Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hot Waiters and Bones

On the day the snow hit Seattle, my college pal Geeber and I had a date to get food and drinks on the 'Hill, and I'm happy to say the snow did not deter us, although maybe it should have. It was a lazy Saturday night, me sitting at home watching Take The Lead on my ancient computer monitor and he playing World of Warcraft. The original plan had been to meet at 7; when we touched base at 7, I was watching a touching waltz scene and he was trying to kill a zombie. "Let's meet at Quinn's at 8:30", I said, and we agreed we would.

About 8:20 I jumped up from the computer, put on everything warm I owned, and stepped out into the slush and fresh snow with a styrofoam cup of red wine for warmth, getting to Quinn's about 8:45 with no reservation, one drink in on an empty stomach. Geeber was already there, and right as I arrived, the host said he could seat us, which was awesome. They tucked us upstairs in a little corner by the servers station and a gorgeous Spaniard with a bandana tied around his head, maybe all of twenty years old, lean and dangerous and passionate, showed up to wait on us, never mind that I would have happily waited on him. He referred to the menu as HIS menu, and all the food as HIS food, something I found adorable, and talked me into the braised lamb shoulder on polenta by saying it was cooked in the French way. We got a bottle of wine, Geeber got some chicken dish, and for an appetizer I ordered the gruyere gougere, as that glass of wine was sloshing around in my stomach looking for something to pair with.

The wine: great. Geeber's chicken dish: excellent. My lamb: divine. The gougere: cold and heavy. I had heard good things about it and I love gougere normally, so maybe I just got a bad batch? Anyone else gotten the gougere? What did you think?

My friend K and I talked about getting the marrow bones, pushed nicely by the gorgeous Spanish server, but we decided that was a little too adventurous for us at that time. Which was a good thing, as after Quinn's we traveled half a block and ducked into the new Cha Cha for warmth. And yes, we got warm--and drunk. I nursed my red bull and vodka while he chugged jack and coke after jack and coke, made just as strong as they were at the old Cha-Cha. It was maybe ten percent empty, a tribute to the terrible weather and also to the Cha-Cha, that it could drag people out such a nasty night. In one of those extremely random Capitol Hill Moments, we were joined at the bar by a raucous crowd of young men, one with short hair and even, half-inch sideburns, which usually means "military", but being watched over in his extreme drunkeness by the rest of his crew, all with long hair, fedoras, hoodies, and 150 dollar jeans. It was really odd, especially when Military Haircut told me he was Paolo Escobar's son and complained how many girls were after him just for his money. "But I feel like you really CARE about me," slurred the man I had just met. At least I got a tequila shot for my efforts, hard to collect because half the crew kept ducking into the bathroom and sniffling a lot when they came out.

Out on the street, Geeber hurled his guts out into the snow while I roamed the streets looking for the Falafel Truck, the best falafel ever, but not finding it--and, failing to flag down a taxi, walking home back along Broadway, already showing signs of melting snow.

Summary: Quinns is about ten steps about your normal "neighborhood" restaurant. French-quality food and cooking with no attitude.

Good for: Dates, people you want to impress, people who want to learn about good wine and food from friendly and knowledgeable staff, people who are trying to pretend they already KNOW about good wine and good food.

Only down side: It's dark and sexy, not as intimate as Machiavelli's but certainly dark and sexy like Smith. It'd be hard to convince anyone you took there that you weren't into them.

Cost: About 10-20 dollars an entree.

ALSO: The new Cha-Cha serves just as strong drinks as the old Cha Cha and has just as many ferocious characters. If you've been avoiding it because it's in a new location, don't bother; it's just as fabulous. Fabulous in a new and different way, but it has the same magic.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Turned 27 With Very Little Fanfare

I didn't even blog about it. Can you believe it? It's terrible. I feel so humble and un-self-obsessed (what other people would call, "normal").

The problem is, I've...been cheating on this blog. For money. Yes, I have a paying blog gig, which is kind of amazing, and that blog requires five posts a week, and I'm not sure how I feel about reposting all those posts into this blog. I'm not sure if that's ethical or against Blog Policy. But you know how you could get a taste of that other blog? You could read it here!

For my twenty-seventh birthday, LT and I went to my parents' house. My new thing is requesting a "theme" dinner; last year it was vegan, this year it was "local", and as my mother and I were emailing about the dinner, she showed off her pop culture knowledge by using the word "localvore" in a sentence. Way to go, mom.

I was inspired by this project, which used to have a blog but I can't find it. I assume they've taken it down now that the book has come out. (The book is definitely on my Seattle Public Library Hold list.) The couple that did the diet and wrote the book live in Vancouver, a nearly identical climate to Washington--and it's a freakin' easy part of the country in which to do the 100 Mile Diet. We ate spinach salad, grown fresh in Washington--yes, this late in the year--apple-pork and italian sausages made in Pike Place market, spaghetti (not local, whoops), spaghetti squash, and drank Washington wine and Washington beer. For dessert: black-bottomed pie, the best pie in the world, pretty local as it was made in mom's kitchen. (The ingredients weren't local, though.)

It's that time of year when I get the urge to reassess, to re-evaluate. I get interested in movements and fads and self-improvement kicks. I recently found Tim Ferriss' fascinating blog, and got more interested in this notion of life hacking. I'm reading a ton of food blogs, as normal. (Now I just need to read those food blogs while exercising.)

But enough of that boring, high-concept stuff! Let's get down to the Holiday Spirit!

One of the amazing things I DID do for my birthday was commandeer the time of T-Town Girl, one of my best friends in the entire world, who proved it by taking a day off work and coming up to spend a day with me rearranging my apartment and telling me how to spend my money. I swear pictures of that are coming soon. And right after that, my very own LT got tired of the rat's nest of cords that was all over my computer area and rearranged the entire system for me, employing velcro, tape, and all sorts of wonderful things, so that when I came back from a walk I suddenly had a non-fire-trap computer. It's gorgeous.

Christmas List 2007

LT: All presents bought, none wrapped. Including the 50 Porsche Turbos that I bought him this year. That will be a lot of wrapping paper. (I keep telling the LT that I bought him 50 Porsche Turbos for Christmas, which is driving him crazy. And I a way.)
LT's sister: Bought, not wrapped.
LT's brother in law: Bought, not wrapped. (But I got a sudden idea for another one.)
LT's Father: Not made yet. Or sent.
My mother: Not bought. I am the worst daughter ever.
My father: Not finished.
Grandmother F: Bought, thank Blog! Not wrapped.
Grandmother G: Half-done. And biting my nails that it will be finished in time.
Uncle and S.O.: Bought. Whew. Not wrapped, though. (Seeing a theme?)
Cousin: Not wrapped OR bought, but that's his fault. I have no idea what he wants.
Cards: Yeah, remember how I said I was going to make all my own cards? Still working on that.

YAAAH! Will Aarwenn finish in time? One week until Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Getting Into the Holiday Spirit

First, some sad news: My very favorite magazine of all time, Blueprint, is closing its doors. I'm heartbroken. It lived for a mere nine issues, all of which I will soon own (note to all readers: DO NOT BID ON ISSUE #2 ON EBAY, IT'S MINE) and I treasure each issue already. Sniff, sniff.

Fortunately, an extremely old-fashioned and wonderful magazine that I just love, Victoria, has been reborn. I still have all my old copies of this magazine from when I read it as a middle-schooler, in spite of recently finding a dead spider at the bottom of the magazine stack, and I also cherish each of these issues. It's not 100% my style, but I love its emphasis on quality, not quantity, and I've never seen a single chain store mentioned in its pages once. (I love Target, don't get me wrong. But I love to see a magazine that sources independently of big-boxes.)

And of course, I suppose I can make do with all of my OTHER magazine addictions. I don't have a category on for "Magazines", but I sure should. (Don't know what is? Check out this post. My review is coming up in a few weeks.)

Anyway! I am mostly through with my Christmas shopping, wonder of wonders, although I haven't started on my cards or on wrapping. And not starting on my cards is big--BIG--because I plan to make them this year.

No, I don't know what came over me. I know I have zero artistic talent. But I saw some cards in Blueprint, (where else?) and I thought, Hmmmmm. I can make that. We'll see if this ever turns out, and what will happen if it doesn't. I plan to make a friend or several at my local Kinkos and Paper Zone.

Wrapping will be easier. I have brown kraft paper--when I get my green angel wings, I'll use repurposed brown bags, ironed--and I plan to wrap things plainly, with red twine and old-school labels, and I think it will look totally awesome. When I come up with the actual twine and labels I'll post those. (I'm also thinking about simple labels with some super neat Pro-Artist Tape.)

Upcoming events: T-Town is coming up Thursday! My Birthday is FRIDAY! I turn 27! This is super exciting to me--I feel like I'm getting better looking as I get older, so this is really fun.

Upcoming possible downers: I might have to work on Thursday AND Friday. Boo.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Drool and Char

One minute I'm asleep, the next minute, the LT is turning on the light beside my bed.

"What time is it?" I asked, completely disoriented. I was having flashbacks to his early mornings, when he got up at 4:30 to be at work by seven, but he's on leave and it's practically the middle of the night, according to outside.

"You don't want to know," he said.

And then I remembered, all at once, an onslaught of badness: Me cooking yesterday, me carefully frying bacon and roasting spaghetti squash and beating eggs, mixing the whole thing together and baking it in the oven like a fritatta, LT and I going out to dinner, LT and I coming home and falling asleep--for just half an hour--

I flew out of bed and checked the oven. The light was still on in the kitchen, but the oven was off; the LT must have had the same thought right before I did. I opened the door, hoping against hope.

I was greeted by black crud, blacker than night, barely showing up against the black cast iron pot. All my effort and ingredients, wasted because I didn't think to set an alarm.

I pulled the blackened and dessicated mess out of the oven, turned off all the lights, and went back to bed, the LT comforting me. I was more than a little heartbroken about the ruin of my fritatta--all that time and all those ingredients!--and he reassured me that this was not a crisis, I could afford to buy more, thank god it wasn't the only thing I had to eat that week. I agreed.

"And to add insult to injury," he said sleepily, "I've drooled a big puddle on your sheets. Don't roll into it."

"Hey, that'd be a good blog post," I said, equally sleepily. "I woke up in the middle of the night to find that I was lying in drool and my fritatta had burned to a crisp!"

We laughed and went back to sleep.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Finally: House Makeover, Part 1.

I was at the wonderful wedding of my WONDERFUL friend Anna just a few weeks ago, and the number one comment I heard after loud squealing, and I say nothing against squealing here as I do it myself, was, "I love your blog!"

I had to blink a few times, every time. You love my blog? Are you sure? Are you sure it's MY blog you're reading and profess to love? Because NO ONE EVER COMMENTS AND I DON'T THINK ANYONE ACTUALLY READS IT.

HOWEVER. That bitterness aside, the lovely and hysterical Amy stuck to her story that not only did she read it, but she wanted to see more house pictures. And Anna herself had mentioned a similar wish, many months ago. And I thought, who am I to deny them?

I live in a gorgeous, 1940's style apartment with moldings, door panels, zero plugs, and plaster walls, which makes it impossible to hang anything with screws or tape--the walls either crumble or repel the sticky--but that's okay, because it would be hard to mess up the apartment's natural beauty.


Unless you're, I don't know, a huge slob in the first place.

A crime against all that is classic and beautiful in this world.

A close-up on the awfulness. This is how to NOT bring out the natural beauty of door panels. This was a doomed project involving corkboard. If anyone ever tells you that working with cork is easier or cheaper than just buying a premade chalkboard, hit them and run away.

The awfulness from a different angle.

Close-up of how to NOT use a coat rack appropriately.

Let's move on to the bedroom, shall we?

Is this a bedroom of a teenaged boy?

This mess of a nightstand guaranteed to not promote slumber.

CLOSET of a teenaged boy.

More closet. I swear I have cute clothes. But you wouldn't know it, would you?

In despair, I had lunch.

And then I hung curtains.

And more curtains.

I thought about hanging them over the actual windows, of which I have two in my room, but I wanted to break out of the ordinary, and although this usually works out badly for me--see, Door--in this case it makes me so happy, having a curtain for my closet and framing for my bed.

And speaking of that door,

Two-thirds done. The top two panels are covered by contact paper, much easier to work with than cork, and bought from this contact paper company. I have the black-and-white check in my kitchen.


Sadly, the contact paper didn't come wide enough for one door panel, so I was cutting and aligning the diamond pattern for some time, which apparently paid off. Those who thought I would never have the patience for such a job, you are not alone.

As you may have realized, there are no living room "after" pictures--still working on it! I want to get my christmas decorations up. What do other people's houses look like? Tell, tell!