Thursday, December 31, 2009

lemon and honey sugar body polish

I am crazy about sugar scrubs, body polishes, etc. but they can be very expensive (think Brown Sugar Body Scrub by Fresh) until my friend Deidre made a batch of sugar scrub a few years ago. I happened to see a similar recipe for it in a C&H ad this holiday and I thought it would make a great stocking stuffer or hostess gift for Christmas.

I made a few changes to the to the recipe and you can certainly use any fragrance essence
you prefer. I used 8oz. low mason jars with simple ribbon and a hang tag that stated what it was. Of course small jars with custom labels and stickers would look great--the possibilities are endless. The best part, your skin really is silky smooth and sugar has long been known for its healing powers. I would not use it on the face. Wipe the tub or shower well after use. It can be really slick.
The recipe:
1 cup white or brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil like canola (no olive oil--too much odor)
1/4 cup honey
4 capsules of vitamin e oil
2 or 3 drops of lemon essential oil (or to your liking)
Stir, and package. Does not need to be refrigerated, but will need a little stir with each use.
Makes 16 oz.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

a retro dinner party in la and a visit to rivera restaurant, downtown la

I visited Brendan in LA a couple of weeks ago to celebrate our Christmas since we would not be able to do it over the conventional holiday. (He will be in SF for New Year's Eve.)

Brendan planned a great dinner for six of us and I was only to happy to assist since he is a little out of commission due to recent repair surgery on a damaged elbow. The table was absolutely gorgeous and the menu delicious. We tagged team and it worked out perfectly. Our retro menu began with a classic clam dip and a first course of cream of broccoli soup. Brendan re-created our favorite salad from House of Prime Rib in San Francisco followed by a super moist, herb infused pork tenderloin with roasted fingerling potatoes tossed with Gorgonzola and sauteed baby carrots. Homemade blackberry pie a la mode completed the decadent fare.

The beauty of any party is the interesting mix of guests, some who have never met but through some mysterious chemistry seem to have instant interesting dialog and debate on a variety of topics. (After dinner party questions don't hurt.) In attendance of course was our dear host, Brendan, the driven and consummate entrepreneur-owner of Blink Photo. Tu, the beautiful neighbor with a trail of broken hearts who works in executive placement. Jodina, the loving mother, a voice actor/partner with Jon St. John Productions. Dwayne, the cool intellectual who owns Gathers Strategies, and Jennifer, the actress strong in her beliefs, who owns GuerriLA Theatre in LA, a unique theatre experience performed in private homes. I don't know where I fit into this whole mix except that perhaps I am the keen observer, waiting to see how the whole
thing plays out. On this night no topic was off limits and no opinion to sacred. A great time was had by all.

I can't go to LA without trying out the latest hot restaurant and downtown Los Angeles is the place to find it. We made a Sunday night reservation at Rivera, an upscale Latin eatery on Flower across from the lavender lit trees of the Staples Center.

We started with the tortillas florales with Indian butter, delicate homemade tortillas stamped with edible flowers and the butter, an avocado puree. Another starter not to be missed are the piquillos rellenos stuffed with chorizo, gruyère and golden raisins. Brendan had an entree of banana leaf braised pork shoulder with Peruvian potatoes and I had blue corn tortillas stacked with duck, black beans and goat cheese, smothered in chili rioja sauce. A side of quinoa and spinach complemented both.

Another lovely trip to LA.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

exceptional thai food at soi 4 in oakland

Had a great adventure in dining yesterday. Sometimes the unplanned has great end results.

That's the way it turned out when Deidre and I went to Jack London Square to try Eric Tucker's new collaboration at 202 Second, Encuentro. It opened on December 4, with lunch beginning Monday at 11:00am--no reservations taken.
Well, guess what, they were closed--a sign in the window said they would actually be open for lunch on Wednesday. Disappointed, but we will be back. The description on Yelp of the crispy kale chips and peppered portobello and caramelized fennel sandwich was mouth watering. Eric Tucker, executive chef of the great vegan restaurant, Millennium in San Francisco, surely has another hit on his hands.
Turns out Monday in Oakland is not a big restaurant day. Lots of calls to restaurants. Lots of closed restaurants. But a quick cruise up College thinking we might go to a favorite standby, Garabaldi's and we spotted Soi 4 Bangkok Eatery. It was a second visit for Deidre and a real find for me.

We ordered 4 dishes of what I can only say were absolute perfection with many others that sounded equally delicious. What made the dished so good? Slight variances in traditional ingredients, such as a salt and pepper calamari topped with delicate julienne of carrot and onion and a sauce that was more like a simmered Mexican red sauce rather than the usual sweet chili sauce. Tender and falling off the bone baby beef short ribs in a spicy kaffir panang curry, and Deidre's favorite, lightly battered prawns in spicy tamarind sauce with crispy shallots.  The wok sauteed wide noodles known as pad ke mao were hot and spicy with chicken, Thai chili and deep-fried basil leaves. Not one flavor competed or repeated itself.  I have been to Thailand and this is one of the best Thai meals I have ever tasted.