Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hey! I think I missed the Bandwagon!

By no means do I claim to be a music connoisseur of any kind. While I love listening to music, I confess to having extremely bad taste. (Yes, I really think Shakira is awesome. And yeah, I've been known to sing along to Kelly Clarkson.) But, thanks to my brother-in-law Alex, I can round out my musical collection with some very respectable artists. At least according Pitchfork, for whatever that's worth. Well, I owe Alex one, cuz he turned me on to Arcade Fire with their album, Funeral. While most everyone else LOOOOOVED this album, I thought it was alright. Same goes for their newest album, Neon Bible. I didn't get what all the fuss was about. What people were raving over. That is until I saw Arcade Fire perform live at the Hollywood Bowl back in September.

The Hollywood Bowl is one of the coolest concert venues EVAH. Situated in a natural bowl, it's an outdoor amphitheater where the sound quality is amazing. Even better, they let you bring in your own food and wine. The only downside to the Hollywood Bowl is that most of the bowl-goers were total douchebags. But I digress.

The show opened with Wild Light, who sound along the same vein of Arcade Fire but lack the oomph. They were followed by LCD Soundsystem, which let me tell you - for an electric, dance, punky sound - were really great live. Heck, they were great live period. I hadn't heard much of their music before, but after their performance I've become a fan. In fact, I think James Murphy's vocals are much more impressive without whatever they do in the studio.

LCD Soundsystem was so good, I really didn't think Arcade Fire could top it. So here and now, I will freely admit, I was wrong. The Arcade Fire are probably the best performers I've ever seen live. The lineup itself is impressive with people playing violins, multiple guitars, two drum sets, the accordian, keyboards, etc. And, to use a word reflective of my 80's childhood and current geographic location, they were stoked. No overly cool rocker vibes, they were unabashedly excited and loving that they were performing. Their music, which I thought was just ok before, really came to life. To contrast, just a few weeks before I saw Spoon (whose music I really liked before seeing them live), and well, they almost put me to sleep. Now it's been over a month since the Arcade Fire show, and their music is still running though my head. So I know that most of you are probably thinking - Why is she gushing on about these guys? Everyone knows. Well, because a month after the show, I still get really excited about the whole experience! Pretty good concert, eh?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Aside from short period of time after consuming some bad supermarket sushi (big mistake, I know) I love eating sushi. One of my favorites is hamachi which has a buttery quality that I am addicted to. Luckily enough some extremely fresh hamachi was available from the Pasadena Farmer's Market's Fish Lady. The Fish Lady is awesome - not only does she supply a huge variety of very very fresh fish - she does her Saturday morning fishmongering in 4 inch heels, full on makeup and hair, and a cute outfit. And this on a morning that likely starts around 5AM.

After a fabulous week spent with Michael's good friends climbing in Joshua Tree, we were spent. They drove off to the airport this Sunday, and we basically did our best to laze around the house throughout the afternoon. So we decided on something really simple for dinner and Google yielded this recipe. Now I've never been a huge fan of Ming Tsai - nor have I disliked his show - he's just never been as interesting to me as some of the other celebrity chefs out there. But this preparation for Hamachi carpaccio was pretty good.

We had no problems gobbling this up.

A few changes I would make... As you can see, there was no pounding flat of this fish. I like the texture of slightly thicker slices rather than the paper thin, pounded pieces. You can also halve the soy syrup recipe, cuz that stuff is potent! And we still have a substantial amount left over. Also, I was sad that my curry oil was not as potent as I would have liked. Perhaps it was my curry powder? And maybe I should have toasted the powder prior to adding the oil.

In any case, it was a tasty and simple way to prepare our hamachi.

Friday, October 19, 2007

And it even smells good!

I don't typically love Pinot Noir. Light bodied, lighter colored, and not as wonderful to smell as wines I usually like to drink. Though maybe it was the fact I drank this after a very long day of activity in the hot sun, but I found this particular Pinot to be incredibly tasty. We purchased a few bottles of Cambria this summer while visiting Santa Ynez. And though Cambria Pinot is readily found in most wine stores everywhere, I had never tried this particular one from the Benchbreak Vineyard. Delicious! So much so that I woke up the next morning a little woozy. So much so that I need to get several more bottles.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tarptent: double the pleasure...

Ugh. It's been tooooo long since my last post. But I've used the time well....a week before a multiday backpacking trip into the Sierras, I found an answer to my soon to be aching back.

Tarptent. BOTH a tarp AND a tent. The ultralight advantages of a tarp.... but the all enclosed, insect barrier and wind resistance of a tent. All in a small bundle weighing in at 2.5 pounds. My previous tent - the Marmot Equinox - was in the heavyweight division, 6.5 pounds. Even better? My particular tarptent, the Rainshadow 2, is roomy enough for 3 people, whereas the old heavyweight could only stomach 2.

Yep - 5'2" me, nearly 6' of my friend Jeff, and about 5'5" of my friend Jessica. Cozy enough but not too cozy... I'm in love with my new tent. Hopefully we'll spend some more quality time together soon.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Favorite T Shirt

I am a love 'em or hate 'em kinda girl. Especially when it comes to clothing. I'll wear the same exact outfit over and over and over if I love it- and you know what? I KNOW you know it's the same old T shirt every time you see me. But now you know that I DON"T CARE. Yeah, I've worn it 3 days in a row over a sweaty weekend at the New. Yep, I've worn it up a 14er and countless other hikes. And at least once a week biking. Because this T shirt is awesome. Amazing. Highly engineered capilene fabric.

How often can you wear an outdoor technical shirt and not look like an 60 year old school marm from 1982? Huh? You can keep your Royal Robbins and Gramicci - I'm sticking to my highly wickable, quick drying, breathable shirt. That's also cute. I honestly don't know how I'll ever replace it -

Yes, I own it in another color too - almost as good as blue

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Banh Mi Any Anytime

Banh mi on my mind
Banh mi, banh mi any anytime
Banh mi, my love I can eat it any day or night
Banh mi!

Personally I think Debbie Harry would have no problem with my version of the Blondie song - especially if she knew how obsessively I've been thinking about Banh mi. Though I'm sure some - err most - of you are cringing/puking at the cheesiness of my personal version of "Call Me," just be thankful you're not sharing karoke night with me.

Finally I've satisfied several months of craving for:
1. crispy baguette
2. smeared with rich pate
3. stuffed with vietnamese ham and "meatloaf"
4. topped with crunchy, pickled, sweet and tangy carrots and turnips
5. even better with a burning hot pepper (note all the ribs and seeds left in!)

While the largest Vietnamese community in LA lives in Orange County, thank God there's enough of a population in the San Gabriel Valley for some stellar Vietnamese food.

Walking into Banh Mi Che Cali, I knew we hit jackpot - we fought our way through the mostly Vietnamese crowd to get into line to order. And then had to fight our way through another line to pick up our food. I had the deli meats cuz I just had to have the pate and butter. M had the BBQ pork which was equally tasty.

You know that blissful feeling you get from scratching an itch? That's how good I feel now!

Now I just have to wait out the 90 degree weather to indulge in some pho...

Banh Mi Che Cali
8450 Valley Blvd
Rosemead, CA 91770
(626) 288-5600

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Jennie Lakes Wilderness

Now admittedly, we did not actually go to Jennie Lake - but we did hike to Weaver Lake that is in Jennie Lakes Wilderness area. Lying between Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, it's a beautiful place to bring your dog hiking (which you can't in the national parks). Weaver Lake was an easy 3.2 mile hike in for a total of 6.4 miles out and back and some elevation gain.

The hike starts along a little stream and proceeds to climb with
occasional views of the surrounding Sierras through the trees. Throughout most of the hike you can smell the fragrant pines - our dog had a good time sniffing around. The trail then becomes somewhat of a rock garden, eventually leading to a view of this:

The lake is beautiful, with surrounding grassy areas - perfect campsites! We saw several backpackers with really choice tent sites. You can do this hike as part of a loop, including Jenny Lake, as 2-3 day backpacking trip. I'm hoping to do this soon with the dog, or possibly some beginner backpacking friends,

Monday, August 6, 2007

Pasadena Farmer's Market Flowers

$5 for a bunch of flowers - not your everyday carnation, lily, rose - but lots of vibrantly colored sunflowers, china roses, Queen Anne's Lace - the list goes on and surpasses my admittedly limited botanical knowledge. This weekend I snatched up some purple China Roses - who doesn't feel a little happier seeing a big bunch of purple flowers at the breakfast table in the morning?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bulgarini Gelato

I spent the day yesterday at a gelato tasting hosted by Bulgarini, in Altadena. A sunny day outdoors eating intensely flavored, cool sweets. Delicious! We had:
1. Golden Kiwi
2. Mango
3. Golden Plum and Chocolate orange
4. Coffee crema
5. Zabaglione - Marsala wine
6. Pistachio - the best of all

The best thing I discovered was that most of the fruit flavored ones are actually sorbets - despite their creamy luscious texture, they contain no dairy. HURRAH!

The owners of Bulgarini are dedicated to finding the best, seasonal ingredients. They treated us to a taste of their ground pistachio paste, imported from Sicily. It was ....decadent. Extremely nutty and rich, a super fatty nut butter that I want to spread on toast - or make a really expensive s'more. Thankfully, Bulgarini is less than 10 minute drive...

Bulgarini Gelato
749 E Altadena Dr.
Altadena, CA 91001
(626) 441-2319