Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's Saturday, I'm Tannaz: Broome Street General Store

Having heard about Broome Street General Store around the internet, needing a gift for a very Silver-Lakey friend, and it being like 2 seconds from my apartment, I had to check it out this Saturday.  It's an adorable rendition of what early Restoration Hardware could have been if it weren't looking for chain-store world takeover and served excellent espresso drinks.  It's a beautifully picked set of a little of everything, with a nod to retro stylishness and solid construction:  giant jars of bloody Mary mix from a tiny brand in Brooklyn, with bits of hot pepper and tomato seeds visibly swimming in the thick red juice; tiny Weck jars, with their pretty orange seals, filled with whole nutmeg, or lavender buds.  A few Asian specialty kitchen items, a few Italian ones.  Simple juice glasses, artisanal honey, and heavy, substantial baking dishes in simple colors and patterns. 

The space used to hold a frivolous but beautifully appointed shop named Zanzabelle, and I wondered as I walked in if Broome Street would be different.  The nutmeg was the first thing that caught my eye.  It was, admittedly, an adorable little treat.  But at $8.25 for about six... nuts (what the hell do you call a nutmeg?), it gave me pause about the whole place.

It feels good to be in this clean, tidy shop.  But, the well-curated inventory at Broome Street is not cheap.  I came for a gift, but true to form, instead ended up grabbing myself some cool refreshing caffeination and a snack to go along.  For an iced latte and savory hand pie, I paid over ten dollars.  It took a few minutes, but eventually I figured out what I was really paying for.  Broome Street is set off from the street by a sweet square patio, each corner of which houses a tree whose branches arch over and shade the wooden bistro tables perfectly.  It was a searing 85 degrees outside, but sitting on that patio under dappled sunshine, with my icy coffee and a light breeze shaking the pages of my book -- that's pretty much all I ever want.  The hospitality of the surroundings allowed my mind to wander far from Rowena Avenue.  That quiet patio, with vines growing over an arched trellis on one side, offered me a moment of respite.  It turns out Broome Street offers free wireless internet and electrical outlets outside, too.  And in addition to the baked goods on offer currently, salads and sandwiches are coming soon.  The staff -- the shop's owners -- are warm and conversational, and clearly they're taking care of their guests. 

I probably won't go back to Broome Street for a bottle of  toasted sesame oil with an extra-stylish label or gummy peach candies gussied up by a fancy tin.  But I know myself:  I have a long history of passing time over espresso drinks.  Weekends keep coming, and I keep being Tannaz: for a sweet moment of neighborly hospitality, great coffee and a bite to eat on that dreamy patio, I can't wait for the next opportunity.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blowing Your Mind With Crisco

Crisco Shortening, 1950's
I've recently discovered Google Reader (because I live in 2004 apparently), and it has changed my life.  Rather than spending hours reclicking on the countless blogs I love just to check if there is anything new, now I just go to this one simple place and get a continuous, constantly updating feed of new posts from all of my blogs.  It's amazing.  And it's so efficient that sometimes I don't know what to do with myself, what with all the time I've saved by not hitting refresh all over the place.  Fortunately, it also recommends posts for me, so the procrastination truly can go on forever.

And today, these very recommendations led to an etymology post!  That old nerdy favorite that no one cares about but me.  First one since 2008 (not that you care)!  Unlike most of the etymology posts, this one comes from our own English language.  But, like all of them, it's based on hazy and vague sources, and may not actually be true.  Meh, undeterred.

It comes from Chris Loves Julia, the blog of a sweet young family in Utah, from a post about a fine local pizza joint with reverence for the true meaning of shortcake:

"Most often when we hear someone talking about strawberry shortcake, what they are referring to is angel food cake topped with macerated strawberries and whipped cream from a can. When a cake or bread is referred to as "short," what that means is there has been something added to the mix to shorten the gluten strands (gluten is the protein found in flour, and just like protein in meats, it forms long, elastic strands). Things that shorten gluten strands include Crisco (also referred to as "shortening"- did I just blow your mind?), oil, and butter. The fats get in the strands of gluten and break them apart, creating a crumbly texture." 

What?!  This is what shortening is all about, shortening of gluten strands?  Yes, Chris Loves Julia, you have totally blown my mind.  This is amazing.  And I want shortcake.

thanks to Roadsidepictures for the photo

Thursday, June 23, 2011

i will be taking the tube to barcelona, thank you

This is the best thing I've ever seen.  If only it were real.

Huge heaving sigh...
I will take the blue line to Mexico City, from there to Barcelona, and then to Athens.  Aaaah!

from the amazing Colossal blog

My Happy Place: Spring for Coffee

Have you been to Art Walk?  You really should.  The streets downtown fill with all sorts of people looking for fun, every corner seems to have performers banging out the night's soundtrack on plastic buckets, and as the night progresses, every storefront seems to have become a gallery -- tiny, strange, mainstream, street, you name it -- if just for the night.  You might have to stand in line at a small street-art gallery on a side street that a friend takes you to, but it's worth it to see the place that, for this friend, "feels like home" -- his happy place.  It's not odd to see a sign for a "Cleaners/Gallery", and by the time you pass by a barbershop a second time, it's turned into a club, lights dimmed and techno bumping.  Step into the sprawling Last Bookstore, and there's a budding dance floor in there, too.  Downtown's DJs-per-square-footage has to be at a national high on the second Thursday of each month. Our city becomes a little extra charged for a few hours each month.

But you'll want to get there early, especially if you're driving (though seriously, do as I say, not as I do, and take the metro, for Pete's sake).  And before the streets fill with hubbub, you can take a moment.  I've driven past teensy Spring for Coffee a million times, always sad to keep driving.  On this evening, I stepped to the little counter, was greeted by two heavily-tatted zany-friendly baristas, got a delicious cappuccino in a real cup made from beloved Blue Bottle coffee, and plunked down at one of only 3 sidewalk tables.  I tried to read, though who are we kidding -- the peoplewatching was way too compelling.  And it being downtown, I had the occasion to do a Google Image Search on my phone for "crackpipe," just to make sure. (I was right.)
Downtown.  Art Walk.  Spring for Coffee.  Crackpipe.  A night in the life.

Spring for Coffee is at 548 S. Spring, on the northeast corner of Spring and 6th.
The Last Bookstore is at 435 S. Spring, on the northwest corner of Spring and 5th.
Crewest is at 110 Winston St., at Main, a block south of 4th.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sweets, Scoops, and Sunshine: No Cookie Left Behind Bake Sale 2011

I'm not sure how to talk about this bake sale without gushing for paragraphs and paragraphs.  Gotta admit, it filled me with anxiety for a couple months, but in the last couple weeks, everything has come together, and brought with it the same sense it brings me every year:  that everyone is amazing, there is so much goodwill in the world, and that, even though this thing is most definitely about pushing the envelope on how amazing of a spread of delicious baked goods (and jams!) as far as it'll go, it's actually all about people.

Guys, I think it's going to be a good one this year -- our fifth annual No Cookie Left Behind bake sale at Scoops (five years!), and I'm hoping you all will join me on Sunday.  I've been blabbing all over Facebook and Twitter about the incredible roster of bakers that will be involved (I will say this:  somehow we've struck an eerie balance of vegan and bacon), so I won't repeat myself here. Read up over there, or really, just show up, and know that you won't be disappointed.  And you'll be helping out with a great, great cause:  every dollar goes to Share Our Strength in their fight against childhood hunger.


WHEN:  Sunday, June 19.  2 - 5 pm
WHERE:  Scoops!  712 N. Heliotrope in East Hollywood. Just north of Melrose, between Normandie and Vermont.
INTERESTED IN BAKING?  Awesome!  Email us at nocookieleftbehind@gmail.com
CAN'T MAKE IT?  Consider donating to this important cause.  Click here to do so.

Hope to see you on Sunday!