Wednesday, December 31


I got some really cool stuff for Christmas this year, including a huge neon yellow reusable shopping bag that comes in its own pouch--which I will actually be able to keep in my purse and use on my almost-daily trips to the grocery store. His name is Baggu, and you can get your very own here.

I also got books, pajamas, some money, and two really cool pairs of earrings. One set is made of pretty antique Czech glass beads, and the other is of handmade leather. Here is a photo of the leather earrings, made by my friend Heather's own two hands (seriously, my neck is not this hairy!):

All in all, a pretty rad Christmas!

Tuesday, December 30

Food Tragedies I Have Known

2008 was a stellar year in many ways--Obama's election to President being the most obviously stellar occurrence of '08. It was a not-so-stellar year in other ways--can you say "economy?"

Restaurants in Boise usually have a tough time of it, since there are too many restaurants to do well--especially in downtown. This bad economic year has been especially bad for restaurants, so I would like to say a fond farewell to some of my favorites.

Tapas Estrella - My memory is foggy as to whether or not Tapas Estrella closed in 2007 or 2008, but I know it happened last year when I was busy with school. I've been craving bouillabaisse ever since I read The Debt to Pleasure last spring--the book has a 30-page detailed description on the making of bouillabaisse--and Tapas Estrella had an especially tasty bouillabaisse, which is kind of hard to come by in Boise. I may have to make a trip to the coast sometime soon just to satisfy my craving, because I'm not sure I'm up to the task of making bouillabaisse (or that I can afford it)! Estrella was also home to a sublime salad containing French lentils, golden beets, and frisee. And their garlic prawns were to die for. Adios!

Zutto - My first sushi experience was with Tyler at Zutto's old basement location, but I don't think I was adventurous enough to actually try anything other than a veggie roll at the time (I ate tempura prawns and gyoza with yummy sauce). Zutto was the home of many yummy avocado-centric sushi rolls, the plum blossom drink, tart sesame vinaigrette salad dressing (of which Cardini's makes a fair copy), and the much-mourned cajun roll with plum sauce. Zutto was also the home of unhelpful hipster servers, but I have to say in hindsight that its virtues (cajun roll) outweighed the iffy service.

City Grill - I didn't get to know City Grill very well during its short life, but I remember a few things very well, such as $2.00 macaroni and cheese appetizers. And I don't mean fried macaroni and cheese balls like they serve at Cheesecake Factory or Jack in the Box; during the City Grill happy hour, one could get a small bowl of homemade, baked mac & cheese with breadcrumb topping for frickin' $2! As if that weren't the best thing EVER, their hash browns or O'Brien breakfast potatoes (I can't remember which) were more like potatoes au gratin or hash brown casserole, with a million layers of potatoes, cream, and cheese. Oh God were they good. I think we all saw that City Grill was doomed, however, due to its being located in the old bank building at the corner of 8th and Idaho: the space where nothing survives.

Jalapeno's Grill #2 - Jalapeno's was a tiny little hole-in-the-wall down the street from my house where I used to eat almost weekly--usually to enjoy the Chile Relleno burrito, aka the best burrito in the universe. Jalapeno's closed their hole-in-the-wall, however their truck (Jalapeno's Grill #1) can be found in the parking lot of Dowdy's on Federal Way. I still go there to get delicious burritos and tacos, but the Chile Relleno burrito is either too complicated or too expensive to make in the truck. It just isn't the same without you, Chile Relleno burrito, love of my heart!

In addition to restaurants, some of my favorite foods have been discontinued from local grocery shelves.

Nissin Creamy Chicken Flavor Ramen Noodles - I know it sounds gross, but it was my favorite breakfast food of all time. It's what I ate for breakfast every other day during school, alternating with scrambled eggs and toast. I can simulate the flavor by mixing an egg into regular chicken flavor ramen (which I tried for the first time today), but it's not quite the same.

Reser's Organic Macaroni & Cheese - According to the Reser's website, this hasn't been discontinued by the manufacturer like the creamy chicken ramen. However, my local Fred Meyer has stopped carrying it, and I can't seem to find it anywhere else in town. This stuff is fresh, like homemade mac & cheese that you bake in the oven. It kicks the ass of any boxed or frozen mac & cheese by far. I think I was the only person who ever bought it at the local Freddy's, but that's probably because they placed it in an out-of-the way spot, surrounded by vegan dairy substitutes, and any non-vegans who might have eaten it would have mistaken it for vegan mac & cheese. Idiots! Now my only solace is Kraft Thick & Creamy Cheese & Macaroni (which is often sold out) made with butter and half and half, for I cannot always afford the ghastly expensive white cheddar and asiago neccessary to make a good batch of homemade mac & cheese.

Vina Izadi Crianza - This hasn't been discontinued either, but Gernika hasn't been able to get it from the distributor for awhile, hopefully just for the season. Luckily there are many other tasty tempranillo wines from the Rioja region, such as Ramon Bilbao--mmm, peppery!

Hopefully 2009 will be a better year for food, or else I'm a-gonna riot!

Wednesday, December 24

A Christmas greeting

I just wanted to share the hilarious card my friend Tiffani made me. I love it more than anything. I love the morose look on the owl's face; I love the way the spilled drink looks like a glass of blood; I love the fact that the owl is holding his wings down as if to say, "I didn't do that!" This is definitely going in my fuzzy red frame for year-round appreciation!

Also: Please check out Brandy's post here to see the brilliant and hilarious exchange between her son and "Santa."

Sunday, December 21

Woo-hoo coffee!

I'm back on the coffee. Phew! That was a crazy month of not drinking any! I started taking anti-anxiety meds, so I can once again be friends with coffee. However, I am not drinking the 12 cups per morning that I was before I burned myself out on it. For awhile there, even the smell of it made me ill. Funnily enough, I did the exact same thing last Thanksgiving Break. I wonder if it will happen again next Thanksgiving?

Part of the problem is that there is just a lot of crappy, nasty-tasting, weak coffee out there. Which leads me to make the following appeal. (Oh, and coffee makes me kind of mean).

Dear middle-aged ladies who work at Starbucks:
Please don't be making my lattes. You can never get it right. I always know before you hand me my standard double-tall-skinny vanilla latte that you are confused by the "skinny" part of my request and are wondering whether when I say skinny I mean just skim milk or skim milk and sugar-free syrup.

I don't know what happened to last year's decree that from now on "skinny" at Starbucks refers to the combination of skim milk and sugar-free syrup, but after about two convienient weeks of only having to use one word to describe two components of my standard latte, you all became confused at the word "skinny."

Now it's nearly impossible to get the most important component of my coffee right, (the double part, i.e. two shots of espresso), because you all get so hung up on the mf-ing sugar content of the syrup. Honestly I could care less what kind of milk or syrup you put in my latte. You could put goat piss and sand in there for all I care; the important thing is that there be TWO shots of espresso to keep the cloyingly sweet syrup from making my latte too sugary and therefore NASTY--especially if we're talking sugar-free syrup, which is at least 1000 times sweeter than regular syrup.

So from now on please leave the latte-making to the youngsters because--whether perky or sullen--they understand that a latte is not a Diet General Foods International Caffe Vienna, and therefore they recognize the importance of the espresso content.


Tuesday, December 9


Jenny is having a crummy week so far and is studying to take the GRE (2nd time, for a better score) on Saturday. Watch this.

Wednesday, December 3

Random Bits

If someone told you that your office Christmas party would take place at the Nampa, Idaho Olive Garden, would you think it was just a bad joke? Like from one of those really lame wanna-be mockumentary sitcoms on TBS? Or a comedy sketch written by high school sophomores? Well, it's no joke; my office Christmas party is literally going to be held at the Olive Garden in Nampa, Idaho. This is so amazingly lame that I'll not comment further, except to say that I may have to get a part-time job elsewhere just so I may attend a cool Christmas party. (Though I am grateful to have a job and therefore an office Christmas party to attend.) I did an image search for "Nampa Olive Garden" and here is one photo that I found, by Shawn Records, titled Lena's House, Nampa (I can't post it here because that would be stealing). I don't know what it has to do with the Olive Garden, but it accurately sums up my attitude toward the Nampa Olive Garden. Check out the rad photography website where I found it, called Hey, Hot Shot!.

Have you ever worked with someone who was well-meaning but annoying? Today in the break room, I had a sandwich to heat up. As I went to place it in the toaster oven, a coworker who was heating something in the microwave grabbed a plate out of the cupboard and insisted, "Maybe you should put this under it!" "I don't mind if the bread gets burned," I told her, but she insisted, "I'm just worried the cheese will melt all over and make a big mess!" It's true that the sandwich contained Havarti cheese, which is the meltiest cheese on the planet (mmm, melty cheese), and it's also true that when anything falls into the toaster oven and burns it smells up our entire building. So maybe I was being a bit cavalier about my sandwich-heating, but I am an adult, goshdarnit. My coworker expressed her intention to place a sign in the break room reading "Your mother does not work here." I found this a bit ironic.

I found a cool website called The Daily Aphorism, which publishes a bold-font aphorism each day. You can print them off or subscribe to have an aphorism emailed to you daily. Today's aphorism is "the mundane is to be cherished," a quote by conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. This is a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with, which is why I printed it off and used it as the decoration for my decorate-your-own coffee mug. I purchased this mug about 6 months ago but couldn't find anything I really wanted to display on it until now.

Speaking of coffee, I've gone without coffee for the past several days and I find I am much less cranky and irritable. I usually drink coffee from the time I wake up until my lunch break at 12:30, but I've discovered that coffee really amps up my anxious, aggressive, and grumpy tendencies. It also seems to rev up my appetite, and some days by midmorning my stomach growls and churns like it's trying to digest my internal organs. I've backed off from coffee, at least for now, but I still drink caffeinated tea and soda, (tea is what I'm drinking out of that mug) . Cutting out coffee definitely takes the edge off, since, as some of you know, I can be a bit irascible at times. ;)