Oddities and Obsessions

postcard-chicagoHave you ever met a famous person and felt let down?  I have.

Years ago, I was obsessed with an actor in a series of television commercials.  Obsessed.  I stopped what I was doing to watch his overly aired ad.  I was in love.  He not only had charisma, but attitude.  Not hot like Johnny Depp or anything, but he possessed that je ne sais quoi.

I just HAD to meet him.  There had been a lot of publicity about him and I knew one thing — he lived in Chicago.  Well, I just happened to be in that very city.  So, I made a few phone calls.  I was an actor in commercials, he was an actor in commercials.  I knew people.  Those people knew his people.  Someone pulled some strings.

A man from a huge ad agency would be picking me up at my hotel.  My actor lived outside the city.  A 45-minute drive.   Some really nice person I didn’t even know was willing to make the introduction.

I’m beyond excited.  I got all geared up, couldn’t sleep the night before.  I never cared much about how I looked, yet I dressed my best.  Put on a little makeup.  I was ready early, waiting for the car in front of the hotel, over-the-top excited.  It would be magic when I met my crush live and in person.  We would run into each other’s arms and he would insist on living with me for rest of his life.  I’m talking non-stop to this random ad agency dude the whole ride out about my deep infatuation.  He’s humoring me, pretending to be in rapt attention.

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jiminycricket.jpgDoes Jiminy Cricket sit on your shoulder? He sits on mine – always has. The first time I saw Pinocchio; he jumped right off the screen and onto my shoulder and has been there ever since. If he were simply my conscience, I would consider that a good thing, but he is not my conscience; he is my worst critic!

“You think that photograph is good? Are you an idiot with absolutely no taste? Print that and the world will laugh at you.”

“You prefer A Place in the Sun to Citizen Kane? Are you friggin’ out of your gourd? Tell anyone that and the world will laugh at you.”

“You are wearing what? That? Put that on and the world with laugh at you!”

It never stops. It is most embarrassing, however, when I fix dinner for company. I will get a compliment and before I can smile and say, “Thank you” I blurt out, “I put too much salt in the sauce, I over-browned the meat before I stewed it …” TMI provided by Jiminy.

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chef jeff blandIn celebration of National Tartan Day (yep, there is such a thing), we are sharing an amazing recipe by Scottish Chef Jeff Bland to help capture the spirit and character of Scottish Americans and recognize their many contributions to our culture and our way of life. Personally we with we were in Scotland eating this at his Michelin-starred restaurant, but this should be the next best thing.


Loin of Perthshire Venison with Wild Mushrooms, Creamed Potatoes and Chestnuts.

Courtesy of Chef Jeff Bland at The Balmoral in Edinburgh

(8 portions)

Ingredients:

1kg Boneless trimmed loin of Venison
300g Fresh wild mushrooms
650g Maris Piper Potatoes
75g Chestnuts (peeled and cooked)
12 baby leaks
1 carrot (cut into 16 ribbons)
2 cloves of crushed garlic
50g Shallots
1 glass red wine
Oil (for cooking)
Butter (for cooking)

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chickenpie.jpgI am on a constant hunt for The Chicken Pot Pie. A hunt that has become dangerously like an obsession. I talk about it constantly. My close friends are pretty much bored with my singular food quirk. I, decidedly, am not. I was talking to a friend of mine at work, groaning over the lack of flavorful snacks in our immediate vicinity and she mentioned The Chicken Pot Pie. I was floored, to say the least. How did she know? Perhaps I was going on about it. Again

She directed me to a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles called WoodSpoon. I made a beeline after work to 9th and Spring, around the corner from the Fashion Mart. WoodSpoon smells like spices and the comfort of home.  I ordered one of the last Chicken Pot Pies. (Apparently, they're famous for them.) It arrived topped with a light flakey crust and chock full of savory, shredded chicken and fresh corn with just enough spice to take it from the blandness that it's chicken pot pie brothers and sisters often have.

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steamedclams.jpgHi, I'm Dave and I'm a shellfishaholic. My wife wants me to stop writing about shellfish because they aren't everyone's cup of tea. But I can't resist the temptation. When we were in Boston recently, the one restaurant I had to visit was the Union Oyster House. While Michael and Michelle rested at the hotel, I snuck away and happily indulged in a dozen oysters and a bowl of clam chowder.

Today at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, Carlsbad Aquafarm had fresh oysters, clams, mussels, and live abalone. I wanted to buy everything. I showed some restraint. I only bought the oysters and clams.

A nice thing about shellfish is they keep in the refrigerator for several days as long as you follow a couple of suggestions. Oysters need to be stacked in a bowl with the rounded part of the shell down, so the oyster sits in its own liquid. Clams will drown if they're submerged in water. Save a plastic basket that comes with strawberries. Cut it in half, put it on the bottom of a bowl and the clams on top. That will keep the clams above any water they spit out while they're waiting in the refrigerator.

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