Archive for the ‘Awkward’ Category

Guest Post: Rainbow Doodle Cake!

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

My stick figures are as true-to-life as it gets.

While Janet was in Japan getting her cultural heritage on with R2 in tow, I spent my days baking a beautiful cake.   Ok, it was only 2 days, and the cake is by no means beautiful.  But it has a great personality.  Sort of a butterface, or in this case, a butterfondant.  

This seems to happen to me a lot.  I love baking, and the stuff I make tastes really fucking good, but I’m kind of a failure when it comes to decorating.  Case in point: Giant Cuppycake.  That one tasted bad too, but whatevs.  A couple months ago I went crazy for a party Logo and I were hosting and made a shit-ton of desserts and the results were astoundingly lovely.  Alas, that was not the case this time.   

I decided to make this cake after a request from Eggroll to make a glorious dessert for a weekend away in Arrowhead for the Tough Mudder and Lisa’s/David’s birthdays.  For those who don’t know, the Tough Mudder is a ridiculous display of manliness and stupidity under the guise of a 10 miles race with obstacles.  Obstacles like diving in ice water and running through electrical wires charged with 10,000 volts.  SUPER FUN!!!!1!  

My inspiration for this cake was the amazingly beautiful Canuck cake blog Sweetapolita.  That woman makes some gorgeous cakes.  And gorgeous babies, just look at the pictures of her children on there!  And she married a gorgeous man.  Some people have all the luck.  I figured it would be fun to make a fun, surprising cake and have everyone write all over the pristine, smoothly fondant-ed outside. 

Not my cake.

I made the cake part of the cake the Wednesday before the weekend because I didn’t want to bake at high altitude–tried that in Mammoth without making adjustments and the cake was deflated and dry.  Still edible, but this one had to be gorgeous and thus I baked the cakes early and froze them.  The recipe is super easy.  I used cake flour instead of regular flour because I wanted to and mine says it’s expired so I need to use it up.  Apparently cake flour is treated with chlorine so it’s really soft and results in a lovely, soft, light crumb.  I subbed 1 c. + 2 T. of cake flour for each cup of regular flour and it worked out fine. 

Rewind to my initial preparations for this cake.  I went to the only cake decorating supply place in West LA, Gloria’s (silly side note: their URL spells it “suplys” hehe).  I think it was under construction because the right side of the store looked like a bomb had exploded.  Still, the place had everything!  I enjoyed rummaging immensely and spent a lot of time looking at the gel food colors.  SO pretty.  Ended up with the Americolor “school training kit,” so I’ll be set if I ever go to cake school.  AND I got these awesome food coloring markers so everyone could draw on the cake. 

Pretty colors!!

There was no way I was going to make my own fondant so I bought a fancier-looking one than Wilton because Wilton is the cake decorating devil and they’ve taken over everything with their cheapy fondant cutters and shit!  I made a good choice, too, because this fondant was actually tasty instead of tasting like sweet plastic. 

Fancy French name means it’s better.

After making the batter, you have to weigh it and then split it into 6 bowls for dyeing.  I thought this would be pretty difficult but it went quickly, though I used all of our cereal bowls and all of our forks for stirring the colors.  Logo was like “what happened I just did dishes?!” and I was like “Sorrrryyyyyy……”   Good story, huh?  Here’s a picture of the pretty batter.   Some of it, at least.

 Blue + yellow = green.  Lessons in color chemistry.

And here’s a couple pictures of the cakes cooling.  The layers are super super thin so I was glad I parchment-papered the bottoms of the pans to prevent any cake-butt loss.  The blue layer is missing because I had to rescue it from overcooking due its runtiness.  I’m like the mom that pushes aside that baby that won’t make it because it’s too small.  But the purple layer looks blue so pretend it’s both blue AND purple!  Yay! 

I obviously didn’t bake them in rainbow order.

Ignore the finger gouge in the green. 

I wrapped each layer in plastic wrap after cooling and realized when I stacked them that one of my cake pans was actually a pie pan and was slightly less than 9″.  So two layers were littler than the others on top of blue being super thin and yellow having a weird hump.  Not an auspicious beginning.  At least the colors are vibrant, right? 

Always use protection.

Fast-forward to assembling the cake: everyone was at the Tough Mudder except me and Stosh.  We went to breakfast (I had chicken-fried steak and eggs–I won) while the layers defrosted and then I made cream cheese frosting–Lisa’s favorite!–and frosted the cake.  I forgot to take pictures of this part, probably because I was having major issues getting it smooth because the layers were so lopsided.  Eventually I gave up, figuring that it didn’t have to look good since I was just going to cover it in fondant.  That was a poor decision.  Just so you know, fondant will form to whatever shape is underneath it.  Even weird cake lumps and gooshy frosting.  

The P-sug went into every crevice of the wooden table.  Whoops.

I did ok rolling the fondant out because it was very pliable and easy to work with.  But then when I put it on the cake, I didn’t cut off the excess soon enough and the bottom slowly ripped off, leaving a large hole in the fondant.  I tried using the remaining fondant to make another layer, but I didn’t have quite enough. 

First layer.  Not as ugly with flash.

That’s when I got the brilliant idea to make a bow!  It didn’t turn out half bad, but while I was making it the fondant already on the cake continued to settle and got lumpier and lumpier.  Eventually, the bottom of the cake looked like cellulite and when I tried to smooth it, the frosting underneath would squish out around the bottom.  Grossssss and delicious on my fingers nom. 

Ghett-bow!  Punny.

Everyone else said the cake was lovely, but they’re just nice friends.  They dutifully signed it and drew some fun pictures, including a lovely peen drawn by Eggroll’s brother. 

Complete with veins and hair.

Please compare my decorating skillz to those of my sister-in-law, who made the cake below for her friend’s wedding.  It’s breathtaking–all buttercream!!  Such sharp edges!  But then I learned that it took like 27 hours to do and she ended up crying in the kitchen more than once and I felt better about my 3-hour cake.   I could make it perfect if I spent 27 hours too!   

The story of this cake’s inception would make a good chick flick.

We FINALLY got to cut into the cake after all those hours of labor, and it was truly beautiful.  All the nasty fondant was forgotten and the cake was deliciously sweet and vanilla-ey.  With everyone getting drunker as the evening progressed, appetites increased and the cake slowly disappeared.  Aftermath.  Looks nom.

Ultimately, it was a success.  A delicious, colorful, lumpy success.  Make this shit for a fun time and an impressive reveal.

Meritage at the Claremont

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Having a food blog, even if it is more than a food blog, has its drawbacks. For example, if your work colleagues get ahold of it and realize that your favorite word is not “science” but rather “nom” followed by “fuck.” Another example is that everyone turns to you for restaurant recommendations, which can be slightly pressure-ey.

Especially when you have not done your duty and fully explored the lovely East Bay offerings, except for one. Oh, and another. And another. And of course this. OK but my point is that when I had to organize a work dinner for six, I was quite at a loss, because Chez Panisse Cafe had no openings, so I had to pick the backup. I had a budget of $64 per person with tax and tip included, which meant I could click on the “$$$$” in Open Table. That was fun. But then, I confess I haphazardly chose the Meritage at the Claremont just because opentable said “You’ll get 1000 points for this!” (as opposed to the usual 100 points). Not that I even quite understand what points on opentable will net you, but it seemed like reason enough.

My choice was seconded (PHEW) by one of my colleagues, who was distant friends with the new chef (Chef Josh). Also, this dinner was to welcome three new colleagues, so we began with a cocktail on the Claremont’s lovely patio overlooking their insane view of the bay. I had a yummy white grape martini.

We were then seated at a big round table, in between a table that went through two seatings both with cute but fussy children and a table that was occupied by two distinguished, white-haired grownups all dressed up.

Our server was Mario who was awesome and cheerfully rolled with our rowdiness and excessive talk about poo.

First poo story: I shared the fact that Obama doesn’t like beets, and someone else (of course) piped up saying that they didn’t like beets either, at which point I talked about Ten Exposures Theory, wherein research shows that humans will learn to like any food after ten exposures, as long as it’s not rotten animal protein or feces. ReeRee’s friend is trying it – see this silly vid.

Tomatoes are still in season this year, and there was a special tomato tasting menu. Chef Josh said “No season for me is more eagerly anticipated than heirloom tomato season Purple Cherokees, Green Zebras, Striped Germans, Banana, Brandywines: The names are so tantalizing & varied as their flavors. Among the recipes here you will see instances where we use different parts of the tomato separately. It is worth taking the trouble to prepare them differently, to transform them into something special.”

Despite his three punctuation errors, I was liking this guy.

You know those team-building exercises where you have only some rope and maybe a ball and you have to get people or objects across a thing without touching the floor, etc.? The culinary equivalent of that is the Meritage menu. (Side note in what is kind of a side note already – they pronounce it “Meri-tahj” like Taj Mahal, even though the grape varietal that I suspect they are named after is pronounced “Meri-tage” like rage. Heh heh losers.) There were so many delicious-sounding options (e.g., Sonoma Goat Cheese-Potato Terrine: slow roasted coke farm’s baby beets & aged balsamic syrup or California Lamb “Tagine”: cous-cous, black mission figs, toasted almonds & marinated olives), and each came as either a small or large portion, and we were instructed to order two smalls and one large each. Six people x three dishes x 18 menu items x two size options / one vegetarian / one pescatarian / one ethical eater who won’t eat foie / one crustacean allergy x we don’t really know each other all that well x we want to share everything = potential clusterfuck or brilliance, with all of it taking forever to be decided.

[Note: it was indeed brilliant, with the total tab at the end of the night coming to $63.58 each without us even thinking about it or calculating anything!!]

Two of us gave up and just went with the tomato tasting menu. The others also kind of gave up and just ordered what sounded good, in some cases creating two-person contracts for sharing but nothing more complicated than that.

Second poo story: We were talking about animals, and someone brought up the winner of the Darwin award a while back – a guy who died when an elephant defecated on him, and he suffocated (I helpfully piped up “That’s more like DROWNING, isn’t it?”). The others didn’t believe this was a true story, and it’s unclear, but still.

My meal went like this: Amuse – Green Zebra tomato and watermelon “skewer” (pictured middle) which tasted just like the two components should, but more intensezors. Commanche Creek mixed tomato “gazpacho” soup with Haas avocado and cucumber. Well, we can add the gratuitous use of quotation marks to the list of Chef Josh’s punctuation foibles. This gazpacho was heralded by Mario as “the best gazpacho you will EVER have in your life.” Hyperbole. It was good, and the cheese cracker thing was crispy and creamy. Heirloom tomato salad, with “crispy” North Beach pancetta, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and infused EVO. Ignoring the “” for now, this dish was beautiful (see top, and also sorry for the dearth of pictures it was a night where blogging was not really a legit focus lol). I had issues with the mozzarella being in cube form, also not enough of it, but the olive oil sang and the pancetta, despite its natural advantage as fatty animal protein, was upstaged by the sheer transcendence of the tomatoes. Brandywine tomato risotto & seared sea scallops – “petite” herb salad, baby arugula, brown butter vinaigrette. Alright the quoties are bordering on annoying now, but that’s the last one. Normally I don’t love acid with scallops, and the risotto on its own was weirdage, but when you constructed the perfect bite, for which the “petite” herb salad was mandatory, you started to understand what Chef Josh was getting at. Finally, yellow tomato “sorbet” (I lied) with sweet corn creme brulee. I confess I ate this dessert in two parts. First the sorbet, which I thought was refreshing and lovely but that could be because I dislike sugar. I think I forgot along the way that the creme brulee was sweet corn, or else I might have eaten more of it. It tasted like normal, so I just boldly ate only the top of it and left the messy bottom for all to see.

Other standouts were the goat cheese and potato dish mentioned above, and the other version of seared sea scallops - yukon gold potato puree, farmer’s market mushrooms, & braised leeks.

I’ll leave you with Poo Story #3, which was about how one of us (the family doctor) had to perform “manual disimpaction” (the physical removal of impacted stool using the hands) on kids sometimes, to which one of my new colleagues asked, aghast, “WHICH HOLE?” to which we all asked, equally aghast, “WHAT??”

The Meritage at the Claremont
41 Tunnel Road
Berkeley, CA 94705

I swallowed a moth fly

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Do you know about moth flies? They are not like regular flies. They are way smaller and with rounder wings. You’ve seen them before. They fly slow and they’re not that yucky so you probably tolerate them.

There was one in my new SmartCar (full name: Fergus SoCARtes [get it cuz it’s SMART like Socrates? Yes, that was an R2 suggestion] Panda II [Panda I was taken]). I was like o hai little fly and proceeded to open the window. But…Fergus has, for some weird reason a six CD changer and heated seats …but no power windows. So I was effortfully rolling down my window, and my panting created a vacuum, and the fly got sucked into my mouth.

I’m not squeamish, but I felt little struggling fly feet kicking at my esophagus which is the worst kind of tickle – internal.

So I was like !!!! and reached down into my lunch bag and opened my bag of carrots. I tremblingly threw one into my mouth and gave it three chews and swallowed (because bigger chunks would hopefully drag it down with it). Painfulsaurus Rex.

And…I STILL FELT THE KICK-KICKS! FUUUUUU! It must have gotten inhaled into my windpipe rather than properly down my esophagus. Damnitall.

Next: FORCED COUGHING! That did nothing.

So I sat and squirmed in horror for my 8-minute commute (the fly was surely dead by now but I felt it wriggling like this thing so I was in full-on heebie-jeebie mode) and when I got to work I ran to our kitchen and gulped down the most scalding coffee I had ever drank.

That did it.

PS. Moth flies are so called because they have hairs on their wings that make them look like moths shuddderrrr.

Espana Part Four: Barcelona Part Two

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Do they really need ALL of us to hold them up? Don’t they has wings?

After our toothpicky fun, R2 and I went to the Barcelona cathedral – technically Catedral de Santa Eulalia de Barcelona. Saint Eulalia was a poor 13-year-old girl who was tortured 13 times by the Romans for refusing to recant her Christianity before being crucified on an X-shaped cross; this X appears on every pew and all over the catedral.

Until I wiki-ed it right now, I didn’t quite understand what “tortured 13 times” meant, but apparently this included cutting off her breasts, putting her into a barrel with glass or perhaps knives (details) and rolling her down a hill, and decapitation (at which point a dove allegedly flew out of her neck stump?).


To lighten the mood, R2 said:

Catedral. CATedral. LOLCATedral. Get it? Wordplay.

Janet: [weakly] heh heh

R2: [insistent] LOLCATedral! …Where we sacrifice Buttins [Tinx’s cat; see below] to Satan! …That’s YOU! [Satan is indeed my nickname in some circles] Didn’t you say you wanted to eat a beating snake heart? You can eat a beating kitteh heart!

Janet: [stares]

R2: [getting more desperate] Or a BUNNY!  But it has to be a CUTE bunny! A…white one! Virginal! It MUST be the cutest bunny on all the earth to satisfy the mighty and terrifying LOLCATedral gods!

Janet: I’m SO putting this in the blog.

R2: Noooo I’m gonna seem creepy!

Done and done.

The law clearly states you can’t do anything mean to me or my heart once my pupils reach a certain size

For dinner we did a Rick Steves-sanctioned tapas crawl in the Ribera district. We went to Taller de Tapas, which was a trendy and upscale tapas bar where we paid much money for standard fare. Standard meaning jamon de croquettes, bacalao de croquettes, deep fried artichoke, and pan. After a day of walking around, and after the tall pitcher of cava sangria (white sangria with bubbly) we had on the waterfront, we much enjoyed the food as efficient calorie-delivering vehicles.

R2 sang the word “balls” to the rhythm of that Shots song

Next we went to Sagardi, which sounded fun in the guidebook because it was a grab-whatever-you-want kind of place, and the actual establishment was HOPPIN. But as soon as we got there, I had brain/worm deja vu. And I looked farther down the bar and realized that ALL the tapas were identical to that we had seen earlier at Taverna Basca Irati which was a disappointment and a half since (a) we had eaten it all earlier and (b) we realized Rick Steves was playing favorites but trying to lie to us about it. Just to confirm, I looked at their menu, which had the same logo as Irati, thus confirming our suspicions. We said “PAH!” and stomped out (but not before eating a smoked salmon pintxo with nommalicious horseradish).

We put the guidebook away (why were we trusting a guy who (a) has two first names; and (b) has a weird already-pluralized last name so it’s confusing as to where to put the apostrophe in the first place?) and went into a smaller but still classy joint a little bit down the street. We were not given a menu but were commanded to order by a scary lady, so we just pointed to some things that were out on the bar. We ended up with some sort of meatball and some sort of fish stew.

Damnit did I use my R2 balls story already?

I wish wish wished the meatballs were lamb, but instead I think they were beef. The green olives nestled in there were the best part.

The fish stew was oilier than I preferred, but so salty it zinged all the way into my eyebrows (which I like).

R2 said “CLAMS CLAMS” like that robot Mafia dude on Futurama

I loved Espana, but I was missing cheese. Manchego is nice but as mild as butter. So we headed to Cheese Me, where we got a Spanish cheese plate.

The blue cheese on the slab was so sharp it made my mouth hurt and tingle thereafter for at least three minutes. It was sharp enough to the point that eating it became a game, akin to consuming Pop Rocks or Atomic Fireballs. I would play blue cheese roulette by going around the platter in a circle, making excited Wheel of Fortune noises when I got close to landing on the blue cheese.

I may have been massively drunk.

Chickens can’t make this – yet another reason why fowl sucks

The following day we went to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia – a super cool outing with dizzifying circular stairs up and down incredibly tall spires. I liked looking at Gaudi’s desk, which was preserved exactly as it was on the day of his death.

If you look closely, you can see his sack dinner hanging there. Apparently his dinner consisted of  two small slices of bread spread with honey and a small handful of raisins, thus proving to me that he might be an architectural genius, but he’s a glycemic index dumbass.

[Menacingly] I eat dinners like yours for BREAKFAST

Now that we knew that Rick Steves recs were generally American-friendly and chain-ey, we decided to do his “dark,” “rough-edged” tapas crawl that will “stain your journal” along Carrer de la Merce. We assumed that this meant, in normal speak, that this would be just a normal tapas crawl. And it was.

First was R2’s favorite resto and favorite dish in all of Spain, at La Pulperia. There, we had pulpo – octopus – a la plancha. It was grilled, salty, and flavorful, and rapidly cut up into bits by Mr. Pulpo (R2’s name for him) using scissors.

It’s ok it’s ok – that’s paprika on us, not blood

Then, to La Plata, which served only fried anchovies (FINALLY! We had been hunting for them since Madrid), salad, and super cheap keg wine. Fried anchovies might be my new popcorn.

Then, to a place not mentioned in the guidebook, but another one of our favorites. The people there were cheerful and friendly. We ordered sidra, the native hard cider, and appropriately marveled when he poured it out from the height of at least five feet over a barrel, and then promptly choked when the first sip hit our mouths. How do I describe it? Like a salty beer with a malty aftertaste that smells of apples. Not…great.

I assure you no walrus wants this bukkit

As we were politely suffering through our sidra, a family from New Orleans came over. The dad in the fam was clearly overserved, though in a jolly kind of way.

Dad: Now, that beef thang – HOW long is it aged?

Owner lady: Two years.

Dad: Now I’m talking about about that beef – that amazing beef. HOW long is it aged?

Owner lady: Two years. Yes, it is very delicious. Two years.

Dad: [to wife] Dang that beef was good. I asked her how long she thought it was aged but I couldn’t get a clear answer outta her. [To us] Y’ALL GOTTA TRY IT!

We obeyed.

We’ve been aged X number of years!

It was just like the luscious jamon, but this time with beef. Exactly in between ham and jerky. Well, perhaps more on the ham side. It was smoother and more deeply flavored than the jamon we had encountered, and was indeed worth getting riled up about.

We were chock full of food at this point, and couldn’t finish our entire plate, which deeply concerned both owner lady and owner man. We insisted that it was just because we were full, but they were unconvinced and to this day I wish I had just sucked it up and eaten it because their heartbroken eyes were too much to bear.

Leaving Barcelona was too much to bear. Luckily we were destined for the ultimate European beach holiday…in Mallorca!

Guest Post #1: Sauce & the SF Ballet

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

So I think Janet and R2 are in Toledo, Spain right now (I deduced this from R2’s facebook status: “Holy Toledo”).  While she has been nomming away on delicious ham and canned seafood, I have been enjoying my summer vacation since I finished my first year of law school two weeks ago!  Last time I had a vacation was spring break in March, during which I went up to SF to visit Janet for a few days.  Best spring break evar!!  R2 kept taking us out to dinner and drinks and awesome times and we got a tour of Lucasfilm and we went to the Exploratorium and what can beat all that?!?!1!  Maybe I should have been studying.  Oh well.

Anyway… during that trip we went to Sauce(!) before seeing The Little Mermaid at the SF Ballet.  I was hyped up for this meal since Janet kept talking it up and I looked it up on my handy Yelp! iPhone app and it got good reviews (currently 3.5 stars).  And let me tell you, it did not disappoint!  I guess the food genre is re-imagined American classics–oh so clever–but it really was quite delicious.  When we sat down, R2 promptly said “I like girly drinks, any suggestions?” to the waiter, who half-giggled and suggested the pink lemonade: muddled lemon, cranberry, and Ketel citroen. I had the Elderflower Kiss: St. Germain, Belvedere, and Prosecco! Yum!!  We promptly got drunk from these delightful libations, which might explain how much we ate.

We started off with a few of their “social plates:”  scallops wrapped in bacon on a bed of Brussels sprouts with balsamic bacon tomato sauce (pictured top); portobello mushroom fries with fat boy ranch dipping sauce; and the daily slider, which that day was a ham and cheese slider.

I swear I’m not a pile of turds!

Oh.Em.Gee.  The portobello fries.  Holy craptastic happiness in my mouth.  If you look at the picture, they don’t look like anything special–in fact, they kind of look like someone who ate corn just took a dump.  But they were so much more than a good poo.  They had this crispy, herbacious breading that somehow managed to be airy and substantial at the same time.  Portobellos are meaty by nature, but these were juicy and toothsome and the perfect contrast to the crispy coating.  However, the scene-stealer was the RANCH!  I know, right??  I am a believer in Hidden Valley Ranch.  Only two house-made ranches have ever beaten its flavor for me: Hole in the Wall in Santa Monica because they put dill in their ranch and I adore dill; and THIS ONE!!  Oh man.  It was so good that when they took the empty plate after we devoured the fries I think I squeaked out “Wait!!” and grabbed the ranch to put it on the sliders.  And everything else.

Tiny breadnom, huge tub o’ butter.

Oh yeah, sliders and scallops.  Forgot about those.  The scallops were awesome, duh.  They had bacon around them.  And the sliders were also good, with thick-sliced ham, melty cheddar, and mustard on the rolls they gave us at the beginning.  Oh wait!  I forgot to mention the breadnom too!  Cute little round-topped rolls that were so promising, but sadly were cold and thus no fun on their own.  Good as a slider though.

Perfectly burninated.

On to the entrees!  Janet had the baked mac & cheese: David’s old world ham and ham hock, Tillamook cheddar and four cheese cream sauce, served with green beans and bacon. Bacon seems to have been a theme to this dinner.  No wonder everything was so tasty.  I only had a few bites as I tend to have adverse reactions to creamy mac n’ cheese (sad times for me, since cheese is like my favorite food ever) and I didn’t want to be in the bathroom during the ballet.  But the bites I did have were quite delightful, though nothing super memorable.

I only had one bite of R2’s meal: cornmeal crusted Hawaiian butterfish with cauliflower and whipped potato puree, brussels sprouts leaves, and caramelized red onion salad. My bite was of the cauliflower puree, and it was gooood.  I love anything mixed with potatoes.  I didn’t try the butterfish, both because Janet ate most of it and I play favorites– Roy’s misoyaki butterfish will always have a special place in my heart.

My entree was the braised boneless beef short rib “pot roast” with roasted rainbow carrots, yukon gold potatoes, shallot & garlic, finished with fresh herbs, peeled baby roma tomatoes, and pan demi gloss gravy. Pretty fancy description for what was basically a large hunk of short rib on a pile of veggies.  Nonetheless, it was pretty awesome, though I prefer my short ribs melty and not quite as stringy.


Besides the mushroom fries, though, the highlight of the meal was dessert.  I am a dessert fiend, so of course I went ahead and ordered the Sauce sampler: PB&J cake, cinnamon sugar donuts, strawberries, and cream, and ice cream smash. I never realized how delicious PB&J can be when it’s sandwiched between vanilla pound cake and ice cream.  Also, the donuts!  Light, airy, melt-in-your-mouth, with the most amazing vanilla bourbon dipping sauce. Even after 3 appetizers, 3 entrees, and Janet’s aversion to dessert, we still decimated the plate.  High fives all around.  Good job, Sauce, you were awesome.

So then we walked 4 blocks (I think) in the bitter-freezing-icy-cold wind to the Opera House, just in time for the Little Mermaid: CREEPIEST BALLET EVER.   It was originally commissioned by the Royal Danish Ballet to be performed for the Queen in celebration of Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday.  If I were the queen, I would be like “What the fuck Hans Christian Andersen?  Why did you write such fucked-up stories?”  In the real fairy tale, the Little Mermaid doesn’t get the guy–instead, he marries someone else, and at the end she turns into “airy mist” and will eventually get to heaven.  So, she learns that unrequited love sucks, and she’s basically stuck in purgatory watching her prince be happy with someone else.  Awesome story, dude.

I’m sure you can imagine how horribly tragic that would be if performed in pretty tutus like a classic ballet, but then throw in a modern composer and choreographer and you get this:

I’m pasty white because I live in the ocean.

Scary Asian ballerina who does freaky arm movements and flaps around in her large pillowcases/pants/”fins.”  The music was also creeptastic–very eerie and clashy, with only a few major chords to ease the tension.  I mean, yeah, I enjoyed the dancing because it was artistic and cool, but this probably wasn’t the best ballet to pop my profesh ballet cherry.  There were only a few moments of pretty pointe shoes, and the rest was angry jumping and spasming.  Sighs.  Next time, we’re seeing something classic like Swan Lake.

131 Gough St.
San Francisco, CA 94102




SF Ballet
Tickets available at





icanhascheezburger launch party

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Yes, above is Cheezburger himself, Mr. Ben Huh.  The icanhascheezburger megacorporation had a book launch in San Francisco to celebrate Fail Nation: A visual romp through epic fails, Graph Out Loud: Music. Movies. Graphs. Awesome., and the second ICHC book, How To Take Over Teh World: A lolcat guide 2 winning.  The last follows in the footsteps of the fucking NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING first book and contains my favorite lolcat:

YESSS.  I love me some lolcats.  To the point where, upon learning of this event tonight and not being able to get a single person to come with me, I went alone.  ALONE.  I picked up a beer and kinda awkwardly stood around, flipping through the books and tapping on my iPhone as if I was texting, “Where the eff are you?” even though I wasn’t waiting for anyone.  Eventually a kindly woman befriended me, but then pressed a flyer for her husband’s book in my hand and I realized her friendliness may have been just a ruse.  But the book sounds cool so here is the shoutout that I promised her: The book is Confessions of a Catnip Junkie, written from the view of a kitteh named Doo Doo Cat.  Can’t make this shit up, people.  Then a kindly duo befriended me for reals and we went to dinner (post forthcoming).

So when you buy all three of the books you get a plushie Happy Cat. Naturally, I got all three, got the cat, threw in an extra $10 to the SF-ASPCA for the iPod raffle (didn’t win), and got all three books signed.

I didn’t even need to open each book to see what the inscription said. But you probably do not share a brain with the ICHC folks like I do, so here they are:

I smiled at the first, bristled at the second, and beamed at the third.

I got home and g-talked Tinx all about my night, and she said “i dont think ive found a fave” in regards to lolcats.  NOT FOUND A FAVE?!?!? I can, without the slightest effort, list my Top 5.  Here they are, in order (remember #1 is above [tiny trust]) :

Anyway, do you remember my New Year’s Resolution? Pertaining to cats?  Yeah, I kinda failed on that.

An Important Message on Safety

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Whoo hoo 2009! And as Janet’s shown, now is the perfect time to set some goals for the upcoming year. Whether your resolution is to stop eating the maple donut just because you think it looks lonely, or to actually talk to the cute girl at the coffee shop on the corner -at least so you don’t have to drink the horrible coffee just so you can see her, I’m asking you to add just one more: Always keep safety in mind.

Ok so I realize that’s a pretty broad subject that could apply to anything. But I’m not about to make this post about safe sex or making sure you wear your safety goggles while you work in the chem lab. Nope. This is about general safety in your general adventures and/or do-it-yourself shenanigans.

Example #1:
Safety while cutting. A while back I posted about my homemade solution to having a trendy bar scene going on at your very own sophisticated par-tay. And what could be more sophisticated than throwing your own inauguration ball/dance/prom? So after you pick up the requisite shrimp platter but before you start cutting the cardboard for your own Lit Bar Shelf (there needs to be a better name for that), keep this in mind:

OK so that wasn’t the worst picture, but you get the idea. That little number was done using a standard all-purpose scissor. I literally cut a chunk of my palm off. Hopefully now that you have that image seared into your brain (and if not, stare at it and think about what you would name it), you’ll always be sure to keep your body parts free of any harmful apparatus, because Hand does not equal Cardboard. If you plan on attempting any type of carpentry/craft(ery?)/knife work, perhaps you should invest in these:

This is totally a Psycho-style Knife Thrust Fail, but it clearly demonstrates the awesomeness that is a cut resistant glove. Can you imagine how bad things could have turned out if I had been drunk during that last project? Maybe I need to get some gloves.

Speaking of being drunk…

Example #2:
If you were to look in my desk drawer, you’d find two cardboard eye patches, one with a creepy blue eye drawn on to mismatch my brown one, and one that says “Don’t Peek!” While these things may somehow fit my career as a sometimes pirate, it is actually detrimental to my accounting work. So what’s the deal?

My friends know by now that sometimes when I over-partake of fine wines and strong spirits, I run into some issues with my eyes. Specifically, I have now on two occasions managed to scratch my cornea.

If you’ve never had this pleasure, let me just say that it feels like there is always something stuck in your eye and it makes your eye extremely sensitive to light. I had to turn off the lights in my office and spent most of the time crying from the pain my own computer screen caused me. Maybe this is just something that happens to me, but in the off-chance that there are others out there that suffer from this, I urge you to heed my warning after your inauguration party winds down and you head to bed. But be advised: I once had the presence of mind to remind myself I was drunk and shouldn’t take out my contacts. I failed anyway because I woke up the next morning missing the left contact anyway.

Lucky for me there’s a wikiHow on How to Remove Contact Lenses.

Anyway, now that we’re done with my display of undeniably fantastic motor skills, I have one last suggestion: If you’ve really got an itch to be extremely crafty and/or creative, but don’t have the knowledge nor materials to complete your idea, head over to You can either submit your own designs or ask an expert to help you out in creating whatever your overactive brain can think up.

The Counter: Adventure in Blind Dating

Monday, October 6th, 2008

In case you missed the awkwardness [you know, the jumping around of ConsumerMachine, this new MTFB site, etc.), I have now been single for seven months.  Being single, apparently, is completely intolerable to all of my friends who insist on pushing me to fall in love with someone and have babies yesterday.  I had been reluctant until I got an email from Saxy, who has impeccable taste in men (well, man – her husband is a doll) and is smart and usually has good judgment.  Her email extolled the virtues of her friend Christopher [“surfing, yoga-ing, bass-playing lawyer” who is “a total catch”] so I agreed to be set up on a blind date.

A BLIND DATE?!  I have never been on a fucking blind date!  My boss at the gym found me flat-ironing my hair in the locker room in preparation and said, “Good for YOU for putting yourself out there!”  I thought that was kind of a weird thing to say and I felt somewhat like some sort of elderly divorcee who is weary of men but was encouraged by her therapist to be brave and meet new people.

Christopher and I had agreed to meet at The Counter – an excellent choice on his part!  Cute, casual, but with a full bar – critical to socially lubricate the situation.  I got there 15 minutes early and then my brain started freaking me out.  I realized I had no idea what he looked like (he knew what I looked like kind of because apparently I had been at a party where he was?).  How was I supposed to figure out who he was?  I dreaded the awkward moments of making slighty-too-long eye contact with every youngish guy in the restaurant to see if it was him.  I sat in my car and wailed “Why DID I put myself out therrrrrrrre?!?!?”

I indulged the panic for 5 minutes, listened to some soothing NPR for 5 more minutes, and walked in. There were no guys hanging out by themselves so I figured he wasn’t there yet.  I waited outside, Facebooking on the trusty iPhone, until someone walked up and said, “Versatile black dress?”

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I had told him that even though I should be wearing, according to blind date custom, a dress in a distinctive hue or holding a book with a rose as a bookmark, that I would be wearing a black dress which is sooo versatile that it would surely work for a blind date.

Anyway, I looked up… and up, and up to see a super tall, extremely cute guy.  Phew.


We went inside and sat down with our burger checklists.  Oh, great.  An opportunity to reveal the depths of my neurotic indecision craziness within 2 minutes of the date starting.  I mean, a choice of ten cheeses, EIGHTEEN toppings, ten premium toppings, another EIGHTEEN sauces?  Jesus. Good start, good start.

Luckily, however, C was just as much of an indecisive freak as I was, and we struggled over our choices for many many minutes.  In fact, the table next to us sat down after us, ordered, got their burgers, and started eating before we even figured out what we wanted. I wavered between Danish blue cheese, horseradish cheddar, Tillamook chedar, back to blue, then to Gruyere, then on to herb goat cheese spread, then back to horseradish.

Then toppings? Avocado (a premium topping) was a strong contender.  4 toppings are included, and I had to resist the urge to exercise my right to all four.  I saw myself easily creating some disgusting monstrosity of a burger by combining pickles, cranberries, roasted corn & black bean salsa, and sprouts or something.

As C veered sensibly off into traditional burger territory with cheddar, bacon, lettuce, pickles and roasted garlic aioli on a turkey burger, I ended up somewhere completely weird (despite my intense efforts described in the previous paragraph) with Danish blue, dill pickle chips, tomato, grilled pineapple (which I planned to take off and eat as dessert – a plan which he copy-catted), and apricot sauce on a turkey burger.  C politely cheered on my choice of pickles, saying that the crunch of a pickle is essential for a burger.  A TEXTURE EATER?! A man after my own heart!

We also got the “fifty-fifty” which required ANOTHER devastating choice – fries & sweet potato fries OR fries & onion strings OR sweet potato fries & onion strings.  Here I bucked up and made us get the two fries, pictured above.


So here is the burger, after I dragged off the pineapple. The blue cheese was SO INTENSE – it looked more like guacamole than cheese! It was so sharp it made my mouth tingly~!  I scraped off a little more than half of it and doused the whole thing with the runny, sticky apricot sauce, which was super with the turkey.  The turkey may as well have been veal, with that smoooth nice texture.  Still, the whole thing was weird and I regretted all my crazy choices.

Christopher enjoyed his more, I think, though he took issue with the lettuce, which was not a nice sheaf of lettuce but rather shredded strips.  Once again I silently approved of his nuanced appreciation of crunch, not to mention his knowledge of the word “sheaf.”

Anyway, there were no awkward silences, except for a moment where I looked like a total fucking douchebag when I left to pee right before the check got there and returned after he had paid. I was intending to go splitzies, I promise!  Then we went to the Joker, a nearby super dive bar (“A great place to go if you don’t want to talk to anyone” says one CitySearch reviewer), where he scored major points by putting More than a Feeling in the jukebox in honor of the blog (singing more than a food bloooooooog).  All in all, a total success – so glad I put myself out there.


The Counter
2901 Ocean Park Boulevard
Santa Monica CA 90405

The Joker
2827 Pico Blvd Santa Monica
CA 90405-1919