Monday, January 31, 2011

A Foodies Guide to Iowa

Did you hear? Flavor Flav is opening a restaurant called Flav's Fried Chicken in Iowa. Does this make him a genius or an idiot? He is a genius if he can figure out how to make a mark on one of  the most forward  thinking culinary markets in the U. S. He's an idiot if he thinks its going to be easy. Here are 4 reasons why.

Taco Pizza
While you are putting ingrediants like gorgonzola dolce, fingerling potatoes, radicchio and olive tapenade on your pizza's (I'm talking to you, Santa Monica), Zeno's Pizza in Marshalltown, Iowa is putting taco fixings (pronounced fixins') on top of a pizza crust. It goes something like this (this is from memory as there is no website to confirm ingredients) : Pizza crust, taco sauce (I'm not sure how to explain other than to tell you what it is not, it is not pico de gallo nor is it salsa nor is it found in any other state but Iowa), taco meat (ground beef season with taco spices), shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheese and topped off with crumbled up taco chips (think Doritos).  It is brilliant. Good luck topping that one, Flavor Flav.

Taylors Maid-rite (  in Marshalltown is home of the loose meat sandwich (ie, Maid-rites). This is a hamburger that is crumbled up, not patty style. You get your choice of onions, mustard and/or pickles and finally, after 70 years, ketchup is now offered. It is served in a wrapper and with a spoon. Taylor's Maidrite offers only a few other items that compliment loose meat sandwiches....pies and shakes. Do you have pies and shakes, Mr. Flav? (a picture of a maid-rite is not as good as it please, enjoy their sign)

Paying to Cook Your Own Steak
I'm not sure what makes Rube's Steakhouse ( in Montour, Iowa more brilliant: The fact that you are escorted to a meat locker by your waitress to select your cut of meat or the fact that they have convinced you that cooking it yourself only makes it taste better thereby, saving thousands of dollars on labor and avoiding the complaint that my steak is over/under cooked. Honorable mention goes to the 12 loaves of Texas Toast and the big bucket of melted butter at the grill that is all you can eat as long as you toast it yourself. Flavor, you may want to steer clear of this idea....I'm not sure you want your customers frying their own chicken....out matched again!

The Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
If in the distance you see a fair haired, rosey cheeked waitress carrying what appears to be a sandwich with a little tiny bun,  1. You are in Iowa 2. That is a pork tenderloin sandwich and 3. That bun is not tiny, it only looks that way because the size of the pork tenderloin (a pork tenderloin breaded and fried) on the sandwich is about the circumference of your head. As the sandwich gets closer, you will be face to face with greatness...not sure whether to eat it or worship it. Flav, if your chicken is not pork nothing can help you.

So in spirit of Iowa kindness let me officially welcome you to Iowa, Flavor Flav! Good luck!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lookin' Good!

Like many of you, I have decided to head back to the gym this year. Unlike many of you, I have a lot of extra time and no excuses for not going. Each January we are inundated with all the helpful tips in magazines, on TV, and on the web about how to jump start your work-out by joining a health club that fits your schedule, personality, sign, etc.  One thing all these articles overlook is an honest account of what it is really like inside a health club (or at least my health club). You see, once you leave the outside world and enter into a health club you are suddenly smacked in the face with a whole new set of social norms and mores that you may be ill prepared to cope with. I'm here to help you navigate this new world.

Headbands are Required: If you are man over the age of 60 you must wear a headband. The headband seems to have no purpose in keeping sweat off the face (as I've observed little sweat among this age group) or for keeping hair out of the eyes (also, minimal observations of actual hair with this age group). These headbands seem to be purely for aesthetics. Headband options are the old school headband (John McEnroe) or Bandanna (Karate Kid) and yes, sadly a visor worn backwards does count as a headband.

Motivate Yourself: Don't wait for anyone to do this. You look yourself in the full length mirror and say things like, "Today I'm kicking my own ass" or "I'm huge" or just a primal scream and/or growl would do. You know you better than anyone what works.

Say Whatever You Want, At Whatever Volume Level: You know that little voice in your head that says things like, "Is what I'm saying appropriate?", "Is my voice too loud?", "Am I being a douche?"....there is a censor in the door jam of all Health Clubs that deactivates that voice and allows you talk about  things like getting your back lasered (at length), how pomegranate juice flushed out your system, and what you think of that lady on the treadmill. Answer your phones loudly. Swear as much as you want. Its OK, you are in the gym.

Acknowledge How Good You Look: Working out is hard work and its exciting when you see results. If you were outside the gym you might try to catch your reflection in a window or steal a glance at yourself in a mirror. You're at a gym filled with mirrors now, so look long and hard at those abs as you lift up your shirt and pose. Go ahead, glance back at yourself (your butt)  as you walk to another machine, your mesmerising! Try not keep your eyes off yourself for more than a minute..chances are you are about to do something sexy!

You Have the Right to Use Any Piece of Equipment Immediately: In the real world you would never go up to someone using an ATM and stand 6 inches away from them and inquire, "How much longer" and then ask if you can "work in" between their transactions. At the health club, this is perfectly acceptable from the leg press machine to the 5lb dumbbells to the drinking fountain.

Putting Weights Away is For Sissies: This literally is true. The only weights that are ever where they should be are 15lbs and lighter. My guess is, if all the weights were stored right in front of the mirrors all weights would be put away. Because lets face it, you look awesome walking with that 45lb plate (see "Acknowledge How Good You Look").

Rest Whenever and Where Ever You Want: Working out is exhausting and it is important to get plenty of rest. Feel free to lay down in the middle of the floor, kick back on the staircase, or my favorite, lay down for a quick cat nap on what ever bench I was about to use.

I hope this helps. I love the health club....I hope you do to!

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Stuff-Part 2

Several years ago I asked a friend of mine if he had seen the new Shrek movie.. to which he responded that he had not. When I asked him if he planned on seeing it, he said probably not as he hadn't seen the first one and wasn't sure if he would be able to follow along. I assured him that the plot wasn't that complex and he would probably be able to catch on in the first few minutes of the movie...herewith, is Part 2 of  My Stuff. If you find yourself lost please refer to my previous post.

Favorite Discovery The little old Indian lady that goes around the neighborhood with her shopping cart collecting cans out of the trash has the best gossip about my neighbors and will tell you everything as long as you answer her uncomfortable questions such as,  "Why you not work", "Why you not have kids", "Why you dog look like he's dead" (Goose tends to lay on his back in our driveway and sun himself ) Necessary Extravagance Power Steering Favorite Places in the World Iowa, Virginia, My Home, J Crew Stores, the Gym Favorite Movies Breakfast Club, The Jerk, Departed Favorite Hotel Westin and Hampton Inn (they both accept dogs) Favorite Vintage Stores Garage Sales

Where do you live Tarzana, CA (yes, named after Tarzan) Favorite Art I have 5 Iowa State Fair Vintage Posters (my favorite is the one with the flying pig) Coffee Maker Mr. Coffee Ice Tea Maker (used once a day) Stationery Yellow Post Its Favorite Gadget TV Remote Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant Pho So 1 Pet Dog and Best Friend, Goose Favorite Drink Green Ice Tea (no less than 1 gallon at a time) Favorite Dessert My Great Grandmothers Chocolate Cake with Butterscotch Frosting Favorite Ingredient Tabasco Favorite Snack Popcorn Sheets The kind that one corner always comes off your mattress in the middle of the night tangling your head or feet in and rendering you immobile for the remainder of the night.

This concludes my stuff....I guess now the mystery is gone.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Stuff, Part 1

As I begin my 5th week of unemployment I have decided to take up a new hobby, reading. I have chosen reading for a few reasons: 1) I already know how to read  and 2) I have a lot of Vanity Fair magazines sitting around from the last year and a half that are unread.  I love a lot of things about Vanity Fair but one of my favorite recurring pieces is the monthly half page article titled, "My Stuff". This is where the latest designer, actress, author, musician, etc tell you what their favorite things are. Although it is interesting to read that one fashion designer's favorite soap is "organic-lavender and jasmine handmade soaps for the Fairfax flea market in Los Angeles", it doesn't seem to be very relatable to me. Since I felt this way, I assume many others do as well, herewith (a term I picked up from Vanity Fair) are my favorite things (that I think we can all relate to)

Lipstick Cherry Flavored ChapstickMascara Sephora-Black, worn once a weekShampoo Pantene...alwaysMoisturizer L'Oreal.  Hair Product Comb and on occassion a ScrunchiiPerfume Febreze...for WomenToothpaste Colgate Gel (trust me on this, I didn't have a cavity until I was 29).   Nail Polish Color 1-2 times a year I wear clearSoap The most flowery smelling body wash I can find to prevent Brock from hogging it....the Vanilla, Carmel, Honeysuckle & Cherry Blossom one I'm currenly using seems to be doing the trick.  Tanning Product Whatever sunscreen that keeps your skin the palest shade of white but still allows you to freckle.  

Jeans Mom and Gap Trousers.  Underwear Grandma.  Sneakers Nikes circa 2009.  T-Shirt Hanes Men's White V-Neck,  3 Pack.  Day Bag Fanny Pack.  Evening Bag Bedazzled Fanny Pack. Favorite Accessory My Vintage Charm Bracelet with my Corn Dog Charm (I'm not even joking on this one...its fantastic!).  Watch Kitchen clock on a gold chain worn around my neck (think Flava Flav) for daytime, Burberry for evening.

There you have it...My Stuff. I'm guessing I'm more like you than you care to admit. Stay tuned for Part Two.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Uggs and Rascals

After 2 weeks (which included 7 full days spent in the car)  and 6, 242 miles later we are home from our cross country trip. I thought it only responsible to provide helpful hints in the event you , your loved one and your pet are planning this type of trip.

1. If your planning to purchase one of those things that goes on top of your vehicle to keep your luggage in, the brand Thule is not water proof. Try to put everything in your vehicle as you get an extra 3 miles per gallon. Don't worry about not being able to see out the back or the passengers seat in our case, a well trained dog and/or person will be able to let you know if you are about to hit something.

2. Pack a cooler. You have no idea how hungry you will get for things like string cheese, trail mix, potato chips and the occasional piece of fruit.

3. If you are traveling with your pet go to AAA and the get the book "Traveling with your Pet-the AAA Pet Book" this tells you all the hotels in the US that accept pets. Also, don't underestimate how excited your dog will be to be staying in a hotel, your dogs excitement level is directly proportional to the fear the housekeeping staff has of your dog.

4. Get up early and drive. The prettiest part of the drives were always at sunrise.

5. Deep breaths. You know that sound of the person in the passenger seat sleeping (see #4) on days 6-7 it gets really annoying. It would have been worse if I could have seen him (see #1).

6. Don't worry if you pass that McDonalds or Subway, there is usually another one about 1/8 of mile down the road.

7. Travel with someone you love, who knows you really well and has a good sense of humor as you will have some tense moments and disagreements. For example, on our last day of driving this is what was discussed/argued about:
  • Although we both agreed that we hate the  look of Ugg Boots I was willing to overlook their appearance because they are so warm and comfortable which lead to .....
  • The argument over fanny packs where I am  willing to overlook their appearance because they are so practical. Brock was both confused and scared by my revelation.
  • We had a heated discussion about whether the sanitation standards of a Subway in a gas station are the same as a free standing subway. This went on for awhile until we realized we were arguing the same point agreeing that a free standing Subway is more sanitary. We eventually had a good laugh over this one.
  • Finally, we had a spirited debate about the weight of a rascal (the little scooter). Brock was adamant that they weighed over 400 pounds my stance was that they probably cost $400 and weighed less. This was the point in the trip where we decided that it is OK to have a few hours of quiet reflection.
Happy travels to you!