Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It takes a village

I should start here: I had a barbecue, I invited my family as well as my friends, and my dad took tequila shots with my friends and me. There. I'm not even sure there's any more to write. But of course I'm gonna.

It takes a village to have a barbecue, to celebrate a birthday, to close out the Best Summer Ever, to reluctantly ring in the beginning of fall. I love having friends and family over at my home, but sometimes I fear I've bitten off more than I can chew. I could go two ways at this point: stress out and plan every detail down to the second, or shrug my shoulders and assume it'll work out fine.

I always opt for the latter, and it always works out fine. I know I'm not the most organized party planner, and the fact is I can only do so much: I have high hopes, but don't always think about implementation. Besides, there's only one of me. But the places where I let things slide, friends manage to catch the slack. In the end, everything runs smoothly enough, and everyone has a really great time. It really shouldn't worry me: it's a party, right? It's about getting good people together, and having fun. The rest, we can figure out.

Last Friday was my birthday, and I chose to celebrate with a barbecue. At some point in the planning, I completely lost my mind and decided it would be a good idea to invite my mom and dad, my sister (who has her own account of the event), my brother-in-law, and their three kids to hang out with twenty or so of my closest friends. I figured, this isn't a wild kegger, we're all grown-ups now, my friends and family are all good people, how can this be bad? (Of course, there are tons of potential answers to that question.) I was kind of amazed at myself -- this kind of circle-merging is unprecedented -- but in the back of my head I was confident it would be a fun, albeit a little insanity-inducing, experiment. The very idea made me smile.

So for days, my sister, mother, and father had been asking me questions:

"What should we wear?"

"Is it okay if I wear shorts?"

"What should we bring?"

"No really, tell us, exactly, what should we bring?"

"Well, what do your friends eat?"

As if my friends are a different breed of human than the garden variety (well, actually they are, but not in that way). Turns out, they eat food. This went on and on. After much deliberation, the day arrived. I woke up early, ran around to do much shopping and preparation, and then guests started trickling in.

I feel like I was rescued over and over. In the early hours, how could I have moved tables and barbecues across the backyard without Julie? More importantly, how could I have taken out the potentially cockroachy trash that had been staring me down intimidatingly all day, without her moral support?

Then came the parents. Saeed was happy to help. New social situations take a little effort from him, so I had a perfect task waiting for him the minute he walked in the door: string extension cords downstairs through the living room window, so we can have music outside. He was all over that.

Meanwhile, things got interesting in the kitchen. A couple early arrivers were asking my mom all sorts of questions, but I needed her help. You see, I love the idea of a whole fish, stuffed with fresh herbs and lemon slices, and grilled. We had done this once before at my parent's house, and it was a delicious preparation. So, on Sunday morning, I went to the market and got a whole striped bass. The fishmonger scaled it, wrapped it in paper, and handed it to me. When I unwrapped it in the afternoon, I noticed that it was different than the fish we had grilled that long-ago day at Violet's: it was still intact. Not only was the head still attached, which I expected, but also it had things like guts inside. Yucky!

mom is rad

This was the first occasion of the day where I realized my mother was a genius, and also a badass. She calmly put on her gloves (she had brought her own), and proceeded to behead, disembowel, and phlebotomize this poor fish. It was incredible. Who knew that my mother knew the details of fish anatomy? Wow. I was deeply humbled.

It was funny having my parents take such an active role. Our approaches are very different: they were constantly asking me for detailed tasks, wanting to know what time things would occur. I guess I hadn't really thought of these things. They were kind of harried, but while I was running around, up and down the stairs at least 500 times over the course of the day, I was never really stressed. It was a party, everyone was here to have a good time, and they did. Dad was worried about running out of food and drink, but everyone contributed generously, we had food leftover, and right now, I have about 15 bottles of wine, hefty amounts of margarita fixings, and a cooler full of beer that I don't know where in my apartment to fit. No one went hungry or thirsty.

Julia hanging with the big kids

Some amazing things happened. 6-year-old Julia, who has been branded as a bona fide introvert, was socializing with the grownups! Initiating conversations with the ones she knew, getting friendly with ones she had never met before. At first she wanted to cling to me, and admittedly, it was kind of hard: I simply couldn't make refrigerator magnet sentences with her at that moment. But eventually she was working the crowd, spelling words with my coworker Reid, talking to another friend about the boy she had a crush on in kindergarten (!!). Such the little charmer.
taking the kumquat challenge

Saeed also shone bright in the charm department. Who knew our sweet little grump had it in him to be so fun and friendly! It started out with a challenge for a couple kids to eat super-sour kumquats straight from our tree. This was fun to watch, and I was amazed at my dad, but it was just the beginning. Brad had spearheaded the margarita making process. Saeed, who can smell tequila from miles away, approached young Brad and began tutoring him on how real men drink tequila. Soon, shot glasses came out, Reid joined the fold, and the real manly drinking began. I joined them for the first one, but this continued through the course of the night. I overheard him teaching them how to toast in Persian, and later on, he greeted them with a nonchalant "Hello, ladies..." Turns out, Saeed is a master trash talker.

Tons of food were consumed: just on the grill, we had Korean barbecue chicken skewers, grilled corn with lime and cotija, smokey grilled portobellos, asparagus, and red onions, carne asada. Torreh made a delicious blue cheese dip, and Violet brought a huge refreshing Shirazi salad -- diced tomatoes and cucumbers with generous lime juice and fresh parsley. Tons of drink was drunk: all sorts of beer, the rehashed vodka spa tonic recipe, wine in red, white, and rose, and more. And when it came time to clean it up, everyone helped out, making light work of getting the building back to normal.

The night ended with me and 3 old friends lazing on the couch. We were all at least half asleep, very cozy, and able to engage in conversation at the lowest level. Such a great highlight though, after all the people, the mess, the cleanup, the running around, to just share a simple moment with dear old friends like I haven't had in years.

There were a few friends unfortunately and conspicuously absent, but it still was a great night. I knew it would work out, but I couldn't have done it without my people.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Two Kinds of Italy on the Lower East Side

In a single day in Manhattan, I managed to get two very different tastes of the city's imported Italian culture. I spent the last few days of my trip to New York with the Millers: Annie, my dear friend from college, and her husband Eric, a New York native and consummate culinary enthusiast. Obviously a stellar combination. They are truly great hosts: it seems they are tourists in their own city. They are on top of all the goings on across the five bourroughs, and as summer sends everyone outdoors with festivals, concerts, and other excuses to frolic in the sun, Annie and Eric are there, camera and flip-flops in tow.

Sometimes it's a protest, sometimes it's a pickle festival. On Saturday, it was the Feast of San Gennaro. This was the kitschy, deep-fried, yelling-at-you side of Italy. Blocks and blocks of Little Italy's Mulberry Street were lined with food stands, rickety carnival games, and shops selling T-shirts (and underpants) with snide phrases. To the soundtrack of pounding reggae and Italian-American classics, we tracked past grill after grill with winding spirals of sausages, greasy piles of peppers and onions, and broccoli rabe (who knew sausage and broccoli rabe sandwiches were a thing?), alternated with deep-fat-fryers sizzling over with fried Oreos (a little-known Italian delicacy?), zeppele (balls of fried dough generously caked with powdered sugar -- a messy, unrefined ball of joy that should only exist at street fairs), and giant blocks of nougat waiting to be hacked into chunks small enough to carry around this carless town all day.

Sizzling sausages and dancing regular people

Slightly encrusted in powdered sugar ourselves, we made a stop at Mulberry's sacred foothold: the Most Precious Blood Church. It wasn't a solemn godliness that ran through this place, though. Next to the Virgin Mary statue in front of the church, an oom-pah band in silly red, white, and green hats blasted out "Zooma Zooma" as a woman 'of a certain age', just a visitor herself, boldly danced around the courtyard. And inside, the decor of the place was more than a little bit Atlantic City, and the saints were festooned in ribbons of dollar bills. Joyful noise indeed.

So, not the most refined face of Italian culture. But this was all about to change. Once we had had our fill of the deliciously tacky merrymaking of the feast we headed east just a few blocks to Soho. By the time we approached 'inoteca, the vibe on the streets had changed considerably. Overweight tourists in shorts and BluBlockers gave way to immaculately appointed fashionistas in skinny pants and tony haircuts. The peoplewatching was divine. We watched as our sidewalk table (one of only two! what luck!) cleared of its occupants: finished with their understatedly urbane dinner at the dark wood table, the parents put a tiny white helmet on their young daughter's head before helping her board the family Vespa.

Truffled Egg Toast: Behold the Glory

And then there was our waitress: flanked by a ridiculously handsome waiter-in-training, Susan was a force to be reckoned with. I feel like waitress is too slight a word to describe her; this woman was our table's master of ceremonies. A petite fifty-something with magenta hair and designer reading glasses, this saucy character won us over when she announced the night's lone special. She announced it as if she was announcing the arrival of the Queen of England: the last of the heirloom tomatoes. Of course we ordered that, along with a sloppy slew of salads and panini, which she gracefully organized into courses for us. We learned as we went: the bresaola in our arugula salad is thinly sliced salt-cured beef; the bottarga atop the rich, heady truffled egg toast is the dried roe of mullet. When we asked her to recommend a full-bodied red for around thirty-five dollars, she looked at us incredulously over the rim of her glasses and said, "Where do you live?" Ah, vintage NYC snark. Nonetheless she found us a great contender (within budget), and we enjoyed glass after oversized glass with our selections. She didn't let us down: the heirlooms were sweet and juicy, and the mozzarella served alongside was the best I've ever tasted: creamy and soft, remarkably fresh. While she wasn't one to hover, she did mention that she'd be spending the next 2 months in Greece. She'd be island-hopping with her brother who teaches ballet there. Who are these fantastic people!

After all this, she led us through a cheese course and a bottle of prosecco. To the last bite, everything continued to be delicious, though at this point, my tipsy tastebuds grew a bit duller as my sentiment grew more and more jovial. We contentedly toasted our good times, swooned over a glut of amazing flavors, and watched trendy Soho pass us by as city lights took over for the waning sunlight. Summer in the city, refined Italian style. Hot damn.

'inoteca is at 98 Rivington St. (at Ludlow).

Friday, September 22, 2006

shana tova!

This morning as I was driving down Pico, 2 bakeries had lines out the door of people waiting to get their round raisin challah for the Rosh Hashana table tonight. Of the three 'New Years' I celebrate (Persian, Jewish, and the familiar Gregorian), I've always been biased towards the Persian one: the first day of spring seems like the perfect time to take stock and start anew, with everything green and blooming around us. But this year, my own birthday falls on Rosh Hashana. And I feel a little more introspective than usual. The past few months I've begun questioning the direction my life has taken so far. I don't know what's coming up for me, but I am sure there will be a lot of decisions to be made, and major changes, probably including some I haven't foreseen and will totally throw me for a loop. Something new is definitely brewing, so for me, starting a new year today makes perfect sense.

So, as I sit with my family tonight and eat from the circular challah, designed to remind us of the cycle of time, year to year, I'll be asking myself some questions. Am I just going to let the cycle repeat itself this year? Or am I going to take an active role in determining where I'll be a year from now, making changes to pull myself higher and higher?

I hope this year is one of peace, discovery, and fun for myself and for our world. Shana tova!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Westville Couple

Last Friday, I was on vacation in New York. A good premise, but if you look a little closer, the day's beginning was not so auspicious. My Brooklyn hosts had to work all day. We would reunite for a big birthday dinner for one of them that evening, but for the day, I was on my own. Which of itself is not a horrible place to be: I love walking in cities, and while I'm happy to have a companion, walking solo is fine with me. I like the chance to explore on my own and go exactly where I want to go, lingering here, passing quickly through there. However, it was raining. I am like the Wicked Witch of the West: rain melts me. Probably due to my sunny California upbringing, me and rain don't get along too well: even with an umbrella, I bumble through reluctantly. It affects my mood and my mobility -- both negatively, of course. And on a day devoted to walking, rain is just a kick in the pants. So it was a dreary start.

But there were some glimmers. After a stop in midtown to check out the MOMA gift store and make the requisite pilgrimage to beloved Central Park (which of course, was wet and empty and depressing), I headed into the West Village to chase a suggestion my friend Jodi had made on this very blog. In spite of my growing sogginess, I was loving walking through the West Village. Especially through the grey semi-darkness, every adorable storefront seemed like a bright warm hideaway I had discovered for the first time. Bookstores, boutiques, wine bars, all posh and well-appointed, made this stretch very inviting indeed. Two shops stuck out as places I had to visit after lunch: Jack's Stir-brewed Coffee, and Bonnie Slotnick's Cookbooks, a cozy shop packed with vintage cookbooks (what a find!). Eyes on the prize though -- keep on trudging Tannaz.

I was finally standing in front of Westville: a tiny bright white storefront with a big friendly awning and country accents. A peek inside showed me diners packed into the wood tables, bumping elbows with the people next to them. In a word, cozy. After a mostly dry wait under said awning, I finally got a table. I forewent a glass of wine, which always seems typical to me of the solo diner treating herself, in favor of hot tea, and started checking out the menu. It was interesting: hamburgers and hot dogs, but also whole trout, grilled chicken, and a veal special. But I was here for the vegetables.

Ah, the vegetables. The vegetables! A chalkboard on the wall listed today's twenty or so choices, and it was difficult to choose: beets with walnuts, sauteed cherry tomatoes, 2 kinds of mashed potatoes (pesto and roasted garlic!), braised artichoke hearts, steamed green beans, grilled corn on the cob with cotija and lime, and on and on. This chalkboard was great vegetable PR: my mouth was watering over every listing. I could order 1 a la carte, or 4 for twelve dollars. Of course I went for the four; this was vegetables as entree, and there were at least ten I was eager to try. With the help of the friendly waitress, I narrowed down my selections: grilled asparagus with lemon and parmesan, Asian-style bok choy, sauteed kale with shallots (and, I suspect, a splash of white wine), and the grand winner, roasted fennel with parmesan. It was softly browned, slightly sweet, rich and buttery, with the nutty bite of anise. Wow. I'm so glad I took Jodi's recommendation -- this meal was healthful, delicious, and right up my alley.

As I was eating, a very interesting couple entered the room. Westville is so small that every new body makes an impact, but these two would have stood out in a huge cafeteria. The wife: stick-straight black Cher-hair, false eyelashes, perfect tan. On each finger of each hand, she wore a silver ring with a stone larger than a quarter. About 8 inches of each arm, from wrist going toward elbow, were covered with silver bracelets -- jangling like chainmail with her every move. Huge pink shopping bag. The husband: his hair was a serious oil slick, and he too sported the perfect tan, as well as the perfectly groomed mustache. Black button-down unbuttoned to expose a silver necklace; a silver bracelet on his wrist barely covered a tattoo.

This couple took over the dining room the minute they walked in. Chatting up the waitress (they were serious regulars), swooning at every baby that walked into the place, asking me about my food before they even sat down. I managed to learn much of their life story over the course of sitting there. They have 2 college-aged daughters, they told the harried woman whose newborn's stroller he kindly squeezed in next to his seat. One of them drives a Benz, and mom made sure, on her cellphone, that she didn't forget to get the registration taken care of. He never went to college, but they're successful anyway (clearly), and in addition to their home in New York, they have a house in Miami. I didn't learn the nature of his financial success, but in the back of my mind I question whether everything's on the up-and-up. Regardless, these were a couple of the warmest, most good-natured people I've encountered.

I mentioned I was here from Los Angeles and it set him off. "Too many weirdos there!" "Give me a New York crazy over a Los Angeles crazy anyday!" I was totally in accordance with him that he would stick out like a sore thumb in LA. As he put it, "I come to LA, and I'm my cousin Vinnie!" He hit the nail on the head.

I paid my bill and said my goodbyes -- I really would have enjoyed staying and chatting with these characters. I hadn't had high hopes for the day, but it really did end up quite memorable: an inspiring meal, a serendipitous encounter with a truly New York couple, and a 1977 copy of The Anthropologist's Cookbook to take home as a souvenir. And this was just daytime -- I hadn't even gotten to the birthday festivities and the 2 am pommes frites that capped them!

Westville is at 210 W. 10th St., at Bleecker.
Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks is at 163 W. 10th St.
Jack's Stir Brewed Coffee is at 138 W. 10th St.
Pommes Frites is at 123 2nd Ave., between 7th St. and St. Marks Place.

hi honey, i'm home!

so, i went to new york. and i'm back. and there is MUCH to discuss. lots of eating, lots of drinking, lots of outstanding people watching (fashion week lends itself to streets filled with eye candy), lots of walking, which i love. i'll have to go through pictures and round everything up, but for now, let me say i am enamored with the kitschy ethnic community of cozy astoria, queens, and the urbane grounded mini-urb one of park slope, brooklyn. i had very gracious hosts, lots of good times, and a highlight that came straight from a comment on this blog!

for now, i have to catch up on that work thing, but i'm itching to rifle through all the pictures and literature from the action-packed trip, sort and classify, and file it here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

new kids on my block

ok, another quick one, although i have so many yummy things i could talk about here, but things are a bit hectic. anyway, there are three establishments in my extended neighborhood on the verge of opening, and i wanted to share the news. wish i had pictures, but i don't. Exercise some imagination, will you?
  • Little Next Door. Next door to the Little Door (duh), on my West Third Street, they have lifted the wall covering up the construction of this place. It's apparently going to be a gourmet deli and wine shop (because I don't have enough of those in my life) to complement the more formal dining at the dreamy Mediterranean restaurant next door. Not exactly sure when it's opening, but it looks great from the outside -- huge arched windows, those Frenchie woven sidewalk cafe chairs (by the way, do these have a name? I find myself recalling them frequently; I feel I should address them formally). Obviously I am thrilled; it's like opening a cat store around the corner from a spinster librarian.

  • Shabu-shabu Ya. Next door (to the north) of Sake House Miro, on La Brea at 8th, is coming a shabu shabu place. Looks bright and modern. I'm excited that that little stretch of La Brea, which also includes Little Bar, is building up. Appears to be very close to opening, and I look forward to checking it out.

  • Busby's. Not that excited about that one. It appears that the old Conga Room on Wilshire, just west of La Brea, is becoming another outpost of Busby's, that meh high-end sports bar on the west side. I am less than thrilled about this one. I have a love-hate relationship with Busby's. Except replace love with hate. Every time I've gone there, I've had to stand in line, even in the middle of the afternoon. The guys manning the line are insufferably cocky. And once you're in there, the post-frat crowd is no great shakes. No thanks. Hopefully this one, being farther east, will have a better vibe, but I for one will not be pounding on the doors on opening night.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

No Sleep Till...


And Queens. I'm going to New York next week. I'm really really really excited. No event, just to visit friends. Mainly two in Brooklyn, and two in Queens. I love Manhattan -- I'd say it's the best city (or rather, borough, I guess) in the US (although it does get a bit cold for this California girl) -- but I've never been to any of the other boroughs. I don't want to do anything touristy. Mainly I want to spend time with my people, walk everywhere and explore and get a feel for where I am, and do some fun eating and drinking. I'm open to recommendations. Really excited.

Monday, September 04, 2006

What I'm Reading: The Food Revolution

Cover ImageBack in college, a friend once sited The Food Revolution as the book that made her decide to become a vegetarian. She said it changed her life. I like books that change your life. And I like food. So, I filed this one in the back of my head to read one of these days. I finally borrowed from a friend and am currently about two-thirds of the way through. The author, John Robbins, would be the heir to the Baskin-Robbins throne, but instead decided to devote his life to exposing the benefits to our health and our planet of a plant-based diet. The book has had some interesting effects.

The author stands staunchly behind his stance, but he knows he's got some serious convincing to do. The first of the book's 3 sections is about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, the easiest sell. The numbers are staggering. For all of the major diseases we struggle with (heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes, and more), Robbins has collected a battery of statistics that demonstrate undeniably the health advantages of going without meat.

He goes on to talk about the conditions in factory farms, offering some positively abhorrent accounts. Institutionalized torture of animals will definitely make you squeamish, but it's the talk of what they feed the animals, how unsanitarily they are raised and butchered, and how much antibiotics they they pump into them to protect agains those unsanitary conditions, that really make you consider a food revolution of your own. I had no idea the regulations our government lays down are so much more lax than those of European nations -- an unfortunate by-product of capitalism. For all the food labeling we do see, it's amazing how much we don't know about what we're eating and feeding our families.

It should be noted that this book does not read like Fast Food Nation. This is not compelling, edgy writing; there are few clever turns of phrase. However, Food Revolution is extremely well-researched, and its straightforward style makes Robbins' point clear. There are a couple moments where it does become more than a simple textbook: the description of how baby turkeys are made (it's not what you'd expect) is downright witty, and when Robbins tells the story of his encounter with a pig farmer, his voice reflects how emotional, and personal, the experience was.

It's this very pig farmer that started a change in my world. I recounted the moving story to a coworker at lunch one day last week, and since then he's completely eschewed pork and beef. I'm the one reading the book, and he's going veggie! There is something wrong with this picture. I had been reading the book more to be informed, not expecting to make any changes in my own diet. I was convinced meatless is the way to be, but was too set in my ways to do anything about it. But now there was a challenge! I'm up for it. But, recall that I'm a 'warm turkey' kind of gal -- I just don't do well with extremes. So, here are my terms:

  • Lowering meat consumption in general.
  • Increasing consumption of fish, seafood, tofu, and vegetable options.
  • Eliminating ground beef completely, unless I know where it came from.
  • Exception #1: tasting new things. If, say I'm going to the place known throughout Los Angeles to have the best carne asada in the history of mankind, I have to try it. No doubt. Although maybe I'll try a bite of someone else's, rather than 2 whole tacos. Same rules apply when traveling.
  • Exception #2: I will eat whatever my mother puts in front of me. Fortunately she doesn't cook with beef, so this is not a problem. In general though, being a guest in someone's home becomes a little tricky.
This should be interesting. I always appreciate a wake-up call about what I'm putting into my body, and this book is a stark one. Making some dietary changes will be a good challenge, and I like the idea of voting with my wallet. I haven't even gotten to the third section of the book, on the environmental impact of the American meat-based diet, but I'm glad I'm leaving a smaller footprint in that regard too. There's a lot of good info in the book -- I do recommend you check it out.

Come for the Sandwiches, Stay for the Debauchery

Once upon a time, in a dark crowded bar, the following conversation happened:

A: You know what I really really love?

H: What?

A: Sandwiches.

H: Oh my God, me too! I love sandwiches! You know what would be really great? If we had a club where we would go to each other's houses, and eat sandwiches!

In that moment, a a new era of history began. The era of Club Sandwich.

Since February of 2004, once a month, we go to the home of a member, who has made us the sandwich of his or her choice. We eat said sandwiches. Then we engage in some activities. The first meeting of this epic union of bread and innards hit it off. We met at Heather's apartment in Koreatown for some fine sandwich cameraderie. Followed by flaming sambuca shots (that's where the debauchery comes in. Er, that's where it starts). Then we walked it off as we headed to the Escape Room, the finest dive bar in Koreatown that no longer exists (I mean, dance floor (that we dominated, literally and figuratively), solid jukebox, friendly barstaff, and erotic photo hunt. What else is there?). It was a magical night. Somehow the spirit of sandwich goodness lasted through the wee hours as we danced the night away. Something delicious was abrew.

The Very First Club Sandwich

Since then, we've had countless sandwich adventures. When Alon hosted, he offered a table full of peanut butter and everything associated with peanut butter sandwiches -- the requisite jelly, of course, but also, fluff, pickles, mayonnaise, Nutella, MnM's, and so much more. We had a contest for most creative sandwich, and then we went to his local dive for karaoke (It was here that Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline became the unofficial anthem of our motley sandwich crew). Sometimes the vibe is mellower, as we dish about relationships and seek advice from our fellow sandwichers. And we always manage to crack each other up.

Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich

We've had barbecue sandwiches, Cuban sandwiches, muffaletta sandwiches, veggie sandwiches, panini, sandwich cookies, ice cream sandwiches, Bay Cities' godmothers on the beach, and baloney sandwiches on the playground (complete with some very potent juice boxes, if you catch my drift). For Christmas each person brought a sandwich, wrapped in festive paper and bows, and we had a Secret Sant-wich gift exchange. Our resident schoolteacher offered sandwiches that have been crushed for three hours under the weight of a juice box. Last month, Maya made her triumphant return after recovering from surgery (after which her head was held together with staples. serious Frankenstein stuff going on.) with curry chicken salad sandwiches -- crunchy and spicy-sweet with apples, cashews, and celery. See? Always delicious.

Celebrating Two Years of Sandwiches

We've established a bit of a cult following. One of our members was stranded in Cairo, where they don't even have sandwiches, for the first year of the Club's existence. Depressed for missing out on the festivities, she regaled us with songs like "Unbreak My Heart (Sandwich)", and "Nothing Compares to You (Sandwich)". When she finally came home, she brought back Club Sandwich t-shirts made especially for us in Egyptland. Our New York correspondent has never been to Club Sandwich, but does some pretty good work on her own. We've even had imitators -- rumors of Club Noodle and Club Taco abound. Cute (ahem).

Giving the Gift of Sandwich

This month's Club Sandwich was at the home of our resident grillmaster Brad. It ranked up there as one of the best. Tell me this is not the perfect summer day: nachos, swimming in the ocean, barbecue, margaritas. Amazing! Brad lives in Manhattan Beach, about half a block from the beach. The house has 3 balconies, all with an ocean view. Brad whipped us up a batch of nachos to whet our appetites, then all 10 of us headed to the beach.

Sandwich Spread

There's this sound that I make in moments of extreme joy. It's a sort of low-pitched guttural roar. It's kind of embarrassing, and usually only comes out in private moments -- most often when I'm driving fast on the freeway, the sun is shining bright in a clear blue sky, and yet another favorite song pours out of the radio. As we swam through cool salty waves that were big enough to be interesting, small enough to be inviting, I couldn't help myself. It was that good.


As if that wasn't enough, we went back to the house to tri-tip sandwiches with grilled vegetables. This Brad, he knows his stuff with the barbecue. He makes it seem effortless every time. Which is to say, he's basically the Brian Boitano of grilling. On second thought, not just of grilling.

Ah sandwiches, you bring so much joy to our world!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Scoops' weirdest flavor yet?

Apparently our favorite ice cream man is getting caught up in all The Black Dahlia hubbub. He's creating a special flavor, available the weekend of the 15th, to ring in the debut of the film. Sounds, ahem, interesting. (But seriously I have no doubt that Tai will come up with something delicious -- he's wracking his brain for the right combo.) Yet another excuse to GO TO SCOOPS!