Wednesday, December 12, 2012

two brilliant ideas (regarding food)

Since starting unemployment, I have been eating very well. My reliance on things that come in boxes and bags has been lessened now that I have all kinds of time to cook and grocery shop.

And of course, the added bonus is when you cook actual food and there are only two of you - you get tons and tons of leftovers. Double Win!

Sometimes though, you get too many leftovers and you have to get creative. So here are my two creative ideas, for you to take and use in your own life. You're welcome.

1 - Meatloaf and fried egg sandwich. I made a 4 lb. meatloaf by accident last week (I didn't really comprehend what four pounds of meat was until I was handmixing it. It was mildy excessive, but crazy delicious. Anyway - I was getting sick of just meatloaf and had run out of mashed potatoes, so I warmed the meatloaf, toasted bread, fried an egg and put the ketchup betwixt the egg & 'loaf so as not to soggy up the bread before enjoyment.

2 - Omelets full of Dip. It's the holidays, so I am sure you have some sort of cheese-and-mayo based dips lying around your house. And if you don't - this is an okay excuse to make one. Start making your omelet just like normal and instead of throwing veggies or meat in there, just dump some spoonfuls of dip (I used artichoke and crab dip). Fold that monster up and eat it. Boom. Delicious.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

I wanna dance.

I am having booze problems these days. I assume it has something to do with being older (and therefore lamer). The last few times I've been trying to get all cray-cray, I've just gotten really miserable and sick and its been the worst.

Last night was my chance to redeem myself at the annual Andersonville Bar Crawl. Its the best party of the year. It deserves a yelp review its so good. I didn't want to puss out before the big finale dance party. I kept reminding myself to pace myself and listen to myself and drink water...myself.

It was strange, to be listening to my body rather than just trusting that its been down this bumpy road before and knows how to come out on top.

At bar one, it was time for a Little Sumpin' Sumpin' (no more Miller Lite over here folks, we're grown-ups), I drank. I kissed and hug all the friends, who if I don't see them once a week, it feels like I haven't seen them in foreeeeever. I saw people from the past. Stories were told. More beer please. I asked my friend to explain to me what his rap lyric, "Louie on my booty" meant (answer: he doesn't really know). More Beer. I'll show you a little sumpin, sumpin.

By bar two, those beers had kicked. in. So. I did what I was supposed to do. I drank water. I still felt a little sick. I drank more water. I ate pizza. I felt sick. I cursed the gods who made getting older a thing. Talked about feelings. More water. Maybe its the water making me drunk. Sick. Pizza. Pizza. Water.

At the third bar of the night, I felt ready to drink again. I ordered prosecco. Dumb choice? Maybe, but it came in this adorable little quarter bottle. I like small versions of big things.

Drink Prosecco. Wish aloud that I could get some orange juice up in this piece. Little bottle! Wax poetic on all things East Coast (typical). Prosecco. Mmm. Bubbles. Bravery followed by immediate cowardice. Declaration that my friend Laura's nickname was los tostadas. Clapping and demanding attention.

I knew that the clapping meant we were in trouble, so at the final bar (the dance party) it was water. Water. Whitney Houston. My favorite girls. a troublesome strapless shirt. This being my jam. Water. Not quite enough air in the room. Fog. Miley Cyrus. Water. Dancing in a circle. Knowing all the words. Being a little embarrassed  Not giving a fuuuuu. Carly Rae. Water. Stage time. More water. Spilling the water everywhere. Giving up on water. Dance party. Dance party. Dance Party. Whoops, its only couples left? Peace out.

This morning I woke up to no voice and a sizable hangover for what amounted to four drinks in seven hours. This from a girl who used to drink Miller Lite by the gallon and then take a fifteen minute nap before working for seven hours. Its a strange adjustment to be making - this whole not drinking until it comes out my pores - but a good one I am sure. Anything to make sure the dance party doesn't stop.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Eight times.

Guys. Sometimes I feel like a douche for doing this:

But I did it. Again. I wrote 50,000 words in a row and they are all kind of about the same thing.

Remember how I promised (all those years) to be super vigilant about writing every day, 1,667 words a day. It was going to a slow and steady trudge to the top.

Turns out that is not ever going to be the case. Or at least, it was not this year.

This year though. This year, I took NOTES. One night in early October I took a little nugget of an idea that I have had forever and I made it grow. I took a notebook and a pen and sat quietly late into the night writing down everything I could think about the idea. I answered questions that came to mind and  then just decided things that were not even questions that I had.

I told a few people about the idea. They all had questions. So I answered their questions as best as I could and the questions I could not answer I kept in my head until I could figure out an answer.

But even all that planning was nothing compared to actually writing the monster. This was the first time  I ever took on a world that was not identical to our own. It had all of its own rules and there was no one around to make up those rules except for me.

Sometimes I would forget that I was in charge and I would get frustrated by something I felt was restrictive. But then eventually i would remember that not only did I get to make the rules, but this was a first draft and I could change the rules mid story and no one was going to come after. Not the fiction police, not anyone.

This has been a weird year because I have been sans job all month. And, as I mentioned earlier in the month, it possibly made it harder to carve out the time to write. When you have nothing but time you always are able to put things off.

And lets be honest, this whole monthly thing has become, for me at least, how long can I put this off and procrastinate and still get things done.

Keep in mind everyone, with 10 days left in this party, I only had 6,000 words written. That is just over 10%. With 10 days left. I am a big fan of the last minute. Big fan.

Thanks go out to all the usual suspects with a big round of sound for

Boyfriend for being everything and anything that I could need. Except for that moment when he said the book was dumb.

The people I talked about this with and who were willing to ask questions instead of just saying, "that sounds dumb."

This one

for being the best moral support a girl can get.

Bring on the holidays. See you next year.

Friday, November 23, 2012


For cookies.

And sweet neighbors.

And for still getting to play pretend sometimes.

Monday, November 19, 2012


While every year I talk about putting off writing longer and longer, this year I feel as though I am truly sinking. This might be the first year that I don't make it.

Here are a few excuses.

1- I am not working right now. I am keeping myself fairly busy with random things, but ultimately, my time should be purely dedicated to writing. Which isn't going to work. Writing is the thing I do to distract me from real work. When writing is the real work, I find myself distracting myself from my distraction. Food. Internet. Trips to the Caribbean.

2 - I gave myself a purpose. Unlike most years, this story had a plan. It had a "narrative arc" and its a good one too. But I didn't think too hard about how to make it work. So I am struggling with how to put the words down without just literally typing out all of my notes verbatim and then just crying.

Tomorrow is the beginning of the end. I need to have 40,000 words by the 25th, or its all over. Which means at least 7,000 words a day. I need to remember that it isn't about a full story. It isn't about a complete and perfect story. Its about getting it done.

Pep talk over. Back to work.

Monday, November 05, 2012





I am struggling SO hard with all of my words today. I have this endless basket of them in my brain and today for some reason, the ones I want prove to be as impossible to find as the matching sock at the bottom of the clean laundry.

Its proving to be nearly impossible to write when I have no other responsibilities requiring my attention.

How stupid and selfish to have all this time to write and yet the inability to produce something of a quality equal to the gift of all this time.

So today.

I will.

make cookies.
write thank you letters.
go to yoga.
watch people attempt to be funny.
eat mac and cheese.
do laundry.

I will fill my day up with the hopes that the distraction will allow the words to sneak back in.

I will also try very hard not to get more frustrated than I already am. It's a long month. I have plenty of time.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The need for heroes

oh. Hello, blog.

A few days ago I had a discussion with a lovely person about children's books. She dropped a serious wtf-bomb when she mentioned casually that she had never read, nor knew anything about The Hunger Games books. She's a sweet girl, but apparently the rock she lives under is both spacious and all encompassing, because I feel like dead people at least have some semblance of the plot of Hunger Games.

After reviewing the entire plot (but leaving out the good bits) she shrugged and said she just didn't really connect with childrens/young adult literature.

Believe it or not, I did not just get up and walk out of the room at that kind of egregious and failbomb-y statement.  But I was slightly taken aback and a little disheartened, though it took me a few days to figure out why.

There are SO many reasons that I personally like The Hunger Games, the Margaret Atwood-y dystopian-ness, the struggle to come to terms with what romantic love is and how to react to it, the deep-seated need to provide for the ones you love...granted, we aren't really in the same place in our lives, but Katniss Everdeen is my kind of lady.

But beyond my personal preference, I love these books for what they provide to girls: A real, true-blue, honest girl hero.

As I think back to the books I read as a kid (when you pull "The Baby-Sitter's Club" weeds away) there were some amazing women. Calico Captive, Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and even the Little House in the Big Woods books, although Laura Ingalls Wilder was a big fan of rule-following. Lame.

But ALL of those books were books that my Mom also read. The world was desperately in need of some new females to carry the torch - and what did they get? Harry Potter and Twilight.

Don't get me wrong, Harry Potter is some solid business. But the girls are relegated to the sidelines and to waiting around for rescuing. Even though they seem to be the smartest ones. What kind of message is that?!

And DON'T get me started on Twilight. I could write for centuries about why Twilight is the worst thing to happen to girls and the publishing industry - if for no other reason than we have it to thank for Shades of Gray (so now women of ALL ages can read books about emotionally abused women with some sort of twisted masochistic streak...awesome).

We needed some girls who are in charge without big brothers to save the day. And I am not saying Katniss is the perfect girl. She is super flawed and kind of terrible a lot of the time, but that's a GOOD thing. Find me a male hero who doesn't have a problem with the drinking or the ladies (Jesus doesn't count).

I am glad Katniss was around to open the door and I hope, for girls (both big and small) everywhere, that there is a long parade that follows behind.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How we do


to Boyfriend
For lunch I have had 4,000 snap peas. I am about to turn into a snap pea.

to me

Babies in costumes always make Wednesdays more bearable. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday's Best Internet Finds! Stalker Edition

I spend far too much time on the internet. We could go into the why of this - but you're not my therapist, blog reader, and if you were - we would have waaaaay more important things on our metaphorical plate.

In my decade and a half of time spent in the internet tubes I have uncovered a lot of really amazing things and discovered some super cool people. Here's the weird thing - the people I've discovered, don't know I exist.

Its one thing to follow people who are asking for a following (Dear Baby Blog, I am looking in your direction). But there are others who have a super awesome thing going, but are not quite internet celebrities or are celebrities with personal blogs that don't get the same type of attention.

Internet stalking, yo. Don't knock it til you try it.

But today I am taking off the creepy black ski mask and letting my freak flag fly free.

Here are three of my favorites:

Army Pants and Flip Flops. This one is kind of cheating because this girl and I kinda-sorta travel in the same circles. I wouldn't know her if I saw her on the street, but my brother, my mom and probably my sister would - so...there's that. Anywhoodles, she is getting married to your Grade A type Army dude and so of course (because it wouldn't be a romantic comedy any other way) she is your standard Renn Fair loving theater geek. And he's deployed to Afghanistan. And there is a wedding to plan. And she's just trying to figure this ish out. The internet is a great place to get your Ish together. She makes me giggle out loud sometimes and she won Boyfriend's heart by confirming that you can in fact make a wedding registry on (not that Boyfriend is looking to register for Aneee.thing. He just really, really loves Amazon).

The Enjoy Project. Okay - Kristin is pretty darn close to famous. She has a business taking amazing pictures and so she probably racks up the hit counts. I found this blog through T-bone's wedding photographer Lydia Jane (check out T-bone's wedding! Lydia is ah.mazing) who is good friends with this Kristin, who (because Maryland is very, very small) photographed the weddings and engagements of some people I know from high school. Kristin's blog really caught my attention when she started blogging about how she met her (spoiler-alert) now husband. She and I operate on different wavelengths, but it is interesting to watch someone deal with doubt and fear and figuring it out because it makes you feel better about your own doubt and fear and challenges in figuring it out.

Please Note: I did not PLAN for this to be a TBIF all about shmoopy love business. I am not breaking away from my she-man-man-hating club. But I cannot be held responsible for the fact that girls who are increadibly talented and captivating writers tend to get boys all hot and bothered (I mean, duh, Boyfriend,

Dancing Brave. Heather is famous. Sups famous. I was obsessed with Heather back in 2002 when she was recapping for TWoP and had a sweet diaryland blog (guys - Diaryland was the real deal back in '03). Its weird to think that she was younger then than I am now. All making bad choices and being awesome. I thought she was so cool. I still do because she runs Go Fug Yourself (which I will proudly say, I've been reading since Day 1). But she also has a personal blog where she talks about raising twins (!!), and her love for all things Notre Dame (shake down the thunder, everyone). It is fun to see the dichotomy between her glamorous Fashion Week writing and her kids-at-home-how-we-do writing.

The internet is full of funny, smart ladies. The End.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

More Sunday Thoughts

A few thoughts before bed.

1 - It took me almost two and a half hours to watch a streaming version of the one-hour-and-six minute series three premier Downton Abbey (oh, I am back down that dark alley with no regrets). The streaming was terrible. It kept stopping and skipping and I thought my laptop was going to spontaneously combust it was working so hard.

Consensus: Worth it. Oh my worth it. Guh. Sometimes you wait a billion years for something and it delivers. I cannot imagine waiting 7 more days, forget 4 months.

2 - I started a new class today on a whim (well, it was a whim about 2 weeks ago - now its a reality). Its weird to be in class again. I haven't taken a real improv class in about 3 years. Its weird to be learning for learning's sake again. But I guess its good to get my feet wet if I am seriously going to go back to actual school.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

My Mouth's Most Happiness (part 3) (...Finally)

Sooooo, like, 7 months ago, I had a crazy delicious meal and started writing about it (check out the first couple courses, and then the middle couple of courses. Annnnd finally, I got my act together to finish it tonight. Enjoy the third installment of our Alinea adventures.

After all the real food - it was dessert time.

They brought out Winter. Like the seaweed log before it, this was basically some designer's wet dream, with 4 bites of food on it. In this case - another log, with pine needles, and rocks that had been cooled to -80 degrees and adorned with peppermint flavored snow. Resting on top of the snow were bites of different fruits (including persimmon) and a nutmeg marshmallow.

Then there was the deconstructed hot chocolate, that was water but of course, it was actually hot chocolate. Okay, Harry Potter, you win.

The snow was realistically cold and fantastically delicious. I scraped it off the rocks with a fork until Boyfriend said that, really, that was quiet enough.

The penultimate course was one of the ones that I wish had been a surprise for me (but was happy was a surprise for Boyfriend). It was a balloon, full of helium, made of something akin to Apple Fruit by the Foot (but, you know, a billion times more delicious and flavorful). Dangling off the end was a silver implement that we were instructed to use however we wanted - with the end result being eating the apple balloon.

I went the direct route and stabbed the balloon right through with the silver tool. This left me very, very sticky, but satisfied.

Boyfriend managed to find a way to eat it slowly enough that he could suck out minimal amounts of helium (but enough to make his voice high pitched) and keep the balloon afloat as he ate it. He's an engineer, people.

The final course was easily the most amazing thing that happened throughout the entire meal, and will continue, probably until the end of my life, to be the best show I've ever seen. I don't know how they managed to keep this course a surprise - but they did and holy.crapballs. was it worth it.

One of the chefs came out and asked about our meal. I was in such a place of pure bliss already, I could barely talk to him. He put a dark chocolate fishbowl on the table and filled it with liquid nitrogen (poured out of a dainty white china pitcher). And then as he chatted with us, he started using various sauces (butternut squash, lingonberry and stout) to draw designs on our table.

I know that I should not be impressed, as plating and presentation is a fairly basic component of culinary arts, but the designs were so beautiful and smelled so amazing. It was art more than food. Boyfriend's birthday present was not so much the meal, but me restraining myself from taking a picture of the final design.

The beauty was either heightened, or short lived, depending on your opinion - when the chef picked up the chocolate fishbowl and unceremoniously dropped it back on the table where it broke open, full of treats like the fanciest pinata this side of Mexico.

The liquid nitrogen had frozen bits of cotton candy, toffee, sweet potato and magic in the fish-bowl-pinata-of-delicious. We were handed spoons and left to enjoy as much of this amazing last course as we could.

If you know me, you know I don't leave food on my plate (or...table? as the case maybe). I think about the starving kids in Africa, the fact that I am paying for this, my Italian grandmother who was always telling me to eat more, my friends who use leaving food as a weird dieting mind game that I will have no part of, and the fact that I may never have this chance again, and I eat until its gone.

So I ate as much as I could fit inside me. There have only been one or two times where I have truly eaten to the point of near stomach explosion (our feast in the Italian countryside comes to mind). And even when it got to the point where I could literally feel my stomach stretching uncomfortably inside my beautiful Jason Wu dress, I kept eating the delicious chocolate scooped up with amazing sauce and real (real!) magnolia petals.

I don't think I would have stopped without Boyfriend telling me I was under no circumstances allowed to throw up in the cab ride home. I would have sat in that restaurant for hours letting the waves of hedonism wash over me if given the chance.

But eventually, sadly, it had to end. They brought the check and cleaned up the end of the beautiful chocolate mess. While we waited for a cab, we got to sneak a peak inside the kitchen which was surprisingly normal looking (I am not sure why I assumed that they would be like, cooking with flame throwers and wearing those crazy super magnifying glasses - I have a very active imagination).

We got in our cab, and went home - and like any vacation, there was that crushing realization that we were very much back in the real world, where you eat on plates with regular forks and all of the food is just normal and boring.

Boyfriend bought me my own Molecular Gastronomy At-Home Kit which I am waiting for a really special occasion to play with. The next time I eat crazy stuff, it'll probably be of my own making.

Do I recommend Alinea? Absolutely. If you el-oh-vee-ee LOVE food and are not going to be scared off by a price tag akin to a new computer, then absolutely. Do it. Or find some other amazing restaurant and eat there (and then tell me about it). The thing about living is that you should really enjoy it as much as possible.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

4 Summers Later

Four summers ago, I was 23. And Barack Obama and all his friends, let me live out my wildest dreams.
I got to go to the Democratic National Convention and not just as a guest, but as a photographer - a career I had almost not even dared to dream about because it seemed so out of reach. It was one of the most exhausting, inspiring, eye-opening, amazing 4 days of my life.

Childishly, it let me, if just for a few days, believe in my dreams. I got to believe that I really could DO anything. And I realized that that was the theme of 2008 election for Barack Obama supporters. Hope. Change. Dreams.

Its been four years and I have been watching this year's DNC and I am flooded with both nostalgia - and a solid reality check.

This summer, the summer of 27 - has been much more bleak. I am not crushing hard on a boy I barely know. I am not enjoying the hedonistic life of a part time job and a city full of adventure. And I am most certainly not living out any dreams.

This is a summer of cold, hard reality. And watching this convention has made me realize that the election is mirroring that again this year. Its not about far-fetched dreams anymore. Its about keeping things real.

And if I have to live in this country for the next four years, I want Barack Obama's reality. The reality that will let my friends marry whomever the hell they want, that will maybe raise my taxes - but will raise everyone else's too, and the reality that will not only make health care accessible, but let me make all the decisions about my own body - no matter what.

I'm all grown up at 27 - I am willing to put my dreams aside because I know things are busted right now. But as I sit listening to these speeches - I am determined to live in the reality that the President has offered us. With any luck - we'll get back to the dreams soon.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Outside and Off.

Sometimes I get home earlier that Boyfriend. Earlier enough that it doesn't make sense to start dinner yet. And occasionally I manage to make it home without feeling the heaviness of work that must be done before the sun goes down. On those days I have made it my mission to turn everything off.

I leave my phone and my laptop inside. I take a book and a glass of something delicious out onto the deck and I read. I know this doesn't seem particularly luxurious, but it is my favorite part of my week.

If I am awake 15 hours a day, I probably spend 13 of them staring into the soulless brightness of a screen. And its totally my own fault, I will admit that. Between having a job, looking for a job, and Dance Moms - I find it hard to tear myself away from them.

But for, like, 40 minutes, twice a week - I make a decision to just let it all go. Its wonderful. Its amazing. Its all the adjectives. Four out of five Rachels agree.

So my new goal is to do it more. By the end of the year, it should happen almost every day. Granted- if I am unemployed by that point - it shouldn't be too much of a struggle, but jic - let's enjoy the world beyond the internet.

***bonus points if you can figure out what book I am reading...

Monday, September 03, 2012

Sunday thoughts

Here are two thoughts for this Sunday night.

1 - I could listen to The Civil Wars forever. They make my brain stop running so fast. There is a soothing to their music that affects me unlike anything else. Perhaps it was because the first time I really listened to them was in a field surrounded by about 4,000 of my closest personal camping friends. Anytime I hear them, I am taken back to the calm and delight I felt that first time.

2 - Lucy Steele is kind of a see you next tuesday. Misunderstood, my balls. She is the worst.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

An Update: The Witch from Next Door

A while back I wrote a little piece about Kathy Afzali (and get used to seeing that name a LOT. I know how google works). You can read my first Kathy Afzali piece by clicking Kathy Afzali.

And while I am sure most of you are friends with my mom on facebook (who isn't?) and know how this all went down- for the rest. Here is how the people in charge of the government act sometimes:

Finding Kathy Afzali's original note to be incredibly rude and disrespectful, my mother asked (face to face, like a grown up) if she would reconsider. Kathy Afzali SAID NO.

Kathy Afzali literally said that our family was not allowed to use a driveway that had been shared for over forty years.

So we ignored her. Because, sometimes when you ignore a gnat - it goes away.

But no. Kathy Afzali came back and dropped some legal bizness on mi madre. She was going to take my mom to court. Over some pavement. That she, herself, personally, does not actually use.

Let me repeat that. Kathy Afzali, delegate to the Maryland House of Representatives District 4A, threatened legal action over a piece of asphalt that is, literally, 10 yards long and that has been shared for half a century.

I'm sorry, but shouldn't a delegate to a state as amazeballs as Maryland have better things to do with her time than threaten legal action against her constituents? ...but I guess trying to pull a fast one on women, gays and minorities takes less time than I think it does.

The end of the story is that after meeting with some people, my mother was told that she could probably take Kathy Afzali to court and win - but she would need to pay a lawyer and legal fees and take time out of her actual job to deal with this woman. And really, who has time to deal with Kathy Afzali?

So Mom is throwing in the towel on this. But I'm not. I am not bound by any of the moral ethics my mother tried to instill in me.

Kathy Afzali - I find you to be a wretched person. Truly. I have such high hopes for women in politics - even when their opinions differ from my own. And you have confirmed my suspicion that there are some people out there who are really just mean. And awful. You are all the worst things about suburban sprawl, the real estate market and "my-way-or-the-highway" modern conservatism. And you're bothering my family.

To all those reading this. Please feel free to tweet at Kathy Afzali (@Kathy_Afzali). Or write on her facebook page. I would - but I've already been blocked (her little busy beaver interns are on their game). Or write her a letter. Give her a phone call. Ask her why she has it out for her own neighbors and constituents. Feel free to share this with people who vote in Maryland. Make copies, pass it around. People should know the real Kathy Afzali.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dumb Stuff I Do: two wheels edition

Since we moved up north, I have been a bicycle riding monster. If a monster still gets panicky making left hand turns and is terrified of the day they get a flat tire three miles from home.

Overall, it has been awesome, but since I can't do anything right - it hasn't been without its spectacular mishaps.

The best one so far is that I cannot manage to bike to Target without coming home with over 10 pounds of Target on my back. I feel like I should blame Target for being so g.d. tantalizing, but really - I should learn some frickin' self control.

I am too terrified to slip bags over my handlebars still, so everything has to go into my backpack. And then my backpack looks like this:

While I am pretty good at the biking, I still struggle on big roads and with making left hand turns. So of course, this particular journey - no matter how I slice it, will always include at least both of these things.

And the problem with biking with a bodega on my back is that my first concern switches from "keep yourself alive" to, "don't spill yogurt all over the ground." Why I put spilled groceries ahead of my own well being, I am not a hundred percent sure, but the fact is - its Chobani before skull all the way these days.

Here is all the stuff that was in my big ole backpack (that pink rectangle is my computer which should maybe lose some weight if it wants me to carry it around all the time). And yes. That is a giant tub of animal crackers. Perhaps in the future, I will wait to buy ALL the animal crackers until I have an automobile at my disposal.

And seriously? Bread, bananas and yogurt? I managed to find the holy trifecta of things that should be delicately transported. What an idiot. Although the bread was the only thing that got ever-so-slightly damaged in the trip (no, that's not a glare on the photo, that's a dent in the loaf).

I like to think that I have learned my lesson and will just stop going to Target when I am on my bike, but no. I'll just get one less yogurt next time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

crystal ball

I am not particularly good at "the future." It is a long, scary hallway where its really dark you know there are spiders but you don't know where they are, just that they're waiting to eat your face.

I don't know if I will ever be ready to face the future.

But I do know that right around 1 PM, every day, I am overcome with a very serious want. I want to make dinner, eat animal crackers and complain our days with you.

That's as much into the future as I am willing to go, for right now. In six hours, I want to be with you. Everyday.*

*Except on the day where JBH takes me out for lobster nachos. Then I just want to come home and tell you about it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

island life.

It smells like burnt toast.

And mildew.

It doesn't have enough "things to do."

(as if you would want more to do than sit around and read a book).

It's full of cars.

And jerks in silly clothes.

But its my favorite. Favorite. Favorite. 


1. The boat at Something Natural. Docked in the correct spot for a midday cookie.
2. The window of the chapel in 'Sconset with mandatory hydrangea.
3. Sailboats.
4. A Provisions sandwich and a Nantucket Vineyards cranberry sangria. Perfect after a 3 mile walk.
5. The harbor from the ferry. Its a crime to leave when the sky is this blue.

Monday, August 13, 2012

the wonder friends

Today has kind of been the BIGGEST day for many, many reasons.

This blog is only going to talk about two of them.

Specifically these two.

They aren't friends anymore. But in honor of the fact that they are both 30! YEARS! OLD! on this Monday, they get a joint post. Sorry ladies, its Monday night, and I am drunk on red wine and tuna melts, I only have one blog post in me.

Once upon a time, I was 19 and I had no idea what was going on. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew who I had been since the age of 6. I couldn't shake off 3rd grade memories no matter how hard I tried to redefine myself. And then I moved to New York, where I could have redefined myself if anyone had given a shit. Which, surprise, surprise, no one really did.

And then! I got to move to a small little cesspool of insanity (known as summer stock theater) where no one knew my business, and I got to be whichever version of myself I wanted to be. I managed to spin the wheel and land on a version of myself that seemed to attract some really great people.

And thus began, 8 years ago, the silliest summer of my life. I try not to dwell too long on the past, but the summer of 2004 will always be ingrained as the best, worst summer of all time. As I reminisced about it today:

"...we made some really astoundingly bad choices. And we only ever had enough money for booze. And we kissed boys who made us cry. And we had the literal definition of dead-end jobs. And we ate week-old crabs. And yet we were still the happiest of girls..."

And these two amazing women, who have pretty much knocked life out of the ball park in the past 8 years in their own ways, were the two people who bought my new personality, hook, line and sinker and wanted to keep me around - even after the dream summer ended, and I went back to my real life, 15 pounds heavier and so much more aware of the kind of person I wanted to be as a twenty-something.

These girls taught me that its acceptable to do things just for the story. To write it all down. To get your heart temporarily broken for a night of fun. To play the "let me tell you about yourself" game. They taught me that people will love you even when you pour candle wax on their chests. And almost drive their cars into a clothes line. That its okay to be made fun of when you deserve it. And its okay to cry when it all gets to be too much.

When I first met these two girls, they were fresh-faced college graduates and I idolized them. I could not believe that these two people who seemed so much cooler and more grown-up than me wanted to be my friend. And even though I have never had an iota of true self-confidence, they made me feel like I was an awesome, hilarious person. They are both also awesome and hilarious.

So thank you. Thank you for 8 amazing years of self-discovery and debauchery.  Happy 30th Birthday!

Monday, July 30, 2012

things that make a home

We've been living in our apartment for almost two months now and it is still awesome. Both Boyfriend and I keep telling each other how happy the place makes us. With any luck, we'll be here for a long time.

Rather than taking pictures of each room (sorry, Mom), here are my top 5 favorite things about the apartment (right now).

Okay - so the first picture is a room, but it is the smallest room in the house. Its my wee little office (that I am very good about sharing). Its painted the nicest, pale yellow (this apartment has the BEST wall colors) and its perfect for books and thoughts and a desk full of treasures. When the sun shines in, its one of my favorite places to be.

Speaking of sun shining through - Hazel has found her favorite spot in the whole apartment. The window sills in our bedroom are super deep and just right for a nap. She also crawls through the blinds when they're down so she can sleep inside but pretend like she's outside.

Nearly everything in this apartment is modern and updated, except this amazing light fixture in the entryway of the apartment.  Its so fancy! Most of the lights are recessed halogen fixtures which I find to be super boring and unflattering but this totally makes up for it.

This picture is from one of our first days in the apartment, but it still makes me so happy. Look at our little yard! Its so nice to be reminded that things grow in the city and to get to see them every day. I can't wait to plant things next year.

I am sure this cabinet has some sort of practical application, but it has become my things-I-love-that-need-to-be-shown-off cabinet. Right now its holding my whale measuring cups, my Lilly Pulitzer animal cookies, my favorite panda mug, a chocolate alligator from Florida and fancy Queen's Jubilee tea. Things I don't need, but it just makes me happy to look at while I eat breakfast.

Its so nice to be in an apartment that finally feels like our home. Come visit.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Here are some things I am not going to miss about our cat Buffy, who passed away earlier this week.

1 - Her room clearing farts. Apparently, once you lose half your colon - your gas becomes more frequent and potent. Nothing like a purring cat on your chest who rips a noxious gas bomb and then refuses to get off of you.

2 - Her uncanny ability to vomit directly where you are about to walk. Something about cat puke on your bare foot first thing in the morning that makes you reevaluate all of your life choices.

3- Her pathetic yowl. It was like a meow, if Lady Gaga meowed and it wasn't autotuned.  Luckily, it was something she just did when she was hungry, which was pretty much all the time.

I loved her very much. She was a wonderful part of our family but with all old pets, it is eventually time for them to go. I don't know if I'll ever know another animal as dumb and as patient as she. And let's be honest, for the reputation of cats everywhere - that is probably for the best.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Two Mangos in a Pepper.

Sometimes. I think Boyfriend and I are made for each other...

This weekend while I was in Vermont, I discovered this amazing Mango Habanero business (the one with the twee little checkered cloth) and brought it home as part of Boyfriend's prize, only to find out that while I was gone, he went to the grocery store and bought pretty much the exact same thing.  Although, I am sure that his will not be nearly as good mixed with cream cheese and slathered on a cracker eaten while wandering around gorges and thinking about maple candy.

You live with someone for four years and you think that finally you have it all figured it out. And that you've found the person you're supposed to spend at least four more years with. And then this shows up in the mail.

Seriously, Boyfriend. Knight and Day? Someone is losing Netflix queue-ing privileges for a while.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Good Fences?

My Mom has lived in the same house for 20 years. I love it. There is a part of me that wants to quit my current life, move home, and spend my next few years renovating it. We've had our share of kooky neighbors, but we've always had pleasant enough relationships with them. Perhaps not friendly, but always cordial and respectful.

Well, this morning (last night?) my Mom found this note taped to her front door.

This woman's house (that she doesn't live in, mind you, she just rents out - driving down every one's property values in an already *awesome* real estate economy) has a driveway that we have been using for 20 years. Before we used it, the people who owned our house for 20 some-odd years before us used it. Why? Because when you live in small town full of nice people, that is what you do. You share things like decent, civil human beings.

But now Kathy Afzali has decided (after a single complaint) that being neighborly, and kind, and a decent human being is trumped by being kind of a dick.

This has nothing to do with her being a delegate for Maryland (which is something she is probably fine at doing), this has to do with her not being a particularly nice person and I, for one, wouldn't want not-nice people representing me in government. But, I don't vote in Maryland anymore. Its not really up to me.

I feel like this is a perfect example of how people have just become more rude and antisocial. Why is that? Why are we all jerks? Even just 20 years ago, there was no question about us using that driveway and now we are getting passive aggressive notes addressed to "neighbor." Kathy Afzali didn't even have the decency to find out what my mother's name was and address it to her personally.

This note is not particularly rude when just read, but when you take the time to learn the back story, and if you know the community - you would know that the polite thing to do would have been to knock on the door, and work things out. When you own property in a small town, you do things the small town way, right? Otherwise, what is the point of living in a place like this? Move to Urbana if you want to be mean.*

I am just angry. And disappointed. I don't image that Kathy Afzali has any interest in being a good small-town neighbor and I doubt this blog will change that. But I wanted to put this out on the internet in the hopes that it gives someone else pause before being so inconsiderate.

*Ooooh. burn. Sorry Urbana, I didn't really mean it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

if by sea...

Chicago, more than any other city I know, is best viewed from the water.

This city at sunset makes my heart stop sometimes. Not in a million years did young Rachel ever think that she would call this place home and now, I find it hard to imagine leaving.

 More time on a boat at sunset with champagne and fresh caught salmon. Those are the goals for the rest of my life.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Messed up

When I think people might be coming over to my apartment, and it is a disaster - here is the order in which I clean things (...I discovered tonight):

Laundry Room
Clothes Closet
Linen Closet
My Bedroom*
My Bathroom*
Living Room
Guest Bathroom
Dining Room

...Either I have some super strange friends, or I have some super strange assumptions about what my friends are going to be interested in seeing. Or perhaps it is that I have some bizarre insecurity about what my friends are going to judge me on. Do they care that my dryer sheets are on top of the dryer, rather than the shelf. Erm...probably not as much as they would care that there isn't any toilet paper in the bathroom. Although, with my friends, that could potentially go either way.

I am discovering this new apartment has a great deal more places in it than my last few. Which is cool because I never have to feel obligated to throw anything away ever again, but I can foresee becoming overwhelming when I don't have anyone come over for a few months or so and then someone does come over and its like a 3 day process to get it looking acceptable.

But seriously, we love this new apartment. It feels more like home than anywhere we've lived together. It came with bright colors on the walls that we liked, so we didn't have to live in a taupe nightmare or resent any rooms for making us stay up until 4 in the morning painting. It fits all our things quite nicely without the real need to buy any new stuff.

I should take pictures of it and place them on the internet, but I am going to wait a few days - as it sinks back into its normal state of filth, because this is a blog - not a real estate listing.

*I am not saying this to be a dick, but I hate the term master bed/bath and I needed to distinguish the fact that I cleaned the least accessible bathroom before the one people will use.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Not Harry Potter.

This weekend, I was a very good girlfriend and went to see Magic Mike.

Boyfriend doesn't really agree with this statement. But here's the thing. He has all these new coworkers and I am trying to be a very good work-girlfriend so when some of the other +1/SO's said they were planning an outing to see Magic Mike - I selflessly agreed to go with them to make Boyfriend look better at work. What can I say, I'm a saint.

Magic Mike was surprisingly plotty for a movie about strippers. Meaning, I felt that I had to care about far more peoples' feelings and outcomes than I was really antisipating. More dancing, less emotions is pretty much my review.

And then?! The credits rolled and I found out that, what the what?! Steven Soderbergh directed this smoldering pile of man meat and cliched backstories.

For those of you who are my little sister, let me feel you in - Steven Soderbergh directed Erin Brockovich, Sex, Lies & Videotape, Ocean's 11 (and 12, and 13). He won an Academy Award for Traffic.

What the blunt is Steven Soderbergh doing directing this? Seriously...what?! how?!

I feel like the story of this movie eerily mimics Channing Tatum's actual life, where he is living this life as a stripper and has a dream and since he's so pretty, everyone just tells him to go for his dreams, even though he has shown that he isn't really good at the thing he wants to do in his dream world, because really?! things for pretty people (whether producing butt-ugly furniture or making really terrible movies) tend to work out.

Also, did anyone else envision - mid-talky part of the movie when Channing Tatum's face is all scrunched up with acting - a moment during filming when Cha-Ta threw a fit and yelled, "I don't want to say all these words, I Just Want To Dance."
That being said - I like dancing. And being the best girlfriend a guy could possibly ask for...

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Obliging obligations

I haven't blogged in ages and ages. There are reasons for my prolonged absence that I am not quite comfortable writing about all over the internet. Although - I am not sure why...

Okay, let me test it out, see if the walls come tumbling down...

I am looking for a new job.


So far nothing, but the types of walls that I am antisipating to see fall don't fall right away or even overnight. It takes days and sometimes weeks.

At any rate, I feel about six pounds lighter just typing it, flinging it out into space, its as refreshing as ice cold lemonade on a hot July day.

It has not been an easy process for a whole host of reasons, including the fact that me leaving my job is going to leave a Rachel-sized hole in the organization I currently work for. Its a hole that will quickly be filled by some one else, but I imagine that it will not be a perfect fit and that is hard to stomach sometimes. Even when I think about how much better things will be for everyone once the move is all done.

Anyway, now that that is off my chest, more blogging. All the time. About absolutely nothing at all. And food. Always food.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Other White Meat

...yes. Another post about food.

On Monday night, I took my friend out to dinner at Prasino so that she could tell me all about her adventures as a social worker - so I can maybe think about going to grad school (since everyone else got to do it). I had grilled thai curry pork loin with brown rice, mango salad, coconut cashew sauce.

On Tuesday, I did my civic duty and took part in Chicago Craft Beer Week and went to Burger Bar for the Dogfish Head Beer Dinner. Naturally, I had about 4 crab cakes (they were so. Maryland-y.) but also, as much short rib as they would put on my plate.

On Wednesday, I ate scrambled eggs. And took 15 kids to go see Blue Man Group.

On Thursday, We went to Adler After Dark which is way, way more trendy than I was expecting. So many people getting drunk and looking at stars! It was Hawaii night which apparently means pulled pork sandwiches (I guess that's as close as you get to a pig roast when you have an in-house catering company) which were surprisingly delicious (I used to live on museum food, I know when its good).

On Friday, we had our first and last happy hour of the summer in the about-to-be-old apartment. It is by far my newest favorite tradition. When all our friends come over on Friday night and we sit and drink and grill and talk about the week and everyone gets to go home at a socially acceptable hour. Last night we ate brats, drank corona and say good bye to my lovely view.

Tonight, after a long day of packing and moving we continued the week-long goodbye to Wicker Park with carry out from Steve's Tacos (otherwise known as Big Star) including Tacos al Pastor (pork shoulder) and Tacos de Panza (pork belly).

Two morals to this blog:

1- It is very clearly Summer. I am never, ever this social during any other time of year. The first few weeks of Summer make me want to shake off my hibernation and remember why I love this city so much. Good times with long-unseen friends. Delightful.

2- As someone who considers herself a bacon-only pork eater. I clearly ate about a year's worth of Babe this week. And it was amazing. Man. Oh. Man. There are parts of that animal (the non-ham parts) that are so. SO! good. And as a summer time bonus, it pairs better with beer than beef or chicken.

To the Summer of 2012!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I'm finna talk about my mama if yall don't mind

Its Mother's Day. And I would be remiss not to mention the most important Mom I know. The one who ever so patiently waited two weeks past my due date for me to make my grand entrance. And then loved all 10 pounds of me even though I was sickly and required lots of special attention (typical).

There are a billion reasons why my Mom is the bees knees. But my Dad (who is also pretty great) reminded me of one of my favorites this morning. 

When we were all a lot younger we lived in Washington D.C. in a townhouse with a yard and a toy room in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood which had its share of problems in the mid-1980's.

Just down the street was Our Church. It looks like this.

Image (via)

Some day I will write more about how much this place and the people who came with were game changers in my existence. But this was not only just Our Church - my Mom worked here as the Parish Administrator (a two-fer, if you will)

And in 1988 - when things were really bad, and people were selling drugs literally on the steps of the church, two young men were killed on the sidewalk in front of the building.

Something had to be done. So my Mom decided to have a vigil.

She sat on the steps of the church, every night, with some other amazing folks, as the sun set. And people didn't sell drugs. Were they being sold somewhere else instead? Maybe - but my Mom was doing her part to keep her family and community safe.

Every time I think about this story - it makes my heart burst with pride. And I recognize where my fierce determination to do good comes from. In the same situation, I hope I would find the same spirited stubbornness. A "Hey you kids, get off my lawn," mentality with a "let's change our corner of the world," mission.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Thanks for keeping me safe.

(You can read more about this story and Our Church here)

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Sometimes I get lost on the internet.

This happens to everyone, right? It can't just be me, right? That you're just taking a four-minute break from your first-of-three 12-hour workdays and then all of a sudden you wake up and realize you've been reading old blog posts from a friend (errebody check your stats, see if it was you I was creepin' on)?

I have a lot of work to do today, tomorrow, and the next but sometimes I just need to get lost in words. My own words, other people's, whatever. I need words that are more meaningful than the ones I get paid to read and write.

So thanks everyone - for filling up the internet with all your thoughts so I can read them when I am taking a break from stress-eating cookies.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

On Why.

I have been thinking a lot about Barack Obama's interview today and it took a few hours before I realized why it matters as much as it does to me.

It matters for all the obvious reasons (like how it directly affects people that I love) but there is another one -

Its a way to start changing the minds of uninformed kids who I want to grow up to be awesome.

I know a bunch of really great kids who are new to this country. And through the fault of no one they have become very involved with various churches in the city. It makes sense - you come to a brand new country and you're going to look for support and guidance wherever you can and churches are good at being there.

But some churches come with Ideas.

And it seems that the kids I know with seem to go to churches who have taught them that being gay is wrong. When I ask them why they think being gay is wrong they tell me that is what the bible said. When I ask for another reason, they seem to think that the bible one is pretty much all they need (isn't that always the way with biblical reasons for anything?).

And because I am just me, and I am not a Church that is backed up by Parents and a Community (well, I come with a community, but it is smaller and, for understandable reasons, less valued) I felt powerless to try to argue with this biblical reasoning that everyone was so confident in believing.

Meekly, I could just say I hope they treat everyone respectfully no matter who they love. And they came back with, "but its wrong." And I bit my tongue - because they're seven and twelve and it felt like a battle I wasn't ready to have and lose.

But NOW?! Now its not just me fighting this battle alone. It's me and my good friend, Barack Obama - someone that all of these kids worship for looking like them and having stories that sound kind of like their own. In their eyes he does no wrong.

There are so many losing battles in the world, in politics and in my own little world of trying to help make things better wherever I can - and finally I feel like there is one I might be able to win.

***And I know that he is being kind of wishy-washy by saying that its the states' right to decide, but lets be real - the kids I know in particular probably would actually care more about his personal opinions than any sort of laws he passed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lo. Siento.

Today, for the first time in recent memory, my intentional actions made someone cry. In front of me. A lot.*

I don't really do tears. I would really rather deal with anything else (except for loose teeth) than someone else crying.

And it's bad enough when they're crying over boys or loss or something involving Colin Firth...

But when it's something I have done, something I had all the power to prevent, to control, to avoid - that's when it makes me feel completely wretched.

Or at least that's what I discovered today. I discovered that my legs shake when I make other people cry with my words and my actions. I find myself suddenly very interested in how my pants stretch over my knee caps.

And I wonder about other people who do this on a regular basis. People who will knowingly say and do things and then watch people cry. And I wonder how they get through it.

Do they eat as much chocolate as I did today? Do they get use to the hole-in-the-belly feeling?

I wish it was all over. That this was the first and last time. It's not. I'll come back this to this topic in another blog post when I have some non-chocolate solutions.

*to be clear, while my words and actions were not intended to be malicious in anyway, they could be construed as hurtful. Occasionally, that is the nature of such things.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Southern Dreams

I am bad at knowing what I want.

When I do find things I want, they are almost always incredibly impractical.

So I have kind of deduced that being a grown-up means wanting things that are practical.

So some day, I am going to grow up...

but until then, I am going to be your most impractical friend.

I am setting my sights on 2013. Which gives me enough time to research and dream and give up for awhile and get down on myself but then go for it anyway.

New goal? Spend my 30th birthday in Antarctica.

Not into me

Now that I am rather settled into my monogamous life style (after being pretty well duped into it a couple years back) - I have had to find new, more ridiculous ways of embarrassing myself in public.

Back in the day, it was easy enough to have one too many quarts of Miller Lite and completely misread any number of social cues from the opposite sex. This often ended up with me either trying to make up a fake phone number that didn't have 12 digits in it or my friends laughing at me for assuming the guy with the fiancée was trying to hold my hand.

Now I just give dudes the old - "see the guy drinking plain bar coke, in the corner doing math problems for fun? I'm going home with him."

So I have turned my social ineptitude on the ladies mainly by professing my desire for friendship far too strongly.

I meet a new lady and rather than just seeing how things go, I decide (way earlier than is appropriate) that I should tell her I think she is the coolest and I want us to be real, real good friends.

Most girls are perfectly nice about such absurd declarations and I leave the situation excited for all the coffee dates and inside jokes in our joint future.

Then several months go by and it dawns on me that my new Bestie really just wants to be acquaintances. Maybe we will see each other at parties, maybe we play some words with friends, but they don't want to get serious about it. They're not going to call me up just to sit around on the couch and eat brownies. We're not going to make collages out of Seventeen magazines and pictures from winter formal.

And while I spend a few minutes being bummed about this missed friendship, because I am of the opinion that you cannot have too many lady friends, I remember that I am lucky enough to have lots and lots of friends who will talk me out of going to yoga and into sharing a bottle of wine.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Finding it.

(guys- this post is officially 2 weeks old. embarrassing. but enjoy)

Easter had always been a holiday about creating new traditions. Some of the new traditions are now officially old traditions, but Easter is an opportunity to create new things to last for a long time.

Or perhaps. Rediscover old things.

This year we had an egg hunt. I have not participated in an egg hunt in about 12 years. Since Easter had been relocated from its permanent position at Granny's house to wherever-I-am-when-it-happens - there have been pinatas and champagne brunches at midnight, but no eggs to find.

This was Boyfriend's first year as an Easter Orphan and he wanted a real deal Easter (except he wanted turkey instead of ham) including a search for plastic eggs full of candy.

Because he's a grown-up now, he wanted to hide the eggs instead of look. Since we only had a 40' x 20' space to hide them in and we didn't want our friends rooting through all of our shit, he had to do a really good job.

Cut to Easter Sunday, when 7 of our friends were cut loose and told to find all the eggs.

I wish I had stopped worrying about cooking for like 30 seconds and had taken some pictures, because it was literally like they were a bunch of 7 year-olds with empty paper bags in one hand and mimosas in the other.

There were a fair amount of eggs at eye level and easily accessible that kept them busy for about 6 minutes and then things got interesting. I feel as though their grown-up senses got in the way of their egg hunting occasionally. While kids would immediately stick their hands into the paper feeder on the scanner, the adults think twice - worrying about the lasting effects of melting chocolate on electronics.

The last egg needed to be found, we gave a hint or two and then without saying anything, KK climbed up on a table in the living room and plucked the egg from where it was hiding in plain sight on the window, hopped down and held it aloft victorious.

Very few times will one of your fanciest friends abandon decorum and stand on your furniture in the hopes of winning something out of the grab bag. The laugh and sense of nostalgia you will get from that moment will be worth all of the hours you put in to cooking the turkey. Enjoy it. Make it a tradition.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

whaaa happen?

So, I disappeared from the internet for a while. Whoops. Sorry about that.

A friend made a comment in passing that wasn't meant to be mean, but made me feel self-conscious about this blog. Which is dumb, because this is the internet, its my job as a human to fill it with garbage. But the sensation of doubt was hard to shake and has left me tentative to fill the non-existent (and yet still there) void of internet I have.

Anyway - I promise, I will finish writing about Alinea. For those who are interested.

And I will blog about taking on Easter which will be epic.

And eventually, I will blog about something that isn't food.

Until I do - go download the new Of Monsters and Men album. Its real, real good. I do not consider myself a "music" person. So I am excited to be the first of my friends to have listened to them. They were amazing in concert and I cannot wait to see them again.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

My Mouth's Most Happiness (part 2)

So, where did we leave off?

Oh yes - caponata. Or as I like to call it, the eggplant game changer (go read about courses 1 - 9. It's cool, I'll wait).

After the thing most resembling an entree came and went (with all of it polished off and the consideration of stowing the fish head in my purse for Miss Hazel) we came to the physical challenge part of the meal.

We were given a wax cup full of liquid with a little metal spear holding some unidentified squares dangling above it. At the word "go" we had to pull the spear very carefully out, depositing the squares into the liquid. We had to be very careful to this in a timely, yet gentle fashion while under the very judgmental eye of one of our waiters. Naturally, all this pressure got to me, and I nearly failed, but I managed to get my squares into my liquid and shoot it back with a quickness.

It was hot and cold at the exact same time while also managing to be simple and delicious. So many adjectives. It is called "Hot Potato, Cold Potato" which is pretty much exactly what it was. According to my limited internet research this has been on the menu for a really long time, which makes sense. It really encompasses everything Alinea is about. Its totally off the wall, requires tableware you cannot find at Sur La Table, and is very delicious.

The next course comes with a pillow full of juniper air, which I am seriously considering purchasing for my own at-home use. I forget how amazing juniper smells until they are putting a pillow of it in front of me, with a plate of mushrooms on top.

If you know me, you know I do not eat mushrooms. The texture of mushrooms makes my skin crawl. Just thinking about the way they feel in my mouth gives me a fit of the shivers. But I had a funny feeling this was going to happen, and I told myself long before we even got to the restaurant that I was going to eat everything put in front of me.

So I ate the mushrooms and once I got over the mushroom-y-ness, all of the other flavors were amazing enough to keep the texture-based goosebumps at a minimum.

Pillow of juniper deflated, we got to make our own venison goulash roll-ups in cabbage leaves. I was not anticipating spending all of the dollars and then having to eat with my hands, but I went with it. I know there is a part of me that is country girl (its smaller than the part that is Italian but it exists), and this country girl loves her game meat.  Mmm, venison. I probably will never be able to have actual goulash without being severely disappointed.

Difference between Alinea and McDonalds? At Alinea you get a warm towels after you eat with your hands.

Towels removed it was time for an explosion (Fun Fact, the word explosion will always makes me think of the Madhouse Comedy Explosion and Summer 2004, good, drunken times).  The black truffle explosion was a single ravioli served on a spoon and with a warning to eat it all in one bite.

Boyfriend summed it up best with, "Wow, I think I need a cigarette." They do mess around with hyperbole at Alinea, just black truffle oil.

For most of the meal, things seemed to be how they were just because... but the next course was apparently based on Miro's Still Life with Old Shoe.

Image (via)

What does a course based on this look like?

Different sized utensils, all with bites of food on them. While most of the other courses came with strict instructions, this one was the "there are no rules" course. All bites were eaten in whichever order we preferred. Of course, I have no idea what was on most of them except deliciousness. I wish I could be more specific. There was for sure a spoonful of jam, and a spoon with a bit of vinegar and oil on it, a bite of foie gras, some crunchy business and a fork of squab.

Having had utensils to eat with for 2 courses in a row, it was time to go back to eating with our hands and/or a smouldering cinnamon stick.

Most of the things that I ate during this meal I would never dream of recreating, but at the end of the smouldering cinnamon stick was a ball of brie cheese, caramelized onions and anjou pear with a crispy outside. While I will probably leave the fire hazard out of it, the rest of this dish sounds totally doable (and we all know how I feel about brie).

After I explained to Boyfriend that that cinnamon stick was his birthday candle, they brought out another torture-looking device. This one with five long, thin metal fingers sticking out of a solid base. On the end of each finger was a bite no larger than the size of this O (okay, maybe a little bit, but not much bigger. Maybe this O). Each bite was a different type of Hawaiian ginger, garnished with completely different flavors.

This is the moment where Rachel learns the lesson that it is not the size of the food but the size of the flavor that makes all the different. Each bite packed a wallop that had me reaching for my sparkling water. One of the pieces of ginger had a single cell of grapefruit on it. A single cell! These were some of the most flavorful things we ate all night. Ginger means business, everyone.

After letting ginger blow our minds a little bit, we got geared up for dessert which I am saving for another blog because it deserves at least this much description if not more.

Friday, March 02, 2012

My Mouth's Most Happiness (part 1)

Sometimes, I write blogs for me, you guys. You can read them and everything, but I just need to remember things and so I write them down on the internet. This is one of those times. I need to remember everything about my meal at Alinea and writing it all down will help me (although, I cannot imagine ever forgetting it, but we all get old sometimes).

Please feel free to read the next two blogs and live vicariously through me (that happens so rarely I am kind of excited for the chance of it).


If you think that you might ever eat at Alinea (especially if that could be happening sooner rather than later), I think I would actually caution against reading this (at least until after you've gone and then we can compare stories).

One of the best parts of the meal (and there were quite a few best parts) was the surprise element of everything. There was no menu, no warning about what was going to happen next. I was even a little bit bummed that from my seat I could see other people's tables, so some of the surprises were ruined for me. Boyfriend's seat meant that he couldn't see anything before it arrived on our table and his glee from some of the dishes made me a little envious.

So, just...think before you read. If you don't think that you're going to get to Alinea in the next six months or so, than please - feel free to read away. This experience totally made my life.

I will start with the fact that this is the most I have ever spent on anything that wasn't a vacation and wasn't an actual, tangible thing. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think of it as a little 3-hour vacation. Probably the most expensive one I will ever take on a dollar-per-minute basis, but still worth it. I celebrate the fact that I currently live a life, where, with a bit of savings, an adventure like this is financially feasible for me. Can I do it every month? Nope. But once a year to celebrate something as awesome as Boyfriend's golden birthday? Sure.

So we get to Alinea. And it has a crazy, magic door that automatically opens as you get near it (its basically a grocery store door that is solid metal, which makes it infinitely cooler and more future-y looking).

Once you're there, its basically like a very well decorated town house with an enormous kitchen full of people, but then you go upstairs and its just a pretty, minimalist house, for antisocial people who don't want to talk to or eat with others.

And then they ask if you want wine. And you can say no. Because I cannot imagine the food would be that enhanced with wine. Boyfriend and I both just got single glasses which we managed to sip on throughout the total meal and it was totally satisfying as a between-course amuse-bouche (and way, way, way less cheaper. I am made of money, but not, like, that much money).

(this is going to be the longest two blogs ever. With no pictures. Sorry guys, I am trashy, but not trashy enough to take food pictures).

So then the first course comes and it looks just like regular food.

Its Char roe with carrot, coconut and curry. I was surprised by how normal it was. It was just food on a plate. It was delicious, with salty and sweet and lots of flavors but for a moment, my heart sank. I was expecting madness and here was just some food. But you don't put on your A game during warm-ups. Duh.

Then. Drift wood logs covered in seaweed were placed on the table in front of us and I was like, "Hell. Yes. We are not in Kansas anymore."

On this log with seaweed there were 4 shells. And no silverware. Eat with your shells everyone.

The Oyster Shell - which had an oyster leaf in it. This was a leaf that had the awesome saltiness of an oyster without the slimy-eyeball-sliding-down-your-throat sensation of an oyster. aka - amazing.

King Crab - with passion fruit, heart of palm and allspice. I am not going to say the meal peaked at this moment, but oh my crab meat. I put my finger in that shell and got out all the crab meat. Classy? Not me. There is crab on the table. I will have visions of this particular dish dancing in my head for the rest of time.

Mussel - I will now always be disappointed in mussels for the rest of my life. They are ruined. Unless everyone else starts serving them with saffron, chorizo and oregano.

Razor Clam - The sauce of this one (made with shiso, soy and daikon) made me lick the razor clam shell. I could have cut my tongue off. It would have been worth it.

After they removed our logs they put down a fancy device that used a Bunsen burner to make soup in a very science-y way where the water boiled and defied gravity then soaked up flavors of lots of yummy veggies and then came back down. This was a little side show happening while we got our next course.

A long, thin metal shish kabob stick stuck vertically into a metal paper weight was put down in front of us. This was the "no-hands" portion of the meal. At the end of that stick was some squid and woolly pig with a little orange and fennel all put together in something you could eat in one bite, but still had some serious squid tentacles happening. It was salty and strange but so delicious and now I kind of want all my food to be served in a way that I don't need to use my hands. Why? Because.

Our 7th grade science class soup was done, and so it was poured over a piece of scallop that looked (and inexplicably tasted like) tofu. But also tasted like scallop? Let's take the two funnest food-words to say and make a dish that puts them in the exact same bite. And lets pour some crazy delicious broth over it. Ohhh. Kay. And just for funsies, lets make teeny-tiny veggies garnishes in the bowl too. Like a carrot shaving curlicue the size of pencil shaving. Yep. Science Soup. Mind fuck scallop. Doll house veggies.

This whole time there has been a block of ice the size of a six-pack on the table with some red liquid suspended in it. At this point in the meal, they hand us some glass straws and tell us to go head and drink the red liquid. It is not some sort of animal blood, as I was slightly fearful of, but some beet juice with hibiscus and black licorice. If I liked beets, it would have been delicious. But I don't like beets enough to make up for the fact that I was terrified that I was going to have to consume blood.

The ice cube is taken away and then the closest thing to an entree is put down in front of us.

A Scup (which is a Sicilian fish), some chick pea fritters (which probably aren't Sicilian but are delicious), and caponata (which is the best goddamned thing that has ever happened to me, also Sicilian). The fish and the fritters were great but the caponata was so perfect. Like the sugo at The Girl and the Goat, it spoke to a part of me that I don't even know existed. The deep, soulful Italian part. When it was over, I was looking longingly at my plate and Boyfriend said, "Wow. You loved that stuff. You have never looked at me like that." I am so excited to try to make it. It probably won't be as good as it was last night, but even if it is 1/10th as good, I will be so happy. Forever.

And with that, I leave you to guess at what you think the next 10 courses might have in store.

She's pint-sized and amazing.