Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What I"m Reading

It's been a while since I've picked up any books to read. So I went to my bookshelf and dusted off this book by Ruth Reichl, the former Editor in Chief of Gourmet magazine, (sadly no longer published - this December was it's last issue). I was given this signed copy quite a while ago by a friend. I couldn't remember why I had never read it. As I got into it, I remembered. Although it gives a great story on how she became a restaurant critic for New West (California) magazine, the LA Times and NY Times, it is a memoir, and you do get irritated with some of the personal choices she makes (I actually yelled at my book, NO DON'T DO THAT!). What I did learn was some of the history of restaurants in my own neck of the woods that ironically I have yet to dine at, such as Michael's and Chinois on Main. I enjoyed learning about the beginning's of what we now call California Cuisine. There are some great stories about Alice Waters, Mark Peel and Wolfgang Puck.

I remembered quite a few years ago when I was working at an advertising agency I met Ruth. She came in to talk about Gourmet magazine. She ordered food from Campanile and inspired me with her words about food and travel. I was hooked. When I got to sit next to her at lunch I quizzed her about how she managed to go to all those restaurants in NY and eat all that food. She told me she took lots of friends and ziplock baggies. It was a the beginning's of my love for food and travel. Every year Gourmet put out an issue on a city somewhere in the world. When the Paris issue came out I even took with me to the city of lights. I was able to navigate the plethora of cafes and restaurant's thru Gourmet's point of view. Sadly the economy and Conde Nast have brought this great magazine to an end.

So long Gourmet, but we can't wait for the next journey of Ms. Reichl, it's sure to be interesting.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookie

I know, don't hate me that I've spent so much time away. Work has kept me busy beyond belief.
Since I spend so much time at the agency believe it or not my inspiration for these delish baked goods came from a photograph.

As I walked passed the Art Buyer's desk (which always has these great promotional pieces from photographers, illustrators, and designers) I saw a photo of a cookie that looked so real I immediately grabbed it. Immediately my guilt set in and I put it back, but I came back to her desk to tell her that photo of the cookie looked so good I wanted to eat it. Then she told me it had the cookie recipe on the back.

And can you believe it was raining in L.A., a miracle. So I made the vow that day in front of everyone that I was going to go home and bake those cookies. I love to bake when it's cold and rainy outside. I took a photocopy of the photograph and recipe and went home to the task at hand. I did do a little research as the recipe was from a Bon Appetit in 1997 but the recipe didn't match the photograph which had a chocolate kiss in the middle. I saw quite a few comments about the cookies and decided to make some adjustments to the recipe. I doubled the cinnamon and black pepper and then added in cayenne pepper. These cookies tasted spicy when you ate into them but left a nice warm aftertaste. A fun alternative for the basic chocolate chip cookie.

My Recipe:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (original had only 1 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (original had 1/8 tsp)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (original didn't have cayenne pepper)
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips

Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then vanilla. Sift next 6 ingredients over butter mixture; beat just until blended. Mix in chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake cookies until golden brown but still soft to touch, about 8 minutes. Pull backing sheet out and stick one unwrapped chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie and then put back in the oven for approximately 4 minutes. Let stand on sheets 3 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.

Store in air tight container.

So far they have stayed fresh and soft for about a week. Oh and did my photograph match the photographers? No it didn't, bummer deal. The Art Buyer and I conclude that the cookies on his promo piece were raw cookie dough. We'll find out for sure once we ask the original photographer as I know my image pales in comparison to his.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

End of Summer Haiku

Summer has ended
The last few days at the beach

Chill is in the air
With the rain outside
It is definitely Fall

Time to start baking

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

California Living

So a dear boss and friend hosted a little party recently at his house.

He is kind, tells great stories and the best host ever.
The whole team met for cocktails and each of us had to bring pieces of the dinner and appetizers. We drank "champers" (for Sam) and "Cosmos," that make you see double (thanks John). For dinner Efren blew us away with his pork loin. He marinated it in a secret sauce (you can get it from Costco) I call this pork loin 7,6,5. It means 7 Minutes on the grill on one side, 6 on the other, 5 resting. Cut and serve with a peach or mango chutney. Delish. Roasted garlic potatoes and greek feta in tomatoes, parsley and basil with a light vinegrette.

Oh and his house, awesome, so beautiful, I'd never leave home if I lived here. If you need anyone to house sit, I'm available, I promise to keep it clean and the pillows fluffed.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cocktail Party

So C wanted to host a party, specifically a cocktail party. She wanted it to be low maintenance so she hired a caterer. Best idea ever. We mixed our own cocktails, pretty strong too, and got a chocolate fountain for dessert (messing but yummy). Rented tables, printed invites and voila. Party was fun and eclectic, nice mix of friends. Things we learned...1. move the bar to another area so you have two conversation areas. 2. hire someone to do the dessert, yes I had chocolate on my dress when I got home. 3. Definitely hire a maid, thanks J for lending your house. Thanks C for taking care of all the big things, it was your party and you did a great job.
Best story of the night was from our dear friend Spencer. SB invited him and C told him "no jeans, where a tuxedo." So Spencer doesn't look at the invite and gets dropprf off by a cab to my tiny little apartment dressed in a tuxedo with a bottle of champagne. Oh and of course we're not there, we're at J's house. So he tries calling us and here's how the conversation goes:

SB says "dude, where are you?"
Spencer, "dude I'm at your house, isn't this where the party is?"
SB, "no dude it's at J's house."
Spencer, "oh"

So he walks 3 blocks home, past the day/dusk workers looking for a job. All the while yelling out to Spencer, "hey senior bond," while is walking down the street at dusk in a tuxedo with a bottle of champagne.

So he finally shows up at J's house, in a Tuxedo. Awesome, I don't think C meant for him to really where it but he was bold enough to make it happen. Loved it, and it made for a great story. Thanks Spence.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

AC Milan vs. LA Galaxy

Seriously the very next day after my posh afternoon at the Peninsula hotel we took off for Carson, CA for the AC Milan vs. LA Galaxy soccer or football (for my one British Reader) match. It was one of those hot evenings and SB was none to happy about driving the "parking lot" slash 405 on the evening before we needed to study hard. But I really wanted to see this game, I really wanted to see the players from AC Milan; Inziagi, Ronaldino, Seedorf, Massimo, to name a few. Plus we all knew it was going to be Beckham's first home game since his loan to AC Milan.

The night started off great, good parking (always a plus in L.A.) but really $20 bucks, so ridiculous. When we walk in we all got free baseball caps highlighting the match (why do they always give away baseball hats at non hat wearing sports?)

After that it went south, heres why, we have general admission tickets, I never like that term general admission and now I know why. So the attendant points out the area where we are allowed to sit and since we're early I'm all over getting as close as possible. Well, unfortunately, we were one row off of the general admission area and didn't find this out till during the National Anthem and by this time there were so many people and virtually no empty seats. Meanwhile SB went to get another beer and left me a C to fend for ourselves. C won't move since the guy next to her is razing her about not standing up for the Anthem and I'm yelling at her that we need to move, so I leave her, run up the stairs and seriously start climbing over people to find a seat all the while you hear in the background, "
and the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air," (fireworks are literally going off). SB comes back during this mayhem and sees me climbing over people and then running down rows to find a good seat. Once settled we're all rattled, sweating and perturb. Then 4 people come in and squeeze into a 2 space area. Finally the game starts phweeewww, right? NOT.

The 4 people in the 2 seater area start arguing with the people in front that Ronaldino has had too much pasta while playing in Italy. So they start getting mad that these people are slamming one of the worlds best players and yelling back at them , "we know him." I'm thinking, yeah right, you don't know him or why would you be sitting here with us?

Then Beckham comes out and as soon as he touches the ball everyone starts booing him. Gotta love L.A. fans. Everyone is mad about the recently published book that fellow teammate Landon Donovan aired his dirty laundry to the press. Boo him not Beckham, really people Landon went and played for Bayern Munchen during the off season too. He just came back earlier, because he doesn't need to play in Europe to get a place on his National Team. It was a tough night. Beckham got fined that night for calling out a fan who was yelling at him from the stands, Beckham had had it by that time. Now it's been over a month since that game and finally the fans have stopped booing. Such a fickle city to live in. Oh yeah poor Miss LA Galaxy herself gets stuck with the masses in general admission too. WHAT IS WITH THAT! I'm forking out more money next time and enjoying the game with an assigned seat.
Oh yeah the arguers....well they made nice and supposedly went out to the parking lot to smoke a joint. Whatever...

Score was tied 2-2. Not bad against one of the best teams in Europe.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

High Tea at Peninsula Beverly Hills

So a couple of weeks ago my friends and I took our friend Ashlee to the Peninsula Hotel for High Tea. Ashlee just got married and we wanted to do something nice for her.
And hands down the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills has the best High Tea in California.
Here are the ladies who lunch, all happy to be together, and enjoying ourselves to a civilized afternoon. Champagne doesn't hurt either. Don't we look like a Benetton ad?

My only complaint for the afternoon is we didn't get to sit in the "Living Room" which is a lovely room, with big comfy shabby chic sofa's and harp playing. We did have our tea outside on the patio which was very pleasant and did allow us to talk a little louder than we would usually.

We started off with strawberries and the creamiest clotted cream, it was thick and buttery, perfect for topping off strawberries.

The sandwichs and desserts were yummy, they even let us have a few extra salmon ones and let us choose what we wanted more of the tier for the vegetarians among us.

The next picture of scones leads me to tell a story of a high tea my friend Miche and I went to at the Four Seasons in Carlsbad California many moons ago. This Four Seasons is a beautiful location and we had a whole weekend to indulge. My friend Miche and I had been to many high teas before so we knew what to expect. However, her mother had never been to a tea.
And so we sat down and ordered our tea and prepared ourselves for tasty treats. This was also great conversation day. When the tier of goodies arrived the hostess described what was in each dessert and sandwhich and ended with the scones. Here's how that went:

She said, "I would start with the scones."

Miche and I said, "oh great." As we reach for a scone with our hands....

She says, "Oooohh we're touching, we're touching" and proceeds to pull out silver tongs and gently clutch a scone and place it ever so delicately on a piece of English China.

Miche's mom is mortified. Miche and I nearly fell off the couch dieing laughing. Really who does this. Snobbery can be so hilarious sometimes.

Back to our tea. Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills is a must visit tea if your into that kind of thing. It's nice to get dressed up and take a break from the monotony. On our way out of the hotel lobby we saw a line of really nice cars, including a couple of Ferrari's. We got a kick out of a guy unsuccessfully trying to start his engine, embarrassing to say the least, but he and his trophy lady finally got it right just about the same time my keyed Ford Explorer pulled up. Even us "beer" girls can have "champagne" taste.

Peninsula Beverly Hills
9882 S. Little Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Studying for 2 weeks

I'm in a school studying for 2 weeks. I have images from the Peninsula Hotel and a rowdy night at the Home Depot Center. Yes I can be sophisticated and sporty. Hey I'm two of the spice girls "Posh" and "Sporty" spice. Which brings me to David Beckham, yes he got booed Sunday night and no I will never buy a General Admission ticket ever again. I know you can't wait to hear it all. Hopefully I can get something up over the weekend when I have a little break.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fourteen Years and Osteria Mozza

So it's another Anniversary celebration. Only this time my wedding anniversary. Yes it's been 14 years, yes we were pups when we got married. This past year has been particularly tough for us. The times we live in, the economic issues, just life in general have made it hard. But we are best friends and we make it work with lots of hard WORK and some serious praying.

So here's how our week started off. Apparently I was a little bit grouchy the other day about SB's non-enthusiasm regarding dinner at Osteria Mozza. Seriously, he's a foody, you'd think he'd love this. But he's also practical and not the romantic, planning type. But FOURTEEN years deserves a nice dinner at the very least. So when I got home Wednesday afternoon, the above flowers were waiting for me. With this note:
I asked him "why the Tinman sign off?"
He said: "I wanted you to know that I have a heart."

And he does, the best man ever. He makes me laugh just about everyday, cooks just about every night and cleans (does the dish's, our laundry and scrubs the shower) all while working hard in several jobs with multiple responsibilites. (And yes I do work a 40 hour work week and put in 70 hours of monthly volunteer time, not a lazy wife, we're just a busy couple). He is my best friend and I appreciate him more than words can say. Now enough of the mush...let's get to the eating part.
Osteria Mozza

We did make it to Osteria Mozza. And it was well worth the wait. As it was a last minute reservation it was either 5:30 or 9:30 on a Wednesday night. We choose the old folks hour of 5:30 which was perfect, except the L.A. traffic, which is never ideal.

It took us a long time to figure out what we wanted to order, the menu is daunting. I asked what are Osteria's specialities. We pretty much ordered them all.

Grilled Octopus

The staff recommended the Grilled Octopus with potatoes, celery & lemon. I'm not a big tentacle person, but SB wanted this. And it was perfectly grilled with a lemony flavor. Unexpectedly delightful to the my untrained palate.
Burrata_asparagus_bacon_brownbutter_sicilian almonds
Burrata with grilled asparagus, brown butter, guanciale & Sicilian almonds. Who doesn't like bacon and brown butter. YUmmmmm.
Orecchiette with sausage & Swiss chard

I ordered Orecchiette with sausage & swiss chard. This was rich and the bread crumbs added a perfect crunchy texture. I took my time eating this and drinking the red wine which I order by the glass and you get a 1/2 carafe which really amounts to a glass and 1/2.


SB orderd Pan Roasted Halibut con pepe verde, which tasted like it was basted with wine and lots of capers.

The finale was the Bombolini which was fresh made donuts rolled in sugar served with mountain huckleberry compote and vanilla gelato. The little candle was for our anniverary. Props to "Open Table" for actually sending the note to the Maitre'd that we were celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary.

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chocolate Kiss Cookies

For our outing at the Hollywood Bowl I knew I had to bake something. So of course I pick one of the hottest days of the summer to bake in a downstairs apartment with no air condition. Smart, right, not so much. Worth it, definitely.

I pulled a recipe from a much coveted down home cookbook given by a long-time friend who I haven't seen in over a decade. It's the much used Dow City - Arion Quasquicentennial Cookbook 1869-1994. Yes that's correct I said "Quasquicentennial" which means the 125th anniversary of this small town in Iowa. All the towns people contributed recipe's for this book. My friend walked me through whose to follow and whose to avoid. I watched her make many of the recipe's myself so I knew this one was a winner.

Chocolate Star Cookies (I use Chocolate Kisses)
1 c. Butter
1 c. Peanut Butter (for this recipe I used creamy Skippy's)
1 c. Sugar
1 c. Brown Sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs, beaten
4 T. milk
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Additional granulated sugar
1 pkg of chocolate star or kisses)

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar; add eggs, milk and vniall. Sift together dry ingredients, except additional sugar and candies; add to butter mixture. Shape into balls; roll in sugar and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and press and chocolate star or kiss on each cookie until the cookie cracks around the edge. Return to oven for 5 minutes. (Recipe contributed by Annie and Jana Sitzmann)
I did have a special request to bake cookies with chocolate and oatmeal. So I pulled out the big ole Quaker Oats round canister and looked around for a recipe. There it is right under the lid only its for oatmeal raisin cookies. I substituted the raisins for for semi-sweet chocolate and voila, these were a hit. Deb traded her peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies for oatmeal chocolate chip. Jessica wouldn't trade. I still have some girls, I'll bring them by.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ray LaMontagne, Jenny Lewis, Blizten Trapper @ Hollywood Bowl


Summer time in L.A. is always fantastic everyone must take advantage of the extra sunlight and great things to do during these long days. On Sunday night we went to the Hollywood Bowl.
I've been coming here since I was a little girl and this is the first time I was able to sit in a box seat with the generosity of a dear person. Valet parking is the way to go to the bowl, I'm so used to hiking up the hill I nearly wore my sneakers (trainers for my one British reader). This was the easiest Hollywood Bowl trip. We got in a fit of giggles the entire night that didn't end even on the drive home. We even had time to do a little nail polish touch up, really who does this....apparently we do. My friend brought her Holga camera and went testing away at all the blue, red and yellow flash settings. Check out her shots here.
We had an amazing time, candlelit dinner, pear cider and sangria, good food and hip music. This hot KCRW summer night was memorable. Blizten Trappen started the evening off at a tough time while we're still eating, but the had a folksy blues to their sound. Jenny Lewis followed them up with her contagious energy and uber talent on multiple instruments. Her back-up rocked it out as well. I love this shot of her hair flying around while she jumped on to her second instrument of the night. This L.A. girl had that glow in her eyes that said, "look at me I'm playing the Hollywood Bowl." Her last song "Sing a song for them" was gorgeous.Ray LaMontagne was the headliner. He is a true introvert with an amazing haunting voice. He played the acoustic guitar with the Hollywood Bowl orchestra. His lyrics and soulful voice had all the women in the bowl howling.

On our way out we ended up being parked right behind the bowl. They had the doors open pulling all the instruments off the stage. We ran took a picture and jump into our nice ride. Now everyone thinks we're somebody and well we are, just not the flashy, no choney, bliztd celebs of the day. In fact it was four women have a good evening together laughing all the way home.

Make the bowl a destination this summer if you can, even the bus ride is a blast if you go that route. But can't deny the luxury of a box seat and a little valet parking.

Some images courtesy of Deborah Justine, camera stealer and Holga photographer.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Happy 2nd Anniversary

It's been 2 years since I started this blog. I love posting and wish it was my full-time job. It gives me a chance to talk about the places I go for entertainment, food and life in general. It has also given me a creative outlet to post some of the many pictures I take. I know there are only a few loyal readers and I appreciate all your comments and posts. Keep em coming.
So this anniversary I took the opportunity to do something in L.A. that I've wanted to do for a very long time. I went to see a movie at the Hollywood Cemetery. I know, sounds odd, it is, but it was honestly the best thing I've ever done in L.A. This past Saturday they played the movie "East of Eden," with James Dean. Really the movie is just bonus. I had so much fun up till the movie I would have been happy even if they hadn't shown it.
Here's how it works. You line up in front of the gates before they open up at 7:30. This isn't your usual line. It's on the grass area in front of the cemetery. Only things is you plop down on the grass and break out your lawn chair or blanket, uncork (or unscrew) your bottle of wine and get to sippin. If only you could do this waiting in line for a ride at Disneyland. You Pay $10 to see the movie, walk on through the cemetary, not on the graves, on a road. Then plop yourself either in the middle, blankets only, or on the sides, blankets and low lawn chairs. We had chairs so we took to the right side. This is where the low tables, candles and the eating get started. These guys came prepare, at night the table was lit with candlelites. We took a quick run to my favorite Italian deli, Bay Cities in Santa Monica. My Turkey sandwhich with all the fixings was delish, as usual.

A DJ spins music till it get's nice a dark.

This evening we had a great DJ spinning groovy tunes. As it get's darker they start projecting old movie posters on the mausoleum wall. At about 8:50PM it was tribute to Farrah Fawcett, old classic movies. At 8:55PM the DJ spun a tribute to the King of Pop. Everyone got up and started dancing in the dark. Favorite quote of the evening, "Danieeellll, for god sakes get up it's the King of Pop." (That's Daniel below, never met, but thought it was funny)Movie starts at 9PM, James Dean's first movie and you see him ooze with talent. Your under the stars, those that you can see, we counted about 2 and the moon was glowed behind us. It gets damp on the grass at night so make sure you bring lots of layers. Oh and just so you know you aren't sitting on anyone's grave, your purely on grass and dirt. Bathrooms are porta potties...go early, if you know what I mean. Movie is over at 11PM and you pack up and walk out. My tip is park on the street, the poor folks who paid $5 to park in the cemetery had a long wait to get out as all us pedestrians wound our way through the walkways.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monice Blvd at Gower


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