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.
Call me naïve, but I really didn’t expect the fish smell to last that long. But with this morning’s shower, I have finally managed to remove the last olfactory remnants of chum and seaweed and fish guts lingering in my hair and on my skin from Saturday’s crabbing trip in Santa Barbara. The story I was working on for EdibleLA won’t come out until the fall, but I was starting to worry that the salty, slightly fermented perfume might last that long too.
Paul Chopping Chum
Saturday’s trip was far from a pleasure cruise, not that I expected or wanted it to be. The Sea Fever, my subject John Wilson’s boat, is meant for one thing—catching crab and lobster. There is no bathroom, just a bucket in the small cabin down below, no running water to wash your face if you’re stomach is pitching with the sea, and no comfy chairs to sit and watch Roxy the Golden Retriever bark at the dolphins and seals playing around the boat as John and his deckhand Paul haul in another trap clammering with crab.
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.)
What do poets and journalists have in common? Unless you’re the talented Amy Scattergood from the L.A. Times, I’d say: not a whole lot. Journalism school ruined my poetry. Wildly lyrical juxtapositions, I learned, had little place in clear communication. I wrote poetry to obfuscate, articles to illuminate. Even when I tried my hand at playfully mixing the two, a la the great Andrei Codrescu, the sentiment fell flat. And since life as a poet offered so few opportunities to make a living that I ended up in j-school in the first place, I knew I needed to find a new muse.
She came dressed at “motivation,” which is funny considering the number of people out there questioning mine in this new era that I’ve taken to referring to as “Post-FBCE” (Food Blog Code of Ethics). Nonetheless, I love finding out what makes people do what they do, to hold their beating hearts up to the world for all to see. Continue reading
Alex Weiser at the Hungry Cat. Photo by Foodwoolf.
The first time I ever saw a crosne, the grubby looking Chinese tuber known for its crunchy, earthy-sweet flavor, was at the Weiser Family Farm stand at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. I bought a bag full, along with sunchokes, from a golden-faced man in a wide-brimmed hat whose smile radiated like sunshine on stainless. I met him again, months later, in the same wide-brimmed hat, crunching through Purple Haze carrots at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, and finally introduced myself. Since 1982, Alex Weiser’s friendly face has been working the area farmers’ markets, his face as familiar as the parsnips, potatoes and sprouting broccoli he talks about enthusiastically with local chefs and foodies.
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
A couple of years ago I didn’t know peas had a season—the only ones I’d ever ate came from the freezer section of the grocery store. They were a standby veg, little green orbs best reserved for swollen ankles and pot pies. But peas are so much more than the Jolly Green Giant would lead you to believe (that deceptive behemoth has lied before, you know). Peas are nature’s indicator species, announcing spring’s arrival louder than any of the birds chirping away the morning news outside my window.