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.)

SALAD WITH CARROT AND GINGER DRESSING

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!

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!

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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.

"Rudie Come Forward!" (South By Part III)

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When I told my husband about the next show I was going to see, he said, “I don’t know. That has the potential to be really bad. And SAD.” Ever the optimist, I decided to go anyway. I mean it’s the English Beat, afterall. Well, to be accurate, it’s Dave Wakeling fronting a much younger band of polished musicians. No Ranking Roger. No Cox/Steel rhythm section. No Saxa. So you can understand our skepticism, especially since were both surprised to hear that the English Beat (or to everyone else outside of the US, “The Beat”) is still around playing music.

I have a very fond memories of that wave of ska + reggae + pop crashing through my early school years, when I was really starting to discover, explore and form my own musical tastes. From the iconic graphic design to the perfect dance beats, I Just Can’t Stop It was an album on heavy rotation at my house, and a staple of the school dances where we would skank and jump around like little kids who had too much sugar.

So guess what? The show was great. And super fun.

Wakeling has gained a few pounds and no longer has short spikey hair (looking a bit like a grown up frat boy who wandered into the wrong party) but once he starts playing and singing and performing, it all comes back. His voice is true to form and sounds exactly the same. They started in with a slowed down groovy version of Stand Down Margaret and moved uptempo into Rough Rider, Mirror in the Bathroom (gorgeous sax solo), Ranking Full Stop, Twist and Crawl, and big hit Tears of a Clown. By this point the crowd is totally jumping around and dancing, even the middle aged industry guys in their suits and beer guts. How can it be that all these awesome songs were on the same album? And why do I still know all the words, including the Ranking Roger toasting parts?

We were also treated to Save it for Later (from Special Beat Service) and even General Public’s hit, Tenderness. This incarnation of the band has obviously been playing together for a while because they were energetic and tight and just on. I’m so glad to have had the chance to see them live, even if it wasn’t the full original band. To know that the music can still move me after all these years, felt really good. I left the show invigorated and happy and nostalgic…all at the same time. Oh, and sweaty.

Reunited and it feels so good…

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Anyone who has known me for a while knows that am (and have been) a huge Crowded House/Neil Finn fan. They were one of the first bands I discovered when I went off to college…I’m sure I heard them on the radio (probably SF”s “The Quake“, when they still played awesome music) and immediately rushed out to Rasputin Records to buy the cassette tape. Once I got a player at at school, I followed up with the compact disc.

I saw one of their first shows touring the states, at a place called Wolfgang’s, in North Beach, which eventually burned down in a fire (it came back many years later as the 7th Note). Small club, small crowd, but I was there with my closest girlfriends, fawning over Neil as he and Crowded House perfomed literally 10 feet away from us. I just remember being so excited about the band and the music and feeling like they were playing the music just for us.

Through the years, I’ve proceeded to see them every time they came to town, I’ve bought all the albums and limited edition EPs, joined the fan club, and followed the separate solo work once the band broke up. I even called in sick to work one day just to drive out to The Plant in Sausalito in hopes of getting into a “secret prizewinners only” concert that Neil was performing for KFOG a few years ago. I had no idea where this place was, but a fellow fan (that I only just met through the Fan Club) knew how to get there. Once inside, I was psyched to see that Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors was recorded there. Seemed like it hadn’t changed much at all since the 70’s. Anyway, it was worth it as we were grudgingly included in the group of 20 people or so for that private concert and meet and greet with Neil and his band. He’s fairly short, by the way.

Coming back to the present….Ah. So Rob and I went to see Crowded House (semi-reunited) Sunday night at the Paramount. Interesting crowd–I wasn’t as old as I thought I would be (among the other fans). As usual, lots of women. This was really obvious especially during the sing-a-long parts–the voices were predominantly female! Or maybe guys just don’t think it’s cool to sing-a-long to a sensitive singer/songwriter’s work…not macho enough.

It was a lovely concert. Everyone’s voices were on and the harmonies were tight. After all these years, I *still* got the chills hearing “World Where you Live” (my favorite song). Lots of cheerful and fun banter on the stage (especially between Neil and Nick, with Mark Hart playing the straight man). I had forgotten how much they could ROCK as well! I don’t think anyone could stand still during “Locked Out”. The new drummer fits in well. And Neil’s now 23 year old son Liam was in the band playing guitar, piano, and singing harmonies with dad. It’s amazing to hear harmonies among family members (parent/child, siblings) as it’s just so natural for their voices to fit together. One of the songs from the new album has a killer acoustic piano intro that has the same power as Hey Jude. And I don’t know of any other bands that are unselfconscious enough to do an impromptu medley of disco songs in the middle of a set. They are THAT fun and THAT spontaneous. Every show I’ve ever seen has been different.

So, in many ways, following this band has made me feel like I’ve come around full circle. Sitting there listening to the music with my eyes closed, I was easily taken back to past shows when I was young(er)…goofy and giddy with my college friends, as a wannabe hipster young adult, with ex-boyfriends I had dragged to the shows, with new fan club friends, and now, many years later, with my husband sitting next to me. For me, being able to share this band that has always meant so much, with him, was a nice moment. It doesn’t matter that he probably slept through most of it.

Finally.

This if the first day of the rest of this blog…

I thought it would be great to finally have a creative outlet for all that pent up energy, and I now realize I have nothing to say.

Is that bad?