Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bowl a beans

Recently I had a hankering to make a pot of beans, which is interesting considering the last time I made a pot of beans was about 3 and half years ago and they were pretty underwhelming. Bland, a little hard despite hours of simmering (in hindsight I realized they were probably really old), and gave OMF and I wind as recall. That last attempt left me feeling like canned beans were plenty good enough until this week when I made beans so good I wonder if canned beans will ever suffice again.

Now here's the deal... a lot of time cooking at home I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl. Usually, I only use a recipe when guests come over. For the most part when I set out to cook I just sorta do what seems to make sense or emulate something I've had somewhere else as best I can. When I get stuck I turn to the internet or a very few trusted cook books. With that caveat in mind here's the beans.

Day one whole:

The night before I took an ample bag a beans, about 4 cups and soaked them in water 'til morning.

The next day I put the beans in a crockpot with:
1 white onion quartered
2 large poblano peppers chopped in big chunks
1 large carrot broken into four pieces
4-5 cloves of garlic smashed but intact
1 large bundle of oregano
2 bay leaves

Once everything was in the pot I covered the whole mess with about 3 inches of water and turned the crockpot to high. As a helpful side note it's best to put the oregano on top to make it easy to extract later. After 45 minutes on high I turned the heat to low and went to work. Several hours later I returned to a delicious smelling house and a perfectly cooked pot of beans. After fishing out the carrot stumps, oregano, bay leaves, and as much of the garlic as I could find I began adding salt. This is key. Always add the salt at the end. Because this recipe is largely crafted according to eyeball I just added the salt until it tasted good. In the end I added 2 tablespoons.

Boom there ya go round one is complete! Eat your beans with a taco or all on their own. Delish!

Day two refried:

Feeling full of myself having successfully made delicious whole beans the next logical step was a stab at refritos.

In a cast iron skillet set to medium high heat put in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and one medium onion chopped. Cook 'til the onion becomes slightly translucent.

Add two cloves of garlic minced, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and a dash of cayenne. Continue to cook for about a minute.

Add your leftover beans with about half of their cooking juices reserving leftover liquid to reconstitute the beans with if they get too dry. Cook stirring often until the juice reduces and the beans form a thick paste.

Look at that, you're done again! Enjoy your beans with tortillas and an avocado or cheese and chips. Whatever suits you.

I know it sounds like this all has been a lot of work but really it's nothing. Day one took about 10 minutes to get started and day two wasn't much different than sauteing a pork chop or heating a can of soup. The difference in taste is huge.

Next time I think I'll use bacon instead of olive oil in the refritos just to get fancy.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

The view from London: Drinking

Whilst in Londontown I enjoyed a drink or twos or fews.

Like this refreshing Pimm's cup.

And Oxford Gold Ale one of my favorites of the trip.

Let us not forget Jacques! Or BJ for Brits according to Lisa.

These guys were tasty... I believe we had them the same night as a lovely crisp Champagne that Skipper brought over from Berlin to celebrate Davide and Karin's pending nuptials.

See, smell, taste!

Afternoon break at The Globe pub a little spot near Covent Garden which has been visited by many, many celebs such as... Hillary Clinton.

Finally, Golden Glory. Yum!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Finished with fairs

I'm finished with fairs!!! With this delight comes a desire to decompress and not think about the non-stop art barrage I've taken in just yet. Too much to consume. I will, however, share various musings that I've found this evening that hit the target pretty well so far.

First there's Paddy's comments at AFC which have given me one of many hearty laughs today.

Then this wonderful piece from today's New York Times, discussing a Frieze project booth by Stephanie Syjuco. Syjuco's “Copystand: An Autonomous Manufacturing Zone,” was one of my absolutely favorite things in the fair. Over the course of my two visits I delighted in watching the contributions change and grow with some recent works going home with collectors while new ones were being constructed throughout the day. Very smart, site specific work!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On the go

So I've been in London now for two full days - three really if you count the day I arrived - and have spent most of the last 48 hours at the Tate. Now I'm on my way to Frieze and to try to grab a seat at the Baldessari lecture at 2:30! My little brain is so full of everything I saw yesterday I don't even know where to begin so I will leave you with one of my all time favorites....

Meat Joy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I have a present

Back when I was still an undergrad at UC Davis I was in a class with an artist who typically made pretty good work with the exception of one particular crit where she was stuck. We'll call her Jane for the purpose of anonymity. Jane painted a large pink painting that wasn't really going anywhere. She worked on it and worked on it with no luck until giving up on the painting itself. Instead of resolving the composition Jane, cut a hole in the dead center of the work and shoved a giant black dildo in it.

When the work was critiqued in class, Lucy, our professor said something along the lines of, "you know, it's a common misconception in art that when a piece is failing, you can just shove a dildo in it and make it work. I don't want to say that will never work, but I've never seen it."

To this I thought what?!?!?! Sticking dildos in bad work is the Hail Mary Pass of art school? Folks do this a fair amount? Well yea. The last time I witnessed the old dildo move was at Sac State's Art Ball. And of course there was the Room of A 1000 Dildos in Reno.

This past summer Lisa and I explained the dildo move to Biggert and by the end of install "stick a dildo in it" became a reliable inside joke. Which brings me to yesterday.

I phoned Biggert to see when he's stopping by the gallery and he says "I have a present for you." Really? "Oh yea, I'll see you in 45min." Hmmmm

When Biggert arrived he came bearing a valise containing about 6 or so dildos and three half full bottles of lube. There would have been 8 but Biggert kept the two smallest ones.  

Now that I possess this box of magic the world is my oyster! I am now destined to make the best art in the world! Or at the very least possess a big old box of dildos.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Joseph Beuys = Funny

Buttocklifting, sign, baked enamel on convex metal sheet, 20 x 30 x 1 cm., edition 80 plus XX, signed and numbered, plus 25 unnumbered, 1974

So in addition to stuffing my face last week I got some art viewing in too. It's rather embarrassing to admit but I thought I was gonna get a chance to see Robert Frank's, Americans at the MOCA except(!) I had the location wrong in my twitty over committed little head and thought it was at the LACMA. That's just for starters... on top of that I didn't notice that the MOCA isn't even open on Tue or Wed so even if I had the location right I wouldn't have been seeing anything. That's what happens sometimes.

In a lemons to lemonade moment we decided to purchase tickets at LACMA and see what there was to see.

It was delightful..... 

On the first floor of the contemporary wing is an installation of Richard Serra's torqued ellipses, something I've been wanting to see for years. I almost had the chance to catch them in 2004 at the Bilbao Guggenheim but a train strike prevented me from being able to make the journey from Madrid. Ever since then I've wondered what my reaction would be when finally getting to see them.

They were wonderful. Disorienting, enveloping, and quiet. Of the two Band was perhaps my favorite in a where-am-I-going(?)where-will-I-end-up(?) sort of way.

The upstairs was split between Beuys' multiples on one side and a group show consisting of John Baldessari, Andy Warhol, and Jeff Koons on the other which sounds like a crazy juxtaposition but it worked. 

While I've seen multiple Beuys exhibitions and have researched his performative works to a decent extent it wasn't until seeing the current exhibition at LACMA that I was really struck by Beuys' humor. In the past I've always been so wrapped up in the myth of Beuys while observing rather austere installations that I missed the artist's playfulness. Many of the multiples exist as little gestures, studies, or thoughts as is the case in one chamber of the exhibition displaying floor to ceiling drawings, prints, and photographs depicting animals (mostly rabbits) hung salon style. 

In another room was perhaps my favorite piece in the show titled A Political Party for Animals, consisting of a framed sheet of sugar packet proofs depicting different members of the animal kingdom. In viewing it I was immediately taken by the dichotomy between the absurd and the poignant at the thought of these little storybook representations of animals recontextualized into a sort of wildlife proletariat. I was also struck by the notion of this innocuous page of sugar packet proofs being elevated to the level of high art. 

The segue from Beuys to Warhol, Baldessari, and Koons on the opposite side of the building was a bit jarring. One of the breezeways that connect the two exhibitions featured photographs of Beuys and Warhol together to help ease the transition.

After leaving the quiet Richard Serra pieces, and the hyper intellectual work of Beuys, finding yourself in the over stimulating world of the other three artists felt saccharine but not in a necessarily bad way. The bright immediate works from the permanent collection felt like a sweet dessert, a place where one can relax in a sea of loud colors and recognizable/understandable imagery.

I have to admit I was really heartbroken about being a big dummy and missing Robert Frank, although really with my recent schedule I don't know how I would have made it work... On the bright side I was treated to three beautiful, well installed shows I wasn't expecting to see and felt pretty dang giddy in the end.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ted Plank... pork model

Los Angeles is a culinary wonderland. I love to visit LA for a whole lot of reasons but after art the next on the list is absolutely grubbin' down.

Earlier this week I headed down there with Ms. Nice-Plank-Everett to return some artwerk, see some artwork and then promptly fly home. I was in town for about a minute and yet we still made time for three stupendous meals. 

The first was at a restaurant called Chuen Hing in Monterey Park. I read about Chuen Hing in a copy of Gourmet magazine I found in an RV park while on vacation this past summer. As the multiple happy yelp reviews about the place will tell you the food is no nonsense Chiu Chow cuisine. 

Of the handful of dishes we sampled my favorites were the beef brisket noodle and the ginger green beans which were fantastic. Spicy, citrusy, and creamy. We were also treated to a smoky, oily, pepper sauce the chef brings over from Hong Kong. 


The next morning we started the day right with some tasty Oinkster!!!! That's right Oinkster!!!!! As the name implies Oinkster has pork;

yummy, yummy pork,

and fantastic chicken salad with bread and butter pickles,

and finally pastrami served with this amazing mustard that I could eat on almost anything. 

Oinkster was a serious pig out session (pun intended) and something I probably shouldn't indulge in more than a couple times a year unless I'm looking for more ass than I already have... and I have plenty.

In the interest of saving the best for last I will say that none of this compares to the meal I had at the Allston Yacht Club in Echo Park. Imagine if you will someone compiling a menu out of the best small plates from the Waterboy and Mulvaney's, with no menu item falling much above $8 each. Match this with an equally yummy and affordable wine list and I have three words to say, dream-come-true.

The three of us ordered an array of dishes to share with each one coming out at random times in a style similar to tapas.

There were a lot of favs like this brandade with roasted tomatoes which was like a puree of the most heavenly scalloped potatoes you ever tasted with a hint of salty cod interspersed throughout. This mixture of potatoes, salt cod, and cream sat atop a layer of roasted tomatoes which were alternately sweet and smoky.

Not pictured but equally show stopping were the scorched shisito peppers with ponzu and bonito flakes. The intense saltiness of the ponzu matched well with the sharp bite of the peppers rounded out by the earthiness of the bonito. We almost ordered two of these before we realized just how much food was yet to come.

The hits kept on coming with light cheesy arancinis with fresh basil, duck confit in a papaya sauce, orange fennel salad with arugula, and chicken skewers with fresh lime as seen here with Ted Plank. 

Though all of these morsels were positively scrumptious the pork belly was the star of the show. 

At this point in my life I can say I've enjoyed a fair bite or two of pork belly in my day. Perhaps not enough to grow a dress size but certainly enough to know a well prepared piece when it's served to me. Because of the innate fattiness of this particular cut of meat it's easy to get wrong either with over or undercooking. 

This belly was just right, served with beans cooked just to al dente letting you know they're made fresh, crispy pieces of apple, and drizzled with pan juices. Yum!

At the end we split a creamy panacotta and a chocolate mousse while chef Dave came out to kick it with us. I ordered a Lillet cocktail as a digestif whose sparkling, light orange flavor made a perfect counterpoint to both. Finishing a meal with a sparkling cocktail has been my new favorite thing. Maybe as the weather cools down more I'll settle back into something more astringent like a nice Fernet or a brandy but for the time being I'm digging this sparkling wine kick I'm on.

If the AYC were in Sac I'd eat there all the time. As it is I'll most definitely want to go back next time I'm in town. Granted it was a Tuesday night when we were there so things were a tad slow but with that menu at those prices there's no reason this place shouldn't be packed every night of the week.