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I came across a crystal box that looks like cut ice.  Yes, it’s Tiffany.  Hadn’t opened it in several years.  So I did.  I’d forgotten than I literally have EVERY concert ticket from every show I’ve ever seen going all the way back to the first one in 1979.  Some of these shows I’m proud to say I went, others, well, not so much.  Peer pressure can be a bitch sometimes, especially if it’s on someone else’s dime.  :)

So here it is, the unabridged history of me not being able to find the car until everyone else has left.  I’m sorry, but whoever designed the Forum in L.A. was an asshole.  You don’t put a circular building with multiple entrances on a square property so everyone leaving ends up going out a different door, with no idea if they’re on the right side or not.

OK, that’s not all entirely true.  There is a hypothetical scenario involving me deliberately losing a ticket stub to The Spice Girls…

1979

Kenny Loggins – courtesy of my brothers, when the Universal Amphitheater didn’t have a roof

1982

Olivia Newton-John – “The Physical Tour,” courtesy of KIIS-FM

1983

The Moody Blues

The Tubes 

Robert Plant

1984

Duran Duran – All I remember was screaming

The Scorpions

The Moody Blues – More than I ever wanted to  :)

1985

The Firm – 2X – Jimmy Page/Paul Rogers band

Roger Waters – The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking Tour

The Grateful Dead – Chula Vista

1986

Robin Williams

Roger Whittaker

Steven Wright

1987

Roger Waters – Radio KAOS Tour

U2 – Before Bono though he was all that

Boston – Moved a flight to Hawaii forward 1 day to see this

Beastie Boys / Run DMC – NOT my idea

Pink Floyd – The Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour

1988

Robert Plant

Siouxsie and the Banshees

Julie Andrews

1990

David Bowie – 2x – The First Retirement Tour

Depeche Mode – The Violator Tour

Peter Murphy

1992

The Cult

Siouxsie and the Banshees – The Superstition Tour

Soupdragons

Sex Gang Children

Peter Murphy

1993

Bette Midler

1994

Pink Floyd – Rose Bowl – The Division Bell Tour

Jimmy Page / Robert Plant

1997

Liza Minnelli – Pantages Theater – After throat surgery, bitch shoulda stayed home

The Rolling Stones – Dodger Stadium

1998

Lilith Fair – Rose Bowl

Rod Stewart – Hollywood Bowl

Alanis Morissette – Hollywood Palladium

1999

Santana

Sarah Brightman

2002

Paula Poundstone – If you ever get the chance, you MUST

2003

Duran Duran

2004

An Evening with Siouxsie

George Lopez

2005

Erasure

Peter Murphy

Donna Summer – Last minute Front Row Center at Viejas

Bauhaus

Depeche Mode

Echo & the Bunnymen

2006

Michael Buble

Madonna – Opening night of The Confessions Tour

Il Divo

2007

Christina Aguilera

Gwen Stefani

No Doubt

Harry Connick, Jr.

Go Go’s

Diana Krall – Hollywood Bowl

Tori Amos

2008

George Michael – 25 Alive Tour

The Perfect Greek Salad


 TRADITIONAL GREEK SALAD


4-6 Roma Tomatoes
1-2 Cucumbers
1 Bell Pepper
1 Red Onion
1/4 lb. Feta Cheese
1 dozen Kalamata Olives
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Oregano
Pepper
Salt

This is the basic, core, “no frills” version of a Greek, or village, salad.  There is no, I repeat, NO lettuce.  Veggies crudely hacked up into chunks.  No fuss, no muss, it’s about using today’s vegetables from the garden topped with a nice slab of feta.  The only real “detailing” is scooping out any seeded areas in the tomatoes or cucumbers that are really loose.  Serves about 4-6 depending on whether you’re going small, regular or biggie-sized.

Then there’s my way…

IMPROVED TRADITIONAL GREEK SALAD


Grape, Sugar Plum or Cherry Tomatoes (stronger flavor and they don’t need slicing/coring)
Cucumber, seeded, all or partially peeled, diced
Yellow/Gold Bell Pepper, seeded, deveined, diced
Red Onion or a combination with Shallots, chopped, soaked in Balsamic (do this first)
Feta Cheese, whole or crumbled
Kalamata Olives and/or Capers, drained and rinsed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Lemon Juice
Dried Mediterranean or Greek Oregano (sweeter than Mexican)
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Sea Salt

I didn’t do much about quantities, though the ingredients are listed in order of most-to-least.  This is not a fragile recipe set in stone.  Add more or less of what you want.  You really can’t screw this up.  This is, however, a heavy-duty salad, not a ton of lettuce (there isn’t any) with a sliced carrot and a radish.  Many times, a Greek salad ends up being lunch or dinner by itself.

Generally, there are about equal parts of both tomatoes and cucumbers and about half as much of bell peppers and onions .  I’ve gotten it down to 4 parts tomatoes, 3 parts cucumbers, 2 parts bell peppers and 2 parts onions.  Since the onions get toned down by the balsamic vinegar, I use a lot more.  :)  That yields a decent mid-sized salad when most people treat it like a side dish instead of a separate course.  Don’t worry, leftovers are rarely a problem.  Anyway…

  • Dice the red onion, chop the shallots, and marinade in balsamic vinegar while chopping the rest (Do not let sit for more than 45-90 minutes, as they will lose their crispness after that).
  • Tomatoes are left alone (thus the size, this is a no-knife salad).
  • Cut a narrow cucumber lengthwise in half and half again, then cut into 1/4″ slices (Narrow cucumbers are still more solid in the middle, so no seeds generally need scraping out).  All, part or none of the skin may be removed.
  • De-seed and dice bell pepper (I use yellow partly for the sweeter flavor and partly to add another color besides green).
  • Add about 3-4 unpitted Kalamata olives (pitted tend to be mushy) and/or 1 teaspoon of capers (drained and rinsed) per person.  Once I started using capers, I never went back to olives.
  • Add approx. 1 tablespoon olive oil per 1-2 servings.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice, Oregano, cracked pepper and sea salt (if needed) to taste.
  • Drain balsamic from onions, add to salad, stir together and let sit for about 10-20 minutes.
  • Before serving, put a slice/wedge of Feta Cheese across each bowl, sprinkle with a little more Oregano and pepper, followed by a light drizzle of oil, then serve.  Since I used a mold for the above picture, I used crumbled Feta instead.  Again, your salad, your rules.  :)

 

The Balsamic reduction is totally my idea and optional. It gives a little more flavor without drenching your salad outright with a globby dressing.  Add 1 tablespoon of Soy Sauce and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to 1 cup of Balsamic Vinegar in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then simmer and reduce by about 50-60%, approx. 15-20 minutes.  Let cool, then toss in fridge.  This will thicken up like a syrup, so take it out of the fridge about 15-20 minutes before you need to drizzle it, so it pours better.  Do NOT add too much, this is concentrated and a little goes a long way.  If you do get carried away with some lovely swirly design, drizzle a little more olive oil on top of everything to compensate.  Ultimately, it’s hard to go wrong with these ingredients.


This is best served at room temperature and only chilled afterwards for leftovers.  This is also a salad that gets better after sitting.  By the next day, water from the sliced cucumbers, as well as traces of balsamic from the onions, has created a really nice vinaigrette.

There are also plenty of variations.  Adding Dill in place of, or along side of, Oregano, works well.  A little chopped and/or roasted garlic also works.  I also like the idea of adding celery.  Veggies come and go through trial and error (I thought hearts of palm would be good, but they were too pickled and mushy).  I do, however, keep the Feta separate right up until being served, so not everything tastes too jumbled.  Some people prefer crumbling up the Feta and mixing it all together.  The beauty of this simple, village salad is that it really has no rules except it’s not supposed to be too much of a production.  It’s also a very healthy combination of ingredients without tasting like health food.  Finally, when in doubt, add more cheese.


I swear I will upload a better picture the next time I make this, which will be soon. :)

There’s a restaurant in San Diego up in Hillcrest called Ortega’s Bistro (www.ortegasbistro.com) that makes a Puerto Nuevo Style Shrimp Cocktail that is truly drool-worthy.  I’ve come pretty damn close to recreating it, though I leave out the diced mango and don’t add as much jalapeno.  This cocktail sauce is a little on the sweet side, but there’s just enough Tabasco and finely minced jalapeno to give it a nice kick, without making it hot overall.  Above all, even though it will come out looking very Zsa Zsa, it’s pretty easy to make.  The bulk of the work is chopping, dicing and mincing a few things, but it’s hardly work unless you’re a buzzkill.  The other good news is, this holds up perfectly for a good 5 days before the cucumber and avocado start to get a little soggy.  The low acidity also helps keep the avocado and cucumber bright green (unless you overdo it with Balsamic, which I don’t recommend, as it turns everything into mush and darkens greens.)

So here it is:

1/2 cup of finely chopped red onion (cut this up first and soak in balsamic vinegar while you chop the rest, then drain, reserve balsamic for later, you may want to add a tablesoon or less at the end.  I wouldn’t add too much more.)

1 lb. cooked shrimp, size is your business, cooked, peeled, and deveined

1 1/2 cups of Clamato

1/4 cup of ketchup (you may want to add a tablespoon or 2 at the end)

1 very healthy tablespoon of crushed or very finely minced garlic

1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped, but not minced, somewhere in between, you wanna look like you got spinach on your teeth?

1/4 cup of fresh lime juice OR zest of 1 lime and less lime juice, add slowly to taste if using zest first

1 teaspoon of Tabasco, you really don’t need anymore, let the jalapeno do the talking.

1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined, and VERY finely minced so it looks like little green glass beads

1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced (ADD THIS LAST IF YOU’RE LETTING THIS CHILL OVERNIGHT)

So that’s it.  These are just guidelines, you get to do whatever you want.  Some people add horseradish, I felt the jalapeno was enough. I like the idea of 1/2 of a yellow bell pepper diced, partly for the bright color contrast, but it’s also the sweetest of the bell peppers while still having a little zing.  

I didn’t even add much more than a shake or two of sea salt and cracked pepper.  This is one of those deals that’s really sensational as is, on top of looking pretty, as well.  It should be chilled, ideally, for 2-3 hours, giving your sauce a chance to blend and thicken up a bit.  But if you really want to ace it, wait til lunch the next day, dicing up the avocado an hour or two before serving.  I served it with some fresh French bread with a compound whipped butter I made with lime zest, garlic and cilantro.  There were no leftovers.  :)

Serves 6.


Anatideaphobia:  The fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.

At first I thought it was a joke.  Then I started surveying our house and realized we are truly infested.  Mind you, I’m not scared.  I’m far more frightened of tarnished sterling to be honest, but that’s another entry altogether that falls under OCD.

I went from room to room and there isn’t ONE clean room.  Ducks were either present inside, or could be seen outside through a window, or had an indirect view from another room.  It’s insidious.  I truly feel for people who are jumping out of their skin every time they turn around.  I’m thinking on forming a rather pricey support group.  Truffled duck liver pate with port ain’t cheap…

I thought the kitchen/TV room was clean until I looked up. They’re counting on your complacency.

Even my room wasn’t clean, as I can clearly see this rat bastard from my window, so it counts.


The Queen’s Tabasco


To celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, William & Son has teamed up with fellow Royal Warrant holder, TABASCO® Pepper Sauce . 600,000 limited edition sauce packs have been decked out in red, white and blue and offer the chance to win a one carat round brilliant diamond, set by William & Son and worth £15,000, with every purchase. They will be on-shelf at leading supermarkets and independents across the UK from the beginning of May and will be available for 6 weeks, throughout the Jubilee celebrations. Open your bottle carefully, and if it has a special white insert under the cap you’re the lucky winner.

http://www.williamandson.com/flagship-store/news-and-events


In honor of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Johnnie Walker and Baccarat teamed up to produce an edition of 60 diamond decanters.  They come complete with sterling and diamond collars and a box carved from the oak that this has been aging in since Elizabeth’s coronation in 1952.  Yours for $160,000 thank you very much.

Diamond Jubilee by John Walker & Sons | Gentleman’s Gadgets | The Source of Inspiration for Modern Men.

Robots, Chickens, Callista, and Math


Stepford Wives, eat your cold, black, hearts out!  :)


A friend of mine who is fortunate enough to now live in South America requested a copy of this.  Thankfully, it was saved on Google Docs.  If you’re here, you know what to expect, so bugger off with the lectures.  :)

 

Fork You

8/10/09

So, as some of you know, my bike tried to kill me again 6 weeks ago today.  Fine.  Wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last as I’ll discover later when I finally took it seriously.  Anyway, it’s only been in recent days that I’ve been eating like a horse morning, noon, and night.  Last night included the first steak I’ve cooked since said day.  I couldn’t chew it fast enough.  Trust me, when you can’t for awhile, it’s a luxury.  ANYWAY…

I’ve spent the past 3 days in a row now having sensational lunches at North Park Sushi in San Diego.  Today I moved back to Hillcrest at a place called Ichiban, as the bill at North Park is substantially higher.

Initially I wanted a fork and knife to cut the fish into smaller pieces to accommodate a still-sore jaw, and that was awkward enough.  I’ve always felt, and have been taught, that to alter the presentation at these minimalist, seemingly relaxed, but pressure-loaded establishments, is an insult to the chef, his family, his wife’s family, and all future offspring.  So we, like so many sake-drunk-lemmings-off-a-cliff, bow ferociously, indicating we understand the consequences to Grandmother and her goddamn cricket.  We do this by pretending to be comfortable with balsa wood.  Not sterling, babes.  Fucking-balsa-make-a-plane-that-will-explode-on-impact-wood.  We lean over the rice bowl and shovel it in quickly enough so as not to fall.  We ignore the fact that the staff has noted that they aren’t perfect little rice balls.  We perform.  We are good round eye.  It’s a theme restaurant, when you think about it.  Like Medieval Times.  Eat turkey leg as though you were in a real shit hole with no indoor plumbing, drink grog.  It’s magical.  Oh yeah, and you were likely dead by 40, by the way.

We continue to perform like trained Akitas, thinking a slippery piece of raw fish can be held between to sticks as steady as a grain of rice as it gets lowered into a little soy sauce jacuzzi.  We convince ourselves that the wobbly bit of fish won’t essentially end up somewhere on the table.  We use the end of a STICK to try to spread Wasabi onto the top, as though it was a little, primitive, oriental butter knife.  Only it’s not, you twit.

Speaking of twits, does anyone actually REMEMBER a sushi bar in the 60′s or 70′s?  I could swear they just landed out of thin air in the 80′s.  Either that, or my parents wouldn’t buy into the idea, which probably isn’t too far off.  I still can’t help but wonder when, each night, as the last guests leave before locking the door, everyone working turns around and starts laughing until soy milk comes out of their noses while they yell, “They fucking ate it!”

So my next point, or first one, I don’t know, I’m treating Glaucoma or the prevention thereof.  I ordered another decent sized sashimi platter this afternoon while sitting outside, and it came with miso soup, a great salad, and a wee bit of rice.  As things arrived, I grew apprehensive.  I was used to explaining my situation at North Park and the waitress was very nice about it and said not to worry.  But now I was around more people, everything was fine, and my excuse did not apply.  I felt fine and was starving.  This time, I simply didn’t want to go back to the sticks.

So the bad Kazoo appears on my shoulder and made some brilliantly astute reminders that defiantly made me request, ever so nicely, silverware:

#1 I am paying these people to serve me food that I ordered and they’re hoping I’ll like it and come back with friends.

#2 I am paying these people for all of the above AND unlike sushi, it’s more expensive, despite missing seaweed, rice, cucumber, and those other Asian staples such as Avocado and cream cheese, and whatever the fuck Krab is.

#3 and my personal favorite, I am paying these people for all of the above AND (girls, you’d better hold onto your boyfriends!) THEY DON’T EVEN HAVE TO FUCKING COOK IT.

What exactly is the interview process for the job of sushi chef?  I’ll tell you.  They look over the subservient Tokyo import, upon which generations of honor rests, up and down slowly.  It’s like that scene from “Mulan” where that matchmaker bitch gives the trannie the once-over with unmitigated disapproval.  After a moment of deliberate and reflective pause, the head of the restaurant asks, as well as the rest of his body, “So….. do you have a knife?”

And that, my friends, is how the world now has Nobu, the Japanese Wolfgang Puck.  “You go now!  You been here four hours!  Five hundred dollars, please!”

So after all of these epiphanies, all of which processed in seconds, my little yellow friend returned with a platter and set the sashimi down.  As though I were about to storm the Bastille with peasant shields in front of me, obviously, I took a deep breath of courage and politely asked (remember, 3 years of cotillion, now not entirely wasted) if I might have a fork and knife.

The response was a confused, and HIGHLY ill-advised, “Why?”  Poor thing didn’t read the script.

To which I, in turn, answered (disable cotillion, enable Tourettes), “Because I’m not in Japan.”

Once all was in front of me I sat back, cut up all 12 slices of sashimi in half and put the knife away and had an hour long lunch.  I was getting a few looks, but not of disapproval.  It was more like envy.  And I can’t tell you how much easier it is to make a soy-wasabi blend, my favorite combo, with a fork.  To be forced to use a chopstick is like trying to make butter in a really wide churn.  Again, no more work.  That’s SUPPOSED to be their job!  Or has no one here seen “Upstairs, Downstairs?”  I kept waiting for the opportunity to shout, “Shouldn’t you be running?” but that was not to happen this time.  Oh well.  One more wish for Santa.

See what happens when you don’t speak up?You end up working your ass off with more rice on the floor than in your mouth, all while watching the arrogant bastard who’s dressed like he just got off a cruise ship in Mykonos, and the son-of-a-bitch wouldn’t even turn off his iPod, and that poor girl will surely get beaten by father when she returns home with a rice sack full of dishonor.

I’m pretty OK with that.  Either way it got talked about, and we all know, there is no such thing as bad press these days.  :)

Downton Abbey


It’s due.  I had no idea how much of a frenzy this show has actually caused, both in the United Kingdom, as well as here in the U.S.  Through means I can’t admit to, I’ve already seen the entire 2nd season before it even wrapped in Britain yesterday, and it doesn’t start here until January 8th.

I’ve sent emails to the show’s producers.  I appreciate their attention to quality over quantity, but honestly, EIGHT episodes is all we get until NEXT fall?  They obviously don’t understand the sterling silver crack they’ve served us and have subsequently created numerous addicts.  Fortunately, a 3rd season is already in pre-production, and they’ve even snagged Joanna Lumley for a cameo or two.

 

Here is the official site:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/

 

Here is the full 45 minute Q&A with some of the show’s cast while promoting the 2nd season in NYC a few weeks ago:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SsP_Rw8FA9A

 

Here is the website for Highclere Castle, the “other” Downton Abbey star:

http://www.highclerecastle.co.uk/

 

Also required are two GREAT British Comic Relief parodies featuring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5dMlXentLw&feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3YYo_5rxFE&feature=relmfu

 

This is Asprey’s website, in case you’re in the market for lovely things:

http://www.asprey.com/index.php?reg=ame

 

 

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