Friday, August 21, 2009

Rain, rain, go away

You know what? I'm just not traveling in August any more. August and me - no good. Dang hurricanes. Quietest hurricane season in years, and I decide to give it a try - bam. Bill decides to muck up my travel plans. So, here I sit. Yet again. Staring at the Weather Channel. Wet and windy? Just windy? Just wet?

I'm on my way to DC for a flier this weekend. And as always, I rely on public transit in DC. It's one of the tourist friendliest public transit cities in the world. Very unintimidating for a novice. And with a Metro card and a little shoe leather, you're set to see, if not it all, a pretty damn lot. And if the locals aren't totally in love with tourists (what locals ever are?), they at least try to keep their muttering to a low roar.

I'd planned to hit several exhibits in the Mall area. The National Gallery has several Judith Leysters on loan and some Italian marbles rarely seen outside of Italy. The Air & Space has an exhibit of paintings by THE Alan Bean. And American History has the refurbed First Ladies collection (a long time personal fave) and Ms. Julia Childs' kitchen. AND if I could sneak it in, I've never been to the National Botanic Gardens (shame on me). But if it's going to be pissing with rain all weekend, I may just have to pick something and stay with it. Not something my fickle heart and short attention span is fond of - but wait! There's something over there to look at! But I'll just have to carry my trusty 'brella and be secure in the knowledge that there's always next time.

Or I can try to use my voodoo to calm the storm and save my vacation. Though that had disatrous consquences the last time I tried it (Sorry, NOLA.). Maybe a little music will soothe the savage storm. Come one, people. Sing it with me - Bill! I love you so, and always will. I look at you and see a choir of carousels . . .

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Top Chef Masters - Delicious

Held with respect to those who have not seen yet. And there is a full paragraph without spoilers, so hopefully if you're still catching up, your eye won't graze anything.

The Top Chef Masters finale was a truly great TV moment. The fact that Kelly Choi got to sit down at the Getty and chat with three uber-silver foxes who can cook, and eat 12 competition plates full of heart and soul really makes me wonder why I didn’t have the sense to become a TV host. If I’d been there, I would have hit her in the head with a sockful of quarters and dumped her unconscious body (gently) in a closet, so that I could Eve Harrington my way into that dining room. Especially if I could have sat next to Jay Rayner.

I’m going to use the fact that Rick Bayless (my Oklahomey) won Top Chef Masters as a chance to talk about my favorite ethnic food – Mexican. It came up a few times last night, and it’s dead true. Mexican food doesn’t get the respect that it deserves. And if you’re sole experience is with Chuy’s, Chevy’s, Chi-Chi’s or any of the other bastardized, Americanized restaurants out there, you don’t know Mexican. Not that any of the Ch restaurants are necessarily bad. I like chips and salsa as much as the next gal. Saying that you know Mexican food because you’ve been to Chuy’s is like saying you know Italian because you’ve been to Pizza the Hutt.

But real Mexican cuisine (yeah, I said cuisine) is so much more varied than the boiled down version that Americans usually get. Each region of Mexico has it’s own palate of food. Baja is different from Sonora. Guanajuato is different from Oaxaca. And Mexico City is crazy mixed up flavors from everywhere (including Germany, because of the community of German immigrants). And all use local foods prepared in unique ways. Add into that each US border state that has its own twist, and you’ve got a culinary landscape that rivals any other country. How about squash blossom relleno with Oaxacan cheese and salsa verde? You won't be seeing that on the menu at Taco Bell.

And when I saw that Bayless was making black mole, I knew it was game on. Real, handmade mole is a spiritual experience. And you should open-mouthed kiss anyone who’s willing to make it for you, or at the very least offer them your first born child. Because that son of a gun is hard. And to put it with tuna and handmade tamales . . . the point Jay Rayner made about just sitting around making guttural noises of appreciation isn’t hyperbole. It’s just good reporting. The facts and nothing but the facts.

Of course, I thought Rick had screwed the pooch when I saw the foam on the last dish (quit with the foam – NOBODY likes the foam!), but I should have known the mole would conquer all. And I was definitely happy to see that he gutted it out by making a down and dirty barbecue recipe for his first memories dish, rather than froofing it up into something fancy. And for those who don’t have my intimate familiarity with Okie cuisine (okay, that one was a joke), the watermelon salad was pure OK. The man has a set of huevos on him. Plus if he can sell that crowd on SPAM (it was pig parts made into a loaf – that’s SPAMity SPAM, honey), that’s mad skills. Top Chef Master, indeed.

But, I’m prejudiced. I’d sell my soul for well-prepared camerones al mojo de ajo, or real fresh-made enchiladas. Or tamales. Or those rellenos . . . Then again, Chiarello’s short ribs looked damn tasty. And that Frenchy pot pie that Hubert did looked like it could rock your socks off. Damn. Where’s a sockful of quarters when you need one?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I never think of myself as a germaphobe. I credit the fact that I have a fairly solid-state immune system to the fact that my Mom would basically let us lick the sidewalk as kids. Her philosophy always seemed to be “whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger – and don’t let it kill you.” Which I’ve always kind of lived by. (My sister on the other hand should buy stock in Purell).

But lately, I’ve had these moments when germy stuff just hits my switch. Like I was getting off the train today, and there was an empty water bottle on the steps. Kinda dangerous. I should pick it up. The garbage can happened to be about 5 feet away. Easy peasy. But it would involve me picking it up. Ewwwww. Wee beasties all over it. Going to make me sick.

After an intense 2 second debate with myself, I picked it up and threw it away. But then I had to treat my hand like it was under level 1 containment until I could get to the office and wash. I was seriously freaked out. Which 6 months ago would have been really unlike me. Usually, I’m the “oh for chrissakes, here I’ll do it sort” type about germy stuff. What doesn’t kill me, etc. But something has made me really paranoid lately. Maybe it’s the swine flu stuff.

The simple solution would be to buy a Purell bottle in a kicky travel holder. But I really hate giving in to my own paranoia. Mostly, germ stuff is simple. Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Wash frequently. Don’t stand next to anyone trying to hack up a lung. Sane precautions. But lately, all it takes is a suspect water bottle, and I want to go get a Silkwood scrub down. I can’t tell if I’m just becoming older and wiser, or older and wussier.

And by the way, after having typed it, I have decided that the Wee Beasties would be the best name ever for a band. Something that would be a cross between the Flaming Lips and the Monkees. Or, are the Beastie Boys kids old enough to have a band? That would be AWESOME.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Well, let's try that one again. Julie & Julia & Julie

Okay, this is a recreation of yesterday’s post that appears to have sailed into an internet black hole (rat burgers). I don’t think this will be as fresh at the first time I babbled it, but I think it’s worth typing up again.

Went to see Julie & Julia with my pops on Sunday (two thumbs up from me & Dad). You’ve heard all about it by now. The Julia section is just wonderful. The Julie section is less so. But I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as some critics have laid on it. Amy Adams is playing a less that perfect person, who is still in the early stages of development as a person. She’s not adorable. She’s just human. And makes mistakes, and acts like a jerk, and has flaws. Americans are less tolerant of flawed characters than, say, Europeans. Especially when they’re women. Which I think makes a lot of parts for young women kind of boring. This is actually a fairly honest portrait of a young woman going through one of the less adorable phases of growing up. Kind of uncomfortable to watch. But not in a bad way.

The other thing that I noticed was during the previews. This may go down as a banner year for women in movies. Sandra Bullock has officially hit playing “the Mom” role in The Blind Side. And that’s not the “quirky single mom with an adorable daughter looking for love”, which doesn’t really count. This is the mom-mom role with a husband and kids and family drama kind of problems, which is a whole different ball of career wax. It’s a major milestone for women. One that Cameron Diaz passed this year too, with My Sister’s Keeper. Oh, they may be in this gray zone for awhile, but they are officially into the long slow slide into movie menopause, where they’re no longer the hot chick who may show up in an underpants scene. And it looks like Susan Sarandon is hitting the next big hurdle. Because she’s playing the grandma in The Lovely Bones. Yep. Louise is a granny. No more cliff jumping for you, my girl.

On the other hand, this also means that none of them will ever have to appear again with some age inappropriate geezer who they’re supposed to pretend would ever happen in some place that’s not wet dreamed up by a geezer movie executive. Which kind of has to be a relief.

But that doesn’t mean they have to give up hope. This also appears to be the year that Meryl Streep becomes a sex symbol. Not only does she make like naughty bunnies with Stanley Tucci in J&J, she’s also going to be in a movie called It’s Complicated where she has to choose between Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. Boo hoo. We should all have that kind of relationship problems.

Overall, they all look like pretty decent flicks. (I read the newspaper article that The Blind Side is based on and just cried my little eyes out. Good tears.) I’d say, for women, this is a great year to go out and support women in film. See a movie starring a woman. Or at least one where female characters are well drawn. It would be nice to see Hollywood worry about selling us tickets for a change.

Wha happen?

Well. Poopy Doop. I posted a whole bit about going to see Julie & Julia yesterday. And it's vanished. Daggon. And I liked that one, too. Poopy poopy doop. Now I'm going to have to try to remember it. Foul foul filth foul foul.

TIME: Quotes of the Day