Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Wedding Montage Worth Sharing

This is not a wedding blog.  And I promise I won't make it into one.  But these pictures are too good not to share.  They're not pretty or particularly lovey-dovey, but somehow they say everything. Or maybe that's over-thinking it....either way, they are hilarious if only for the fact that we are trying to cut our "wedding cake" (which was bought last minute by a friend on her way to the wedding) with a random butter knife found in the kitchen.  I hope you laugh.

{me: totally trusting and blissfully ignorant of what is to come; Brian: secretly plotting}

{me: this will make such a cute picture; Brian: what do I do with my face?} 

{me: he can't be serious. Is this really happening? Duck for dear life.  Brian: thoroughly enjoying the only moment in his life when it will be socially acceptable for him to smear cake all over my face}

{me: you a**hole!!!!  And here I was trying to play nice!}

{joint thought: Ew.  Frosting hands.}

{I guess I still love you, you jerk.  But don't touch me with your frosting hands.}

*All photos by Leonel Medrano and Iris Bai

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sons & Daughters

I've finally found a science I like: molecular gastronomySons & Daughters in San Francisco features molecular gastronomy techniques at their best, with a menu bubbling over with creativity that still somehow maintains respect for the natural ingredient.

If I wasn't already in love with the place for its insane use of foam, house-made butter with Ocean Beach salt, and moody chandelier-clad interior, after reading this interview with Chefs Matt McNamara and Teague Moriarty, I have no doubts.  Head over heels.  I mean, they have a garden at Matt's mom's house in Los Gatos where they grow their herbs and carrots???  And people say there are no good men in San Francisco.  (Also, is a Yelp debate on this topic really neccessary?  Come on people.)

But my love for this place goes beyond just the culinary crushes I have on its head chefs.  It extends from the mysteriously-accented server who recited the entire menu to us when I asked which dish was his favorite, to the foamy cauliflower concoction topped with caviar brought as an amuse bouche, on to each bite of the four-course menu, and all the way to the last crumb of mini almond-lemon macaroon that arrived with our bill.

I don't think my description will do this experience justice, but words are all I got.  So.  I went here for dinner on a chilly Friday night with my friend Caroline.  After I inarticulately asked what the heck was going on with the menu (I'm lost in a world without headings and subtitles), our waiter explained that the plates are all pretty small portions because the menu is set up to be served as a four-course thing.  I instantly loved this for two reasons.  One, because a dinner of small bites of lots of different flavors is, for me, the most enjoyable kind of meal (I like to call my affliction Flavor ADD).  And two, because it shows that there is a philosophy behind the menu.  The fact that the chefs saw beyond just designing each dish to designing the whole experience of the meal really impresses me.  It's thoughtful.  Entrees are great, but meals are better, no?  But I digress.  The food.  I won't drag you through all four courses because I don't want you to resort to licking your screen, so here are my highlights.

(1) The beets.  After I scarfed down my warm house-made brioche bun and foamy-salty-savory spoonful of cauliflower and caviar, the beets arrived.  But they weren't just beets.  There were beets in their usual solid form, beets in pickled form, beets in foam form (yes yes it's possible!), with thyme and creme fraiche and walnut paper.  OMG the walnut paper.  It's like the MacBook Air of food.  They somehow squish all the flavor of a fistful of walnuts into this weightless, shiny, perfectly crisp sheet.  A thing of wonder.  And beet foam!  It just makes you smile doesn't it?  After Caroline befriended our waiter by discussing the technical names for the various categories of reislings (I love my friends), she asked him what kind of machine they used to work their beet magic.  [Insert awkward hand gesture here.]  Turns out, no machinery involved.  Just the beauty of chemical processes at work.  I still don't get it, so I think I'll stick to being the guinea pig, but I like the idea of beet magic.  The whole thing was crunchy-airy-earthy-spicy-sweet-smooth.  And it look exquisite on the plate, but in an effortless, un-snobby way.  I could eat this every day.

(2) The dessert.  How do you finish off a meal that is so mind-blowing and taste-bud-tinglingly good that you can't wipe the dumb kid-smile off your face?  With a grand finale of peanut butter cake and banana ice cream.  Oh yeah, don't forget the ricola gelatin, yellow curry sauce, dots of coconut cream, and siriracha paper.  Yeah.  It's everything you think it is and more.  Get on that.

My take: The very best part of this meal was that every bite was completely different than the last and the next.  As a praticed bite-artist, I appreciate the variety.  So thanks, Matt and Teague and mysteriously-accented waiter, for an exciting foray into the gastronomical sciences.  Let's be friends.

Oh, and did I mention the chandeliers?  I dream of these.


P.S. If you are as intrigued by these new-fangled food techniques as I am, then check out the father of molecular gastronomy, Ferran Adria, and his restaurant in Barcelona, El Bulli.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hi-ho hi-ho...

{Downtown LA}

It's off to work I go.  Not like real work (yet).  But still, this picture seemed appropriate for the day.

P.S. Can you believe that my last spring break ever is OVER?  Anyone else disturbed by the fact that I'm almost an adult?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011


On Tuesday I got lucky enough to snag some tickets to the Lakers-Suns game (I know, who am I, right?), so obvi I brought my camera because what else is there to do for the first half of a basketball game?  For reals though, this game lasted around 4 hours and went into triple overtime!  I think that's the longest athletic event I've ever attended.

This was my frist time trying to photograph a sports event and it was really hard!  They just kept moving!  (I suppose that is the point....)

Also, it turns out there's a lot less audience participation in NBA games than in college games.  Wait, I take that back.  There are spurts of intense audience participation, but only from obnoxious pre-teens desperate to get their faces on the stupid jumbotron.  (Brian seriously almost threw his shoe at this brother-sister pair that danced like it was 1999 every time they did the audience cam thing.)

But I still had fun chowing down on various junk foods dipped in fake cheese and scouting for celebrities.  I spotted Jack Nicholson on the other side of the arena, and I think I saw Chloe Kardashian from a distance (but not close enough for me to run after her screaming "let's be friends!!!" thankfully).  Oh, and I walked right past Busy Philipps.  Don't know who that is?  Yes you do.  You just didn't know she had such

My favorite part was at the end when gold and purple streamers fell from the ceiling when we won!  (Note my use of "we" - I'm so LA right now.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Rest of Palm Springs

Rewind to Day 1 of Palm Springs weekend.

Our trip started with a bang when I hit myself in the face with the car door.  Let's just say that I may or may not have a permanent bump on the bridge of my nose.  But that's besides the point. 
There was hardly anywhere to pull over on the drive through the desert, but here are a few shots from the road.  I was surprised by how short the drive was!  Maybe we just got lucky traffic-wise?

Our first stop in Palm Springs was Cheeky's for lunch and we grabbed a bloody mary at Birba next door while waiting to be seated.  It's a cute enough place and the drink was well-made, but I ordered the wrong thing.  I usually let the servers at restaurants choose for me, assuming that they know the food best.  Maybe that wasn't the best strategy here - I had the chilequiles, which is like nachos basically.  Brian's croque madam was much better.  (I shoulda gotten the pumpernickel waffle with smoked salmon and creme fraiche damnit.)

{mod mod mod}

After that, the day went down hill for a bit.  We were staying at the Westin Rancho Mirage (still living on residual Starwood points), and I must say, this was the most disappointing Westin experience we've ever had.  Usually, Westins are nice and modern, and they easily give upgrades and freebies to their status members.  This one, not so much.  Stucco condo-looking buildings, lots of screaming children, no upgrade, and no free champagne for us.  We at least got to change our room from one overlooking the kids' pool (kill me) to a quieter one, but still.  Not chic.  Not even worth a picture.

And the drive to Rancho Mirage.  Endless track houses in gated neighborhoods, and lots and lots of golf courses.  Golf in big grassy fields...does that strike anyone else as a little out of place in the middle of a desert, where there's no water??  As Brian said, "it's like a big middle finger in the face of nature."  I'm not an environmentalist or anything, but still.

Well, after I pouted a little (yes, I'm a hotel brat), we decided to seek out Anthony Bourdain's recommendation for the best date shakes in town -- Shield's Date Garden.  It was a 20 minute drive away, but worth it.  The decor was kitschy and cheesy and the shakes were smooth and almost chocolatey.  A nice relief from Rancho Mirage.

Next, anxious to get back to downtown and away from the Westin, we hit up two of the hotels in town: the Ace and the Viceroy.  The Ace had a meeeaaaan margarita.  So fresh!  But otherwise, I was a little scared.  You see, I'm a pretty straight-edge type of person - habitually awkward in trendy poolside situations (ask Brian about the rooftop pool at the Solamar...who knew you weren't supposed to swim there?), and incapable of emo (you can ask Lisa about that one).  And the Ace is hippie/hipster/emo in exactly that way that makes me feel like the biggest square in the world and makes me wish I could either disappear or magically transform into Agyness Deyn.  (Brian said it just made him feel normaller than everyone else.  Men.)


There was a circle of like 20 people playing bongo drums, everyone was wearing something retro or vintage I'm sure, and there were no shoes involved.  I was wearing a Forever 21 dress and Nine West heels (via TJX obvi).  'Nuff said.

{Evidence of my painful lack of hipness}

Not that you shouldn't go there.  Just make sure you're prepared to be confronted with coolness.  And don't wear shoes.

We followed that experience up with a big dose of mainstream at the Viceroy.  Trendy mirrored furniture, sharp black-white-yellow color scheme, bachelorette parties...ahhh comfort zone.  Foodwise, the menu is pretty uneventful except for the burger - TWO kinds of cheese AND bacon.  Amazing.  Get it.  Don't get the signature margarita because it's not a margarita at all and it's so overly sweet you might go into sugar shock.

Although the food was so-so during dinner, the night picked up around dessert when all of a sudden, everything smelled like a certain medicinal herb.  I have no idea where it was coming from, but it was just waftering through the entire courtyard.  When the waiter came over to ask about dessert, I said "no thanks, I'm full," and he responded "how could you be full with that smell?"  LOL I died.  It was ridic.

Anyway, after dinner we drove down the main street to scope out the nightlife, but turns out there isn't any.  (Except for the drag show at the gay bar that we almost unknowingly went into...)  So off we went to our room to share some champagne.

Overall, I had a lot of fun, but my first day in Palm Springs was nothing that I expected.  The Parker really is the best thing that Palm Springs has going for it.  But I've said that before.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Parker Paradise

So I lied when I said I was going to post about Palm Springs "later today" ("today" being yesterday).  But today is a new day to procrastinate.  So here we go. 
Palm Springs.  Palm Springs is the kind of place that makes me wish I had more money.  A lot more money.  And the kind of place that makes me wish I could time travel. 

This was my first time in the resort town, and I had high hopes of ritzy espadrille-wearing beauties lounging under striped poolside umbrellas, egg chairs hanging from ceilings in mid-century mod living rooms, and ice-cold St. Germaine cocktails brought by waiters in salmon polo shirts.  It turns out that this old-time paradise does exist, but only at the Parker Palm Springs.  (Hence why Palm Springs makes me wish I had enough money to be a guest in one of the Parker's suites.)

We didn't make it to the Parker until the second day, when it was overcast, but the moment I stepped foot inside, I thought, THIS is Palm Springs.  It's everything I had been expecting, and frankly, had been disappointed in not finding at any other hotel or restaurant.  There were some highlights from the first day that I'll fill you in on later, but for today, I give you the glamourous and the fabulous from the Parker.

{Mod perfected.}
{Can I have this fireplace please?  Or the whole room?  Maybe I could just move in?}

And I finally got my hanging egg chairs!  It's my dream to have only these in my house.  Once you hang in an egg chair, you never go back.

 {It's the small things in life}

And my friend Shahrzad was nice enough to be my model for a shot - she's gorg :)

See what I mean?  Aren't you thinking THAT is Palm Springs?!  You should be.  And that's just the lobby.  Add brunch at Norma's, and you've got heaven, mid-century style.

{I'm in love with these colors!}

We had brunch at Norma's with Shahrzad and her friend Cyrus, and it was the best food I had all weekend.  Sharz had the sea-bass fish tacos (all of you who know Sharz are not surprised), and they were outstanding - light chipotle sauce and crispy fish.  The waitress said they were the best lunch item on the menu, and I don't doubt it for a second.  The brioche french toast also looked insane and huuuuge.  Plus, they had Jonathon Adler placemats and salt/pepper shakers - my fave!

And here's a little tour of the premises.  Be prepared to ooh and ahh in delight and envy.

{Wouldn't you like to stay THERE?}
{Pool perfection}
And some people shots taken in front of the hotel.  How awesome is that wall?

I feel like a salesperson for the Parker or something, but for reals, this is Palm Springs.  So go there.  Eat there.  Lounge there.  Be fabulous.

**Update: Cyrus found out that the ENTIRE resort was designed by Jonathon Adler! No wonder I love it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Romantic Randoms

I know I said I would post about Palm Springs, but I just took a jaunt down to my beach and this couple got in the way of my lens.

How freaking cute are they???  I seriously almost approached them afterward and offered to send them these pics...but that would be weird.  When being a stalker, it's probably better to be a secret stalker.