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June 2012

May 2012

A Violent 21 Day Taco Bender...Is Coming to an End.


Oh the dirty little secrets I have...

Thing is, I don't eat meat.  Just doesn't sit well in my mind or my belly.  However - there are times when my mouth has no control.  And it just simply wants grease.  The grease of any meat I can get my hands on.  Doesn't happen often, but when it does - it totally dominates my whole world. 

Welcome to my 21 day crispy taco bender.

Here's how it's done.  I enter some sort of Mexican establishment.  Well, backtrack.  First, I or my pal Lisa have called them up (and confused the holy *f out of them) and demanded to know if they serve hard shell tacos with ground beef.  Muy importante. Must be ground beef.  The grease is like no other.  Keep in mind, most places don't serve ground beef tacos - or as they call them out this way - gringo tacos.  They are way more into carne asada, pork, chicken - whatevs.  But, if ground beef is a yes - well, we make our way there.

Enter taco being delivered to the table - always with a side of sour cream and extra cheese.  Cause here's what happens.  I scrape out all the meat (what I'm going for is a crispy taco made soft by the grease of the meat) and stuff it back with the 1st layer of sour cream, then the iceberg (must be 'berg), and all the cheese (needs to be shaved cheddar for maximum moan factor) and a final layer of cream.  I then toss on heart attack amounts of salt as well as a bit of salsa.  Usually this is all crunched down with a marg or two.  And, then another taco is ordered.  Or not, if the joint sucks. 

Over the past 21 days, I've hit so many places with horrific takes on tacos.  I mean, places with lines out the door - like Tito's Tacos.  YUK.  What the heck is the deal with that joint?  Are folks really that wildly uneducated about the way a hard shell should taste? 

I cannot believe that I've stayed on this wagon for so long.  But, for real - come June 1, I'm giving them up.  What I'm going to do instead is go on a 21 day health bender.  Or like, a smoothie bender.  Why not a yoga bender?  Who rolls thru 21 days of hard shells without blinking an eye?

The hands down LA winner for greasiset, most delish, ground beef taco (sans the ground beef, of course) is Hacienda Del Rey in Westchester.   They must be so sick of me by now - who is this crazy lady with this taco fix.  That's all I order, ever.  And their warm...with the perfect salsa and thick sour cream smothering it all. And, lots and lots of salt!

Yep - June 1.  Def a mad health kick.  I mean, I'm part of a CSA for God's sake! 



California Spiny Lobster Season...Over But Not Forgotten

Photo lob

Bring on the seasons....

I managed to find myself at a sustainable seafood cooking seminar this weekend at the magical store of Surfas. 

They had some good folks in there talking about reasons to eat seafood whilst it's in season, as well as this wizard chef, Mark Gold, from Eva.  He tricked out some mussels with a potato puree and a giant batch of spot prawns with fried tempura heads.  It was all delish and passed around to the audience like kids in a candy store.  Thing is - the reason it was so tasty was cause it was all just off the boat AND it was all in season.  You might think that seasonality doesn't matter with seafood, but it's just like fruit and veggies.  The fish come and go and they also need time to regroup and grow to a certain size.

There was also a fisherman in there that was answering questions - which of course, I stunned him with my litany of questions about fish fraud, fish tagging, and such...but it was just such a joy to see all these peeps really taking pride in where their fresh catch comes from.  And, just pulling off straight up responsible fishing.

Which brings me to California spiny lobster.  Now, ever since I was in Nicaragua years ago, I've had a real strong love affair with lobster (and mojitos and Flor de Cana rum).  I look for it in most places - but that does not mean that I will eat it in most places.  You just don't know where junk seafood trolls in from and you really gotta search out the spots that care.  The chefs that really know their shiz and have relationships with fishermen on that next level.

So, one day last fall I'm trolling about the marina and run into my old dockmaster (an avid diver and seaman all the way around) who was all jacked up about the opening day of lobster season.  His excitement in turn got me all jacked up and before you know it I was on the hunt.  Like hard core.  But, it was a little tough to come by restaurants actually serving TRUE Cali spiny lobster.  Guess where I found it?  That joint The Lobster, right off the Santa Monica pier.  I was soooo hesitant to try it thinking it was just a tourist trap, but after badgering the manager on the phone, he had me convinced that it was the real deal and BAM, I was on the move.  Turns out loads of locals go there - who knew?

Let me put it this way - no lobster I have ever had in all my travels in the world compared to that hulking slab of seafood.  It was char-grilled and dripping with butter.  Steam was smoking off it and the margaritas went down real, real kindly with it.

You know why it was so damn good?  Cause it was IN SESASON!  It was just off the boat.  It was fresh and mighty and since that day, I've pretty much turned my back on all lobster.  It was that phenom. And, now I have to wait til October to get it again - since the season is Oct thru March.

What made me bring all this up?  Welp, I was rockin' some research for my summer project of getting to know all the countries in the world via documentaries and food...and of course Afghanistan is #1 on the list.   I was looking up seasonal food there and of course all that pulls up is food shortages and god awful news about the country as a whole.  No matter.  I am going to cook some goodies from there.  I have my doc/movie list on the up and up...and I'm excited to get it all started.   I'm gonna wait til I move on my sailboat in a few weeks, though - cause right now I'm consumed with work and the FLO BO remodel beginnings.  And margaritas.   And all the seasonal goods in my CSA that I cannot possibly eat all of in one week. 

But, it's coming.  Summer ain't even here yet)...that's the good news!  And, if you've never shot over to Surfas - holy moly - bring the 'old credit card.  That place is insane. 


Casa de Mita in Punta de Mita - Who would EVER do The Four Seasons?

La foto

I guess I just don't feel like I've said enough about Casa de Mita. 

And, I say that because I think about it every day.  I just linger over memories of the lighting at night, the peachy sunsets, the chile oil that I devoured with everything (but which was especially good with buttered bread and smothering the just made ceviche). 

I keep thinking about my AM yoga classes with Tomas (who was #2 in massages only to Ayu in Candidasa, Bali)...and my daily lightily-buzzed strolls along the beach. 

The house pup was so happy sprinting along beside me and the staff there (one of whom was a budding photographer and took the above photo of the main casa) was just literally, the best staff ever.  So kind, funny, always on hand with a fresh drink...but knew when to disappear cause all you wanted to do was read deeply and watch the waves crash. 

This joint is for real my go to relaxation spot now and forever.  It's just got 6 or 8 rooms and when you're the only one there (was I was for a few days), it's like your own private mansion with a staff of 24 all focused on one thing - YOU.  I think I've mentioned the 500 thread counts (which is what really sold me on the place via the web), but man...I just can't get it out of my mind.  And, so easy to get to.   The trip of all relaxation trips. 

And, somehow through my daily walks in the marina, I'm still semi-sportin' the mega tan I got down that way.  Nice.




Street Food vs The Real Deal


I dream of food....

Look, I think we can all agree on one thing.  I'm a freaky-deaky foodie through and through.  It's so funny, just today, I was thinking - what in the world am I dedicating my life to?  Is there anything really out there that my soul is latched onto and wont let go of?  Of course, it all comes back to food.

I'm into the street, the rural, the ancient recipes, the grease, and the bubbling stew pots just as much as I'm into the homegrown, the fresh caught, the bio-dynamic, the organic, the heirloom, the farmers markets, the sprout fed eggs, and the herbs from the source. I love it all - but what I can that the REAL GOOD SHIT makes my tummy feel better.  Those first bites of street tacos are dead on delish, but the line caught tuna that just popped off the boat that morning - well, that's a horse of a different color.  Street = slam down.  Slow food = luxurious enjoyment.

I was at Casa de Mita and lounging around sucking down what was probably my 3rd margarita of the day (oh, morning) when the scent of fish frying up on the beach wafted up and nearly attacked me.  Immediate salivation.  I started snapping pix and finally the barefoot chef popped over with a plate of fish and crispy tortillas he'd just pulled out of the fryer and sweetly handed it up to my poolside perch.  What a man!  I took a few bites, but since I knew dinner was on the way, I handed off to my pals who work the bar and stood by for the sun to set a bit and my luxe meal to begin.

Cause, you see - at Casa de Mita, they don't play around with food.  It's some pretty next level cooking going on down in that tiny kitchen.  All these amazing pureed soups, delish chopped salads, the thinnest of sashimi, knobs of goat cheese, chunky salsas, fiery chile oils with fresh baked bread, whole fish that was just drug in that morning.  Bottles of chilled champagne, glass after glass of vino.  I mean, it's like a 3 hour gorging ordeal on a daily basis for dinner.  My fave in the world. 

After I sampled a few bites of the beach fish....thank god I waited...check out my main course - this slab of pepper crusted tuna.  I mean - WTF?  Just a sight to behold. 



I Live on TOP of the Ocean, but do I Really SEE the Ocean?


 God Bless Water....

Every day, I head to work or come home from work and am confronted by the majesty of the ocean. I live on top of it, for the love.

But, not until I gaze at a picture like this (shot from the deck of Casa de Mita in Mexico) do I realize what I'm missing in the ocean. I don't have to peer and poke about. Nor do I have to monitor high and low tide. Who am I looking for, or better yet - who the hell am I avoiding?

I just know that water connects us. Connects me. Brings all the people I love closer to my being - because guess what, they wanna be near water as well. See it, touch it, listen to it, watch it rise and lower.

At Casa de Mita, though - I just became the ocean. The waves crashing lulled me to sleep and also awoke me from my death-grip slumber. It soothed me. It was my company at night when I dined alone with a bottle of champagne. It kept me locked down late night into a spy thriller and also made me feel alive when the sun rose and the fish started frying up at the small palapas down the way.

The ocean can take over ones soul. Like the drop of a hat. Done and done....

I Think What We All Need Right Now is a Top Shelf Margarita


Lined with some kickin' chile salt...

And, if I had my way, it would be slurped down on the deck of Casa de Mita - while watching the waves crash and the sun slowly sink into the Pacific.  This tiny boutique hotel just north of Puerto Vallarta (down a long dirt road in Punta de Mita to be exact) stole my heart when I went down there a few weeks ago.  So much so, that I'm gonna need to dedicate my next few posts to it. 

Let's travel together the rest of this week and escape for a minute.  I know I need it.  Til manana...



J.R. Organics CSA - I Can Finally Join...


I just don't wanna go anywhere for a good, long spell...

Bottom line is - I'm home.  I can join a CSA.  Which means that every Sunday, I can roll into the Mar Vista Farmers Market and pick up my full share of organic food.  A big huge box full of all kinds of fruit and veggies for about $28 bucks.  $10 extra bones gets me a huge bushel of flowers (of my choice).  It's just heaven. When have I been able to commit to something like this in the past 3 years?  

And, when I've sorted my CSA, I can just mosey about the market and flush out the bounty from JR's and bring it all home to the soon-to-be remodeled FLOBO kitchen and go nuts.  Toss on some tunes, wash everything down.  Make soup.  I killed some Greek green beans today.  Chomp on blueberries.  Suck down a juicy strawberry.  Chat up the neighbors and plot and plan a billon recipes with fava beans.  Never cooked them before, but something big is gonna shake down this week.

What a brilliant way to spend a day.  Then, oh joy, then...I discovered an app called: Still Tasty.  It's a website, too, but for real - the app is insane.  Tells you how to store EVERYTHING proper and if you enter your goods, it sends you alerts like TIMES UP!  Meaning ditch those apples, sorry!  Best thing I've stumbled across in years.  Like, I knew the best way to keep basil fresh is snip bottoms, put in about an inch of water, cover with plastic bag and keep on counter (never put basil in fridge, it turns black and fross so fast).  Same steps go for mint - but who knew it should reside in the fridge not on the counter?  God, I just love it all.

Cannot wait for my new kitchen.  Guess what I really want is a restaurant)

My New Kayak - Tarpon Wilderness 100


Kayaks - what is really needed?

Freaky deaky how much time it takes to find the right vessel for your vibe.  I just wanted a kayak that was small - like 10'.  Weighed something insignificant - 53 lbs.  Was a super cute color - I'm calling it cucumber (The Cuke as in fatty speak).  And, that I could literally flip and flop about the marina in.  No fear.  No hesitations.

I ain't looking to traipse the damn Congo in the thing.  I like sneaking up on peeps.  Peering into situations.  Observing from up close and afar with nobody none the wiser.  A nice cup holder will do as well (full of something saucy of course).  Couple of hatches to stow some things in.  Sleek and sassy.  And, I dig the sit on top.  I'm claustrophobic you know.  Can't be trapped down low - which means a full flip and near death experience for me.

I tried out one this weekend - a pals pal had it for sale.  14' of super fast, super white insanity.  I was flying in about 2.2 and literally slid straight up under a 50' catamaran.  Just cruised on thru.  God help me.  Was a good deal - but more next level kayak.  I need the baby girl that's gonna have my back.

This one arrives on some giant 18 wheeler this week - and will be put to good use this summer and onward.  Have you ever seen a more adorable kayak?  I can strap it to the roof of my Land Rover and head to Baja - no problemo.  I can haul about in the water with my Whisper Light paddle.  I can step off the back of the FLO directly onto it.  I can lock it down on my sailboat easy peasy.  Guess I could bench press it at 53 lbs :)

Tarpon Wilderness 100.  Love it.


What If I Went Back in Time?

Photo 1

Back in time...

I happened to grab lunch at Beachwood Cafe the other day and I saw this old billboard outside.   Thing is - it's the place where I found my first Hollywood apartment at the tender, insanely young age of 20 years old.  I was in fresh from TN and living in the youth hostel at the Hollywood YMCA when I noticed this locals only billboard (all I did back then was cruise around and try to figure out how to "make it").  I saw nothing my 3k credit card limit could afford and fell into a deep depression immediately, but some random dude was standing there and offered me his copy of the latest Westside Rentals doc.

And dontcha know it - there was a tiny studio for rent right up underneath the Hollywood sign.  $400 a month - all included...with a view looking right up onto the sign.  I was in hog heaven.  My landlady was a little grandma from the south and we fell straight in love with each other. Plants everywhere, lemon trees, views from the top of the Hills.  Beyond perfect.

I always wonder what it would be like to start over out here.  Did I make all the right moves?  Where would I have been if I hadn't have gotten that little place, or lived at the YMCA hostel where I met the dude who introduced me to the first grip I'd ever met - someone who actually worked on movies - that got me a job on a TV show.  Thanks Frolic Room.  It's so easy to forget how it all happened.  Whatever "all" is.  I just keep moving on...and now that I'm back - it's like I never left.

Maybe I'd have a restaurant in Mexico if I'd never come here?  Maybe I still will :)

Meanwhile, the Beachwood Cafe did a mega makeover a few months back and is now farm-to-table....and totally delish on a whole new homemade level.  Menu changes weekly.  Who'd have thunk?  (Sorry for quality of iphone pix) - but lemme tell ya, the harissa sauce on the poached eggs is insane. 


Photo 2


My Other Summer Project that Revolves Around Geography


Makin' my way around the world this a real different way.

Look at all those masts and imagine where in the world these vessels have been.  This is the view right off my little FLOBO porch and it just takes my breath away every time I look out.  That's the thing with a sailboat - just a bit of wind - and bam, you are on your way.

Once I get underway on my remodel, I'm gonna have to chill on my sailboat a bit.  Which is great by me.  It's right up on the main channel and the view is bananas.  All the sea creatures abound and it's literally a slice of mad paradise.  Plus it will give me a chance to get to know all the new projects I need to tackle on it.  They never, ever, ever end.

Meanwhile - I've been marinating this idea about ways to learn more about the world.  I'm pretty decent with geography, mostly due to travel and my crazy trips on food...but there is just so much more to learn.  So, I'm gonna spend the summer and do a little something like this.

Start with the letter A and go thru every country out there. 

Pick 3 of the best films/docs from each country and watch them down.

Then, get into some food - make a few recipes from the country.  Like true to the rural roots food.

And, finally - try to concoct a super crafted cocktail from the herbs and spices the country is mad about.

Of course, all findings will be published right up here on The Tooth.

**There will of course have to be some digging deep research done on each country - just out of plain curiosity and a need to know.  Like how do you fly there, what's the VISA situation, where do they stand politically, what are the human rights issues (guess I'm all about equality), who are the game changes and pioneers of the future (take me to your leader), whats the normal income per family - you know all the things that you'd just get into to become a better educated person about whats on the happs on this giant green planet.

It all starts with the filmmakers though.  The artists in the said countries who go to great strides to get their stories told in a way that sheds a little light on their slice of the world.  We're all so different and yet, most folks just live within their 20 mile radius. 

First country up is A - Afghanistan.  If you've never eaten Afghan, well - let me put it this way - catch ya on the rebound Indian.  I have the first films chosen, so let me get into it and I'll report back pronto.  You might learn a little something, so def check back in on that project as the summer progresses and join me if you want.  Just a real neat way to dig in deeper.

Brought to you by The Tooth :))