Thursday, May 31, 2012

coyote running - sullivan ridge

joined up w/the socal coyotes this morning for a trail run at sullivan ridge, which is an altogether different trail from the rocky road i took on my own. it starts out the same by taking the paved road down and taking a right for about one-half of a mile, but you take a hard left up single track, which shoots you up to a fire road up top that keeps going up and up.

because i was unfamiliar with the route, i made sure i stayed close to other runners, and ended up making a few new friends in the process. there's a giant tree 2.7M (5.4M roundtrip) in, which some peeps use as a turnaround, but i went up an extra half mile more before turning back. all in all, i tallied 6.5M, kept a decent pace and got back to my car at 7:35am.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ink.sack - lunch

spent all of monday relaxing and enjoying the great socal weather (yawn). watched the endearing MOONRISE KINGDOM in the AM, then finally hit up michael voltaggio's sandwich spot ink.sack, located just two doors down from ink. it's a small joint with a few tables but no chairs, with the entire menu handwritten in chalk on blackboards behind the register.

the sandwiches aren't especially large, so it allows the opportunity to order more than one to sample the creative offerings. we ordered the following in succession:

* the josé andrés - serrano, chorizo, lomo, manchego
* banh mi - pork butt, pork belly, chiccharrones (pork rinds), pickled vegetables
* reuben - corned beef tongue, appenzeller, kraut, russian dressing

the thing that stuck out is that each sandwich tasted completely different from the other, no small feat. the banh mi had the same distinct flavor of the same vietnamese-style sandwiches i've had in garden grove and westminster. the josé andrés - in honor of the spanish chef michael worked under at the bazaar - had a mediterranean profile that tasted eerily similar to the spherical olives we had at andrés' restaurant jaléo. and the reuben was warm, old-fashioned goodness brought to life with a twist on the conventional ingredients.

8360 melrose ave.
unit #107
los angeles, CA 90069

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

santa barbara - day trip

woke up sunday morning no worse for wear, so we decided to take an impromptu road trip to santa barbara for the day! besides, ernie was clamoring to get out of the house, so we took him along and it the road...

picked up an amazing almond croissant as well as some macarons at renaud's patisserie, before stopping by for brunch at the charming scarlett begonia - heidi had the brioche french toast and i the curry chicken salad w/blueberry walnut sourdough - on state street.

we did a bit of shopping to burn off our meal, then opted to head about ten blocks down to the beach, where i had never been. it reminded me a bit of the santa monica pier, but with a nicer backdrop and with less transients.

strolling the pier
awaiting a beer at union ale

we opted to stick around and have dinner as well, so we hit up le petit valentien - we tried going once last year and it was closed due to a holiday - and settled into a wonderful prix fixe menu that consisted of: frisée w/potatoes lyonnaise, opah w/watermelon two ways, duck leg w/lentils & apricots, and finally peanut butter truffles w/concord grape jam.

chimay blue
stay out!
cuddling up to ben franklin
getting frisky w/the window washer

since we were right next to andersen's danish bakery and they were still open, we stopped in for a few marzipan treats to go: a slice of their delectable butter ring and a small box of pretty petit fours. what a great day... and we still had all day monday off!

Monday, May 28, 2012

mount baldy - manker flats loop

six of us - vim, cheryl, jimmy, tara, heidi and i - converged on my place at 6:45am saturday to make the trek to mount san antonio, affectionately known as mount baldy. it was my 2nd trip to the peak - the first was in july 2010 - so i was looking forward to revisiting the strenuous climb.

we arrived at the manker flats campground shortly after 8am to temps in the low 40s, but between deciding on what to wear and hitting the bathroom one last time, we ended up departing the trailhead closer to 9am.

loading up the camelbak
the gang at san antonio falls

since vim and i had done the trail once before, it was amusing to hear the incredulous tone in everyone else's voice when told that the ski hut trail we were taking was, in fact, a tiny sliver carved into the steep side of the mountain, and not the wide fire road we were just on.

tara sneaking thru
cheryl & vim amidst the fog
kenji the dog!
at the ski hut (8,200ft)

most of the trail the entire way up was shrouded in fog, which was not only neat visually, but can you imagine making your way up in 80+ degree weather?

we made it to the ridge (9,000ft) at around 11:30am, which meant we still had a little more work to do to make it to the top.

weather finally breaking
almost there!
snow still prevalent
base of final ascent

the encouraging thing for me was that the elevation didn't seem to hinder my breathing, and i felt like i could power up the hill at any time. it showed that i was definitely in better shape now than i was two years prior, when just getting up the trail was quite the chore. seeing the end in sight, i gave my camera up to heidi and decided to sprint the remaining portion.

adios muchachos
one last surge
baldy, appropriately named
we made it!

heidi and i arrived first at 1pm, followed by tara & jimmy just a few minutes later. they mentioned they had waited for vim & cheryl for close to 15 minutes, but they were nowhere to be seen. we decided to break for lunch with quite the eclectic menu - tara brought trout, jimmy had some spam musubi, and heidi & i split a godmother from bay cities deli, with a whoopie pie from susiecakes for dessert for good measure.

while we were enjoying our feast, cheryl & vim finally appeared, so we all hunkered down in a circular bunker to take refuge from the cold and swirling winds.

above the clouds
enjoying the view
trying to stay warm
devil's backbone

we pushed off close to 2pm and came down via the devil's backbone trail, which is a slightly longer (6.8M) yet less steep descent back to manker flats. both the ski hut trail and the devil's backbone trail cover 4,000ft in elevation - only the former does it in 4.2M.

one last glance
on our way down
fog creepin
always somebody...

despite the ever-increasing fog, we made good time heading down and managed to stumble upon the baldy lodge at around 4:15pm.

posing on the ski lift
yes please
tastes great

a mulled wine, an IPA and one hot chocolate later, we were basking in what we had accomplished so far. 3.5 easy downhill miles to go and we were home free. lo and behold, cheryl & vim arrived just as we were leaving, so we kicked it for a few more minutes before opting to head out. they decided to take the ski lift ($10) the rest of the way down, so we bid adieu to our warm surroundings and braved the cold one last time...

tara, jimmy, heidi & i made it back to the car just shy of 6pm, amidst a bounty of high fives. it was the first hike to 10k that either one of them completed, so it was great to see the excitement on their faces for accomplishing such a feat. sufficiently juiced, our next target is mount san gorgonio, the tallest peak in southern california at 11,503ft...

Friday, May 25, 2012

memorial day weekend plans

this weekend i've set out to do two things: hike mount baldy and hit up sprinkles' new ice cream shop that just opened yesterday.

a small group of 6 of us plan to ascend baldy (technically mount san antonio) on saturday by way of the baldy bowl/ski hut trail - a relentless 4.2M incline gaining 3,900ft in elevation - and descend via the devil's backbone/baldy notch trail, a more leisurely 6.8M retreat back to the car. i did this same loop in 7 hours nearly two years ago, so i'm looking forward to a return trip, although temps are supposed to be cold and windy.

all you need to know about sprinkles' new ice cream shop is that they have red velvet waffle cones. thank you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

drinks - far bar

on wednesday night, i met up with my friend olivia, who works for macy's out of their pasadena office. but because she lives in los feliz, we decided to meet somewhere halfway, which ended up being in little tokyo! surprisingly, traffic was a breeze from santa monica, so i got there in less than 40 minutes, which is unheard of.

we decided on far bar, which is this charming, mostly outdoor narrow corridor with a beautiful string of lights hanging above.

they happened to have live music playing as well, so i'll most definitely be making a return trip.

they had a surprisingly eclectic set of taps - including japan's hitachino white and new belgium's tart lychee - and a decent selection of food. i settled upon two beers from utah's epic brewing company: their hopulent IPA (8.6%) on nitro, no less, and their smoked & oaked belgian (8.8%) - both of which hit the spot.

as an added bonus, laura dern and dermot mulroney were seated at the very table next to us, so it appeared that they were shooting an episode of HBO's "enlightened" nearby...

far bar
347 e. 1st st.
los angeles, CA 90012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

beer belly - 1 year anniversary

last sunday was none other than beer belly's 1st anniversary, so a visit after laughing our @$$es off at "the dictator" was definitely in the cards. they do a fabulous job of maintaining a revolving and interesting set of taps - favoring california's finest craft beer, including the bruery, stone, craftsman, etc. - alongside a creative food menu balancing the savory and sweet (snickers pancakes anybody?).

i'll take left for $500 alex
braving the long lines

since i drove, i had to somewhat pull the reins back, so i started with eagle rock's red velvet (10% abv, imperial witbier), shifted to the bruery's marron acidifié (8.5%, imperial oud bruin) and capped it off with the cismontane dos cones (11%, double IPA).

red velvet (in beer form)
brussels sprouts w/bacon

beer belly
532 s. western ave.
los angeles, CA 90020

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

tea lover's festival - battle of the bakers

saturday afternoon i was lucky enough to attend a special event at the tea lover's festival, a month-long festival in los angeles dedicated to the aromatic beverage. the battle of the bakers pitted two master chefs - kristy choo of venice's jin patisserie and robert wemischner, who wrote the book cooking with tea - in a friendly competition for the best tea-infused desserts covering three separate challenges.

chefs robert & kristy
the high profile throwdown took place at the hip café/art space royal T in culver city and cost $45 a head for the general public. i was a guest of kristy's, but it turned out to be an event i would have been more than happy to shell out for. each chef was responsible for crafting three desserts to pair with three different teas - japanese matcha, jasmine and the smoky lapsang souchong - and were graded by the public on overall deliciousness. afterwards, the scores were tallied up at the conclusion to determine the winner.

matcha/rhubarb parfait
a 10 for the jasmine brulée
choc cake w/sesame cracker
choc mousse w/candied hazelnuts

both chefs turned out delectable desserts in a scant 30-minute window, but i thought kristy's trio - highlighted by her orgasmic jasmine tea brulée sandwich - honored the flavor of each tea the best. nevertheless, robert won out by the narrowest of margins - although the real winners were all of us who got to sample such incredible food.

afterwards, i helped them pack up and take all the equipment back to jin, where i was able to sneak in a few snaps as they were closing...

mural off abbot kinney