Friday, October 31, 2008

Random Things: Too Busy to Eat Well & Blog About It

The title says it all. Le sigh.

Above, exactly four years ago tonight, some people getting some things ready for a Halloween party in my kitchen.

Still on the home front, my back patio before the remodel. Also, before Daisy.

Above, during the remodel. The whole yard was just torn down and completely restructured.

After the remodel. Increased patio area, and above beyond the frame of the picture, a dog run and the lovely expanse of a dog free patio with seating and chimenea.

Japan, good country, good Cubanos.

Grad night 2008 Punahou, Honolulu, Hawaii.

This kitty always found a place to rest in the shade among the bougainvillea. His family moved house a few months ago.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Satruday Night in the Biscuit Company Lofts

It all started out innocently enough, a trip to Church & State for a casual dinner, meeting new people and running into friends.

We ended up at this girl's loft, hanging out, sipping cocktails and chatting with people coming and going til the wee hours. I loved her. She was such a gracious hostess.

This is a sign it is time to go home.

Making our way down to the street...

I have always loved industrial views.

And signs of life despite our efforts to delete them.

If it seems like I posted two pics of our hostess, I did. She is so elegant and serene. Unflappable despite all the strangers coming and going.

Church & State: Revisited

Church & State
1850 Industrial St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Friday night we revisited the very busy, bustling Church & State for another go at their French bistro fare. Located on Industrial, in the first floor of the Biscuit Company lofts, in a neighborhood that is really starting to pop. I loved the atmosphere last time, and we love Nicola the bartender, so we gave it another whirl Saturday despite not being thrilled with the food last time. This time was better.

Biscuit Company lofts to the left, Toy Factory lofts to the right. The first floor of the Toy Factory lofts houses Royal Clayton's, a British style pub.

I again ordered the Salade Lyonnaise, one of my favorite salads. I love warm poached egg over cool frisee with a nice vinaigrette, and this rendition is almost perfect.

Two things could have improved this. I would like more frisee. And being that bacon is a hallmark feature of the Salade Lyonnaise, I would like more than one tiny rectangle of bacon. Lots more. Like maybe even a dozen pieces. I am not greedy, but the stomach wants what the stomach wants.

That was really the only failure of the evening. Again we sipped and shared with our neighbors our favorite Chateauneuf du Pape, La Fortia.

I was very impressed with the chicken liver pate. This one was quite a bit lighter than the one I gobbled down a few weeks ago at BLT. And on top was a sweet fruity syrup. The wait person says it was a red wine reduction, but I will swear on a stack of blueberry plastic boxes that there was fruit in this reduction.

Either way, the combination of the chicken liver pate and the fruity syrupy reduction was immense. Massively delicious. This was my entree and it was wonderful Around this dish, Church & State have redeemed themselves.

D started with the clams, which were, like last time, perfect. Cooked just right, just the right amount to start with and not over-brothed or over-garlicked.

For an entree, D ordered the scallops, well done. I love the dark stickiness on the outside of a well seared scallop. And these came with frisee, which is always lovely. For some reason D decided that night that he hates frisee, when he loved it just a couple weeks ago. Clearly, he is slightly unhinged. This was lovely all around.

The night went south in a much less civilized manner later on, but we started out well.

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Church & State in Los Angeles

Politics Rears its Head Whilst in Pursuit of Morning Coffee

CNN and 7-Eleven have paired up to make money and measure our party/candidate affiliation. CNN has sponsored Obama and McCain cups to all the convenience stores, with the stores tracking how many sold.

Apparently, every vote counts even though that is not always true in the general election.

I frequent 7-Elevens in my travels and admit to a liking for weak coffee and the occasional truly unhealthy non-dairy creamer. In recent weeks I have noticed a geographic trend with regard to cup dispersal.

In the Inland Empire, McCain cups are typically stocked 2/1 over President Obama's cups.

I don't find this particularly shocking and was told overtly at this 7-Eleven in Hemet that the reason they have more McCain cups out is because those are the cups that sell. Which begs the question, if they are selling more McCain cups wouldn't they have less? Or is someone just too lazy to get them or too dumb to realize that this stocking strategy makes it look as though they might be out of President Obama's cups? I don't know about that. I do know the sales ladies and the owner were incredibly hostile to my picture taking, to a humorous extent.

I am wandering about the store shooting a couple pics, and when we get to the register to pay for our $22 worth of water and ice cream sandwiches, the cashier holds the phone out to me and says "My boss wants to talk to you." Is this supposed to scare me? I am not in high school and this is not the Principal's office. Nearly 10 years teaching in public school in Crenshaw leaves me as someone who doesn't scare easily.

They carry Spam.

And the much loved Campbell's Pork n' Beans. At any rate, I speak to the owner and he asks my name, where I live and for my business card, all in a very threatening tone. Ok, because I am going to give you my real name and of course I am going to leave you a business card. It must be hard to sound authoritative when talking over a phone held together with electrical tape. I did not feel threatened. My husband also speaks to him, and funnily enough the owner does not threaten to come down to the store in person. It's easier to sound threatening than to back your threats up by getting off your couch on a Friday night. And as far as I know, I wasn't doing anything illegal. Granted, I should have/could have asked for permission.

They carry a very thoroughly stocked ice cream sandwich section, by the way.

However, the ice cream in these Toll House ice cream sandwiches was very low quality. The cookies were good though. The cashier ended our confrontation by asking me how I would like it if she followed me around taking pictures of me. I responded by saying, I am a person and the store is an inanimate object, so this is not a valid analogy. She disagreed, or simply misunderstood my perspective. Her eyebrows needed waxing.

I always love a good butcher department. The weird thing is that they were NOT tracking the number of cups sold. At this location they are simply selling the cups and not making public to ratios sold. Which again, begs interesting questions. They will remain unasked.

This made me laugh. Advice to the traveler: ask before taking pics in someone's store, especially if the natives look restless and bored.

Driving in Hemet

Hemet, CA is a desert town with a population of roughly 50,000+/-. Located in the San Jacinto Valley, it sits between 1500 and 2200 feet above sea level. The San Bernadino mountains lie to the north, and Hemet is seperated from Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley by the San Jacinco range to the east.

I always choose to drive in via the pass that heads south of the 10 at Beaumont, rather than come at it from the west through Riverside. Traffic through the university area sucks at almost any time of day.

I love this drive, even though I might classify these as nothing more majestic than foothills, they are sturdy, brown and meandering.

As I drive closer to my hotel, the sun starts to set in the west...

The mornings are always beautiful here, the air is fresher and has just a trace of the only bit of humidity we will feel all day.

Throughout most of the year, there are cows in this field, athough I am not sure where they are this morning.

In the afternoons, I always pass this horse ranch on my way out of town. Given the lack of moisture in the valley, one wonders how much water it takes to keep this field this green all year around.

Much of the land in the dry, dry valley is used for agriculture. I have tried to research what they grow in these fields, but to no avial. I will have to ask a few humans, the old school research method, the next time I am in town.

My car climbs the hills to the north, headed for the 10 freeway to return to Los Angeles. I will be back soon. Too soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Be well, Slim.

Our hearts are with you right now and always.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Saturday at the Hungry Cat

The Hungry Cat
1535 N. Vine
Hollywood, CA

Saturday afternoon after a 90 minute tennis session in the heat and smog, we cleaned up and headed toward to Arclight to watch Rocknrolla, and stopped by Hungry Cat to feed our hungry selves. Hungry Cat is located in the Sunset and Vine complex, convenient to doing some shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond, watching films at the Arclight, or a Hollywood bar crawl. And the food is top notch.

The sandwich board on the sidewalk lures customers in with the promise of oysters on the half shell and the much hallowed Santa Barbara sea urchin.

As you turn into the alley that leads to The Hungry Cat, you will be stepping over Angela Lanbury's star. Hiya Angela! Your long running show Murder, She Wrote was part of the inspiration for the title of this blog. Thank you, Angela!

Inside, the blackboard at the front bar suggests drink specials and reiterates the shellfish of the day.

I love the simple, clean and fresh decor in The Hungry Cat. The citrus fruit is inviting a cold drink, and the bartender uses the industrial juice presses often to make truly fresh juice beverages, one of them being the grapefruit michelada from the blackboard.

The new raw bar. I don't know when the expanded into the next door space, that I think used to be a small sushi bar. But I am very pleased by this addition due to my passion for oysters.

Just gorgeous. Someone is talented at presentation.

The drinks! To the left is the grapefruit michelada, fresh squeezed (about a minute before it was served) and Tecate with salt on the rim. Slightly bitter and acidic, but lovely. To the right is an extremely generous pour of a Spanish Alvarino.

We also sampled the Australian Bundaberg ginger beer. I haven't has ginger beer since I lived in London, and it is always a treat for the taste buds.

First munchy item out were the oyster crackers. We went through a few bags of these waiting on our food because the raw bar & pantry kitchen were spectacularly slow at 3 pm on a Saturday with a half full restaurant.

Les huitres! Malpeque, Fanny Bar and Sol Azul. I have been pondering recently why people praise a restaurant for its oysters. The restaurant didn't create the oysters. There is no special recipe. Each place does the presentation in terms of accessories slightly differently. So, what up? As long as they are fresh, and eating oysters in a busy restaurant more or less guarantees this, then why are we congratulatory? Does someone have an answer to this?

I love taking pics of oysters.

Why are they so photogenic?

I even love looking at the shells. The textures, shapes and colors.

D ate a this giant Cobb Salad. He said it is the best Cobb Salad he has ever had. Fresh (not canned) tuna, avocado, some kind of ham/bacon (we weren't sure how this was prepared, but it was somehow more special than bacon), eggs, butterflied prawns, pecorino, guava, and crab all very lightly dressed.

My salad was also phenomenal. Market lettuces with pecorino cheese, avocado and hard boiled egg. How do they prep the hard boiled egg so it is fluffy like this? Do they grate it with a cheese grater? I want to know. I devoured this. It was delicious and large enough to be filling.

All about the restaurant are pics of Lentz's and Goin's cats are hung. Loves.

On the menu, The Hungry Cat offers a "Pug Burger". Since the photographic theme is the owners' pets, I assume this adorable hound is who the Pug Burger refers to. WooF!

Here, kitty kitty!

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