Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I Just don't know

1. Squash.
I have three of the prettiest butternut squash y'ever saw in your life. I'm not taking a picture because I'm lazy. I don't know what to do with them. IF YOU SAY a) soup or b) roast it, I'll be like, blah blah blah. I am thinking of being really really really ambitious and making ravioli. Don't quote me. I've been whipping up some serious brown butter sage sauce using the righteous sage from the garden and let me tell you ... butternut rav with some brown butter sage sauce with a dash of nutmeg will make you squeal.

I am pondering this because I am ready to move and I'm saying bye bye to the time I spend attending to aphids. I want to live somewhere really stylin'.

I am also bringing back adjectives from the '80s. I realize I'm a little late and we're currently revitalizing the '90s, but I do that via music, so permit me my lexical luxury. This brings us to quagmire

2. Where the hell should I live? I'm in LOVE with my city as y'all know. What you don't know is that I'm also in love with a man, to a degree, but he lives in Lima. I love L.A. more. I will not compromise. Therefore, logically (for I am more logical than you know - to some of you I seem emotional and I am that too), I must live in a home that I love, for I am more of a homebody than you know and I adore decor and I want to show off the furniture I commissioned in Mexico in 2003. Thus I am deciding:
a. Loft. Downtown, thick of it. Modern empty palette. Rooftop pool. PARKING.
b. Hancock Park/Fairfax/Larchmont. Clean yuppie walkable trees yuppie did I mention yuppie? Homey architecture.
c. Los Feliz. Walkable, trees, young, "hip."
d. Silverlake Reservoir area. Yuppie, not so walkable, hilly. Beautiful.
e. Koreatown BUT a historic building with a breathtaking loft and a view and dark wood and exposed brick and a residential area that is safe(r) and delicious, not gritty K-town. Been grit, done grit.
f. The absolute heart of Culver City.
g. Hollywood BUT SEE e.
h. Hypermodern amenities.

Times have changed. I am a grownup. I need parking. I have Mia now, my baby. I work on the west side of town. I need a dishwasher, more space. More light. No dog shit when I step outside. Fewer, far far fewer, barking dogs (mine don't bark, they're obedient, disciplined, loving, attended to). Peace, y'all. I'm out of Hi-Fi/Echo Park. Paid my dues.

By the time I buy, I have a feeling the Talking Heads will apply: "I've lived in a brownstone ... I've lived in a ghetto ... I've lived all over this town!"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Never get too close to the Angel

At Velvet Margarita, midday ...
I met a man we'll call Adrian. We'll call him that because it's his name. Adrian is a bartender at Velvet Margarita, which "Big Daddy" owns, along with partner Vince Vaughn, who is nice and rowdy.
You see, I'm lucky. I'm well-connected. It's because I don't try too hard. I don't need anything from Mr. Vaughn nor from Big Daddy, except an occasional shrimp fajita and/or a bloody mary.
I'm lucky in general, you know. As I've discussed time and again on this blog, Our City of Angels (El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porcinuncula), either spits you out or embraces you in her wings of silver and gold.
Adrian and I were talking about this under the extreme kitsch of the VM. Adrian is from Austin, Tejas, a city that tries too hard anyway. He worked his way up, you know, up up up. He said he didn't know how he had been in Hollywood proper since 1991, and I see why. It's a freaking zoo, and the VM is like right off Hollywood Boulevard and Cahuenga, tourons stumbling by.
I mentioned that the Angel must love him and he said that if not love, she tolerated him. But that, he said, is because he kept his distance.
I've all but made love to the Angel and I hope she doesn't tire of me ... I believe in forever still, but then again, I don't hold her down.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Like a Virgin: Things I Haven't Done Since I've Lived in El Lay

Friends say that I've done L.A. up, having lived here for four years. That's a product of having gotten lost a lot, as well as having lots of cool, adventurous friends. I don't necessarily want to do all of the following; they're just examples of facets of the city I've yet to experience.

1. Biked the Los Angeles River

2. Visited MOCA 

3. Shopped at the Pasadena Rose Bowl Flea Market

4. Seen the Rose Bowl floats, for that matter

5. Been to Disneyland (since I was 5 - not that I like Disneyland necessarily, but ...)

6. Seen TB's friend perform on the organ at the Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral downtown

7. Seen a taping of "Jeopardy"

8. Eaten at about 1,000 restaurants I want to try

9. Shopped on Rodeo Drive

10. Seen the tide pools in Malibu

11. Felt a biggish earthquake

12. Had a negative dangerous experience ...

I'm slipping into a territory I'd rather avoid: the yucky side of the city. As such, I'll stop, but the point of this entry is to remind myself and you that my adopted city is so jewel-laden that in a lifetime, I'll never be bored (unless I live forever because I choose to be cryogenically frozen, which I could do here too).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Home is Where the Hearth Is


Lima's culinary scene is just booming along, and if I just reduced the amount of money I spend going out here in Los Angeles, I could fly back and forth more often and eat at events such as these:

(Basically Soren West is coming to a cooking event in Lima. It benefits Valle Sagrado farmers whose land the flood devastated, and goddess knows I would have been there in my alternative life.
"Mom! All my friends are going! Why can't I?"
"Because you have to teach.")

I'm dying a little bit for ceviche - not Mexican ceviche, but real, Peruvian ceviche. That's ok - I can make it.

But I want my lúcuma yogurt and I want to eat it with my friends.

Peruvian ceviche with a sweet tuber, yuca, which tastes like a cold sweet potato. 

Drinkable lúcuma yogurt. 
Why are we so norteamericanos slow to catch on to drinkable yogurt? 
I pay a pretty penny to keep drinkable yogurt in my US fridge, but it's in every Peruvian (Latin American, I think) household, all the time.

Nobu Matsuhisa, of the sushi empire, began his career in Lima upon leaving his native Japan. 
Among many other things, he popularized the eating of eel in this hemisphere. 
He would buy it at the Peruvian fish markets, and the fishermen would ask what he was doing with the taboo fish. 
He responded that he was feeding it to his dog. 
Little did they know ... 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

An Edible Eden

I should do garden work right now, I should. These monster weeds - I can't remember their name - which actually bloom a pretty violet, but which take over the world, need to go. I used to love the scent of natural jasmine, but my landlady appears to be using ours as protection against burglars or something. It's devouring our front gate to the point that you can't enter unless you duck down Limbo style. But right now I'm doing something else food-related, not just blogging. I'm using the crops that my nutritious dirt, together with water, has provided me.

I've broken out my food dehydrator. YES! Right now, I'm drying apricots (not from my garden), and apples, also not from my garden. They're local, though, so I don't feel too badly. I'm going to dip half of the apricots in Mexican chocolate.

The back yard now yields an abundance of peaches - too many to eat before the gross worms attack. I'm not a real big fan of pesticides, so the peaches are catch-as-catch-can. As soon as I can pluck a good one or two, I'll dry them too.

TB turned me on to a nearby restaurant called Forage (cute) that uses local gardeners' excess produce in organic, but not just vegetarian, dishes. They also provide classes, and, for a select few, mini grants to support home-based LA County microgardening endeavors. SO COOL! Here's the link:

I'd also like to refer you to this article; I found it rather empowering:

Another wonderful thing about Los Angeles and food growing is the guerrilla food movement, whereupon people illegally plant edibles on vacant public lands. If you read my penultimate blog entry, you'll know that I really like secret stuff that feels right, not wrong. Somehow planting food crops on vacant lots feels right. It feeds homeless people. It has historicity. No one is using the land. I don't want to go to jail so you won't catch me participating (note, "catch"), but here's a cool link to an old story on the topic:

Maybe I live in a healthy version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. If only I had an Oompa Loompa ... Well, the gardener's coming soon. I just hope he doesn't squash the squash again. He annihilated my butternut last time. But he's absolutely better than an Oompa Loompa. He's taught me soooo much. Sure could use some help with the kudzu-esqu purple flower thing.

Monday, May 31, 2010


People often ask me for recommendations to restaurants, bars, and hiking trails. I can usually provide some excellent matches to your requests. To render it succinct for both of us, check out my Yelp site.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Secret LaLaLand

Our City of (Fallen) Angels holds infinite secrets, even for natives, especially for naives such as myself.

Last night I was out with my (native Angeleno, mind you) friend S., who has some secrets of his own (a hankering for bacon-wrapped hotdogs, which, Jewish as he is, he honors after only two drinks); I devirginized him to old-school photo booths at the one in the Shortstop; and others ...

L.A. is a hush-hush Mecca.

Our night last night was marked by young people. But these young people were in the know, you know? At the Shortstop, we played pool with bi-curious D., a beautiful Black man. Turns out he was 22. Almost 23, he said. S. almost told D. about the party he had recently attended with his non-girlfriend girlfriend, where tawdry things had happened, tawdry things I can't handle anymore, at least not without a partner I trust very, very deeply. Maybe that was the first "secret L.A." story that inspired me to blog this blog today.

After hitting up our respective bad-for-you food stands, which a secret undocumented Guatemalan husband and wife own, we meandered to the Gold Room for their unadvertised $4 tequila shot and beer deal. We toasted Zen (tequila with a beer back was his poison of choice - well, one of them), and sat down next to a young cute couple on a first date.

Immediately we adopted a secret set of personas. We squished together as if we were a non-couple couple, and the girl leaned over and asked us why we weren't engaged. I told her it was because I was a lesbian and S. told her ... wait, what did he say? Something to the effect of having just come out of an abusive relationship. I love pretending to be someone else. It was obvious that her date was uncomfortable, but he was soooo cute, that I comforted him, desquished from S., and began to whisper secretly to him. S. pretended to be jealous of this, and he countered by asking the girl, quite loudly, if she knew of any secret sex clubs in the area.

She didn't flinch. I had her pegged for a prude, admittedly because of her hair, which S. said he didn't judge people by. I do - head hair AND facial hair, but that's another blog. S. began to ask further tawdry, even dirty, questions, which flustered the boy and gave me an additional "in." Too bad I don't go for younger men. Yet another blog.

Girl surprised the crap out of me when she said she didn't know about secret sex clubs - which I wouldn't attend anyway, trust me - but mentioned the nearby secret "Alvarado House," which opens after the bars close, serves alcohol, and generally hosts a large number of people who want to dance in a run-down mansion. I know where it is, and I think she exaggerated its prowess. I googled it just now and only found one possibly relevant web site, so I think I'm safe in outing this L.A. secret scene without getting it shut down.

L.A. has many secret gems like the Alvarado House - some formal-ish, some so covert that I can't write about them at all. L.A. resembles Amsterdam in many ways, because if you have a prescription, you can legally partake in secret underground hash parties. We have illicit warehouse parties unlike the ones I've visited in most other cities. At the secret R Bar, you have to know a secret password to get in. It seems contrived, but I think it's kind of fun. They have no sign in front, and seeing the restored copper ceiling and interior space, with secret booths where you can make out, is worth the trouble. I belong to a group called the Ghetto Gourmet - we host secret dinner parties in secret locations where, if the Health Department found us, we'd get big ol' fines. The food is usually worth it, as is the tingle of community sneakiness.

I think that's what it's about - harmless community sneakiness. To me, participating in all the examples I provided above feel sexy - though not literally. Again, I veer away from attending the sorts of secret venues S. was in the mood to attend last night. But I always enjoyed playing Hide and Seek as a child, and this feels like the $5 cover version for adults. Maybe I'll host a secret Hide and Seek party sometime soon.

Ultimately it feels like the charm of L.A. will never wear off, and even though we're professionals now, we can be who we want, wear costumes, and no one cares, or knows.