Friday, March 27, 2009
So today I ate a Fling bar for the first time.
I bought it because we were at Safeway on our lunch break, looking for the April issue of GQ, and I was too embarrassed to buy the magazine all by itself, so I thought that maybe if I also bought “diet chocolate” in a pink wrapper, the whole Twilight-dork thing wouldn’t be as humiliating.
Really, I am much more intelligent than I sound. I swear.
But back to the Fling bar. I unwrapped it. And it sparkled. (And fellow Twilight dorks will realize that this is actually an extra-funny coincidence.)
And despite the bizarre, completely unnatural metallic sheen, I ate the damn thing anyway. It wasn’t bad – tasted like an imitation Twix minus the fatty goodness of caramel. But the glitteriness was definitely unnerving. I mean, sparkly chocolate can’t possibly be good for you. (Artificial flavors or colors, anyone?)
Anyway, reaching for the magazine now. Telling myself this is actually research for work so I can perfect my men’s lifestyle pitch.
Yeah, that’s it.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
It's bracket time.
And I don't know a damn thing about sports, especially if they involve balls. (You can interpret this however you'd like.)
So let's talk about food instead.
And let's imagine that the French macaron is squaring off against the American macaroon. (Let's also imagine that I actually have a picture of the American macaroon, instead of a photo of two French macarons from Paulette, a San Francisco macaron "salon." Let's also ignore the fact that, based on this picture alone, it's quite evident where I'd put my money should a French vs. American championship game actually exist.)
Both the macaroon and the macaron are sweet and bite-sized. Both are usually made using a piping bag. (Both are also featured in the Wine Center's dessert pairing. Yes, shameless plug.)
However, the French macaron seems to require absolute precision, since the top half of the pastry has to match the bottom half exactly (unless you want freakish-looking macarons). It also requires egg whites, which for some reason always make a recipe seem more complicated. And almond powder is always involved. The end result is a little jewel of a sandwich cookie, filled with cream or ganache of some sort, with a fluffy, airy texture. (Or at least the good ones have that texture. The bad ones are sort of gummy.)
Meanwhile, the American macaroon typically involves coconut. And it kind of looks like a cute little haystack. The good ones have a very slight crunch but are still pliable. The bad ones are burned on the bottom and resemble tater tots.
However, given the choice, I would gladly take a bad American macaroon over a bad French macaron.
Yet when it comes down to it, I am a sucker for presentation. I am a No. 3. And for some reason, I associate American macaroons with baby showers. Therefore the French macaron wins.
I know you are surprised.
And I know you care. Because really, this is a stupid post and a silly premise. And the truth is: My brain is fried. This is what happens when you spend all weekend tying twine around things and calligraphying and picking out linens and looking for the right ring for a man who has never worn a ring ever in his life and thinks jewelry looks weird.
Did someone say madness? Madness!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Last night, we were in SF. In an artist's studio. In a basement in Bernal Heights.
We were learning how to properly melt wax to create a seal. (By the way, this does not involve sticking the wax directly into a flame. That will only result in black wax. And possibly a fire. I know because I have made this mistake many times. Which is why we needed said lesson in melting wax.)
And it hit me: We have two months. Two freaking months!
And shockingly: I think I am actually excited.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I should have mentioned earlier that we went to Healdsburg Bar & Grill, also known as No. 5 on The Eat List or -- perhaps more accurately -- Home of the Fabulous Truffle Fries with Parmesan Cheese.
The experience? Pretty much perfect. (Well, except for the random drunk barrel tasters that were stumbling through downtown Healdsburg, waving wine glasses around and ignoring the crosswalks. There was even a bachelorette party -- all holding that tell-tale barrel tasting glass, all dressed identically in white shirts and jeans, all armed with matching pink shoulder bags. Scary. Please do not let this be in my future. Please. I beg you.)
And now back to perfection: Sunny day. Patio seating. Cold beer. Chopped salad with bacon and bleu cheese. Cute life partner-guy sitting across the table (we had just finished a round of miniature golf and arcade games). And of course, the glorious truffle fries.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
So we met on a winding country road in Carneros.
And we ran.
And the only sounds -- besides our breathing and the slap of our shoes striking the road -- were the bleating of sheep, the croaking of frogs and the whir of the tires from the occasional cyclists riding past.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
I spent most of the day in meetings. This made my head hurt and my muscles twitch. And I found it difficult to keep track of time (and my sanity) while sitting for hours in a tiny, windowless conference room with law journals lining the walls and furniture that was probably designed around the time my parents got married (mid-70s). Those chairs were uncomfortable.
Thankfully, there were bright points: Exciting ideas, good brainstorming. And a lunch break that involved the discovery of an $8.99 Indian buffet with fresh naan brought to your table.
I should've taken a picture. But I didn't. So instead, here is Meep, up close and personal. He does not have any law journals. And he appreciates natural light.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Saturday was Open That Bottle Night, the night when you're supposed to open the bottle of wine you've been saving for a "special occasion," but of course, the right occasion never happens so you might as well make up an occasion, hence Open That Bottle Night. (By the way, this special evening is the brainchild of Wall Street Journal wine writers Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, smart people who believe in enjoying wine, not hoarding it.)
We opened the Champalou 2006 Vouvray La Cuvée de Fondraux, an off-dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire region of France (one of my favorite wine regions -- I heart Cab Franc and I heart Chenin and I heart the pricepoints of Loire wines). This particular bottle was a 30th birthday gift from a fellow wine pubber; she told me it was one of her favorites.
She has good taste.
We're talking aromas of stone fruit -- peaches, apricots -- and a hint of honey and some white flowers. The peach appears again on the palate and then is followed by a wonderful minerally finish -- like wet stone. (Yes, I know -- it sounds lame. As if anyone would go out and lick a wet stone. But just pretend you are going to do this -- for those of you in Northern California, where the rain has no end, this will not be hard to imagine. The resulting taste -- that flintiness -- is what the finish of this wine is like.)
On Saturday, we drank it with carrot cupcakes from Sift. But we didn't finish the bottle -- it had been a long day of eating and drinking, which wore us out.
So we finished the rest of the Vouvray tonight. And it was still lovely and delicious. And it tasted just fine with bangers and mash.
Monday, March 02, 2009
As we return to our saga, we find our heroine contemplating yet two more pairs of slippers.
Neither of which is magic.
Unless you are (A) going to the prom (in which case, select the shoe on the right, wear something in electric blue and get your hair done in a French twist) or (B) looking for something that looks like a pressed flower or a dead butterfly and for some reason seems to remind you of a butt (and not the cigarette kind).
Sunday, March 01, 2009
It began with a send-off on Friday for my co-worker. I found myself at the Wine Center, slurping down oysters and Sauvignon Blanc, and then eating and drinking through both the food-and-wine pairing and the dessert pairing. (And I love the dessert pairing so much that I actually ate a colleague's half-eaten desserts right off of his plate.)
A mere hour after that gastronomical feat, I met an old friend from high school at Chickenland's new Himalayan place, a spot which has rapidly become one of my very favorite restaurants. We shared lentil soup, saag paneer and lamb kabobs and talked about the trials and tribulations of mommy-and-me playgroups (of which I know nothing about but quickly became educated on that evening).
On Saturday, it was off to Napa to pick out tablecloths, silverware and plates for the wedding -- an activity that turned out to be much less painful than we thought it was going to be. Naturally, our productivity deserved a reward, so we had lunch at Ubuntu, yet another one of my favorite spots. We shared the chickpea fries; beet, avocado and grapefruit salad (which was much more creative than it sounds); sauerkraut pizza (unbelievably yummy -- it was also topped with a fried egg and Emmenthaler cheese) and the "cheesecake in a jar."
And of course, one meal is not enough. A few hours after that, we were sitting on barstools with Laura at Bounty Hunter, sipping flights of Pinot and chicken dumpling soup. And then we walked over to Sift's new outpost and bought a couple of carrot cupcakes.
Today brought a grand finale what I can only describe as the Tower of Power: A bowl full of biscuits, gravy, scrambled eggs and potatoes, crowned with a big pile of bacon. I declared it completely worth the arterial blockages that loom in my future. Ah, Humble Pie! Is there ever a Sunday where I can't be found sitting at one of your tables, licking muffin crumbs off my fingers and asking for extra butter? The server actually even recognizes us now.