Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I've been doing a lot of traveling in the past couple months - for work, for pleasure - so I thought I'd do a mini-review of each city. Let the fun begin!

San Francisco - I drove up from LA, and Oli flew down from Canada and we met up with some of our best friends. I love SF, it just never gets old. I don't know if I could live there again, too cold. When it's sunny, it should be warm, right? But there's always something to do and lots beer to drink. Yum.

Washington DC - Oli & I traveled here for a wedding that never happened. It was my first time and despite being guilted into seeing Oli's cousin's high school play, it was a pretty good time. I love being able to walk or take trains everywhere. I don't like that we couldn't find any of the "hip" parts of the city. We found out later, that there are no hip parts of DC. All the women, young and old wear pearls. What's up with that?

Chicago - My kind of town, Chicago is. Chicago is great, although every time I've been, I haven't left the Michigan Avenue area, which is just fine by me, there are plenty of shops and places to eat. The bars are all packed by 5:30 (PM), and Midwesterners are truly the nicest people in the world. Two thumbs up.

Vegas - Ugh. I hate Vegas. Although I didn't leave Caesars Palace the entire week I was there, I still hate it. My favorite Vegas moment was walking through the casino at 5:30AM and seeing a weird combo of people from foreign lands checking into the hotel, sad lonely senior citizens playing away their grandchildren's inheritance on the slots, and sleazy guys hitting on drunk girls in the bars. Yuck. And walking on all those marble floors made my feet bleed.

Dallas - There's not too much one can say about Dallas. How 'bout....."big hair."

San Diego - I just went on a daytrip to SD, so maybe it doesn't really count as travel, but I got to hang out with the fam and see my beautiful baby nephew. And there is a new hot air balloon safari at the WAP (that's Wild Animal Park for all you non-San Diegans).

I think that's all the travel I plan on doing for a while, although I am going to New York in the spring, which should be great.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005


OK, OK, it's been a while, but, as you know, we bought a house. So we've been busy with mortgages and insurance and boxes and escrow and shelves, etc. for the past couple months. Things are finally settling down (we've been at the new house for about a week) and I had to share our newest culinary obsession: M Cafe.

Finally, LA is catching up to NY by having an inexpensive, healthy, casual vegan/ macrobiotic cafe!! A spin off of Chaya (locations in Beverly Hills, Venice & San Francisco), M Cafe is totally macrobiotic–that means no refined sugars, no eggs, no diary, no meat or poultry, but fish is ok. I can’t even describe to you how delicious their deli-style sandwiches and salads are. Everything is fresh, flavorful, healthful and mindful.

The food? A great selection of Soups (try the Lotus Root & Sweet Corn Chowder); Salads (how about the Gado Gado with golden tempeh triangles marinated with lemongrass, ginger & served with greens and veggies); Rice Bowls, with fish, tofu or seitan; Hot & Cold Sandwiches & Wraps (I heart the Madras Tempeh Wrap, the paninis, the Eggless Egg Salad with the crusts cut off!); plus sushi, and a deli case full of sides like Pink Quinoa and Roasted Veggies. Plus they have amazing looking desserts and pastries! They had complimentary green tea vegan dark chocolate truffles at the counter when I was there this weekend which were to die for.

And they’re open from 8-8 every day, and they have brunch specials on the weekends like tofu scramble and blueberry pancakes. The blueberry pancakes are sweet with crispy edges, bursting with fresh blueberries, and the tofu scramble is adorned with shreded carrot and onions and served with toast (they bake their own bread) sweet potato and pepper hash, and tempeh bacon. And they’ve got macrobiotic ketchup made from beets, applebutter and many other things, and it actually really tastes like ketchup (you can buy it in jars to take home).

And that brings us to the merchandising–you can buy nice M Cafe candles, or organic pantry items and books while you’re waiting for your food.

Plus, they’ve got parking! Not much, but I’ve always found a spot right in front.

M Cafe de Chaya
7119 Melrose

Thursday, May 19, 2005



Wednesday, May 04, 2005


I love shopping at drugstore.com. It's so much easier than fighting the crowds at Target, or running from store to store to pick up all the essential sundries. At drugstore.com, it's all in one place! And they have sale items! and they have freebies with purchase! and they have everything you need from bandaids and vitamins to dishsoap and toilet paper! Plus, they have a relationship with beauty.com, so you can order all your fancy make-up and lotions, from Perricone to Urban Decay, at the same time! And shipping on any order over $50 is free! And it's so easy to spend $50 on Kiss-My-Face soap and aromatherapeutic trash bags and Burt's Bees chapstick and Avalon Organics sunscreen. Plus, they remember what you bought last time, so it's easy to go back again and again and get your favorite mascara.

But, do you want to know the best part? It's the customer service!! I just recieved my latest shipment of essentials yesterday, and to my dismay, dispite being shrink wrapped and bubble packed, the lid on my Burt's Bees Garden Tomato Toner came loose, and about a third of the potion leaked out. I called the 800 number, told them my sad story and they responded, "We can refund your money, or ship another to you, which would you prefer?" Music to my ears. I got the refund, natch.

Monday, April 18, 2005

FILM REVIEW: Dog...Parrots...Wolf

Three films which I have seen in the last month that are of note are: Dogville, directed by Lars Von Trier (http://www.tvropa.com/Dogville/); The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill , directed by Judy Irving (http://www.pelicanmedia.org/Film.html); And, Time Of The Wolf, directed by Michael Haneke (http://www.palmpictures.com/videos/timeofthewolf.html).

I was originally resistant to seeing Dogville when it opened in theatres and I don't know if it was something to do with the marketing of the film (an idea which a friend put forward as the reason he had done the same as me in not going to see the film) or if it was the painful (and beautiful) experience of Dancer in the Dark, I am not sure. Regardless, after staying up late one night last week to watch it on the Sundance channel, I've see it now and WOW!!! Staying true to form Lars Von Trier subjects Nicole Kidman's character "Grace"(not to mention the viewer) to his patented brand of masochism and suspense. Consequently, thematically, he leaves no room for the viewer to reject the story, and hide behind a convenient moral response. In this space the viewer is left wide open to experience the painful truths within this dramatic examination of the roots of greed and domination in the American psyche.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, is an environmental documentary which examines the strangely human story of a flock of cherry headed conures that have become the basis for a native species of parrots unique to San Francisco. Their human champion is a zen inspired human creature named Mark Bittner, who becomes an honorary behavioral biologist in the term of his life amongst these birds. This is a fascinating real story about San Francisco and some amazing birds. I could not stop laughing when they parents regurgitate food for their young.

Time of the Wolf, is a return of a collaboration between director Michael Haneke and actor Isabelle Huppert. The clandestine and cataclysmic antecedent action in this film leaves a family in shock while arriving in their minivan at their country house. From there the film is another minimalist suspense masterpiece by director Haneke, and unlike most films in his oeuvre (The Piano Teacher, Code Unknown, Funny Games) this might be his most hopeful. It is a film about the loss of one world and the opportunity for the next, a better one? With very little dialogue and quite a lot of long wide angle photography this film sculpts a visceral-reality out of the unknown -- of the empty space between people, living and dead, of survival or subjugation, and of past and future. Incredibly poetic and affecting. There are lots of fires burning in this film.

All three are highly recommended!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

"FOOD" REVIEW: Poutine, Quebec’s Shining Culinary Legacy

Thank you Brandi, for your wonderful guest review:

Almost no one outside of Quebec has ever heard of poutine, and probably not without good reason. It’s the kind of culinary blasphemy that can happen when French immigrants are left unchecked, kind of like the yang to Cajun/creole cuisine’s yin. A google search on the history of poutine turned this up: “The most popular tale (of poutine’s origins) is the one of Fernand Lachance, from Warwick, Quebec, which claims that poutine was invented in 1957, when a client ordered fries and cheese curds in a bag. Lachance is said to have exclaimed ‘ça va faire une maudite poutine’ ("it will make a hell of a mess"), hence the name. The sauce was allegedly added later, to keep the fries warm for longer. In fact, linguists have found no occurrence of the word poutine with this meaning earlier than 1978.

Before this fateful night, the image I have of poutine is a scary one: McFries, limp and pale, smothered in gray canned gravy, with lumps of fatty whiteness sprinkled over the top. Since I narrowly avoided poutine on my previous visit to Montreal, and this is my last visit that I expect to be making, I agree to try it. Caleb tells me: ‘You’ve got to have it when you’re drunk. It’s a post-drinking delicacy here.’ Since it was a Monday night and he had to work in the morning, we decided to compromise and just go out for a few drinks beforehand.

After two beers and lots of anticipation, we head to the place for poutine in the plateau- La Banquise. In the window, they proudly advertise the fact that they have over 15 variations of poutine on the menu. Little innovation goes into this claim, whereas each variety consists of the basic ingredients plus (insert animal, vegetable, or mineral here). At midnight on a Monday, we are the only patrons in the place. Dave, our friend and Montreal local, assures me that by 3am, the place will have a line out the door, even on weeknights like tonight. Dave tells me: ‘You have to get the bacon poutine.’ So I do. Caleb and Susan, Dave’s girlfriend, opt for the ‘classique’, the no-frills version. Dave gets the bacon poutine plus a hot dog ‘all-dressed’ on the side that has what looks like coleslaw on top.

What comes before me is not really what I expected. The fries look like, as Dave puts it, they have been fried at least 5 times. I think they closely resemble the color of George Hamilton after a very hot summer. On top is a dark brown, viscous gravy, and the flavor can only be described as meaty salt, not the other way around. Sprinkled on top of this is the cheese curd. It’s a cross between salty queso fresco and chewy part-skim mozzarella. It’s apparently considered a good thing when the cheese curds sqeak against your teeth. The variation I got was with large pieces of bacon adorning the top as well. There was even an Elvis version of this dish, though I don’t remember what could classify it as such. I chomped away at it and got about halfway through before I couldn’t touch anymore. Susan said that as soon as you sop up all of the cheese curd, the remainder of the poutine usually loses its appeal. We ambled out of the restaurant, stomachs full. I can’t help thinking about the irony of the situation – I felt fine after those few drinks, but now the very dish that was supposed to amend the perils of drinking in the first place has seemed to have achieved the polar opposite of its goal – I actually feel naseous and covered internally with a not-so-fine coating of oily residue.

I guess the question is whether it was good or not. Actually it wasn’t bad at the time. I can see how it qualifies as comfort food and probably hits the spot after a night of drinking the way a Grand Slam at Denny’s or anything off Taco Bells late night menu would. The real problem was the morning after. I have never had a food hangover before, but that’s exactly what I woke up with. I felt as if my stomach had been marinated in grease all night long. After two cups of coffee and a muffin, I still felt sluggish and gross. Caleb felt the same way. Dave felt fine, but I think that comes from years of poutine abuse resulting in an abnormally high tolerance. Not until mid-day did I feel better, and that was partly in anticipation of being able to sleep off the excess during the flight. I’m glad I tried it, it’s definitely a meal that defined my visit. Caleb claims that poutine was on par with a bad night of drinking – come morning you swear you’ll never do it again, but by next weekend you’ll find yourself stumbling up to La Banquise in a drunken, foggy stupor, the aroma of mystery meat and greasy fries in the air. You won’t have a clue how you got there, but can’t think of anywhere else you’d rather be.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Our garden is full of color, despite months of neglect! Spring rocks!

Originally uploaded by Pierrot.
Lily white

Originally uploaded by Pierrot.
Roses in front garden.

Originally uploaded by Pierrot.
Cactus flowers

Originally uploaded by Pierrot.

Originally uploaded by Pierrot.
Baby "Sweet Olive" tomatoes!

Originally uploaded by Pierrot.
Backyard flowers.