* I had the most amazing birthday dinner last week. I had hoped to combine the kvelling with a nod to the cook in question's new blog, but I'll link to that later once it's up. Anyhow, my friend Karla made the most exquisite little dinner that hit the spot in so many ways she couldn't have predicted, including the fact that I was having one of my Doberman-like cravings for red meat during which every forkful makes my eyes feel sparklier. We had a beautifully cool little salad with greens, watermelon, walnuts and gruyere, then an entree of dry-aged filet mignon with mushroom sauce and grilled fingerling potatoes with popovers on the side, followed by amazing desserts from Sweet Mandy B's. And she gave me the leftovers. It was so fantastic. And fun, as Karla and I started as friends when she was (Gott hilf uns) my intern at the Art Institute many years ago, and to my luck she has both seemingly forgiven me for the filing atrocities committed against her then and my chronic lateness now. She's an amazing cook and is always being urged to start restaurants/bakeries (feel free to nudge). What a dinner! That meat...epic.
I also was lucky enough for my b-day to be taken out to a restaurant I've wanted to go to for 10,000 years--Hot Chocolate in Wicker Park, Mindy Segal's place, the name of which I'm not sure doesn't suffer sometimes from associations from the 70s or "You Sexy Thing" or other things totally unconnected to the place that make it sound more goofy or less serious about good food despite being a kind of casual place. I wish I lived across the street from that restaurant; I'd go there once a week, if I could. I love places with great desserts that also have regular food: why are they always so good? (Tis's the Friendly's/DQ phenom.) I had an unbelievable salad with 1,000 Island dressing (never in my life do I eat this), that I think of as a kind of dessert--the crisp wedge with the dressing and the crab...sweet as heck. And an amazing burger, then three shared desserts that completely knocked me out and I don't really have too many words for. It's never that easy to describe chocolate/the joyful consumption thererof very well, but the signature chocolate souffle Chocolate tart with the homemade pretzel (above) and the homemade brioche donuts...made my eyes roll back in my head. Plus astonishing artisinal drinks...everything was just so good. I have Jen and Sheila to thank for that, but good, and OH do I thank them. I am a very happy, grateful, well-fed person who may or may not now officially really be in her 40s.
* Insanity from the pages of Us magazine (the magazine...for us!), this time from their selection of Weight Winners of the Year / "See how stars slimmed down and toned up!" I swear I'm not making this up (check the link).
"Back in March, The Hills star, Lauren Conr*d, 22, tells Us she was so self-conscious that on vacation in Mexico, 'I wore a one-piece bathing suit the entire time, with a wrap!' With the help of co-star Audrina Patr*dge and Equinox's Jarett Del B*ne, she dropped 6 [emph mine] pounds."
* More ways in which my youth is repeating itself besides recession, gas lines, prohibitively high airline fares, groceries that cost twice as much and go half as far, hesitation before and increased focus on purchase of meat, wounded soldiers returning from a failed war: THE OLYMPICS! And people...grooving on them. It's so funny. I really would have bet that the Os were dead, after so many years of dwindling viewers, even as B Costas spoon-fed tiny lil digested bits of it all to us, couched in tales of dying devoted mothers and persistence against all Odds. This feels...like the old days, a little. I'm finding it interesting to experience, guessing at what it links up with culturally that suddenly we are interested. Maybe...all the predigestion failed?
* I'm shutting my mouth about the nastiest/meanest thing I want to say about the current push of commercials for the Re*lize lap band (or really about lap bands in general, which are starting to seem more and more pernicious as I hear more about bodies rejecting them), but two pet peeves continue to be 1) a very ambiguous image at the end of the commercial that looks rather like big anonymous wodges of fat, but are just an actor's arms...weird--passive--strange and 2) the "reasons" the banders give in the ad for the surgery, among which one character says, while slow-dancing with her boyfriend, " I dream of kissing of him under the Eiffel Tower."
UM. CANCEL YOUR FUCKING LAP-BAND SURGERY. USE THE MONEY TO GO TO PARIS WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND.
* Five puppies, six seconds. Well worth the click.
* Some things to know about Fud Network:
- You think Sandra L*e (NOTE: her new 70s do makes her look even more like Steve Dallas' girlfriend in Bloom County, Quiche Lorraine) is the worst of the bunch, but as far as patter goes? The things that come out of people's mouths? The inanity, the repetion, the lack of content, the drone? Nobody tops poor Giada De...tiis. Her recipes may be better, but the shit she says...hopeless. "I am adding sage to give it a...sage flavor." THANK YOU FOR CLEARING THAT UP.
- The takeover of Slaw continues.
- It's not Tyler Fl*rence's fault, but his misuse of "paillard" really sent me over the edge this week. Boy does he drive me nuts. And I think I need to give up on fighting that word's new trajectory. Mmmm...pedantic.
* More news about not real people:
- Lorelei Gilmore...does not hold up well cycling through re-runs. A total emotional coward who never shuts up??? Mmmm...delicious.
- Sir Walter Eliot...SUCH a metrosexual! Cor. The '95 adaptation of Persuasion continues to feed the soul.
- Livia Soprano...I do not think they shoulda CGI-ed her for that last episode. Clunky and the seams showed (as as effect).
* Food product news:
- I love mini anythings, so i was totally excited about the new Barilla "Piccolini" mini-pastas. Only...the shapes aren't very twee. They seem more like re-named shorter cut pastas. The mini-farfalle are pretty cute, but the mini-fusilli, for instance...look like just regular gemelli, as far as I can tell.
- Genuine convenience food: the new microwavable brown rice serving pouches. Most convenience developments don't thrill me, but this one shifts the paradigm a little bit. As you'd expect, the rice doesn't taste particularly nutritious--kind of like overprocessed leftover rice--but it really really helps for those times when you don't have time for rice to be the longest-cooking thing to make. Leftover kung pao + rice = dinner in 90 sex.
* I seem to have to have to write about "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" every six months (eh, tis my blog), but pliz note oh!!! The meter!! This time I couldn't stop thinkin about the meter. It's so amazing. The line, "dealin in dirt! [beat]/and stealin in the name of the Lord"...kills. Just kills.