Tag Archives: fun

National Taco Day 2011

I just heard that today is National Taco Day! Wow…who knew? I mean, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject of tacos and I have never heard of this wondrous day. But, now that I have, you can bet your sweet ass our family will be celebrating National Taco Day 2011 in high style tonight!

Yep, we might even bypass our usual Taco Tuesday fiesta at Del Taco and go somewhere a little more authentically Mexican…you know, where they sell real street tacos like the lovelies pictured below. Yum!

But wherever we end up tonight, here’s hoping the rest of you find time to celebrate the magic of a truly tasty taco on this happiest of days as well. Happy National Taco Day, amigos!

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat

Voodoo Doughnut, Portland, OR

There are two reasons I’ve put off blogging about the now-legendary Voodoo Doughnut in Portland for so long. One is because, well, they are kind of legendary now and it seems like everyone blogs about them. And two is because I knew the minute I started writing about them, I’d want to eat donuts (or doughnuts, whatever!). And guess what I’m craving right now…Voodoo’s finest, the Maple Bacon bar. Mmm…

I know it’s been covered on TV and everything, but, trust me, there is a reason this delicious maple bar topped with two thick-ass strips of crispy bacon is famous. And that’s because it is seriously, out-of-this-world amazing. You never had such yumminess in your mouth at the same time…wow!

Another favorite were the various cereal-covered donuts. We sampled the Captain Crunch, which was a bit odd. The cereal itself was kinda moist, from being exposed to the air I suppose, but the thing that really made the donut work for me was the fact that the white icing tasted exactly like milk. Yep, you got it, milk and cereal on a donut. I don’t know how they did it, but it worked.

Also very good was the devil’s food cake donut with the pentagram frosting, but for sheer drama, I think my favorite donut of the day was the one shaped like a tiny Voodoo doll. Covered in chocolate frosting, each little Voodoo man has a tiny pretzel stake jammed into his heart and actually bleeds red berry filling when you remove the stake. So weird and awesome!!

The decor is also totally rad, with all sorts of funky Voodoo, pop-culture and movie references everywhere you look. I don’t know the significance of the giant velvet Kenny Roger’s portrait over the register area, but, it seemed to be important. And, hey, who doesn’t love, Kenny?

Oh, speaking of old-ass Kenny Rogers, they even had a shrine to recently departed celebrities by the rear side door, complete with Voodoo donuts prayer candles. As you can see from the pic, Peter Falk had just died when we were there. R.I.P. Detective Columbo.

Oh, and if you’re really hungry, an order of three dozen donuts and $100 will buy you a tiny wooden casket donut delivery box. I didn’t get one, but, man alive, if I lived in Portland, that would be the first thing I’d order for my next big birthday party gathering. Donuts in a coffin for everyone…so cool!

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat

Odd Obsession Movie Rentals, Chicago

In case you hadn’t noticed, I started up another blog recently, but that doesn’t mean I love this one any less. On the contrary, I have been itching to share some of our recent adventures in Chicago (where we were in May) and Portland, OR (where we were in July) before launching into a whole other round of adventures we’re bound to experience in NYC, where we will be next week.

Trust me, it sounds a lot more glamorous than it really is. Hell, anyone who has traveled with a two-year-old can tell you that the going can get pretty damn rough sometimes. And that’s why you need the mellow, “let’s casually explore the city” kind of days in between the sightseeing.

It was on one of those days this past May, when we encountered the staggeringly-well-stocked, totally old-school video store known as Odd Obsession Movie Rentals in Chicago.

Located in the gritty heart of the suddenly-trendy Bucktown/Wicker Park area, Odd Obsession is the kind of classic, deep-catalog video store every great city should have. You know, the type of place you can call up with just a vague notion of the obscure DVD title you’re looking for, and not only do they know the movie, but they carry it too! So cool…

And I swear to God, walking inside that joint was like stepping into a time machine. They don’t carry many actual VHS titles anymore, but, the whole place smelled, looked like, and even felt like your favorite, musty childhood video store. I say felt because those shelves were so packed with super cool titles that you could hardly turn around without bumping into something amazing. Literally. Next time I go, I’m leaving the stroller outside.

We didn’t rent anything, of course, but, just being there and sensing the true love of movies inside every nook and cranny of that place really filled my heart with glee. I’m not kidding, it was like church for film geeks, and best of all, they even had a store cat. You know, the big old, fat kind that sits on the register when you’re trying to pay. I didn’t ask, but, I’ll bet he’s named “Rosebud”.

Anyway, someday very soon (like, next week) video stores will be a thing of the past, something we joke about: “OMG, remember when you used to have to leave your house to rent movies?” and when that day comes, I’ll be glad to know I visited one of the greatest video stores ever…and took lots of cool pictures.

Rock on, Odd Obsession Movie Rentals, rock on!

Leave a comment

Filed under Do, See

Oscar Nominee Luncheon (2011)

OK, I’ll totally admit it…aside from actually attending the Cannes Film Festival, one of my dreams is to attend the Academy’s annual Oscar Nominee Luncheon. And, I ain’t picky, I don’t need to attend as a nominee. No way. Hell..I’d wait tables or, you know, make lattes for them if it got me in the door!

I mean…check out these pics and tell me this does not look like the coolest event of the entire award season. No pressure to win, no live-television audience, just all the free food, drink and movie star snapshots you can stomach. So awesome!

Oooo, hey, come to think of it, I made scads of lattes for Ms. Bening when I worked at Peet’s, so, who knows…maybe she’ll give me a recommendation for next year. Either way, sign me up!

Leave a comment

Filed under Do, Eat, See

Google celebrates Pac-Man’s 30th

Wow, today was really a big day for 30th anniversaries…who knew that video game legend Pac-Man was celebrating a monumental birthday today as well? Google knew, that’s who!

And in honor of the big yellow dude’s 30th birthday, the crazy-cool folks at the Googleplex are featuring a fully playable Pac-Man game where their logo should be on their home page. Wocka wocka yeah!

Better yet, if you double click the “insert coin” button on said home page, you can play a two player version of the game with Mrs. Pac-Man, who, as everyone knows, was always way cooler than her husband. I mean, hello, she had a bow on her head and shit. How cool is that?

And even though I can’t figure out how to insert a fully playable version of Pac-Man into my blog, I can share with you one of the best songs ever written about a video game. I’m talking, of course, about Buckner and Garcia’s cheese-tastic “Pac Man Fever”!

My brother and I practically burned a hole in our 12-inch single of this song back in the day and now you can too. Click here to celebrate thirty years of the sweet yellow fever. Happy 30th, Pac-Man!

3 Comments

Filed under Do

Halloween Harvest Festival @ Pierce College

Every year around this time, Christine and I head out in search of cool amateur haunted houses in the valley to explore. But this year, with our own little pumpkin on the way, Christine opted out of our tradition for fear of being bumped, pushed or just plain scared to high heaven along the way.

So, instead of going the local, down and dirty haunted house route, we decided to explore something a little more organized and fair-like this year. That way Christine could chill with some cotton candy while Ryan, Laura, our friends Patty and Mike and I screamed our lungs out in the haunted house.

And after many years of hearing about it, we finally schlepped out to Woodland Hills for the annual Halloween Harvest Festival at Pierce College. We had heard before that this place had one of the scariest “pay” haunted houses in the area, but when we learned that they also have a haunted corn maze on the premises, well, we were sold!

I’d never been to Pierce College before, but that place is way out of the way…I’m talking barely in L.A. county. And the campus is positively massive, with acres of corn fields, pumpkin patches and other assorted growing spaces dedicated to the school’s renowned Agricultural Department. I gotta say, the sheer volume of land out there was insane, you kinda felt like you were in another state or something…

But the coolest part is that if you park in the far lot, you get to enjoy a free tractor-pulled hayride through the fields to the festival grounds! Cool, huh? Even Christine, a hayride aficionado from way back, was impressed…although she was quick to point out that the bales we were sitting on were comprised of straw, not hay as we first surmised. They don’t call her Farmer’s Daughter for nothing, yo!

Anyway, aside from tons of what we think were free pumpkins and a petting zoo — which is only open during the day — the Harvest Festival is also home to some of the finest fair food we’ve had since, well, last year’s visit to the L.A. County Fair. Giant turkey legs, kettle corn, funnel cakes, you name it, they had it.

Of course, being the girlie man that I am, I wanted to hit the haunted house and corn maze before eating, you know, just in case I threw up or something. So, while Christine chilled with her cotton candy, Ryan, Laura, Mike, Patty and myself headed into the daunting haunted house.

And…Oh. My. God. Was it scary!! I clung to Ryan’s jacket with my eyes closed almost the entire time, and halfway through, as we passed an emergency exit, Patty got so scared that she actually burst into tears and left. I wasn’t crying, but man, how I wanted to! So, I took off with Patty and Laura while Ryan and Mike finished the tour alone. Yes, I left with the girls…sue me.

For anyone out there keeping track, I should also note that this haunted house is not nearly as scary as the bone-chilling “Shipwrecked” event they have every year at the Queen Mary, but it was a pretty close second.

It’s not that the scares were that original or anything, but the looks on some of the people’s faces in there were downright murderous. These are not your garden variety haunted house workers, amigos…even without their make-up, these carnie folks looked and acted, well, dangerous. Seriously…we checked our wallets when we came out!

And then, since we had paid for both the house and the corn maze (and I am loathe to ever not get my money’s worth!) we hit the haunted corn maze out front. That horrifying winged beast in the picture above acts as kind of the maze’s gatekeeper, and when he is moving and screeching, well…you kinda want to wet yourself. I’m not kidding, he was freaky!

But the maze itself was actually quite cool. Instead of picking on me — as the ghosts and goblins did in the haunted house — they fixated on Ryan this time, so my journey on his coattails was actually pretty scare-free. Don’t get me wrong, the maze was still very creepy and totally long — someone said it winds almost a mile and a half through that dark-ass corn field! — but it was more cool creepy than, you know, crap your pants creepy.

So, if you opt for the Multi-Pass Ticket, which is $20 (versus $13 for just one haunted area) I’d suggest you hit the haunted house first, then catch your breath in the corn maze. And then, and only then, hit the fair food!

Like I said before, they have all kinds of crazy-good food and all of it was awesome and totally cheap, but I think the highlight of the Festival were the fresh-cooked donuts pictured below. Fried to order, they were freaking amazing…and when you added a healthy dusting of powdered sugar, well, these were some donuts for the ages, man. Spectacular!

So, for those of you in the L.A. area who wanna get your scare on, or even just get your fried food on, head out to Pierce College tonight because the Halloween Harvest Festival ends Sunday, November 2nd.

And for the love of God, make sure and wear something grubby…we’re still scraping mud and straw off our damn shoes!

3 Comments

Filed under Do, Eat

It’s gonna be a girl!

Christine and I went in for our 21 week ultrasound today and were delighted to learn that we are expecting a little girl. Yay! As you can imagine, we are both pretty stoked, especially since we share a fondness for all things Barbie and Hello Kitty…and who better to pass that giddy fondness on to than a little tiny version of us, right?

Of course, we would have been just as happy with a boy, but as I have gathered from the enthusiasm from our families, a little girl offers them much cooler stuff to shop for. And speaking of, we made our first parental purchase today in the form of the super cute Baby Gap onesie shown below.

Yep, we went right from the doctor’s office to the mall. Crazy, huh? But, wow, how fun to buy little tiny clothes for your own baby! And to do it all at the store — not literally the same store, but the same chain, Gap Kids — where Christine and I met back in 1990, well, talk about coming full circle. Whoa…

So, while I must admit I was a tad disappointed at not being able to score the more boyish “Star Wars” and “Superman” onesies for our little one, I think once I get my hands on a girly Princess Leia or Queen Amidala onesie, all will be right with the world!

13 Comments

Filed under Do

Shopping cart escalators @ Target

OK…I know it’s totally lame to get excited about shit like this, but does anyone else think that the shopping cart escalators at Target are cool as hell? I know, I know, in an age of iPods and cell phones the size of business cards, an escalator that carries your shopping cart upstairs for you seems kind of, well…old hat.

But, man alive, every time I push my cart onto that escalator at the Glendale Galleria Target and ride up alongside it, I can’t help feeling like George-freaking-Jetson. The future is now, baby! Amazing!!

7 Comments

Filed under Do

“The American Mall” billboards

OK, I know I probably sound like the world’s most self-involved goober right now, but after doing some business in Hollywood yesterday, I actually drove around looking for “American Mall” billboards.

I had heard from my brother Ryan and my friend Patty that there were several buses driving around greater Los Angeles with “American Mall” posters on them — Ryan said he even had the oddly surreal thrill of seeing my name scroll into view outside the window of the El Pollo Loco where he was eating breakfast! Ha! — but until yesterday I had not seen any of these posters for myself.

So, like all first-time screenwriters, I cruised Sunset Blvd. stalking buses and looking for billboards for my new movie. And to my amazement, I actually found three gigantic billboards within a few blocks of one another in the heart of downtown Hollywood.

The easiest one to spot was towering over a shockingly-clean Mobil gas station on the corner of Sunset and LaBrea. This was also the easiest billboard to take pictures of as they had a parking lot…yeah!

Next up was a billboard perched way up high on an office tower near Sunset and Las Palmas. This one was harder to shoot as I had to hurriedly park in a red zone, ignore the glaring Cholo gangbangers at the bus stop nearby and snap away. Yikes…don’t try this at home.

And finally, the last billboard I found on my adventure was placed right on top of a really lovely little “rooms-by-the-hour” motel about half a block from Las Palmas. Kind of a seedy locale for a squeaky-clean poster like ours, but hey, at least they had a parking lot!

So, as the mumbling homeless couple on the corner stared at me like I was crazy, I just smiled and thought to myself…hey, if you squint real hard, you can almost see my name! Yeah!

9 Comments

Filed under See

Downtown L.A.’s “Ciudad”

On their very cool website, Ciudad invites one and all to “experience the bold and seductive flavors of the Latin World” and last night, we took them up on it!

Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, Ciudad is the brainchild of world-renowned Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger and though a little pricier than their fare at the similarly-themed Border Grill in Santa Monica and Las Vegas, Ciudad is worth every penny you pay. Seriously…it’s kind of magical.

Although Christine has eaten at Ciudad a number of times over the years — her workplace, downtown’s Central Library is practically across the street from the restaurant — I had only been there on one other occasion, but the memory of that meal has stayed with me ever since.

So after enjoying the sunset from the rooftop bar of The Standard nearby, we hiked on over to Ciudad for a late dinner with some of Christine’s co-workers. And seeing as the late night happy hour at Ciudad had begun just minutes before we walked in — incredibly enough, they have house mojitos, sangria and a number of other rocking good cocktails for only $4 a pop from 9-11 on Friday nights! — we could not have planned it better!

The only hitch to the late night happy hour is that you have to enjoy your drinks literally at the bar and cannot move to your table until after you’ve settled your tab. Fine by us! So we drank ourselves silly at the bar, settled the tab and stumbled to our table around 10-ish.

And the food? Wow…word’s cannot do this place justice. Fusing delicious new and classic authentic dishes from Spain, Mexico, South America, Central America, Cuba and even Portugal, the menu is almost as rich, colorful and varied as the crazy hip decor and art work inside.

We started with some incredible tapas-style dishes. And though the Peruvian Ceviche with plantain chips and Argentine Empandas (with wild mushroom, warm chipotle sauce and swiss chard!) were fantastic, I gotta say that my favorite of the three appetizers we shared was the Fried Spanish Brie. Dios mio, that stuff melted in your mouth…it was incredible.

And this from a man who is not a huge fan of the Brie…don’t get me wrong, I love me some soft cheeses, but Brie has never been my favorite. Until now!

And dinner was even more amazing! Not only were the hip, mid-century dishes super groovy to look at, but the plating of this food was out of this world. Beautiful culinary art on every plate…just gorgeous!

I had the slow-roasted Niman Ranch Carnitas with mashed yuca, organic black beans, fried plantains and grilled corn salsa. Wow, even just typing those words is making me drool. It was probably the best carnitas I’ve ever had anywhere…and that mashed yuca is something I wanna make at home, like, every night. I loved it!

Christine had a huge crusted pork chop from the “Specials” menu that not only tasted like heaven, but rivaled the Brontosaurus bone on “The Flintsones” in heft. That thing was enormous!

And that lovely pork chop was not alone in the size department, because, unlike other hipster haunts downtown, the portions at Ciudad are authentically gigantic. That’s right, they don’t eat dainty in any of the countries listed above, so why should we do it here? Sí se puede, indeed!

I don’t have any pictures to back this all up of course — Christine forbid me to photograph my food in front of her work friends — but you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that even the heartiest eaters out there will not leave this joint hungry. It’s just not possible…

So next time you find yourself downtown on a Friday night between 9-11PM — gotta hit that happy hour, I mean, come on, regular-priced Supremo Mojitos are $15! — check out Ciudad! Sure, it might cost you and arm and a leg, but I swear to God, the food you eat here will flash before your eyes when you die.

Yep, it’s that good!

2 Comments

Filed under Eat

My New Obsession…Ravelry!

Farmer’s Daughter Bean here again with some online obsessing of my own…

My friends Tevana and Nic have been trying to get me to join this thing for months and this week I finally did! Join Ravelry.com that is! Ravelry is an online knitting/crocheting community where you can keep track of your yarn, tools, and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration.

The content on Ravelry is all completely user-driven and though the site is still in beta, so far it has been super easy to use. And now…I am hopelessly addicted! All I think about is adding my stash — yarn stockpiles for those of you not in the “know”– books and pictures of my completed projects to the site.

Another thing I really like about Ravelry is that you can see what other people have made from the same patterns you have or the same yarn. If you even ever thought about knitting or crocheting before, you have to check this site out…it’s quite fascinating!

So far I’ve listed all of my books (shown in the pic of my virtual library shelf above) and about 50% of my needles (below). As for adding my yarn stash inventory, I haven’t even skimmed the surface of that yet. Maybe that’s because doing so would require that I finally clean out my overflowing craft closet! Eek…

I think my favorite thing about Ravelry right now is that it gives me something to “nerd out” on while Tom re-watches the “Lost” Season Finale for the fifth time and obsesses over tracking down our “missing in action” Wii Fit — which still hasn’t arrived from Amazon!

So, while Tom fires up the Tivo one more time, off to Ravelry I go…

1 Comment

Filed under Make

Wii will rock you!

Four words: best birthday present ever! OK, technically, it’s the best birthday present I totally obsessed over, helped find (after a massive, three-state search!) and wait in line for, but hey, it still counts. So, thank you, Christine, you seriously rock!

Wii grrrls gone wild! (March 2008)

We have been desperately craving a Nintendo Wii gaming system since our nephews brought theirs down from Oregon over Christmas. And as luck would have it, we found one a couple of weeks back at the dirty old Target in NoHo! Actually, that Target isn’t really that dirty anymore, but we still call it that, because, compared to the shiny new Target uptown, it’s a bit…rustic.

Anyway, cleanliness aside, dirty Target is where we found our beloved Wii. And while we had to line up with the other Wii nerds at 7:30AM (on a Sunday!) it was totally worth it as we finally scored a system of our very own.

“Sitting Tim” gets all singer-songwriter! (March 2008)

But better still was the first game we bought…the epically cool, “Guitar Hero III”. I’m not sure who was happier about this purchase, us, or my brother Ryan and sister-in-law Laura, who have been at our place literally EVERY weekend since we bought the game. They actually came over and played one night while Christine and I were at a party…can you say, addicted?? Wow…

But once you’ve played this crazy-amazing game, you’ll be hooked too. It’s kind of insanely cool and even though I totally suck at it, the graphics and songs are so awesome that watching other people play the game is almost as fun as playing it yourself. Hands down, one of the best video games ever!

Me and Amy “rapping awful” (March 2008)

And then, just when I though “Guitar Hero” couldn’t get any cooler, I received a second Gibson guitar Wii controller for my birthday from Ryan, Laura, and our bad-ass friends James and Tim. Yep, we got two guitars now, baby! And just like that, the game doubled its fun factor.

Seriously, now two players can jam at the same time, one on bass and one on guitar, and since the bass playing seems mildly easier…I can almost keep up with the other guitar Gods in the living room! Hooray!

James & Christine thoughtfully strumming… (March 2008)

So, after celebrating a combo birthday party on Sunday night for James (whose birthday was on March 4th) and me (whose birthday is, no fooling…today) we rocked out with our first official Wii party! Unfortunately, space being what it is in our place (players needs room to jam, yo!) we limited the party to James, Tim, Ryan, Laura and our friend Amy. And even that was pushing it as Christine apparently needs a zone of silence around her when she plays.

But that’s cool, I mean, everybody’s got their own style…Laura rocks the whammy bar like nobody’s business, James has some serious tongue action going when he plays and Tim is probably the boldest of all…going all singer-songwriter by actually sitting while he plays! Amazing!

Laura Romero, Guitar Hero! (March 2008)

Anyway, as you can see from the pics, we had a blast. And lest anyone out there feel left out, fear not, for I predict many more “Guitar Hero III” Wii parties in our future…so, get ready to rock!

2 Comments

Filed under Do

Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe

Lest you think all we did was gorge ourselves on green chiles, Christine and I did find time one night to visit one of the coolest spots in Santa Fe…the Ten Thousand Waves spa and resort. A Japanese spa with communal, private, premium private and super premium private baths and an array of fancy, awesome-smelling spa services, this place rocked!
.

Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)
.

And getting there is half the fun. Driving through the winding, snow-capped mountains to the spa is an experience in itself…and then once you get there, wow…you feel like you’re in fuedal Japan or something. The entire walkway to the main spa — which is a bit steep in parts, so leave time if you need to take it slow — is lined with delicate Japanese lanterns that give the snowy path a dreamlike quality. Really beautiful.

Reaching the main spa, you check in and are each given a warm cotton kimono and some f-ing amazing cucumber water and are shown to the locker room. Showering off the impurities of the outside world with some of the best smelling hippie soap and shampoo I’ve ever encountered — seriously, it smelled so good, I kinda wanted to eat it — you dump your clothes in your locker, wrap yourself in that snuggly kimono and make your way to the baths for a soak.

The door on our Kabuta private bath! (Feb. 2008)
.
The view from our private bath! (Feb. 2008)
.

We reserved a private bath (a steal at $25 per person for an hour!) called Kabuta, which means “Piglet” in Japanese. I later learned that the reason for the name was that when the spa was built in 1981, the neighbor next door was so upset at the prospect of a spa in his midst that he built a pigpen six feet from this bath and stocked it with a dozen baby pigs. Ha!

The Kabuta name remains, but luckily for us, the piglets are long gone. All you see from the bath now is an amazing view of the snow-covered hillside and the stars above. This place was gorgeous…we could have stayed all night.

When your hour is up, a soothing gong sounds over the speaker near the tub and a dreamy, disembodied voice tells you that you have five minutes remaining. That’s right…a soothing gong! There’s no rude-ass knocking on your door to shoo you out at this joint.

Totally relaxed at Ten Thousand Waves! (Feb. 2008)
.

So, with a light snow beginning to fall in the distance, we reluctantly wrapped ourselves up in our kimonos and made our way back down the path to the showers. Driving home, totally relaxed and smelling of yummy mint and lavender, we hit the bed hard and slept like babies till morning…

Domo arigato, Ten Thousand Waves. Domo arigato mucho!

3 Comments

Filed under Do

The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe

OK, I know it sounds like all we did in Santa Fe was eat and that’s probably because, well, aside from drinking — gotta love that high altitude buzz! — that is all we did. Literally.

The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

At one point Christine and I were plotting out our day and realized that everything we wanted to do involved food. Of course, we eventually found plenty of other some awesome things to do and see, but, wow, with all that good food they got cooking, why not eat your way through Santa Fe?

And a great place to start your culinary day off right is at the rocking French Pastry Shop located inside the historic La Fonda Hotel downtown. Now, I should mention that my first visit here — yes, I went just about everywhere more than once…but, hey, I was in town for six weeks, what do you expect? — with Ginger was not that great.

Inside The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

I ordered a dry-ass crepe with ham and gruyere cheese that was way overpriced and, like I said, dry as, well…ass. Not my favorite breakfast. But when Christine and I went again a week later, things were much more to my liking.

To start with, they have no menus, so you have to stare at this chalk board hanging up by the register and pick out what you like then sit down and order. I didn’t do this the first time and simply ordered what the skinny waitress suggested…not a wise move at this place, as what I got was, no offense, skinny waitress food.

Another view of The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

So this time, I studied that menu board HARD and, man alive, what a difference! Christine and I shared the tasty looking quiche-type deal with ham, cheese and spinach and wow…just wow. I think the picture below says it all.

For “desert” we ordered a fresh blueberry and raspberry crepe with whipped cream and here again, we ordered correctly. I kind of wanted to marry that thing…you know, if I wasn’t already married.

But the topper was a cold coffee drink made with two shots of espresso poured over homemade vanilla ice cream and lots of ice. I am not kidding…that just might have been the best cold coffee drink I ever consumed…and this from a former Peet’s barista!

Tasty breakfast quiche @ The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

All I can say is thanks again to “Santa Fe Sarah” for insisting that Christine try The French Pastry Shop when she came out, because had she not, I would not have gone back. Muchas gracias, Sarah…you were right, I was wrong.

Oh yeah, and one last thing, The French Pastry is a strictly cash-only enterprise, so bring some green, and don’t forget to study that chalk menu board up front, HARD. You won’t regret it…

4 Comments

Filed under Eat

Cafe Pasqual’s & The Shed

While we tried tons of super cool restaurants in Santa Fe, these two were, hands down, our favorites of the bunch. And, trust me, with the caliber of kick-ass food being what it is in Santa Fe, that is really saying something.

Cafe Pasqual’s, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

Probably best known for their spectacular mole sauce, Cafe Pasqual’s has been one of the premiere destinations for gourmet Old Mexican and New Mexican dishes alike for the past 28 years. And while the prices are a bit higher than some of the other places in town and the lines are known to stretch down Don Gasper Avenue at all hours, once you’ve eaten at Cafe Pasqual’s, it all makes sense.

Ginger and I had an early lunch there one day where I sampled that legendary mole sauce on some of the finest chicken enchiladas I have ever tasted anywhere…including Mexico. The mole was dark as night, awesomely spicy and best of all, not too chocolate-y. I was in heaven…

Cafe Pasqual’s @ lunch time! (Feb. 2008)

The next time I went was with Christine for dinner and once again, the food was downright dazzling. I had some of the tastiest skewered filet mignon I’ve ever had and the bright green cilantro rice on the side was crazy good. In fact, we were so impressed with the food that we actually bought the newest of the two Cafe Pasqual Cookbooks they had for sale up front.

I should also note that I learned later from our friends James and Amy that if you ask nicely, the chef will add a fried egg on top of any of the dishes on the menu for the low, low price of $1.00. I don’t know that I necessarily needed the egg, but hey, I’ve done stranger things for a dollar…so, maybe next time!

Mole chicken enchiladas @ Cafe Pasqual’s! (Feb. 2008)

But while we both loved Cafe Pasqual’s, The Shed is the place we’ll dream about in the years to come…huge thanks to Christine’s co-worker, “Santa Fe Sarah” for recommending it to us, you rock! Located in a cool little hacienda dating to 1692, The Shed has been serving some of the finest, Spanish, Pueblo, and New Mexican food known to man since 1953.

Housed inside the thick adobe walls of the hacienda, the dining area is spread out across a series of small, brightly colored rooms linked by narrow doorways and halls adorned with some of the coolest art in town. The place actually felt more like someone’s house than a restaurant, and with little round fire places up front and an intimate, low-ceilinged feel throughout, you could have sworn you were eating in Yoda’s pad on Degobah. And yes, that is a good thing.

The Shed, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

And the food…my God. Amazing! Christine ordered the Chicken Enchilada Verde which is made with traditional New Mexican blue corn tortillas and bathed in a roasted green chile sauce that will leave you begging for more. Literally! I went back two days after she left and ordered the exact same thing…and it was even better the second time.

The other thing we really dug about The Shed was the garlic bread. Instead of chips and salsa — which you can still order separately if you like — every entree is served with this amazing, piping-hot basket of French Garlic Bread. I know it sounds kinda weird, but when you’re sopping up that spicy green chile sauce, that bread is exactly what you wanna have on hand. Whew…awesome!

And for desert, you gotta try the mocha cake. I’m not kidding, I actually woke up a couple of times craving that thing. Probably one of the best coffee-infused, chocolate mouse cakes I’ve ever had. If you like chocolate…you will die!

Anyway, like I said before, there were plenty of killer dining spots in town, but these two…wow…if you ever find yourself in Santa Fe, don’t miss them.

2 Comments

Filed under Eat

Todos Santos Chocolates

OK, first off, I kinda want to sue Frommer’s for leaving this place out of their “Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque” guidebook. I lived and died by that book when I was in New Mexico — not to mention last summer when their “Nashville & Memphis” guide never left my sweaty hands — so I was stunned to find someplace as cool as Todos Santos Chocolates & Confections missing from their hallowed pages.

Todos Santos sign! (March 2008)
.

Ginger and I stumbled upon Todos Santos one afternoon and returned at least one more time, but Christine and I made this joint our home away from home in Santa Fe. Seriously, we made a beeline for this place every time we went downtown…and well, that was a lot.

Located just a short walk up Palace Avenue from the main plaza, Todos Santos is nestled inside the heart of the historic Sena Plaza directly across from the legendary La Casa Sena restaurant. Never got around to trying the restaurant (like many eateries in Santa Fe, they keep kind of odd hours) but the gourmet chocolates at Todos Santos are truly out of this world.

Todos Santos chocolates in all their glory! (Feb. 2008)
.

In fact, owner Hayward Simoneaux — who was spectacularly friendly and actually started to recognize Christine and I as “regulars” after a while — was named one of the 10 best artisan chocolatiers in the country by Chocolatier magazine in 2001. And man, does he deserve the title. Everything we tried in his shop was downright magical…

Our favorites were a dark chocolate mouse number with reddish fleur de sel on top and a dark chocolate morsel filled with homemade peanut butter that literally melted in your mouth. You never had peanut butter this velvety! Also good was a little dark chocolate horn filled with red chile cream…amazing!

And the chocolates are just the beginning, as the interior of the tiny shop itself looks like some crazy-cool fiesta scene from the Golden Age of Cine Mexicana. Beautifully decorated with colorful paper flowers, masks, Virgen de Guadalupe ornaments and tons of gold and silver (and even chocolate!) milagros, the place was breathtakingly cool.

Mas Todos Santos chocolates! (Feb. 2008)
.
Todos Santos interior! (Feb. 2008)
.

And the packaging was even cooler. Simoneaux’ bold, vivid boxes and wrapping were just as amazing as the chocolates inside…and, best of all, shockingly affordable. The funky little glass and silver box we bought below was like $10-12 and was filled with three or four of our favorite chocolates to boot. Hell, you’d pay almost twice that much for the chocolates alone in Los Angeles.

Cooler still was what happened my last day in Santa Fe. Knowing I had one more shot at securing some tasty take-home treats for Christine, I headed down to Todos Santos alone and was delighted to find the store completely changed for Easter. Everywhere you looked were bright spring colors, chocolate bunnies and a dazzling new array of handmade chocolates. Man, I wanted to buy everything…

Todos Santos packaging at its finest! (Feb. 2008)
.

Luggage weight restrictions being what they are, however, I narrowed down my selections to a few individual pieces in another super cool box and two small bags of Easter goodness. One was filled with dark chocolate covered almonds lightly dusted with cocoa, and the other was filled with individually-wrapped caramels infused with chipotle pepper spice, that were even better than they sound. As Ginger would say: “Yummers!”

But perhaps my favorite thing about Todos Santos was the smell. If you could bottle that shit, it would sell like, well…chocolate-scented hotcakes. The aroma in that place was positively otherworldly, and I swear, if you stayed in there long enough (as we did on several occasions) you started to smell like chocolate…which, all things considered, is a pretty tasty way to start your day.

So, gracias, Todos Santos…your chocolates will live on in our dreams!

5 Comments

Filed under Eat

Halloween on Dagobah!

Saturday night, Christine and I attended a massive LAPL (Los Angeles Public Library) Halloween party at the Central Library in downtown L.A..

Although technically not city employees, Christine and her staff (who work for the Library Foundation) usually crash these shindigs since her store is located inside the Central Branch.

Christine as Master Yoda!

And what a party it was! Not nearly as crowded as the LAPL’s annual Christmas bash, the turnout of costumed Library staffers (from every branch in L.A. county!) was still pretty damn spectacular. But most impressive of all was Christine’s hand-made Master Yoda costume!

Working without a pattern (s0mething she hates!) Christine crafted her headpiece and ears from one of my old Yoda-colored sweatshirts.

Christine in full-on Yoda mode!

Using pipe cleaners and batting to fill the ears, she then knit them onto a simple white headband ($3.99 @ Target!) tucked under the headpiece and pulled the ears through two small slits in the fabric.

Aside from the make-up (two shades of green for $4.99 a piece @ the rocking Cinema Secrets nearby) and the dark cloak underneath (which is a monk costume we bought at Party America for $14.99) everything else Christine wore was handmade, including her awesome, full-length Jedi cloak!

Yoda waits for no man!

It took kind of a YEAR to make, but as you can see, the results are, in the words of Lord Vadar himself: “Most impressive.”

In keeping with the “Star Wars” theme, I wore the super styling Anakin Skywalker costume Christine made me (once again, from scratch!) for Halloween 2005.

Yoda & Anakin!

Sadly, we didn’t win any awards in the costume contest — a Simpsons family in cheesy store-bought masks won first place! Huh? — we were pretty stoked with the way our handmade duds turned out and had a Jedi-tastic time at the party.

And though our filmic counterparts never actually battled one another onscreen, our Yoda and Anakin did manage to squeeze in a kick-ass “Duel of the Fates” on the steps outside the Getty Gallery.

Yoda & Anakin duel to the death!

But the best part of all was when Christine started quoting Yoda (accurately and in Yoda-speak!) on the car ride home, wow, what can I say…I never loved that little green-faced woman more!

The Force will be with her…always.

6 Comments

Filed under Make