Monthly Archives: May 2010

Tender Greens & A Druckin Fair Trade

Before I start my post about SALAD, I’d like to talk about the “man-tabolism.” My girls hear me on this, don’t you? It’s what allows guys to eat nachos, hot dogs and peanuts at the ball game, washed down with a couple-two-three calor-riffic beers. It gives your date permission to fearlessly dig into an appetizer, pork chop and football-sized potato while you pick at a salad, then lean back, pat his belly and say, “Dessert?”

Nice try, PBR. The man-tabolism laughs in your general direction.

I just came back from the office kitchen where Jim was eating BBQ ribs and Nebraska (don’t know his name) was eating a huge bowl of spaghetti, while Melanie took a Lean Cuisine out of the freezer and I mixed a low-carb protein shake. And blah-blah beer belly. Of course there are exceptions. But overall, guys can eat more, a lot later in life, than we can. Back to salad:

Flatiron steak salad with red and green butter lettuce, radishes, beets and horseradish vinaigrette.

Went to dinner last night at Tender Greens in Culver City with awesome pal Nicole for her AWESOME birthday. (!!!) Instead of cake and cocktails, we had salads and water. (She just got back from MN, I just got back from IL. Two words: DEE-TOX.) It’s a casual, airy indoor/outdoor space. No waiters. You order, you wait, you sit. That’s it.

Right across the street from Cold Stone. Coincidence? I think not.

We split a yummy Chinese chicken salad with fairly standard ingredients — peanuts, pea shoots, cilantro, sesame dressing — elevated by the lovely organic veggies, and a BBQ chicken salad that had no BBQ sauce. (Whether by design or accidental omission, I know not.) But I loved the way the avocado was perfectly interspersed throughout the salad, instead of simply sliced on top.

Little pricey. ($11/salad, $4/soup.) But definitely worth it to try a little tenderness, even if you have a man-tabolism. Which I would like to borrow from you for the holiday weekend. You are more than welcome to borrow my boobs. They’ve REALLY been in my way lately and since you guys tend to like those, seems like a fair trade. Takers?

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Druckin Fat & Happy in Chi-town

I spent most of my time in Chicago chasing after my nephew, eating pizza, Harold’s fried chicken and Fannie May buttercreams (thanks, Mom!), and, perhaps not surprisingly, packing on the old lbs. When you find yourself pining for a vodka martini as a caloric respite from food, you know you need to get to a bar ASAP. This is the bar we chose:

Brrrrrrr.

Oh, how I love this picture. It looks cold and stark and urban and the trees are little sticks and the sky is gray and it’s still daylight, which means it’s probably 4:00pm. Perfect time to duck into a pub, warm up and get your drink on.

You're getting warmer.

Of course, it’s May, so it was a warm-ish night. Awesome pals Ali, Heather, Christina and MJ sat out on the patio with me, chatting about everything and nothing at all. (As you do.) Jack’s Bar & Grill is connected to 404 Wine Bar, and I’m not quite sure why it’s not just one big bar that grills and serves wine — I sense that Jack is having a minor identity crisis.

That said, it’s a great place to meet and (so I’m told) eat. There are grown-ups there. You can hear yourself talk. It’s got big circular booths within shouting distance of the bar, and I think there’s even a fireplace inside somewhere, making it a cozy winter option. Plus, the neighborhood is easy cab-distance to both Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville — and stumbling distance from one of my favorite Chicago dining options, the famous/infamous Golden Apple:

Thanks to Jeff B from Good to Grub! Golden Apple krinkle cut fries. FOUL TEMPTRESS.

Two words: PIE CASE. Two more words: PATTY MELT. (See why I can’t fit into my jeans?!) The Golden Apple is open 24 hours, and the some of the staff have clearly been working there since they opened over 40 years ago. NPR even did a special, 24 Hours at the Golden Apple. So you know it’s good. But tempting as it was, I did not eat the Apple this time. After we closed down Jacks at 2am, we honored another great Chicago tradition, the late-night burrito:

Janitzio's -- I love you, man.

Ah, Janitzio’s. When I have no one to go home to (or with), you are always there for me, with a cheap ‘n cheerful quesadilla or burrito and plenty of drunk dudes for me to flirt with, drunkenly. So that’s one Friday night in Chicago. Still my kind of town.

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LA Derby Dolls Raise a Druckis

Just back from a weekend in Chicago, and I have a few things to say about that. But first, we gotta go back in time. (Swirly TV time machine motion, whooo oooo oooo music.)

You could be in the next match if you are female, over 21, with medical insurance.

That’s right. We’re talking about the LA Derby Dolls and their rough & tumble facility, the Doll Factory. Went with awesome pal Chi awhile back for a birthday party, and it was VERY entertaining. (Whether it was entertaining enough to turn into a movie, only box office returns can tell.) The Doll Factory is located in suitably gritty Silver Lake, which is still in the process of gentrifying. The Factory has one working bathroom (from what I could tell) and upscale port-a-potties in the parking lot. (Um. GROSS.)

I’m not going to lie. It’s down & dirty. But this is more UFC than PGA. More serious smackdown than genteel golf clap. It’s friendly. It’s fun. And it’s a free-for-all:

Pumpin' up the Jammer.

One girl (called the Jammer), wearing a special star condom-cap thingie over her helmet, has 60 seconds (called a Jam) to work her way through the pack as many times as she can. The other team tries to block her, her team tries to help her. That’s really about it.

Would I go back? Eh. If I had a free VIP ticket guaranteeing a seat. (Stand for $20, sit for $42. OUCH.) Half-time was way too long and clearly calculated to bore you into buying what my dad would call dreck, but what the Derby Dolls call retail revenue. I did gain a new girl crush on San Diego Swarm skater, Kung Pow Tina:

Kung Pow Tina. How cute is she?! Couldn't you just eat her UP?!

Our birthday girl named her mostly South Bay posse of pals the “Beach City Brawlers” and very kindly made t-shirts for everyone, which we duly wore and which she’d blazoned with creative skater names just for us. (I was Cousin Ruckis. But Mother Drucker would’ve worked, too.) I wish I could remember more of them. But we must move on to the most important picture of the day:

Gotta make room for 2010, baby!

I know I’m a total bandwagon jumper. And what? I’m from Chicago. Enduring those miserable 20+ winters means that I’m automatically in the fan club, no questions asked. Am I right? I just read this on Wiki:

The team has not won the Cup since 1961. This is the longest current cup drought in the NHL. At 49 years, it is the second longest Stanley Cup drought in NHL history.

But the haters are on notice now. GO HAWKS!!!!

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One Helluva Druckin Memory

It was a bright and cloudless morning in the high desert town. We were (I think) at Sunday school. Then the sky went dark. We raced outside. We saw the horizon glow like a sunset. And we felt the ash on our faces like dirty snowflakes that refused to melt. In that moment, I experienced with giddy naivete a thrill that I continue to seek out even as an adult, namely: If this doesn’t kill me, it’s going to make for one helluva story.

Mount St. Helens, May 18, 1980. It was 30 years ago yesterday. (Apologies to Sgt. Pepper)

With my fondness for all things Chicago and LA, it may have escaped your attention that I was born in tiny Richland, WA, and lived there until I was 13. (John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” brings me back there every time.) My dad was a scientist at nearby Battelle Northwest Labs. We lived in a tiny house, on a tiny street, with two cats and two dogs, a few blocks away from the Columbia River:

Richland sunset as seen from Columbia Park, Washington.

It was an excellent place to be a kid. We picked cherries every summer that my mom turned into pies and jam. My dad fished the lakes and rivers and caught one trout after another, which my mom would coat with Saltine cracker crumbs and pan-fry with a splash of Rainier Beer, then stand over my sister and me while we ate saying, “CHEW CAREFULLY! Those bones will choke you.” (This explains a lot about my control freakitude.)

I know this isn’t the usual Mother Drucker fun and I’ll be back, I promise. But Mount St. Helen’s 30th anniversary brought up a lava flow (groan) of memories for me and that’s all I felt like talking about today. Chicago this weekend so you won’t be hearing from me ’til Monday, when I will have eaten an entire city’s worth of pizza, fried chicken and hot dogs and washed it down with gallons of vodka and lots and lots of LOVE.

I leave you with this quote, attributed to George Eliot, which suits my melancholy mood:

“We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it.”

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Lush Lemon Cake Plus Drucky Gervais

I should’ve posted on Friday because now I have too druckin many things to tell you about, like my new lemon cake recipe that I MADE UP myself in fabulous, Sandra Lee Kwanzaa cake fashion. (Anthony Bourdain called it a crime against humanity. Since it involves store-bought angel food cake, a dump of canned apple pie filling, and corn nuts, I call it AWESOME.)

I also want to tell you about my Saturday night LA Derby Dolls adventure (thanks Chi!) and this funny dude, whom I saw perform last night thanks to awesome pals Richard and Catie:

He says he’s only doing liberal cities, and I guess he means it — calling the audience out on CA’s no-gay-marriage policy, ranting on fat people, fact-checking the bible, discussing homosexuality in the animal kingdom accompanied by a drawing of one male dolphin um… poking another’s blowhole. (If you can’t use your imagination, here’s a visual aid.)

But enough penetration into Gervais’ twisted little head. Let’s talk lemon cake:

When life hands you lemons, garnish your martini with them.

This beauty queen is clearly made from scratch. The one I made for awesome pal Ricardo’s birthday was — full disclosure — a Betty Crocker yellow cake mix. I followed the package directions exactly, except I took out two or three tablespoons of water and substituted freshly-squeezed lemon juice, then added the zest of two lemons. I filled my layers with lovely, tart Dickinson’s lemon curd:

Why call something so delicious a CURD?! Rhymes with...

The whippy, aerated white frosting you see in the top picture is called Seven Minute Frosting. It’s difficult, demanding and frequently falls apart on you, and like so many things that fit that description, it’s not very satisfying once you actually attain it. I prefer easy, dependably delicious cream cheese frosting. So I made the standard Philly recipe, adding a few teaspoons of lemon juice and the zest of two more lemons.

Lick it. Lick it good.

So now you know about some very sexually adventurous dolphins, and how to make a luscious lemon cake. Pretty good start for a Monday!

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Ban-druckin-dera Isn’t Half Bad

Met up with awesome pal Kristi last night at Bandera in West L.A. I’ve been there before — they have a handsome happy hour crowd and strong cocktails. (These are a few of my favorite things). But my Manhattan last night nearly knocked me flat on my drunken (yes, drunken) ass:

Frosty mug sensation.

I love how the lamp makes it look like you’re in someone’s study. The kind where deals are made, affairs are consummated on a leather sofa, and the drinks come from a crystal service on a silver tray. (But maybe that’s just me.)

The special thing about THIS Manhattan (other than its lethal potency) was that since I had to drink it very slowly, the lovely bartenders kept giving me a new frosted glass, just to keep it cold. Bless them. Now, prepare to be kind of surprised. I’ve actually eaten at Bandera. And it was good.

Something about those big bones brings out the cavewoman in me.

Nothing better than fall-off-the-bone tender braised beef short ribs, unless it’s short ribs with a big, beautiful bottle of red wine. Just yummy, sweet, succulent. Kind of primal. I could eat them every day. But eventually, I wouldn’t fit through the door, and could only get them for take-out. Also, where has THIS been all my life?

Foccacia and cornbread. Carb, carb, guac.

Oh yes, please. Crank up the food porn to 11. And speaking of take-out, it’s almost cheat day! I’m thinking Sunday night Chinese take-out in my pajamas and perhaps a kung fu movie, since I’ve never seen one before and I like to have a consistent theme. But who am I kidding — I’ll probably end up watching Clueless or Steel Magnolias like I always do. See?! CONSISTENT.

P.S. Kristi would like me to amend my Lula Cocina post to say that she thinks the food there is perfectly good. Not (and I quote) Orange County good, but still, mui delicioso.

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Lula’s Margs Will Druck You Up

If I had a Mexican restaurant, I would fill it with bright colors, homey mismatched plates, plenty of sunlight, ocean breezes, music, and LOTS of queso. Since I can barely make tacos, thank dios for Lula Cocina Mexicana on Main Street in Santa Monica.

Her name was Lula. Lula Falana.

Executive chef and owner Geraldine Gilliland sounds more Irish than Mexicana, but she certainly knows her huevos rancheros from her huitlacoche. (Huitlacoche is fungus corn. I put it in the same category with blood soup and bull testicles as “things you should only eat on a dare when you’re too drunk to know better.”) And speaking of drunk:

More tequila minus mix/ice equals gringa loca.

Strongest. Freakin. Marg. EVER. Was there for Cinco de Mayo last week, had two glasses of pure tequila with a tablespoon of mix and two ice cubes. Lurched my way from there to World Cafe, where I ate copious amounts of bread (that part I remember) as well as an appetizer AND an entree. (No idea. Fish? Chicken? Testicles? Anything is possible.). So drunk (borracho) in fact, was I, that somehow I missed this supremely awesome duo:

Late for their young Republicans meeting. Clearly.

They were at the party too! But between the margs, the mariachis and the cacophonous crowd — even those outfits didn’t stand out. I’ll leave you with some yummy Lula’s Mexican treats, however (full disclosure) I cannot vouch for their quality since nary a chip passed my lips while there:

That shrimp is calling my name! Here shrimpy shrimpy!

But the Yelp folks seem to like the food even if awesome pal Kristi is not the biggest fan. I’m baking a lemon cake manana for awesome pal Ricardo’s bday — so if anyone has a lemon cake recipe — please share the love! Hasta manana, mi corazon.

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