Monthly Archives: October 2009

Big Pimpin’ in Seaside

It is my belief that Lewis and Clark,

Soggy and suffering from a recurring strain of malaria, were looking for one thing and one thing only when they stumbled into Seaside, Oregon. It wasn’t money or fame, or even a decent bed or the company of a good (hopefully syphilis-free) woman. It was the thing we all seek at one point in our lives. The thing that brings us together, binds man to sea and potato to shellfish.

That’s right. Clam Chowder.

“WELL WHERE THE FUCK IS IT???”

-M. Lewis, January 8, 1806

It wasn’t the chowder specifically that brought Yean and I to Seaside a couple weeks ago, but I will say that our journey did involve a lot of food hunting. Portland’s turned a bit chilly by now, but Seaside was still a comfortable mix of sunny and breezy. I always feel bad when we head to other places on the coast like Astoria, because we end up passing through Seaside without a second glance. We scoff at the Pig n’ Pancake and outlet shops and go on our merry way. But there’s more to seaside than whet you see along the highway! This is alarming to me, as someone from a beach town that’s pretty much exactly what you can see from highway 1.

Seaside is kind of like if Monterey and Santa Cruz had a baby. And then that baby started banging Pier 39. It was October, so it was a little on the dead side, but there’s a long touristy street with bright ice cream and fudge shops and semi-shady nautically themed restaurants/bars. At the end of that is a little turnaround with the statue from the top of the post, and a looooong hotel-lined boardwalk extending in either direction. We walked up and down it exactly 5,000 times.

I’m not ashamed to say our first stop was The Buzz On Broadway, an enormous candy shop boasting fudge, gummies, and A LOT of bacon-related goodies. Now, I am not one to be swayed by candy shop selections. I work with sugar all day. I’ve seen it all. And there’s no nostalgia factor for me because my parents did not let me eat that shit. But I am strangely taken with these gummi cola bottles, which smell like ass but taste delicious. Also there is a massive fudge selection. You can get a “6-pack” of fudge, ensuring you’ll never have a real six pack but oh who cares it’s buy four, get two free, or B4G2F. Faced with the undeniable bargain of B4G2F, Yean and I bought six initially impressive pieces of fudge which we of course had no desire to finish after day three. We liked pumpkin the best, creamsicle the least. Peanut butter swirl was good but needed more peanut butter. Chocolate-walnut and milk/dark layered were good but nothing to write home about, and maple pecan was…sweet. Very sweet. And the nuts could have been fresher. I gained five pounds regardless.

Then we went to the Aquarium! To see seals! The Seaside Aquarium is one of those old-timey boardwalk attractions that has somehow survived despite the fact that it looks like a place where fish go to die. But hey! The aquarium has octopus and a giant lobster exoskeleton and a thriving Harbor Seal breeding program. These are no loose seals.

Is it wrong to say that I found this really enjoyable? The dorky laugh at the end of the video is me being alarmed at the splashing of some frustrated seals who had HAD IT UP TO HERE with the tourists next to us, who were being indecisive with handing out the little fish you can buy at the ticket booth. Sadly, it had the opposite effect the seal intended and we all ran away giggling instead of giving up the tasty snacks. Later they had a “real feeding” with bigger fish, and the noise was fucking ridiculous. I found myself jealous of these seals. “Those fat bastards.” I thought. “I’d like to swim around all day while people give me treats. I guess it would get boring, but then you could just go hump something.”

We really needed a vacation, is what I’m saying.

Then we went for a nice little walk on the beach, which was surprisingly clean and condom-free. There wasn’t even a Taco Bell to interrupt the view. SERIOUSLY, THIS BEACH TOWN GIRL IS CONFUSED. You actually use your beaches for recreation? And people are okay with that?

We rounded out the day with linner at Norma’s Ocean Diner, which had sub-par chowder but DE-FUCKING-LICIOUS fried oysters. Even the tartar sauce was amazing, and I am not necessarily a big tartar sauce person. Yean had a salmon BLT, which she claims was exactly as wonderfully decadent as it sounds. I didn’t try it because I didn’t want to share my oysters. Sometimes it’s like that when we eat.

I can’t even feel bad about the chowder, which was a tidge skimpy on the clams and very, very potatoey. But I knew from the start it wouldn’t be my One And Only Chowder. It says right on the menu that it’s pork-free, and me, I’m a pork girl. The search continues! Side note: why do saltines taste so good in soup? They’re so bland otherwise. But put a soup cup in front of me and I go all Napoleon Dynamite.

“You gonna eat your ‘tines?”

Yean gave me hers. She didn’t even make me bark for it. I did slap my belly, though.

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Filed under reviews, travel, videos

At The Risk Of Becoming The Girl Who Hates Things

The internet ate my morning. It’s about to eat my evening. Hang in there, this bitch is gonna be long.

So last week Christopher Kimball, (you know my boy Chris? Bowtie? Apron? Makes weird sex noises when sampling food?) a.k.a. That Guy I Hate, wrote an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times about the closing of Gourmet, and why it was probably because of that dang internet. I don’t know if you’re required to be a sanctimonious douchenozzle to write an Op-Ed in the Times, but that is my understanding of the situation. Anyway, he’s real sad Gourmet’s dead.

“This, hard on the heels of the death of Julia Child in 2004, makes one tremulous about the future. Is American magazine publishing on the verge of being devoured by the democratic economics of the Internet? Has the media industry fully become an everyman’s playing field, without the need for credentials or paid membership?”

For the sensitive reader, I’ll tell you right now that he trots out Julia twice in this article, for no real reason. Those of you who are offended by the use of a dead loved one to make a barely relevant point may want to turn away.

Hey, I used to do it too. It got me into college.

So yeah, pretty much it’s the same fears that print media has had for the last TEN YEARS rearing their ugly head. Kimball is especially concerned that the quality of recipes will decline now that we don’t have boatloads of money to throw at lengthy editorials on morel foraging in Peru. He then makes a point to give kudos to his own publication, Cook’s Illustrated, for flourishing under an ad-free subscription model with a Fort Knox-like (trust me, I’ve tried) website. That must be the paid membership he was referring to!

He goes on to mourn the loss of Old Skool journalism, where you could only achieve recognition and respect through years of hard work and study. Unless you were a lady. Or black. Or oh forget it.

“The shuttering of Gourmet reminds us that in a click-or-die advertising marketplace, one ruled by a million instant pundits, where an anonymous Twitter comment might be seen to pack more resonance and useful content than an article that reflects a lifetime of experience, experts are not created from the top down but from the bottom up. They can no longer be coronated; their voices have to be deemed essential to the lives of their customers. That leaves, I think, little room for the thoughtful, considered editorial with which Gourmet delighted its readers for almost seven decades.

To survive, those of us who believe that inexperience rarely leads to wisdom need to swim against the tide, better define our brands, prove our worth, ask to be paid for what we do, and refuse to climb aboard this ship of fools, the one where everyone has an equal voice. Google “broccoli casserole” and make the first recipe you find. I guarantee it will be disappointing. The world needs fewer opinions and more thoughtful expertise — the kind that comes from real experience, the hard-won blood-on-the-floor kind. I like my reporters, my pilots, my pundits, my doctors, my teachers and my cooking instructors to have graduated from the school of hard knocks.”

Maybe it’s just the way he puts it, but doesn’t it sound like kind of a good thing to have an equal voice? To have experts created from the bottom up? To rely on relevance rather than branding to choose which writers we trust? He makes it sound like publishing is this boys’ club of pedigree and get-off-my-lawn style clinging to tradition, and who doesn’t think that deserves to get challenged, just a little? Though I don’t think blogs will ever replace magazines, in a sense he’s right to be antsy about his place in the world.

Then he goes on to say that Julia would’ve had his back because she always wanted to know where a chef had trained. Which is a decent question, I suppose, for a PROFESSIONAL CHEF who runs a kitchen, creates the menu and gets called “Chef” by his underlings, though I’ve never worked in a kitchen formal enough to require addressing someone by their title. But I don’t expect that specific experience from bloggers OR editors at Gourmet, nor do I think Julia would’ve poo-pooed a chef for saying he or she simply worked their way up from the dish station and trained in the school of hard knocks, baby. Well, maybe she’d have taken issue with being called baby.

But the thing that has incensed a lot of bloggers is the “ship of fools” comment regarding the push for print media to go online. In a follow-up blog (HELLO) post he clarifies his statement to be less about the blogosphere in general and more about the internet chatter from untested recipe sites. This is where it really gets interesting. He had four points to make:

1) He finds much of the crap said on the internet to be dumb, even though he enjoys using it and concedes that some of his tweeps are funny.

2) However, it’s a free country and y’all can talk out of your butts all you want.

3) No wait, actually please stop the butt-talking because a world without editors is a world filled with idiots and liars. Blogger zombies are going to eat him and Walter Cronkite. Sounds leathery!

4) THIS IS THE MAIN POINT, KAY. Recipes tested by professional cooks, repeatedly and under controlled circumstances, will always be the more reliable method because there is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and they know the right way. Suck it.

Kimball admits in the comments that this is a pretty self-serving thing to say (and full disclosure: I’m a blogger defending the internet ZOMG). And it’s true that his recipes are probably better than some shit you fucking google. But this is a gross misunderstanding of the way people use the internet. When I need a recipe, I don’t do a random internet search and make the first one I see. I check if any of my favorite food bloggers have made it. I check my cookbooks. If I check a recipe site like epicurious (run by conde nast, hello) or Tasty Kitchen (a user-generated community based site, run by the Pioneer Woman) I make sure that the recipe is well written and, preferably, has a couple reviews so I can get a second opinion. And editor doesn’t make a good recipe. Even a well tested recipe may not be relevant to my needs as a cook. Only I am qualified to decide if a recipe might taste good to me.

Chatter is chatter, and there will always be chatter. To assert that we are too dumb to separate the wheat from the chaff is ridiculous. Yes, the internet has a lot of semi-illiterate chirping from douchebags and 12 year olds, but it’s also the device that gave us the verbal smackdown of “just fucking google it.” Chatter is part of the charm. Boy, does that make me sound like a reasonable human who lives in this fucking world young.

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Just A Bite

Portland is cold, and we are broke.

So today Yean and I made another excursion to the Rose Test Garden, which is free (free!) and very pretty. It’s rare that I end up in the 23rd-ish area of Portland, which is a shame because Ken’s Artisan Bakery, my favorite bakery in Portland, is there. On our way down Burnside to Washington Park this exchange occurred:

YEAN: Oh, aren’t we near Ken’s?

EMMY: Omg, yes.

(moment of silence)

YEAN: You wanna swing by there?

EMMY: OMG YES. I mean, I am a bit peckish.

YEAN: (makes wild right onto 21st.)

I always tell people Ken’s makes the best croissants in Portland. I have not sampled all the croissants in Portland (though that would be an AWESOME THING TO DO) but I do know that Ken’s bakes theirs nice and dark, which is not common! You know those anemic Costco-type croissants that are all floppy and pale? I know, I’d totally still eat them too, but to me the proper way to bake a croissant is nice and dark, helped along with a healthy egg wash. It gets all nice and flaky, but still stays chewy and yeasty in the middle. Basically, if you’re not making a huge crumby mess when you eat it, you’re doing it wrong.

And yes, my hand is that tiny and cute. It’s a gift.

Yean got a morning bun, which reminds me of the ones I used to bring her  from Grace Baking and La Farine in Oakland. It’s a Bay Area staple, but in Portland they do it a bit different. Is that raw sugar I spot on the outside?

Yean says there was some sort of lemon zest mixture in the middle, but I can’t confirm that. I didn’t try it.

When it comes to pastries, we don’t share. We’re cruel like that.

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Also, God Kills a Kitten

murdercakeI know I said this two years ago, but

This cupcake thing is really getting out of hand. I was going to write about the cupcake bubble, but then I saw this little gem (via feministing). Cupcakes for Life is a…well. Campaign? Publicity stunt? Hilarious ironic website?

PEOPLE, LET’S STOP WITH THE CUPCAKES. I mean, really? Yesterday was National Pro Life Cupcake Day, which I’m pretty sure is not a real holiday, on which you’re supposed to give out tasty cupcakes to promote an end to abortion. How anyone can eat a cupcake while thinking about an abortion is beyond me. But maybe that’s the point! Or maybe it’s a pathetic attempt to capitalize on a trend and ride the cupcake train all the way to the supreme court, baby!

Also, I think there’s a reason why they chose cupcakes instead of something more topical (maybe King Cake, which has religious origins AND HAS A TINY BABY INSIDE, just like your sinning uterus). To quote the website’s magnificent “Why Cupcakes?” section, (apostrophe abuse preserved)

“Bring in a tray of cupcakes for any group of people and you will find that they will flock to get them. As soon as they take a bite they will probably ask, “Who’s birthday is it?”

Then you answer. “It’s no ones birthday. These cupcakes represent the 50,000,000 children who weren’t allowed to be born, who never had a birthday.” The cake in their mouth will become dry and the moment will hopefully become quite somber. Then you say, “If you and I were aborted we wouldn’t have a birthday party either.”

Ouch. I hope they weren’t Red Velvet.

So for me, leaving aside some bitchy comments about how the cupcakes are TOTES FUG ANYWAY (I mean really? Is that from a box? And shouldn’t it be “shalt?”), this just makes me hate cupcakes and anti-choicers, which are two things I didn’t care for in the first place, so there you go. And they kind of go well together. It’s like everything I hate about the cupcake trend, with its day-glo frosting and childish appeal, paired with the preachiness and logic fail of the anti-abortion crowd. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate! Except, y’know, one is an annoying bakery trend and one is a legal movement to take away reproductive rights. I know, right? Tasty!

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I Like Butts And Stuff.

October is NaBloWriMo,

also known as the month of frivolous blog posts. So while I am a huge procrastinator and was all, “Oh! One of my favorite blogs, Use Real Butter, is updating EVERY SINGLE DAY. Huzzah!”, my sister and dispenser of common sense Yean dropped a little “why are you reading other people’s blogs instead of updating yours?” on me. DAMN HER SHE IS RIGHT.

Actually a lot has been going on here at my Crappy Apartment. First of all, I no longer live in it! Yean and I have moved to a bigger, fuglier place in a less cute neighborhood but on a cuter block. The thing it really has going for it is that it has two bedrooms, which is an improvement, let me tell you. I thought I would miss the nice hardwood floors of my one-bedroom, the apartment that represented freedom and possibly an optimistic estimate of my take home pay when I first got it. But you know what I don’t miss? Hearing someone CLOMP ALL OVER THE FUCKING PLACE every damn morning. I am a very light sleeper. Very.

Also I have a new and somewhat confusing work schedule, and between that and the moving I’ve spent the past week running errands, worrying about an errand I have to run, or lying awake at night thinking about all the errands I ran that day.

And I have not been cooking because we didn’t want to buy a bunch of food just to have to pack it all up in a week. So it’s been take out and tuna melts round these parts, and while those things are tasty to me they are not necessarily compelling reading. And the new place, and the moving and the work…crap’s going down, is what I’m saying. So obviously I would not have time to do something like NaBloWriMo! Besides it is already the fourth! And haven’t I done NaNoWriMo in years past, starting with strong intentions only to fail miserably by week two?

So I am not doing that, but I am writing more. I’m writing very, very small and silly things, but I am writing them. And that’s that. Today I bring you no great thoughts, but I do bring a picture. Of Goliath.

Goliath is a very large…I want to say goose, because he’s always hanging with the geese. Here you can see his mighty ‘tocks. I want to emphasize his sheer size, here. Have you seen a goose, like a normal goose? They’re pretty big, huh? Could give a small child a run for their money? Goliath dwarfs them. He lords over them. They are the Danny DeVito th his Arnold Schwarzenegger. Somehow Goliath won the genetic lottery, and he was granted superior size and a neck waddle to attract only the finest ladies.

When the geese are in town he’s usually hanging with his bitches at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, so the $3 admission fee is worth it even when the flowers stop blooming. The first time Yean and I saw him he was nearly blocking a path to a nice little bridge, in a big group of geese and ducks around this old lady throwing seed. We were all, “bitch, don’t throw that shit in the path! People gotta walk through!” Or at least that’s what we tried to convey with our eyes.

I think the best part about Goliath, aside from his massive size, is that about a week after I put that picture on my Flickr page I got this comment:

Excellent !

This would be great for the
Birds & Animals Butt Shots the Animal Bums the Animal Bums from around the World and the Animal Butts

Check us out

THERE ARE FOUR SEPARATE GROUPS FOR BUTTS.

I shit you not.

(ba-dum-ching!)

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