Monday, October 24

Teaching Makes you Bipolar

I've always considered myself as one of those girls who usually has her emotions in check. I'm much more likely to try and analyze what I'm feeling rationally. I love my life and am used to being happy every day.

Teaching has thrown a wrench into all of that. My daily mood fluctuates hourly. Up and down like a roller coaster. It's a bizarre experience for me. I have my "good" class in the morning, honors just before lunch which can be good or bad depending on how engaged I can get them and then after they've juiced up on sugar, been outside sweating in PE I get my most "challenging" class. The one that makes me at times want to shout in delight, but mostly has me close to pulling my hair out. I've yet to cry in front of them, yet to cry at all honestly, but it's always a test.

I've turned to music for help. Playing their cds, sometimes mine, is such a motivational tool. Which of course I should have suspected.

I'm not posting very much because I'm working all the time. Really, me, strange I know. And I'm back to traveling on weekends, Seattle to see Josue at the beginning of this month, Phoenix last weekend, Healdsburg last night for a Pirate Prom at Roshambo Winery (man, I love their parties. Grrrrrrr!!!) and next weekend down to Orange County to go to Knott's Berry Farm which becomes Knott's Scary Farm for Halloween. I'm going with the boy (yes, there is a boy in my life now and he kicks ass and likes to travel as much as me) and we're taking his 12 year old nephew and staying with his parents. Yes, I'm meeting the family. No, I'm not scared, really excited actually :)

Is this it? Am I actually returning to grown up status with a responsible job that has a fixed schedule and a salary and a stable relationship?


4 years and going strong

Two weekends ago marked the 4th annual gathering of a group of friends. Each year we go to a different city and delight in each others’ company and delicious food prepared by and for each other. So far we’ve seen Seattle, Bend, Oregon, Victoria, BC and now this year, Phoenix, Arizona together. I got a sub, and flew out Thursday night. Friday was spent at the Fairmont’s Willow Stream Spa. It was expensive, I’m not going to lie. But the whole day spent there enjoying the luxury was worth every penny. They have a delightful well, everything. Hot tub (actually that could have been hotter), cold plunge, steam room, dry sauna, room temperature eucalyptus inhalation room and Swiss shower (12 jets set in the wall to spray you from all directions) all for women only. Co-ed outside was a “waterfall treatment pool.” A waist depth pool that was warm with 3 waterfalls of different strengths pouring into it. Stand or kneel under them for a shoulder massage. I could live in one of those. Free muffins in the morning, cookies in the afternoon, iced and hot tea all day. An atrium area that was shaded to relax in, a pool with lounge chairs and trellising. Ah, it was lovely. Everyone should experience spa days at least once a year. We had a slight run in with the food but after I talked with the manager that was taken care of and my pedicure later in the day with a shoulder rub, foot massage and paraffin treatment made me forget all about it. Saturday we hiked Camelback. A short hike at just over a mile but it was straight up. I’m not kidding. It was rough, but rewarding with beautiful views. Then a trip to our favorite spice store Penzey’s. The best part though is having a group of friends who travels to see each other. It was grand. Who knows where we’ll end up next year… San Francisco? Vermont? Atlanta?

Sunday, October 2


Anyone remember that Seinfeld episode?

Ok, it's been forever since I posted. I know. I've taken a job teaching algebra at a high school in the Mission. I'm also going to school simultaneously to get my teaching credential. And coaching cross country. I sleep very little and spend many hours at schools. But I'm LOVING it. I have so much fun, I love my kids (freshman) and my classes, even the one that's really hard to handle.

Last night, I went out to see the opening night of Serenity, the movie based on the Firefly tv series created by Joss Wheadon. It's so good I'm going to see it again tonight. Loved it. Loved the serires. Thank you, Joss! Even if you haven't seen Firefly, Serenity is still great and I mean great. Yay!!

Wednesday, August 17

District Desperation

Everyone talks about the desperate shortage for math and science teachers. I figured it would be a piece of cake to get a job even if I didn't have a credential. Well, that was a bad assumption, I wasn't getting any interviews for "real" teaching jobs. Now that I've applied and am in a credential program and it's two weeks until school starts I've had three offers for interviews. Two of those are with school districts, Oakland's and San Francisco's. I know Oakland is still looking for 4 high school math teachers and "many" middles school math folks. SFUSD is hiring 6 high school teachers. So looks like by the end of this school year, it's highly likely that I will have both my credential in progress as well as a year of teaching under my belt.

And because of this, I will lead a very rough life this next year. Much preparation, because I don't actually have a syllabus made for what a school year of math will look like, and little sleep in preparing for both schools, the one I teach at and the one I attend. Also, since the semster starts Aug 30 this means no Burning Man for me. Which is tragic only because AJ and Adam old great friends are both flying in for their first visits ever to the playa and I will no longer be able to host them. Sad.

Sunday, August 14

Here I go, again on my own

Traveling down the only road I've ever known.

Alright, so I've traveled down many roads, when confronted with a choice I'll always take the one I haven't tried before. Seems like I keep going back to this going to school thing though. And I'm off again. First day of classes is Monday. Me taking the classes. Heading back to school to get my teaching credential. Hopefully I'll also manage to find a school to hire me while I'm getting my credential. I'm going to interview for a teaching job, but that's in the city and school is 12 miles north west of me, ie even further out of san francisco.

I know it will all work out in the end, I trust in this. But I'm a bit concerned at this point. I'm constantly questioning the decisions, spontaneous choices I make in life. Really, in the end, I want to travel, eat good food, learn new things. Share my knowledge.

I need to write more about Korea, especially the food and drinks I had. But I haven't had time nor desire to do so yet. Been spending all my time at this maching looking at different job postings and financial aid places.

Thursday, August 4

What to do, what to do?

I've been applying for all kinds of math teaching jobs. I've even had a few interviews, though none have led to a job. Seems as though every math teaching position requires a credential. Do I go back to school? Again? Do I spend the money (that I now don't have) again? Do I really want to be a teacher? In being here, teaching every day, 7 hours a day (of the same kids) I do love it. I wake up ready and energized everyday (though, honestly needing a beer or two by the end of the day on Thursday, but hell I made it to Thursday). I don't like teaching English though, this much is for sure. I want to be teaching math. I want my summers to travel. I should just go ahead and do it. Fill out my FAFSA and make sure that I can get government loans to do it. Start applying for math teaching scholarships. Ones that don't lock me into being in the United States so that when I have my credential I can go teach abroad. Wish me luck.

And check again with me in a week, maybe I'll have changed my mind.

Abortions Tickle

There was a girl wearing a shirt that pictured a 1950's looking cartoon of one woman whispering in another's ear. The caption reads "Abortions Tickle." Why do I write about this? An observation on Korean abuses of English? The dicotamy that exists in teaching English and how well does a person ever truly know a second language unless they are raised with it. All day long this girl was getting gasps of horror from the Western teachers, but how do we explain the intrinsicness of why this is so painfully wrong? Do we even bother to try?

Personally, I never actually saw the shirt. If I did though, I would have been hard pressed to think in simple enough English my thoughts conveying why I don't like her shirt.

This is a bit of a struggle I've found even in teaching ESL for a mere two weeks. Already I feel my vocabulary diminshing. I fight against it, I try my best not to "dumb myself down" in front of my kids. But it's hard, I lose sentences when I talk to them. I refer to them as "Emily Teacher's class." I'm giving them a vocab quiz of 15 words tomorrow. All of them we've learned through class room discussions. I'm trying to get them talking as much as possible as that's what I was told my job would be, improving their spoken English fluency. However, us teachers just learned that the parents were told their students would have learned 900 new words by the end of the 3 weeks. If you're keeping county that's 300 words/week or 60/day. Imagine trying to RETAIN 60 new words of a language a day. Um, yeah, right.

Monday, August 1

Teacher, are you a gangster?

I've had my favorite moment thus far in teaching Korean kids. Today I was asked if I'm a gangster! Apparently the majority of people with tattoos are also in the mafia here. It was great fun talking about it with my students. I have new students now, my kids left as their program was only one week and I took over a junior's level class for a teacher who had a family emergency and needed to leave. It works perfectly as he'll return the day I have to head back to Seoul for my flight home.

Thursday, July 28


I taught my kids how to make pancakse today and also how to say fractions by showing them the recipe. We couldn't find any baking powder so I just left it out, but added in bits of chocolate. They were a hit, "Teacher, delicious!" I heard over and over. Then I gave them a word search, without the words, and they worked in groups and were spelling and pronouncing the hard letters (r and l). What a great day! And lunch had raw veggies and seaweed/cucumber soup. Yum, finally healthy food! Although the kids were really confused, "Teacher, no bap (rice)?" And of course, I don't want to tell the girls that eating the rice will make me fat, so I just tell them that I'm not used to it for every meal, which is of course true.

Ooh, and on the topic of food last night we had chop chey, potato starch noodle. Delicious!

Wednesday, July 27

English Camp

Here I am with my kids. I'm the head in the sand. We took them to the beach yesterday. Yep, we're walking distance from the East Sea (call it the Sea of Japan and you might get kicked).

My experiences here have ranged from pleasant to nightmare-ish. I was led to believe my kids knew written and general spoken English and that I would be here to help them with they're spoken English as in school they are usually taught by Koreans. However, I've got a few kids who speak no English. Which would be fine if they all didn't, but I've got some who have a working knowledge of the language. I think it's frustrating across the board. Beyond that they aren't interested in lessons, they only want to play games. They don't work well in groups and one is especially disruptive. Ah, young adults. Really, what this has done has firmed up my suspicion that I want to work with older kids. Mine here are between 9-12 years old.

Oh, but I think I witnessed first flirtings today, one of my girls hit a boy! Normally, the two sexes avoid contact like the plague.

Signs, signs everywhere NEON signs

First impressions of Korea:

- In the bathroom in the airport they have "etiquette bells" which of course I had to press. It makes fake flushing noises.

- Going into Seoul from Incheon (where the International airport is) all you see is neon. Arriving into the small town of Sokcho where the camp is, population 90,000 all you see is neon.

- My first meal was in the airport waiting for Matthew, I got a hot pot of veggies and tofu. By hot pot, they mean a very hot stone pot that keeps the food boiling, literally for minutes, and there by way to hot to eat for many, many minutes. It came with a side of minature brined shrimp.

Saturday, July 23

The Time Traveler's Wife

Joy went on and on about this book. Chris lent it to me on Thursday to take on my flight. I connected through Vancouver (which actually ended up being over night so I got to see both Linda and Martin!) and was finished before I even boarded the plane for Seoul.

This is such a moving, deeply romantic, well written book. I'm so sad that it's over, I can't stop thinking about the characters. As the title suggests it's about a time traveler and his wife. That's all I'm going to say about it. Read it.


I never got confirmation from Matthew this morning that he caught his flight from Chicago to San Francisco and then from SF to Seoul. I'm in Incheon Airport waiting on him. I at least know that he tried to make it to the airport this morning, I presume he managed to rescue his passport, complete with Korean visa from the post office this morning.

The problem is, that if he didn't make the flight, then I'm spending 2.5 hours at the airport when I could be traveling up towards Sokcho. We'll see what happens.

I'm thrilled to be here. I've never felt more secure in a random travel deciscion than this. I'm excited to be working with kids, helping share my quirkyness in a way that helps them learn spoken English complete with all it's idoms and figures of speech.

I'm still waiting to hear back about teaching jobs I interviewed for before I left. The last was with Unity High School a bad ass charter school that I would love to work at. I went in and taught a quick twenty minute lesson on factoring trinomials and the kids were left to evaluate me. I also interviewed at Maybeck HS for a part time job that would most likely require me to work another job (bookstore?) but would be a great start for me to get some experience. I also sent in my application to Project Pipeline which is a teaching while earning your credential program which provides the training on weekends spread out over two years and is considerably cheaper than any University credential program I've found.

Who knows what this life holds for me? I'm waiting patiently to see what manifests and as always, just going with the flow.

Saturday, July 16


I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by my life and my own spontinatity. I have returned from Atlanta feeling sorry for my mom who is still entertaining and housing two of her sisters and two of said sister's kids. She and my dad will get their lives back on Saturday.

I've been studying for the Math CSET. I was in an internet cafe today along with three other people who were studying as well. One is a math teacher who's taking the Geometry heavy test (subtest II) again because he failed the first time by three points. I'm taking subtests I and II tomorrow. Am I ready? I've never been good at studying. I've done more than usual this time, but I'm sure the statistics and "foundations" of algebra will still throw me.

And in the midst of all this I've had an interview at a private school for an Algebra II teacher position (went well, fingers crossed) and bought a plane ticket to Korea! Egads. I leave on the 21st, less than a week. I'll be gone until August 10th, spending the time their teaching English, which of course, I've never done before. Sometimes, I amaze myself with my hutzpah.

Sunday, July 10


My mom is one of 10. Her side of the family has gathered from my grandmother's 80th birthday. We had 40-some people at my mom's house yesterday. A motley crew of aunts, uncles (14), cousins (12), spouses of cousins (3), 1st cousins once removed (1), great aunts and uncles (3), and of course my parents and sister were along as well. Yowza. If I ever get married, I think I'll be eloping. Actually, it's been great to see everyone, but we don't really have so much to talk about as we're very different. Most of the cousins that are here are 10 years old or under. The older ones are all married and live in either Ohio or Buffalo, NY. And as we all know, I'm an introvert, I don't handle large groups of people well.

The tattoo hasn't even been that big of a deal and it's been revealed that one of my mom's sisters has a couple as well. The one who also just bought a new Mustang, midlife crisis anyone? The hardest part has been explaining to everyone what it is I do, or don't as it may be. Thankfully, I've had the CSET to study for, so every day I leave for a couple of hours to brush up on my math. Like right now... hmm, maybe I should get back to that, because really, does anyone remember off the top of their head vector math? Multiplying vectors by matrices? Yeah, neither do I.

God and Cafes

I've been searching for cafes with free wifi. Yesterday I was at Cambridge Coffee in a booming strip mall district in Alpharetta, Georgia. However, their wifi was spotty at best. Today, I'm right down the street at a Port City Java spitting distance from my folks' house. When you're in Georgia you use words like folks apparently. Today's wireless is everything it should be, strong and clear. The similarities in the two places are that both include tables of people talking about god. Yesterday was a women's group trusting in god to make their marriages better. Today it's a father and two sons, one named Roman. He's lecturing them about what god will do or take away from you. And I quote the father, "If you see a homeless person lying on the street and you don't give them money what does this mean? It means that one day god might take away all your money." He asks the kids questions, when the younger one resonds with elaborate stories the father continually says, "now, don't get carried away." Right, because god doesn't like you to have an imagination either.

Now I know I'm coming across as all high and mighty. No, I don't have kids. I have no idea how I will teach them about what I think is right and wrong. Sure, I think the 10 commandments are a good set of rules, but I'm not going to present them as these things that "god said to moses." This man is continually using scare tactics on 10 and 12 year old kids. Ugh.

Thursday, June 23

Life Goals

On my flight to Austin yesterday, I started writing. I'm in a place where I'm constantly analyzing mylife, where it is, where it's going. Who I am, who I want to be. I started a list, I like to list.

Life goals:

work with math
use my brain
live sustainably
work for the greater good
have a big permaculture yard with a small earthen built house
travel (even more)
learn to spin wool
have a partner in crime
teach more summer camp
share food from my garden
learn to be an organic farmer
take time to live
learn more about wine

How to do this? What to do? I like the idea of teaching in public schools. Of being part of the solution. We clearly have a lack of math and science teachers. I love math. I want to share this love of math, of being geeky with kids. I want to share my experiences throughout the world with them. Though I learned about other countries in my history classes, it wasn't until I traveled to them that they became tangible something outside of the paper. I want to take kids abroad. How can I do this? Where do I start?

Then of course there's the food and sustainable living. Is this something that will just become part of my existance, something that's a day to day, or is this something I should work at as well. I need to start volunteering with the places that didn't hire me. Get experience, be part of their organizations.

How I do it...

An annonymous commenter (why are you scared of me knowing who you are?) asked how I live my life, am I independently wealthy? Trust fund baby? Living off credit cards? Nope, none of the above. When I graduated from Rice, I had a high paying job for 18 months and I saved almost every penny. I've been really fortunate as I don't have any school debt. My parents put me through school, something I probably don't thank them for enough. I put myself through culinary school with my savings. It is very important for me to live debt free. I use my credit card (how else would one buy plane tickets over the internet??) but pay it off every month. I live a simple life, my biggest expenses are food and travel, though right now as we're still searching for a new housemate, rent is ranking really high up there. My car is paid off. And last Christmas my grandparents gave each of their grandkids a sizeable chunk of change which I immediately put into the bank. So I've been catering some to supplement and living off my savings. The time for all this non-work though is ending. By August, I want to be working full time and saving money again, so that I can continue to travel. The what's, how's and why's of my life are still being worked out, but that will follow in my next post.

Blog Chainletter

I hate chain letters. With a passion. Typically I throw them out, even if they are from good friends. However, this one is easy enough. But I'm not passing it on. It doesn't even ask me to, so prehaps it's not a chain letter. More of a questionaire, so here goes.

1. Total number of cookbooks I’ve owned: I'm not at home, so I can't give an accurate count. And since it has the past tense, I'm sure I'll forget some that I've given away. I'd say the number is around 20 or so.

2. Last cookbook(s) I bought: Blue Ball Book of Preserving.

3. Last cookbook I read: Part of the Fog City Diner cookbook. Love the restaurant, think I'd love the book.

4. Five cookbooks that mean a lot to me:
a. Lebanese Cooking - reminds me of my grandmother.
b. Stop and Smell the Rosemary: It always makes me think of my dear friend Rebecca. Plus the pictures are beautiful and the recipes are always a success.
c. Enchanted Broccoli Forest: my first introduction to vegetarian cooking and hippy living.
d. American Pie: another book I was introduced to by Rebecca. I love Peter Reinhart, his passion for food and willingness to try pizza throughout the world inspires me to do something similar.
e. Baking with Julia: yay, Julia!

5. Which 5 people would you most like to see fill this out in their blog? I must admit, I rarely read other peoples' blogs religiously. The only one I really do is Linda's and she's already done this.

Ok, done. Linda, I hope you're happy ;)

Friday, June 10

Job Perks

No, I don't have "real" job yet. The second interview (which I was told was just a formality) for the Global Footprint job, that I wasn't really all that excited about, got cancelled on me as I flew home from Vegas. Such is life. I just keep keep on keepin' on. I've been sending out more resumes and actually have an interview tomorrow with Making Waves a non-profit that supplements education and life in general in one of the statistically poorest areas of the East Bay, Richmond. I'd be teaching high school math, Geometery, Algebra and Calculus, oh my! And it's a program that I find fascinating. More about it after the interview though.

In the meantime, I haven't just been sitting at home eating bon bons. I've been working with Stir Catering, mostly doing front of the house (carrying trays of food, serving drinks, setting up buffets) stuff and I'm loving it. Being the natural flirt that I am, the people interaction is fun. On Monday and Tuesday I was at Lawrence Berkeley Labs where there was a conference being held on Dark Matter. There, I met some mathematical modeling people and sent a resume off today. Who knows what may come of it, but it was a neat connection. I also came home that night with two flank steaks and 4 chicken legs. Yesterday, we were at the SF MOMA doing food for a New Zealand wine tasting event. From that I came home with 8 bottles of wine! Which was as much as I could carry to the BART station. If only I'd driven!

Wednesday, June 1

Ah, it's chicken that's flammable

I made Grilled Chicken Moroccan Style tonight. I cut way back on the recipe since I was only making 2 legs and did them under the broiler rather than the grill because again, there were only 2 legs. I'm still unclear how it occured, but clearly chicken fat is far more flammable than gasoline.

me: "Um, um, fire extinguisher..."
Joy runs in holding said device, "How do I use this thing?"
me: "Pull the pin, then squeeze the handle. But do we really want to use it though, it'll make a huge mess..."
her: "Wait, where's the baking soda?"
me: "here" dousing pan liberally with the white stuff.

Much window opening, fan placing, towel waving ensues. Then the grabbing of a beer and sitting down in shock. Then the scraping away of the baking soda to discover that there's still edible chicken under the black skin. And, to my shock, that it's delicious. So, I highly recommend this recipe. Though, I recommend doing it on the grill, not under the broiler (and I had it on the second rack down).

Monday, May 23

Y'all want some privacy?

While we were at Travertine hot springs, we had three different people or groups of people offer us privacy. Just because we're three young naked people in a hot spring, doesn't mean we're being kinky. Everyone else was naked. Why did these people find us weird to be around?

knitty mcknitsalot

I've been knitting up a storm on this trip. I finally finished the fishnet arm warmers I started in Thailand (that was back in January, for those not keeping track). Unfortunately they're two different colors at the moment as one of them got so dirty and bleached by the sun in Thailand. I didn't really like the pale blue anyway, so I think I'll just bleach them both and then attempt to dye them with beet juice.

Still left on the needles is "Under the Hoodie," a hooded sweater pattern from Stitch 'N' Bitch. This was started back when it was cold in November. I've made so much progress the past week that it actually looks like a sweater. Ok, so maybe it's more like a tunic at the moment, but still. I've been messing with the pattern to avoid sewing seams, which I know I will hate. I did the shoulders with kitchner stitch, undoing the binding off (that's when you take the thing off the needles) to avoid sewing the curling in bound off edges. And for the sleeves, the pattern tells you to knit them flat then sew a seam up the arm to make them round and then to sew them to the sweater. Well, I'm going to instead, pick up stitches from around the upper part of the sweater and then knit in the round (using these cool short circular needles I picked up in South Tahoe) so I won't have to sew any seams at all for the sleaves. The only seams left to actually sew will be the sides of the sweater.

This yarn shop (often abbreviated LYS for local yarn store) in South Tahoe was a trip. The lady in there was super nice and super chatty. She had a cute little Shitzu with crazy long hair and when Adam asked if she had ever accidently knitted him into something she was making she told us to wait a minute and she disappeared into the back room. We all look at each other with that look of "oh my god, what are we about to see?" She returns and tells us of the shitzu she used to have, Sosumi (named by her attorney husband, say it out loud, So sue me). It was her baby, she loved it so, it got sick and so she began to collect the hair from it's daily brushings for a year. Sent them to this company who sent her back a ball of yarn that is 60% Sosumi hair. Creepy, eh?

Sunday, May 22

Lotus of Siam

Last night, we had a food adventure! I'd read about Lotus of Siam on Chowhound, apparently a singular reason to visit Vegas. So we go out and try it. Everything I'd read, suggested not ordering, but letting the staff pick for you. Thankfully Adam was so hungry, he was willing to go along with this plan. We tell the waiter that we don't eat meat (as it's not sustainable there) but we're willing to eat the catfish (as most catfish is farmed which is sustainable, well, for catfish anyway, definitely not for salmon). I digress. We tell him we want a soup, a salad, a fish entree and a noodle dish. Every dish arriving was a surprise! And every dish was excellent all with different flavors going on. A hot and sour soup with bright sour lime-esque flavors and mild spicyness, a tofu salad with perfectly fried pieces of tofu on a bed of crisp lettuce, red onions, cucumbers, tomatoes topped with a spicy dressing and loads of mint, the catfish was blackened and grilled, topped with a spicy cilantro and red onion stuff. That one was hot, but fresh and oh so good. And then noodles the big fat ones. Topped with sauteed veggies and mint. Dear lord. Oh and dessert. A coconut ice cream, which wasn't made with any dairy, just frozen condensed coconut milk on top of sweet sticky rice. h\Hot and cold. Sweet and textured.

Saturday, May 21

You need more melon

We've left the heat of Saline Valley, escaping the flies. It took us 10 hours to make it to Vegas. We stopped in Pantamint Valley to eat some sandwiches and use the bathrooms, but didn't buy anything there as it's the first stop for miles and it's crazy expensive. Gas was $3.15/gallon for the lowest grade. We continued on to Stovepipe Wells and stopped again. It was bloody hot. 104 degrees. We bought cold drinks, some toffee pretzels and Juli got a beautiful ring. The guy behind the counter very shy with Adam commented under his breath how he'd like to come out and two step with me as I must have been dancing around. When Juli and I went up to purchase aforementioned items he was very chatty with us. Commenting on how I had a lot of energy calling me "square dancer" and the two of us "young ladies" which always makes us chuckle. We told him we'd come from Saline and how it was too hot for us. He said "well, it's summer. You just have to take things slow and easy." Even his manner of talking was slow and laid back. As we were walking out the door, he was warning us about sun exposure. Telling the fair skinned Juli "you need more melon. be sure you wear plenty of sun block and stay in the shade." To Adam and I, more olive skinned, "Y'all should wear sun block too. Even I do and I'm pretty dark." Clearly, as he's a black guy. He was very amusing. Next stop was Furnace Creek to buy the national parks pass Adam and Juli will use across the country and then on to Shoshone, Ca. Town of one gas station and two restaurants. But one of these restaurants I'd read about on Chowhound, Cafe C'est Si Bon. A vegetarian internet cafe. We had mangolada smoothies. Mango, banana, pineapple and coconut milk. Drool. I want another one now. It was so good. Then we went out back to pet Pizza, their Vietnamese pig. Very bizarre. Finally 10 and a half hours after leaving Saline, we arrived at my aunt's house in Las Vegas, baby, Vegas. This visit is going to be much different than the previous one, thank goodness. Agenda is knitting, reading, swimming and watching movies.

Job Drought

Sigh. So I didn't get the Backroads job. Fine. But then I checked my voice mail in Big Pine, Ca, just before we entered the road to Saline and I had a voice mail from The Edible Schoolyard. They've already filled the position. :-( I'm really bummed. I still have the Global Footprint interview on Tuesday. I'm assuming they'll give me an offer, which I guess I'll take, because I need an income, though I'd love to spend the rest of the summer hiking and traveling. And in being the eternal optimist, the job does that it's perks. I'll be doing geeky type stuff working with SQL and databases, which I really liked at my old job. And this job, I won't be working for the man. I'll be working for a company that's promoting sustainability. And, they all eat lunch together every day. A lunch that's home cooked in the office with a big salad. One more thing is that I can bike to work! Maybe once I've started making some money, I should get a better bike, one with gears.

So that's the update.

Friday, May 20

Valley of the Heat

We're out in Saline Valley and it's fucking hot. Excuse my language, but we're talking 95 in the shade. 104+ outside. Everyone says, "oh, but it's dry heat." Dry my ass. I'm drenched in sweat. And angry apparently.

It is beautiful. I took a short walk this morning when it was cool (at 6 am) and it was beautiful. The sun hadn't yet risen over the mountains in the east and the western mountains were glowing pink. There are lizzards everywhere, some are green, others rock colors. Small little chipmunk type creatures and last night 4 wild burroughs walked past our camp.

The drive out here, 40 miles of washboard (meaning it takes 3 hours to go 40 miles), was also beautiful. There are still tons of wild flowers out here. And this time I had my camera!!! Woo hoo. Two and a half rolls shot so far.

Flat Tire #1

I'm an optimist. Always have been. Can't imagine myself any other way. But, that said, I'm also a realist. And while I'd like to hope we won't have another flat tire, I'd say odds are against us. We got our first one this afternoon. Just barely into the dirt road part of the ride down into the Saline Valley, our next destination, where we plan to spend several days, camped in one spot. However, as luck would have it, we're back in Big Pine. Camped at a lovely camp ground, rushing streams, much smaller than the American, but still making that lovely rushing water sound and it's warm. A constant breeze, but it's not cold, not at all. I"m sleeping outside tonight, next to the river, under the stars and moon. Yay!

Anyhow, like I said we got a flat. And it wasn't a simple puncture wound. More like a half inch gash that the tire repair kit couldn't mend. So we turned around. We're hoping to have the tire fixed first thing in the morning so we can attempt the drive in once more. It's a pretty rough road, washboard for miles. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, May 17

Apparently, gasoline is inflammable

We made the journey from Sacramento down to a lovely camp ground along the American River (see my previous post on my glorious hike down to said river) in Kyburz, Ca. It was very dark when we got there and all we could hear was the river roaring. In the morning we saw it raging by. I don't know rapid classes, but these were at least a III. The kind older couple that runs the camp ground said that the river is 7' higher than usual. And from the amount of snow yet to fall, it appears it's only going to get higher. A bit of a concern for them as it appears that the campground could flood. I love sleeping with river noise though and so it made for a great night, except that it was cold. I packed lightly, thinking only of us being in Death Valley, where temperatures are already in the 100s. However, as we were driving towards South Tahoe, we were awed by the beauty of snow falling from trees. The highest elevation we hit was 7,500', I can still see snow in the mountains around us. Yeah! I love snow. However, with no snow gear that rules out any snow hiking or cross country skiing. Not that I know how to xcountry ski, but I could learn.

Anyway, from Kyburz, we continued to highway 395 and began our journey south. We made it as far as Bridgeport, Ca, where the Travertine hot springs are. Our first soak in hot springs, thus far. Wonderful, gorgeous, beautiful. We set up camp back on BLM land about a half mile down from the springs, which apparently are not on BLM lands anymore and therefore you can't legally camp there. Whatever, half mile away isn't bad. So we set up camp and the plan for dinner is to bbq hamburgers and sweet potato wedges. They have a small grill, we have charcoal brickettes from Whole Foods, some paper to try lighting them with in an attempt to avoid using lighter fluid or other chemicals. So, the hunt for the lighters begins. In all the reorganization that has happened in the past few days, this takes quite a while. But finally two lighters are produced. We light the paper, which almost immediately burns out without catching the coals on fire. Add more paper, grab some dry sticks and try again. Unfortunately, for some reason unbeknownst to us, now neither of the lighters are working. And there are no matches to be found. Hrmph. At this point I'm willing to give in and have sandwiches for dinner. Adam refuses to be beat by this though. In shifting the coals around, he discovers that one did catch and is still glowing. We attempt to use it to ignite tp. This should be easy right? But there are Adam and I blowing on this coal, holding paper to it and nothing. Adam decides it's time to pull out the heavy artillery and grabs the gas can. He soaks a piece of paper bag and we hold the glowing coal to said paper. Again, nothing. What the fuck? By this point, the coal is no longer glowing. So now, we stack more coals and paper, douse the whole thing in gasoline and Adam rigs up the jumper cables to the battery. Handing me the fire extinguisher, he touches the other two ends together producing a shower of sparks. Thankfully none of the bushes surrounding us caught on fire, but then again, neither did our gas soaked items. I'll say again, what the fuck?! More gas, more sparks. Then a piece of wire between the two cable ends which glows red hot, finally WOOSH, we have made fire! At around 9, we enjoy our burgers and a few of the sweet potatoes. The potatoes could have used a lot longer on the grill, but it was cold, windy and we were hungry.

ESY interview

So my interview is a week from tomorrow at The Edible Schoolyard and given that this is the job I'd really like to have, i've been thinking about it incessantly and I won't get back to Oakland until the day of the interview, I'm trying to learn as much about the program as I can, and will be making my notes here. If anyone has any thing that they would like to add, please do.

Essential Job Duties
Cooking Instruction in the Kitchen Classroom
-Sustainable Food and Supplies Procurement
-Direction, Communication, Leadership, and Personality
-Facilities Management and Maintenance

Essential Job Skills
The ESY Assistant Chef Teacher has a thorough knowledge of regional California seasonality and a strong commitment to supporting local organically grown food. Experience working with adolescents is a must, grounded in an uncompromising dedication to advocacy for youth.

Successful teaching in the Kitchen Classroom requires a captivating, clear, and comfortable public speaker, with awareness of food justice and ecological literacy.

Diversity at the school.
How much time is spent in the kitchen and in the garden, for both the students and I.
Who will I be working with?
Will I get to write my own lesson plans?

Things I would like to research:
-Ability to understand and articulate the reasoning behind sustainable procurement.
-Ability to research, plan, execute, and document recipes that are seasonal, fresh, economical, and from scratch.
-Ability to create and use recipes that can be successfully prepared with students in a class setting and that translate to students’ home kitchens.
(those last two I can do, I would just like to have some examples)

And things that I would like to learn over the summer should I get this job.
A bit of Spanish. Mucho de un pocito.
Going to work on a sustainable farm (the one up outside of Vancouver that was my favorite, with all the heirloom tomatoes)

Wildlife Sightings

Well, we're still in Sacramento. Fair Oaks, technically, the far east side of Sacto. I just got back from a lovely hike/walk (when do you differentiate, what is the difference?) Juli says hiking is strenuous walking. But I certainly wouldn't say that power walkers were hiking. And today I was walking at a good clip on an unpaved trail, so was I hiking? I digress... as always.

I started my walk (it was definitely a walk at that point) at Steiner College. They have some really beautiful buildings with architecture that includes loads of sky lights and some really full veggie gardens. But there wasn't much active hiking to be done there, so I headed over to Bannister Park. The beginning of my walk/hike I saw a big bird, bigger than a crow, longer body that was black with bright blue on its wings and a white tail (according to Hans, this is a magpie). Further out on the trail, I almost squished a lizzard painted like a snake. It was cool. Once I got down to the American River, which is big and wide and flows at a good clip, I saw a big fish, about 2 feet long. On the walk back I saw some grey squirrels (boring, I know) and a huge bird, wild turkey, mmm, good eating. Strange, I know, but possible. Anyway it was a really pretty walk full of neat stuff to look at, yay!

Monday, May 16

Epic Journey

I am very honored to be joining my dear friends Adam and Juli as they start a new adventure. They have now put all their stuff into storage down in Santa Cruz, loading only the items they deemed absolutely necessary into their VW Synchro Vanagan and are traveling around the United States, camping, hiking, seeing what there is to see. The journey began in a rented house in Guernville where 14 of us congregated to celebrate the beginning of A's 29th year. It was a weekend of eating and hot tubbing, with a brief interlude down by the Russian River. Now we've made it as far as Sacramento. We'll spend tonight relaxing and then tomorrow running errands, hopefully tomorrow night we'll have made camp near some hot springs. The rest of the next week will be spent in Death Valley National Park, we'll be starting in Saline Valley.

As for job stuff, well, the Backroads interview went really well. Or I thought it did, anyway. But much to my shock, I was not offered a position. Hrmph. Well, most likely I'd have turned them down, but still, it was surprising not to get the offer. So now it's between Backroads and the Edible Schoolyard. Between those two I really want the Edible Schoolyard job. I interview on the 24th. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, May 11

It's raining jobs, hallelujah

Ok, so not so much jobs as interviews which will hopefully lead to job offers. Yesterday I had a phone interview with Backroads which is a travel adventure company. Think biking tours through Spain or California wine country, backpacking trips through the Canadian Rockies, etc. Benefits of working for them - someone else is paying for my travel. I get to do all the outdoor traveling that I missed out on in my formative years. Downside, working long hours with people who probably aren't all that outdoorsy, the pay is such that you're paid when you're on the road and when you're not they give you housing, so I'd have to move out of my lovely house, with my lovely housemate just when I'm beginning to feel settled. However, if we don't find a third housemate sometime soon... Ugh. I really don't want to move again. Besdies that for completely selfish reasons, I have a lot planned for this summer, weddings, my grandmother's 80th birthday party, things I just don't want to have to miss out on. So maybe joining backroads now is not the best of ideas. But then, when am I going ot be at this place in my life again that I can do something like this. I mean, who likes to travel more than I do? Ok, so maybe I have one friend who does, but really, we're a rare breed. And introducing people to new places, new parts of the world.

Ok, next job, with the Edible Schoolyard!!!
The Edible Schoolyard, in collaboration with Martin Luther King Junior Middle School, provides urban public school students with a one-acre organic garden and a kitchen classroom. Using food systems as a unifying concept, students learn how to grow, harvest, and prepare nutritious seasonal produce. Experiences in the kitchen and garden foster a better understanding of how the natural world sustains us, and promote the environmental and social well being of our school community
I got an interview for the assistant teacher position. Teaching kids about eating healthy, growing their own food, living sustainably and summers off. I keep going back and forth about which is the job that I really want. Ugh.

Last job, Global Footprintnetwork, I think this one I've mentioned before as I interviewed with the company on April 7th! Ok, that was a long time ago. They want me to come in for one last interview and assuming I were to get the job, to then start immediately. This is the tech job, I'd be programming again, but this time working towards sustainability. However, this job is lowest in personal excitement level.

I go to a hiring event for Backroads tomorrow, then on May 24th I interview with both the Edible Schoolyard and Global Footprint Network. Friday, I leave for a weekend up in Healdsburg where 15 of us will be in a rented house for Adam's birthday :) Then I head out to Death Valley with Adam and Juli as they begin their Roadtrip USA. I fly back to meet my sister in Oakland on the 24th, right, same day as the interviews.

Friday, May 6

Universal Cafe

I had a stunning meal last night. Bold words for a foodie snob like myself, but it was really great. Starting with a menu with the day's date printed on it (follow this out to the logical conclusion that the menu changes daily). Organic veggies, sustainably raised meats. We order a Sinskey 2000 Merlot, that was light in body for a merlot, not oaky at all, but with a full taste, very little tanins.

We start with a hearts of romain salad. Typically, I eschew romain, because really it's just one step away from iceberg lettuce. The salad was huge, including an entire heart of romain, still in one piece and therefore only had dressing on the outer most layer, reducing it to my traditionally snubbed, plain lettuce. But the plate was also covered in huges chunks of feta, sugar snap peas and an herbed lemon vinegrette. Personally, I found the vinagrette lacking umph, but the fresh herbs were plentiful, the peas so very sweet and crisp and the chunks of feta tangy compensating for the lack in the vinagrette.

Also, a nice touch was that there was a small bowl (think mis en place size) of coarse salt on the table and when the salad arrived we were given our own pepper grinder. I hate restaurants that are conceited enough to think that everything they serve you is going to be perfectly seasoned to your unique tastes. However, that said, I never touched the salt and used the pepper grinder only on my salad. I appreciate even more that they were there and I didn't have to use them.

Back to the meal. Entrees, braised rabbit for me, pan seared salmon for my date. I hate cooked salmon, so I can't really critique his plate. But it did come with fresh beets, again super sweet bleeding brightly onto his plate and rice and those perfect thin young asparagus. The salmon was cooked to have a nice crust, but this seemed to have resulted in salmon that wasn't as opaque as he'd have wanted. My rabbit also had a nice crust, just a slight crunch as you bite into the super tender meat. This was served with garlicy sauteed artichoke hearts (clearly fresh, not canned, given their color) and hand cut pasta. Dear god, I love homemade pasta and this was among the best I've ever had.

No room for dessert, though of course, I had to see what they offered. One fruit (rhubarb strawberry cobbler), one chocolate torte, an ice cream and a panne cotte. Plus a $2 piece of biscotti. I love that they give you a cheap option for dessert. If I'd have had anymore room, I'd gone with an ice wine and biscotti.

All this said, I hope to return, something I never say about a place. For those of you who'd like to check it out, it's at 2418 19th St @ Bryant, San Francisco.


I've re-installed gallery on my original website making a much easier format for viewing pictures. Check it out PhotoBug.

Tuesday, May 3

Exploding Chocolate Cows!!!

I'm making a sample wedding cake to practice for Minnie and Vim's wedding. I decided to make the chocolate glaze in the food processor as I was going to use it to chop the chocolate anyway. Turns out that little plastic gate thing is really important for keeping hot molten chocolate inside the food processor container. Really.


1. The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.
2. An act or instance of such falseness.

Scene: Berekely Bowl - a local, co-op, predominately organic, whole grain foods. Long line for the check out, typical.

Lady talking with clerk - blah, blah, I eat only organic, blah. "It tastes so much better. So much richer, when your food is all organic. My children and I never get sick. People complain about how much more expensive it is, but when you look at what they're spending at the doctors, I'm paying for my health!"

Clerk: "Yeah, I've been interested in getting started with that. What do you think I should start with?"

Lady: "All your dairy products and produce. Compare the taste of a non-organic tomato to an organic tomato. You'll see. Plus, you'll be so much healthier. And really when you think about it, who wants to be supporting all those chemicals?"

Clerk: "Paper or plastic?"

Lady: "Plastic. And could you double bag it?"

Monday, May 2


I've had an active few days. Thursday, I hiked around Land's End taking photos with Will. Friday I roamed around part of Lake Merrit (where I found the aforementioned Fairy Land!) and my favorite local haunt, the Mt. View cemetary. (Oh, I'm so punny, I kill myself.) Saturday 7 of us did the 10 mile (roundtrip) trek out to Tomales Point, the northern most tip of Point Reyes. Beautiful. And then yesterday I danced my booty off at the How Weird Street festival. I love, love, love dancing in the daylight. It was grand! And I got to play with Will's camera again. The goal for this week is to get my photo gallery back up and running.

Saturday, April 30


I've been riding my bike to pick up CSA veggies and down to WF for smaller trips. I love riding my bike. It's a big, heavy Murray Cruiser. It squeaks. It's rusty. I hum the Wizard of Oz wicked witch theme song.

Today, I also had the pleasure of exploring more of Oakland. I walked around a wee bit of Lake Merrit. Discovered there's a Fairy Land. Adults allowed only if accompanied by kids. Me on the phone with Badger, "Um, so can I borrow your kid?" Then her telling me all about this place. She's been. It's twisted as I knew it would be. I can't wait to check it out!

I baked two different cake recipes today. Testing for Minnie's wedding. Tasting begins tomorrow as I turn the scraps into a trifle. But the two cakes were very similar. Minimum 1/2 lb butter in each, 6 eggs, 3 cups sugar (which is 1.25 lbs, if you're keeping track). That's why they call them pound cakes, right? The main difference being that one had baking soda (though only 1/2 t) and sour cream while the other added an extra 1/4 of butter and replaced the sour cream with cream cheese. So far the differences - height. Boy did the baking soda make a difference. Cake doubled in height where as #2 rose only maybe 1/5 of it's original height. And color, #2 ended up lighter, though maybe I should have pulled #1 out earlier. I've got them wrapped in foil on the counter. I'll cut out small rounds of each tomorrow, then use the scraps for the trifle. Depending on when I get home from hiking, I'll assemble the rounds into layer cakes tomorrow. Which reminds me, I need more chocolate and cream. Everything a healthy body needs. ;-)

Wednesday, April 27

I like dogs and art and I vote

I passed that bumper sticker yesterday as I was walking. I don't know that I really have much to say about it. Seems to me like saying "I like babies and I vote" Who is going to say "I hate art and dogs and I vote"?

Pain or Pleasure?

I had my tattoo finished yesterday, finally. It was started way back in October with a 3 hour session, then 3 more in November, scheduled to be finished in December. Well, December ended up being really busy. Then I was gone. So I just now had it finished. 8 hours worth of art on my back in total. For those keeping track, that means a scant 2 hours yesterday. And this was the least painful yet. I think because my lovely artist, Paco, had me cracking up. Kept trying to convince me that my moans of pain (especially over the shoulder blade and way low back) were actually moans of pleasure. That really I was getting turned on by the tattooing. I'm sure this may be true for some people. But it is not for me. The sensations are so far separated that I can't even pretend to be aroused by it. But that's just me. I'm going to throw in Paco's website, because really, I love my tattoo and it was costume designed and colored so beautifully, that I want to give Paco as much credit as I can, so go check out Graven Image!

Monday, April 25


I feel as though life is spinning around me. I am propelling it in part with my constant travels and never sitting still. I'm afraid to sit still. Afraid of the boredom that surrounds me without having a job. I spend a lot of my time sitting here at this small machine, looking at jobs I don't want or worse yet, jobs I really do want along with loads of other people with better resumes than mine.

I had a wonderful weekend up in wine country. Full of sun (to contradict the sucky forecast) and wonderful people in costume! I went to a super prom! Villians and heroes abounded. Capes fluttered everywhere. It was up at Roshambo Winery. A hip, almost too hip, winery, with a beautiful view and decent wines. They're fun! Not stuffy, no not at all! They throw super hero proms and host an annual Rock Paper Scissors pro-am. I'm not kidding, check out their website.

What to do? What to do? Today, I'm going for a long walk. Getting my Oakland library card. Mopping the floor and making some roasted onion stock. Maybe I'll ride my bike down to Berkeley bowl to see what they have on sale. I'd like to get some more grains for our bulk drawer. Barley especially. I have a hankering for a mushroom and barley soup. It's so pretty outside though, maybe I should turn that into a salad of sorts. Yeah, that's it.

I'm disappointed in my CSA, Full Belly Farms. We're already out of veggies for the week and then next box doesn't appear until Wednesday. I think when our subscription ends in June it'll be time to try out a new one.

Thursday, April 21

Here, there, everywhere

As always, I can't sit still. Especially since I still don't have a job. Shall I talk about that first? I've been sending my resume out to a variety of places and have had an (singular) interview with a company I would really enjoy working at that would have me being a tech geek again. Global Footprint Network makes a tool that measures the ecological footprint countries are leaving. Basically, are you using more than you are replenishing. Yeah, it would be cool. I should know in another two weeks or so whether I'll actually get that job. In the meantime, I've also been sending my resume out to other non-profits, a few pastry places that I'd be willing to work at (Whole Foods and Bittersweet ~ the Chocolate Cafe) and also to The Edible Schoolyard, a program started by Alice Waters of Chez Pannise, it's a middle school with a garden and they teach kids about living and eating sustainably. Hello, I'm perfect for this job!

Ok, now back to the not sitting still. Last weekend found me up at Bruinslair where I helped to build some outdoor kitchen flooring and a cabinet. Also, I had the opprotunity to spend the weekend with some wonderful folks :) Almost immediately upon returning, I headed down to Santa Cruz to spend more time with my friends Adam and Juli before they embark on a road trip across the United States. Who knows how long they'll be gone, so I'm trying to get in as much time with them as I can. Yesterday, I headed down to Monterey while they were working and finally made it to the aquarium. WOW! That place is amazing. Jelly fish are amazing. They pulse and are creepy but cool at the same time. And tuna are freakin' fast fish. And huge with shiny bellies. The Monterey Bay Aquarium also works hard at saving our oceans. Go there, support them, use their Seafood Watch cards (now available regionally) to know that you're eating sustainably harvested fish.

Thursday, April 7

Scary Sleep

My lovely housemate has been working like crazy. I've hardly seen her these past two weeks. Thus, I've been waking up when she does, so that we can hang out for a bit while she gets ready for work. This morning we shared a delightful smoothy, chatted and then she left. I was so sleepy, staying awake wasn't an option. I crawled back into my sun soaked bed and fall asleep. Sometime later, I wake up, but not really. I see that my door is open, and I don't remember whether I'd closed it. It sounds like there is someone in the house and I think maybe it's the housemate who's recently moved out, but then I realize she'd be a lot louder. The scary thing is that I can't actually get myself to move. The covers feel too heavy and my eyelids won't stay open. In my dream state I'm slapping myself on the face, trying to wake myself up, but I just can't do it. I'm going to assume that if anyone had actually been in my house that I'd have been able to get myself up, but it was scary how fatigued and unable to move I was.

Tuesday, April 5


Something to consider, conventional cherries are sprayed with chemicals 3 times a week to help prevent the pesky cherry fruit fly from destroying the crop. The fruit you eat has been sprayed 3 times a week from the time it appeared as a bud. A simple rinse under the sink isn't going to get rid of those chemicals that have been layered on. Just something to consider. And to all you conventional cherry farmers, something for you to consider might be getting some chickens who will eat the fruit fly larva.

Grapes are another big one. Sigh, it's a constant battle inside me, my love of wine and hatred of pesticides.

For further reading, start with this list of produce to buy organic.

Friday, April 1

Nothing like a visitor

I've had a glorious few days visiting with my oldest friend (I mean oldest in that we've known each other since we were five), Karla. It's wonderful having someone come out to your town, it reminded me of all the reasons I love living out here. It is stunningly, achingly gorgeous. Especially driving down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH, also called 1) from San Francisco down to Santa Cruz. Continuing down to Monterey you can see what artichoke plants look like - crazy - and strawberry fields.

The pacific ocean is massive and driving along it for hours, dreaming into it's vastness is a good reminder of that. I love that the beaches are often too cold to be in bathing suits on. You have people sitting, huddled together under blankets.

We went to Monterey and rather than visit the aquarium as intended, we got side tracked by newly opened tasting rooms. Yes, more wine for me. Thankfully my antibiotic series has ended. There are some glorious Monterey wines, though most of the grapes are coming from further inland near Pasa Robles. I actually think I'm beginning to understand and appreciate white wines

Friday, March 25

A side note on grapes and wine

General Okanagan wine tasting info. They rate everything on a 0-3+ Dryness Scale 0 - very dry, 1 - dry, 2 - semi-sweet, 3+ very sweet

Like artichokes and asparagus, grapes take several years of growing before they start producing fruit. Then as the years go on the fruit continues to improve but eventually begins to decline in quantity. So at some point, for cost reasons, the growers will tear old vines out.

Pinot Noirs have no shelf life. Once you open a bottle, you'd best finish it that night. Never a problem for Martin and I.

Most of your light, white wines, Ehrenfelser, Gewürztraminer and Reisling are released the year or winter after they're picked. The vast majority of the ones we tasted were 2004s.

Syrah/Shiraz. These are the same grape. The French tend to call the grape syrah, shiraz is generally used in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Syrah can also be used to indicate an old world style, use of French or European oaks. Shiraz is in the new world style.

Meritage - a contest was held in 1988 US to name wines created from the blending of grapes from the Bordeaux varietals. "Merit" and "heritage" led to meritage, rhymes with heritage. There are white and red mertiages and no single variety of grape can make up more then 90% of the blend.


I feel this need to be close to the earth. To have my hands in the dirt. I don't necessarily want the life of the farmer, but to some how work with farmers. To bring their food back to the city, to have people eating healthy. If anyone knows of a job like this, please let me know :)

On our tour of the Okanagan, Martin and I visited 4 organic farms. Each with similar, yet unique ways of farming. We came during the winter, when the farmers were just begining to plant, but had lots of time to talk with us and introduce us to their farms. Each of them were so welcoming and hospitable and each quite the characters.

Stoney Paradise is run by Milan, a manic depressive man in his 40s and his parents, who own the farm and the land. They predominately grow table grapes and tomatoes, but like all the farmers have a diverse crop for a secure income. The permaculture training in me will also tell you that a diverse crop helps with pest control, as there are then a variety of smells to confuse the bugs. Having plants that encourage good, predator bugs to eat the bad, crop-destructive bugs is vital as well. Right, back to Milan. He uses compost as well as fish fertilizers. He grows only hybrid tomatoes (a practice I disagree with). And is probably best known for his coronation grapes, which I got to sample in the form of sauce for a blue cheese course. However, the fact that he gets such a crop and such variety out of his incredibly rocky, or shall I say stony, soil is amazing.

Next up were the Klippersteins who run Klippers Organic Acres. Kevin, Anna-Marie and their 4 children live on and work 10 or so acres in a gorgeous valley outside of Cawston. They have fruit trees, grow ground crops and have about 100 chickens which they use as pest control, for fertilizer and the organic eggs that they sell. Anna-Marie seed saves (yeah!) and they both seem to love having their hands in the dirt. The sprout their seeds on a bed of sand that covers heat coils. Interesting method, but they get about 100% germenation. They are beginning to experiment with bio-dynamics, which is using enzyme compositions to help enrich your soil, something I'd just begun to learn about in Thailand and while parts of it seem a bit hippy too me (burying a cowhorn on the full moon), I think it merits further exploration.

The next farm we visited, Snowy Mountain, also is employing the use of biodynamics. Snowy Mountain, run by Lauren Sellars and Walter Harvey, is a money maker of a farm. Loads of fruit trees, ground crops, chickens and horses. They use the horses for the plowing and sell the colts and being that the horses are Norwegian Fjords, they sell them at quite a profit. They seem to be quite happy and doing very well. Building has been going on for a few years now on a huge and beautiful strawbale house where they'll easily be able to feed all the workers and WWOOFers in the summer, when it's eventually finished.

Last, but not least, Sapo Bravo Organics, run by Katie and Gabriel up in the mountains outside of Lytton. This is the definition of over the river and through the woods. You have to take a ferry across the Fraser River then drive 18 kilometers on a gravel road on native lands to get to their hilltop farm. Beautiful views, more great fruit trees, garlic popping up through a mulch of hay and Katie in the green house starting the seeds she has saved or gotten from Canada's seed savers. They plant only heirlooms, use only compost which they're making from organic goat manure and are beginning to harvest their own rabbit manure. They have gorgeous worker residences for the people that come help them on the farm. Gabriel is very open to the ideas of permaculture. This is the one farm that I would like to come spend more time on working and learning and sharing. Maybe a few weeks in September will find me there...

Tuesday, March 22

Tinhorn, Inniskillin, Gerhinger and Hester Creek

From Osoyoos, we headed back north to Oliver for a brief tasting tour. Inniskillin was our first stop, before breakfast even (though in our defense, we did share an orange). Inniskillin is primarily an Ontario winery, but their small production and tasting room in the Okanagan is still worth a visit, in my opinion. Inniskillin is an Irish name, but at the Oliver winery, they have Native symbols on their Dark Horse label. Dark Horse is their 23 acre Oliver vineyard.

Pinot Blanc - Dark Horse Vineyard '03 - Strong apple flavor. Light. Nice. The grapes for this Pinot Blanc were grown on our Dark Horse Estate Vineyard. Cold fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve the wine's intense fresh fruit aromas. Fresh green apple flavours and a crisp acidity that lasts through the finish.

Gewürztraminer - Dark Horse Vineyard '03 - Delicate, like water. Strong fruity nose, though. Nice finish. Cold fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve the wines fresh, crisp fruit. Medium bodied, with a nice acidity that last through the finish.

Chardonnay Reserve '02 - Not like a chard. 60% stainless steel fermentation - 40% in French Oak with full malolactic fermentation. Medium weight with mild citrus and vanilla aromas and honey & apple flavours.

Cabernet Sauvignon - Dark Horse Vineyard '02 - enjoyable nose. Strong tannins which lead to a strong finish. Aged 50% American and 50% French oak barrels for 12 months. Intense vanilla, blackberry spicy nose. Rich jammy black pepper and currant flavours.

Meritage Dark Horse Vineyard '02 - Immediate nice fruit flavor. Soft nose, mild finish. Meritage marries the best characteristics of the three noble Bordeaux varietals. 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged for 18 months in a combination of American and French Oak barrels. Black cherry aromas, soft tannins and a toasty long smooth finish.

Vidal Icewine - Plut Vineyard '03 - Sigh. So wonderful. Fruit and honey. Ripe sweet honey apricot aromas, concentrated peach and apricot flavours and a long finish.

Riesling Icewine - Dark Horse Vineyard '03 - Oh, so good. Light straw colour with very sweet honey, apricot aromas.

I wish I could afford $52 - 60 bucks for 375 mL of those...

Tinhorn, Gerhinger and Hester Creek to follow later

Monday, March 21

Sumac Ridge

On our way south towards Osoyoos, we stopped in Summerland to visit Sumac Ridge, a winery I knew from living in Vancouver and often buying their wines. This tasting occurred just after I'd been diagnosed with strep throat, so feel free to disregard any tasting notes. For those interested, Sumac Ridge has 115 acres of their own grapes which they call Black Sage Vineyards.

Stellar's Jay Brut - dry, quite light, nice.

Pinot Blanc '03 - 6 months in oak. Buttery, dry. Really good.

Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet-Franc '02 - Olive nose, rich flavor. Smooth finish.

Meritage '01 - Very mild. Short finish. Sumac Ridge was the first winery in Canada to make a meritage.

Vintage Pipe '99 - Port style. Not too sweet, good cabernet flavor.

Saturday, March 19

Mt. Boucherie, Quail's Gate and Mission Hill Tastings

The good, the bad and the ugly...

Mt. Boucherie - The Ugly

A sterile, square ugly tasting room welcomes (or discourages) visitors to Mt. Boucherie winery. Thankfully, I know not to judge a book by its cover. They have 175 acres of grapes, growing 100% of their grapes, one of the few wineries to do this. The owners have been growing and selling grapes since the 60s, but only opened their own winery in 2001. Italic notes are from their tasting phamplet.

Semillon '03 - very light, quite nice. This white wine displays aromas & flavours of dried apricot, guava, rose, tangerine and a slight herbal note with rich oily mouth feel & crisp finish. Pair with seafood such as grilled oysters or steamed clams, and is also a great match with sushi.

Chardonnay '03 - almost banana taste. lovely. This unoaked white wine has aromas & flavours of pears, citrus & green apple, with a rich well-balanced finish. Enjoy now or cellar for 1-3 years to further develop complexity and bottle bouquet. Pairs well with grilled seafood & seasonal salad.

Pinot Gris '03 - complex flavor. This wine has aromas & flavors of pears, apples, honey and tangerines with a crisp off-dry finish. Cellaring for 1-3 years will allow the wine to develop additional complexity. Pairs well with sushi, tapas & grilled salmon.

Gewürztraminer '03 - very nice. strong start. light. Hints of citrus, sandalwood and passionfruit are followed by a clean refreshing finish. This wine was tank fermented at a cool temperature to maximize varital characteristics and aromatics. A classic match with spicier cuisine or enjoyable on its own.

Chardonnay '03 Summit Reserve - very creamy, but not buttery. so nice - mom and Aunt Chris would enjoy this wine. This dry rich wine was partially barrel fermented in premium French oak cooperage and aged 8 months sur lie for added complexity. Aromas of apple, butterscotch & pear are followed by lush flavours. Try with grilled poultry, seafoods and creamy pasta.

Gamay Noir '03 Estate Collection - light & lovely. complex nose, mild flavor. Dinner table red. This medium bodied wine has aromas & flavours of candied cherries and plum, with a hint of toasted oak. Pairs with pork tenderloin & plum sauce, pastas, pizza, barbecued salmon or assorted appetizers.

Pinot Noir '02 Summit Reserve - Vanilla. Mild tannic finish. Rich aromas of cherries, raspberries and spice. 16 months of barrel aging has softened the finish and integrated fruit flavours. Cellaring potential estimated 4-6 years. Excellent with lamb entrees, grilled salmon & vegetarian dishes.

Syrah '02 Summit Reserve - robust flavor. very mild finish. This dry, barrel aged Rhone - style Syrah has aromas & flavours of berry fruit, black pepper & cedar. The palate is complex with a velvet lingering finish. Try with ratatouille, lamb & cassoulet.

Summit '02 Summit Reserve - Mild nose; strong wine with mild tannins. Produced from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, this barrel aged red is highlighted by fresh berry aromas, soft silky tannins & an extended finish. Pair with heartier foods such as roasts, tomato-based pastas and stews.

Quail's Gate - The Good
Housed in a lovely wood house, the Quail's Gate tasting room is dark and inviting. The incredibly knowledgable woman behind the counter led us on quite a tasting tour.

At Quails gate, they've had the vineyard in production since 1961. They grow 70% of their grapes, the other 30% is by growers who grow only for QG and they have growing practice "control." The pinots are grown on-site in 15-18% acid soil. On the north side of their vineyard is volcanic soil and they grown their bordeaux reds. On the south side they have a silt and clay loam from the lake. The grow the white grapes here as the land is the closest to the lake and therefore the coolest.

Reisling '04 - Bright citrus, very acidic, but not bad.

Gewürztaminer '04 - Sweet at front; acid at back.

Pinot Noir '02 - Oaky nose, cherry, hint of vanilla. Quite complex on the tongue.

Merlot '02 - Almost pine nose. Quite mild with a strong finish.

Old Vine Foch '01 - 29 year old vines (their oldest are 40 years old). Tobacco nose. Quite different, complex flavor. Short finish.

Late Harvest Rieslling '02 - Honey, pear nose. Light honey flavor.

Port Style Foch - 20% alcohol. Keeps about a month once open.

Mission Hill - The Bad

Walking up to the multi-million (20-40, we can't remember) dollar, fortress that is the Mission Hill all I could think was "money, money, money." Everything screams fancy schmancy. Then we discover that they charge for tastings even in the off season. $4 for a meager 3 wines, extra for ice wines. Bastards. Everything feels corporate. The woman behind the sales counter was friendly, but the man behind the tasting counter seemed reluctant to spend any time with us.

Pinot Blanc '03 - Light. Nice fruit finish.

Cabernet-Merlot '02 - 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 20% Pinot . Very mild, rich strong finish.

I'm sure the third wine I tried was their Shiraz, but it must not have induced me writing any tasting notes about it.

Friday, March 18

Pyramid, Huburtus, Cedar Creek Tasting

Summerhill Pyramid:

Let the wining begin. Our first stop was down Lakeshore Rd at Summerhill Pyramid Wineries. The new age hippy owner (my own words) believes in the power of "sacred geometry" and has thus built a 8% replica of the largest Egyptian pyramid where he stores the bottles of wine (on your typical flat pallets, bottled and boxed in their cases) for a minimum of two months. Blind taste tests over pyramid aged versus warehouse aged wines "proved" that the pyramid aged wines were better. I'm still skeptical as none of the wines we tasted were particularly outstanding, especially for their price tags. However, the pyramid made for a great photograph back drop.

Kissed Gewürztraminer (1) - dry, but not much flavor. Apparently 1 USD from the sale of every bottle goes towards the World Peace Vision foundation continuing the work of Princess Diana.

Platinum Pinot Gris (0) - quite light.

Ehrenfelser (2) - perfect for a hot day, a bit sweet, nice light flavor.

Cipes Brut (0) - this is their flagship sparkling wine. One word - blech!

'02 Pinot Meunier - this is a red, that is usually used as a blend for making sparkling wines. This particular one is made from vines that had been growing since 1934. This had a distinct smokey flavor and is very light in body, similar to a pinot noir. Lacking complexity.

Just a bit further down Lakeshore Rd. is St. Hubertus Winery. I should have thought to ask about the name.

I really enjoyed their tasting room. Off white walls with a black ceiling and Ikea-esque spot lights. In the fires of 2003 they lost one of the winery buildings, a personal residents and quite a few of their grapes. They have pictures, post cards and t-shirts with an image of their winery's sign with the fires blazing in the background that read "And you think you're having a bad day?" Thankfully, their wines are survivors.

Chasselas - pair with a fruit and cheese plate in the summer or cheese fondue in the winter. Acid, lemon zest finish. Very light. Quite enjoyable for a white.

Gewürztraminer - (1) but sweeter than a 1 to me. Nice.

Pinot Meunier '03 - Vanilla nose. Quite light. Smokey finish. Duck, salmon, possibly lamb. I bought a bottle of this one.

Northern Summer '03 - mild, good house red. not much body.

Pinot Blanc Ice '02 - WOW. Honey nectar. Liquid gold. Why, oh, why didn't I buy a bottle of this?

Cedar Creek

This is a fancy schmany winery. Beautiful white stucco with dark wood. During the off season the tasting room closes at 5 and we arrived at 10 of, but the lovely woman behind the counter greeted us warmly telling us that it was never too late for wine. How true.

Chardonnay '02 - Not the worst. Not incredibly butter, good fruit.

Ehrenfelser '04 (1) - a bit sweet. Easy drinking for spicy food.

Platinum Pinot Noir '02 - dark cherry. just a bit tannic on the end.

Platinum Cabernet Sauvignon '02 - Cellar for a year. Light start, strong finish. Hard alcohol nose.

Platinum Merlot '02 - only a bit tannic. Not oaky. Quite mild, almost like a pinot.

Platinum Meritage '02 - wonderful, light.

Will travel for food (and wine)

Days 1 and 2 of a 7 day tour from Vancouver through one of British Columbia's wine region, the Okanagan Valley

Two friends reunite for a journey through British Columbia's farming, winery valley of the Oakanogen. The purpose of our journey is three fold. Martin is expanding his skill set and turning towards documentaries. One of his many ideas is to create a film focused on his favorite farmers' market. To follow the journey our fresh organic foods must make before they appear on our plates. To show the general public what a small farmer goes through. I have an interest in organic farming, sustainable living and an insatiable desire to travel, so here I am to assist Martin as I can. Then there is the wine and the food. Martin and I are partners in crime in loving well done food, be it high brow or hole in the wall and the perfect bottle, or two, of wine to accompany the meal.

The adventure begins immediately from Vancouver's airport. Martino picks me up around 11:30 am and of course we're both ready to eat. Vancouver's airport is in Richmond, which has the highest concnetration of Chinese immigrants the city. We head to a new shopping mall, yes, we both hate malls, but the architecture at Aberdeen Mall is spectacular. Curved walls that at some places come to points that are made up of mostly light blue glass panels, though some of them are orange and green. Inside, due to all the glass and huge circular sky lights, the space is full of bright, natural light. On the third floor one finds the food court. Yes, we ate in the food court. Yes, I actually enjoyed it. One can choose from Cantonese, Sezschuan, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, fresh fruit juices and smoothies. We had green onion pancakes, that were actually the worst I've had, some pork dumplings that were full of water, again, not the best I've had and then takoyaki from the Japanese places. These were balls filled with a soft, gooey shrimp, octopus and scallop filling. Sounds awful I know, but they were heavenly. Made the whole experience worthwhile.

After a day of errands, we pause to have salads and fresh juice at The Naam. The Naam is one of Vancouver's only vegetarian restaurants; it gets tons of hype, is open 24 hours and the majority of evenings has lines out the door. After having dined here 3 times, I feel secure in saying, in no way is it worth the hype. The food, while good, is neither interesting nor spectacular. More along the lines of your mainstream 70s vegetarian craze, the menu includes several rice bowls, a few veggie burgers, some salads and a handful of juices. The service is known for being slow and negligent; in fact, it's something that they're almost proud of trying to play it off as they won't disturb you. However, our salad was light and tasty, the juice while not cold, did appear to be freshly squeezed.

Martin drops me off at the Granville Island Public Market, clearly this is a market, it's full of vegetable vendors, meat shops and then another food court. But two places that are worth mentioning and are right next to each other are the Grandville Island Tea Company and the Stock Market. At the former, you can have a cup of tea made fresh for you - their chai is the citiy's best, freshly made, very spicy, and creamy - and you can buy your tea in bulk and choose from over 200 varieties. They'll ship anywhere in the world for 5 Canadian dollars regardless of the size of your order. Then next door is the Stock Market where you can purchase freshly made stocks - chicken, beef, veal - or sauces as well as have a tasty lunch of one of their three daily soups, always a seafood option, meat option or veggie. Your bowl of soup is served with either foccacia, or if they run out, garlic bread, and is guaranteed to warm you up on a crisp Vancouver afternoon.

I return to another friends' house for dinner with some spicy buffalo and beef sausages (purchased at the market) to be made into a sauce with some marinara that I'd canned this summer. We eat this with a 2003 Gehringer Pinot Noir that I was not very impressed with. The wine was lacking in flavor and body. I know pinots are light, but this was akin to drinking red water.

Late afternoon the following day finds me back with Martin and in the car heading northeast towards the Okanagan. While I spent six months living in Vancouver, this is my first trip east into British Columbia. The Okanagan has been shaped in recent years by a large fire in August 2003 which destroyed much of the forests and vineyards. Looking up into the mountains you are startled by the number of bare patches, some of which fell during the fire and a number of which have been logged out since then as they have been easier prey to disease and bug infestation. A majority of the trees still standing are charred black.

We stop for coffee (tea for me, please) and a snack and end up with fries from White Spot. White Spot is a Vancouver based fast food place, burgers, fries, some locations have pasta dinners. We just got some fries which to my delight were thick squares with the skin on some. Salty, crispy on the outside and firm on the inside, just the way I like my fries. I'm glad I didn't discover this while I actually lived in this town.

It's a rough drive north east into the Okanagan and it's biggest city, Kelowna (pronounced ca' loh na). The rain in Vancouver means snow in the mountains. While beautiful it makes for rougher driving conditions. We drive through some beautiful blowing snow, to me, it's reminicent of ghosts or fairies waltzing and spinning in big billowing white dresses. The dark black shadows are eery as they dance across our lanes.

We finally hit Kelowna around 10 p.m. and drive around for 30 minutes before we find a restaurant that's not a chain and is open at this hour on a Wednesday night. We settle into a booth at Kelly O'Bryans where they have 2 for 1 appetizers. Never ones to miss out on trying as many things as we can, we order two appetizers and a salad to share. I wish I could say they were good. Even for as hungry as I was, the cream cheese and crab stuffed mushroom caps were white trash fancy as it gets. Bland, mushy and boring. Our order of chicken wings, half with honey garlic sauce, half with Thai, were insipid. The sauces actually had places where they were cold. The "Thai" was a mildly spicy terriaki. Like nothing I had in Thailand, but yes, we were in an Irish bar. The Caesar salad with whiskey butter shrimp was thick with dressing topped with a handful of small shrimp, which were fine, but I don't need to return to this bar, even if today is St. Patrick's Day.

Anticipation for the next day of wine tasting and better fooding was high and we have yet to be disappointed. After a morning swim in our "resorts" heated pool, we were off in search of lunch. We ended up at The Marmalade Cat Café, a delightful spot off Pandosy heading towards Lakeshore Rd. Free-trade coffees, a large loose leaf tea selection and a limited, but tasty, lunch menu which includes mostly vegetarian sandwhiches and soups along with a chicken salad option. In the display case was a large assortment of desserts and on top freshly baked scones and muffins. I'm hoping to return for breakfast. This place was too lovely to only go to once.

We started with the best, dinner at Rod Butter's Fresco. Probably the one restaurant in the Okanagan that gets talked about the most. Seasonal changing menu, inventive flavors, strong BC heavy wine list. From the amuse bouche, this is a restaurant not to be reccond with. The amuse bouche, the first taste to get the appetite flowing, a lemon smoked salmon with a lotus chip, tomato essence painted on the plate, a beet powder and some pea shoots. Yep, my appetit was flowing. We chose two of the seafood appetizers next. The stuffed calamari and the scallop carpacchio. The first a contrast of hot and cold, grilled calamari tubes stuffed with a tapanade, served on a chilled tentical, pea and cauliflower salad. I loved every bite. Then the scallop carpacchio - the slices of scallop weren't as thin as I'd expected, but that just meant there was more to savor. There were many different flavors going on with a shitake salad and more pea shoots. Too many flavors in my opinion, but it was Martin's favorite. Entrées - perfect pan seared snapper with housemade lobster ravioli that were full of lobster meat, all plated on a tomato lobster sauce. Dear lord. Martin had the cinnamon rubbed duck breast which was a perfect accompniament to our Quail's Gate Pinot Noir. The apple tart dessert was the most dissapointing part of the meal to the critic in me. The crust was far too thick and uneven. I'd be embarassed to serve it. However, the sauces were delightful.

Thursday, March 17

The Great White North

Oh, Canada! After 10 hours at home, I'm back in Vancouver; I have such a love for this city. It's like San Francisco light. Yesterday the sun was shining on all the blooming (ornamental) cherry trees, daffodils are popping up. I went to my favorite tea shop and stocked up on teas to bring home. At some point today Martino and I will leave for the Oakanogen a valley full of lakes, wineries, and farmers. Martino is a photographer turning towards documentary making. One of his many ideas is to interview the farmers of his favorite farmers' market here, Trout Lake. Since I know more about farming than he does (which granted isn't as much as I would like to) and a clear passion for food, sustainability and organic sources, well, here I am to go on this road trip with him and be his assistant.

Monday, March 14

Vegas, baby, Vegas

I hate this city. It's a city that has no right to exist, given that they have no water source of their own. They certainly should not have golf courses that require being watered daily. Then you have all the people dressed up, lots of makeup (am I in Dallas?) and everything is so bloody expensive. Clearly, I'm on the strip. I'm in Vegas to spend time with my parents and sister, 5 nights is far too many to be in Vegas, but the company and time spent together was great.

However, the whole trip was a constant reminder of how different I am from my family. The first night ate in Caeser's Palace at a restaurant called Nero's. It was alright, though I never need to return there. They have Chilean Sea Bass on the menu. When I asked, with an edge of horror in my voice, if it was really Chilaen Sea Bass (which is excedeingly endangered) the waiter assured me that yes it was and their restaurant was one of the few lucky enough to be still serving it. My sister, I think just to irritate me even more, ordered it not caring the least bit about her effect on the world around her. She doesn't even turn off the water when she brushes her teeth. All my comments are met with scorn towards my "hippy" life style. I just don't understand. Sigh. I'm really so different from my family. However, my parents saw my latest full back tattoo and they didn't completely freak out, so maybe they're slowly mellowing.

Sarita and I both got massages today which are being payed for by either her or my dad's comp points. That's right, my dad and my sister gamble enough that our hotel rooms, massages and meals are all free. Scary. I have no desire to gamble, ever. If I'm going to lay down $50 or $100 on a table, you can better believe there will be dirty plates sitting there as well. How did I become so completely different? you may ask. Yes, I ask that as well.

At Caesar's, with any spa treatment over $95 one is also allowed free use of the fitness center that day as well. Funny, I thought staying at the hotel would be enough to get you into the gym. But, nothing is free in Vegas, in fact everything is incredibly expensive. Even in our fancy pants room, with down comforters and feather pillows, one had to pay for internet access.

Vegas Tips
(If you can afford it) Stay in a suite at the Venetian
(Tip - look for midweek deals, when you can find rooms at "reasonable" prices)

Floors 18 and higher in the Palace Tower at Caesar's also offers a wonderful oasis from the loud, smokiness of the rest of the city. Beds have down comforters and feather pillows. The bathroom has Aveda products and a jacuzzi tub big enough for two.

For great eats Cafe Chloe on Buffalo near Flamingo - yes it's off the strip, yes, it's worth it. Incredible Italian - ask for a side of sauteed artichoke hearts in garlic. It's not on the menu, but they'll usually do it. My only disappointment is that they don't have any dessert wines. But they do have reasonably priced bottled of the Neibaum-Coppala Diamond Label Zin, one of my favorite reds.

The breakfast buffet at the Mirage is only $12 and the food is fabulous, espeically their lox.

Bradley Ogden is a new place in Caesar's. A Bay Area chef. I only had appetizers, but the flavors were creative and presentation was innovative. Go with a full wallet.

There's a Bouchon in the Venetian. One of Thomas Keller's (French Laundry) places, this one nearly identical to the Bouchon in Napa. The food at both places is heavenly. Each bite makes one moan. Great wine by the glass selection and they also have Belgian lambics (a fruity beer). Our meal was a continual misfire from the kitchen with appetizers taking far longer than they should have and arriving seperately, 3 first then mine after the others were 3/4 done. Dinner was the same with my sister waiting. And astoundingly, my mother's pork was awful. A little hockey puck. They took it away and gave us free dessert. The special banana financier that my father choose was shocking in it's strong banana flavor. I went with the cheese plate, taking a cow, sheep and goat. The cow was a very creamy mild blue, the goat a creamy, sharp delight and the sheep was firmer, very mild cheese. The cow and sheep were a tad boring, I thought, but then again, I'm a stinkier the better girl when it comes to cheese.

Sunday, March 13

Valley of the Death

Driving through the desert rarely provides visual stimulation. It's interesting at first because it is very different from what most people (definitely me) are used to. Tumble weeds, cacti, rocks, barren ground. When you drive through the desert after an unseasonably wet winter, the desert is green! The Joshua trees have bright leaves. The ground is covered in green growth. And then there are the flowers. Yellow, purple, white, red, orange. You have to look closely, they are still sitting close to the ground - except for the white which grow tall and proud, there flowers hovering over the ground like butterflies. Fields of yellow, similar to the poppy scene in the Wizard of Oz, except that these flowers don't cause one to pass out. Instead, you are invigorated with the possibility of hope and life and growth. "They" are saying this is the bloom of a century. If you can get there, do it now. Go. Don't hesitate.

Wednesday, March 9

Time keeps on Slipping

Hrm, seems like even when it's easy for me to blog I'm still slack about it. I think it's because I know I have so much to put up from my time in Thailand. When will it ever happen you ask? I say, patience, grasshopper. I'm actually heading to Las Vegas, baby, Vegas, tomorrow will be spending my time updating this thing while enjoying the company of my family (mom, dad, sister, aunt, cousins) and hopefully good food which I know I'll get at Cafe Chloe and is questionable at Bobby Flay's restaurant. I've been to Chloe once before and it's one of the only restaurants I have active fantasies about - their sauteed artichoke hearts, dear lord.

Friday, February 25


It has come time for me to begin to describe a bit of the wonderful foods I've been enjoying here. I'll start with the most misunderstood fruit of all, durian. For those of you who have had any encounters with durian, you're probably shaking in your boots, terrified about what you'll read next. Have no fear! The king of fruits rules with a spiny, stinky skin but is sweet and soft on the inside. Perhaps I'm waxing a bit too much. For those who don't know of it, durian is a tropical fruit, that is quite large, roughly the size of a soccer ball, but the shape of a football. It has a very hard skin that is covered with thick, sharp thorns. This fruit is serious about not letting predators in. When ripe it has quite a pungent aroma often described as "rubbish", "raw sewage", "vomit". Appetizing, eh? My first encounter with durian was in the Asian markets in Vancouver. I had to hold my nose when walking by. But never one to stand down a food challenge, I sampled some durian gelato at La Casa Gelato in Vancouver (this by the way is my most favorite ice cream (ok, gelato) shop in the world thus far, almost 500 flavors, over 200 avaiable at any one time). Ok, back to the durian gelato, it had hardly any flavor and still the nasty smell. Not worth it to me, but the most popular item at La Casa Gelato, it's the only one they keep prepackaged in pint containers (and also the only one they keep covered in the case).

Fast forward almost two years. Here I am in Thailand and on the night my food fantasies were fulfilled (see the Jan 20th post) I tried some durian again. It wasn't worth writing about as it was not good, again. It was hard and flavorless. Another month goes by, the permaculture course has just ended and the members are having dinner in Kanchanaburi. Matthew shows up with a durian. He explains that this one is very ripe - you can see that, it's practically bursting at its seams. He cracks it open and the inside looks like custard, not the hard lumps I'd experienced before. And the taste, sweet and luscious it practically melts in your mouth. AAAAAHHHH, this is what it's all about. I've now learned enough Thai food vocabulary to buy myself one and that I did. Magnus and I feasted on one sitting along side a canal in Chaing Mai last night. I can't wait to share this culinary adventure with folks back home!

Thursday, February 24

Up North

I left Bangkok for Chaing Mai, did I say that already? It's up north, not Khoa Yai National Park, though I may still get there. I've spent the last two nights with Jo and his community up at Pun Pun. So many beautifully built mud houses. So inspiring. They have gardens and hope to be growing all their own food by next year. Right now their biggest expense is having to buy food. The land is beautiful, rolling hills, brisk nights (though maybe that changes in the summer). Apparently in the rainy season, they get daily rains, but they seldom last for more than a few hours at a time. I'd like to come back and spend more time doing Tai Chi and gardening, but at the moment I've returned to Chaing Mai to meet up with Magnus, who is probably heading back now from Mae Taeng as he was on his way to Pun Pun to meet me. Life is funny.

Monday, February 21

next stop, chaing mai

i'm leaving around 7:30 this evening heading to Chaing Mai, directly north of Bangkok, but quite a ways north, to visit Jo, the earthen building instructor from my course to see the kinds of earth ovens he's built. The plan to go hiking in Khoa Yai has been moved to Saturday so I can connect with a friend of a friend. In the meantime, I thought I'd go back and add an entry or two from the past month. Please scroll down...

Sunday, February 20

a month gone

well, i'm now on the flip side of the course. and have so many thoughts and experiences to share, which have actually been fairly well documented by hand. i'm going to save the time and money to type them up for when i've returned though, so you'll have to wait a few days more. in the meantime, i'm back in bangkok for a night of feasting and dancing before heading to khoa yai national park tomorrow to maybe see some elephants and visit with some appropriate technology folks to learn more about energy and living alternatives. from there, it'll be north to chaing mai to visit with the earth building teacher i had and to see his community and earth ovens he's created. prehaps i might get a night or two with a swedish friend as well! details to follow :-)

Tuesday, February 1

Climbing a Waterfall

Writing the date, it's so funny to think that it's February. Joy and I took a walk a few weeks ago where we discussed winter and how for most of the nation, February sucks as that's when you are ready for winter to end and it continues for another month still. SF's is mild comparatively, we were walking in long sleeved t's and light pants. Here, in Thailand, I was sweating all day. We spent the day in Khao Laem National Park at the Rainbow Camp gathering, with children from Thailand and Japan. There was jump rope and karate this morning. Meals with meat! A long walk to some water falls.

I've discovered that my definition of waterfall is quite different than the Thai version. Here, we walked about 2 k following a mostly gentle slope, with a few steep climbs, where water was flowing and in a few cases falling, but never grand drops that I associate with the word waterfall. Kra Teng Peng falls seem to be a series of about 16 "falls". We bathed in on where the water was up to my chest and perfectly cold for the hot day. We reached a point where continuing further would be too difficult for the smaller children, so I took responsibility for the 2 eldest and continued up. Although, shortly into our continued climb, they bounded ahead while I battled with some thorny vines. Unfortunately for my arms and legs, the vines won. I was stuck for a good 2 minutes, wishing for a leatherman, thinking that I wouldn't be able to keep track of the kids, much less make my way back. Luckily, a Thai man came along and helped me escape. By the time I made it to the kids, they were jumping off boulders into what I'm guessing were shallow ponds.

The most surprising thing was that the "trail" led through the stream at many points. So we were walking up many waterfalls to get to the waterfall. Something like this would never happen in the US. One would see signs every where to "stay on the trail" and out of the water. Here, it was slippery, several people fell or got trapped in vines (ok, maybe that one was only me). The Thai folks were hiking in flip flops, some of the kids bare foot. Besides my scrapes, I don't think anyone got hurt. Such a different living and child raising philosophy.