The last time I was at Pizzeria Mozza I sat at the bar, stuffed full of tricolore salad and pizza, unable to stop eating the mango and passion fruit sorbets in front of me. I’ve had Dahlia’s gelatos and sorbets hundreds of times, I even watched them being made when the machine first arrived, but this time I was mesmerized. As I lifted the spoon to my mouth time after time I just kept wondering, how in the world did she get them so creamy?
When I had the good fortune of running into Dahlia at a party just a couple weeks later I asked. The answer, apparently, is simple: invert sugar.
Excuse my dusty cliché, but man does time fly. It’s been more than a month since I’ve written anything here, a month of living by the beach, trying to remember where I put things in my urgency to just get unpacked already, and now it seems that summer is waning with the moon. I’m sorry for my absence; not writing here feels like not talking to your best friend for too long.
Anyone who tells you Seasonal Affective Disorder is a load of crap should be subjected to a Pacific Northwest winter. Eugene, Oregon, where I went to graduate school, layered days upon days of glary, gossamer grey light. It’s not that it rained that much there. Don’t get me wrong, it rained. But the greyness was what was most oppressive, climate-coated emotional shackles. I prefer the monotony of 300 days of sunshine. Blue skies, blue skies with puffy white clouds, blue skies and wind-whipped icicle cold air, as long as there’s sunshine, I’m happy.
Which is to say, that my least favorite month living in Southern California is June. The hazy, foggy mornings that fall under the umbrella of June Gloom are such a downer. I find it hard to wake up, hard to concentrate, hard to do anything but laze around and watch baseball. And since May Grey seems to precede June Gloom with more frequency than it used to, by half way through June I’m cranky as all get out. And by the behavior of my fellow Angelenos, I’d say it’s getting to them too.
Fortunately, I’ve learned that the shortest route to an attitude adjustment has to be ice cream. Continue reading
Strawberry-Rhubarb Clafoutis catches some rays at breakfast
Sometimes I get a little over-zealous at the farmers’ market, especially in the late-Spring. I stock up on gorgeous gem-colored cherries, tangy-sweet blueberries, pints of radiant red strawberries, baby beets and rainbow chard, forgetting I made dinner plans or agreed to go to a wine tasting later in the week. As I’m unloading my bags and stuffing my crisper until it’s spilling out the seams like Jack Sprat, I realize I’ve bought way more than I’ll have time to eat without a little strategizing. (And sadly there are weeks I don’t realize this until I the strawberries begin looking like a fifth grade science experiment.)
Strawberries from Harry’s Berries@ the Hollywood Farmers’ Market
Sometimes I think I want to just throw in the towel. Writing is hard work, and some days the last thing I want to do, after a full day writing and editing for work, is to sit in front of the computer while the last hours of sunshine and warmth recede into purplish sunsets. To me a bad day writing is like a bad day cooking—you’ve still got something you created in front of you, but do you really want to eat it? Continue reading
Murcotts at Burkart Farms, Hollywood Farmers’ Market, Murcott Olive Oil Ice Cream
The pile of Murcotts at Burkhart’s farmers’ market stand shrank a little this week, the stack looking more like a pile of bright orange tennis balls left behind on the playground than winter’s citrus bounty. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, you can see the stand above, and the selection is far from paltry. But I’m waxing a little poetic this morning about winter’s waning. There are probably only a few more weeks left in Murcott season, and I’m a little melancholy. I almost packed up my sweaters in defiance of Mother Nature, hoping the razzing would prolong the season just a couple more weeks. But it looks like our wedding is going to be next spring, instead of the fall, and I couldn’t afford to piss her off. I may want more Murcotts now, but next April I want warm days and mild evenings and mountains of springtime produce to help execute the dinner menu that’s slowly evolving in my head. Continue reading
People who know me know this: I have very few secrets. Maybe I read too much Dr. Seuss as a kid, or maybe I was interested in psychology too early, but I offer up information about myself like a flower does pollen. So when I recently let it slip that I have an obsession with donuts, I think my fiancé Neal was a little surprised.
I wasn’t allowed to eat many sweets growing up, and there were rarely any in our house. My mom occasionally bought coffee cake or, my favorite, boxes of Entenmann’s Donuts. I loved the mildly spicy powdered cinnamon ones best. They were cakey and just a little sweet, and they would almost dissolve into a glass of milk. When the cinnamon ones were all gone, I would furtively sneak the plain cake ones, thinking no one would notice.
Trying to find a wedding venue has been like trying to decide what to eat for dinner when you’re too tired to cook and too hungry to decide. When the only coherent thoughts you have are about what you don’t want. I don’t want a hotel wedding. I don’t want to get married on the beach. And I definitely don’t want to get married at a ranch in the middle of a suburban industrial park with cars whizzing by on the freeway in the background. Yes the Victorian house on the property is beautiful. No, it’s not interesting enough for me to forget about the Self-Storage and the tile showroom I passed driving up to it.
I’m not as bitter about wedding planning as I was in my first post about the subject. I’m actually starting to enjoy it, thanks to my wedding planner, Emily, who has taken over all the research responsibilities. Now I can click on the myriad links she sends me leisurely. I can rule places out with a glance, and I don’t have to worry about hurting my mother’s feelings. And I can sit in my pajamas all day and flip through the stacks of wedding magazines my friend Suzy so thoughtfully lent me. None of this makes finding a location for both the ceremony and the reception that suits our budget any easier, however; it’s just less stressful.
But with most of my free time devoted to the business of getting married, and Neal hunkered down at his desk, working into the wee hours every night trying to finish a side project he took on months ago, I haven’t thought much about romance. Continue reading
Something happened while I was waiting for blood oranges. My friend Suzy brought me a giant bag full of Ruby Red grapefruits from her parents’ house in Palm Springs. Juicy, sweet and wonderfully tangy, these were some of the best grapefruits I’d had in years.
Do you remember when the cupcake was just a lowly children’s birthday party treat—just yellow Betty Crocker cake with some shelf-stabilized, not-even-sure-if-it-contains-cocoa chocolate frosting? It was simpler then, before New York’s Magnolia Bakery threw down the first whisk in the cupcake wars. There was no sneaking off into the bathroom to eat a Sprinkles carrot cake cupcake where no one could see you lick off all the cream cheese frosting first, no hiding the pink cardboard boxes from your coworkers in the bottom drawer of your desk, no snatching the paper-wrapped delights out of a little girl’s hand saying you just want a bite… Continue reading