasco "Superstar"--In spite of myself I love this song, right down to the "Chris Martin called, he wants his act back" stylings of whoever it is does the chorus. Matthew Santos? Yeah, time for a new shtick, your whispery falsetto warbling isn't fooling anyone.

When I heard this song, judging from the verse where Lupe raps:

"So just take me home where the mood is mellow
And the roses are grown
M&M's are yellow
And the light bulbs around my mirror don't flicker
Everybody gets a nice autograph picture
One for you and one for your sister
Who had to work tonight but is an avid listener
Every song's a favorite song
And mics don't feed back
All the reviewers say you need to go and see that."

I pictured him as a chilled out, self-deprecating dude. And when you've written a song about wish fulfillment, you've got to cut against expectations. You have to, right?

I can't imagine was fool they hired to conceptualize this video. It bummed me out because I bet there was a million cool ways to do it. It could have been the hip-hop Hard Day's Night. You could have cast it with playacting kids like Bugsy Malone.

Instead, you get a dry ice filled cheesefest. Pyrotechnics spark out from his fingertips. Hoochie mamas coming out of the limos. Flashbulbs pop along the red carpet. What cliches did they not employ in the making of this video?

My grade: F

Yael Naim, "New Soul"--Okay, so Apple made you famous with your cute little ditty. To start, this video seems promising, with Yael moving into an apartment, no lip synching. But then she puts up some woodsy wallpaper, and then Yael is tickling the ivories, she's singing now, and the video inexplicably cuts to some dude in a field with a horn. She puts up pictures of all of her bandmates and then does crude drawings over all of them. Suddenly, there's a porthole in her apartment, she knocks down the walls and she's on some kind of hippie barge. The bandmates, on handpainted inner tube, will be right there. She dumps the goldfish in the river. Hey, that goldfish will never survive...but it doesn't matter, the hippies are dancing. You don't have to pay rent when you live on a barge. Score!

My grade: C-, sorry, cutie.

Fiest, "I Feel It All" (Embedding is disabled, but you can see it here.)

Fiest, I love Fiest. Sure, she's a chart-topping pop chanteuse, but she's not exactly a young thang, she's striking without being perfect looking (she wears a pair of jeans and an old striped sweater in the video). She has Peaches and Canadian music scene bona fides. She makes great videos that don't seem to have been dreamed up in an ad agency.

All the creative choices are kind of weird and non-commercial. I mean, are those red isotoner gloves meant to pick up the lipstick red of the oil drums? It may have been the Chardonnay talking, but I was just sitting back and thinking, this is the first time I've really felt something while working my way the queue.

I've got to hand it to Fiest. You get the sense that despite how annoyingly catchy her songs are, there's still something original about her, that she's really doing something that she cares about and that comes out in everything she does.

Love the crazy exuberant dancing, the sheer romanticism. I'll be the one to break my heart, indeed.

Grade: A+

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Stereotypes about Los Angeles I have absorbed from the pop culture

On the eve of a transcontinental jaunt, these notes to self:
The streets are empty and filled with whimsy. Paul Thomas Anderson made me think this, Punch Drunk Love. I remember thinking, this is the way Southern California feels: flimsy, spacious, bruisey pastels. A little like a forgotten backlot.
They have a vastly superior food scene. Many things have cause me to think this. Going for Okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancakes) with a friend and her father when I was a child. My sister's hole in the wall vegetarian Indian place in a strip mall near her house. Reading Chowhound posts about Taco Trucks. Jonathan Gold's expeditions. Diddy Reese.

If accepting J.C. as my personal savior would bring an In 'n' Out to NYC, sign me up. People, come on. If you'd tried it, you'd know.
Despite NY's superior literary heritage, Angelenos have Miranda July. How does she do what she does without being totally annoying? I don't know. Why can't I be more like her? The jury's still out.
The music scene rules. Again, this started in childhood, Sean and I driving to the Roxy in his Ford Escort, going to see Lush or the Pixies at the Hollywood Palladium. Now I listen to Morning Becomes Eclectic every chance I get. In New York, seeing a show invariably a hassle; in L.A., enchanting singer-songwriters grow on palm trees. They work at Book Soup.

These ideas I have are crazy. I am a native Southern Californian, and I should know better.

Still...I want my trip to be weird, illuminating, delicious. Look for me at sporting a copy of No One Belongs Here More Than You at Father's Office.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Picture Monday: tunneling

IMG_1097, originally uploaded by Brooklyn Bridge.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

OMG! Crack for wordsmiths: Wordle

Dudes, check it out...cut and paste chunks of your blog, you novel, your screenplay into, and check it out, you get a very artistic tag cloud. Wowowowowow. Genius.

This one is apparently from a german edition of that Ben Kunkel book:

...words, originally uploaded by Sebastian.r.

Try it now at!