New York, the 90’s and salad dressing

When I worked at The Gap (a million years ago), I frequently travelled  to New York to assist on photo shoots. Just a few years out of college, it was such an exhilarating and exciting time in my life — I was absolutely fearless in exploring the city. When I was on the company expense account, I stayed in nice hotels, cabbed everywhere and spent a $75/day per diem for food. Sadly, after a long day of steaming khaki pants, babysitting models and shuttling cappuccino orders I rarely had the desire to do more than order dinner in and fall asleep in front of the television. All to do it again in a few hours.

On personal trips, it was a very different experience. I was basically broke-ass, staying on the couch of a high-school friend who had moved there. But…it was SO much more fun. I remember going to Wigstock in Tompkins Square park (when it was still a place you would not go after dark), searching for the perfect vintage Levi’s 501s at Antique Boutique, staring in the marvelous windows at Barneys and Bergdorfs, and buying my Doc Martins at discount on W. 8th. While it wasn’t unusual to see celebrities and models going about their business, one memory stands out of seeing Ed Lover dancing at Wetlands (for some reason I thought that was oddly hilarious). At that time, I could still drink well enough to keep up with my friend (who, as a guy, should have had a much higher tolerance than me), as we would flit from bar to bar, going more underground as it got later and later. Ah, to be that young and spirited again.

Aaaanyway…we used to frequent a place called Dojo’s in the East Village. It was just downstairs from his roachy apartment on St. Marks, and they had healthy food for crazy cheap. One of my favorite things was their Carrot Ginger dressing — a bright/tangy/sweet thick sauce that we’d pour on salads, dip things in, and basically lick from the bowl. That stuff was amazing.

Just today, I was at Trader Joes, and got a prepackaged salad that had a very similar dressing, sparking memories of the original, which I haven’t had since my last visit to Dojo’s in the 90s. And now I can’t stop thinking about it. Then I look at the ingredients on the package and realize there isn’t any reason why I can’t make a jar (or a gallon) of this at home. A little more googling™ and next thing I know Gwyneth Paltow is serving up a recipe that looks pretty much spot on. Her version comes via GOOP, where she exhuberantly exclaims: “This dressing is the jam!” Oh Gwynnie!

(I will share the recipe here, in case you have a strong aversion to her or her website in general. I totally understand and I was right there with you, until she kind of won me over when she sang with Huey Lewis in Duets. I even bought her new cookbook — she’s harmless.)


For dressing:

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sweet white miso
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons water

Pulse the carrot, shallot and ginger in a blender until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides, add the miso, vinegar and sesame seed oil and whiz together. While the blender is going, slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil and the water.

Combine the lettuce, onion and avocado in a bowl, drizzle with plenty of dressing and serve.

Memories of the Valley

Boone’s Farm was the culprit of many pukey drinking experiences growing up in the Central Valley (sorry, sandpit at Tenaya Park). Despite that, I have fond memories of some great times with my friends…what I can remember, anyway.

Did you know there is a Fan Club? I learned much here — there are flavors I had never heard of and you can even make a cake with it:

Boone’s Farm Wine Cake
March 31, 2009. Special thanks to Boone’s Farmer Kendra from Roseville, California for submitting her soon-to-be world famous Boone’s Farm Wine Cake recipe:

Mix together:

1 box Yellow Cake Mix
1 box Butterscotch Instant Pudding Mix
4 Eggs
1 Cup oil
Once all mixed together add
1 Cup Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill Wine
dash of Nutmeg

Pour into Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let set for 10 minutes to cool before inverting onto plate.

Strawberry Hill Forever!

Lloyd Dobler Gets a Job

I just love this. “Say Anything” is one of all time favorite movies.

Although I own the movie on DVD, I hadn’t watched it in a while, but it was airing on cable recently and or course I got sucked in. It’s still one of the most honest, real depictions of the thrill and heartache of being a teenager. I still sobbed during the breakup scene like I was seeing it for the first time.

Farrah and MJ {RIP}

“Oh Sh*it, I can’t handle another part of my youth dying today!”Anonymous comment on SF Gate

I’ve been feeling weird about about the deaths of these two people today — sad, obviously, but also wistful. Then I read the quote above and really got it: it’s about the loss of my youth.

I was not an obsessive fan of either Farrah or Michael, but they were both such powerful figures in the landscape of my childhood. The poster, the hair, Jill Munroe, the Jackson 5, moonwalking, Off the Wall. I know they both moved on to more newsworthy things (basically going cuckoo for cocoa puffs), but my mind had frozen them exactly how I wanted to remember them — when they had the heaviest influence on me.

I so love this photo of Farrah, because I remember how much it made me want to be like her. Besides looking joyful and happy, she’s riding a skateboard and dressed like a tomboy. A gorgeous tomboy. She’s sporty and pretty! Maybe I could ride my skateboard and play soccer and boys might like that about me!

I also have her to thank for giving me a new hairstyle to aspire to so I could shake the dreaded Dorothy Hamill wedge my parents forced upon me. I am still on my quest for the perfect feathering technique.

Michael was so sweet and lovely in his prime. Before Wacko Jacko and vitiligo (uh huh) and the Hair on Fire Pepsi Commercial. I vividly remember watching the Motown special with my family and all of our jaws dropping watching him dance. And within five minutes my brother and I in our socks sliding around on the kitchen linoleum screaming “Look, look! I’m doing it!”.

Eddie Murphy killed with his impression of a crying Michael singing She’s Out of my Life (“Tito, get me a tissue”…oh the many times we got stoned in college, watched Delirious and laughed like crazy). Still, that song to me is one of his most tender (and rare) expressions of real emotion. Hasn’t everyone felt that stomach wrenching pain of love lost? He just nailed it.

And…just try not to bust out in a rockstep when you hear Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough. Not possible! That song gets everyone (including your funky elders) out on the dance floor. It’s booty-shakin’ magic.

Well slap me with an 8-inch sausage!

My father was always big on BBQ-ing. Like most dads, he always took pride in his mad skillz and during the hot hot summers in the central valley, he’d be grilling meats for our outdoor dinners on the patio at least 3 times a week. Usually, it was beef Tri-Tip, which I only later came to realize wasn’t one of the typical cuts you’d find across the country in grocery stores, sitting next to the Rib Eye or Filet Mignons. As a kid, I thought all beef steak was Tri-Tip, because besides “ground beef”, that’s all we ever ate.

Anyway, I remember my father shaking Lawry’s Seasoned Salt on it, or to be truly local, his favorite Pappy’s Seasoning, made right there in our hometown of Fresno, CA.

Recently I was reminded of all this, after reading this bizarre but utterly hilarious news story, tracked back to the Fresno Bee:
Burglar victims wake to spice rub, sausage attack

also headlined in the San Jose Mercury News as:
Burglar rubs spices on sleeping man, whacks another with a sausage and a dog eats the evidence

I think that pretty much sums it up. Only in a place like Fresno, I guess. And I did really appreciate the fact that they specifically identified the seasoning, giving props to the hometown. Sometimes with all the heavy heavy stuff going on in the world, you need to hear a kooky story like this to make your day.

Selective Memory

The other day I was driving in the car with the radio on and came to the realization (after the full extended version played) that I STILL know all the lyrics to Rappers Delight.

I was oddly both proud and embarrassed at the same time. I don’t understand why my retention of knowledge from the past is mostly centered around short-lived ABC TV sitcoms, obscure actors and pop music from the 70s and 80s. How is this useful in any way, to me now?

The answer is, it’s in no way useful, except at gatherings with friends playing “name that classic rock tune” when no one has access to an iPhone or computer with Google. If only I could do this for money.

Anyway, a few years back, my friend Laura sent me this website quiz and I just recently re-took the test. Scored a 101 without cheating. I feel like I could have done better if I hadn’t been so spontaneous in jumping into the quiz (sometimes you have to warm up and stretch a little, before a challenge like this).

Right now I can just see Rob muttering to himself what a crazy wack-job he married.

But I really want to know, how did YOU do on the quiz?

Japanese Surrealism

This is the most bizarre thing I’ve seen in a while. It very easily could have been an SNL sketch. My favorite is the Japanese Cyndi Lauper.