Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!




Tuesday, December 30, 2008

obviously i'm on vacation


the last couple of days have been incredibly mellow. no presentations given to people in 5 countries simultaneously at 6am pacific time...no projects that have to be done by midnight pacific time (i.e., 8am uk time)....no looking at my email inbox wondering how the heck a hundred or so emails managed to pile up in a course of a few hours...

this is vacation. this is vacation at home no less. hence, no sitting in airports...staring at an electronic board...wondering when the heck my delayed flight is going to arrive/depart and wishing that i understood spanish. it is probably because of the lack of running around that i've become so sentimental this year. more time to actually take a breath and just sit with my high paced self. yet, this vacation has also been an excellent opportunity to catch up with friends and loved ones. today was a catch up day with SN....and we knew we were on vacation when it was a tuesday afternoon and we were having burgers and beer at The Monk's Kettle in the Mission.


i ordered the affligem noel (belgian dark beer)


which i liked...and then ordered the lamb burger (i.e., lamb pattie with tzaziki sauce) that was different, but not in a bad way.


there was a spice in the lamb that reminded me of star anise of all things. the only reason why i noticed it was it is not a flavor that i would normally associate with a burger. also, if you keep track of these sort of things, the bartender A has a great smile and is very attractive. it seems she is one of the regular bartenders there.

SN ordered the chicken "burger" that included bacon and brie....and mentioned that it was pretty good.


we were all about the comfort food today and also wanted to go somewhere with a good beer selection.

despite being pretty stuffed after our meals, i wanted to have some ice cream. i seem to always have room for ice cream. i think of it as my "ice cream" stomach. since i am not in the Mission as often as I would like, SN took me to Bi-Rite Creamery which i have only tasted at the Slow Food conference earlier this year. despite only tasting Bi-Rite ice cream only once...how could i forget? the Bi-Rite salted caramel flavor was one of my favorite tastes of the show...so we traipsed over to Bi-Rite Creamery near delores park.

i am going to take a moment to be smug and say how much i love living in the bay area. take a look at today's flavors....


and the menu board....(to see it better, feel free to click on the pic)


also, if i wasn't so determined to have the salted caramel, i think the coffee sundae or the sam sundae would have taken its place ....despite being stuffed. yet, thank goodness, they had the salted caramel flavor today....


it was as good as i remembered it....which is saying quite a lot. other local creameries appeared to make "special" batches for the slow food conference and when i tried the "real" thing at their retail stores...the flavors weren't nearly as good. yet, this was not the case with the salted caramel flavor from Bi-Rite. it was wonderful.


i happily savored every bite and remember thinking, "this is just heavenly. absolutely heavenly".

vacation is good thing.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

being open


i left my camera's at BF's the other night and currently feel as if a vital part of me is missing. interesting how one doesn't realize how attached one can become until something is gone. both taking photos and writing this blog has been an extraordinary outlet for me since march and i am continuously surprised by the amount of people that stop by to read my random musings... even before the becks and posh linking. btw, after that linking showed up....i didn't write for a couple of days since i had some serious "stage fright". yet, as you can see, i got over it.

while i understand why "the dear hearts".... those that know me, see me, and love me....read the blog.... i am a bit puzzled by those readers who have no idea who i am. well, i suppose they actually do "know me" quite a bit since i am so open in this venue. yet, what saves me from having additional stage fright is that only a handful of people actually know what i look like. i rather enjoy my semi-anonymous state as i gallivant around the gourmet ghetto and the sf bay area. i was talking about the blog with JB last week at one of my regular haunts, the guerilla cafe.

JB had a latte....


and i, of course, had the spicy hot chocolate....


and the waffle of the day...which was lemon chai.....



everything was lovely as usual. i really do enjoy this place quite a bit and am so happy that guerilla is so close to my place.

while JB and i were enjoying our warm beverages and such at guerilla, we talked about blogs as well as the challenges of being open. there are some of you, dear hearts, that i know that being open is not great challenge and you approach life with this exuberant openness and charm...that is absolutely and wonderfully infectious.

yet, that is not me.

for me, being open is a challenge and a goal that i've set for myself for the past year. i don't mean just being open to the carefully vetted "chosen few" but also being open more to life in general. i know this blog has helped me tremendously and my being open on this blog has transferred over into the non-virtual world. as usual, once i have my mind set on a goal, i pretty much pounce on it (i am an alpha after all)....and i've seen the change in how i interact with people...i see how it allows me to take more emotional risks....as well as accept, be comfortable, and just be "present" with my emotions that i cannot categorize/define. for the analytical foodie hunter who would prefer to compile emotions like code, this is a big deal.

years ago, i wouldn't have done this...i wanted to avoid certain kinds of emotional pain as much as possible. yet, i suppose as i have mentioned earlier, perhaps things happen for a reason and the ending of a marriage allowed me to realize what is truly important and truly appreciate my second chance at life. if someone had told me over a year ago that the divorce was something i needed to go through to truly understand what it means to love and be loved, i would have probably put aside my infamous control and well...i would have probably smacked them. yet....now....it is me saying these things. i no longer have regrets about the decisions i made....i made the best decisions i could at the time. i know that i won't make the same mistakes....i'll just make brand new ones... and that is ok.

now, the possibilities seem lovely, endless, and i know the potential emotional risks are worth it. because to shut off possibilities due to fear, is no way to live and love....and this, coming from the super duper analytically cynical food hunter no less.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

my polenta pics are on the pellegrino web site...

as promised....i just wanted to let you know that a couple of my pics are now on the pellegrino site. click here to take a look....these are the pics to look for



at this time, my pic of polenta in a ramekin dish is on the front page! i am still in a bit of disbelief.

pinch me.

Friday, December 26, 2008

just because it's christmas

the presentations went well and the last day of work was on the 24th. the last few of days have been absolutely lovely with the best friend and i roasting wild ducks on the evening of the 24th....then i consumed large amounts of heavy comfort food at BF and DBs white elephant party on the 25th, and then sharing huge amounts of chocolate and such today with the family. i am just starting to realize that i don't have to be back at work until the 5th....that that is such a wonderful thing to realize. the "christmas movie" i watched was "love actually"...which admittedly...is a bit of an unusual choice...but alas, it seems quite appropriate for my sentimental mood at the moment. there is a scene that i've embedded below that i think fits my sentimental mood and is quite bittersweet. i suppose, if there is a time of year to feel sentimental and all cheesey, it is now....because, well...because it's christmas.




Friday, December 19, 2008

bun bo hue. exactly what i needed


went to bed at 1am. back up at 5am. presentation at 7am. presentation over by 9. 9 ish...i felt drained and starving. i thought, "what do i need? i need something really good today for breakfast." i hopped in the shower, got ready and by the time i was on BART, i knew where i needed to go. i needed to go to kim huong in oakland (off of 10th and harrison) for the bun bo hue.

for me, bun bo hue cures all aliments. warm, comforting, and spicy. i was the first customer today when i walked in about 10am and i ordered the massive bowl...extra spicy. the owner lady...provided an extra condiment today....not traditional..but super yummy....she provided a in-house made chili paste made with habaneros. this was very good.

i love coming here. if it was closer to me, i'd probably be in here a hella lot more often. the people are so friendly. the bun bo hue is excellent. i haven't had anything outside of the bun bo hue. i can't help myself. as i've mentioned before, it took me years to find a good bun bo hue place....so it is kinda hard to order anything else.

when my giant bowl arrived...i sighed. then salivated. then sighed again. yum. yum.


doesn't that look so good? i slurped away...happy as i could be. i told the owner lady when i was finished that it was exactly what i needed. because it truly was. it filled me with such warmth and comfort...and i'm still full now...hours and hours later. truly amazing...the power of food to transform a state of being.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

still the precocious child


i realized when i made myself a late lunch today that i didn't have any veggies in the house. so i made myself some spicy ramen without any veggies (see above pic). qu'elle horror! it is my own fault. i've been a bit preoccupied the last week or so. i haven't really gone to the market for veggies. the work chaos isn't quite over yet, but i decided to take a break from my presentation (which i give tomorrow, monday, and tuesday) and pay a visit to the berkeley farmers market.

i am looking forward to the office holiday shut down. i think it will be wonderful to just read in bed. eat. read more in bed. eat some more. maybe go for a walk or two. definitely visit loved ones. sleep in. sigh. just a few more days.

the brave vendors were out today as it isn't exactly warm in berkeley these days. i paid my usual visits to happy boy farms and river dog





while i was wandering around the market, trying to keep somewhat warm, my thoughts were drawn to DH today....thousands of miles away...and having a very hard day. for the past few years, i have been extraordinary lucky on the work front and have been fortunate to connect with people that i have a feeling that i'll know for a long time.

DH and i decided to work together after speaking on the phone for an hour this past summer. for me, it was just a "feeling" or an instinctual thing. i thought, "i know that i can work with this person. this could be really good." and pretty much let DH know at the end of the conversation that if he made a decent offer, i'd be on board. i know VLD, my always friend and then boss thought i was kinda nuts. historically, i don't go by my instincts...but these days, i'm all about paying them a lot closer attention. i took a risk, left a good job...for what turned out to be a hella better of a job....and i still talk to VLD. it turned out to be a win-win. gotta love that.

yet, today, i was thinking of DH through a much more melancholy frame of mind. he is serving as a pallbearer today for a close uncle who passed on. the uncle was very young and fit...yet, cancer decided to take him anyway. talk about an emotional ride....especially since DH just returned from his honeymoon....and xmas is just around the corner. obviously...and well, a bit selfishly, i wish that these sort of things wouldn't happen to those that i care about. i think it is quite unfair. there is this part of me that can still relate to the precocious 13-year-old neophyte foodie hunter arguing with high school teachers about the non-existence of a single benevolent deity in her catholic school religion class...because, life isn't fair and shouldn't a deity who is so benevolent be fair? did i mention that i was also an angry child? sigh. i bet my high school teachers were very glad when i left high school for college when i turned 15. i can almost hear them say "THANK GOD" and probably lit a few candles to their benevolent deity in gratitude. in many ways, i am still that precocious rebellious child that truly believes life should be fair...i've just learned to "button it" during inappropriate situations.

yet, also, like a child, sometimes when i'm feeling sad, i wanna cookie. so i definitely wanted a cookie today and thankfully, found one at phoenix pastificio booth at the farmers market

i suppose everything does happen for a reason. the phoenix guy was so damn cheery and excited about the food he was selling in the freezing cold, that it made me smile. after buying one of the chocolate pecan chewies, i walked away with a smile...and munching on my super yummy cookie.....feeling better and thinking that there is much that i will never understand or think that is fair...but, you know, that is ok.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

little spitfires

after i submitted the analysis reports for a couple of the execs today, i decided that i really really really needed to take a break. so i trotted over to visit comic relief for a bit...and then stopped off at other change of hobbit (OCoH) to pick up some trashy sci-fi as well as visit the kitties


aren't they cute? they were out in full force today. i must say that visits to OCoH are so much easier now that super flirty whippersnapper no longer works there. there are only so many times i can scratch my head at the adorable young man who looked at me like i was some kind of dessert and would ask me if i needed help, like 4-5 times, while trying to talk to me about my comic purchases from next door. anyway, after my visit to to OCoH, i decided it was time for some lunch. as it was right during the "prime" lunch time, i found myself wandering around downtown looking to grab a bite to eat. i started to get a hankering for the salsa bar at cancun. "well, why not?" so i dropped by and ordered my usual (i.e., crispy taco with a side of rice and a horchata).

it really is all about the salsa bar at cancun. sooo many to choose from. my faves are the inferno salsa (made with habaneros) and the cucumber salsa. the inferno salsa is the small mound of red stuff on top of the rice. while i was munching away on my lunch today, oddly enough, the salsas reminded me of the last time i kid-sat the munchkins. they are such smart little spitfires. i love them so dearly.

something i've learned over the years being a god parent is you always back up the parents. always. no matter how cute the munchkins are...they will always test you to see if you'll back their parents. you can set your watch by this. this definitely came into play during my last visit, when the monkey boy was attempting to eat a spicy piece of chicken...and had drank all of his milk. the heart sister hadn't left for her event yet, so she was still at the table...telling the monkey to stop eating the chicken if it was too spicy as he wasn't going to get more milk. (background note...sometime the kiddies try to fill up on beverages instead of eating) she told him to eat more of the other stuff to cut the spice. yet, you know what happened when the heart sister left the house for her event? monkey boy looks at me, takes a bite of the spicy chicken, and starts yelling for more milk.

right on schedule. fun times.

my calm response: "no."

"I WANT MORE MILK"

"no."

"I WANT MORE MILK" he says as he stuffs a napkin in his mouth.

"what did i just say? i am not going to repeat myself. if you want to cut the spice, you should eat the other stuff."

"It burns!!!"

"Next time, you shouldn't take a bite of the chicken when you already know it is too spicy."

monkey boy gets over it extremely quickly. like it never happened. meanwhile, the pig pen is looking across the table at us with her wide blue eyes.

her turn would come later.

it is a well known fact that my darling little pig pen tries to avoid bed time. yet, i have a bit of a head start over my darling on the stubborn factor...i've had decades of experience at being stubborn...while she has only just begun. i usually find my "special place" where i become something resembling a zen monk before i put her in the crib. as soon as she goes in the crib, the wailing begins. my goodness she has a set of lungs on her. i go through the motions pretending that there isn't this angelic-looking child yelling at the top of her lungs.

as i prepare to leave the room, this is when i realize that her bedroom lamp has changed...and i'm trying to figure out how to turn it off. do you know what my lovely little pig pen does? she stops wailing and earnestly tells me how to turn off the lamp oh so nicely and politely. i say "why thank you, sweetie" and then turn off the light. once she sees that i have figured it out, she decides to return to wailing.

"good night sweetie, i love you. see you in the morning" i say as i walk out of her room, close the door, and try not to bust my gut laughing.

sigh. little spitfires. love them dearly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

random but cool...


hmmm. so much for working decent hours these days. bad habits die hard i suppose. i haven't experienced this mad rush of projects to complete by the end of the year in quite a few years.....actually, i think the last time i experienced this mad rush was when i was editor and had the ever present "yearly signing goals" on my back. this time though, it is a series of presentations and various reports that need to get done over the next couple of days.

yet, among this madness, a random but very cool event occurred. i was thinking about this random event during a recent outing to turkish kitchen (see above pic)...i don't think i've actually left my place much the last few days..now that i think of it....the outing to turkish has been the only one. sigh. things will be better after the 23rd...that day is the last in the series of presos...for december that is. i'll talk about january when it gets here. anyway, the random but cool thing was being contacted by the agency that runs the san pellegrino web sites. one site is here and the other is here. it looks like they are interested in using a couple of my pics for an article that they are going to do. i'll be certain to post the link when the pics and article are up.

how random is that? but in a very cool way, of course. i am a copious consumer of their products...particulary the limonata. love that stuff. so it was with quite a bit of glee when i responded to the agency. a nice randomly cool thing to think about when i peek out from under my virtual research mound. speaking of the mound....it is time to get back to it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

poke. poke. hmmm. poke again?

it is a dreay day in the gourmet ghetto. as i look out of the windows of my office, i can see gray skies and the drizzle of raindrops as they slowly travel down the glass. it is a rain boot kind of day. the gray skies and rain also seems quite appropriate of my reflective mood this morning. this seems to be happening a lot recently doesn't it? perhaps my blog subheading should read "reflective musings" rather than "random thoughts". as JB put it the other day, my blog provides a peek into my life...through the frame of food. something that i have been working on is being more open...which isn't exactly easy for the super duper analytical foodie hunter. yet, i do think the blog has helped me with this particular ongoing journey.

when i woke up this morning, i decided it was going to be a decadent hot chocolate day. i decided to use some freshly whipped cream

(i used strauss whipping cream....the ultimate decadence....i had a bunch left over from making the fleur de sel ganache) as well as scharffen berger cacao.

what has put me in this mood this morning? well, i was looking through a friend and loved one's flickr archive, playing various slide shows of their sets.... and i was shown some pics i hadn't seen before. there were some pics of me as well as an ex-lover...the one i haven't seen in well over a year. this was incredibly unexpected. i wouldn't have thought that this particular friend would have posted the ex-lover's picture...granted we both had visited the friend in st. louis a few years ago....but still....there was a jolt of surprise when the ex-lover's face shot across my computer screen.

i have been quite deliberate in my avoidance of any mementos, images, etc. avoiding the mementos was easy as i took nothing with me. every present ever given to me by him and his family was left at the house. in certain cases...neatly lined up on shelves...as well as most of the jewelry sprinkled among his personal things. i was angry. quite. yet, not angry enough to keep the great-grandmother's heirloom pearls given to me by his lovely mother before we were engaged. those i left carefully wrapped and nestled in box for him on his desk...next to the carelessly tossed custom platinum [made for me by his best friend] and antique diamond wedding rings. yup, i was pretty pissed off that night.

this morning, i was definitely revisiting my anger of that night as i scooped the reddish brown cacao into the cup, warmed the strauss cream, and boiled some water. yet, the revisit was similar to watching a movie...there was this distance i wasn't expecting.....much like my reaction to the pictures.

what was my reaction to the pics dear hearts? it was "oh. look, it is him. that's a pretty good shot." then i paused... "huh?" ....and started internally poking at myself. "what do you mean that's a 'good shot'?...where is the anger?" poke. poke. "remember? you were fuckin' pissed off?"....poke. "where is the sadness?" poke some more.

still nothing.

naturally, given my analytical self...just to be sure ....i poked at myself some more this morning while i was mixing and sipping at my morning decadence.


i suppose it was something i needed to go through. i made the best decisions i could at the time. i spent so much time convincing myself it was the "right thing" to do. it was hard. it was painful. the loneliest i have ever felt was when i was with him.

yet, these days....i am so content...so happy. i love my life...for the first time in years and years. it feels so good...this second chance at life. perhaps i needed to experience what i did in order to truly appreciate and recognize my life now. i recognize that i am incredibly fortunate. i have my passions, am surrounded by many wonderful loved ones, and am excited about life's possibilities.

well, what do you know....it has stopped raining and the sun is shining through.

how appropriate.

guess i won't need those rain boots after all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

taking responsibility


recently, the best friend indicated both privately and publicly that "sometimes the universe knows exactly what it is doing." today, her statement came to mind as i walked back home from my yummy lunch at the great china restaurant in downtown berkeley. the lunch started innocently enough. as it was friday, i decided to have a bit of a treat and go to lunch earlier than normal so that i could grab a seat at great china since it crowds up pretty quickly.


i also wanted to have the opportunity to begin reading a recent compilation of astonishing x-men by joss whedon.

as i have mentioned before, i'm a fan of mr whedon. anyway, i was enjoying my ginormous yummy lunch


(which i always know that i'll take home half for another meal) and happily engrossed in whedon's take on kitty pryde, emma frost, beast, and wolverine. once i was done with lunch and had packed up my leftovers.....i started to gather the comic compilation, my journal, and various sundries....and getting ready to leave when a large group walked in and past my table. my back was to them (for which i would be thankful later on) so i didn't see them approach...but i did see them sit down.

i think the oddest parts about moving back to berkeley are the glimpses of people you would rather not see and perhaps would rather not remember. in this case, a member of the group was...hmmm...lets call him T-boy shall we? anyway, so T-boy was among the group. T-boy and i were once good friends while we were at university as we were heavily involved in the same student organizations, writing publications, and actually/deliberately took a couple of classes together. yet, the friendship pretty much ended after he strongly suggested we have sex. it appeared that he didn't seem to think his girlfriend would mind very much.

yeah.

dear hearts, those that know me probably understand that T-boy obviously didn't know me as well as he thought he did.....especially if he thought that even the mere hint or suggestion of such a proposal would be ok with me. obviously the friendship ended. talk about stupid college drama.

i remember kicking myself for quite a long time after that one...."how could i be friends with such a fucker?"...."what did i do to make him think it would be ok to ask such a thing?"...."what did i do wrong?" were the common questions i asked myself. i was much harder on myself in my late teens than i am now (if you can believe it....i've actually mellowed out quite a bit since then). yet today, as i walked back home from the restaurant ...my thoughts were more reflective and viewed through a much older frame of mind....and the question "why did i take so much responsibility for his actions?" arose. he was being a young hormonal shit, probably out to get as much play as he could get, and decided to try to manipulate our friendship and me.

amazing what some experience and a few years can do for perspective.

over the years, i have met and unfortunately, had to do business with quite a few people that lack integrity....and i fully realize that their lack of integrity has nothing to do with me. absolutely nothing. lack of integrity is their choice...not mine.

seeing T-boy just made me appreciate my friends and loved ones even more...as integrity is a quality they all have in common.... in addition to being driven strong minded alphas...each and every one of them of course. i suppose that the T-boy kind of experiences are necessary....as they are painful lessons that also enable me to recognize the presence of character as well as the lack of it.

it also made me think about how hard i am on myself....and perhaps in the future...i will look at myself now...shake my head and my "youth" and unrealistic desire to take responsibility for actions of those that i have no control over...and actions i will never be able to understand nor agree with....since the last time i checked, integrity is important to me....and always will be.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

i am not a baker

you know that i love you when i bake something for you.

there are tons of people throughout the world that love to bake and are very good at it. i am not one of those people. despite not being a very good baker...i am a good researcher. it was the researcher part of me that ensured that my wacky idea of baking a birthday surprise for JS (who was in town for, like, a day) turned out ok.

after spending an evening consulting texts from harold mcgee, shirley corriher, cook's illustrated, gourmet, and david lebovitz...i decided to delve into the birthday baking experiment. my objective was to bake two kinds of cupcakes....a german chocolate cupcake and a chocolate fleur de sel. JS's favorite is german chocolate and he's a bit obsessed with salty dark chocolate at the moment as well...so i thought this duo would be a good surprise.

i decided to use the devil's food cake recipe from cook's illustrated as the base for both types of cupcakes. i used 99% unsweetened scharffen berger chocolate as well as the unsweetened scharffen berger cocoa. this actually turned out pretty well. i remember thinking "this is what heaven must smell like" when i chopped up the scharffen berger chocolate blocks. note....chopping chocolate is a lot easier when you use a heavy stainless steel cleaver as opposed to a chef's knife. just a thought i wanted to share.

anyway, using the cook's illustrated devil's food cake recipe as a base for both cupcakes was a good call. i used half the batter "as is" for 6 german chocolate cupcakes and the other half of the batter for the 6 chocolate fleur de sel cupcakes.

for the chocolate fleur de sel cupcakes...i would spoon in a scoop of batter (filling the cup about 1/3) then sprinkled a teeny bit of fleur de sel, then another layer of batter, then more fleur de sel, etc..until filled. then to make certain i would be able to tell which was which....i cut a square of scharffenber 70% cacao chocolate and placed them on top. i'm sooo glad i did this....


as for the frostings....i modified the ganache recipe from the gourmet cookbook.
i used scharffen berger 70% cacao chocolate and added 6/8 of a teaspoon of fleur de sel throughout the process. this does not include the final sprinkling of fleur de sel after the assembly....

i actually liked this one. i think i may make this one again in the future...for other loved ones.

for the german chocolate topping i used a combo recipe from cook's illustrated and the baker's german chocolate cake receipe (i used scharffen berger for the cupcakes...but also bought the baker's bar so that i could have the german cake topping recipe).

i can't say i am a huge fan of this one...but JS seemed to like it. i have a sneaking suspicion that he ate it because i baked it. sigh.

i supppose at the end of the day, it is the thought that counts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

revisiting old favorites

it is hard to believe that it has been weeks and weeks since i've had toast! yet, today, i decided to revisit an old favorite that i haven't made in ages....and that is roasted ca grown shiitake mushrooms and garlic on toasted acme pain au levain bread.

as i prepped the mushrooms and garlic....i thought, "why did i stop doing this?" ...then placed it in the oven.

as the mushrooms and garlic were roasting...it filled my place with amazing smells as well as a much needed warmth. it made the place super cozy ...so much that the thought of leaving the coziness for the cold outside made me wince. sigh. i think that i've become an uber temperature wimp since i've moved back to the gourmet ghetto [it is soooooo much warmer in east bay than the city] and i am not going to chicago as much. no more bone chilling cold for me. i may miss VLD immensely, but i don't miss the chicago cold.

i also decided that the body needed some braised winter greens so i pulled out some dino kale and braised it with chili flakes, kosher salt, and water. fortunately, everything was done about the same time...so i spooned out the kale into a bowl....


then turned my attention to assembling my roasted mushroom garlic toast.


on a whim, i decided to spread some cypress grove truffle tremor cheese (super yummy) on the toast before adding the mushrooms and garlic...


the goat cheese was a lovely complement to the roasted mushrooms and garlic.


doesn't this look good?

it was very good. it is nice to re-discover old favorites. why did i stop? i suppose with all of the traveling i have been doing recently, i just needed to find my groove again. thankfully, it will be a few more weeks before i head off to london. but, i don't think i really need to worry about london right now. it will come soon enough. i'll just continue on my rediscovery of toasted artisan breads and veggie sides...i know my body appreciates it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

so what?

so last night and this afternoon i was fortunate enough to hang out with the heart sister. we even had a impromptu moment away from the kids.....trying to keep warm with mexican hot chocolate as well as snacking on flautas and such. during hanging out....pink's "so what?" played on the radio. this is when DC mentioned how this song reminds her of me. i was a bit puzzled...as all i could hear was "na na na na na". i hadn't really listened to this song before.

honestly, since i discovered pandora a couple of years ago i haven't listened to regular radio in a long time....and lets just say that pink usually isn't on the playlist. yet, i am very much aware of her ballsy attitude which i must admit to having a bit of admiration for. i get a sense that she has this "take me or leave me" kind of 'tude. i like that.

so when i returned from the extended visit with the family, i decided to buy the song online and listen to it a bit closer. after all, it isn't every day when a loved one says that a song reminds them of you. if you aren't familiar with the song, here is a youtube video that has the lyrics....



as i started to listen to the song on my headphones, i found myself bursting out laughing at various points. at one point, i laughed so hard that i thought i was going to pee in my pants. OMG. it shouldn't suprise me that the heart sister knows me so well.

it also reminded me of a conversation i had with JS over drinks by the pool in our lovely merida oasis last week. "so what's your strategy?" was one of the questions he poised to me while i had my legs over the arm of my overstuffed chair....looking up at the stars...drinking red wine....listening for bats....and marveling in the warm night.

leave it to JS to ask me about my strategy when we are trying to relax.

yet, i suppose that is one of the reasons why i love him and why he is one of my closest friends....always thinking, strategizing, and wondering about the future, he is.

anyway, my response? brutally honest as usual. people learn very quickly not to ask me direct questions unless they want honest answers. "i don't know. since i walked out that night, i remember thinking as i left the house that 'everything has to be better. everything. i am not going to be worse off because of this.' this has been my motivation for the past year. i have made certain that every part of my life is better than it was before. yet, i didn't think i'd accomplish it so soon. so, now i'm like, now what?"

yet, we all know dear hearts...that me and my intense driven alpha self is not going to sit around twiddling my thumbs waiting for life to happen to me. as i have mentioned before, i feel like i've been given this second chance...and i'll be damn if i'm going to waste it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

last week in merida


yup. it is past 3am at the moment and i am trying to wind down for the night. it is difficult to believe that last week i was in merida. it seems like merida was a very long long time ago. i am hoping that by revisiting this not too long ago trip, some of the relaxation and warm memories will ease some tension and allow me to make the transition to a decent night sleep.

i think my favorite day in merida was when JS and i randomly wandered around. we had no idea where we were going. absolutely none. yet, we had a map on us in case we got lost...which is always a good thing. i adore wandering around an unfamiliar city with no agenda....having no idea what is beyond the next corner or the next block. merida is a lovely walkable city filled with many contradictions....such as having practically immaculate structures


next to worn but still lovely buildings. also, i found that you never quite know what the buildings house...so many of them house these courtyards that are treasures within themselves....

i would have never guessed that these courtyards existed from the tiny sidewalks on the bustling streets.

one of the best wandering moments was when we entered this huge concrete structure....and realized we entered a market



i immediately went darting around and taking shots here and there. some folks were giving me quizzical looks as i don't think many tourists visit this market.

after we wandered around and met up again, JS said "fuckin' awesome"...which i think summed up the experience quite nicely.

surprisingly, after wandering around some more for a couple of hours we found ourselves near the main plaza. i say surprisingly because neither one of us has the greatest sense of direction. lets be honest here shall we? anyway, at this point it was supremely hot...so i was all about having a sorbeto at the ice cream place on the main plaza and JS was agreeable. after we took our seats outside, i ordered the tamarind sorbeto....


and JS ordered something that tasted like "red hot" candy. he didn't finish his...but oh boy did i finish mine. it was a yummerific combo of sweet, tart, and cold...which is just what i needed. despite the cool temperature of my place in the gourmet ghetto (which i am trying to offset with the space heater at the moment)....the tarmarind sorbeto sounds really good right about now. sigh. perhaps it is the relaxation and the state of mind that i am really hankering for. hmmmm, maybe i'll just dream about it... because that is what merida trip feels like right now...a kind of fuzzy dream.