Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jake's Famous Crawfish

The Pacific Northwest is known for its fresh local seafood. In order to try and convince me to stay out in Oregon, my vegetarian boyfriend did a little meatatarian reconnaissance. He asked around to find a good seafood spot in Portland. Jake's came up on more than one occasion. I wasn't entirely convinced until we mentioned the name at breakfast. One of the other hotel guests remarked, "It's good. HE likes it." She pointed to her husband. The man leaned back in his chair, eyes partly closed, and rumbled to himself, "The bouillabaisse. Oh the bouillabaisse." His eyes were rolling back as he rubbed his belly.

Later that day we headed to downtown Portland to check out Powell's and to try out the seafood (or rather, I tried the seafood; my boyfriend sacrificially just had a salad for dinner.) I knew exactly what I wanted.

In a very short amount of time the waitress brought by a large steaming bowl chock full of fresh seafood. She also brought a tacky plastic bib with a cartoon of a crawfish on it. Ignoring the teasing comments, I suited up and dug in.

The broth was light, herby and just a little bit spicy. The mussels and clams were fresh and perfectly steamed. The shrimp tasted better than the stuff we get on the East coast and the gigantic crab legs were DELISH. I've heard that in the NW you can get a variety of salmon. I'm not sure which variety they added to the soup, but it was really good -- very light, juicy and tasty.

I ate beyond the point of no return and felt rather ill for the next day or so (I think I might be slightly allergic to seafood!) Even so, I would say the trip was worth it.

And yes, I would go back to Oregon.

Image lifted from wikipedia.com

Jake's Famous Crawfish
401 SW 12th Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97205
(503) 226-1419
1-888-344-6861 toll free

Monday, January 28, 2008

The United experience

Hours spent in an airport within the past 24 hours: 6.8
Hours spent on a plane within the past 24 hours: 5.6
Hours spent going to and from an airport within the past 24 hours: 2

When the girl at the United Airlines desk in Eugene abruptly informed me that I WOULD make my connecting flight in Denver (in the tone of voice one generally reserved for disruptive school children) I decided to take the zen approach. My flight had already been delayed, rerouted, and reissued at least 4 times in the past 12 hours, so I really did want to believe the girl. Pointing out that I am older and more bitchy than she could ever hope to be, would have been pointless (but possibly very satisfying.) Instead, I stepped back and waited. And waited...

The good people of Eugene are not used to snow. As luck would have it, the very day I intended on leaving the fine county of Lane, Oregon, the Northwest was hit by a snowstorm, the likes of which had not been seen since at least 2001. Shops and restaurants posted signs:


The wide-eyed girl at the hotel remarked, "It's been coming down THIS hard since 7AM!" I squinted and looked out the window, noting a few fluffy flakes slowly drifting down. This was all earlier in the day. The snow stopped around noon. My flight was at 8pm. Delays, I suppose, are to be expected. Eugene Oregon had a whopping two to four inches on the ground. Just about everyone, including the shuttle drivers who taxied me back and forth from the airport between delayed flights, were scared #$%&less by the roads.

But I digress. I was now back at the airport. I waited an hour for the good people of Eugene airport to de-ice the plane. We finally boarded. In the brief minute I spent outside (the terminals don't actually connect to the planes in Eugene, one has to walk outside to board the plane à la Casablanca) the weather was clear, sunny and downright balmy. Even so, we were given a second round of de-icing and a coat of orange antifreeze before finally taking off. As we approached Denver I began to silently curse the United Airlines girl with the snarky attitude. My connecting flight was scheduled to leave in 20 minutes and we hadn't even descended. The flight attendant made some announcement about letting people with immediate connecting flights off first. Apparently everyone on the plane had an immediate connecting flight because all passengers leapt out of their seats once the seatbelt sign turned off. I had approximately 7 minutes to sprint from gate 89 to gate 46, arriving slightly sweaty, just before the plane took off. While catching my breath I briefly forgot to curse the United Airlines girl. I am that out of shape.

In any event, I arrived about 17 hours later than originally planned. All due to a little snow on the runway...thankfully this shouldn't happen again until at least 2014.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Petit Robert

In celebration of MLK day (a day off from work) my family took us to Petit Robert for a late afternoon lunch. I'd heard good things about this place. The local French collegue claimed the spot was "very authentic" when it comes to French fare.

Upon arrival we were served freshly baked bread with soft creamy butter. Very delicious. It was hard not to snarf down the entire basket (I was saving myself for the meal.) The special of the day was a lobster macaroni and cheese. As if I could ever turn that down! For an "appetizer" the serving was quite substantial. The macaroni was the traditional elbow variety, cooked al dente and served in a ceramic dish filled with chunks of lobster meat and a phenomenal creamy lobster sauce, then sprinkled with some parmesan cheese. I split the dish with my bro and we sopped up the remainder of the amazing lobster sauce with the rest of the bread. Another hit was the cream of beet soup. It arrived bright and pink with a wonderful flavor of beet with just the right amount of cream. I was sufficiently inspired to want to make the dish myself. Less impressive was the beet salad with goat cheese. I've had better (and made better.) Compared to the soup and the mac&cheese, this dish was lacking in both texture and flavor. I personally like my salad to have a slightly warm roasted beet with the cheese either warm or cool. Instead the beets and cheese tasted like they had been carelessly stacked and stuck in the fridge until just before serving. The endive was fresh, but overpowered by raw onion.

Still, we carried on. For a main dish I ordered the pan seared U10 scallops with sautéed spinach and No Sauce. No Sauce turned out to be just that. No Sauce. And the scallops, really did not need any flavoring. They were pan seared to perfection, sweet, tender and very delicious. I wouldn't have minded just a LITTLE bit of sauce (or maybe just a drizzle of flavor), but found the dish to be impressive without. Although, the sad little vegetables on the side looked a bit neglected and dry.

My advice is to order heavy on the seafood and soups and ignore the salads and veggies.

A meal at a French bistro would not be complete without dessert. I ordered a plate of the seasonally flavored macarons. The came in passionfruit, rosewater and pistachio. All delicous (but incomparable to the macarons I had in the French patisseries of Dakar, Senegal!) After a cup or two of coffee I was stuffed beyond belief. I spent the rest of the evening vegged out in front of the TV. A MLK day well spent.


Petit Robert
468 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215

Dog vs Balloons

Ever feel the need to pop some bubble wrap?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

No. 9 Park

It's not often that I have the opportunity to try out a fabulous restaurant for free. And when the chance came along, I took full advantage.

We unanimously voted to go to No. 9 Park for an end-of-semester dinner celebration. As we were a large group and the restaurant is relatively small, we were given a prix-fix menu. Typically I would be irritated by the forced limitation, however, the options were so tempting I couldn't be bitter for long.

I started out with the truffled gnocchi with Maine lobster, fresh peas and mushrooms. These hand-made pillows of deliciousness arrived steaming hot and served on a FABULOUS lobster cream sauce. The bits of lobster were perfectly cooked, the peas were al dente and the little mushrooms rounded out the flavors. I sopped up every bit of sauce with the crusty bread that was constantly replenished by our retinue of waiters. For a main dish I choose the prime sirloin, served with potato galette, short rib wrapped in swiss chard and a sauce made with bone marrow. The steak was tender and perfectly cooked. I could have done without the sprinkling of salt on top (it masked the flavor of the meat) and the short rib wasn't the best I've ever had. However, as a complete dish, I would say it was well-worth the price (esp since I wasn't paying!) For dessert I opted for the chocolate and cardamom mousse with Williams pear sabayon and salted butter glace. The mousse was not too sweet and deliciously chocolatey. The salted butter glace wrapped in a paper thin butter cookie and served with a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche perfectly complemented the intensity of the mousse.

Our server, with impeccable manner, offered a selection of cocktails before dinner. The flight of No. 9 Park specialties included a fabulous pear martini, a pink campari drink and a gin based cocktail with fresh lime and mint. All were wonderfully constructed. When asked for a wine recommendation I was offered a full-bodied Sirah, but then served a wine "even better" according to the server. It was a wine made specially for No. 9 Park: spicy, aromatic and a perfect complement to the sirloin.

The combination of fabulous food and impeccable service ranks this restaurant above most others in Boston. The waiters were always available, but not intrusive; the host was friendly and paid close attention to our party. I liked that the service was well-mannered, but not pretentious. Certainly a splurge (all told, our meals would probably break the bank of a graduate student) but entirely worth the investment.


No. 9 Park
9 Park Street
Boston, MA 02108
tel: 617.742.9991
fax: 617.742.9993
email: info@no9park.com

Monday, January 21, 2008

On untraditional weddings and bamboo utensils

This past weekend I had the opportunity to check out the Central Park Zoo for the very first time. We took a cab to 59th and 5th and were lost as soon as we stepped out of the cab. It seemed like every person we stopped to ask for directions happened to be French:

They would shake their heads and say, "Sorry, I'm French!"

Sorry, indeed! After much wandering about in the cold and dark we ran into some people in heels and suits. Following them through the trees and wrought iron fences we finally made our way to the Rainforest Exhibit at the Central Park Zoo.

My friend, the bride, is above all things, an environmentalist through and through. So it was not at all surprising to me that the reception would take place along the winding paths beneath umbrella canopies of Rainforst-inspired trees and fronds. The food, passed by waiters (no buffet tables allowed due to the dangers of dive-bombing tropical birds) was served on bamboo plates with bamboo utensils. The beef came from local grass-fed cows, the chicken salad was free-range and the cups were made from corn byproduct. Having once been accused of being a "tree-hugging bahk eater" by my college roommate, this event truly put me to shame.

We spent the evening examining the impressive immobility of tree frogs and geckos and the incredible mobility of little furry fruit bats. We debated whether or not the trees were real or constructed with a couple that had met in Denali National Park, and discussed the drawbacks of having free flying tropical birds with the wedding photographer (while texting on his blackberry, he got a doozie of a splasher right on top of the screen.)

There was no music aside from the clamor of nightly creatures, the rustling of leaves and the hum of the wedding guests. All-in-all it was a pretty fun and interesting evening! And the filet mignon from that grass-fed, locally grown cow was AMAZINGLY delicious...

Images lifted from nyzoosandaquarium.com

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Eating my own words

Previously I had posted a rather damning comment regarding the fedora phenomenon:

"Cute on some hipsters, gangsters and the occasional supermodel. On the everyday person, they just make it look like you are trying too hard to be cool."

This weekend, I learned to eat my words. We were in NYC for a wedding and stopped by a place called Tillman's for a drink and a quick bite. Filled with dapper bartenders, clubby U-booth alcoves and hip wall art, this spot oozed of Coltrane and Harlem reinvented. We were served by a gorgeously classy girl wearing...a fedora! And man, did she pull it off. She called me "the lady" and brought me a perfectly constructed Old-Fashioned, which I sipped with a gourmet chèvre and roasted tomato sandwich, along with a side of scrumptious black eyed peas and handmade spicy potato chips. Sundays this bar features live jazz, and I bet late in the evenings it's one fun spot to drink some classy cocktails while people watching. I highly recommend either activity.

In any event, I will now jealously think about how damn good that fedora looked on our waitress, in a totally hip (without being hipster) kind of way. And believe me, she wasn't trying hard to be cool. She just was.


165W 26th Street
New York City

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fun facts about Oregon

Faced with the distinct possibility of having to relocate in a year to the Oregon area, I've been doing a little research about the state. Did you know that...

Oregon reportedly has more ghost towns than any other state.

In Oregon it is illegal to use canned corn as fish bait.

Oregon and New Jersey are the only states without self-serve gas stations. According to Oregon state law, an attendant must pump your gas.

Eugene was the first city to have one-way streets.

The Oregon Trail is the longest of the overland routes used in the westward expansion of the United States. The Trail used from 1840 to 1860 began in Missouri and ended in Oregon. It was about 2,000 miles long.

It is against the law in Myrtle Creek to box with a kangaroo.

The hazelnut is Oregon's official state nut. Oregon is the only state that has an official state nut.

While it is illegal to buy or sell marijuana in Oregon, it is legal to smoke it on your own property.

The Nike "swoosh" logo was designed by University of Oregon student Carolyn Davidson in 1964 -- four years after business undergrad Phil Knight and track coach Bill Bowerman founded the company they originally called Blue Ribbon Sports. Ms. Davidson was paid $35 dollars for her design.

Oregon has no sales, restaurant or liquor tax.

In Marion, ministers are forbidden from eating garlic or onions before delivering a sermon.

The world’s tallest barber shop pole stands in Forest Grove, Oregon.

In Stanfield, Oregon, no more than two people are allowed to share a single drink.

Oregon is home to the world’s shortest river. The D River is only 121 feet long.

In Portland, people are banned from whistling underwater.

More fun and fascinating facts to come.

Information and images obtained from www.legendsofamerica.com

A mammoth shoe faux pas

I have never been a fan of the croc phenomenon. You see these ugly, rubbery, garishly colored eyesores just about everywhere you turn. I can understand why the nurses and doctors wear them around - whatever is the most comfortable! But anyone else: there is no excuse.

Crocs now come in a variety of styles, from strapless slip-ons to suede-like mary janes. The latest style, the mammoth, has a soft synthetic fur lining that is removable and washable for easy care. These crocks come with false holes on the sides a, "nod to crocs' original designs." There are still plenty of ventilation holes to accommodate the jibbitz™ brand charms. Perhaps more functional, and certainly warm and fuzzy, these are still crocs no matter how you sugar coat it. I just can't bring myself to ever buy a pair (unless the yeti look comes into fashion.)

Hmmm, I wonder if they wouldn't go well with Miuccia Prada’s latest collection of men’s wear for winter 2008? A sort of dichotomy of function without style paired with style without function...

Image from amazon.com

Thursday, January 17, 2008

V-J day in Times Square

Perhaps one of the most famous photographs from the 1940's is this image, originally published in Life magazine, and captured by Alfred Eisenstaedt, a German American photographer and photojournalist. He is known for his candid photographs, frequently made using a 35mm Leica M3 rangefinder camera. In 1945, he snapped this image of a sailor kissing a nurse on V-J day in Times Square. Due to the chaos of this happy, celebratory moment, he was unable to get names and details of his subjects.

In 1980, Life magazine reported that 11 men and 3 women had come forward to be the kissers, although I'm not convinced the real identities of these individuals will ever be known for certain. Perhaps it's for the best. The image evokes a celebration of the times and is a representation of Americans. The faces in the photograph are hidden and could be anyone; maybe that's the point. In some ways, the power of this image would be lost if one were to know the true identities of the individuals.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008


7 month-old joey who was abandoned by his mother. He is being raised at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Australia.

I've actually been to this place, once upon a time. We took a boat down the Brisbane River, passing an enclave of enormous and frightening fruitbats, to get to the sanctuary. I watched koalas scamper between trees, making very unpleasant grunting noises. It seems wrong that such cute and furry creatures should sound so bizarre! I snapped several close-up photos of these sleepy (being nocturnal) critters, and even held one in my arms (fur is super soft; claws are super sharp.) We also got to feed the kangaroos. Or rather, we TRIED to feed the kangaroos. The kangas were fat, disinterested and already stuffed from the free pellets handed out by the tourists. It took a good half hour before one even looked in my direction. Fortunately, my friend managed to snap a photo of this brief and fleeting moment.

Outside of the sanctuary, koalas and kangaroos are abound in the Brisbane area. Walks by the beach inevitably lead to a koala siting and hikes through the rainforest just an hour north of the "city" lead past groups of kangaroos hopping about. Many of the Australians I met were as disinterested in the local fauna as the fauna was in them. In fact, the kangaroos were generally regarded as somewhat parasitic, having overrun the area, not unlike the raccoon equivalent in the United States.

Despite the obvious embarrassment of having an American constantly cooing and oggling just about every species that crossed my path, my friends were relatively tolerant. And even if they wouldn't pose WITH the koala, kangaroo or goanna, they would at least pause a minute while I snapped a photo without them. After all, that's what friendship's for...


Tuesday, January 15, 2008


After watching the ad for the new MacBook Air on my crappy, slow-as-molasses iMac, I couldn't help but feel a wee bit frustrated. My last laptop aided in the current post-repetitive stress of my right hand, not to mention the many hours spent staring at the multi-colored whirly gig as it spun in endless circles while trying to load a web page. I then moved on to an iMac with improved keyboard ergonomics in order to improve my work station. Instead of spending hours hunched over an over-heating laptop in frustration, I now spend hours sitting upright at my desk in frustration. Have to admit, the MacBook Air is appealingly slick and beautiful. Maybe one of these days when this hunk of junk has finally broken down completely (likely due to one too many useless data charts for a far too useless thesis project) I'll be willing to cough up the $2,000 to buy one for myself. Until that time, I'll just have to content myself with watching apple ads between whirly-gig pauses and painfully watching each word I type appear a few seconds after it should. Ah, there goes that whirly-gig again...

Yours, in frustration,

Sunday, January 13, 2008


For good Italian food, I rarely head to the North End. It's too far away, over-touristed and overpriced. And why would I head all the way to Haymarket when a perfectly wonderful Northern Italian restaurant is so close by (visit La Morra!)

Then I moved to Cambridge.

There are no good Italian restaurants in Cambridge. Let me repeat this travesty, there are no good Italian restaurants in Cambridge. I've heard rumors about a spot in the back of a grocery store near Union Square, but overall, I've been severely deprived. And so, when my friends suggested dinner in the North End, they made me an offer I couldn't refuse...

Following a series of ill-fated attempts to board a train together, we finally made it to Hanover Street. Wandering up and down the menu packed sidewalks it became clear to me that a decision would never be made. The local favorite, Giacamo's, had the predictably long line. It was late. We were hungry. Standing in line was not an option. And so we turned to a funky spot called, Strega. Bedecked with red curtains and lined with flat screened televisions showing various Italian-American films (mainly about the mafia), I thought it looked promising. Photos of the owner with celebrities such as JT and Paris Hilton were posted next to the reasonable-sounding menu. Despite some reservations, we went in...

...the restaurant was surprisingly small. Fortunately we got a table right away. Surrounded by rotund waiters shouting out various Italian phrases to one another and suspiciously mafia-esque patrons in black leather jackets, slicked back hair and portly bellys, I felt this place was sure to be good. After all, if half the clientele is Italian, it must be good, no?

Our waiter offered us the day's special: homemade buffalo mozzarella stuffed with ricotta and served on prociutto. It was light, fresh and very delicious. I really wasn't bothered by the fact that it was probably made for tourists (being a little light on the prociutto flavor) because it went fabulously with the smooth bottle of Chianti we randomly picked off the wine menu. For a main course I tried the pappardelle all'emiliana because I had seen a waiter walking by with the dish and it looked GREAT. The delicious ragu sauce was made with ground tenderloin and fresh porcini mushrooms. While this in no way rivaled my favorite dish at La Morra, I have to say, the pasta was fresh, al dente and the sauce was rich and delicious. The clear homerun meal, however, was the fettucini Strega. Freshly made fettucini was served with ginormous shrimp and delicious, perfectly cooked scallops with fresh baby spinach and a touch of fabulous cream sauce. It was PHENOMENAL. I would go back just for the fettucini Strega.

Having had several glasses of the Chianti, it did not take much for our Joe Mantegna-lookalike waiter to convince us to get some dessert. Out of all the options, tiramisu was the clear choice. When it arrived, topped with bubbles of perfectly formed whipped cream and powdered cocoa, I have to admit, I was a bit worried. In that little glass dish, the bubbles reminded me of those ice creams one might get at a pushcart near the beach. This could be really disappointing...nevertheless, I dunked my spoon into the bowl and immediately knew I was in for a treat. The spoon went through the first layer and then the second with such light and delicate ease! Made with real lady fingers, REAL espresso and just the right amount of mascarpone cream, the tiramisu was possibly the best I've ever had in Boston. That's admittedly not saying too much, but I have had the tiramisu at La Morra (which might be a tad bit better, served globbed on a plate with very little pomp and circumstance.) I would consider going back just for the tiramisu.

Our waiter let us hang about for as long as we wanted, serving us small glasses of the house-made "Strega," a deadly concoction of some sort of licorice flavored liquor with loads of sugar. We were told that 4 glasses of this stuff would knock you off your feet for at least a day or two, but one glass was perfectly fine. So much for those brain cells. By the end of the evening we were ready to roll out of the restaurant and down the street. After a fine evening of wine, good food and delicious dessert, there wasn't much else to do besides head home and crawl into bed, happy, satiated and very, very stuffed.


379 Hanover Street

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Caesar Salad

One of my favorite salads of all time is the Caesar Salad. Served any number of ways, from deliciously fake-Italian to bizarrely deconstructed, this tasty salad nearly always satisfies my Caesar cravings. I think the only time I haven't been such a fan is when the dressing came from a bottle, and even then sometimes the bottled variety is not so bad!

A search for the original recipe yielded this:

Julia Child's description of her 1970's phone interview with Rosa Cardini, daughter of the Caesar salad creator, Caesar Cardini.

1/2 cup day-old bread, cubed
3/4 cup garlic oil*, divided use
2 small heads romaine lettuce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper and anchovies
2 eggs, coddled (boiled in the shell for 1 minute)
Juice of 2 medium lemons
8-10 drops of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

*Quote: "To prepare the garlic oil, place 4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and quartered, in a good quality (e.g. Extra Virgin) olive oil and let it stand at room temperature several hours or even up to 5 days."

Serves 4.

There is some debate as to whether or not those anchovies should be in the salad or not. According to some, Caesar was against their use and only used Worchestershire sauce as the source of anchovy flavor.

For the vegetarians of the world, the salad is often fine without the anchovies. For the vegans of the world, try substituting eggs with silken tofu!


Image of Caesar Cardini hotel and restaurant in Tijuana obtained from wikipedia

word origins: cocktail

From whence does the word, "cocktail," originate? Choose your answer:

1. Bartenders used to dreg off barrels and mix them together, then serve the resulting ‘concoction’ at a reduced price. The “tailings were the last bits of alcohol and the “cock” was the spigot.

2. Leftover liquor was served dumped in a ceramic container shaped like a rooster. You could get a cheap drink from a tap set in the tail of the rooster, otherwise known as the “cock’s tail.”

3. Here’s the story I heard this morning: In New Orleans, an apothecary named Peychaud would serve his customers a mix of bitters and brandy in an egg-cup. In French, that’s coquetier.”

4. Another French story is that “coquetetel” was the name of a mixed drink from Bordeaux served to French officers during the American Revolution.

5. Doctors once treated throat problems with a medicine applied to the tip of a cock’s tail feather. The medicine itself eventually acquired the name “cock’s tail.”

6. A doctor in ancient Rome made a wine-based mixed drink called “cockwine” drunk by the Emperor Lucious Aurelius (180-192 A.D.)

7. A potent drink will “cock your tail,” or lift up your spirits.

8. A 16th century drink called “cock-ale” got its name from a key ingredient.

Take 10 gallons of ale and a large cock, the older the better; parboil the cock, flay him, and stamp him in a stone mortar until his bones are broken (you must gut him when you flay him). Then, put the cock into two quarts of sack, and put to it five pounds of raisins of the sun-stoned; some blades of mace, and a few cloves. Put all these into a canvas bag, and a little before you find the ale has been working, put the bag and ale together in vessel. In a week or nine days bottle it up, fill the bottle just above the neck and give it the same time to ripen as other ale.


Images from wikipedia.com and www.cocktaildb.com

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Top 10 fashion "must-haves" of 2007

So here is where I provide my unsolicited opinion on the Top 10 fashion "must-haves" of 2007 according to Time:

#1. The Tent Dress
This 1960's throwback appeared all over the place, from H&M to Neiman Marcus. Even American Apparel came out with a version. It's not that I have anything against the tent dress (other than the blah-name), but I probably wouldn't buy one for myself.

#2. White Sunglasses
Not too fond of these. White can look cheap and gets dirty easily. Maybe if one had a really expensive pair and happened to be walking down a really nice red carpet, it might be acceptable. I'd much rather have a pair of Ed Hardy sunnies!

#3. High-Waisted Jeans
Have to admit, another blogger already said it all. See Strictly Fabulous Style! I do have to say, these have the potential to look REALLY unflattering. It's not that I think everyone should wear the low-slung crack-baring style of jean, but the high-waist on the wrong body type can also be a true fashion disaster. Plus I figure if high-waisted jeans can make Mischa Barton look sort of dumpy, it doesn't bode well for the rest of us.

#4. Day Clutch
I do love clutches...of the elegant evening variety. During the day when I care about function and practicality I prefer to reduce my risk of losing my keys, cell phone and wallet, not increase it. Why would one carry around something that could very easily be left on the bus or train? Maybe I just lack the skills of a lady, but I imagine it would be very difficult to juggle the travel mug, umbrella AND a large day clutch while trying to fumble with my keys or I.D. badge. Furthermore, winter is the time of large, icy puddles. Imagine dropping that brand new day clutch into a particularly slushy pothole...

#5. Ankle Boots
I like ankle boots. I would never wear them often enough to justify the purchase, but they are quite trendy and lady-like. Alternatively, they can look very hip and rocker-chic. Either way, if you can pull it off, definitely do!

#6. Vests
I nearly bought a tuxedo version at H&M but it sold out before I could make up my mind. In restrospect I'm glad I didn't spring for the vest as it seems like the sort of trend that will be very short-lived...(and there are better fashion options out there anyhow!)

#7. Fedoras
Cute on some hipsters, gangsters and the occasional supermodel. On the everyday person, they just make it look like you are trying too hard to be cool.

#8. Bright Tights
omg. (See Chic&Charming entry on American Apparel.)

#9. Red Lipstick
#10. Cocktail Rings
Ok, FINALLY two things I would actually wear! I love red lipstick. Or rather, I love red lipgloss (never been much of a lipstick kind of girl. Red is bold, glam and a very worthy 2007 "must-have" in my opinion! Cocktail rings are also fabulous for a fun night out.

Images from www.dressaday.com, www.time.com, shop.nordstrom.com and americanapparel.net


Things I will never buy...

...but it doesn't hurt to look!

Item #1: A white feather headband with freshwater pearls custom made by Renée Rivera.

Reasons not to buy one:
1. It is ridiculously expensive.
2. I would never wear it.
3. I have nowhere to store it.

...but it's so pretty!

Item #2: a $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae.

Made with "5 scoops of the richest Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream infused with Madagascar vanilla and covered in 23K edible gold leaf, the sundae is drizzled with the world's most expensive chocolate, Amedei Porceleana, and covered with chunks of rare Chuao chocolate, which is from cocoa beans harvested by the Caribbean Sea on Venezuela's coast. The masterpiece is suffused with exotic candied fruits from Paris, gold dragets, truffles and Marzipan Cherries. It is topped with a tiny glass bowl of Grand Passion Caviar, an exclusive dessert caviar, made of salt-free American Golden caviar, known for its sparkling golden color. It's sweetened and infused with fresh passion fruit, orange and Armagnac. The sundae is served in a baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet with an 18K gold spoon to partake in the indulgence served with a petite mother of pearl spoon and topped with a gilded sugar flower by Ron Ben-Israel."

Reasons not to buy one:
1. It is ridiculously expensive.
2. Once you eat it, there's nothing left.
3. $1,000 could feed a lot of starving children in Africa for WEEKS.

...but it's so decadent!

Item #3: A villa in Tuscany.

Reasons not to buy one:
1. I am not a millionaire.


Images from www.reneerivera.com, www.dailyolive.com, and www.tuscandream.com

The green fairy

The Absinthe Drinker, by Victor Oliva.

Absinthe, or la fée vert (the green fairy), is a distilled, highly alcoholic, anise-flavored spirt that up until recently was banned in the United States and several European countries. It is made from Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) and other herbs. Originally formulated in the 18th century by French-born Dr. Pierre Ordinaire in Switzerland as a digestive tonic, this spirit gained popularity in late 19th and early 20th century France. The drink was consumed by famous artists and writers such as Vincent van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway. The Lanfray murders in 1905 led to the prohibition of absinthe in Switzerland and subsequently other countries, including the United States. The compound, thujone, in absinthe was blamed as a dangerously addictive and psychoactive drug.

And now it's back. You can purchase the green drink of Parisian poets at your local liquor store.

One can drink absinthe in a few different ways. My favorite is the one used by Susan Sarandon in the movie, Alfie:

1. Pour a dose of absinthe into a glass, then place a sugar cube on an absinthe spoon or teaspoon.

2. Soak the sugar in absinthe by dipping it into the absinthe with the spoon or pouring a little absinthe over it.

3. Light the absinthe-soaked sugar on fire for about one minute, allowing the sugar caramelize and melt. If an absinthe spoon is used, the burning, melted sugar should drip into the absinthe.

4. Dunk the still flaming spoon into the absinthe, which may then ignite.

5. Add ice cold water to the absinthe to quench the flames and produce the louche effect.

Image from Wikipedia.

Not being a huge fan of licorice flavor or green drinks, I will probably not be running out to try this potential fire-hazard. Then again, perhaps there is something to being drugged up. I leave you with this piece by Coleridge (and tell me he wasn't drinking absinthe when he wrote it!):

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Today is word day, à la Chic&Charming:

trounce (trouns)
v. trounced, trounc·ing, trounc·es

1. To thrash; beat.
2. To defeat decisively.
3. The word that comes to mind having spent an entire Saturday in lab.

Today was the first day all week when it's been warm enough to not require a wool hat: "By the end of the day I was trounced (or should I say thrashed) by the experience."


Friday, January 4, 2008


The plan was to have only one after dinner.

Just one.

One adorable dipped chocolate truffle. When I opened the box the melliferous smell of delicious chocolate and praline was almost to much to bear. I munched down one piece in the shape of a milk chocolate mouse: whiskers, nose, tail and all. The texture was soft and delicious with hints of nuts. Delish! Although I had planned on only eating one (they were almost too cute to eat!) I soon found myself snarfing down a white chocolate covered praline in the shape of a sleepy cate. I ate it head first so it's cute little chocolate piped eyes wouldn't rebuke me for long. Obviously these whimsical little treats weren't going to last long in my house.

Ah well. I would just have to go back to the shop for more.

Moonstruck Chocolate makes truffles by hand with fresh ingredients. Each piece is hand poured, piped or rolled in the morning, then decorated to perfection. Shops can be found in a few locations, including the Natick Collection in Massachusetts and a couple of spots on Portland, Oregon (more on this later.)

Images from www.moonstruckchocolate.com

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

DIY demotivational poster

Living with a vegetarian can have its perks. I eat a lot more vegetables and probably have a smaller ecological "footprint" (due to my lack of steak intake.) On the other hand, this particular vegetarian seems to come with a heightened sense of "healthfulness" regardless of whether or not the food is veggie-friendly. After getting crap about making one too many creamy sauces over non-whole-wheat pasta and using too much butter (ie any butter at all) for the veggie sautés, I've learned to channel my foodie needs through a new brand of medium. Namely, despair.com, one fabulous source of demotivational slogans. A new feature of this site is the DIY section where one can upload an image of choice and add a custom made slogan. Here's mine:

Image from Jarosch Bakery

Pretty awesome.

Looks like someone will be cooking for himself this week.