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January 2014

Tiny House Blog - Truly a Gem for Small Homes with Spunk

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I love this blog...

Tiny House Blog is super informative, super engaging and just a mighty good read.  I've been following them for years...and they've covered me and my endeavors several times (thank you!).  So, it's no surprise they would write about the FLO for a recent post.  Lots of good vibes and words, but man...It's Always Real Interesting When You Read the Comments.  I just had to post back at the end of reading them all.  The product placement and 4th World Love comments did me in!

Here is the link to their write up on the FLO.

Enjoy...and for real, if you get a minute, do dig thru Tiny House Blog.  It's just a wonder to behold how folks strive to live these days...I'd say, myself included.


And The Man Brought Lobster

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What a magical world we live in...

We were just about to sit down to lunch on the Flo the other day with a nice glass of pinot (crazy delish tuna niciose along with some Puy lentils with burrata and basil oil - these lentils are the best nuggets ever cause they dont turn to mush when cooked), when over pops my diver.  He has some cool ideas he wanted to share about the wine hatch in the middle of the living room floor and since he's motoring around the marina all day on his dinghy...well, it's easy to just jet on by on a boat.

Anyhow...we catch up, brainstorm a bit, talk about his little mini farm here in the marina, and I just happen to mention that it's spiny lobster season.  He's like - oh, do you like lobster and I'm like - ummmmmm, for sure LOVE IT.  Well, that turned into him leading us over to his dink all non-chalant and opening up the lid to a big fat mess of lobsters he'd just dove for that AM down in Redondo.  YAHOO!   Now, I've never cooked a live lobster, but it was high time to learn.   

First off (as per Nigel the Diver), we tossed him in the freezer for a minute while we gathered our thoughts and knives.  Stunned him a bit, I'm sure.  Next up, the grill was fired up and some garlic butter got to being shook down on the stove (thanks Robin for the fresh garlic from the garden)!  Minka was already drooling and she didn't even know what the hell was happening yet.  A fresh glass was poured and the par-tay began.

Out came the just sharpened butcher knife and with a quick stab thru the eyes and a long slow slit down the entire body...welp, we had ourselves a dead lobster to clean.  Once scrubbed, we smeared it with loads of the bubbly butter concoction, double fisted squeezes of fresh lemon, and just tossed it on the grill for about 10 min.  

SO SO SO SO amazing.  Next day, the leftovers turned into a delightful mayo and celery laced lobster roll piled high on a butter toasted whole grain hot dog bun.  Funny, silly, sunshiney magical world.  Thank you mama ocean, and thank you saint Nigel.  

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Flora Farm - The Trip of a Lifetime for Foodies in Baja

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Here's the latest from this months issue of Baja Bound!  

Flora Farms - The Trip You Must Make in 2014

If there is one trip that should be on your radar in the upcoming months, it’s absolutely got to be to the magical estate that is Flora Farms. This dreamlike culinary institute is tucked way beyond the edge of a dirt road on the cusp of San Jose del Cabo and is truly a taste of the good life. Celebs and locals both rave about it...now I can finally say, I know why.

It was my 40th birthday and you better believe I was hell bent on spending it somewhere unreal. I’ve been reading about Flora Farms for a spell now – in my farm-to-table quest that takes me all over the back roads of Baja - but to be able to spend my big 4-0 birthday there was a treat that was to become legend in my soul. How often have you ever said that about a restaurant experience? It makes me realize how far I’ve come in all the years I’ve spent traipsing the Baja. If I want it, I go find it. And, the Baja allows it and serves it straight up. Period.

We arrived for lunch – which was cool by me. Fresh off the road from Loreto via an overnight in Todos Santos, this was to be a meal fit for kings before hauling back up to Loreto that same day. My dog was welcomed with friendly coos and a big bowl of water, along with some mega hard playtime with the scads of rescue dogs that race around the front grounds greeting everyone with huge toothy smiles and can-you-believe-I-hit-this-jackpot energy.

I did the Cinderella swirl the minute I walked into the open air seating area, mimicking the dogs knowing ‘tudes. Holy moly! Talk about a way of life; let me put it this way, in these words to all foodies (and non-foodies alike) out there. There will be no other experience in your culinary searches the world over that overwhelms like Flora does. None. 

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From the lush gardens (they grow everything on site), to the farm bar (finally, true mixology drinks in the lower sphere of Baja), to the catch-all farmers market (all produce picked that morning), to the straight-out-of-a-magazine design of the culinary cottages, to the open grounds (my dog went nuts when she saw her first turtle), to the set up of the cooking workshop in the middle of the gardens (I would like to spend the rest of my life right there, or at least have my ashes spread) - Flora Farms enchants from every angle. The owners, Patrick and Gloria Greene, have concocted a fantasy world for anyone that has ever had a dream about opening their own restaurant or enjoying a good meal. The inspiration alone is shocking and dramatically different than anything one might think they know about food (or the serving and preparation of) before walking in.

We started with piles of just baked bread that made the taste buds quiver. As much as we tried to stop eating the nut and herb filled chunks of bread, it was impossible. We were stuffed before we even finished the basket, but that didn’t deter us. Out came a bowl of cucumber and almond gazpacho that holds strong in the top handful of dishes I’ve ever had...anywhere in the world. Poured tableside in a bowl smeared with smoked paprika, this chilled soup is nothing like the Spanish version you might be used to on a hot summer day. Instead, it’s as if a rural king broke bread with a world-renowned chef and they turned out this doozy after a leisurely day of poking about the garden with a bit of chilled Rosé in hand.

Next flew out a mountain of crispy French fries alongside a luscious croque madame, done right with the best ingredients found in all of Baja (shaved ham, gooey gruyere, olive and nut bread). This butter soaked sandwich with a fried egg up top could fill up two people, easy. In the same breath, a fat hill of housemade pasta appeared. The simplest of ingredients (flecks of parmesan and herbs, shaved carrots, a speck of cream) managed to equal a mess of moans from both of our mouths. Full as we were, oh well. Bring more drinks!

The final hit was a birthday carrot cake that we couldn’t possibly down in that seating. Our bellies were stuffed, we had a long ride back to Loreto and Minka (our dog) couldn’t stop drooling. But, don’t you know – ‘round about La Paz, we pulled over and wolfed that cream cheese frosted sweet treat in the span of about 30 seconds. A two-bite each whammy…after all, you only turn 40 once…and I’m a farm girl (read Baja gypsy) at heart.

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My Next Big Road Quest Will Be...

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to find the perfect Mexican village.

Why?  Cause I think about it every single day.  And sometimes, you just gotta go with the ongoing thought process. It will be a trip that happens later in the year, but an epic one.  Done by truck, with dog in tow.  Somewhere on the Pacific coast is the tiny village that haunts my mind. 

The places that come to mind are already too saturated...probably because I know about them so well.  I'm not saying I wont revisit them and give them a go, but I feel like the PERFECT place is one that I've not been to yet.  It would have the vibe of San Pancho (maybe it is San Pancho), a bit of the arts like San Miguel de Allende, the walkability of Yelapa, totally drivable from the USA and not on the expensive side like Isla Mujeres.  I dig the island flavor of Isla Mujeres but I'm not feeling the Caribbean these days, and Isla Holbox - though cute - just seems so far away. 

Maybe once I'm further down - Puerto Angel area - maybe things will start to click again.  But I think it's literally a border cross and a mosey all the way down the Pac side for a few months.  Why not?

I just went to Baja this past weekend for a weekend long Spanish class and I think I've quite possibly been handed the golden key to understanding how to finally master this language.  Can you imagine if that's the case?  

I've got to start planning it all now - but again, most likely, this wee spot on earth is a place I will happen upon randomly - like most good things...obvi, food is a priority - there must be super fresh seafood and warm balmy waters.  The ocean must be swimmable (unlike most of Todos Santos); it would be super if I could ride my bike most places; dog-friendly is a must; margs must always be on the happs; and it's got to have a tight-knit (but not unbreakable) community feel for things. 

Dang, if you go back all these years to my first Toothie posts, I was looking for the same thing way, way back then.  Unreal...my soul has never stopped searching for a place to land south of the border.

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Fairhope, Alabama - I Finally Made it Thru

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After all these years...

Let me digress.  Many moons ago, me and my pals decided to do a TV show down in Yelapa, Mexico.  A demo tape of sorts.  We shot it and sold it to the Travel Channel and it eventually became, Craving Adventure (watch it here).  On the original shoot in Yelapa, we had a gal join us named Edie.  She was a shooter that offered to come down for free and film with us (of course we paid all expenses)...and she was always raving about this little spot in Alabama called Fairhope.  She had a rental house there and just went on and on about how it was the best small town ever.  Of course, my interest was high level cause I'm always on the hunt...and it's never managed to seep out of my memory.

Every single time I go home to TN, or think about bolting from LA, or daydream about a small coastal village to wind down in (on the USA side of things), I've always gone back to thinking of Edie and her love of this tiny town.  Even though I'd never been there...and rarely every saw anything on it in travel magazines...and knew next to nothing about it.  It's just stayed tucked way back in my nugget.

Well, this trip to TN (the epic 8 day road trip me and Lis just took across country before the holidays), I decided it was high time to hit up Fairhope - you know, cause you never know when one needs to bolt and begin anew.  We were fresh out of spending the night in another gem of a coastal village, Ocean Springs, MS, and were simply going swing through Fairhope for a look-see before cutting north to Chattanooga.  

Of course, several glasses of wine and some perfect Italian food later, we were hooked on this town.  Everyone pets your dog voraciously, the weather was super balmy, all the peeps were crazy friendly and happy, the shops were unique and full of treasures, there were big ole sweeping magnolias in the the plethora of parks, the coast was literally RIGHT THERE, and one could just imagine getting a wee cottage in Fairhope and making a go of it as a spy thriller writer.  Me and Lis kept looking at each other, saying, "I'm serious!  Are you serious??"

I will indeed make it back someday, but if anyone ever hops through this town headed points South East, well...hit up Pinzone's Italian.  It's worth it for the baked bread and their dog happy ways.  Not to mention the ragefully delicious lasagne with pesto.  I just can't quit thinking about the place.  And guess what our waitress had just done?  Left NYC and started over in Fairhope :).  Every road has a story.

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