Wednesday, September 27, 2006

days of eeyore

Every once in a while of late, I've been getting hit with a little wave of sadness that I lack, in the moment, a nickname.

It's tough to shorten a one-syllable name, I'll admit, and my given name does not lend itself to er, nicking. Nicknames also are not always a welcome adjunct to life. I am probably wholly responsible for an entirely new generation of non-St. Louisans knowing my best friend by her nickname rather than her beautiful given name, and I will most likely continue to apologize for that until we're too old to remember there was ever an option.

My husband uses his full given name at work, but it's nearly impossible for me to remember to address him as such when in the presence of office colleagues, leading to innumerable blank stares and forced laughter about the confusion his dual nomenclated status confers.

Regardless, I never really had a nickname beyond those created by my family. One cousin's initials (prior to her marriage) spelled a homophone for my name, and that became her nickname before I was born, so in order to avoid confusion, that part of the family often used my first and last name to address me. On the other side of the family, the same moniker got adopted for...well, frankly, I haven't the slightest idea why, but it did. All the same, since full name address is generally reserved (when one is young) for those moments when one is really seriously in trouble and I mean it young lady, it never struck me as the kind of thing I should spread as a nickname. Fine from family, but way too formal for friends.

My parents have a pet name for each other that got diminuted (clearly I'm making up words here, but I don't care) for me. They call each other Boo, after a long-retired pantyhose commercial (, really), and thus they called me Baby Boo. They rarely employ it now, I admit, but if I sign a birthday card that way, they don't wonder who sent it.

However, I am also, or was also, Lele -- since, with a name like mine, you can't shorten it to make an endearment, might as well double it. It's been ages and ages since anyone had reason to call me by this particular nickname, and recently, I'd started to miss it.

It seems a silly thing, really, to reminisce about a nickname. There are so many other terms of endearment that get used regularly -- my husband and I rarely address each other by name -- but only a nickname is particular to an individual. And so, occasionally, I found myself sighing that I wish someone, anyone, would have a reason to reinstate my nickname. Or, perhaps, bestow upon me a new one.

This morning I was sitting at the computer reading my morning news items when a small window popped up on my screen:

Jim: Hey boo bear.
Me: !!!
Jim: I thought of that on my way to work today. "Lele the Boo."
Me: Hee! I like it.

I never told him I wanted a nickname.

I guess I didn't have to.

And I have to say? I'm pretty darn happy being his Boo Bear.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

eat your heart out, shiloh

Because I think this new boy is even cuter. Congratulations, McHales!
I'd offer free babysitting, but I'm pretty sure the mileage would be the end of me.

gourmet i reserve a table, please?

Below, Gourmet Magazine's list of the Top 50 restaurants in America.

I am seriously considering making it my mission to eat at each place. After all, if Julie Powell can turn cooking everything from Julia Child's cookbook into a published tome, I'm sure there would be a market for people willing to read about someone else's expense-account-funded fine dining.

Oh, wait, that gig already exists. It's called being Frank Bruni.

So until the Times or other paper of quasi-record decides to throw money at me and send me to fancy restaurants, I am guessing I'll have to have a gimmick. I could do it by only traveling on foot or bicycle from site to site. Given that the rest of the vocation involves eating, this may not be an entirely insane idea...

Right. So back in the real world, I'd like to point out that Portland's famed Fore Street makes the list yet again, and that Durham, the District, and Philadelphia all rate at least one spot each (good news for future endeavours, no?).

My best friend and I have an as-yet unscheduled date to dine at Number 3 while wearing extraordinarily expensive shoes. Sometime after my 30th and before her 35th, I think, we just might make it.

1. Alinea
– Chicago, IL*
2. Chez Panisse – Berkeley, CA
3. The French Laundry/Per Se – Yountville, CA; New York, NY
4. Spago – Beverly Hills, CA
5. Joël Robuchon at the Mansion – Las Vegas, NV*
6. La Rêve – San Antonio, TX
7. Masa – New York, NY*
8. Alan Wong's Restaurant – Honolulu, HI
9. Daniel – New York, NY
10. Le Bernardin – New York, NY
11. Magnolia Grill – Durham, NC
12. Michel Richard Citronelle – Washington, D.C.
13. Charlie Trotter's – Chicago, IL
14. Arrows – Ogunquit, ME
15. Cyrus – Healdsburg, CA*
16. Striped Bass – Philadelphia, PA*
17. Babbo – New York, NY
18. Locke-Ober – Boston, MA*
19. Canlis – Seattle, WA
20. L'Auberge Carmel – Carmel, CA*
21. Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare – Las Vegas, NV*
22. Restaurant August – New Orleans, LA*
23. The Inn at Little Washington – Washington, VA
24. The Dining Room in the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead – Atlanta, GA*
25. Vetri – Philadelphia, PA*
26. Fore Street – Portland, ME
27. Jean Georges – New York, NY
28. Higgins – Portland, OR*
29. Da Marco – Houston, TX*
30. La Belle Vie – Minneapolis, MN*
31. Parker's New American Bistro – Cleveland, OH
32. Michy's – Miami, FL*
33. Frasca – Boulder, CO*
34. Gramercy Tavern – New York, NY
35. Providence – Los Angeles, CA*
36. Restaurant Guy Savoy – Las Vegas, NV*
37. Zuni Café – San Francisco, CA
38. Urasawa – Beverly Hills, CA*
39. Bacchanalia – Atlanta, GA*
40. Sanford – Milwaukee, WI
41. York Street – Dallas, TX*
42. Manresa – Los Gatos, CA*
43. No. 9 Park – Boston, MA*
44. Trattoria Nostrani – Santa Fe, NM*
45. Cafe Juanita – Kirkland, WA*
46. Paley's Place – Portland, OR*
47. Lantern Restaurant – Chapel Hill, CA*
48. L'Etoile – Madison, WI
49. Herbsaint – New Orleans, LA*
50. Nana – Dallas, TX*

Friday, September 22, 2006

challah back

One of Jim's coworkers very kindly brought us a challah from Cambridge for Rosh Hashanah.

I am particularly enjoying the fact that Rosh Hashanah coincides with the first day of autumn -- the juxtaposition feels quite lovely that way. For the first time, I am inclined to make a big holiday feast, even though it's just the two of us here to eat it.

Of course, I refuse to get anywhere near my grandfather's preferred New Year's celebratory food, but I am thinking about an apple-rum cake and a honey-glazed roast chicken. Gotta have that sweet New Year, after all.

Is cultural heritage an excuse to cook? Given that my husband and I come from Jewish, Italian, and German backgrounds, I'd have to go with a resounding "Hell yeah!" on that one.

L'shanah tovah.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

you want i should whack someone for you?

Since my husband has been sending this picture all over his office to showcase the stages of his healing process, I figured I might as well share it with the interwebs.
Seems the removal of wisdom teeth results not so much in the loss of wisdom as in the creation of a wise guy.

I just hope there's nothing in the trunk of the car that shouldn't be there. Married to the mob, indeed.

Monday, September 18, 2006

he's created a monster

Maybe it was Peter Jackson's incredible shots of New Zealand. Maybe it was my husband's pure and abiding love of all things Middle Earth. Maybe it was the hobbity goodness that is Dom Monaghan and Billy Boyd, and, yes, even Elijah Wood and Sean Astin.

But I actually held my breath when I read this:

Fans of J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings," have a new epic to look forward to. Houghton Mifflin announced yesterday that it had acquired the American rights to publish "The Children of Hurin." Begun in 1918, it was a tale that Tolkien, (1892- 1973), worked on throughout his life and will take his readers once more among elves and men and dragons and dwarfs. Houghton Mifflin said in an announcement that although it had long been assumed that "The Children of Hurin" would remain unfinished, it had been reconstructed and edited by Tolkien's son Christopher, working from Tolkien's many drafts. Publication is scheduled for spring.

Aw shit. Just when I thought I'd finally finished my dalliance with Tolkien fantasy.

Damn you, Christopher Tolkien, for giving me more to read. Damn you to hell.

Friday, September 15, 2006

obviously males should bear the young of the species

My husband is recovering admirably from the extraction of his wisdom teeth.

Why is that when I had my wisdom teeth removed, I was wrecked for, oh, easily a full week? Granted, part of the problem was that I went home and went to bed, but no one had impressed upon me in my post-anaesthetic haze that I should not recline fully, so I awoke an hour or two later with all the blood in my body having rushed directly to my jaw. Not only did my cheeks swell to ungodly proportions, but I was so bruised that I believe my parents discussed, in hushed tones, whether I would ever fully recover.

I spent the next week being spoon-fed yogurt and mashed potatoes and, in one horrifyingly memorable incident, wrestling internally with myself as my stomach -- and my father, gently rubbing my shoulders -- tried to tell me it was all right to throw up, while my brain said LIKE HELL IT IS, IT COULD ONLY BE WORSE THAN HOW I CURRENTLY FEEL.

Jim? Well, he actually didn't keep down all of yesterday's food, but it didn't bother him in the least. He's beyond chipmunk-cheeked, that's for sure, but aside from the occasional dull ache, he feels pretty good. He can't chew, of course, and he's pretty much superglued to his ice-bag, but he's played a fair amount of Lego Star Wars II on the GameCube and re-watched Spider-Man 2 and thinks it's hilarious to document his swelling on the digital camera.

I actually feel kind of useless; here I was all ready, with mushy foods stockpiled to nurse him back to health, and aside from right after the surgery when the remnants of the anaesthesia knocked him for a loop, he's barely needed my help at all.

This bodes ill for when we decide to have children, as clearly he tolerates pain and bodily trauma far better than I. I guess I can consider it payback for giggling when he drooled in the recovery room.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

it's a sign of the times

Nintendo's new system is being released...

...on our first anniversary.

Dude. Whatever happened to paper? Clearly Nintendo is out to get me.

(Hee. Just kidding. This goes on the Christmas list, maybe, but not the anniversary one.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

because anticipation increases the fun

So the oral surgeon's office apparently screwed up. They told Jim his surgery was today, but his doctor doesn't work Tuesdays and, unbeknownst to us, moved the appointment to Thursday.

On the upside, now I don't feel so guilty about having to work tonight. On the downside? Two more days to look forward to the tooth-extraction extravaganza. Lovely.

At least Jim can use the extra time to force-feed himself extra doses of pineapple. It's something do do with enzymes reducing swelling, I think? That, or a self-serving practical joke by the Dole people.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

agnus dei

Tonight I made lamb meatballs.

Now, before you make the inevitable "meat" and "balls" jokes, let me just say that they were outrageously good, so laugh all you want. I am sated.

I had this leftover mint pesto from the big Labor Day Open House we hosted. The pesto was phenomenal, but given that it had no preservatives and was utterly homemade, was not going to last forever and ever, so I had to make something that would go well with the pesto.

And by "go well with" I mean "was not just a big bag of cardboard, because the pesto was so good that it would make even that taste delicious."

So I was at Wild Oats doing some browsing -- which is what I mostly do at Wild Oats, although their real-crab California rolls with tobiko are quite yummy -- and I noticed they had ground lamb and it was not terribly expensive, plus it was non-hormone fed.

Aside: Why would one give hormones to a lamb anyway? Isn't the point to keep them small and, er, tasty?

Regardless, the lamb was there, and tasty-looking, and not terribly expensive, and I got some, and decided to make it. And boy howdy, what a decision.

Really, really good. As in, "Good Lord, that was good."

My mom and dad have, of late, insisted I need to attend the Culinary Institute. My problem is that I do not in any way want to become an actual chef, inasmuch as chef hours may be the only hours on the planet worse than stage manager hours. Still, maybe I'll write a cookbook. Or something.

In the meantime, though, I'm going to lick the leftover mint pesto off my fingers and dream about a gas range. A girl's gotta have ambition, after all, and mine is Viking.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

yeah, right, lisa. a wonderful, magical animal.

slight disconnect

What I need:

A better way of cleaning laminate flooring than a Swiffer.

A chest of drawers that actually holds all my clothes.

A way to prevent sticky dust from settling on every exposed surface (OK, this one may not actually be possible in our particular universe).

"Dripless" candles that are really, truly, dripless, so as not to destroy my silver candlesticks.

Cheap gasoline (well, this one might be modulating somewhat back into the realm of feasible).

A computer that does not crash whenever I try to open a .PDF without closing all other applications first.

Professional window-washers to clean the inside and outside of the skylight.

What I want:

Friday, September 01, 2006