Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Where the Rock Stars eat, part one

I put this list together awhile ago in my capacity as a working musician/booking agent/night owl. I thought it would be nice to compile a list of places to eat to pass along to other musicians/vampires/food lovers who are touring through the bay area and the East bay in particular.

Today we'll focus on places to eat before the show, or possibly, the morning after the show:

Cha Ya Sushi – This is vegan sushi, dig it. Fast service, reasonable prices, beautiful presentation, and just delicious. You needn't be a vegan to enjoy it, and if you're on the road a lot, you'll definitely want to stop here cause come on, admit it - you can never seem to get enough vegetables when you're on the road!

La Calaca Loca – High quality Mexican food, low cost, what more could you want? Delicious guacamole, divine fried fish tacos, sublime soup. Cash only please.

Vik – World famous authentic Indian "chaat" cuisine, super low prices. Feed the whole band for under $20. Guaranteed to please both vegetarians & carnivores alike.

Bakesale Betty's – Besides being a place for fabulous pastries & baked goods, this is the home of the most perfect fried chicken & cole slaw sandwich you've ever had. Reasonable prices & friendly service too.

Cole Coffee – It's rumoured that some who drink Cole coffee (formerly Royal) can't drink coffee roasted by anyone else. Plus, you can hang out & look cool like the rockstar that you are. Or maybe pick up someone who looks like a rockstar.

Bette's Diner – Best place to eat breakfast if you made a few bucks at your show last night. They open at 6:30 a.m. if you stayed up all night partying like a rock star. They serve lunch too, and it's all good - from buckwheat pancakes to BLTs, everything on the menu is sure to please.

Lanesplitter Pizza & Pub - Delicious New York style pizza, gigantic salads, a generous selection of California micro-brewed beers, and chances are good that on any given day it'll be a rock star flinging your pizza dough or slinging your beer.

Bacheeso's – Did someone say "all-you-can-eat"? Need we say more? This is a seriously good buffet for carnivores and vegetarians alike. Stuff yourself for $7.49 including tax.

Fellini – This place is the baby of fellow rock star, Geoff Davis. Nice vibe, fine pizza & pasta, quality beer on tap and a nice wine menu, plus a good selection of vegan items too. Plus they have an organic coffee bar.

Party on, rock stars. Part Two will cover where to go after the show - and sadly that list won't be nearly as long, since I haven't opened up the Soup and Song all night rock & roll soup kitchen yet...

Monday, October 30, 2006

If at first you don't succeed...


Thanks to Bob for pointing out that my "How to roast garlic" link was a bum link - since then I realized that there was another error in that posting - the recipe actually calls for 1/3 cup lemon juice, not 1/2 cup as previously listed. So - I'm going to post the recipe for hummus again here, including my method for roasting garlic. Enjoy!

First, roast a whole head of garlic, even though you will only need about half a head. It's good stuff to keep around and you can spread it on bread or mash it into potatoes or rice or soup.

So, take your whole head of garlic and remove some of the outer papery skin, and slice off the top. Put it on top of a slab of tin foil big enough to wrap around it, and drizzle with olive oil and a little salt & pepper. Wrap the foil over the garlic and bake at 350 for about 30 - 45 minutes. Then peel the foil back so the garlic is exposed, and bake it for another 20 - 30 minutes - the goal is to get it nice & golden brown and completely soft. It should like kind of like this:

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Once the garlic is cool, throw about half of the peeled cloves into your food processor, along with 2 cups of cooked chic peas (I cooked mine from scratch but you can use canned if you must), 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup tahini, and 3 - 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I like this brand which doesn't contain anything artificial or nasty. It's a nice thing to keep around the house, and it keeps a long long time in the fridge. And also, a little goes a long way, so you might even want to start with just a couple peppers and work your way up depending on how spicy you like it. Now add about a half teaspoon salt and puree till it's nice & smooth. You may need to add just a bit of water to get the consistency super smooth.

Ok now, go get busy!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pass the chic peas, please.

Last night I enjoyed another cooking frenzy. Sometimes you just find yourself with too much food in the fridge and too little time, so when a little time falls into your lap, you gotta get busy. And last night, it was all about the chic peas.

First, there was hummus with roasted garlic and chipotle peppers. Just this very moment I toasted some pita chips to go with it, and it's a perfect afternoon snack. If only there were beer to go with it...

I also made an Indian influenced chic pea stew with lots of veggies and greens - got the recipe for that one from a great cookbook that Judith recently lent me - it's the Cafe Flora Cookbook, featuring 250 vegetarian & vegan recipes.

I'm not a vegetarian - God knows I love all things pork! But I do love vegetables, and more often than not, I tend to cook vegetarian. The nice thing about this cookbook is that it has lots and lots of recipes with really bold flavors, combining influences from many different cultures. And of course it's perfect timing for a book like this to come into my life, considering my culinary path as of late.

And speaking of combining the cuisines of different cultures, the addition of chipotle peppers to the hummus has turned out to be a big hit (so say my co-workers who are gobbling it up as I write this!).

Here's the recipe - and I must add that this is sort of a first, in that I didn't just create it intuitively (or haphazardly as is sometimes the case). I actually kept track of my proportions and created my own bona-fide recipe (although I'm sure I'm not the first to come up with this variation on hummus)!

And it goes like this:

First, roast a whole head of garlic, even though you will only need about half a head. It's good stuff to keep around and you can spread it on bread or mash it into potatoes or rice or soup. For a tutorial on how to roast garlic, go here.

Once the garlic is cool, throw about half of the peeled cloves into your food processor, along with 2 cups of cooked chic peas (I cooked mine from scratch but you can use canned if you must), 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup tahini, and 3 - 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I like this brand which doesn't contain anything artificial or nasty. It's a nice thing to keep around the house, and it keeps a long long time in the fridge. And also, a little goes a long way, so you might even want to start with just a couple peppers and work your way up depending on how spicy you like it. Now add about a half teaspoon salt and puree till it's nice & smooth. You may need to add just a bit of water to get the consistency super smooth.

There - now you're done and you're the hit of the party once again. Time to reward yourself with a nice refreshing beverage... unless you just happened to drink a glass or 3 of wine while you were slaving away in the kitchen, in which case, don't forget to drink lots of water!

It's going to be a great and busy weekend complete with Dracula, a wedding, and the Murder Ballads Bash. Stay tuned for details...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Come to EdaMaMa

Lately I've been eating a lot of edamame - those tasty little green soybeans that you get at japanese restaurants. You can also buy them in the frozen section of your local market and boil them up in a flash. You can buy them in or out of their pods, and I've found that out of their pods, they make a lovely addition to salads (and stir fries and who knows what else?).

A couple days ago I made a nice cabbage salad with a lime and toasted cumin vinaigrette, and the edamame added such nice color & contrast.

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While the vinaigrette is awfully tasty, I think if I made this salad again I'd make a sesame dressing, but I happened to have lots of limes needing to be made to feel useful, and I didn't want to disappoint them. Incidentally, this makes a lovely dressing over a salad of black beans, seared corn and feta, but that's another story for another time.

The dressing recipe came from Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone", which I highly, highly recommend, cause it's not just for vegetarians and it has some amazing sauces and dressings and stews and baked goods - it's very comprehensive and just chocked full of great recipes. Dad, this is for you - go get this book or I'm going to have to buy it for you!

For now, enjoy your edamame. Next time, we're moving on to chic peas!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fun with Fusion

So I figured out exactly what kind of restaurant I would have, if I ever were to have such a thing. It'd be a fusion restaurant. I've been noticing a theme in my cooking that tends to center around spices and herbs. And lately I've been having a lot of fun combining spices & herbs in different styles and although sometimes it flops, when it works, it works really beautifully.

Last night I was thrilled with the results from combining the influences of Carribean, Thai and Mexican into the following dish which, I might add, made my pal Judith squeal with delight when she ate it for lunch today. Please don't be put off by making homemade salsa - not only will it make you a hit at parties, but it really adds something both subtle and delightful to this meal, and it's worth the energy spent.

This meal has two parts - a black bean and sweet potato stew and a coconut basmati rice pilaf - and features three recipes, because an essential ingredient in the stew is the homemade salsa. If you're feeling lazy or uninspired, you can use a jar of tomatillo salsa in a pinch, but it will be much, much better when you make it with your own two hands!

1. The Rice

2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water
Approximately 2/3 of a can of coconut milk
1 white onion, diced
2 - 3 cloves garlic
Approximately 1 tablespoon of finely minced ginger
1 finely minced jalapeno
a pinch or 3 of turmeric

I learned this technique of finishing rice pilaf in the oven from both Molly Katzen and Rick Bayless (and adapted these recipes as such).

Preheat your oven to 350 and bring a medium sized pot with the 4 cups water to a boil.

While that is happening, rince the rice until the water runs clear. When the water is boiling, add the rice and keep it at a nice rolling boil for about ten minutes or until the rice is partially soft but not completely done.

While this is happening, lightly sautee your onions in olive oil for a few minutes, and then add the garlic and peppers, and a light sprinkling of turmeric. Now take a moment to pause and just enjoy how good your kitchen smells!

Next, drain the rice and combine it with the sauteed onion mixture, salt to taste, and 2/3 can of coconut milk. Bake it in the oven, covered, for about 15 - 20 minutes, just until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is nice & tender. Now season to taste with salt.

2. The Salsa

You can make this in advance if you'd like. You'll need the following:

Approximately 3/4 lb. tomatillos
3 - 4 chipotle peppers in adobo
5 - 6 cloves garlic

Remove the outer papery skin on the tomatillos. Rinse them and roast them under a 400 degree flame until they are blackened - this will take about 10 - 15 minutes. Flip them and blacken the other side. Don't discard the juices - you'll want to add them to the salsa as well.

While the tomatillos are roasting, you can roast the garlic in a dry cast iron skillet on the stove. This takes about 10 - 15 minutes on each side with your flame on medium-high.

Cool the peppers and garlic completely and after peeling the garlic, put it and the tomatillos and juice in your food processor or mortar & pestle, along w/ your chipotle peppers and crush or pulse just till it's nice & chunky. You'll have much more than the half cup or so which this recipe requires, so be sure to have chips on hand cause you won't want to waste one drop!

3. The Stew

1 med. sized shallot, finely chopped
2 cans black beans (of course, it's better when you make them from scratch)
1 sweet potato
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
Zest of 1 lime
Couple squeezes of lime juice
Approximately 1/2 cup of the tomatillo salsa
Approximately 1/3 of a can of coconut milk

Optional garnishes:

Finely chopped cilantro
Thinly sliced scallions
A handful of perfectly ripe avocado chunks

Dice the sweet potato and lightly steam it for about 7 - 10 minutes or until nicely cooked but not too soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

Sautee the shallot over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil till it's lightly golden brown. Add the blackbeans and lime zest & juice and the remaining 1/3 can of coconut milk from the rice pilaf recipe. Now add the cooked sweet potatoes, the 1/2 cup salsa, and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat it up but don't overcook it.

Serve a scoop of the stew over a bed of the coconut rice pilaf, and garnish with the avocado, green onions and cilantro, and a little extra tomatillo salsa, if you desire.

Recommended listening:

Los Lobos - Kiko
Lhasa - The Living Road

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bring on the Baby Corn, Baby!

What the hell?

Baby corn is intruiging. It's weird and compelling. Crunchy and sweet and strange just like some of my dearest loved ones.

I've been wondering about baby corn lately. I had some idea in my mind that since it all looks so perfectly uniform, and has the most consistent texture, that it must not be corn at all and instead that it was some genetically manufactured item, like those weird floppy radish-looking things you get in your soup in japanese restaurants sometimes.

So naturally I had to get to the bottom of this and separate fact from fiction.

I did a google search, and as it turns out, it's no lie - it's really corn! And that's not all...

"Baby corn
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Baby corn is a vegetable taken from standard maize (corn) plants harvested early, while the ears are very small and immature. Baby corn is typically eaten whole, cob and all, in contrast to mature maize, whose cob is typically too hard for human consumption. It is consumed both raw and cooked. When cooked, its culinary and physical properties (from the point of the human palate) do not change significantly; texture remains relatively the same, as does taste, which is relatively bland either raw or cooked.

Usage in cuisines of the world

Baby corn is used in a wide variety of dishes in many cuisines throughout the world. Such usage includes soups, salads, stir frys, and vegetable dishes. In the West, it is often sold canned in water or in brine.

In the United States, it is generally considered a component of East Asian cuisine, particularly Chinese cuisine (and American Chinese cuisine), though it can be found in American cuisine as well. In Germany, it sometimes appears as an accent in salad.

Nutritional value

Baby corn is low in calories, high in fiber and, like all vegetables, cholesterol free. It contains zinc and vitamin B3."

Well I don't know about you, but I've got that peaceful easy feeling now that I understand the true nature of baby corn and I know I'll have dreams of maize all through the night.

Probably one of the dreams will have to do with my brand new tortilla press that magically appears in my life, and of all the many delicious tortillas that I lovingly create with said press.

I'm not sure there will be any baby corn tortillas, but you just never know...

And if you have a favorite recipe featuring baby corn, why not drop me a line?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Finally, it's Bob!

Frequently I tend to find myself with dozens of thoughts and ideas (and recipes, and songs, and plots for world domination...) running through my head simultaneously. One might say that I can be a little high strung, and one would be right.

I'm telling you this so you'll forgive me for threatening over and over, months ago no less, to write about the fabulous Bob Wiseman. I really meant to, but somehow this idea got away from me for awhile.

Well now it's back, and it came back to me a couple nights ago by way of literally pulling me off the edge of that wall of depression that I found myself teetering upon. Well I guess the depression is what waits for you on the other side of the wall, or perhaps, at the bottom of that well that you just might plummet into if you're not careful.

Anyway - I first discovered Bob because he produced one of my all time favorite albums by Carmaig de Forest, called El Camino Real. Now, I will need a separate posting to sing the praises of Carmaig and don't worry, that'll be coming.

But the important thing to mention now is that there I was, feeling all cruddy. I had tons of food needing to be cooked and it was my only free evening to do it so there was no time to waste.

So I rolled up my sleeves, turned on the oven, cracked open a beer, put El Camino Real into my stereo and cranked up the volume, and I have to say, it was magical.

Before I knew it, I was feeling happy as a pig in shit, singing along to every single song. And the kitchen was filling up with the intoxicating scents of curry and basmati rice with coconut, jalapenos, garlic and ginger, and roasted squash, and roasted garlic, peppers and tomatoes for salsa, oh my!

SO - we'll get back to Carmaig but I have to mention that ever since I first heard that album, before I even knew Carmaig personally, I thought, "I want Bob Wiseman to produce an album for me some day".

Now, fast forward a good 7 years into the future, and I won't bore you with the details, but recently I had the good fortune not only to meet Bob, but to have him stay at my house while he was on tour! And let me tell you, he is a man of many talents - a clever songwriter and engaging performer in his own right, plus he makes really cool films. He is also a major food lover, and an all around nice guy to boot! This guy is the real deal, and it was a joy to meet him and to get to see him perform live.

I had only recently moved into my house when he was in town and my place was a total disaster. But we had a great time anyway, talking about food and music. And we talked about having him be on my cooking show - "what cooking show is that?", you ask? That's another story for another time.

But for now, please go and see Bob perform when he comes to your town. And maybe talk with him a bit about music, film, or food. I think you'll be glad you did. Hell, I'll be glad you did!

The moral of the story, if there is one, is that music heals - and that it's an absolute crime that there is SO DAMN MUCH incredible music in this world that only touches upon a very small audience.

So this is also a shout out to all the musicians, famous or wallowing in obscurity, alive or dead, young or ancient - that have ever touched me or blown my mind or changed my life in some way. The list is long and ever expanding.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I could never thank you enough. Your music feeds my soul.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Art of Salad (as explained in a very bossy and opiniated way)

So I can't believe I haven't mentioned Judith previously. She and I work together, and she is a badass - a woman of many talents. And she's probably the biggest fan of my cooking. And I love to cook for her, because of course one huge part of cooking is sharing it, and she makes such a damn appreciative audience.

And I guess the performer in me enjoys creating for an audience (she writes in the third person: "could she secretly have burned the microwave popcorn because she was feeling a wee bit neglected??).

But I digress.

Anyway - I made such a fine Fall salad for Judith and I today, and she loved it, and so did I. And so will you:

Prepare the greens - mix some nice red leaf lettuce (or better yet, red oak) with a generous few handfuls of arugula.
Toast a good tablespoon of pine nuts in a dry skillet. Toast, don't burn!

Sprinkle the pine nuts over the greens. Sprinkle, don't dump them carelessly!

Crumble a nice portion of Maytag blue cheese and set it aside.

Now make the dressing:

Finely chop a good little chunk of shallot.
Combine it with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 fat teaspoon dijon mustard and a bit of salt. Some like it salty.

Now stop daydreaming; we are almost done. Thinly slice a ripe red Barlett pear and put that in the salad. Now add a sprinkling of currants and toss with just enough dressing to coat the ingredients. Coat, not drown!

This reminds me. Part of the inspiration for starting this blog was over my obsession with the perfect salad, so the essentials beg repeating:

Spin your salad greens good and pat them dry with a paper towel. A wet salad is a sad salad!
ALWÅYS toss your salad.
DON'T put the salad on the plate and then just spoon the dressing over it.
A lightly dressed salad is a happy salad!

See? It's not that hard.

And now back to today's dish. Now that you've tossed your salad ever so perfectly, top it with the blue cheese and garlic croutons (I dig Semi-freddi's). Don't forget a nice coarse grind of fresh ground black pepper. Mmm...now go enjoy it with your favorite badass.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Five course meal? No problem. Just stay away from the Microwave Popcorn.

Gotta love it when it's the end of the day on a Friday, and you're hanging w/ the bosses at the day job, having a nice beer in the kitchen, and hunger strikes.

It seems like a good idea to pop up a batch of microwave popcorn. So you put the bag in the microwave, set it for three minutes and innocently run back to your desk to do just a teeny bit more online searching for new bras because well, it's Friday. It's also payday, and the boudoir is in need of replenishing, especially since the local laundromat's wash & fold service happened to lose a whole load of your bras, undies & towels, but that's another story.

It hasn't even been three minutes, and you run back into the kitchen, cause you're quick like that, and for god's sake, you want your damn afternoon snack.

But when you open the microwave, it's too late. Large black clouds of smoke come billowing out, and you know that you are doomed as you try not to breathe that insidious smell of crispy partially hydrogenated rancid oil fumes which are just short of catching fire.


One of the bosses grabs the popcorn and throws it on a tray as you run to the window and fling it open wide. Out goes the popcorn to sit smoldering on the roof, as you run around apologizing to seemingly everyone within a five mile radius, who can no doubt smell that horrible stank.

Soon, the building's fire alarm goes off, and you're trying desperately to get the building manager on the phone, to no avail. Everyone in the office keeps running in and laughing at you/with you.

Next, you hear the sirens of the fire truck getting closer, closer.

Finally the building manager calls and says that you need to get out of the building. You explain that actually, it's just burnt popcorn, and you're so sorry for the trouble.

Everyone in your office marvels at the fact that you can cook so many amazing things, but that you can't make popcorn.

The CEO of the company gives you his recipe, and promises to make it next week...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hamachi from Kirala hits the Spot

I'm happy to report that I'm still keeping up w/ the daily four mile hike religiously, and throwing a little swimming and yoga into the mix too. For god's sake who knew that exercise could be the miracle cure to all that ails a person? It's sure working for me.

And it's sure making me ravenous.

Lately, I've been constantly craving protein and my body has been crying out for sushi for a couple weeks now. I simply couldn't wait another day.

So I today I headed to Kirala and had the most exquisite hamachi for lunch. It was so delicate and clean tasting that I could barely contain my joy. You know that feeling when you're just dying for something, and you finally get to have it, and it just hits the spot? Oh yes, I think you probably do.

It's something to revel in, cause so many experiences in life manage to miss the spot. You know, like getting busted at a local bar for smuggling in your own alcohol because you're a dork. Or taking a big bite out of an apple only to have your teeth sink into a pile of mealy brown mush. Or trying to be even slightly suave in the presence of a potential crush who barely even notices you're alive and then when he looks your way, you've got cilantro in your teeth.

I know nothing about these things...

I do know that it was a real treat to return to Kirala, and hopefully I won't wait another several years to pass through their doors again. Check 'em out, won't you?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Tumbleweed makes the Curry alright...

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I was all excited to unexpectedly have the night off, to gleefully dive into this recipe for a Thai curry that I'd been carrying around for about 10 years. I even went to the Thai market today to buy dried shrimp - stinky little things, but essential for the recipe.

And then, imagine my surprise when DJ Tumbleweed - one of my favorite KALX DJ's - was on the air.

Tumbleweed is usually on Friday nights, and his fabulous choices of music have been my company for many a Friday night culinary adventure. I've been a longtime KALX listener and one of my favorite parts about listening to KALX is you just never know what you'll get. Certain DJ's never disappoint - like Tumbleweed, Carnacki, Laura in the Living Room, and Jesse Luscious, just to name a few.

But Tumbleweed is not usually on the air on Mondays, just like I'm not usually obsessing over recipes on Monday nights. But here we were, off to a beautiful beginning.

I decided that I would adapt this recipe which was clipped from the SF Chronicle long long ago. And the risk you take with adapting is that, well, it might not come out quite right. But for better or for worse, here's what I did:

First, I followed the instructions to soak one tablespoon of dried shrimp in warm water, and then puree it in the food processor with four roughly chopped shallots, three jalapeno's, one roughly chopped stalk of lemongrass, and some water.

Then, I followed the instructions to warm this paste on the stove w/ three cups coconut milk.

Next, I added two cups chicken stock and the zest of one lime, just like the recipe said, and damn, did this taste good. I should've just turned off the stove and stopped right there.

But that's where I had to be a rebel. The recipe called for one pound pumpkin, but I happened to have four satsuma yams, a bunch of brocolli, a handful of blue lake beans, and a small slab of tofu just waiting to be enjoyed, so that's what I used even though I adore pumpkin.

So... rather than throw the veggies in the pot and risk them getting overcooked and soggy, I steamed each veggie separately: the yams and beans for six minutes, and the brocolli for four minutes. I also cubed the tofu and set all these chunky bits aside.

Meanwhile, I kept the curry sauce on a low simmer in the hopes it would thicken a bit, but it just seemed to be getting more watery with time, losing a little bit of intensity.

At this point, I went back to the recipe and added one tablespoon fish sauce, a little more than a half teaspoon sugar, and instead of the juice of one lime which was called for, I added the juice of two limes. This made it taste a little more balanced, but it was still watery and thin. At this point I also added the big fat handful of fresh basil leaves that the recipe called for. Man, basil is a reason for living but that's another story.

The recipe didn't call for tamarind paste, but I happened to have some, so I added two tablespoons. This helped, but it still wasn't quite right. The flavor was getting better but the sauce was still thin.

So then, I added a liberal tablespoon of cornstarch. Probably unorthodox but what the hell, right? It's my kitchen and I'll use cornstarch if I want. And so I did....but it STILL wasn't quite right, so I added about 1/3 cup of tomato puree. And now it was getting closer to what my tastebuds were anticipating. It was fiery, sweet and pungent all at once (just like I like my men...although I admit I have no idea what makes a man pungent!).

All the while, Tumbleweed played the tunes. I can't tell you what he played but I can tell you that it was all perfect in its own way. And maybe you should just tune in sometime and listen for yourself. 90.7 fm, if you find yourself in the Bay area. Program it into your stereo and send them some cash, cause it's listener supported. No stupid ads, no bullshit, just great music. 24/7. For you and me.

At this very moment, the curry is still sitting on the stove, and I'm hoping that time (and the cornstarch) will thicken it up a bit and am pretty confident that tomorrow it will be ten times better after having had a chance to mature.

The jury is still out, but I'm sure that regardless, it wouldn't taste half as good without the fine tunes from DJ Tumbleweed blasting out of the radio. So give him a listen, won't you? And I'll let you know how the curry tastes tomorrow!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

So long, single malt scotch, hello 20 Minute Loop

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The night started off splendidly - Emily, Heidi and I enjoyed an extremely spicy spread at my favorite Thai restaurant, Ruen Pair. Panang curry, papaya salad, and some other noodle dish I can't remember. I love, love, love this place.

And then we were off to SF to see 20 Minute Loop at Cafe du Nord...except the BART was late and we couldn't get a taxi to save our lives, so we walked the mile or so from Civic Center to the Castro, which wasn't so bad under the beautiful Harvest full Moon, but it did make us late.

For some reason earlier this evening I had decided that it would be a brilliant idea to fill my flask with single malt scotch (both the scotch and the flask were birthday gifts) to enjoy at the show. And for some reason I didn't consider that fact that duh, you have to be a little discreet when you do such a thing (could it been perhaps that I was too tipsy?).

So there I was, rocking away to the sweet, strange sounds of 20 Minute Loop, the sounds I'd been waiting to lose myself in all week long, when I felt a tap upon my shoulder.

Uh oh.

The big man in the beret says politely, yet firmly: "You have a choice. I can kick you out or you can give me the flask". Crap. Crap, crap, crap crap crap. So much for my brilliance, eh?

As it was, we were 20 minutes late for 20 Minute Loop, and we had worked so hard to get there. I was sweating in my fake fur coat, for god's sake. No WAY could I leave now.

Nothing like having your flask confiscated to make you feel like a juvenile with wrinkles.

So damnit, there went my flask, my single malt scotch, my few shreds of cool, gone, like that.

Never mind that it was scotch; the thought that kept coming to me was the line from Dead Man, where he says "I can't drink whiskey like I used t' could...".

I was sad to lose my liquor and its lovely container, but honestly, that music was so damn good that there was never any contest. Ok, I mean maybe for a second but the second passed.

You haven't really heard harmony until you've heard Greg & Kelly of 20 Minute Loop sing as in one voice. These folks have long been one of my favorite local bands, and it is always a treat to enjoy them live - liquor or no liquor.

But man, you know that bouncer enjoyed his loot. I mean I really really hope he has the same initials as me so he can enjoy his new personally monogrammed flask!

Till next time, remember: discretion, people, discretion!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Monterey, Murder, Mustaches

Suddenly it's gotten cold. Thusly, I just had to make another pot of the Knitty Otter's Vietnamese Lemongrass soup last night to warm the bones. This time, I got a photo. Mmmmm, now doesn't that look good?

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A couple of highlights from Monterey included getting to sing five songs about murder at Monterey Live - what a lovely stage, and a fine lineup of entertainment put together by the talented ladies otherwise known as Vermillion Lies. These ladies really know how to put on a show, and I strongly recommend you discover that fact for yourself. They will not disappoint!

The theme of the evening was "Murder and Mustaches". When I explained that I prefer to murder my mustache with hot wax and that I wish I could wear it proudly like Frida Kahlo but that I just can't, the ladies proceeded to draw both a uni-brow AND a mustache on me. And then I sang tales of murder, one after the other...

The best food experience was at The Red House Cafe in Pacific Grove - what a cute little place with top quality food - the fresh fruit with honey cream is worth the trip alone...yum!

And then there was the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This place is wonderful for kids of all ages. I think I could stand in front of the Sea Otter tank for endless hours - what joyful, hilarious beings. But they never stay in one place long enough to take a photo!

And oh, the jellyfish.


There's something about just looking at these beautiful creatures that gives me the same feeling I get when I listen (as I have been repeatedly lately) to Aretha Franklin singing the blues - it's this warm, ethereal comfort that is perfect for a chilly, overcast day. A day like today.

Just add a steaming bowl of soup, and life is complete. Thank you, Mother Nature!