Oddities and Obsessions

fair.jpgMy good buddy Al Yankovic invited a group of his friends to attend the premiere of his short movie entitled Al’s Brain….at the County Fair!! His invitation was sweet. It included the phrase “for those of you who feel like schlepping down there..”

The film was about the workings of the brain and had cameos from the comedy world’s elite, including Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tim & Eric) Patton Oswalt (Brilliant Stand-up Member of Comedians of Comedy and the voice of the Rat in Ratatouille) and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911, I Love You Man) to name a few. This was a special event held at the Orange County Fair Pavilion where Al’s Brain will be showing for the entire run of the Fair.

During the event, which was private and the night before the Fair opened, we were treated to  “A Taste of The OCF”.

Read more ...

To say that truffles are an acquired taste for me would be an understatement; I can’t ever think of a moment when these heady gems crossed our family table growing up. Truffles and Tex Mex don’t normally hang out together, you know. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I had my first taste of the powerful fungus, and if you’ll allow me to be dramatic for just one second, it literally knocked me off my feet.

Much has been said about the beauty and rarity of truffles, so I’ll go ahead and leave the praise and culinary history to the professionals. By now you probably already know they are fungi and that they are harvested by dogs and pigs in Italy, France and the Pacific Northwest of the United States. You probably already know that they can fill a room with their aroma, but did you know that I know a Fed Ex driver who curses and swears each time he makes a white truffle delivery? Hey, I could think of worse smells for the inside of a delivery truck, can’t you?

Read more ...

ramenoodles.jpgI've been trying to convince my sons that ramen is good for them. They're both living on their own. They are serious about eating healthily and keeping to a budget. They keep down their costs by avoiding processed foods and fast food joints. They shop at Costco and buy in bulk.

Which is why I've been trying to get them to think about ramen. A package costs under $1.00 and if you make your own soup and add farmers' fresh vegetables, you'll have an economical, nutritious meal.

The problem is when they were kids they ate lots of Cup O'Noodles and Instant Ramen with hot water flavored with artificially flavored soup packets. In no way am I talking about that.

Tracking down a better kind of ramen takes a small amount of work. The local supermarket may only have Top Ramen which is ok but not preferred. If you live in an area with Asian markets, you'll find a wider selection of brands. In Los Angeles, we have Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and (my favorite) Korean markets where there are so many choices there's a ramen aisle.

Read more ...

heirloommaniactagI admit it. I’m a tomato junkie. But not just any tomato. Heirlooms. And how this came to be I’m not completely sure. It’s not like I grew up on a farm. And I know it’s not because I have romantic notions of plucking tomatoes off vines in some hazy late summer yellow-lit garden. But when summer rolls around the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, my body goes into automatic mode and my thirst for heirlooms sends me into a frenzy–all rational sense gone. I’m not afraid to admit it: I am an Heirloomaniac.

Thursday, 4:17pm

I’m racing down the 405 with precious cargo on the seat next to me. Four boxes of heirlooms are belted in and I must tell myself to wait. Wait until tomorrow when they’ve all been photographed and my job is over. But….. I…… I just can’t wait. I reach over and grab a Marvel Stripe. Chomp. At 64 miles an hour. Juice explodes and I’m a mess. I don’t care*. I’m glad I made it home safely.

Friday, 7:26am

I woke up early and tinkered around the studio. Had a few new surfaces to use and decided to shoot film, medium format. A few polaroid backs were stacked on the prop table waiting to be loaded, but I couldn’t stop glancing over at the boxes. Yes, the boxes. Boxes of Marvel Stripes, Beefsteaks and Yellow Pineapples were ripening before my very eyes, their sugary acidic insides ticking away. I had to move fast.

Read more ...

frenchfarmcook.jpgOnce upon a time, a long time ago, I decided to go on a liquid fast to lose weight. Needless to say, living on 400 calories a day of fake “milk shakes” is hell, but one strategy, which may sound counter-intuitive, was particularly helpful in getting me through 14 weeks of deprivation: I kept a stack of cookbooks next to the couch and another one by my bed. Reading recipes replaced eating recipes, and I lost a lot of weight. By the time I was ready to eat again, it turned out that I had replaced one addiction for another. My craving for cookbooks filled five shelves and then spilled onto the counters in my den.

Coupled with the many boxes of antiques scattered around the room, I kept expecting the camera crew from “Hoarders” to knock on my door. But what was I to do when I bought Susan Hermann Loomis’ “Farmhouse Cookbook” for its Best-Ever Chocolate Cake recipe, and then, five years later, her “French Farmhouse Cookbook” is released, with another chocolate cake recipe that says, “I thought I’d found the best-ever chocolate cake…but just when you think you’ve tasted the best there is, something better comes along”? Naturally, I had to buy that one, too. Eventually, it dawned on me that even if I made a new recipe every day for the rest of my life, I still couldn’t make all the ones I wanted to try in my 250+ cookbooks.

Read more ...