Friday, February 27, 2009

Public Service Announcement. Check your passport.

Some people go to Disneyland when they go to the L.A. area, others stroll Hollywood Boulevard picking out their favorite stars immortalized on the sidewalks. Some walk Venice Beach, people-watching and tacky trinket-buying. Those with means or those who aspire to attain means stroll Rodeo Drive, with stops at Cartier and Versace.

We drove 19 hours from Seattle to L.A. this week and I had only one request: take me to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.

You see, we were supposed to be in Mexico this week. Just before the economy tanked, we had made a reservation for a week stay in Sayulita, just north of Puerto Vallarta. We had rented out the top two floors of a house with a pool, not far from the beach. April and I were lucky to be able to afford this trip (thank you Grandma) and had crossed off the days on the calendar, for months.

But then, one day, the day before we were to leave, an idiot was born. I started packing us up, grabbed our passports, flipped them open and stared in utter horror at the expiration date on mine.

Expired 32 days. Ago.

The day: Sunday. We were supposed to leave at 6 am the following morning. Our plane tickets? The non-refundable kind with steep fees. An expedited passport? Might take a day, might take 2, but the airline tickets would be beyond our financial abilities. April was at work, doing inventory before she got out of town. The call I placed to her was one I’d rather forget. Luckily for me and speaking volumes about her, she said the following words, “I would never make you feel worse than you already do.”

“Road-trip to California!” she exclaimed, expertly disguising any disappointment from her voice. I gave her a virtual blank check by way of apology. “Whatever you want to do this week,” I say, “we’ll do.” She grabs the phone and calls up her closest friends that dot the map along the west coast, places she’s lived with people who are family to her.

We hit the road, singing Air Supply at the top of our lungs and then holding our breath as we pass the putrid methane-soaked towns 100 miles north of L.A. We listen to KCRW’s Good Food and I feel the Disneyland-esque tingle of excitement to visit the famous farmer’s market I’ve been hearing about for years.

This is my favorite thing in the whole world to do. Travel to a place I’ve never been. Shop at a local farmer’s market. Revel in the incredible products, so different from home. Chat with the farmers. Spend money with the same ease that movie stars drop it on Rodeo Drive, knowing that this week - I’m on vacation - food is officially off my list of things to budget on.

Nettles harvested in Southern California; this type is smaller than what I'm familiar with up here.

We buy everything and feel personally responsible for lifting the local economy. Our fingers are puffy and red, the circulation long cut off from the weight of our bags.

We ate these out of hand, they are sweeter and more complex than the oval ones I'm more familiar with.

We take home our harvest and I plan for a brunch the next morning, just before we pile back in the car to start our drive up to San Francisco. On the menu: my version of chilaquiles (fried tortillas layered with roasted vegetables such as heirloom tomatoes, poblano chiles and onions with eggs poured over the top along with jack or spicy gouda cheese and baked until puffed as in a frittata.) I made a roasted tomatillo salsa and some simple guacamole. To start I stuffed squash blossoms with a mixture of tomato, basil and fresh goat cheese, then fried them until brown in a pan and served them with a balsamic glaze. To finish we ate little bowls of mixed berries and kumquat slices served with a lime zest simple syrup. We drank fresh squeezed tangerine juice mixed with lime wedges and sparkling water. We smiled vacation smiles and wondered what Mexico could possibly have that we were missing at this moment.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Digest or be digested.

These are the days...

It’s a gorgeous, late winter day; 55 degrees and sunny. An early morning dog-walk brings the smell of Daphne adora to my dormant nasal passages. This is going to be a DAY, I can feel it. My buddy Jet is back home from Vietnam, having just led a bike tour over there. We worked together at the Herbfarm for many years, at times the only women in the kitchen. We developed slightly steely exteriors to protect our sensitive innards, as we sauteed and butchered and plated alongside of our band of brothers. We bonded with each other and with our crew, laughing and fighting with each other just like a family.

Jet hung up her apron a few years back and picked up a bike pump instead. I’m the president of her welcoming committee each time she steps back on home soil. She brings me pepper from Cambodia and a spice blend called Amok. She brings me stories of her culinary adventures.

From an email I received from her a few weeks ago:

“(In Cambodia) lunch basically ends up being some amazing local feast, several boxes of beer (24 each) and then some form of entertainment that lasts all afternoon. You don't go back to work after lunch. I swear Cambodians drink way more than the Vietnamese and the Vietnamese drink a shit ton. I feel slightly pickled at this point.

And then she describes a food so gross I air-gag:
“You should know that turtle eggs are in season right now and the stinkiest condiment on earth comes from Cambodia. Prahok is way stinkier than fish sauce and pretty darn disgusting to look at. It is basically (a) gray, rotting, fermenting fish paste; scales, fins and all. I went to dinner out at the floating village with my guesthouse's hosts and watched the women make dinner. They kept apologizing for how dirty the kitchen was. It wasn't really, but they cook everything sitting on the floor and the surroundings of this village are pretty dirty. Luckily they have a well to rinse stuff with fresh water. The funniest part was that they didn't want me to see the prahok come out of its jar, but I wasn't going to leave the kitchen. So they finally dug these gooey, chunky blobs out of the jar onto a cutting board and then chopped it with a cleaver into a finer paste incorporating lemongrass, garlic and chilies until they had this thick, liquidy sauce. After that they shooed me out of the kitchen to eat and DRINK with the men. Eventually that sauce came out and we dipped this amazing BBQ beef into it. The sauce itself is pretty disgusting, but on the meat it was perfectly balanced: salty, hot, and tangy. I am still waiting to see if I am going to get sick after that meal. The head guy kept putting ice chunks in my beer; I ate another duck egg; (plus) all the fresh veggies and greens. Hopefully the amount of beer I’m drinking is keeping the bugs at bay.
Jet and I talk shop, constantly. If we’re not talking about food, we’re cooking it or out eating it, ripping each bite apart, a brutal sport of culinary love where the winners earn our attempts at duplication and the losers receive our scorn. Like to eat your food in silent contemplation? You’d hate to eat with us.

We’re on a ferry in this picture, heading over to Vashon Island, on re-con to check out nettles. April and I are teaming up with Jet this spring to lead a nettle foraging trip on Vashon. It could be the beginning of a joke: a chef, a sommelier and an ecologist walk into some nettles.

Jet and I venture out onto the deck of the ferry, take that photo and then, freezing from the wind, hurry back inside to grab a seat, watch the birds and get a game plan going. Jet is a woman of many talents; before she was at the Herbfarm she worked as a watershed ecologist, specializing in salmonid habitat. She can fly a plane. She leads kayak tours. She has wanderlust something fierce but also craves home, if only for a short stay.

Today our mission is to scope out the environment, plan our stops, survey the land and note where the smallest baby nettles are starting to poke their heads up into the sun. We see salmonberry bushes which will start to blossom out soon (and we plan our garnish for the nettle soup). We see miners lettuce and peppercress and envision little spring salads. We see mountains and Jet actually knows the names of the peaks while all I can say is, “pretty mountains!”

We stop in town for lunch at Sea Breeze Farm’s La Boucherie Restaurant. I’ve never been before, but I’ve heard good things. I’m so giddy with the beautiful day, with the joyful good riddance to the plague I caught last week, that I take one look at the menu and say, “Tripe! I want to try tripe!"

The butcher shop

I've never tried tripe before. I doubt I'll try it again. At the time, though, it seemed like the right thing to do. It seemed more than right, it seemed perfectly appropriate. Jet keeps reading the menu and exclaims, “kidneys!” and I call and respond with “pig’s feet!” and before we know it we are staring at three plates.

The smell of the tripe hits long before the delivery of the plate. It is then that I start to question my adventurous spirit. Tripe is the stomach lining of a cow. It has fans the world over, the Vietnamese tuck it into pho, the Italians stew it with tomatoes and chilies. It is nearly impossible to digest. I know this only now, days after my run in with tripe. Frankly, I don’t know why I wouldn’t have known this before I ordered a big bowl of it. I mean, really, it’s stomach. If stomach were easy to digest, the organ transplant lists would be overrun with people needing new stomachs. I’m no doctor but I’d venture a guess that evolution has favored those with the most indigestible stomachs. And this, I decide to eat? Wonders never cease.

Beef tripe in tomato-chile broth

I eat a tentative bite. The texture is chewy and not at all unpleasant but the smell. The smell. I can’t get beyond the smell. It’s an extremely gamy, gastric odor. Jet thinks it smells like methane, which is just a nicer way to say it smells like ass. Jet continues to eat it (I’m not entirely sure, but hypothesize that her dealings with eating intestines and little kitties and doggies in Asia make tripe seem downright boring). I eat a second bite, never wanting to form a judgment about anything based on one try. I eat a third and final bite and then, rapidly form my judgment: I will never eat tripe again, unless the smell significantly improves the next time around.

Lamb kidneys in mustard cream sauce

The kidneys are delicious, tender, thankfully mild, enlivened with the sharpness of a mustard sauce. The pig’s feet have been braised, shredded and stuffed into a crepe parcel, served alongside a mache salad. The meat is unctuous and rich and refreshingly familiar and I’ve never been as happy to eat my greens as I was to eat those little heads of mache.

George Page, owner of Sea Breeze, along with his manager Matt, chat with us pleasantly about the menu, the beauty of pulling lamb kidneys right out of the carcass and frying them up. We set up a lunch plan for our tour, a set menu, slightly less adventurous with most of the food sourced from their farm. He gives us a quick tour of his walk-in, a convergence zone between a farm, butcher shop and a restaurant. Trays of parts line a rolling rack, kidneys here, kidneys there, some lamb testicles, all laid out neatly like butterflies gently pinned to their substrate. We stand outside in the sun and discuss the politics and regulations that go along with farming, charcuterie-making, and restaurant management when you also have a farm and a winery and sell to the public. It’s a web of regulatory insanity; at once, seemingly crucial in protecting the public and yet, so bogged down with bureaucratic complexity and ridiculousness that it is nearly impossible to navigate (not to manage, often ineffective - see: contaminated peanuts, spinach, jalapenos, etc...).

A peek into La Boucherie's walk-in

It is then, I think, that Jet stated, “I think the pig’s feet are kicking the kidneys and the cow stomach is having none of it.” We head off to the land to walk the perimeters and identify the flora when Jet’s stomach really starts rumbling. We giggle each and every time she burps and hope that our stomachs win in the “which stomach will digest which stomach” game being played out in our bellies. We get in the truck to head to the ferry back home and then I start in on the methane belches. We grab an orange we see in the truck, scratch the skin and stick it under our noses to offset the hideous odor filling the cab. We laugh each time we burp and curse ourselves for the short-sighted decision to eat not one adventurous dish, but three.
“And here I sit on this balcony by the beach at this health oasis where people are doing 10 - 14 day fasting and cleansing programs. I should be cleansing I suppose, but don't want to spend a lot of money to wipe out my Cambodian/Vietnamese flora and fauna. I think I am quite fond of them.”
Back on the ferry, we scribble out on notebook paper the tentative itinerary for our trip, likely to be held twice, once on the last Sunday of March and again the first Sunday of April.

9:20 am: Meet at April and Becky’s condo on Capitol Hill
10:30 Ferry to Vashon Island
11:30 Nettle Foraging (plus spring greens and salmonberry blossoms, if blooming) with fresh-brewed Nettle Tea
12:30 Tour at Hogsback Farm
1:30 Lunch at La Boucherie
3:30 Ferry back to Becky and April’s condo for cooking class (Home-smoked salmon with morels and nettle sauce; nettle and goat cheese ravioli; bay laurel ice cream)
6:00 Light dinner
7:00 Trip concludes

It’s hours later and we’re back in Seattle. The cow is having the last laugh because we’re still losing the digestion game. Eaten tripe before? Did you digest it or did it digest you?

(apologies for the very long entry. I thought about breaking this into two parts, but I’m so back-blogged right now, tomorrow will likely bring a new entry entirely.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I love Lynne Vea. I want to squish her up in a little ball and throw her up and down in the air. (Relax, Lynne, that's a good thing.) She has more energy in her left index fingernail than I have in my whole body on a really good day, pumped full of speed. She's so enthusiastic she creates her own trail of joyful, imaginary children in her wake, popping the bubbles wafting off her personality (or maybe that's just the speed talking).

Dueling Divas, Act #1 is now over and what a fun ride it was. I predict it is not the end. There is more where that came from. We just had too much damn fun.

Highlights abound - see flesh wounds from class #1 at Greenlake. Class #3 at Redmond included another embarrassing moment when I forgot to complete my dish with the tiny steamed rainbow chard pieces I had reserved. I ran and got the bowl and quickly dashed out into the audience to start garnishing plates when I stumbled and completely and totally garnished a student, showering upon her a technicolor fountain of vegetation. Luckily it was a student I knew. "Julie," I said, "I felt like you could use some garnishment."

We learned some things, namely that PCC assistants are supercalifragilisticexpialidociously incredible. We needed 3 of them to handle the work load. Food flying everywhere, every dish in the house used. We learned that wine needs to be served with this class. It felt like a restaurant where a class broke out and as such, it needed an adult beverage to match the dishes.

I loved the banter back and forth. I loved learning from another chef and getting inspired. I loved the pretend catfight I kept trying to start with Lynne (she was way too mature to really sink that low, but I have hope for her yet!)

We discussed doing this again and how we might change our approach. I said, "maybe we should simplify our recipes." And then we looked at each other, "naaaaah!" Where's the fun in that? "You're right, forget simple, next time, watch out sister, I'm bringing in a live pig and by the end of class I'll have every piece cured, head to little twisty tail."

It's on!

P.S. For those who didn't make it out to the classes, for the first course Lynne and I had 8 ingredients to pick 7 ingredients from: hazelnuts, black cod, rosemary, winter squash, beets, winter greens, mushrooms and pancetta (or bacon). With this as our challenge we made the following:

Becky: Seared Hazelnut and Truffle crusted Black Cod with Kabocha squash, Winter Greens and Pancetta-Mushroom Broth

Lynne: Chard-wrapped Marinated Black Cod Fillet with mushroom and pancetta stuffed Shiitake Mushroom Cap floated in a Red Curry Demi Glace

For the second course, here was our ingredient list: duck, dried cherries, lavender, goat cheese, spinach, pears, yams and spelt flour or berries

Becky: Spiced Duck Breast with Cherry-Red Wine reduction, Spelt Ravioli with Duck confit and Goat cheese, Caramelized Pear Garnish

Lynne: Sour Cherry, Lavender and Goat Cheese Spelt Tart with Warm Spinach, Glazed Pear and Duck Salad with Duck Fat Yam Frites

Over the next few days I will post our recipes here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This little piggy went to a conference...

Last Monday I spent the day cavorting with fabulous people at the annual Farmer-Chef Connection, an all day conference with a fairly self-explanatory title. It's a day I look forward to all year, for hanging with old friends, chatting up the farmers, eating great cheese, sipping on local wine, and listening to fascinating panel discussions. Now you're probably reading this blog because you like food, consider yourself god-forbid a "foodie", or you're in my family and I paid you to read my blog. In any case, I mention this because if you've wandered here by accident, the following panel discussion title will probably make you find the back button faster than you can say Mobile Slaughter Unit (which, frankly, isn't that fast when you try it.)

Mobile Slaughter Units in WA State: This rather gruesome-sounding panel discussion focused on 3 projects around WA State that enable small ranchers to have their humanely-raised livestock slaughtered in a USDA mobile unit, saving the rancher enormous resources having to bring their livestock to a centrally located slaughterhouse miles away. Using mobile slaughter units greatly reduces the stress on the animals who, previously, would have to travel for sometimes days to get to the slaughterhouse. Essentially, the USDA is biased in favor of HUGE operations; operations that engage in everything that you really want to deny is going on before your dinner becomes your dinner. Mobile Slaughter Units level the playing field wherever they can exist, allowing the little guy who tend to treat their livestock humanely, to operate in a sustainable fashion. Yea for mobile slaughter units! Boo big slaughterhouses with horrible conditions!

On the panel were Cheryl Ouellette from the Puget Sound Meat Producers Cooperative. Cheryl is also known as "Cheryl the Pig Lady" (and I swear, in this context, it's a complimentary moniker), Bruce Dunlop from Lopez Island Farm (run, don't walk to the nearest place selling his lamb), and Keith Swanson from Thundering Hooves (Keith looks like he could wrestle 10 steer with one hand and never break a sweat).

The second session I went to, continuing on this meaty theme, was:

In-House Charcuterie - Regulations: This panel discussed, most importantly, the preservation of the customer's life. When I say this, I'm not really being flip. Charcuterie-making is not rocket science, but it is science and as such, incredible care needs to be taken in the time and temperature realm. Nitrites are to be used in correct quantities as added insurance to protect customers from botulism, a very real threat in air-cured meats that are not cooked. Even after the discussion I was still a little confused about exactly what regulations a restaurant needs to follow in order to make charcuterie but I believe that's because even the local health department is not entirely sure how to regulate this. The bottom line is this, however: have a plan, document that plan, keep ruthless notes and follow sound, time-tested recipes, at least as far as the amount of nitrites are concerned. And, yeah, don't kill your customer.

On the panel was Armandino Batali of Salumi Cured Meats (who has the strictest regulations to follow, as his place is USDA certified). Salumi has an office in-house just for their inspector. I believe this certification allows him to sell his meats across state borders.); Gabe Claycamp of Culinary Communion and The Swinery (who is currently writing up HAACP plans to present to the local health department); and Keith Luce of the Herbfarm (where they are raising Mangalista Pigs.... this little piggy was very, very, very fatty!)

The other panel discussion I attended was about Food Certifications. On the panel was Kristofor Lofgren, owner of Bamboo Sushi in Portland, the first MSC (that's Marine Stewardship Council) certified restaurant in the United States. This, my sushi and sustainability loving friends is very, very, good news. We all know the oceans are in trouble and most of the sushi that we all eat day after day is really questionable on the sustainability front. That farmed hamachi from Japan I eat on a regular basis. Probably shouldn't if I want to live my politics.* So, you see, the fact that there is a restaurant that is putting out delicious, sustainable sushi using many different varieties of fish (some unfamiliar) is a very good thing indeed.

What Portland has today, Seattle will have 10 of tomorrow. If I had the ambition to open my own restaurant - which I don't (because I'm sane) - this is the restaurant I might open. A sushi place that celebrates all the many kinds of seafood that are being harvested sustainably. This is the next big thing for Seattle and any and all liberal-leaning, sushi-loving urban areas. I suggested to PCC that their next store must have a sit-down sustainable sushi bar. Let's see if they listen to me.

And this little piggy got off her soapbox.

* more information about why farmed yellowtail from Japan is unsustainable can be found here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blood of Satan and other delicious warm beverages

I'm home in bed after fooling myself for a day that I had bad allergies. I've since come to my senses and realized I have one of the most kick your ass flus I've had in my adult life. A kid can swing a fever no problem. I remember being 8 and I had a 104 fever and only then did I tell someone, "hey I feel a little hot!" But now, here, at my age, with the mercury lingering around 101.5... I regress to fetal stage but only more immature and beg the wine goddess to not work 6 days this week so she can take care of me. I would tell you the sound I'm making is sort of like, "wah! wah! wah!" but that is way too quiet and without the intense whine that I'm clearly capable of.

At one point yesterday, I succumbed to over-the-counter drugs after a futile attempt to feel better using every natural remedy I could think of. Yesterday morning I beseeched the wine goddess - "you were right. I need T H E R A F L U" and then I should have said "STAT" because we are currently addicted to watching old episodes of Grey's anatomy. If this happened 6 months ago I would have thought I developed Lupus because that's when we were addicted to watching House. But it isn't Lupus, and it never was on House either.

So, as I lay here worrying about bed sores (my bff says I'll likely succomb to the bed lice before the bed sores do me in, and she said that in her 'comforting' voice) I have all the time in the world to do useless web searches and Facebook status updates. My most recent "Becky thinks Theraflu tastes like the blood of Satan" should have been amended to say "only worse."

Anywho, I've got time here people, so I'm especially grateful for Facebook and its endless entertainment possibilities. For example, thanks go to my friend Shannon for pointing me in the direction of this new website called: This is why you're fat: where dreams become heart attacks. Shannon is now in that select group to make me salivate looking at food, but not the kind of salivation you might be thinking of. More like the kind my dog does 2 milliseconds before I run for 1. cover (house rule: if you see it first, you clean it first) 2. that enzyme stuff we buy in bulk or 3. double-ply paper towels.

The website gave me my first belly laugh since I ended up in bed, which, truth be told, sounded much more like a downed goose honking, prompting April to ask (again) "you okay in there?" I've told the story before about the Double-Stuff Oreo cookie snowball that my brother and I made in our childhood and split down the middle to eat, grubby little fingers leaving black cookie and dirt smears on the chalky white filling. But here, ohmigod, is a version that far surpasses our loftiest dreams for the Double-Stuff. Feast your eyes. I give to you the JengaStuff Oreo, my name for Jason Beaird's awesome creation.

And now I'm going back to sleep.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Save the liver!

In just a week's time I will fully download my experience of my duels with a diva. Suffice it to say that I experienced some first-class jitters while I demonstrated butchering a duck, making quick and efficient work de-skinning my knuckle. The flesh-wound led a commenter to suggest that if you missed the class, Dan Ackroyd's Julia Child impersonation might be a nice stand-in. (Tip o' the keyboard to Mike.) I provide it for you here, as a public service so that you may be more careful with your sharp knives.

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's a good day for Good Food

Taken at Post Alley, Pike Place Market. How totally cool to
have 91 1/2 Post Alley as your address.

It seems that Mondays are frequently my day to myself, not necessarily by choice (not to imply that this is a bad thing). Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest work days, Sundays April and I try to preserve mostly for ourselves. Come Monday when April is back at work until the wee hours, I often find myself on my own. Mondays are just not a big night for my classes or for private chef events so my Mondays are mine.

On Mondays I write. I write and read. I read and I walk. Not at the same time, though it is possible. There was this woman at my college who walked the quad of our upstate New York campus, paperback book in hand, slightly outstretched before her, eyes intently focused on the page as she rather efficiently and methodically placed one foot in front of the other. She wore stiff wool skirts, proper shoes, and pastel cardigans. She was an anachronism, two clicks on the time machine past where she intended to get off. Somewhere in Indiana it's 1954 and a man is wondering where his young wife went, with her book. I can't decide if I felt more sorry for her - her walking and reading gave off a slight smell of loneliness - or if I was just jealous; how coordinated must you be to do that without falling? She was the ultimate multi-tasker.

But no, here in Seattle, on Mondays, I write, I walk, I read. Not all at the same time.

My friend Traca taught me to always look up when I'm walking.

I walk a lot, exploring my Capitol Hill neighborhood. I walk downtown and snack and window-shop. I stop in cafes. I drink. I drink coffee. Coffee that fuels my writing and lifts my heels, for easier walking. On Mondays, I eat. I eat differently, with thoughtful, enthusiastic chewing, like a child playing Wii - eyes fixed and focused, muscles twitchy. On Mondays I listen. I listen to talk radio, about food. I listen to Good Food, a radio program out of Santa Monica that my friend Stacia got me hooked on. I listen to Good Food as I walk, catching up on downloaded podcasts from the 6 days before when I had no time. I listen to Good Food as I walk, getting hungrier and hungrier or thirstier and thirstier depending upon how enthusiastic the walking is going or what the topic of discussion is. Catch me walking downtown listening to a discussion about creative cocktailing and on my day off, you can be sure I will slowly remove my ear buds and walk myself right into a swank bar. I'm easily swayed to action based on the topic du jour.

Then again, today's topic: not so much.

I consider myself an uber adventurous eater but as I walked the market stalls today, the sun shining pleasantly onto my pale, vitamin D deficient face, I listened to stories of eating octopus so fresh, so barely killed, the cut tentacles suction onto your tongue as you try to eat them.

That bears repeating:

The cut tentacles suction onto your tongue as you try to eat them.

I press pause on my ipod and literally shudder. No. No fucking way I would ever eat that. I'll take my food dead, thank you very much. I press play. I'm near Post Alley, my favorite tucked away narrow section of the market when I hear about the Ecuadorean treat of eating gerbils, this time fully killed, roasted whole, little mouths in a frozen state of surprise, little teeth exposed. I press pause. No. No fucking way I would ever eat that. (2/6/09: I've since learned that it was guinea pig-eating going down in South America and not gerbils. This does not make me feel any better, just more accurate.)

Wow, I'm totally not adventurous. I'm a food hypocrite. Forget all my "if you eat meat, you have to be comfortable with exactly what you are eating" bullshit. There's an asterisk on my eating, I realize, listening to Good Food today.

My Food*:

1. It has to be safely dead and not hold onto my tongue as I try to wrestle it down my throat.
2. It should not resemble my 4th grade friend's pet gerbil, named Jake.

Stacia is a long-time vegetarian. She's a strong one, remaining steadfast, when all the rest of us skated through our vegetarian "phases" and then fell hard onto a plate of steak and never got up. She has been known to comment, when looking at a big pile of my braised short ribs, "that looks really great, except for the short ribs". Good Food is by no means a vegetarian food show - I think that much is obvious (see: eating octopus and cute little scared gerbils) but I sense her insidious vegetarian agenda pulling at my shriveled up heartstrings listening to this particular program. Of course, my tongue is firmly in cheek as I say all this and thank god I've placed my own tongue there. Say it with me: the octopus' tentacles suction onto your tongue.

So on Monday's I write. I write about food. I walk and listen. I listen to Good Food. I contemplate tentacles and gerbils and vegetarianism and then I write about these things. It's Monday and thank God April comes home in an hour.

Fresh flowers from Pike Place and some awesome
(totally dead) donuts from the Daily Dozen


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