mysticonnie's blog

Megalomania continues...
Cheese Diaries
a Conspiracy of 2
Muffin Top

Tuesday, February 25, 2003


Two weekends ago, (President’s Day weekend, to be exact) I journeyed down to Southern California for a visit. My parents picked me up from LAX. Although it was 11:30 p.m., my mother greeted me with the same inevitable question: “Are you hungry? Do you want to get something to eat?” Actually, I was, so I told her we could just make ramen at home. “Hey! Make her some chicken!” interjected my father. “Uhhh, I really don’t want anything too complicated. I’m really tired. Just put an egg in it or something – keep it simple.” Dad continued in his line of thought. “Put some chicken in it!” My mother, you see, buys freshly butchered chicken from a local poultry farm in Little Saigon. The steamed chicken she makes is quite delicious. “Ai! TK, you just want the chicken for yourself! Why don’t you just say so???” He protested, of course. I couldn’t resist – I grinned conspiratorally and asked, “Mom, is he hungry again?” “He’s *always* hungry,” replied my mom. (my father is easily distracted by two things – electronics/computer stores and food shops/restaurants) “Hey!” shouted my father. “Guess what I’m doing on Monday?” he asked, trying to change to the topic. “Errrr, what are you doing on Monday, Dad?” I asked. “I’m getting a colonostomy!” he replied cheerfully. “Uhhh, that’s nice, Dad. Ummm, what else can we put in the noodles, Mom?” I asked, trying to change the subject. Unfortunately, my mother is easily distracted by talk of my father’s bowels. She then launched into an explanation of the state of my father’s colon, i.e., the number of polyps discovered and removed, administering enemas, gas, the procedures 10 years ago versus now and side effects. Meanwhile, I frantically racked my brains for a way to escape the conversation. I even briefly considered just opening the car door as we traveled southbound on the 405, but alas, I was sitting in the back of a two-door vehicle. Instead, I yawned, put on my headphones, and announced that I would take a nap until we got home.

Orange County

I grew up in Orange County – I lived in Fountain Valley from when I was two, until I left for college at eighteen. Since my parents moved to Colorado and New York while I was in college, I didn’t visit that much, except to see friends and Zack’s family. Since my parents returned to Fountain Valley about two years ago, much has changed. I remember about a third of the land still being farms when I was growing up. Now, in their place, are strip malls and tract housing. My ten-year high school reunion is supposedly coming up, but I wonder if I’ll go. It’ll be kind of depressing – I keep hearing about classmates who are now doctors and lawyers, or at least have actual “careers”, yet I still don’t feel quite like a “grown-up”. One of my friends (Anh) has even started her own business - as a side project, mind you. [Toobers, a cheese steak shop that makes its own chips (plug!plug!plug!), located at 19092 Beach Blvd. in Huntington Beach] But who knows – I recently spoke with Chris, a friend and classmate’s (Rosalyne’s) boyfriend (he lives in Napa, she’s currently studying aboad in London – we have mutual friends at Cal), and I’m not the only one who has drifted from the F.V.H.S. fold. And apparently, a website has popped up for our graduating class, yet no one has signed up. Perhaps I’m not the only “non grownup”.

Huntington Beach Brewing Company.

This is going to be a bit of a rant. On Valentine’s day, during my visit down South, my high school friends (Angela, Anh and Leanne) and I had a “girls’ night out”. We started with a lovely dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. Afterwards, we headed to Huntington Beach’s Main Street (my hangout during my high school days) for a drink. After a brief walk, we wound up at the Huntington Beach Brewing Company, which was surprisingly empty. We waited for a table for about 15 minutes, then decided to seat ourselves. After two rounds of drinks, our waitress (a tarty bimbo with fake tits, a fake-n-bake, and frosted hair) ignored for the next two hours, until we asked for the bill (twice). I’m normally pretty generous with servers, because I know it must suck. Usually, I tip 20 percent, or a dollar per cocktail. I realize that it’s not the server’s fault if the product is bad or late, and I always take into account how busy it is. However, she was not the only server, the place was pretty empty, and she had plenty of time to flirt with the male patrons, and toss back a couple of drinks with the bartender. I was pretty pissed (not drunk, though – the cocktails were pretty weak) and decided “Fuck this! We’re leaving her a dollar!” On a whim, I also left a fortune cookie fortune – “You lack ambition, but not the ability to succeed.” She was very quick to pick up our check as soon as we got up from the table, and as we were leaving, she came running after us. “Excuse me - did you have a problem with the service?” Angela was a bit more mature – she murmured something and continued her exit, but I was livid. The bimbo repeated her question, adding that we “only left a dollar tip”. I turned around. “Uh, yeah. We DID have a problem with the service. That’s why we only left a dollar. We’ve been here for almost three hours, and you only checked on us twice.”

“Not-uh! [the bitch had the gall to argue with me!] It says here that the tab was opened at 9…” she pointed at receipt.

“Ummm, that actually says 8:42, and we were waiting for twenty minutes. It’s 11:15 now. And I don’t think we’re gonna increase your tip if you chase after us for it.”

“Well, uh, if you didn’t like the service, just don’t come back.”

I snorted, and continued down the stairs. “I wasn’t planning on it.”

Later on, Angela called the manager. He waffled a bit, but after she pointed out that it was mighty tacky to chase after patrons for a tip, he apologized, and offered a free gift certificate, and free drinks. What*ever*!

The Pent-fucking-house.

I went to stay at Justin and Brian’s new luxury condo (“The Remington”) in Westwood/Beverly Hills for a couple of days. It’s a fucking hugeass penthouse. My entire apartment can fit in their living room, and their closet is as big as my room – I’m not exaggerating. The staff/concierge/valet is extremely kind and courteous. Actually, I think they get offended if you try to do something yourself. Nobody (not even guests) parks their own car, the valets always open and close every door, and they’ll bring packages/bags/luggage up to your unit. I don’t think I touched a single door handle when I was there, except for the ones to my room and the bathroom – the elevator opens directly into to condo. Best of all, no gratuities are allowed. Justin says they’ve been unusually nice to him, probably because he actually talks to them. Apparently, everyone else who lives in his building, except for Miz Parker (don’t ask) and the Williams sisters (yes, the tennis players) are old and white. The concierge actually mistook him for staff when he moved in, because they saw him carrying cleaning supplies. The only other thing I would say is that although the kitchen is a decent size, it’s relatively small in comparison to the rest of the place. I guess most people in that building don’t cook, or they have personal chefs or something.

We wound up doing my favorite things – shopping, cooking, and eating. Oh, yeah, and partying. Although it was a decadent weekend of debauchery, I learned a few things:

- You know you’re in the company of good friends when it feels like you just saw them the other day, even though it’s been years.

- Chips at Toobers are really good, even after sitting in the car for 5 hours

- Although every restaurant in West LA has ponzu sauce somewhere on their menu, there is no Chinese food.

- It’s hard to practice yoga in a cold room

- LA cabbies do NOT know their way around LA

- Last call is at 2:00 a.m.

- Make sure you double up on the drinks before last call

- Fruity cocktails make you nauseous

- Going to the supermarket to buy cigarettes when you’re drunk may seem like a good idea, but it’s really not

- You’re not allowed to buy vodka at the supermarket after 2:00 a.m. Nor are you allowed to buy wine. The stockboy will try to stop you.

- Fred Segal is a very confusing store, and the one in Santa Monica is better.

- The best piecrusts are mixed by hand, with half shortening, half butter.

- Celebrities run amuck in West LA… that is, if you look for them. Most of them are shorter than you’d think, except for John Lithgow.

- You may think you can work out when you’re out of town, but if you’re visiting friends, chances are, you won’t.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Now I know indeed that there are people out there with far too much time on their hands, but at the same time, I wish that I'd heard about the contest when it was announced.. Then I'd make the time, goddamnit! Maybe I'll start one of my own. S'mores, anyone?

Sunday, February 02, 2003

It has occurred to me, based on various inquiries, that I should share how I got my reservations to French Laundry. Let me tell you, it was no easy task - it's harder than getting a table at Chez Panisse. There are a few basic things to know:

The restaurant takes reservations two months in advance, between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

There are certain times of the year (not sure when) when the restaurant shuts down (including the reservation line) for a staff holiday.

When you call, the line will inevitably be busy. By about noon, all the reservations will be taken.

My suggestions are:

Redial, redial, redial. The phone company's automatic redial function (call the operator to find out the code) comes in handy. Some phones are equipped with a hardwired automatic redial as well. I used both.

Use as many phone lines as possible. I had access to 6 different phone lines, plus my cell phone.

Enlist friends, coworkers, spouses, fellow diners-to-be, and so forth to redial, use multiple phone lines, etc.. Are you sensing a pattern here?

Put yourself on the waiting list. I wanted to have a larger party than the reservation that was available, but I asked the restaurant to let me know if there were any more openings. About a week before my reservation, they called to let me know that something had opened up.

I have also heard that if you show up on their premises, the restaurant will take your reservations. I think this is probably the best way to do it if you're in the Bay Area - all it takes is a little jaunt to Yountville, which isn't so bad, especially if you decide to make a day of it. (think about it - picnicking, wine tasting, outlet shopping...)

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Yesterday, I skipped around my office in a merry little jig, chanting "costcocostcocostcocostcocostcocostcocostcocostco!" When Tiffany saw this, she actually choked on her tea (I think she might have spit some out of her nose) and everyone else looked at me like I was crazy. Come to think of it, they always look at me like I'm crazy, especially now that I've taken to clutching my Orlando Bloom/Jude Law snow globe (thanks Anne!) while muttering "my preciousssss! my birthday present! we wants it...must. have. preciousss!" Anyways, one of my birthday presents (thanks Justin!) was a Costco membership, which has delighted me to no end. Today, after I went to the gym, I headed towards Costco and dined on free samples for lunch. I also purchased about a hundred dollars' worth of raw meat - pork, lamb, beef, fish, chicken... it's all sitting in my freezer now.