Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pho Garden, San Francisco - The 8th Wonder of the Culinary World

I did a double-take when my friend sent me an email with this ludicrous image. Apparently, Pho Garden in San Francisco offers a pho challenge. Free if you can finish this in one hour or it's a $22 bill that excludes stomach pumping. Can you hold your own? Anyone actually go here?





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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mark Menjivar - You Are What You Eat

It's amazing how you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their CD or DVD collection. Guys, if you're ever at a girl's place for the first time and she has movies like "The Notebook", "Titanic" or "A Walk to Remember", do yourself a favor and exit the building ASAP. You're in for an unscripted, real-life romcom. Yikes.

Or how about someone that has Celine Dion LIVE or Mandy Moore Unplugged on CD. Is it a coincidence that both Celine Dion and Mandy Moore are involved with shitty music and shitty movies.

And Texas-based photographer, Mark Menjivar, knows that you can tell a lot by what a person eats. I go through photographer portfolios frequently in advertising, and particularly look for interesting projects. Thought I might share this one.

"You Are What You Eat is a series of portraits made by examining the interiors of refrigerators in homes across the Untied States.

For three years I traveled around the country exploring the issue of hunger. The more time I spent speaking and listening to individual stories, the more I began to think about the foods we consume and the effects they have on us as individuals and communities. An intense curiosity and questions about stewardship led me to begin to make these unconventional portraits.

A refrigerator is both a private and a shared space. One person likened the question, "May I photograph the interior of your fridge?" to asking someone to pose nude for the camera. Each fridge is photographed "as is." Nothing added, nothing taken away.

These are portraits of the rich and the poor. Vegetarians, Republicans, members of the NRA, those left out, the under appreciated, former soldiers in Hitler’s SS, dreamers, and so much more. We never know the full story of one's life.

My hope is that we will think deeply about how we care. How we care for our bodies. How we care for others. And how we care for the land." - Mark Menjivar

Mark Menjivar - You Are What You Eat Project

Bartender's fridge. Goes to sleep at 8am and wakes up at 4pm daily. My good friend's lifestyle is exactly like this. He comes home in the morning, sleeps during the day and eats take-out. It's a Groundhog Day lifestyle. But you make the tips and you get the chicks. Works for him. BTW, why is there an American flag chilling inside there?

Mark Menjivar - You Are What You Eat Project

Street Advertiser that lives on $432 fixed monthly income. This is very sad. Even college kids utilize the space better with their cheap beer and midnight burritos.

Mark Menjivar - You Are What You Eat Project

Botanist from Indiana. Says that he likes plants more than people. I like how the Pepsi bottle was converted into a giant, cap-less water bottle. And that chili on the right doesn't look promising.

Mark Menjivar - You Are What You Eat Project

And this is probably the most interesting one. A werewolf that likes Jose Cuervo? I like the frozen lemon in there – his only source of vitamins.

What's in my fridge?
Jeni actually brought up a funny point. Before she met me, her fridge/freezer was full of snacky stuff like our favorite frozen pizza, Jeno's, chicken strips and take-out. Now her fridge is full of exotic Asian sauces, all types of ball-shaped processed meats that I love (fish, beef, pork, shrimp, mushroom), vegetables, egg noodles and ice.

What's in your fridge usually? Thanks for reading.
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Monday, June 08, 2009

A Weekend Getaway in Oxnard & Los Olivos, California

Judy & Jonathan Wedding, Oxnard

A month ago, Jeni and I headed up to Ventura County for my good friend's wedding.  Finally, a wedding that didn't take place in a Sheraton, Hilton or Holiday Inn.  I knew that my friend JC would do something differently because of her unique tastes for things and open-mindedness.  It's why we still kept in touch for nearly 14 years.  And this weekend, a whole group of us drove of a hundred miles to witness the union of her and her husband – in a lovely barn that was quite worthy of being featured in some Bridezilla forum.  

Knowing we would probably be drinking fun juice, we decided to check in at the Q Hotel before heading to the wedding.  The W Hotel is now obsolete, it's all about the Q Hotel, aka La Quinta Inn.  The prices are great at $89.99 a night but man, they sure punish you for being poor.  Two elevators you had to walk 2-3 mins to.  An ice machine only available on the penthouse floor, which is also the 3rd floor.  Chubby out-of-town kids altering the color of the water in the pool.  The hotel receptionist might as well say, "Thanks for checking in at The Q.  You are your own bellboy.  Maybe you should've worked harder in life.  Enjoy your stay."    Hey, it's a place to sleep.  We're not there to relax.  

Driving to the wedding venue, the weather wasn't looking good.   I started to feel concerned for J&J, but once we got there, we knew the weather wouldn't even dent the evening.  With the barn and wild flowers all around, it felt rustic and miles away from Los Angeles.  

Judy & Jonathan Wedding, Oxnard

In Los Angeles, you would not see these kinds of beautiful weeds.  
Only the kind you can smoke.    

Judy & Jonathan Wedding, Oxnard

Judy & Jonathan Wedding, Oxnard

Judy & Jonathan Wedding, Oxnard

I was three drinks away from rolling down these hills.  

Judy & Jonathan Wedding, Oxnard

Judy & Jonathan Wedding, Oxnard
I can't say the same about a lot of weddings.  Because although they are fun, they all kind of follow the same pattern.  Not J&J's.  After the ceremony, we were quickly moved to an area for drinks and hors d'oeurves.  And then we entered the barn, which probably held 120-130 people, which I think is a perfect size.  The decorations, art direction and lighting were perfect tens.  

Judy & Jonathan Wedding, Oxnard

Here is my friend, Mr. Groom, absolutely devouring his meal.  At my wedding reception, I ate ONE TACO.  

Judy & Jonathan Wedding, Oxnard

And here is my friend, Judy.  Congratulations to you and Jonathan.  The night was very, very young.  And easily one of the best weddings I've been to.

Judy & Jonathan Wedding, Oxnard

Sunday in Los Olivos, Los Olivos

The next morning, instead of packing up and heading home, we took the 101 and drove even more North.  We decided to bring up our new bikes and maximizing the weekend with a little wine tasting and exercising – at the same time.  

We've been trying to be a little more green by not driving around too much.  We eat at local places and frequent the market by bike.  And it's been SUPER fun.  If you're going to eat a fat piece of foie gras for dinner tonight, you won't feel as bad knowing that you're biking to and from the restaurant.  You're still going to be fat, but not AS fat right?  

Los Olivos Scenery

You don't realize how beautiful California is until you drive through places like Sequoia, Napa Valley and Santa Barbara.  Not to mention the fact that you can appreciate beauty at 5 mph versus 50 mph.  The scenery looks like this for miles.  With the window rolled down and some good beats, you're in a good place.

Los Olivos Scenery

Sleeping Squirrel, Los Olivos

Again, there really is beauty in everything.  We saw this little guy on the way to a winery.  Rather looking like typical roadkill, he actually looked like he was at peace.  Or really drunk off the grapes he found in the dumpster of a winery.  Rest in peace.

Los Olivos Grocery, Los Olivos

As Jeni will tell you or rather show you, never start a wine tasting trip on an empty stomach nor Doritos Bleu Cheese & Ranch flavor.  I really feel bad for our two friends sitting in between her that glorious day haha.  All I have to say is, I think Doritos REALLY uses Bleu Cheese in their crap.  Anyway, we stopped at the Los Olivos Grocery store for some grub.  For those planning on picnicking along the way, this is your fancy-ass 7-11 – it's a grocery and cafe.

Los Olivos Grocery Smoking Brisket, Los Olivos

The second we stepped out of the car, we were pulled in by THIS... a delicious, perfect-colored piece of brisket smoked with oak wood.  Damn.

Los Olivos Grocery, Los Olivos

A sandwich, three sides and absence of Doritos Bleu Ranch chips make for a great day of wine tasting in Los Olivos.  Right Jeni?  Was everything good, yeah not bad!  The brisket was damn tender – I'll be back here again for sure.

Los Olivos Scenery

We do this every where we travel, bike with a buzz.  China, Argentina, Portland and right here in Los Olivos.  There's just something wonderful about riding with the wife and a nice buzz.  No BUI's this time.  

Los Olivos Scenery

Clairmont Farms Lavender, Los Olivos

As we were riding down a shaded street, J suddenly yelled out, "Lavender!"  We pulled into the driveway of Clairomont Farms, which you guessed, grows lavender.  I would never give the time of day to a place that reminds me of a natural Bath & Body Works.  She had tried a cocktail that used lavender and wanted to buy some home for some experimentation.

Clairmont Farms Lavender, Los Olivos

Clairmont Farms Lavender, Los Olivos

Clairmont Farms Lavender, Los Olivos

Jeni rolled out of the farm with a bunch of lavender and smiles.  I rolled out with a peppery nose, dry cough and itchy eyes.  It was TERRIBLE.  If I go back here, I'm wearing a bio-chemical bike suit.

Sarloos & Sons, Los Olivos

We tried three places that day and gave in to one more place one we saw how nicely designed the tasting room was.  Family owned for decades, the Sarloos Brothers successfully mix interior decorating and wine.  

Sarloos & Sons, Los Olivos

Sarloos & Sons, Los Olivos

If you ever see this 6'2" man walk off his Harley with some Locs, you might want to obey his commands.  Even if he says "EAT THE CUPCAKES NOW."  Which is exactly what he told us to do.  Apparently, he knows the cupcakes served here.

Sarloos & Sons Cupcakes

And this is the cupcake man, drinking wine and selling his cupcakes. Seems fair enough. 
If you do a tasting of wine, you can also get a discount on a flight of cupcakes.  

Sarloos & Sons Cupcakes

I believe this was Lime & Chardonnay flavored.  Too sweet for me.

Los Olivos Scenery

Next time you're out in Ventura County, plan a stop over at Los Olivos or Santa Barbara.  It's truly a quick weekend getaway that won't leave you too poor.  If you are too poor like us, you can always stay at The Q to cut down on costs.  Thanks for reading.  
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