Thursday, January 31, 2008

Shout out.

I've been writing some reviews lately over at yelp.com. It's a great site and I'm getting great tips on where (and where not) to eat. There's a forum section where yelpers can ask and answer questions about Kansas City. Recently, someone posed the following question:

"What is your favorite Asian Place... Indian, Thai, Korean, Japanese and Chinese."

Good question...

My favorite type of Asian food is Vietnamese. I think Mr. Le's does a pretty good job with that, and I love Sung Son's combination of good, relatively inexpensive lunches with gorgeous atmosphere.

I think Swagat at Zona Rosa is great for Indian food - their lunch buffet is really good, and the regular menu is great, too.

For Japanese, I'm all about the sushi. I loves me some Sakura sushi train. I think Domo in Westport has some delicious, if a tad overpriced sushi, but I really love their salmon teriyaki bento box. The single best piece of Salmon nigiri I ever had was at Styx in the Legends shopping center, of all places. The temperature of the fish was perfect, and the rice was seasoned just right. I've only been there once, and it was more expensive than I like, but it was suprisingly good. Mr. Le's, in addition to having great Vietnamese, has better than average (and hella-affordable) sushi.

I don't go for Thai much, but a couple times a year I CRAVE the galangal soup from Thai Place. That stuff is sent straight from the heavens.

I don't think I've had Korean food... someone give me some recommendations.

As for Chinese, I'm a sucker for Bo Lings. The atmosphere at the Board of Trade location reminds me of an airport lounge, and so it always makes me think I'm on vacation. The Zona Rosa location is much more open and brighter, but still warm and comfortable. I really like the Hunan Chicken. I did Dim Sum once about a year ago at the Metcalf location and had a great time. Maybe one day they'll bring it to the Zona Rosa location - I'm far too lazy on Sunday mornings to want to drive a ways for brunch.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

So I guess I got kicked off another My Little Pony Forum.

"Your picture of Stalin riding a Year3 Limited Edition Starflower inside a German concentration camp was both upsetting and historically inaccurate."

Memememememememe.

I'm not exactly a meme person, but I really like this one:

1. Choose a pangram of your liking, the most common being (“The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.” )
2. Write it on a piece of paper and sign it with your blog name or online handle.
3. Take a picture and post it to the flickr group, your blog, myspace, facebook or all of them.
4. Link back or trackback to this post: http://blog.logtar.com/2008/01/27/handwriting-meme-redux/
5. Tag five people. This part is why I am not exactly a meme person - it always sort of feels chain-lettery to me, and I hate chain letters. However, I'll sort of follow the rules and tag Brian, Adam and Heather.

Stay classy, Gladstone.

So the other night, when we were parking at Mr. Le's Sushi, we saw this tow truck in the parking lot:



The door reads "Camel Toe Recovery" and they are based in Gladstone, MO.

My camera ran out of batteries before I could take a picture of the back window. It read... wait for it...

"We'll Dig You Out"

I can't make this stuff up.

Subtext, anyone?

This is why I can't play Scrabble with kids anymore.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Challenges.

I was in fourth grade. We had this computer game where we flew a little space ship around the solar system and answered trivia questions like, "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?" The second grade teacher came our classroom and said, "The space shuttle blew up!" I thought she meant that the little space ship in the computer game, which looked like a little space shuttle, had blown up in the game and now we were going to be able to access some super trivia level and wouldn't that be cool...

It took me a few minutes to understand what she meant. I got it when they wheeled the TV cart into our classroom and we all watched Dan Rather explain to us, with the help of a toy space shuttle model, what had happened to the teacher we had been learning about and cheering on for the last several months.

That was twenty-two years ago today. People still want to go into space, but I'm more of the sort that wants to fund things like Hubble that allow us to see farther and clearer into the unknown. Do we really need to go to the moon again, or step foot on Mars? For what purpose? So we'll have a place to go when when this planet is beyond repair?  I suppose if people want to go whizzing through the stratosphere on their own private dime, that's their business. For now, though, I don' think that manned space exploration should be the crowning achievement of NASA. Let's just try to digest what Hubble sends back for a while:


Crab Nebula


Interacting Spiral Galaxies

Those are some crazy cool images, if you ask me. Lots more here, if you are so inclined.

The Face in the Toyota by Robert Bly

Suppose you see a face in a Toyota
One day, and you fall in love with that face,
And it is Her, and the world rushes by
Like dust blown down a Montana street.

And you fall upward into some deep hole,
And you can't tell God from a grain of sand.
And your life is changed, except that now you
Overlook even more than you did before;

And these ignored things come to bury you,
And you are crushed, and your parents
Can't help you anymore, and the woman in the Toyota
Becomes a part of the world that you don't see.

And now the grain of sand becomes sand again,
And you stand on some mountain road weeping.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cola isn't healthy?!? What?!

Seriously, people: drink some damn water once in a while.

Knowledge pimp.

It's been an odd couple of weeks around these parts. Much has been going on, and rather than do a long recap, I'll just post some of the things I learned, in no particular order.

  • Risotto is incredibly easy to make. The other night, we made risotto with lemon, thyme and peas, and the next night we made it with butternut squash and mixed mushrooms. The third night, I had leftovers of both kinds, sort of a yin yang of grainy goodness.

  • Sometimes, it's fun to cook for guests.

  • Sphincter of ODDI dysfunction is difficult to diagnose, treat and live with. Difficult, but not impossible.

  • Occasionally, a Guinness with lunch is a good thing.

  • Mushy shallots are hard to peel.

  • Contrary to what the nightly news tries to tell me, Robitussin cough syrup works wonders when I have chest congestion.

  • Mama's on 39th (formerly Bell St. Mama's) needs to hire more servers. Also, they make a mean omelette. Granted, I didn't learn about their omelettes in the last couple of weeks, but I figure this is a perfect opportunity to extol the goodness of a number 54 omelette: ham, cheddar and mushrooms. They don't skimp on the fillings, and when you add on some grits, toast, and pretty good coffee, you've got yourself a hearty lunch for a cold day.

  • With all the advances in medical science, they still can't manufacture an IV machine that doesn't sound like a 2-ton science fiction robot chugging along next to the bed.


All this knowledge sharing reminds me of the opening lines of Charles Olson's Maximus, to himself:
I have had to learn the simplest things
last. Which made for difficulties.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ages.

From Act II, Scene vii of As You Like It by William Shakespeare:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like a snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange, eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Eighty degrees when I tells that bitch please.

Bitches can't hang with the streets (she found herself short). Now she's takin' me to court. That's some real conversation for your ass.

Fun with babies.

Sometimes I can't tell right from wrong.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Forty-Five by Hayden Carruth

When I was forty-five I lay for hours
beside a pool, the green hazy
springtime water, and watched
the salamanders coupling, how they drifted lazily,
their little hands floating before them,
aimlessly in and out of the shadows, fifteen
or twenty of them, and suddenly two
would dart together and clasp
one another belly to belly
the way we do, tender and vigorous, and then
would let go and drift away
at peace, lazily,
in the green pool that was their world
and for a while was mine.

Babies have fingernails.

"I wonder if the baby's claws could scratch your vag on the way out?"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

December Moon by May Sarton

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
Where the wild creatures ranged
While the moon rose and shone.

Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we'll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I like turtles.

Let's see...

  • We're still cooking like crazy... I promise to post photos as soon as I unload the camera. I never in my life thought that I would buy a huge bag of dried chilies, but lo and behold, I did over the weekend.

  • I saw Sweeney Todd at the Music Hall yesterday afternoon. It was one of the best musical productions I've ever seen. The set was utilitarian and tight, with everything serving a purpose. All of the actors, save Sweeney, played instruments and were the orchestra. This was technically impressive to watch... it's hard enough to play an instrument or act a part, but to see them do both at the same time was just spectacular. I'm sorry that yesterday was the final performance and I can't see it again tonight. The only downside to the experience was that the Music Hall was freezing-ass cold.

  • Dexter is coming to CBS on February 14th. This is exciting because I've loved this show from day one and it's the only reason I keep Showtime at all. I'm nervous about it, though... each episode will have to be heavily edited, both for language (Dexter's sister swears like a sailor) and for length (an average episode on Showtime runs about 55 minutes, while network shows are about 44 minutes), so I'll be interested how it turns out. At any rate, please give it a watch - it's so good.

  • Today is the first day of Spring semester, which means we'll be insanely busy for about a week or so. Note to self: buy more Guinness on the way home from work.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

And then the high-heeled shoe hit reality in the chops.

Being beautiful just isn't enough. (We don't mean it isn't important. We just mean it isn't enough.)

Quick bites and reruns.

We made Pho Ga the other night. It's pretty much the best chicken noodle soup you'll ever eat. Of course we took pictures. Of course I haven't unloaded them from the camera. You'll just have to wait.

The broth was even better last night as leftovers with spring rolls. I have a bit more broth to have tonight, with lemongrass chicken.

With every meal we prepare, I am just shocked as hell that we were able to accomplish it. The flavors are so complex, and the presentation is so lovely, that we never thought we could replicate it on our own, let alone so easily and have so much fun doing it.  It gives you hope, you know? I'm getting all misty here. Give me a moment...

Okay. That's passed. So this whole writer's strike thing? It's starting to piss me off just a wee bit. I love The Daily Show, but I love it more when it has writers, you know? It was sort of amusing at first to see how the late night crews would fill their writer-less time, but now it's just sort of uncomfortable and a little weird. However, there are some good things about the strike:

  • Rewatching both seasons of Extras on HBO on Demand. It's even better the second time around, and I didn't think that was possible.

  • Catching up with missed episodes of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations on The Travel Channel. If House were a chain-smoking, glob-trotting foodie, he'd be Anthony Bourdain. I'm rather fascinated by the "I'm so good at what I do that I can be an asshole if I want to be" thing they both have going for them.

  • Big Brother 9 starts on February 12th. Yeah, yeah. Everyone's got their guilty pleasures. One of mine just happens to be Big Brother.

  • Speaking of guilty pleasures, American Idol comes back this month.


Ah, yes.. it all comes back to Extras: 
"The Victorian freak show never went away. Now it’s called ‘Big Brother’ or ‘American Idol,’ where in the preliminary rounds we wheel out the bewildered to be sniggered at by multimillionaires. You can’t wash your hands of this. You can’t keep going, ‘Oh, it’s exploitation, but it’s what the public wants.’ No. Shame on you. And shame on me. I’m the worst of all. Cause I’m one of these people that goes, ‘I’m an entertainer, it’s in my blood.’ Yeah, it’s in my blood because a real job’s too hard." - David Brent aka Ricky Gervais

I suppose that as long as there are people out there who relish public humiliation, people who have no shame... as long as those people know what they are getting into... as long as there isn't enough good, scripted TV... there will be viewers. Hey, at least I don't watch "Deal or No Deal." Howie Mandel + attention whores + dumb, dumb luck = the lowest form of television. Okay, maybe I'm being too hard on "Deal" - at least Flava Flav isn't involved...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Get off your ass, you lazy bastard.

"Not knowing that he was supposed to sleep during the race, he said when running throughout the race, he imagined that he was chasing sheep and trying to outrun a storm."

What's my age again?

Living in Three Centuries: Portraits and stories of people who have been alive longer than I.

All good things...

Nine things I learned while on vacation:
  • Sixteen days is long enough to slip into a completely different sleep pattern. My natural pattern happens to be going to bed around midnight and getting up around 9am.

  • Vietnamese food is way easier to cook at home than I ever imagined, thanks to this book. More to come on our adventures in cooking.

  • You can't go to a movie anymore without someone in the audience talking throughout most of it.

  • Sudoku is easier with two people.

  • Thank goodness I know how to make pumpkin scones, because Starbucks stopped carrying them. Grr...

  • William Shakespeare is responsible for the earliest recorded usage of thousands of words, including the following:

    • accused • addiction • alligator • amazement • anchovies • assassination • backing • bandit • bedroom • bump • buzzers • courtship • critic • dauntless • dawn • design • dickens • discontent • embrace • employer • engagements • excitements • exposure • eyeball • fixture • glow • gust • hint • immediacy • investments • leapfrog • luggage • manager • mimic • misgiving • mountaineer • ode • outbreak • pageantry • pedant • perusal • questioning • reinforcement • retirement • roadway • savagery • scuffles • shudders • switch • tardiness • transcendence • urging • watchdog • wormhole • zany

    Also, one of my favorites: excellent.

  • Hot chai latte + coconut syrup + a shot of espresso = crazy delicious.

  • Hollister Co. stores smell like a guy's dorm room.

  • Facials really are worth the time and money. If you haven't experienced one lately (or ever), make sure to get one soon.
What else... now that the vacation is over, it's time to get back into the normal routine. But not quite the same normal routine as last year. This year, we resolve to cook at home more. Hence, the Vietnamese cookbook.

Here's the thing: we don't cook. Let me rephrase that... we didn't cook. We would cook something every once in a great while, but for the most part, we really, really love to eat out at restaurants. So I got to thinking, what is it that we like to go out for the most? Sushi and Vietnamese. Since I'm not quite brave enough (yet) to tackle home sushi, I figured we could attempt our favorite Vietnamese dishes. So we spent some time at the ol' bookstore and found a book with recipes that looked easy enough to follow. I took the book with us to the grocery store and to the Asian market, and we got everything we needed for lemongrass chicken.

Our first attempt at the dish went off really well, except for the rice noodles. We bought dried rice sticks from the grocery store, and followed the package instructions, but they didn't get cooked enough. So we cooked them some more, and then some more, and they eventually turned into a sticky glob of grossness. Thank goodness for Minute Rice, because that saved our meal.

We made Jasmine rice in the rice cooker on the second go-round, and it was way better than the Minute Rice (go figure... ).

Since we were (are) lemongrass chicken experts, it was time to tackle another Vietnamese favorite: Spring rolls. This meant conquering rice noodles, however. After much research, I concluded that there are just as many ways to cook rice noodles as there are people who cook rice noodles. In other words, we were still lost. So, we bit the bullet and bought another package of dried noodles to practice with.

Here is the best advice I can give you about rice noodles: Buy Thai Kitchen brand thin rice noodles. Bring some water to a boil, and as soon as it starts to boil, put in your dried rice noodles and remove the pot from the heat. Let the rice noodles sit in the pot of hot water for 8-10 minutes, until soft. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Voila! Perfect rice noodles. For reals.

So now rice noodles were mastered, it was time to attempt making spring rolls. The hardest part was figuring out how long to soak the rice paper (about 30 seconds or so). We put a butter lettuce leaf, some pickled carrots, cilantro, rice noodles and a couple of cooked shrimp in the roll, and went to town. We set up a little assembly line and before we knew it, five rolls were ready for consumption. I made a really easy and delicious peanut sauce using the recipe in my trusty cookbook to accompany the spring rolls.

How did our Vietnamese meal turn out, you ask?

Yums!

Tonight, we might attempt another favorite, Pho Ga. I don't know if it will be more difficult than the lemongrass chicken or spring rolls, but since we're having so much success with this cooking thing lately, I'm not afraid to try.