mysticonnie's blog

Megalomania continues...
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a Conspiracy of 2
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Monday, January 30, 2006

I don't feel different, except for the extra 10 pounds...

I celebrated my 30th birthday this weekend. Actually, my hubby began the celebration a week early, by sweetly giving me a pair of earrings in order to cheer me up, since I'd lost my favorite pair a few days before. The actual date was on Wednesday, when my husband and I enjoyed an intimate dinner at our favorite (and secret) sushi bar. Hideki, our chef, upon learning it was my birthday, pulled out his secret personal stash of distilled sake and made a special dish for me - halibut cured in kelp, with shiso and lemon. The official festivities didn't kick off until Friday, when I was given the day off. Since the lunar new year began this weekend, I decided to go for a double header. I went to yoga in the morning then treated myself to a mani-pedi. Justin flew up from LA to visit, so I picked him up and we went for facials and massages at the Sports Club LA Splash spa, then cocktails at the St. Regis and dinner at AME. The raw bar is there is spectacular, the entrees are pretty good, and the desserts are okay. I would recommend ordering mostly raw bar items, and sharing an entree and a dessert. Too full, we staggered into a cab home and watched Arrested Development before passing out. The next morning, I went to yoga (yes, again) then joined Justin and his Parisian friends at the Ferry Plaza farmer's market. We did the typical Justin-Connie thing, wandering from stall to stall, sampling the wares... a tamale here, a few oysters there, a chicken pot pie from one stall, some rabbit stew and pommes confit from another, a croissant from the bakery, a macaron, a cupcake and pot de creme from the patisserie (where we also got my birthday cake)... you get the idea. But really, it was okay - we walked it all off, wandering about the (empty) Financial District and chatting after we'd eaten our fill, before winding up at a wine bar. I'm amazed that we were able to eat any dinner, much less a Chinese New Year themed one at R and G Lounge. And because it's a Chinese New Year's theme, there has to be eight dishes - whole fish, whole poultry, buns, noodles, veggies, plus a few of my favorite dishes - salt and pepper crab!(While I love most of the traditional New Year's dishes, I find a few to be downright nasty - jai, a vegetarian stew, fried turnip pudding, and this bizarre seaweed dish that looks like a mat of tangled black hair.) Luckily, I had Zack, Justin, Ryan, Anne, Joey, Carla and Matt to help me out. I think we did pretty well. We went home and showed Justin Undeclared, which he deemed hilarious but painful to watch at the same time. The similarities between that show and our experiences at Griffiths Hall are a little too close for comfort. Anyways, we woke up to have a mexican brunch at La Pinata, then took a walk around my neighborhood before seeing Justin off.

It was a fantastic weekend, and thank you to everyone who took part in it. Honestly, I don't *feel* 30... yet.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Macarons de Paris

I've been obsessed with Parisian macarons for about four years now. I tasted my first about four years ago at a crepe shop downtown in the Financial District. They were simple flavors - almond, chocolate and coffee. I found more at Bay Bread Boulangerie and their flavors expanded to include strawberry, praline, raspberry, hazelnut, lavender, rose, pistachio, pink grapefruit, lemon and most delicious of all, salted caramel. Now, these macarons are not to be confused with coconut macaroons, the dense nuggets of coconut dipped in chocolate that one can find at most bakeries and supermarkets in the States. Parisian macarons are made with finely ground almonds, sugar, egg whites, sometimes flavored, and are now popularly sandwiched together with some kind of filling - be it buttercream, ganache, citrus curd, jam, etc. In Paris, I sampled even more exotic flavors at Laduree, such as violet, mint, chestnut, blackcurrant, licorice and black pepper. And at two of the most avant garde patisseries of the city, Pierre Herme and Sadaharu Aoki, I sampled wild combinations, such as chocolate chestnut, black sesame, red been, rose lychee raspberry, white truffle hazelnut and olive oil matcha green tea.

After too many drinks at the Hotel Murano bar, Justin and I discussed the prospects of opening a macaron shop in the States. Note: Justin is slightly allergic to macarons, and past proposed projects of ours included a "go away baby" noodle shop that also served bacon stuffed pork chops smothered in gravy and salads, which was also adjoined to an optomotrist's shop and a shoe store, of course (don't ask).

When I got home, I managed to procure Pierre Herme's out of print dessert cookbook. Unfortunately, this cookbook was an older edition, from when he worked with Fauchon, and contained no macaron recipes. I found a recipe in my Bouchon cookbook, and cross-referenced it with various recipes I found on the internet, and decided to use Herme's buttercream recipe. I've been making macarons every weekend since. The first week's were a simple almond version, with vanilla buttercream. I'd never made buttercream until now - I always found the whole molten sugar thing to be intimidating, but Pierre Herme's buttercream recipe was pretty reassuring, not to mention delicious. If you've never had homemade buttercream before, oh. my. gawd. But now it kinda frightens me since I know exactly WHAT goes into buttercream... sort of like when I made puff pastry for the first time. Unfortunately, I was overzealous in piping, so they came out HUGE. My coworkers and hubby were pretty happy though. Last week, it was chocolate macarons with a chocolate buttercream filling. This week, it's gonna be chocolate macarons with a salted butter caramel filling... the caramel is cooling as I type. Pictures to be posted later!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Trente ans...

I was chatting with Justin not long ago, recounting the holiday gifts I'd received. One of them was a certificate for an 80 minute massage/facial (oh joy!) along with a huge bag of skincare supplies. I'm pretty fastidious about skincare, perhaps overly so. I've been using La Mer and Fresh for years now, but my routine is to cleanse, apply eye cream and moisturize, and use sunscreen in the morning. If my skin is looking dull and patchy, I'll use Fresh's Brown Sugar or Remede's exfoliating scrub, and if it's the weekend and I feel like indulging myself, I'll use a mask. The bag o'supplies were the Epicuren facial kit, a brand I'd seen at my facialist's, but hadn't really heard much about. There were various tonics and serums, alpha hydroxy products (which quite frankly, frighten me) and stuff called "metadermabolic enzyme treatment" (which might just frighten me even more).

"What the hell am I gonna do with this??" I wondered "I'm sure it was pricey, but this is a little beyond me!"

Without missing a beat, Justin replied, "Well, girl, you *are* turning 30!"

My distressed cries of anguish were only drowned out by his hoots of laughter.

That's okay. Because he's turning 30 less than a month after I do.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


New Shins song! Can't wait for the album and the tour. I would kill to see them again. Haha! Just kidding.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I have the feeling that about 60 percent of what you say is crap.

I don't think that you represent an objective viewpoint.

I was a little disappointed last night when I checked my Tivo queue to find that there was no new Daily Show waiting. But wait! In the wake of Jon Stewart's hiatus (Stewart's going to be hosting the Oscars, BTW, yay!), apparently Letterman decided step up and rip Bill O'Reilly a new one.

Key nuggets:

on "the 'War' on Christmas", after telling some silly story about replacing lyrics to 'Silent Night' -

Letterman: I don't believe you.
O'Reilly: You think I'm making this up?
Letterman: I do. [Side note: he was - go to "News and Information"]

on Cindy Sheehan -

Letterman: should be very careful with what you say also.
O'Reilly: Give me an example.
Letterman: How can you possibly take exception with the motivation and the position of someone like Cindy Sheehan?
O'Reilly: Because I think she's run by far-left elements in this country. I feel bad for the woman.
Letterman: Have you lost family members in armed conflict?
O'Reilly: No, I have not.
Letterman: Well, then you can hardly speak for her, can you?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The rumor mill...

Following the footsteps of Isaac Mizrahi, word on the street (No Good for Me) is that Proenza Schouler is in talks for designing a line for Target! I missed the debut of Stella McCartney's H&M line (I was in Paris at the time, so oh well), so this more than makes up for it, as I have yet to get my hands on any of Prouenza Schouler's pieces.