Fine Dining Tramp

The announcement of Mark’s iconic LA restaurant, Campanile, closing has met with many stunned expressions.  Regular folk commenting on their Facebook page or in person how sad they are, how much they will miss it.  I love the respect and attention Mark and his staff are getting.

My sister and I couldn’t help injecting some humor into the final days. We created “Occupy Campanile” shirts.  The slogan, “So, we can still eat like the 1%”.  

I have had a lot of insomnia trying to conceive how it will feel on November first when we can no longer go there.  How will Mark feel?  I can’t wrap my brain around it.  They are doing a final blow bash on Oct. 31, all you can eat and drink for $89 ( the year they opened).  Black and White masked ball.  I’m taking the kids trick or treating, then deposit them with a sitter and go to the final soiree.

What time should the drunken crying start?

Lot’s of taxis will be called and I’m having the sitter spend the night and take the kids to school the next morning. I’m fully expecting Mark and I to be wiped out. I’ll be hung over, but I think we will both be emotionally exhausted.

However.. I’m enjoying every last minute of Campanile.  Vivien looks at me after we have done her homework, “Are you going out tonight, AGAIN?”

“Yes, I told you I’m going out a lot to the restaurant.  I’ll be home in November rocking back and forth in a dark room.”

Every night, it’s with someone different.  I’m a fine dining slut.  One night with my sisters and mom.  The next night with my friend Inge Lise, the other day I had a lunch date and a dinner date in the same day.  I walked to dinner to work off lunch. Two in a day. Such a fine dining hussy.

Then the kids and I got dressed up and met up with my “school husband” my co room parent Jasen and his son.  We also brought Flat Holden, a representative of our friend in Nashville, and enjoyed the last ever fried chicken night at Campanile.The next night I went there with a couple. Such a harlot.

Then I went with my entire dinner club, past and present, and a couple of babies.  It was my dinner club that lead me to meet Mark and then get asked out by Mark.

Magic moments have occurred here for me, and many others.  I’ve been so fortunate to have this dining salon to meet old friends and make new ones.  I’m not taking this lying down.  I’m sitting up, chatting and eating.

What a way to go.

Better start cooking: crispy eggs

Since Campanile is closing at the end of the month I’m going to have to step up my game.  Granted, Chef Peel will be home more so I might get some home cooked meals, but I am usually the cooker or at least the Executive Chef.  So, While I’m running to feast at my husband’s fantastic restaurant for dinner as much as I can I thought I’d start on breakfast.  When Vivien was little we went out to breakfast a lot, but Rex doesn’t have her ability to sit still so I’ve been working on creative breakfast for longer. This recipe came about the other weekend after I had made bacon for Rex. I cooked this in bacon fat with a small pat of butter for flavor.

1 corn tortilla, 2 eggs, ( you could use olive oil instead of bacon fat), butter, salt and pepper, boring taco cheese. When I do it again I will also add a little diced onion in the saute.

Cut up the tortilla in small strips. Put in iron pan with olive oil, don’t be stingy

I’m trying to make a crust.  Cook till you see it brown on the edges, about 5 min.

crack in two eggs and pierce the yolks to spread around.

throw on the pre grated taco cheese.  Could I use better cheese? yeah, but I always have this stuff on hand because the kids like it on their tacos and I’m in a hurry and don’t want to chop or grate anything in the morning.

then, flip it over

There it is.  It looks like fried potatoes.   I meant to eat half and give the other half to Mark, but I inhaled the whole thing.  I was full till 3pm!

 

I need a better name then “crispy eggs”.  Any ideas?

June Gloom

IT has arrived IT is the haze that moves in on Southern California every June ( sometimes May, but we were spared this year).  People who live in colder climates will know doubt say, “cry me a river”.  For us who are use to days on end of perfect days the unceasing haze can drive us to re up long dormant prescriptions for happy pills, or try out new cocktails.

The trip I had postponed so I could be home for Oliver’s prom. With five offspring there is never a good time to get away. By going away this weekend we missed Viv’s best friend’s birthday party and spending time with my stepdaughter who is visiting ( we will see her this week however), but I would lose the money I had put down on the cabin so we went.

Just getting my husband away from striking distance from his restaurant has value.  He is trapped, he has to stay with us.  We drove north and stopped at this cute little place in Summerland.  I really wanted a non corporate cup of coffee and this place, Cafe Luna, reminded me of college days in Santa Cruz.  The kids loved their smoothies.Just when we were going to get back on the road to our “glamping” site Mark spied an outdoor oven in the back.  Ends up they have a chef and make a few things in this outdoor oven for dinner.  Oh, let’s stay I said.  I chatted up the owner ala John Carl Brogdonand ordered the roast chicken- fantastic and the meat loaf, good, but would use a tad less sauce and peppers.  The smashed potatoes had rosemary and truffle oil. Yum.  We brought in our bottle of Sancerre we had.  The kids could scamper on the patio.

a little self portrait

Great places for a family.  We hit the road the next morning awoke to a gloomy day north of Santa Barbara.  Sigh.  There goes the beach swim thing.

Fortunately, a Llama farm hike saved the day.  We hiked up a hill to visit with Llama and goats and sheep with a view of the water. Usually I only see this view from the window of a speeding car.  It was nice to be in it instead of looking at it. We didn’t need clear sun to make this a sweet outing.

 

For dinner we made tri tip over an open fire.  Great for the kids to scamper outside.  Dodge poison oak instead of cars, avoid skunks instead of creepy people who park their cars a little long on a street.  But, dang it, there is NO way to look pretty when you camp.  It can get to me. 

I told Mark that if we could cover our computers, TV and phones at home we could stay in our home comfy home with our full bar and save a lot of money.  He would have to vow to stay with us for 36 hours.  Even on the hike I caught him checking his phone sometimes, “put that down” I yelled.

That night the place we stayed had an awesome band, “The Rawhides”.  Country by way of rocka billy.  They were tight.  I loved hearing music, outdoors and being able to dance with my kids.  The normal schlep of concerts.  Babysitters, late at night, sitting down or standing up in a stinky bar does not appeal to me, but I miss out on the magic of live music.  Here we got it.  I danced some, but the sweetest thing was to see Viv and her dad dance.  They never sat down.

The next morning more haze.  I needed some reframing, ” let’s see the beautiful overcast beach” in my head I thought, “I’ll pretend it’s the Oregon Coast”.  My sensitivity to cloudy weather is a big reason I fled back home after many years in Northern California.  But, this morning I adjusted, we all did.  

I love this picture.

Of course when we got back to the big city the haze had burned off.   I did three loads of laundry. And more gloom with my dinner. It laid an egg.  Oliver didn’t eat it because I had served him a late lunch, Vivien said, “Is that all there is?”  Pork and Salad. What more do you want?

“all pork is dry”

” Where are you picking up these crazy ideas.  It’s pork shoulder not a chop.  I brined it.”

She was use to Sunday dinner with dad when their are more things on the table.  I found some leftover arancini balls and she ate those.  Rex was wound up. Literally.  He was lying in my suitcase, nearby as I had unloaded it’s contents into the washing machine.  ( Later I tricked him into eating while he watched Mickey Mouse on youtube)

I fell asleep holding Rex and smelling the campfire in his hair.  I’ll deal with that tomorrow.

 

Memorializing and a quiz

Memorial day is a funny day to celebrate.  People died, that sucked.  But, nonetheless Vivien greeted us in the morning, “Happy Memorial day!”  It was a day off for her and the opening of her cousin’s pool for the season, so it was a happy day.

Later a big table of family and friends went to Campanile for it’s annual Memorial Day BBQ insert shot of me shoving pork ribs in my mouth, had I thought to take a picture).  We had three departed dads between us.  We toasted them.  My father was in the service during the Korean War.  He never left Virginia, but knowing my dad I bet he saw action!  ( ba- dum)

Sometimes there is almost a moment where you forget your loved one is dead.  The  next moment you think it can’t be true.

The food of course was great and I’m picking the rib meat out of my teeth still ( well, I ate leftovers for lunch).  My contribution to the dinner was making a Quiz for the diners.  I love games and I thought I would share it with you.  It’s from a variety of sources.  Answers below.

Have a good week.

1)These three holidays are tops in BBQing.  Please rank from 1 to 3

Memorial Day
Labor Day
4th of July

2) Decorating soliders graves took off during which war?

3) Memorial Day was declared a Federal Holiday under which President?

Grant
Wilson
Roosevelt
Nixon

4) The United States Naval Academy is located in what state?

Maine

New York

Maryland

Virginia

5)Their motto, “Semper Paratus,” means “always ready.”

Marines

Coast Guard

Army

Air Force

6) In which war did Deborah Sampson disguise herself as a man so that she could go to battle as a solider?

 

7) What is the Maximum Number of Dependents (under the age of
18) that one is allowed to have in order to enlist in the U.S.
Armed Forces?

8) Whose picture is on the Purple Heart medal?

A) President Lincoln   B) An unidentified soldier   C)President Washington
D) The First Secretary of Defense
a) One    b) Two    c) Five     d) No Maximum

9) In which war were tanks introduced?

10)
Which Country introduced them?

11)
What was the nickname of the B-17 in WWII ?

 

Answers below

////////////////////////////////////////////////////

1) 4th of july is number one, then Memorial, then Labor

2) civil war

3) Nixon… 1971 it became a federal holiday

4) Maryland

5) coast guard

6) Revolutionary War.  I was fascinated with her as a kid.  My mom use to take us to the Sisterhood bookstore in Westwood.  I bought a book called “The Secret Solider“.  How Debra Sampson disguised as a man fought the British.  She was found out when she was shot and they ripped off her pants to give her medical treatment.  She was cool.

7) 2

8)  Washington

9) WW1

10) Britain,  most people guess Germany, but there tanks were not great

11) The Flying Fortress

 

No tears meatloaf

A couple of days ago I mentioned how well my meatloaf when over in my house so I thought I would share it with you. Since if the lack of it drove my daughter to tears I’m must be doing something right.  Maybe as a cook, but not as mother.

Needed:

one pound pork sausage ( or you can get ground pork and add garlic, salt and fennel)

One pound ground beef ( The fatter the better.  A store near here has 27% fat ground beef, perfect)

One egg

Splash of water

salt, pepper

1/2 onion, chopped

1 big or two small cloves of garlic, chopped

One carrot, diced.

1 tablespoon of butter

1/3 of breadcrumbs ( I use store bought.  Homemade are great, but I’m not that ambitious)

1/3 cup of ketchup

I always mean to have worcester sauce in this, but haven’t yet and it’s worked out well, so maybe I’ll let go of that dream.

Here is how it all comes together, the food and the family.

 

Mad dream

You know those dreams that seem so real they are hard to shake?  Last night I had one and I was going to clobber my husband in the morning, except that Rex’s body was half draped across his. Nice the boy protects his father.

I get up hours before Mark does so I had had coffee and breakfast and was able to calm down enough to tell him about my dream.

“We didn’t have any kids yet and you hadn’t lost your money yet. We had just gotten married and where staying a fancy hotel, but you also had an Asian girlfriend.”

Mark, ” I like where this dream is going.”

“No, it was a terrible dream, because on our first day of marriage you told me that tomorrow me and your young daughter-”

“Daughter?”

“Yeah, Oliver was a girl.”

“Named Oliva?”

Exasperated, “She didn’t have a name I was just going to have to mind her while spent a night with your Asian girlfriend.  I was fuming and you didn’t see anything wrong with it.”

“I have a lot of nerve.”

“Yes, you do.  I was bathed in expensive clothes and jewelery and then it occurred to me that I could leave you.  I didn’t have kids with you and I would leave you.  I walked in to the closet where you were and told you so.  You still didn’t get why I wasn’t okay with this arrangement and then I screamed, “who do you think I am ___ ____”  I screamed the name of a women my father had a very icky relationship with that adversely affected my family of origin.

“You were really angry.”  Mark said.

Then I let him have his first cup of coffee.

On the way to school Vivien asked if I had put the meatloaf I had made for dinner the night before in her lunch as she had asked.

“Oh, sweetie, daddy ate the last of it.  But, today is taco day!” normally a winner.  Not today.

“Waaa, I wanted the meatloaf!”  I had a brief thrill that she was so excited about my meatloaf.  But, she was now spiraling down a sensitive little girl path that meant dropping her off at school would not go smoothly.  I called Mark.

“You ate all of the meatloaf, right?”  He had.  The phone was on speaker so he could hear the sobs.  Yes, he had actually done something wrong for real. Well, eating dinner in his own home when he is hungry might not qualify, but it would have to do.

I assured her I would make the loaf of wonder again tonight.

As good as it is, I hope it doesn’t give me bad dreams.

MORE inappropriate sandwich shape

My mind drifts as I make my kids sandwiches for their school lunch.  I started off thinking I would make a little girl sandwich.

 

But, then I keep going.  What if the girl then stuck her finger in an electrical socket?

 

 

Or, when she grows up, goes to college and parties a little hard.  This would be her sleeping off a bender.

 

At least I did stop myself from making a sandwich that showed what that girl did that night and with what!

 

 

 

Should kids go to Hooters?

Recently a mom friend told me that before an action movie that she was taking her sons to they would eat with friends at Hooters.

What?

“Yeah, some people have a problem with it she said.  But, my kids ( about 7 and 9yrs) like to play the basketball game there and they eat the food.”

“Well, maybe they don’t notice the girls in the tight t shirts.”  I said trying to be knee jerk supportive.   Then I thought of how early guys have told me they began masturbating.  Farrah Fawcett posters, etc.   But, hey, that’s not bad, part of life, right?

Now, I know I wouldn’t take my daughter into a Hooters because I don’t want her to get the message that she should be an ornamental woman.  There are enough messages of that left all over the world for her to see, so I’m not going to accelerate that.

I’m also a food snob, so I would have to be roadtripping for hours, super hungry and have to pee to go into a Hooters solo. Chicken wings, burgers formulaic food is not my bag.

But, would I take a boy in there? NOW ( National Organization for Women for those of you who weren’t brought up going to their rallies as I was) takes issue with Hooter’s catering to kids.  The business model of Hooters, is pretty crass.  Do men and boys like sexy girls?yes.  Should that be stopped?  No.  But, I would very uncomfortable being with my son in that atmosphere.  On Parent Dish I found out that they have Hooter gear for kids! Blech.  A parent who would buy their little girl a Hooters shirt might be a candidate for a visit from child protective services. (Check out this photo from Esquire.  I hesitated to even share, except it was already posted.  My compromise is not putting it here.)  Young boy does not look happy at Hooters.

Okay, sorry, my hippie feminist upbringing that strives to be non judgemental was just trumped by my hippie feminist upbringing side that use to spell women with a “Y”.   I think I would rather take my son to a lesbian, socialist coffeehouse than a Hooters.  Than I’m at least supporting a small business owner.

 

 

Brussel Sprout breakfast

I’m a Brussel Sprout fanatic.  Side dish with dinner, a lunch salad with smoked trout.  Now, it’s even part of my favorite breakfast.

What you need for this:

2 eggs

Brussel Sprouts – 2 chopped lengthwise

onion- 2 tablespoon, small diced

cooked bacon – 1 slice into lardons

dried oregeno- pinch

salt and pepper

Half and half- just a splash

Cook the bacon till crisp, chewy, set asidein the bacon fat saute the onions and  Brussel Sprouts.  Takes a little longer than my usual left over from dinner broccoli, but if I have made lunches the night before I have time.  both should get softer and carmelize.  Add Salt , tiny bit.

Reduce heat and crack the two eggs right in there. Add a pinch of dried Oregano. Get your fork and start swirling.  Most people over cook eggs.  When almost done, just soft add a tablespoon of half and half.  Turn off the fire, put the bacon back in and fork it up in the ( hopefully) iron pan.  Quickly plate, little freshly ground pepper at the end.

Rex likes to climb up on the counter and “help” which is tough when I’ve moved the hot pan portion of cooking, but I make things up or he has a fit.

Like most of my creations, it may not be pretty, but it’s tasty!