Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Around the Town

There are arguments you can make for posh places of leisure. You feel important as you lean into the marble topped bar to request a manhattan with sazurac. You surmise you look good as you glance in the mirror and notice the finacially stable inhabitants( you do not count yourself) of this swank place also looking good. You feign relaxation. You laugh and sip your fine cocktail and when the tab comes, you behave like everything is normal and you won't have to pawn your guitar in the morning before the bank opens. I have enjoyed a couple of drinks in the Chateau Marmont or the Standard rooftop because we all love to feel glamorous even if we know its a sucker's paradise.
Then there are the inspired spots in your neighborhood that feel like mother's milk. Comfortable as oatmeal and real as a BLT. We came across a couple of these nooks as we ran around Berkeley and Oakland this weekend. The first place aptly titled "The Pub" was a converted house filled with odds and ends of furniture that served inspired draft beer from around the area along with a couple of English classics to justify the pub thing. Common enough for a bar to serve beer, I know. However, they also sold antique, carved smoking pipes, cigarettte holders, cases, and other smoking ephemera from finer times-all under an old jewelry store counter. The kicker is you can buy single cigarettes that you roll yourself with a choice from several glass jars full of loose leaf tobacco ranging from turkey,england, amsterdam, and us. Say what you will about not smoking in a bar and I will agree with you most of the time, but being able to buy good tobacco and smoke it outside with your pint is part of a tradition I will not interfer with...
Mama Buzz is a lived- in, lightfilled 2 room cafe withmismatched tables and good art on the walls. There is a back covered patio and a counter with swivel stools, which goes a long way in my book, squeezed into the room opening to the street. The barkeep had a showing of quiet, sexy drawings of women from the soft glow seventies,which we loved. It's located amongst the slew of galleries that make up the downtown oakland scene so ya know it's jammin with sweaty beauties and freaky street people just following the crowd on certain evenings. We had passionfruit iced tea. What will you have?

Taqueria Tremors

A city is like a vacuum cleaner attached to your wallet. If they could figure out how to charge you for breathing the air of the streets, the city planners would initiate oxygen maids making sure you had your ticket to breathe. no ticket. no air. no exceptions...Having said this, eating in an urban area can be easier on the bank book than say, putting gas in your car. This holds especially true in small, ethnic eateries. We found this little joint nestled next to the Triple Base Gallery in the Mission district. The music and smells wafting out the door hooked us like little puppies. It was then we saw the $1.50 tacos sign and we fell apart completely. This guy had a wheel shaped grill that was sectioned off for the various meats( pork, beef, chorizo) and the hub in the middle was a griddle for tortillas. Our man worked fast and before we could say," gracias, amigo," we had a paper plate filled with dripping street food... and sliced radishes to boot, for those of ya in the know. Bottled coca cola is a necessary companion in these scenarios. Places like these always feel a bit tattered and comfortable and jumping with happy eaters stuffing their faces and talking while chewing.Guilty as charged. Kendra even folded her plated in half and guided the left over salsa directly down her throat. I cannot think of a higher compliment.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Some of you know this about me: I have a list that I have kept since I was young that is a wish list of sorts. I update it from time to time but it consists of things I want to have, or things I want to do, as well as things I want to learn. Well one thing that never changes on the list is that I want to have a lemon tree. I love lemons. In fact, when my grandparents used to visit us from Arizona they would bring us boxes of lemons and I would take them quartered and sliced in a plastic bag to eat at lunch. Sour.
So I may not yet have my own lemon tree but I am getting close. We made some new friends last week and they invited us over to pick as many lemons as we need, whenever we need. We picked 98 meyer lemons the other day and have since made lemon cookies, rosemary lemonade, lemon sorbet, gin cocktails with lemons, preserved lemons and tonight I secured a recipe from my friend Jen for Limoncello. Italian style.
I love lemons.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Spring has sprung

Spring is in the air. Last night we walked around a really pretty neighborhood in Santa Cruz before going to an art opening. There were so many incredible flowering trees and shrubs and gorgeous blooms. The air smells positively sweet and we are anxiously awaiting the opening of thousands of fragrant jasmine buds that cover an area of our yard.
This morning we ate breakfast at our friends Maureen & Eddie's house and walked down to Pleasure Point to watch a surfing competition. Pretty amazing. I'm impressed....the waves are HUGE!!! We saw a pod of porpoise as well as sea lions. Its all still surreal. Then we went to a plant nursery not to far from our house...a farm called "Love Apple Farm". It was inspiring...so many things growing and ready to transplant, as well as things fully mature in the garden plots. HAPPY SPRING!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Family Ties

My parents and my 9 year old niece came out to visit. It was Haley's spring break and she and I were co-conspirators in making this trip happen. Even tho Aaron & I would be excited to have ANY friends and family visit us, for some reason my nieces above everyone else are who I really want to see out here. They left yesterday, and needless to say I really really really miss my family. SO, I decided to post a blog about our time together, not only to share a synopsis, but to lure our other loved ones to come out and share in the beauty. It was so AWESOME to be the ones to introduce Haley to the ocean for the first time. And she met the wondrous sea with enthusiasm. Tho it was only 47 degrees in the water, she convinced my dad and Aaron both to get wet. I took my shoes and socks off, but there was no way I was going deeper. Mom cheered us all on.
I put a lot of thought into how to construct our week together and I gotta say, it was all executed with good cheer and fun. From hikes in 2 of our favorite state parks to a boat ride around the Bay and under the Golden Gate bridge to a vegan meal at a secret cafe in Berkeley, I feel like our time was really solid. I gotta just say that Aaron makes such a stellar uncle. He painted a little mural on the ceiling for the sleep-outs in the Chinook, and helped Haley win 29 plastic jumping frogs at the arcade on the Santa Cruz boardwalk.
We feel so lucky to have had this time together...never before have I gotten to explore tidal pools with my parents, eat picnics in the redwood forest and on the beach, stop by roadside farm stands and buy artichokes and strawberries, stay in a great roadhouse inn within spitting distance of the ocean and all around have a truly memorable time. I feel grateful.