Monday, March 29, 2010

What to accomplish with myself?

Okay, as noted by many (too many to count) recent comments and conversations between #1 Husband and I, I'm getting old. Swiftly.

While I don't actually feel old, I know that time's winged chariot draws near. Well, nearER anyway. So maybe it's time to think about things I'd like to do with myself. I've never excelled at this task. Ever. When all the little girls in school were daydreaming about being doctors, lawyers, and ballerinas...I was daydreaming about what was for lunch. Surprisingly, not much has changed in the intervening 25 years.

What's a good age to start a bucket list? And why do bucket lists have such a dumb name. Pheh, ponders for another day. On to the meat. As I still have no designs on what I want to be when I grow up (thank goodness I never have to do that!), instead I'll focus on things I want to do or experience. In no particular order:

1. Travel to at least 3 other countries. I'm going to set my goal low on this one and hope to build on it. Perhaps after I visit 2 other countries I'll up the goal.

2. Learn how to ballroom dance. We've taken a few lessons here and there. Now I'd like to put some effort into it and force my legs to not look like two sausages with clubs on the end. I want grace!

3. Complete my Bachelor's Degree. Hey, I'm on my way! Again.

4. Live on a small, mostly off-the-grid, home. With goats. And chickens. And my husband.

5. Find 500 geocaches. This is so doable, like soon. I figure I'll put something quite short term on here so I can feel good about reaching my goals.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beers, yeah, beers.

I chatted about books recently (for all of you mad followers who hang on my every word, bless your hearts). Now it's time to talk about beers. I used to hate beer with every portion of my 19 year old heart. Thankfully I aged, and with age comes wisdom. Now? I love beer.

Today included an enjoyable romp through the department store of alcohol, Total Wine and More. Yay toy store for adults like us! #1 Husband and I split a Mix & Match 6-pack of beers. (Please note that this post is about beers. Although, we did give a hard look at dessert wines, just didn't commit to any.)

Our shopping jaunt was while waiting for the pub to open - what can I say, we are early eaters and perpetually hungry, and thirsty apparently. The pub in question was the Dogfish Head Alehouse, the one in Fairfax. (Totally off topic, I have little concept of Northern VA geography; I had no idea Fairfax was so close to my house. Must educate.) We've been to their locations a few times and I've been consistently pleased with the food, not to mention the beer.

I said not to mention the beer!

At any rate, said post is about beer, so let me review what we drank:

I had the 60 minute IPA, because I always have IPAs. I love them desperately, with the upside that a lot of people don't seem to like them and I get to keep the beer I buy all to myself, but I'm petty like that. I love it because it's crisp and hoppy with a little taste of grapefruity citrus. This equals awesome in a beer for me because I've come to dislike sweet thick beers.

The bartender (waves at Cliff) was nice enough to give me tastes of the 90 minute IPA, which is Strong (note capitalized "S"). Also the Alehouse 75, which is a mix of the 60 and 90 minute IPA. They seem to like to mix their beers together for new taste sensations. #1 Husband liked the Alehouse 75, I was all, "Meh."

We also got a small taste of their seasonal Festina Peche. *Hurk* No really, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't beer either. Cliff warned us that it was more like champagne, which it definitely was. It was effervescent and evaporated in my mouth.

#1 Husband drank a pint of Indian Brown Ale. Browns are my second favorite beer, after IPAs, and this one rocks my world. It's sweeter but not cloying. I likes he, he loves it. Win!

As a bonus, part of my take home pack was the Aprihop beer, another seasonal from Dogfish Head. Mmm. It smelled like Apricots, like it's supposed to. But it doesn't taste like them, which is awesome. It's hoppy and that = delicious for me. Plus it has fruit in it, right? That's like one of my 8 daily servings. Awesome.

And there is my beer indulgence.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The New Classics

So I have no personal inspiration, I gank other people's. Don't judge me, it works out. I saw a super keen website of book reviews that I now adore. As it turns out, she is reading the New Classics from a list by Entertainment Weekly, posted back in 2008 - there must be some new classics by now, right?

For whatever it's worth, I thought I would go through and see which ones I had read. Sadly, I have no actual recollection of WHAT I read, just that I've read it. So moving forward, perhaps, I'll review new books as I read them. Perhaps not, but there's my random thought of the morning.

I read a lot. To what end? Clearly I need to read more.

Le list (and some thoughts in red (and yeah, I could have given links, but you have Google. Use it)):
1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006) READ IT. Woof heavy. Neat writing style.
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000) READ IT. Who hasn’t, really?
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987) READ IT. Reading dialects gets tiring after awhile.
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991) READ IT. Had another Spiegelman book for awhile, In
the Shadow of No Towers, about 9/11. Both provoking reads.
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997) I TRIED, I just couldn’t get interested in the book.
May try again because hey, the movie was pretty great.
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997) READ IT. Also saw the movie. Wow. That is all.
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998) READ IT. This was a tough read for me. The writing style
was really dense and hard to follow, but worth it by the time I finished.
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87) READ IT. Eh.
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000) I TRIED, not as in I gave up, but I just never got into it. I think it did some weird split thing in the middle? Worth trying again.
16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986) READ IT. Along with most of Atwood’s
other offerings. Swoon.
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988) I TRIED but OMG this was
impossible for me – I don’t think I made it more than a chapter in.
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998) READ IT. This is a classic? What are the
criteria? Not to say I didn’t love it, I did. But classic? This is my raging disbelief.
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000) I’ve read all of his fiction, I have to read his non-fiction
too? Jeeze.
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985) READ IT sometime when I was a teenager. I have NO recollection of the story. I think there were cowboys...and whores.
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989) READ IT. I have an unnatural affection for Amy Tan
books. But it’s probably because of the culture she writes about more than her writing.
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984) It’s definitely on my list.
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997) READ IT. Loved it. It’s FABulous.
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001) READ IT. Oh, Anne Patchett, I don’t know why I love
you, but I do.
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005) I think this sat on my shelf for awhile and then tottered off to the used book sale, unread.
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002) READ IT. Her other books should be so good. Oy.
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000) READ IT. Want to read them again. The
world was so engrossing I’d like to go back for a visit.
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996) READ IT. All of them, repeatedly. You should too.
47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985) READ IT. I don’t remember a lick about this book, but
I do know I was on a serious E.L. Doctorow kick in the mid 90’s.
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998) READ IT. Sharon likes Kingsolver better than I do, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001) I TRIED! Picked it up a few times, I may do
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992) Do we have to if we saw the movie?
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006) READ IT. Honestly I picked it up because it was
about a West Virginia girl. It was so good – like a friendly kick in the teeth. Painful at times,
but, you know, friendly. Great writing.
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003) I saw the movie and I WANT to read the book. I
have A Thousand Splendid Suns on the shelf waiting right now.
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003) READ IT.
Listened to it, rather. I don’t know if I love Mark Haddon, but I was crushing for a bit.
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989) READ IT. Among many other John Irving
masterpieces. Did they limit this list to one book per author? Tsk.
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989) Haven’t read this one, but I did read Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro and if that’s any indicator, I should read this one too.
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002) READ IT. Listened to it. Enjoyed it and really want to see
the movie adaptation. There were things about the book I didn’t love, but as a total package it
was REALLY well done.
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987) Saw the movie?
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995) Saw the movie and read some other book by Hornby
about suicide. I like his style.
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003) READ IT. A classic? Really?
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004) Skimmed it. I laughed, but that skim
is all it’s going to get.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Another early morning

It's 4AM. Why can't I stumble on something worthwhile on the interwebs?

I should be sleeping but instead I'm looking at sexy grandma glamor shots and recipes for onion rings.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Stuffed Rabbit Legs

I don't think I've ever had rabbit legs before. I've certainly never prepared it before. And even if I had, I've never bought it at a totally awesome butcher shop in Philadelphia, pre-stuffed with sausage, rosemary and onions.


Here's a before picture:

Here's an after picture:

Here's me laying on the couch in gastric ecstasy.

(No picture, really. You can imagine it.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A different level of Japanese food

Back from our weekend foodie trip to Philadelphia! First and foremost, thank you Annie and Denis for facilitating this trip, handling all the details, driving, and being great company. Many, many thanks.

How to describe Morimoto's Philadelphia restaurant? Perhaps as transcendent for me. Food of the sort I've never eaten before. Here, let me describe it for you:

We arrived at Morimoto in advance of our 7PM reservations and waited in the upstairs lounge for cocktails. I had a Sparkling Ume - ume, orange blossom, and champagne. #1 Husband had a Lychee Cosmopolitan - lychee, vanilla vodka, and cranberry juice. I think I liked his better than mine! Here's a pic from the upstairs lounge, looking down into the restaurant.

About half way through our drinks we were taken down to our seats at the sushi bar. I do believe we had the best seats in the house. Sitting around the corner of the bar, we had front row seats for the show of 8 sushi chefs working non-stop, creating amazing looking food out of amazing looking fishes.

Long before we arrived, we had decided on the Omakase dinner. This is basically a chef's choice of dishes from the sushi bar, the kitchen, and the pastry chef. It's a many course meal that lasts quite a long time. If anyone has the opportunity to do this at any Japanese restaurant, do so! There were so many choices in this menu, that I was overwhelmed and would have despaired of missing out on something. This way, the pressure is off!

Before any food arrived, we decided on a carafe of sake to sip on during the meal. I have started to develop a taste for certain kinds of sake, specifically the unfiltered cloudy varieties, so that's the direction we went. It was Great Cloudy Mountain Ohyama Nigori. The menu said that it would taste like apricatos, kaffir limes, with a hint of lilac. And it did.

Annie and Denis treated us to a dish from the menu that they enjoyed at their first visit to Morimoto - the Toro Tarter. That's a paste of tuna (and stuff), topped with caviar and served in a bowl with a shoyu broth. There was wasabi on the side and our waiter instructed us to take a bit of wasabi, a bit of caviar, and a bit of the toro tartar for a "perfect bite." After the tartar was devoured there were Japanese apricots on the side to cleanse our palates.

Tuna Tartar

And then the chef's menu commenced. Since none of this stuff was on the actual restaurant menu, I'm not sure what they were called, you're getting my impression of what they were, so deal. We had watched the chef in front of us building this crazy looking thing that we hoped would be ours, and it was, so score! I enjoyed watching this guy work.

Hi, I'm Yellowtail. Sweet, sweet yellowtail.

1. This is Sweet Yellowtail put into a round mold and then topped with a whole soft boiled egg that had been marinated in soy sauce, sake, and ginger. On top of that was caviar, and the whole thing was surrounded by micro greens and crispy shallots. You broke apart the egg and mixed the yolk in to eat it and it was an interesting texture and I enjoyed the flavor. In fact I couldn't keep my hands off of the shallots, even before the waiter was done telling us about the dish.

Words cannot describe. The picture barely gets it across.

2. Next was probably my favorite dish of the evening. This is Tuna chunks tossed in curry powder and served on top of a sweet cream sauce made from sake leavings (which I'm told are the cloudy bits that make unfiltered sake so awesome). On top of the tuna is wasabi guacamole and corn sprigs. I know, right?? It was so pretty, I took 2 pictures.

I look pretty, sure.

3. The third dish was a bit of a fail for me and my uneducated western palate. (Wait, did I just say that?) This is Ebi Mousse (sweet shrimp) with ebi and caviar on top. This was served on a sauce of mango and yuzu. The sauce was pretty awesome. Shrimp mousse? Not my bag. (Not that I spit it out, or anything.)

Mmm, refreshing!

4. We then had a palate cleanser of passion fruit juice and bitter soda. Sounds weird but it was really refreshing. Then on to more food!

Peak-a-boo! I see you fishes!

5. A big win! Seared Beltfish and mozzarella ball served over two delicious sauces - pickled eggplant and pickled daikon radish. This was served UNDER a salad of micro greens tossed in a tangy dressing. So what's hiding under that salad? Awesomeness. (So awesomeness doesn't bounce as a spelling error - how cool is that?)

Uni is better than advertised! Yum!

6. On to the kitchen for our first hot dish. This is Pan-seared Scallop topped with Uni (Sea Urchin Roe) served over a warm fondue of leeks and green onions. The scallop had the consistency of steak and I really liked the leeks, I finished #1 Husband's because they didn't ring his bell. On a related note, I've never heard fondue used in this manner, but that's what the waiter said and he gets paid to know.

Beef, it's what's for dinner.

7. This is Grilled Kobe Beef, thinly sliced, served with a warm cranberry soy reduction and a micro green salad topped with walnuts, apples, and orange zest dressing. Tasted the cranberry and said, "Wow, that's...interesting." But with the beef? And with the salad? The bites were amazing. It tasted like Christmas, but in a nice, non-threatening, all-encompassing, ecumenical kind of Happy Holidays way.

8. Back to the sushi chef for a sampler platter of Fatty Tuna (oh-toro), Yellowtail (hamachi), Golden Big Eye Snapper (kinmedai), Jackfish (aji), and Octopus (tako). The rice dissolved in my mouth, the fish melted in my mouth (okay, except for the octopus; it's not supposed to). I wish there had been 3 of these platters. So did #1 Husband. (I totally took a picture of this, but it doesn't do the fish justice, so just pretend there's a beautiful picture here.)

9. And then there was dessert. Annie and Denis got some Uni for dessert. We got the pastry chef's special. It was a chocolate mocha mousse cake topped with vanilla cream and a whole preserved kumquat. Nice! I have no idea what the green stuff was, but it tasted pretty much like the vanilla stuff. I'm not a huge sweets fan, but this was a creamy tasty way to end the meal.

This is our chef. Turns out he's the Executive Sushi Chef at Morimoto in Philly. I asked him his name, and in a dark brown voice (just kidding!) he said Hiro. My first thought was YATTA!

You can see the crowd of chef's they had working behind the sushi bar.

So there it is. The 3 hour tour. It was a fun experience and I enjoyed the food and the company!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Michael Pollan is my god now.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
- Michael Pollan

Pool hard.

Heh, my subject lines aren't getting any better. C'est la vie.

We have gotten into a more or less regular after work pool night with people from #1 husband's job. Get together, shoot some average pool (or below average, in my case), then hit a nearby restaurant for dinner. (So this has also become our eat out once a week night.)

I'm not better at pool, but I am really enjoying the social time. There's a lot of talking, joking, beer, and usually good food. Getting out of the house and interacting with other adults who have generally interesting things to say is SO GREAT!

Last night was a small group so we finally went to the local tapas place for dinner. (I guess you could read that as "I finally strong-armed them into going to the local tapas place for dinner.") It was meh, but not bad. The bottle of wine was enjoyable. But really, the company was the best part.

So thanks for putting up with my rancid pool playing skills, at least I can make up for it with witty banter, informed opinions, and complete sentences.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

School hard.

I think that is a complete sentence.

At any rate, classes are much harder this semester, but I'm -kind of- looking forward to the challenge. I want to get straight A's, but I'm also looking at adding another class to my full schedule. A math class, no less. What am I smoking?

The rest of this cold winter has been spent at home, on the couch with my lad. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE spending time on the couch with my lad... But my ass is spreading again, and that is not so good.

We're sailing tv free (since the last one blew up), so I'm not rotting my brain that way, but is time spent in front of the laptops any different or better? I'm probably watching MORE tv shows now - thanks for nothing!

It's time to study some more. It's time to learn some more. It's time to be smarter and use my brains on a regular basis - the parts that aren't rotten.