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November 2012
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December 2012

P is for Perfect Meal (@Sandzibar in La Cruz, Mexico)

At least for me, this is the perfect meal.
Thing is, I'm a straight up nut when it comes to finding the perfect meal.  I walk in.  I walk out.  I sit down.  I get up and leave.  I sniff about.  I make up a reason to bolt.  All if the vibe don't suit me.  If the food on other peeps plates looks suspicious, later.  If the wait staff blows, holla.  If there is lit no good vibe, I'm out.  I can't deal and I'd rather spend the dinero elsewhere.  
It's been known to drive my pals MAD. I just want good, good food all the time. I do the research.  I put in my time.  I read the mags.  Peruse the blogs. Talk to the locals.  Scan the horizon for a sign that my belly will be satisfied - and it's usually not coming from the super hot spot.  Or the most expensive. Or the raved about.
It's just coming cause it's damn good food.  
Fresh. Natural. Organic. Special.  
Which is why I was really stunned that the meal I had at beachside Sandzibar (just a stones throw from Punta de Mita) a few weeks ago down in Mexico was so freaky delish.  This place is the kind of spot that I usually avoid.  But, I was on the hunt for fresh seafood, hadn't eaten since breakfast, had just tore down from the mountains and was shakin' for a cold, cold margarita.  Don't get me wrong, the vibe is pretty chill there.  The view is lovely.  The staff is friendly.  It's more about the customers.  All seem rich.  All seem like they'd literally curl up and DIE before eating at a nana's place down the dirt road. They would turn over their first born before tasting the juicy chicken off the roadside grill in San Pancho (another entry is needed for that one).  So, therefore, I'm usually keen to head on.  But, we stopped.  
Immediately, I slurped down a PERFECT margarita.  Then another.  We ordered up a greek salad and seared octopus over hummus.  Simple enough.  Well, freakin' kudos to these chefs (and chefs they are - no backhand cooking up in here).  
From the greens, to the cheese, to the dressing, to that AMAZING hummus, to the bread and sauces, to the charred octopus, to the limey/tangy/perfect 'rita - I was just taken aback.  Like skidding to a stop every few seconds to let my mouth regroup.  Reset.  
Which brings me to why this was a perfect meal.  It's cause it was CLEAN. Super clean and super fresh.  It's literally the way I need to eat every single meal of every single day.  Small portions.  Immediate ingredients.  Well paced and thoughtfully presented. Just right.  Right with the bellys and the minds and the eaters of the world.   
That said, I aim to have the perfect meal every day from here on out.   At version of it.  You never, ever have to diet if this is the daily way.  God, it all seems so simple.

O is for Olives (at Bell Street Farm)

_MG_0780 Los Alamos, CA
A one street town with a crazy cool vibe.  It's on the way back down from No. Cal - we literally flew past the sign hauling ass in the airstream, but I knew if we turned around, I would find something real, real good. 
It was sprinkling baby raindrops when we wandered in, all wet, starving and parched.  One look at the front case full of local cheeses and the front wall full of regional wines, I was in.   It's just the way you should consume meals.  No matter it was barely noon - several glasses of wine were in order.  Big plops of cheese on a slab of wood.   Grainy mustard, crusty bread and a small bowl full of ripe olives.  Oh joy!
The shelves were covered with all the cookbooks I need to own, their were yummy smelling candles tucked in every corner, and the chicken that rolled out of the kitchen was like non other.  Once in my life have I had a bird like that  - and it was in a remote French village a billion years ago.  The chicken salad was my perfect creation of a salad (for real:  half-rotisserie Huntsinger free-range chicken, butterleaf salad, torn bread croutons, house vinaigrette with rosemary & white bean hummus - this is how the menu describes it), while the prosciutto & Bellwether pepato (meat with butter on a French roll) was trippy delish.  I simply did not want to leave this little haven.  And, the even let the little beast Minka in the front door.  We're delighted to have her, in fact.
Oh you know what happens next - I'm looking up land, yelping all the local restaurants, day dreaming about my own personal take over of Bell Street Farm.  But, the only prob is - it doesn't need improvement.  Usually I want to take over so I can bring a joint to it's full glory.  But, BSF is in it's prime.  I cannot wait to go back.  And, on the real - when the F am I going to just open a little eatery.  Enough already!

N is for Next Year

Yah, there will be one...
Seems tomorrow is supposed to be the end of the world.  I say bring it.  Sick of the stress of this here life.   However, if for some reason we all make it through the end of time, I for one plan on livin' it large.  
Here's what I'm done with.  Actually, I was about to launch into all the bad of the bad.  Cause some days it def seems like it's straight up the end of the world as we know it.  The bills.  The lack of communication.  The work.  The unhealthy habits.  The truck repairs.  The ugly hair.  The jacked body.  Oh, it's bad.  But really - what's that bad?
We got laughs.  We got big ideas.  We got good food.  We got future plans.  We got funny pets.  We got good family.  We got killer friends.  
May next year - and, let's just say tomorrow starts the NEW YEAR, I wanna just keep on keepin' on with the good food like Alila Bali serves up.  Homemade jams.  Super shaken cocktails.  Tiny omelette's.  Poached fish in coconut milk. Baby quiches blanketed in greens.  
Cause good food = good exercise = good love = good life.
Dead ramble, but it's real and it makes sense if you really, really think about it.  Hopefully with a real nice glass of lightly chilled pinot noir.  

K is for Kill the No Dogs on Beaches Ban

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K is for Kill the No Dogs on Beaches Ban
For real, how could you not let dogs run free on the beaches without the possibility of a hefty fine?  No real beaches in LA allow dogs - but everyone does it.  Which is great - 'til you get a fine.  Minka gets a taste of the Pacific several times a day.  She's dead asleep one minute, then the next, she's literally bounding down the sandy beach - digging a hole to China, chasing other dogs, testing the waters, discovering piles of seaweed, and racing after her favorite orange ball.
The minute we come into contact with a fresh ocean breeze, she's hanging her head out the truck window, sniffing the salty air.  Her super sonic puppy instincts the second we're back in the confines of the marina and can't wait to prance the promenade.  
So, for all the puppy glee - why the ban?  Just allow dogs everywhere.  So many people have them.  Why are they made to feel like they are doing something illegal when they head to the beach?  Unreal.  
That's yet another reason why Mexico is the place to be.  Down in Cerritos, where we go surfing, dogs play in the same warm water the surfers play in. They run wild with joy - swimming, exploring, lounging, and straight up smiling.
I love Mexico.
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I is for Immerse

I is for Immerse.
My good friend Hassan is a photographer.  I can't say I made him one, but I certainly took him under my wing and paved a narrow dirt path for him to traverse.  He started out a student at the CDC in Indo - courtesy of 4th World Love.  He spoke a tiny bit of English when I first met him and he hovered on every word that I spoke, especially when it came to explaining things about taking photos.  
We'd roll around the island on motor bikes, checking in on the local folks, noting improvement in sponsored activities and he was constantly there - available to assist, happy as a clam, and always super on point.  Just ready and avail to hold my camera.  Waiting for me to utter one quick tidbit about any new slice of education he could possibly scrap up - notepad at the ready. He was willing and hungry to immerse himself in learning.  Just like a sponge. Soaking it all in.  
I tend to give him a camera every time I'm back in Indo.  My random cast off technology.  Not cause it doesn't take good pix.  But because he deserves to have what I have.  To learn on what I learned on.  To have the freedom to immerse himself in a trade/craft like anyone in the Western world can do.  
He sends me pix now and again - I love the macro shots and the wedding pix. He's become the village photographer.  He speaks great English now.  He's still a farmer at heart, but he makes me proud as a mama bear with his tenacity, gift and humor.
Hassan.  My friend, the photographer.  
See his pix below.

H is for Honor Thy Body

H is for Honor Thy Body
This is the steak that started it all (see above pic).  My summer of relentless meat debauchery.  You see, I don't eat meat.  Oh, I slurp up the juices.  I don't mind the just-so stocks.  I love when mashed potatoes are smothered in lamb shank - I skip the shank and shove down the infused potatoes like an animal.  But something happened to me this summer.  I went to Baja, had a bit of red wine, and literally fell off the wagon harddddd.  It was a charred piece of meat that had no dressing save for it's own smoky scent and some fat hunks of garlic.  I took a tiny nibble and before I could count to three, the plate was snatched up and planted in front of my lips.  Sharing with nobody!!
That one Mexipade threw me off my veggie ways all summer long.  To this moment. But, you see the thing is, I'm an A blood type and guess what we're not supposed to have?  MEAT.  I'm sure it's the reason I'm sleepy all the live long day.  I'm certain the cure for my lethargy is coming off the stuff, but it's been a hard, hard road.  
I've spent the long, long days of summer and early fall devouring animals in any which way I can find them.  Sure, they are grass fed.  They are free range. They are cage free.  They are roaming with the Gods, I'm sure.  
I've had vats of pork belly in blissful bowls of ramen.  I've had pounds of steak and eggs with homemade A1 sauce & tangy chimichurri.  There's been dabbles with carpaccio (eeeee!).  I've consumed my body weight in mayo slathered all over soft sesame buns bathed in hamburger grease.  Chicken potpie of all types (PS - best one EVER is at MB Post) is my new best friend.  Acorn fed pig is like nothing in this world.  I've found biscuits that rival my grandmothers/moms/dads literally swimming in creamy, pepper-sprayed sausage gravy.  It's been a heart-attack 6 months, but the time has come to get back to honoring me bod.
Cause, you see...I just feel so, so much better sans meat.  I still rock the dairy, but the meat has got to go.  Minka can have all the bones she wants, they just can't come from my leftovers.  It all starts manana.  Back on the MST juice of life.  Til the next fire charred strip steak comes by way down in Mexico.  Even then - I think I'm in the right frame of mind (finally) to deny...HONOR THY BODY (*and blood type).  
I'll probably add 10 years to my life if I do so.  Or die trying.