Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Best thing I ate this week: Wurstkuche

I'm a planner. And try as I might, I just can't help it. I'm planning what's for dinner while I'm driving morning carpool. While I'm working out at the gym, I'm planning how I'm going to squeeze all my errands into the afternoon. Though I wish I were better at flying by the seat of my pants, this is just who I am, and after 35 years I'm tired of fighting it. And its a pretty sweet deal for my whole family. My husband has someone who likes to make all our camping reservations, travel arrangements, and someone who buys coffee and dogfood before we actually run out. My kids enjoy scheduled playdates, permission slips turned in on time and a sense of order in their life.

So when my husband plans a fun day trip to Los Angeles, which he does about once a month, I'm all over it. He finds these driving tours, andcool walking tours, and historical restaurants that used to be well frequented by the likes of Janis Joplin. And when he plans these day trips, it feels like a true vacation to me. Sure, I may have to drive and I may have to referee some serious backseat boy fights, but I'm not really in charge.

This past Saturday was one of those gifts of a day. He found this cool driving tour of historical bridges in LA...so we headed out with the kids and the dog for a drive. And since he knows me so well, my hubby also planned a stop at a restaurant we've been dying to try, Wurstkuche; and that's where I encountered the best thing I ate this week.

Eating the Belgian fries with a white truffle oil glaze was pretty much a religious experience. The truffle oil adds a perfect Je ne sais pas, and the decadent dipping sauces put the whole thing over the top. We chose a kicker blue cheese walnut bacon, a curry ketchup, and a pesto mayo, all of which blew my mind.

The sausage options are endless - from a traditional bratwurst, to duck and bacon with jalapeƱo peppers, to a vegetarian Italian. I chose a rabbit, veal and pork sausage seasoned with white wine. They topped it with sweet peppers, caramelized onions, and I finished it off with a generous squirt of honey mustard. As I sat there sipping my Dunkelweizen (their beer and soda selections are equally impressive as their sausage options) and dipping my fries, I thought to myself, I could really get used to this not-planning thing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Coffee: A Love Letter

I can still remember my first taste of coffee. I was probably four years old, and my mom gave me a tiny cup of what she called coffee milk - a splash of sweat creamy coffee mixed with ice cold milk. I was hooked even then; and it was only occasionally that she would indulge our pleas for the creamy drink.

Coffee got me through college - and helped write some damn good late night art history papers. Coffee was there when I met my future husband, and I was appalled to find that he preferred his with only a watery splash of nonfat milk. He used to laugh and call my concoctions of cream and sugar my 'coffee milkshakes.' Coffee was there every morning soon after each of my sons was born. Sitting up in the middle of the night- cold and exhausted and wondering how on earth I would get this baby to stop crying- I was comforted knowing that at some point, when the sun came up, I could at least soothe myself with the ritual of a cup of coffee.

My love affair with coffee was so deep, that I seriously contemplated how people could possibly make it through life, and especially life with a newborn, without it. And now I am one of them. For some reason, my stomach no longer likes coffee - it actually detests it, responding with the angriest heartburn I've ever met.

So for the past two years, I've been trying to embrace a new life, one without coffee. Though I'm over the caffeine thing - its the aroma, the taste and the ritual that I long for. I've been known to sniff the coffee grounds as my husband prepares his coffee. I've been known to blabber on and on about the joys of coffee to anyone who will listen. I even took a photo of my last cup of coffee (above). It was fairly un-sexy in its Styrofoam cup, but the Hawaiian hazelnut (from Bagel Rock in Ventura) still lingers in my taste memory.

I've been searching for a replacement, but to no avail. Zhena's Gypsy Tea Firelight Chai is the closest I've come to a delicious morning ritual (with cream and sugar of course). Hot chocolate plays a pretty good understudy when I'm out to breakfast and want something steamy in a mug. And a chai latte is what I settle for when I feel the need to stop in at a Starbucks.

So, I just wanted to say to coffee, I love you. There's nothing like you. I enjoyed the time we had together, but life is pretty bleak without you.