30 May 2007

(Waist) Size Matters

Happy Hump Day (eve), everyone! Personally, I celebrated Wednesday by finding a great little vintage cotton shift at Wasteland that I plan to take in a little and wear over skinny pants with girly shoes. Sort of like, oh, a twentysomething Madeline with pants. I followed this great victory up with some remarkable plain-yogurt flavor gelato and blood-orange sorbet at Milk, which I've been eyeing every day on my way home from work. Another time I'll try the fab-looking salads and soups, but after a long walk in the sun, I had to go with the coldest options.
Anyway, the point of today's rant is not to extol the virtues of upper Mid-Wilshire, but to get all serious and discuss the skinny-war-disease so rampant in high fashion. When I first started working at the shop, I was shocked at how constantly everyone discusses food: how hugry they are, how much they've eaten so far, how gross they feel if it was too much (i.e. I'm So Fat), how starving they are if it wasn't enough (i.e. a veiled I'm So Skinny), what they ate last night, what they want to eat now but shouldn't, what they should eat in general, what other people eat, and whether we're all getting fat (or thin, depending on who's complaining) as a result of working there. One girl got a rousing chorus of disbelieving laughter when she revealed that she "doesn't eat salad." Now I've gotten used to it, and it's not as bad when people aren't too stressed, but I still have to remind myself constantly that eating is a normal human activity and food is rather important to one's functioning. That the occasional scoop of gelato is good for the soul, and implies not weakness, but simply great taste in desserts.

Now, I thought my coworkers went overboard with all the food chat. That was until this week, when a new chick was added to the staff. What's really sad to me is that she is more senior than any of us, yet is the most nervous and intent upon impressing us via 5th-grade-style indirect implications about her thinness. I shudder to think what inappropriate response she'd have if she knew what I'd happily consumed at Milk. It's funny, but not, and leads me to make these Highly Obvious Suggestions for People Working With Other People, Especially In A Fashion Environment Where Image is Generally Important to People:
1. Upon hearing in passing that a colleague wears a size 25 jean (a very, very small size), do not respond with "Really? I'm a 24! I wouldn't have guessed you were bigger than me!" Especially do not do this if the truth of your statement is dubious, thanks to the skintight leggings you've chosen for your first day on the job. It's not just bitchy, it's ridiculously immature (calling to mind the girl who, in 8th grade, said to me "You're really 104 pounds? I thought you were thin....").
2. Do not, while eating your Whole Foods salad for lunch, loudly and frantically announce that normally you would never dream of eating that tiny glob of pasta salad you've got, but that you just had to eat a few calories after that 4-mile walk you took. It's not only weird, but sad. We won't think you're a fatty for eating carbs; we'll just think you have issues for defending it.
3. Do not, do not, do NOT point to your coworker's Trader Joe's salad and cry, "Omigod, have you seen how many calories those things have? Seriously, look on the back--there's like 100 grams of fat in that." Especially do not do this if you're totally wrong and the entire salad, upon inspection, has a measly 350 calories. What on EARTH is the purpose of this comment? Are you seriously telling the slim and gorgeous woman eating the salad that she better watch her dressing intake? If you're trying to feel better by making other people feel fat, you kinda fucked this one up. Oy vey, child. Look, you've got me calling you "child" and I'm ten years your junior. Though, hey--maybe it'll make you feel thinner.

It's just interesting to see how much further the skinny-war craziness can go than what I'd experienced. When my size-25 colleague heard the above comment, she replied, "I need to go back to New York; we don't talk about sizes there." Is that true? Is it L.A. where this kind of thing rears its ugly head most publicly? I don't know--I did read The Devil Wears Prada, and god knows the narrator beat us over the head with the fact that all her colleagues were calorie-phobic and eager to say so. So is THAT true? Or does it just depend on which sector of the retail industry you're in, no matter the city? Do all y'all who don't work in fashion hear this malarky all day long around your water coolers, too?

> r r <

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24 May 2007

Harry Potter Jelly Beans, A Taste Test

Alan waited for me to try most of them--but he just had to taste bacon and rotten egg. I knew bacon would be gross...but I had no idea rotten egg would be so literal. The taste of sulfer stayed around long after the egg ripened.

Moving on the dual taste test.

We started with black pepper. I knew this has possibility, but I wasn't expecting to down right LIKE it. It's fabulous!

Next we decided to try something gross and we moved on to booger. I expected sweet boogers and I got sweet boogers. It was a spit out.

Afterthat we tested soap. Soap tasted like rose soap. YUCK--but not too yuck. Quite sophisticated. I finished it.

Earwax came next. This was a surprise. We discussed the actual taste of earwax and determined that it is bitter. Earwax jellybeans however, taste like cardomon and vanilla. I think someone might have joked that it tasted like "earwax of an Arabic grandmother."

We tried dirt next. Dirt tastes like dirt. But god made dirt, so dirt dont hurt.

We had to take a breather--and after half an hour or so, we tried grass and then earthworm. Grass was fine, but secretly I was hoping it would taste like pot...you know "hey man you got some grassssss"--it didnt'... But that's a million dollar idea right there--POT JELLY BEANS.

Earthworm was WEIRD. It tasted like hybiscus tea. But Alan nearly lost it--and had to spit it out. Apparently the earthworm jelly bean doesn't taste like hybiscus tea, hybiscus tea tastes like earthworms.

And finally vomit. No really--I didn't vomit--I ate vomit. It reminded me of something...I couldn't quite put my finger on...

And then it came to me...



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This is something I could wrap my mind around.

official press release here.

Geddit? In Japan only.


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It's That Time of the Month.

I once heard a fabulous minister tie in three moments in time that seemingly had nothing to do with one another; it was nothing short of brilliant. He took the record-breaking number of deaths in Iraq (that happened to fall that week), the murder-suicide at Virginia Tech, and the profound rains NYC saw one week before the sermon. Seemingly these were all random moments in time that had a profound negative effect--but had nothing to do with one another other than the fact that they were all big bummers (not a direct quote btw).

The sermon was not about the list of three, but about willfull ignorance. Those three things are happening because of actions (or in this case, inaction) that we have taken.

So let's see if you can find the pattern in these three things:

1) Rachael Ray's publicist wrote 5%Celery to ask us about advertising a new product.
2) Kombucha Wonder Drink wrote us and asked the same.
3) Someone googled "celery of an accountant" and found 5%Celery.

If this were a game show I would introduce the segment with, "things that are stupid."

Has Rachael Ray's publicist read these pages? The request is for a new phone service that she will offer--you can get Rachael Ray ring tone that says, "Yummo!" when your favorite aunt calls. Furthermore you can get recipes for "stoup" and "sammies" right on your phone! Imagine the possibilities! You'll be the hit of any store that you happen to be in at the moment Rachael rings in with "Yummo".

Kombucha Wonder Drink was the brand that we DIDN'T recommend. I actually have never had Kombucha Wonder Drink. Maybe I would like it--but the issue is that I've never even seen the product on the shelves. Maybe they should work on stocking it and not worry about marketing a product I can't seem to locate.

And what does "celery of an accountant mean"? It is a similar mistake my 5 year old, money driven, brother made.

"Seth, what is your cat's name?"

"Celery because I want to make a lot of money when I grow up..."

It took me a few moments to realize that he meant SALARY.

I'm curious, how much celery does an accountant make?


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23 May 2007

"Hills" Fashion? Umm...

Did anyone else catch this headline news back on March 7?

MTV Networks and Lauren Conrad -- the star of MTV's popular series "The Hills" -- today announce the first-ever celebrity-inspired digital fashion line to be introduced in the Virtual Hills virtual world.

Yes, that's right, good ole LC designed a line of clothing. And it doesn't surprise me that it's a line for digital avatars--when the girl tries to design for real people, it's a train wreck. When she tried to do a line for Sienna Miller in my sketching class last fall, it was laughable. Come on, man, if you can't dress Miss Miller, who CAN you dress? Oh wait--I guess that's what happens when MTV pays a girl who never wanted to be a designer to change her major from business to fashion design. Silly me. Silly MTV. They're working it, though:

The introduction of Lauren's physical and virtual world fashion lines takes the concept of personal expression to new heights for a generation of viewers who take their online persona as seriously as their real-worldpresence. Reflecting the casual yet smart aesthetic of her real-worldattire, the virtual clothing line inspired by Lauren will make its debut in Virtual Hills (http://www.virtualhills.mtv.com), where fans will be able to buy clothes with in-world currency. As Lauren continues to design her real-world line, she will look for feedback from virtual world patrons to help tailor the styles that make their way to boutiques later this year, a benefit of her close relationshipwith fans in Virtual Hills.
Good luck, Lauren; from what I've seen, most of the feedback left by your faithful Virtual Hills fans consists of, "I lvoe the hills it is great i think stephen and his gf should get married. are you getting back with jason lauren?" No wonder we've heard nothing since March about her "in-world" (good lord) clothing line. Also, the problem with designing clothes that look like the clothes you already have is that you can't sell them to the stores where you bought the original ones in the first place. Damn!

Sorry, I'm getting distracted by idiocy. Onto the more recent news: not only can you dress your virtual Bev-Hills-crawling avatar in LC-inspired clothes... you can now do all your real-life shopping at MTV as well, with the SeenOn! MTV Store!!!!! They sell outfits inspired by episodes (example: the charming number at right.) So basically, you can now live THE MOST AWESOME LIFE EVER: watch "The Hills" on TV, hop online to reenact the episode in fake Beverly Hills with a fake character who you made hotter than you, plunk down some cash for fake clothes for fake-hot-you, and then, when your evil mom finally makes you leave the rec room and venture outside the house ("fresh air," your ass), you can do it WEARING TOTALLY FABULOUS CLOTHES JUST LIKE LC AND HEIDI AND WHOEVER ELSE, that you ALSO bought online WITH MOM'S MASTERCARD! Omg omg the hills ruuuuuuuulez!

*Note: Look how wrinkly LC is in the photo! She really is that wrinkly. Tanning kills, kids.

> r r <

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(click on the picture for the article)


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The Little Door Next Door, A Review

My what a beautiful little place that sits there on 3rd street next to Doughboys. My dining companion and I were annoyed that we couldn't find parking close, so we nearly passed up this opportunity to go for a quick visit. But alas, I claimed New York legs, so I was happy to walk a few blocks (besides Satine was on the way and I have some credit on file). We arrived at Little Door and Little Door Next Door and stepped through the doorway into another world. I'm a fan of fantasy dining, anything that makes me feel like I've taken a little vacation outside of my big, dirty city is alright by me.

The Little Door is a full scale restaurant, while the Little Door Next Door is a more casual version of itself. Sort of like Friday Jeans versus Business Attire. Or lunch versus dinner.

The first person I ran into was Suzanne Goin. She looks amazing (she recently had twins). She asked me what I was going to order and I admitted that I was visiting for the first time. She also had not been before.

Unfortunately I had consumed some yogurt (really good yogurt) and chicken salad three hours before, so I wasn't up for much more than Prosecco.

My dining companion had the smoked salmon sandwich and a glass of iced coffee. We were thrilled with the service and the people watching. It is clear that people come to sit for hours while enjoying the French/Mediterannean influenced menu.

It is not an inexpensive place to dine, but it is very good food. The sandwich was full of flavor and the side salad, though quite boring looking, was outstanding.

I'll go back for a more full review. In the meantime, you will not be wasting anything to try it yourself.


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22 May 2007

Martha Stewart Copped Out

I try to stick with themes. This morning, the theme that arrives time and time again, are wine glass tags.

Wine glass tags are just as they seem; little markers for the wine glass so that it doesn't get mixed up with another guest's wine glass. I thought to myself, "who puts their wine glass down?" But then it became obvious to me that when one ducks into a closet for a quick snog at a cocktail party, most people put their glasses down. It then occurred to me that you have just exchanged a lot more than spit--so why the shy behavior suddenly? BUT then I thought further and realized that it may come down to philosophy; HIS glass may be half empty.

First it started with a perusal of an old Martha Stewart Magazine. Someone requested "smart and simple" ways to make wine glass tags. The first mistake was to assume "simple" thought I. But Martha disappointed. She suggested buying silk flowers with the bendy stems to wrap around the glasses.

EWWW. Doesn't that seem a fright? I can imagine a rose growing up the side of your Burgundy and tickling your mustache.

Then I saw these, and suddenly the flower seemed downright avant garde!

I remember the good old days, when it was appropriate to drink out of "red cups" and you could just Sharpie your name on the side. Those were simpler times.

I'm not even gonna talk about these.

I've been wracking my brain to come up with a better idea. And then I had it. We've lived centuries without wine glass tags--therefore WE DO NOT NEED WINE GLASS TAGS.

As I always say, keep your wine glass close and the wine bottle closer.


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21 May 2007

NYT Agrees With 5%C

If the New York Times Style section says it, it must be true. Therefore, their agreeing with my recent assessment of Diet Coke Plus means that I AM RIGHT, and boy howdy, do I ever like being right. Just so you can see how the NYT is totally mackin' on my style via interviews with actual people:

Anne Slowey, an editor at Elle, still recalls the best [Diet Coke] she ever
had, near the Great Wall of China. “If I want the Diet Coke of my dreams, I have
to go to Beijing,” she told me. But Diet Coke Plus? It rubs her the wrong way,
as it does many. “I just don’t want someone mixing vitamins in with my vice,”
she said. Especially if you can taste them. The other day, Ira [the
author's husband] popped open his first can of the stuff. Ptooey. “I don’t
care for the aftertaste,” he said. “It’s like having a sweater on my tongue.”
With that he ceremoniously poured it down the drain.

Take THAT, health.

> r r <



Champagne has added sugar?

I have done a lot of research on Champagne (particularly tasting research) and I've never known that sugar is added right before bottling.

This Champagne doesnt.

Ayala owned by Bollinger, is placing a sparkling rose on the market that does not have the added sugar known as "dosage"; the equivalent of three level tablespoons of liquid sugar. It is used to balance flavor, but Ayala has found a way around it.

Ayala claims that the dosage is not necessary if the fruit is perfectly ripe.

The difference? An average bottle with the dosage is 534 calories with the new wine coming in around 390 calories.

This means one thing to me; I can drink ONE more glass. Any opportunity to drink one more, is alright by me.

Ayala Cuvée Rosé Nature

Read the whole article here.

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17 May 2007

What the Chic are Swigging

Have you yet seen the tall bottles of kombucha staking their claim on large areas of shelf at Whole Foods & associated yuppie vegan stores? Do you know anyone who swears by the stuff? Have you tried it yourself, or even reached the ultimate stage of the pyramid and declared yourself addicted? Several months ago I hadn't even achieved Step One yet, and somehow I now find myself at about Step 3.5 (drink it occasionally, wish for it often). How did this happen? I started working at a chic boutique with ladies who are ahead of the pack not only in fashionable clothing, but in fashionable foods and, especially, drinks. Fashionable drinks? Seriously? Oh ho, my friends, absolutely. Every once in awhile, a new beverage comes along that makes special claims that somehow vault it not just to popular status (e.g. Vanilla Coke) but to exclusive status. It's not sold everywhere, it's not drunk by everyone, and it's very probably expensive. Before I get into the complex cult of Kombucha, let's take a little trip down memory lane (or creek, if we want to be liquid about it) and remember couture drinks of yore.

<--OK, perhaps not exactly couture. But in my first grade class, anyone whose mom let them have Yoo-Hoo in their lunchbox was TOTALLY cool. And look, it even had special claims way back when!
Voss Water came along and perhaps was an originator of the luxury beverage boom. It was really expensive, came in an impractical glass bottle, and somehow imparted major class to anyone carrying it. Was there ever even a special claim? Or just the claim--its value not to be underestimated--that it was really expensive? I know Voss is still around, but it's not a big deal anymore. And I think it's actually gotten cheaper.

I remember when VitaminWater was the new hip thing. Kind of like when Boca Burgers first came around and were so magical because they were meatlike but not meat. And now there are like 827364 kinds of veggie burgers, and you can get Bocas at Burger King. So much for cache. Same thing with VitWa. They're trying to stay cool with new VitaminEnergy, which I'm sure will be popular enough among the pseudo-health-conscious, but still not exclusive enough to qualify as a boutique bev. The way I can tell? VitWa vending machines are everywhere and it's always on sale at CVS. The kiss of death? See below:

And who could forget the recent pomegranate craze? Started off with Pom Wonderful juice that Whole Foods mommies splashed into their San Pellegrino to ward off the plague. Pom then tried to get portable with these highly impractical ("reusable!") glass Pom Teas (perhaps thinking that if it worked for Voss, why not Pom?). I think the bev-toting elite tried to embrace it, but it just didn't fly. Now that pomegranates are in everything from hand lotion to smoothies at 7-11, the glamour is gone.

Which brings us back to the modern day and the reign of kombucha. When I first started working here, the girls introduced me to it by saying "it tastes bad, but it's super good for you!" I tasted a little in a paper cup, and I actually liked the stuff. Mainly because it tastes like organic cheap champagne, and I dearly love cheap champagne. This is because it's fermented with some kind of magical culture thing--which, BTW, looks like a giant scary mushroom blob. As for health benefits, "No clinical studies have been performed that demonstrate any specific curative properties of kombucha, but anecdotal reports suggest protection against cancer and other ailments." The bottle says that the maker started marketing it after his mother cured herself of breast cancer with it. If you want to get down and dirty, here's some deets: "Advocates believe kombucha works by assisting in the phase II liver detoxification pathway, leading to efficient elimination of endogenous and exogenous bodily wastes." Delightful. In addition to lots of different acids and enzymes and stuff, kombucha "also contains vitamin groups B and C, beneficial yeasts and bacteria." Mmm, beneficial yeasts! Anyway, it comes in various colors (all organic fruit purees added to the kombucha mix) and for sure fits all the specifications for a boutique bev: cures cancer, is brand-specific (my cronies drink only this kind, Organic Raw Kombucha, rather than competitor Kombucha Wonder Drink), is only sold at froofy health shops, and empties your wallet with one blow ($3.39 each! For REALS YO!). I see this one sticking around for the long haul--it's just gotten started.

A Look To The Future:

Now, I'm not sure if everyone's seen the clearly-aimed-solely-at-women ads for new Diet Coke Plus, or if non-Angelenos are missing out (since they're still in the regional testing phase [and god knows L.A. is the obvious place to introduce such a product]). If you haven't, let me sumamrize: Coke is trying to hop on the beverages-as-health-aids wagon, perhaps trying to neutralize the utter toxicity of their product (not only is aspartame questionable, but caffeine is addictive [duh] and leaches calcium from your bones [not duh, but scary and true] AND the carbonation ALSO leaches calcium from your bones. Annnnd tons of women drink liters of it a day. In a few decades we're all going to need multiple prosthetic limbs.) So yeah, I guess I can see the reasoning in trying to add at least a little nutritional value to Diet Coke, but I'm not convinced that it'll have enough cache to be the new Kombucha. And I for one am not even going to fool myself into drinking it for health; no, no, I'll stay old school, hardcore, and drink my toxic chemicals with glee and without pretense of any benefits. Whatevs--I'm sure I'll be OK if I chase it with a little Kombucha.


> r r <

[Note: for an interesting overview of the beverage market, drown yourself in this report.]


16 May 2007

Sous Vide, a Primer

My mom had this idea a long time ago. She saw this machine on the Home Shopping Network (we were in a hotel and there was NOTHING else on) and she ordered it. It was this narrow machine that reminded me of a white Knight 2000 grill (I had to Wilkipedia that; apparently the onboard computer was named Kitt--NOT the car). It was not much bigger than a three-hole punch. She had this brilliant idea to put chicken in the pouch with seasonings (I recommend parsley, garlic, lemon, thyme and rosemary) and then would freeze it and boil it when she was ready to eat. To me it sounded gross. I come from the school of "color equals flavor" (so to speak), so a boiled chicken breast is about as unappealing as eating dough after its second rise.

Then she read something about plastics putting off carcinogens when heated to a certain level--that was then end of sous vide in my house. The debate is still on, but that hasn't stopped the trend from reaching our restaurants. Sous vide literally means "under vacuum". The method used by chefs is much more refined than my mother’s sous vide pot roast; cook the flesh at a low enough temperature that the texture is not compromised. In fact it is a texture that we can't get with our traditional methods of baking, poaching, or sautéing.

In culinary school we are taught to cook thin slices of meat (and high protein meats) at high temperatures. This ensures the meat will be cooked evenly and will retain its juices. In sous vide cooking there is no where for the juices to go but back into the meat--so the result is a finer texture and a juicier piece of chicken.

But the machines cost 5 grand and the New York Health Department has nixed the process by explaining that there are rules about chicken reaching the designated 165 degrees (the temperature at which salmonella can no longer live).

Don't get me started in on the salmonella debate--it's the FDA's lack of regulation that our food supply is so diseased in the first place (google the term "fecal soup" and have fun).

As with any fad or trend I roll my eyes, but the possibility of eating rhubarb that looks raw but is neither stringy nor crunchy has my curiosity peaked. Imagine what salmon that has been cooked for an hour at 100 degrees will feel like in your mouth! Imagine the flavor--a chef's job would be to baby-sit the meat (insert your own joke here).


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Pretention of the Day

Okay, so I certainly understand that there are faux pas in the kitchen (i.e. using pre-peeled garlic, cooking with iodized salt, or overcooking the tuna) but this is ridiculous:


I dare you to go into your favorite neighborhood restaurant and ask for their leftover lobster shells. Write me and tell me how that goes down.


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A Very Good Article

15 May 2007

August, A Review

I'm on a roll. I haven't been to a bad restaurant in awhile (except Cafeteria in NYC--but that was quickly canceled out by the next stop--Rosa Mexicana--more on that later).

This restaurant was recommended by my friend Chris who was a chef in the city. Okay, I must clarify. I use the word "friend" with people I like, sometimes I jump the gun. He is a friend of a friend. But that's a mouthfull. Anyway, this post isn't about me (they all are) it's about the food (that I ate).

On my last day in NYC I visited my favorite part, the West Village. I don't know why it took me until then, but I was busy hanging out on 5th Ave (read: shopping). I came to find the restaurant, August and grab a bite to eat before the driver took me away from NYC kicking and screaming.

I found it. It was closed until noon--but I was STARVING. So I went to another restaurant, St. Ambroeus. I walked in and asked for a table for one. The server headed off to fetch me a table (the restaurant was half full) and NEVER CAME BACK. So I sent someone else off. THEY NEVER CAME BACK. So I left. When I got back to August they were open.

I did the LA thing and sat at a table in the middle and talked on my phone for the first ten minutes. But they didn't bat an eye. The very nice server brought me a fabulous glass of wine and I ordered the hamburger.

Soon an older couple, I would learn they were from Texas, walked in and sat near me. Not sitting near someone in this tiny restaurant is difficult--it is small and romantic. We all chatted about food and suddenly another diner came in--to fill the place. A very pretty little baby looked up at me with huge eyes, and I followed her gaze up to the pusher of the buggy and it was my friend's family! New York is small this way. I ran into people all over the place. I love that about the city.

My food came, and I dug in. I was sure my request for "medium rare" would become something closer to "meduim well"...but it was perfectly cooked! Maybe that seems simple to you--but too often focus is on flavor and not how well the product is cooked. This had both. I know it was a simple burger--but the best burger I've had. If I were to open a restaurant it would be like this tiny little place; filled with warmth and chatter and everyone feels at home.


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Table 8, A Review

I've not posted a review lately. And this review, I should confess, is NOT AT ALL UNBIASED. If it were awful I couldn't say it was awful.

Luckily for me, it wasn't awful, but alas, I can't say it was awful because the Executive Chef is a friend of mine. Of course they may become friends with me because they know I'm a sucker. But I will also admit that I'm a snob and wouldn't be friends with a bad chef. So what I'm trying to say is that my word is still golden.

I entered and said to the maitre d', "Hi I'm .:tt:. and I have a reservation." His eyes lit up and he said, "Oh Govind's friend! Welcome!" See? It's fun being me!

We are ushered to the bar and enjoy a couple of glasses of prosecco and a few chef's amususes. We are amused indeed. Chef comes in--a handsome gent that is famous for being
great looking. He's not cooking tonight--he's just back from Miami (where they have placed another Table 8). He comes to our rescue, as we have booked on the busiest night since they reopened. He snaps his fingers and a table opens up.

One of my dining companions brought a nice bottle of wine, so we start with that. We order the first and main course at the same time--which a good restaurant should be able to pull off...most in LA can not. How hard is it to hold the main course for 30 minutes?

Let me tell you some observations that made the evening; first the staff understands that a good evening happens when everyone is having fun. So there isn't a table? Offer good food and wine and company until there is a table. But my favorite thing of all? There were three of us, and all of the courses came with the main ingredient in sets of three. Three pieces of duck, six scallps, etc...I've said it before--the dining room should always accommodate the client--if there were four scallops who would get the last one?

So I'll get down to it--the food is so elegant and tasty--there was nothing to complain about. The
Chef de Cusine (runs the kitchen in that particular location--the Executive Chef oversees all operations of both) is Jason Wildman.

We had the Chorizo and Clams, Seared Scallops and Braised Veal Cheeks to start. All very yummy--it's hard to say which was my favorite--but if I HAD to choose, I would say the Veal Cheeks.

I loosened the belt and settled in for a main course. The chef stopped by the table to see how things were going and realized it was time for more wine. At this point--my head spinning from lots of wine, food, and attention I don't remember what we drank--but it was good.

The main course came after we digested a little--not too hurried. For this course we enjoyed the Lamb (and I told my lamb story--have I told you yet?), the Duck Breast, and The Pork. It was all fabulous--I even liked the lamb!

Dessert was a creamy and delicate panna cotta and warm cookies. More wine and some coffee. And the night came to a close. Well sort of...


Order Govind Armstrong's book
here. Really. Do.

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14 May 2007

Disaster of the Day

I hope I don't need to enumerate why these make my stomach hurt. But just in case:
-pajamas sold as streetwear
-nasty hearts
-thigh labeled "Juicy." Is this our new goal for thighs?
-PRICE OF $110. GOOD LORD PEOPLE. Have you no better use for large amounts of cash?

I want to ralph. Time for a little of this:

> r r <

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Izakaya, A Review


Fabulous lunch menu.





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12 May 2007

Scantily Clad Chicks (PIX!)

Even if my bathing suit is used more for lounging on the rooftop of the Standard than for actual swimming in the nearby Pacific, that still didn't stop me from deciding recently that my 4-year-old J. Crew number wasn't going to cut it anymore. This was less because the bikini was worn out--no, no, it's still fine--and more because, as an American, any garment more than 2 years old seems ancient and dated. Besides, being bombarded with shopbop.com emails and newspaper inserts insisting that getting prepped for summer necessitates a new piece of Spandex doesn't help any. I've resisted the urge for the past 4 years, since I have honestly very much liked my little Japanese-print suit, but now that I work in retail and am surrounded by Those Chicer Than I constantly, the urge to update was too strong to resist. However, since my credit card and I can't bring ourselves to fork over the $200-plus that the really nice bikinis cost these days (and yes, I've checked Target--nothing doing, unless you WANT to look like a high-school girl on spring break), I had to do some research.
Usually I think that the bathing suits available for ladies are generally heinous, tacky and unflattering (especially if your bust isn't--how to say this?--really suited to fill out giant bra cups). Manufacturers make the assumption that we females are all giant 6-year-olds who want pink heart beads swinging from our straps and nasty little ruffles adorning our bums. So I was anticipating a pretty fruitless search. I mean, look at this one from Victoria's Secret:

Seriously, who likes this stuff? A top that looks like a bra--and not a pretty bra, but the bra that you wear under a thick tee when you're going to the market and you don't want to get your nice bras dirty for no reason. And this is what now they want you to wear on the outside, at the beach? With a MINISKIRT? Victoria's Secret is actually showing a ton of these skirty things, which I think is a shockingly bad idea. Even this model looks dumb, and she's got a hot bod. Imagine wearing this if you were someone who actually were looking for coverage--small bra, big skirt, oh dear. If you don't want to show your butt, wear little cutoff shorts over your bikini bottom, OK?
But you know, I have to apologize to the swimsuit world out there, and say that I underestimated you. This kind of horror is not all that's out there. Not only did I quickly find a great bikini that I could afford and even wear, but I also found a bunch of others that made me wish I lived on the beach so I could justify needing them too.

Victoria's Secret, I have to hand it to them, is totally killing it this year in terms of basic nice suits for cheap. There are a lot of awful ones, but also nice basics like this yellow one (which, I think, is a far better way to wear a bandeau style than the normal way, with no straps or center straps that make your boobies sag. Yuck.). I saw Cameron Diaz's assistant at my store the other day, and she was grabbing up all the bandeau bathing suits she could find. Now that I think about it, Cameron always wears bandeaus. She can pull it off because she's shaped like a 2-by-4, but even if she's not in danger of popping out, I still think it's a really unflattering thing to do to your upper body.

One-piece: if you're not lucky enough to have found a vintage one-piecer like my black one (which I really want to figure out how to wear around in public), the next best thing is this Calvin Klein suit. Calvin Klein bathing suits always look the same, and they're always gorgeous. Look at this! The princess seaming is so perfect, the bust shirring is ideal; it's probably the most flattering skintight garment I've ever seen. Damn.

Triangle tops: eh, I dunno. Check V.Secret again if you're dead set on triangles, but they're just hard to get right. If you're too little, you look like you're wearing a training bra (see Target top at left). Too busty, and you look, well, like you belong on a movie set involving a fluffer (V.'s S., right).

The best of all possible worlds: halter tops. Flattering and won't let you down (literally). The suit I decided on is from Stella McCartney and looks sort of like this one, except olive green. I love it, not a little because I found it on sale. Stella McCartney is one of my current favorite designers--everything she does (except for maybe the weird trash-bag vegan belts) is brilliant. Check out her current line--I want everything except for those weird little babydoll tops. Seriously, it's all beautiful, and just as people try to get a little bit of Marc Jacobs's chic by wearing his perfume even if they can't buy the clothes, I feel a little closer to Stella's dream world with my little green bikini. Plus, Stella for Target prices (actually even better than Target) = unbeatable.
Now onto the next summer "necessity" (newly deemed necessary; formerly deemed the domain of kids and Abercrombie fans): SHORTS. The fact that I went so far as to try on a pair of James Perse $145 shorts should say something (about the rise of shorts' cool factor this season, and about my slavish capitulation to fashion)...the report will come soon.

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