Sprouts on a Camp Burger

This year in Truckee on the first afternoon of my annual Donner Lake dads and kids camping trip it rained; hard; grey skies turning black.  Fortunately, it was only a 1/4 mile into town for some sausage pizza.  Glamping?  No.  But coffee runs to Starbucks every morning – yeah, maybe.

Although, even on a glamping trip you need to know what you’re doing, kinda.  Just remember, sprouts do much better than lettuce in warm temperatures.  Especially if your cooler runs out of ice.  Also, when you substitute the young stalks of a bean plant for something considerably more bland, you actually get a better tasting burger.

On the ride home to LA we were kinda pressed for time so I peed in a cup.  Not pulling over to go to the bathroom got us to an important birthday on time.  I will do anything for my kids, except when it comes to gourmet burgers vs. regular hot dogs.




Almond Brittle Pork Belly Family Style

There is a big part of Santa Barbara that is all about family style, and it was good for me.  I went up there last weekend to visit some old family friends that I had not seen in far too long.  At dinner both restaurants we went to recommended that we order a variety of items and share everything.  But family style both gastronomic and otherwise has never been my greatest strength.  Although, for a lot of reasons that is starting to change.  In regard to the actual food on my plate, I have always been a little like Joseph Francis Tribbiani Jr.  Not because I can’t stand for anyone to touch my food, but if I get lucky and order the best thing on the menu I had a hard time sharing.

I spent the week prior to the trip researching Santa Barbara restaurants, and decided to have the pork belly at The Lark.  It was the one menu item at the all restaurants in the area that really stood out: 1) first they cured the pork with a recipe that included chili flake and clove: 2) then they smoked it with apple wood: 3) and for the confit they used duck fat: 4) after that a light-fry with some other fancy ingredients I forgot to write down; 5) then they rolled it in a blackberry sauce, sprinkled on almond brittle, pickled jimmy nardello chile, and chicharron.  Either this thing was going to be a mess or one of the best things you’ve ever tasted.

Of course it turned out to be the best thing on the menu, making it a meal potentially difficult to share.  But this time was different.  Coming into the dinner already somewhat more open to experience life uninhibited for various reasons, when someone suggested the octopus I got on board.  We had the pineapple & habanero glazed Spanish octopus with zucchini,​ fingerling potato, coriander-lime yogurt, pickled carrot, mezcal.  Generally not something I would have order for myself.  But you have to be reasonable when going family style.  Because when you are part of a family that’s what you do.  And the second best part was that the octopus was outstanding.  When it came time for the pork, I no longer felt like I had to eat the whole thing by myself.  I could have, but I wanted to share.

Moby Cat & the Queen Mary

The Queen Mary is a hell of a boat.  She ruled the north Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967.  Last week my buddy (the yachtsman – because well, he has a yacht), and I took the kids for a little stay over on her for a dad’s weekend.  There’s all kinds of things to do on that boat docked off the California coast in Long Beach.  They even have a haunted ship excursion, but the kids were too scared for that.  What they really wanted to see was the lego exhibit.  But the lamb in the dining room at Sir Winston’s was calling.

The boys were on their best behavior, and by boys I mean the yachtsman and myself.  We were setting a good example by not drinking too much.  Just a few cocktails and some water.  But then the sommelier showed-up and ruined everything, for the kids anyway.  He made us drink a full bottle of wine between the two of us.  After that the kids were trapped between the yachtsman and I regaling each other with our maritime adventures.

The next morning we went to the Shipyard room where they have a 600 lb. replica of the QM.  The stewards there play a little game with the kids. They hide a small white Lego cat on a big white part of the Lego ship, and the kids try to find it.  We hunted for the white mammal.  All of us.



Me & My Girl & My Steak & Swan Lake

Okay, I didn’t really have steak.  Obviously, that’s a lamb chop.  But “Me & My Girl & My Lamb Chop & Swan Lake” is not a good title.  And it’s not like lamb chop is a vegetable.  So I think I’m okay here.

This one was from Toscanova, a fine dining establishment in both Century City and Calabasas.

My daughter and I were going to the ballet so we were already dressed-up.  We just needed somewhere kinda fancy to go that actually had good food.  So we went to T. and they delivered.  Not take out, I mean the food was definitely good.

But I had mixed feeling at dinner.  I was kinda sad because at 11 she decided that she is too old to keep going to the Nutcracker during the winter holidays, but I don’t have to go to the Nutcracker anymore.  So that’s a plus.  Don’t get me wrong I love the ballet.  I was a dancer when I was a child.  But you can only see the Nutcracker so many times.

So we saw Swan Lake which was fantastic and she loved it.  But the best part was that she must have thanked me ten times for taking her out that night.  Which also made me kind of sad.  But I’m working on fixing that…

Niseko Meat to Please You

Dumping hard all day. Easy 2 feet since yesterday. This afternoon had heavy snow in Niseko. Only one chair open. Took bus back to Annupuri at 6pm and saw lifts opening for night skiing. Temps dipping. Thought I would try one long chair. Found untapped light velvet with firm wind pack base 2 feet down very manageable. 9 long runs later a light bulb went off and I decided that it does not suck here today.

The cold front is moving in which should lighten it up to Utah on steroids level sickness. Used glove heaters and boot neoprene which kept me warm but not necessary. Bulk of storm is hitting tomorrow and following day.  It could get crazy good so wearing pajamas inside out with a spoon under pillow for dumpitation as Siberian front moves in. Time for Kobe beef.  It’s what’s for dinner.