Friday, April 30, 2010

Oh, hey, New Orleans, you're awesome.

Oh man. New Orleans is a TRIP! The FOOD! The MUSIC! I love it here. I could do without the sticky-hot weather in spring, but it’s a small price to pay for all that this city has to offer.

And it’s already been somewhat of a blur. I was so jetlagged from my red-eye to New York the day before that I totally slept through my alarm (SO unlike me) and almost missed my flight to New Orleans, so spent the entire morning running around my apartment, and then the airport, like a chicken with my head cut off (and one that hadn’t showered in two days, no less). I promptly passed out on the plane, to awake with a funky crick in my neck, no idea where I was, and a 5:30pm dinner reservation (the latest we could get at the chi-chi Cochon).

After a nice shower and a moment to get my bearings, Mom and I walked down the block to Cochon to meet Matty Bo and his friend Sarah who was in town for jazz fest and promptly got down to business. Two Champagne cocktails, a plate of fried alligator (!), fried rabbit livers, and the juiciest roast suckling pig you can imagine later (and it was still light out, mind you), the team was raring to go. I don’t know what possessed us, but we decided to stroll down to Harrah’s (yes, the big, cheesy chain-casino; stop judging!) and play some video poker. I think we were really in it for the free drinks (that’s right – as long as you’re still playing, you get unlimited free drinks), but we had a grand ol’ time regardless. After one last drink around the corner with one of Matt’s fellow Teach-ers for America, we called it a somewhat early night to rest up before the Jazz Fest-ivites the next day.

Jazz Fest doesn’t really get rolling until the afternoon, so Mom and I walked a few blocks from her place to the fabled Mother’s Restaurant, home of apparently the most retardedly delicious biscuits, ham and po-boys around. Mom can attest to the latter from prior experience, but this being a morning jaunt, we decided to go for the biscuits and ham this time around.

Holy. Dear. Lord. Fluffly clouds of buttery carb heaven. That’s really all I can say. The ham was, well, ham (apparently I’m supposed to order the black ham, which is just the crispy, salty, caramelized, outer layer, but oh well, I have 5 more days here, I’ll make it happen), but the BISCUITS! Oh lord. The coffee was unexpectedly outstanding as well, a really rich, smooth café au lait (which is the default; if you want your coffee black, you have to make a point of it) in a nice heavy mug.

We needed to get into our Jazz Fest gear (aka heavy sunscreen and cheap shoes to be ruined by mud) so we had to stop back at Mom’s apartment before we left, and I somehow managed to fall into an involuntary biscuit-induced nap the moment I found myself in the same room as a bed, but once my mom was ready and found me sprawled across my bed she got my ass up and out the door, and we were on our way.

Jazz Fest was awesome. Not even just the music, but just the experience as a whole. It was really such a foodie’s paradise, with more treats than you could ever sample in a week, let alone one day, but we did our best to get a thorough taste of what the festival had to offer. We listened to some gospel to work up our appetite, then worked our way through a softshell crab po-boy (complete with three mysteriously unlabeled sauces, which we determined to be hot sauce, melted butter, and lemon juice), a giant strawberry lemonade, and something called “Crawfish Monica”, which turned out to essentially be a mediocre mac-and-cheese, but studded with luscious crawfish tails, which elevated it to downright yummy.

We let our bellies rest and caught the end of Elvis Perkins in Dearland, who we had never heard of before but totally fell in love with, and before we knew it, it was time for the headliners to take all the various stages. We started with the first 20 or so minutes of the Gipsy Kings, who were just awesome, but tore ourselves away to catch the middle of Louis Prima, Jr., who actually played a really fun set, getting even the old creaky festival-goers on their feet and dancing around to “When the Saints Go Marching In.” And finally, we dashed over to the main stage to catch the end of Earth, Wind and Fire, and they played so many awesome hits right in those last 20 minutes that it made us wonder what the hell they played the REST of the time they were on! Everyone was getting down and having an awesome time. SO much fun.

Before we left we made one last food run, snatching up what was possibly the best item of the day, a duck, pheasant, and andouille sausage gumbo, which was super rich and gamey and AMAZING, followed by a mango freeze (delicious mango sorbet), and banana bread pudding (which should have been awesome but sadly just tasted like artificial rum flavoring and sugar. Ew.) for dessert. After all that food, music and sunshine, Mom and I were whooped, so now we’re back at her place, calling it an early night in preparation for our SWAMP TOUR that we are taking tomorrow morning at 8 am. All we need are some fanny packs and oversized white tennis shoes and we will be the ULTIMATE tourists. Love it. Fill you in later!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Oooh, cool headboard!

Oh man. It's game time, folks. I just had a ginormous garage sale (which I unfortunately made the mistake of allowing a friend of one of my neighbors participate in, who just happen to be one of the oddest, chattiest fellows I have ever met - he kept suggesting we start drinking cognac... at 9 am. WTF.) and now half of my stuff is gone.

Tomorrow I've got to go through what's left and decide what to cram into my three suitcases to take with me on Tuesday, and what gets put into storage for my mom to put on a truck and ship to NYC when she's here in LA for a few days in May.

Needless to say, I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off, so on a much-needed blog-surfing break, I found this delicious item:

It's made by just building a simple wood frame with as many panels as you want, filling it with white christmas lights, covering it with translucent polycarbonate, et voila! Just imagine it in a nice cozy sleeping area like this:

Whee! I can't wait to get started!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

so... i guess I'm a designer now? sweet.

Dude. I don't know what is going on, but like the old saying goes, when it rains, it pours....

And IT'S POURING. But the best kind of pouring. Basically, out of nowhere, I am having to beat design requests off with a stick, they are coming at me from everywhere: my best friend's ex-boyfriend from many years ago wants me to do an iPad application, a girl I took a painting class with at USC wants me to do a website for her awesome new gelato company, and now some random chick who emailed me about the desk I am selling but saw my email signoff which indicated that I am a designer and she was like "hey, so I also have this logo I need done...."  

WTF?? This is awesome. I don't even have a freaking business card, my website is a piece of shit, and yet out of nowhere people are finding ME for work. How is this possible?? 
Things are looking up.. :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

goodbye, west coast...

Wow. It is official. I finally booked my flight, and I am no longer an Angeleno starting the evening of April 27th, 2010. Whoa. 

I can't actually say I am a New Yorker as of that date, though, because I am basically dropping off my bags at my mom's place, probably napping way too much on Wednesday and royally screwing up my circadian rhythms, and then going right back to the airport on Thursday for a flight to NEW ORLEANS!

Ok. Let me explain. My mom is shooting a movie in New Orleans until May 9 (she's been there for a few weeks now, sending me frequent photo-texts that make me all but salivate with envy), and I figured I might as well take advantage of this upcoming window of joblessness to frolic through a new city at the peak of spring and soak up some culture and design inspiration for my new place. Also, one of my favorite people on the planet (and former roommate) Matt Brennan has been in New Orleans for a year now teaching high school English with Teach for America (insert shame here for spending my time designing dental brochures and checking in celebrities at a gym while Matt makes the world a better place...), and I have YET to visit him. Mardi Gras was supposed to happen, but I kinda failed on that one, so alas, I guess I will have to settle for Jazz Fest (that's right, I didn't even REALIZE that this is why it's been so hard to find an affordable flight... my chosen weekend is none other than Jazz Fest 2010 in New Orleans... amazing).

So, Thursday April 29 through Wednesday May 5 I will be in the land of mint juleps, live jazz and my dearest Matty Bo. Stay tuned for many photos and tales of adventure to come!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

cooking time!

Aaaaaand here I am, already digressing….!

However, I am currently in the process of trying to eat all the random stuff I have in my freezer here in LA before the big move, so technically this recipe probably wouldn’t have come about without the impending move… so THERE!

Disclaimers aside, I’ve had a whole head of cauliflower (cut into manageable 1-inch chunks, mind you) in my freezer for a few weeks now that I’ve been ruminating on how to use, along with enough homemade chicken stock to bathe a baby elephant, so I decided to see what I could come up with entering the words “cauliflower soup” into a few of my favorite recipe sites. Et voila, many delicious options appeared, the most enticing of which mimics the classically scrumptious recipe for potato-leek soup, with the addition of a few key embellishments…. Bacon, cheese, and truffles! Yes, yes, YES!!!!

So without further ado, this is more or less what I did (based upon a recipe from the late Gourmet, circa 2007):

- 2 strips applewood-smoked bacon, chopped (optional… but not really.)
- 2 medium leeks, dark green parts discarded, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped (probably not necessary, but I threw one in since I had it)
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 medium cauliflower head, cut into small pieces
- 4 cups (or more) low-salt chicken (or veggie) broth
- a cup or two of milk (or heavy cream if you’re feeling extra decadent, but I didn’t have any on hand)
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1 3/4-inch cube Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano works just as well)
- a teaspoon or so of truffle oil (I didn’t have any, but used some of my beloved truffle salt, which worked quite nicely; don’t add any regular salt if you take this route)
- salt and pepper for seasoning

Sauté bacon in skillet over medium heat until golden brown and some fat renders. Add leeks, shallots and garlic. Cover and cook until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes, then transfer vegetables to a large soup pot. Add cauliflower to the empty bacon skillet (most likely in batches, unless you have a gigantic skillet) and sauté until the cauliflower takes on a little golden color and starts to smell nutty and delicious. Add the sautéed cauliflower to the soup pot, along with the cheese cube and about 3 cups broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in a blender (I had to add a lot of liquid here to get it to blend smoothly; about another cup of broth and a cup of milk). Return pureed soup to same pot. Add wine and bring soup to a low boil. Once the alcohol has cooked off, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some shaved cheese, and if you have it, drizzle with truffle oil. UGHHH so delicious it hurts!

Obviously you can make this vegetarian using olive oil instead of the bacon, and pretty much everything can be subbed out for something else (oh, the beauty of cooking!) so please experiment and get back to me if you come up with any tasty variations!

And I promise to stop SUCKING and start taking PHOTOS of all of this gloriousness, so no worries. There's always room for improvement, after all.... :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

ideas and floorplans and renos, oh my!

Ok. So after much brainstorming and discussion, this is my preliminary idea for a floor plan:

I am basically selling everything I own in LA over the next few weeks and starting fresh in NYC, and I’ve set a preliminary (and probably unrealistic) goal to furnish my new place almost entirely from Craigslist, or from other pre-owned, reclaimed, etc etc, sources. I plan on staying in this apartment until I am ready to buy my own place and/or move in with a cohabitation-worthy boyfriend, and at this rate, that probably won’t be for a LONG time, haha, so I’m down to take my time and go pretty DIY with things.

The most essential element I think I need to introduce is something to separate out my living and sleeping spaces (#1 in the image). I’m thinking of some sort of open-shelving system, to create some privacy and separation, but to still let some pretty light in from the big windows on the east wall; something like this:

I’m also a little stumped about what to do as far as a dining table goes, because we all know I am borderline obsessed with cooking and sharing food and all forms of food-related parties, but there is technically only really space for a little breakfast nook situation in the kitchen, and I fear anything bigger than a small table in the living area would overwhelm that space as well… maybe I could look into some sort of expandable or leafed table? Thoughts are welcome.

And I believe there is one key element I forgot to mention in my last post - my mother is going to be my landlord (I'll be paying the rather hefty monthly maintenance fee, thankyouverymuch, so no spoiled-brat comments please, although I am fully aware of how freakin' lucky I am), which means that we will actually get to do some (gasp) renovations before I move in! We'll probably be knocking out and replacing the bathroom tile, updating some of the kitchen appliances, and potentially refinishing the wood floors, but my favorite of all is that we are thinking of  converting the third (yes, third) closet into a built-in desk/shelving system. I am SOOO pumped about this. A customized desk! In my apartment! BLISS for a freelancer! This would go where #2 is in the image, and this is kind of what I'm shooting for:

And then one of the other closets is full-on walk-in size (#3 in the image), which is super exciting, so I'm thinking of going all-out boudoir with it, with a crazy bright color or paper on the walls, and some sort of glamorous sitting area... as I explained to my mom, I will probably be living in a relatively gender-neutral space for most of my adult life, so I feel like this is my last chance to really indulge my girly side, so get ready for some uncharacteristically frilly touches :) Here are some of my inspiration points:

Ok but before I even think about buying anything, I first need to focusing on SELLING stuff while I’m still here in LA, so I need to get Craigslist-ing! Talk to you all soon!