All I talk about is food

Watched the World Cup final today–despite so many more knowledgeable folks talking about how ugly and poorly-played a game it was, the tension was almost unbearable and made it riveting, at least for me, to watch. Congrats Spain, Holland, and Germany, although I would have liked to see Uruguay win the consolation match on Saturday.

Rewind a little to Friday. I drove to St. Louis after getting off work, and Suraj and I got Persian food at Cafe Natasha on Grand. Wonderful food, and I think  I would have been happy with anything I considered ordering–there was a lot to choose from. I ended up getting the shami platter with lentil and raisin rice, which was a fantastic combination that was tied together bythe tanginess of the dill-cucumber yogurt sauce (similar, to me, to tzatziki, although this was thinner). Their Persian ice cream was delightful (and a massive portion, a whole sundae glass) as well, flavored with pistachios, saffron, and rose water. Veg-friendly, and I think some dishes can be prepared vegan upon request.

On our way to an office get-together Saturday, we stumbled upon a Korean bakery over in Chesterfield. We picked up a few things, including a red-bean-paste-filled pastry with walnuts, a soft “baguette” made with sweetened condensed milk, raisins, and walnuts, and some almond cookies.

Hopefully more to come this week as I refine my plans for Chicago this weekend (PAVEMENT PAVEMENT PAVEMENT). I need to talk about more than just the food I eat.

All manner of crazy crap

So many things are happeniiiiiiiing




Don’t worry, none of them are jobs.

I meant to write a post all last week about the previous weekend, but me being myself, that never happened. So instead of breaking this up the way I probably should (into two posts, this one and one that will post tomorrow or Thursday), I will just condense everything since I feel like doing this right now.

The highlight of the weekend before last was spending all day Saturday in Amsterdam Tavern, a football (admit it, soccer sounds really stupid) bar in St. Louis off of Morganford. Suraj and I got breakfast and some other goodies at the Tower Grove farmers’ market, which I had to keep cold with ice from our table’s buckets of beer for the rest of the afternoon. Everything was fine (lamb patties and bratwurst for him, herbed goat cheese for both of us), but it was a hell of an afternoon, standing on our feet for about five hours (we sat there for a few hours before they took the chairs, while South Korea and Uruguay played) before and during the US v. Ghana match. I’ve been so excited about the 2010 World Cup and have enjoyed the overall atmosphere and game-watching so much that I guess I’ll have to start watching at least Premier League from now on.

Since Amsterdam wasn’t serving food either of us could eat, I picked up lunch (and dinner) from Local Harvest Cafe (across the street from the mutually-owned Local Harvest Grocery). It was the first time we’d eaten there, and I would highly recommend it for a mixed company of herbivores and omnivores alike. Delicious, massive sandwiches, plenty of options and substitutions, baked goods, the works. If you like the Mediterranean Veggie sandwich at Panera/St. Louis Bread Co., Local Harvest’s Mediterranean will knock you out–it is a monster of a sandwich with a glorious amount of fresh and often local veggies, azeefa, and balsamic vinegar. On the day in question, St. Louis Pride’s pet parade was about to start, so Local Harvest was also selling homemade, no-artificial-sweeteners snowcones, too, that were fantastically refreshing.

More flower shop work during the week, including hanging up willow wreaths on the walls and driving out in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Springfield to make deliveries.

Suraj was in Canada for this past weekend and was generous enough to donate his Cardinals-Brewers tickets to me for Friday night. My friend Daniel and I ended up going together, as Suraj had instructed me that I might as well never show my face round ‘these parts again if I did not return with Friday night’s giveaway–a Brockabrella. I made sure to leave it for him at the weekend’s end with one of his other birthday gifts. Saturday I decided I was going to finally see if REI had any Vibram FiveFingers that I could try on and pick up groceries while I was out to make party food for Daniel and Jimmy’s housewarming party. The lady working in the shoes section told me that they had, in fact, just received a shipment the day before (these shoes are in high demand and low supply right now, very similar to the Wii a few years ago), and they had a pretty full stock of women’s sizes. You actually measure your food in inches to determine your shoe size because you want them to fit as snugly as possible since they’re meant to be worn without socks. I ended up purchasing a pair of black KSOs after being assured of REI’s 100% lifetime guarantee (“If you wear them every day for a month and decide you hate them, we will fully refund you,” the shoe lady informed me).

The party was fantastic and the pasta I made was a hit, which I didn’t expect at all. Seeing people I knew was fantastic, and it was great to meet so many other wonderful friends of theirs. Expanding St. Louis-area social netwooooooork, yeah

I booked it home Sunday so that I would have enough time to make some vegan bean burgers for a 4th of July party hosted by one of the other members of the writers’ group I attend weekly, which also got devoured. In retrospect, I should have cooked them a little longer and added a little more seasoning, but they did taste delicious. All in all, the weekend was full of culinary affirmation and delightful conversation with deeply interesting people.

This week: more werk, St. Louis to commemorate Suraj’s birthday on the weekend. More to come on my opinion of the FiveFingers shoes. I’ll post my tweaked recipes sometime this week also, for those of you who are interested. AND PAVEMENT IS ONLY TWO WEEKS AWAY

What the deal is

I’ve had to go to bed early (10:30p, no joke) for work recently, so I haven’t had much time to sit down and write about what’s going on.

Went to St. Louis last weekend for Suraj’s parents’ annual puja at their house. As is my habit, I went to the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market Saturday morning while Suraj was helping his parents to get ready. My boss at the flower shop asked if we (me and the designer) if we would take home some merchandise to get kids to test it out so we could take pictures of them. I’m not sure she realized how awkward that had the potential to be (“Hi, can I take pictures of your children? I work at a flower shop”), but dedicated employee that I am, I brought the merchandise to the market to provide parents with far too much information about the shop and ask if maybe please if you’re okay with it can I please take some photos that we may potentially use for advertising of your kid riding this bike around please? Surprisingly, I was moderately successful (moderately I think only because I had a limited amount of time before I had to head back to meet up with Suraj and go pick up the food for the puja). I also picked up some bulgur wheat at the market and a mocha macaroon <3.

The puja went well, and Suraj’s mom gave me more awesome clothes she was getting rid off. We capped (or topkilled, if you prefer) the night with some O’Fallon Gold and hit the hay since we were both pretty tired.

But Sunday! Sunday, we decided to get brunch buffet at St. Louis’s Shangri-La Diner, which hands-down the best homestyle diner food I’ve ever eaten. Of course, the best part is that it’s all vegetarian/vegan. Suraj took me to dinner there several weeks ago, which entailed veg meatloaf (seitan) and vegan gyros, homemade strawberry limeade (much better than the shit you get at Sonic), and chilled strawberry soup. The buffet this week consisted of veg hash browns, scrambled eggs with cheddar and veg facon, tofu and seitan scramble, fresh fruit, and homemade berry compote with fresh brioche bread french toast.

Working at the flower shop has been extremely busy this week between a large order for an event out at the Crowne Plaza on Wednesday morning and the USTA meet at the convention center all week. In the down time between people buying things from our booth, I’m either reading or making origami, and have found kids utterly fascinated by the latter.

In going to the gym after work yesterday evening, I also found out that I can easily read on an exercise bike. It was nice to spend an uninterrupted hour reading, so Dune has officially been completed. An interesting and enjoyable sci-fi classic, although I had several issues with Herbert’s prose and a couple of judgment calls/assertions throughout. Also a terrible fucking way to end a book. I’m still reading Snow and picked up The Omnivore’s Dilemma again seriously. It helps me to be reading about three books at one time–one literary, one intensely captivating, and one nonfiction. That way, when the literary one gets too intense/depressing (and let’s be real, all literary fiction is depressing), I can switch to the captivating “trashy” one (arguably, Dune is not very trashy unless you talk to a literary scholar), and when I need a break from both to satisfy my need to learn something new by reading the nonfiction. I might post a poll or something on here so someone else can decide what I should read next–I have too many books and often get overwhelmed by what to start.

Two more days of work this week. I’d like to tweak the energy bar recipe I use to include some dried cranberries, but we’ll see if I even have the energy to start.

Coffee Chronicles #1

Today I’m writing from Hartford Coffee Company…

Friends Party; or, old recap posts part the final

Finally, we’re up to this past weekend, which was Friends Party-

Jingle jangle

I’ve been a little too quiet for a while. Still looking for work, still not finding anything. Still trying to write things, still not coming up with much.

In recent news:

Remember when Weezer was good? Maladroit. Wow.

I spent much of last week running errands that needed doing (in addition to getting out  my first Drawing Coffee Original!)—everything from getting the defroster inspected in my car to getting my teeth cleaned.

I feel kind of suspended in a large Pyrex dish of Jell-O recently. The last month has been one big illusion, as if I was on winter break like most other people I know and now I should be back at school (spring semester classes at U of I began today). I’m not returning to my job, my relationships, my columnist position, my classes, my whole routine and lifestyle. I’m just kind of suspended at the moment while everything under my feet continues to move.

In other news, the MLK Day weekend was enjoyable. Suraj had Monday off from work, so I drove down to St. Louis to hang with him. I left Springfield in the early afternoon to meet another friend at the art museum and catch up post-break. My Google Maps directions sucked (as per usual; I typically do not trust these things, but I forgot to talk to someone in advance/scope out my atlas to get a better idea–plus I have not always been the best with maps in my brief  lifetime), but I managed to get there without too much trouble. I was disappointed that the recent Japanese screens exhibit had already closed (Jan. 3), but we at least got to wander through the “period rooms” and check out Mother and Father Worked Hard So I Can Play before heading out to get coffee. Kayak’s is on Skinker, headed sort of towards Wash U. It’s not the world’s greatest coffee shop (I haven’t yet had a chance to think about the origins of the coffee they serve and it is kind of chain-y), but my latte tasted pretty good, I didn’t get a parking ticket for letting my jerk-off one-hour-only parking meter expire, and their loaded baked potato soup made for a tasty snack to tide me over until dinner with Suraj and his family.

While at Kayak’s, I also picked up the  most recent edition of the Riverfront Times (similar to Springfield’s independent news publication, the Illinois Times, but bigger and with kinky ads in the back) and a postcard ad for the third annual St. Louis Naughti Gras, an erotic art and music event. If you are 18+ and in the St. Louis area February 5 and 6, consider checking it out.

I lost track of time and stop-started through St. Louis rush hour traffic to dinner with Suraj and his family since his parents were getting ready to leave for Hawai’i the next morning. We had intended on seeing Sherlock Holmes with his brother, but ended up staying home because Suraj was tired. Instead, we had a mutual friend over for some Savage Lovecast, Settlers of Catan, and wine (Georges DuBoeuf’s 2009 Beaujolais NouveauBogle’s 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel, and a 2003 Jacob’s Creek Shiraz that was definitely not what we should have ended the night with because the flavor was kind of whoa).

Saturday was tasty homemade breakfast (oatmeal and eggs) before undertaking our mission to find Suraj some bookshelves for his condo. We went to Marshalls first so I could look for some running tights (which I found!), and I was lucky enough to also find a perfume I have been looking for for some time. We met up with a friend of Suraj’s who was in town from Chicago for a baby shower and out shopping as well. We ended up finding some great shelves on clearance at World Market off Watson Road, carted them home, and then set out for sushi at the Wasabi in Clayton before hitting up some FroYo (a St. Louis version of CocoMero) and heading for Suraj’s brother’s apartment for his roommate’s birthday party. We stayed there for a while, then met up with a mutual friend from our UIS days to visit some bars, talk, and dance.

Sunday involved us searching for shelf supports for the new bookshelves (partially successful), Barnes & Noble (I can’t decide whether to blow most of my gift card on a comprehensive vegetarian cookbook or on lots of other literary books), making garlic and roasted veggie ravioli, playing video games and enjoying some Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Doc Superiore. Monday was lunch at Pi (the best pizza of your life) and then to the Galleria for Lushcapades (they have a great $25 combo pack right now, so if you want a lot of things for a great price and have been thinking about trying out Lush’s stuff, do it). I headed home and haven’t done a whole lot since.

Bedtime is rapidly approaching, and I need to get a lot done tomorrow. I also just remembered I need to wash out my french press. An update about writing, professor hang-outs, Urbana, and a new column all on the way. In the meantime, listen through a bunch of archived Savage Lovecasts (like I am doing—this is like my webcomics obsession playing out on a podcast level). And if my saying webcomics piqued your interest, read/buy this beautiful work. And finally, if you want to read/listen to something depressing, Laredo, TX  lost its last bookstore.

Return flight

Said goodbye to my family in Denton and flew back to St. Louis on Saturday. I tried to bundle up as much as possible (although it was equally as cold in Dallas as St. Louis, which is really unusual)–I went so far as to actually wear two scarves, one to keep my neck warm and one to wrap around the bottom half of my face.

I bought tickets during the fall to go see Eddie Izzard at the Fox Theatre during his encore shows for the Stripped tour (Stripped, Too: The Big Intimacy Tour). I saw him in 2008 when he had just begun touring this show, which finished tidily in just two hours. This show was almost three, and though I loved the first show, this was really what I expected out of an Eddie show–the excruciatingly long mimed scenes, calculated verbal stumbling and weird insights, bad wordplay (“I guess badgers CAN be choosers”), quotable lines (“Quod the fuck”), interaction with the audience, everything. It was both interesting and impressive to see how the show and its material had evolved over the course of the last almost two years. Plus, the Fox really was Fabulous. What a great location, and we had great seats and a great view. If you’ve never heard of Eddie before, be sure to look him up. If you like him, really make the effort to see him live, because it’s absolutely worth it.

All this, plus dinner at Sen Thai in downtown St. Louis. Great food, great service. Try the tempura udon. Honestly, try everything.

Drove back to Springfield on Sunday, and here I am. I managed to get everything out of my suitcases tonight (something which usually took me two weeks to get to at school). I’ve also been setting up my new computer, which arrived while I was still in Texas. All the hardware features I wanted for a nice price, but I’m finding some design flaws rather frustrating. More on that when I can upload some photos. In the meantime, I’m installing software on it while letting it charge in the freezer/downstairs of my house.

To-do list to come. I’ve got to get on a routine before I go crazy. For now, enjoy this, which I am hopefully making when I can buy some peanuts.

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