Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Veritable Quandry

David and his sisters

In just one night, what if someone fell head over heels for you and asked you to be "his girl" in a city you don't even live in?

More to follow...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Airport Blog: Las Vegas McCarran International on a Monday Morning

Simply put: Hell on earth. I'm sleepy, cranky, there's a million people, the airport workers are sleepy, cranky and there is construction near my gate which sounds like they are cutting down the Amazon. Calgon!! Take me away!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Iron Chef Jenn

Dancing up a storm the night before brought some aches and pains in my early morning rise. I sleepily drove out to Orange County – always a pleasurable experience… NOT. I headed out to the Grand California Hotel – one of my faves, I’ve stayed there before and just love the old school, Yosemitesque ambiance. ;)

A few weeks ago and thanks to a Disney e-newletter, I found out about a cooking class in one the premier restaurant at Disney resort and in Orange County, the Napa Rose. What a dream come true for a foodie like me! There was an executive chef (Chef Jeff) and two sous chefs (Chef Francisco “Frank” and Chef Richard) that ran the class. The first thing they taught us is how to properly address them.

“Is that understood?” asked Chef Jeff.

“Yeah,” we mumbled.

“WHAT??!!” he barked!!

“YES Chef!!” the group shouted in unison.

(Oh man, this is gonna be good……)

We made and ate the following: Lobster Martinis, Braised Short Rib with Corn & Potatoe coulis and a sugar cookie crusted-crème-brulee with marinated Raspberries and Passion Fruit sauce. The wine pairings at lunch were impeccable!! Coffee and (most of the) company divine.

Here is a list of cooking tips I personally learned from the class. Some of this you may already know, but a novice like me… well.. it was good stuff:

 It’s important to wash your hands thoroughly before cooking. When you do, sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself, this will ensure the minimum of 20-30 seconds your hands should be scrubbing together.

 When salting, salt from above and use sea or kosher salt. (Salt to close to the meat and it will turn out spotty.)

 I am converting my oil into the 90-10 ratio used at most restaurants: 90% Canola; 10% Olive oil.. the “flash” or burn point is much higher than with pure olive oil.

 When you reduce using wine, it will clean also clean your pans. Nice!

 Speaking of pans, all the pans at the Napa Rose were All-Clad and they were super heavy. When tossing veggies, I had to do a two-hander toss. Consequently, I bought an All-Clad 8 qt sauce man that same afternoon to celebrate my first cooking class. It was on sale at $179 from $310. As I held it in my hand and debated, I thought about it for minute then said, “Fuck it, I deserve it!” and when you taste the soup I will make from it you’ll say it too!!

 Hand-held torches are awesome!! Can’t wait to buy my own!

 Chefs work at least a 12-15 hour day. No can do for me. I love to cook – 4 hrs tops.

 On knives, choose one that feels comfortable in your hand, don’t worry about name brands or price. Sorry, but since my trips to Germany, Henkel will always be my knife maker of choice… both in cooking and in blind rage. ;)

 All-Clad pan, $179; Napa Rose cooking Class $289; Having an Disney Executive Chef personally have a one-on-one 10 minute session just with you and how to handle a knife: PRICELESS.

 Chefs are… kinda sexy. (Did I say that outloud?)

Click here for the complete set of pictures of Napa Rose Cooking Class

Busy Bee Strikes Again!

Wow, what a weekend! Sometimes I tend to plan things by looking at my monthly calendar, seeing an empty slot and sticking an activity in it. Fun things are great by themselves, but in a sequence of several activities... it can get… deadly. (Not really, but sounds more dramatic that way.)

This past weekend was one of those 'crazy' weekends. I flew back from Atlanta last Thursday and was too tired to go dancing that night. Going through Dallas Ft. Worth airport will tend to do that to you!

Friday I visited my grandma in the nursing home and that is almost always emotionally draining on me. That afternoon, Jason came over and we carpooled to my company’s bowl-a-thon fundraiser. It wish I could say it was fun getting my butt kicked by Jason – not only in bowling but in Dance Revolution and the Star Wars Episode I pinball game – but it wasn’t. However I think I held my own during two intense air hockey battles.

I dropped him off at his dinner with friends in Santa Monica and headed straight out to the Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles for their outdoor swinging under the stars. It was less crowded than last year’s outdoor swing and that made it more enjoyable. So many old and new faces, I really had a good time. (Just forgot the camera darn it!!)

Most of Saturday was spent at the Napa Rose cooking school (blogged separately and above). I came home and cleaned for my parents arrival that night. I went to PBDA to meet my friend, "Dr. Joan", visiting from Phoenix. She was my cabinmate at the Frankie Cruise and it's always good to see her! The Swingsations were playing and although it was mostly one beat, they did have some sweet songs I enjoyed very much!

Sunday was interesting…and I don’t know if I can blog it… but I’ll try. Basically it was “Reconnect with old Beaus” day. I had lunch with someone I briefly dated four years ago. Let’s just say… his name was.…Saul. I wasn’t sure what to expect. He asked for meeting to catch up and to get/discuss career advice. I hate to admit it, but I actually missed him. Our personalities are a good match. (He’s a ESJP and I am an ESFJ – if you don’t know what that means, just Google it). I miss the full-on laughter, his sense of humor and, in generally the natural flirtatious interaction. It was nice to see him again. (Saul, if you’re reading this, it was good seeing you again.)

Next, I rushed off to try and catch Barbara Morrison at the Huntington Beach Pier!! What a beautiful, beautiful day it was at the beach. I sort of got lost and called Marc – since he lived in the city anyway, I talked to his voicemail and somehow found my way to the pier. It was super, duper crowded! Parking was a #%^&* !! I was only able to dance the last 3-4 songs she sang… oh, but it was worth it! I love this lady! We took pics and for some reason my eyes scanned the audience and guess who was there sitting with a grin on his face? My heart instantly melted… he still has that affect on me. I went up to Marc, we talked, got out of there and had a nice dinner in his town. God, I miss him. I came home that night very happy and content. (Thanks Marc.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Confessions of Stroke Victim

Time to dig deep and share somethings I don't feel comfortable discussing... until a friend wrote to me about all the recent slew of "Busy Bee" pictures (I'll post soon) that I've been sending out.

My childhood friend Angela wrote:

"Cooking class looks fun! I would like to try that. You know Jenn, if you left this world today, you would leave having lived a very full life. I don't think I know of anyone who does as much "stuff" as you. You love life and you spend every moment squeezing as much fun and as many different types of experiences into it as possible. I think that's wonderful. :-)


I responded:

Thanks Ang. I don't think I told you... and very little people know that I suffered a few "transient schemetic attacks" (a.k.a. mini-strokes) just 3-4 years ago. I went on medical leave for a few months taking a battery of tests to find the cause, they had plenty of theories, allergic reaction to medication, work-related stress, depression, genetics, etc... but nothing conclusive.

When it happens, I lose all feeling and any control of the right side of my body. Sometimes it would send me into violent seizures. There is nothing in my life that I've experience that is more terrifying than those 2-3 minutes when you think... you're going to die.

The last time (knock on wood) it happened was in 2003 was while driving to a client in Washington DC. I started to feel nauseaus all of a sudden, I got vertigo, then my head just slumped back. It took sheer willpower to upright my head and pull my car over to the emergency lane only using the help of my left eye, hand and foot. I could not open my right eyelid for about 15 minutes.

This experience changes someone... at the core of their being.

I take no day for granted. I squander no days to boredom. I take no one for granted, not my family, friends or people I care for or love - even if those feelings are not returned. I don't care anymore. What I do care about is - like you said - if I died today, I can die knowing I did my best to live a full, giving and yes, most times, a boisterous and outlandish life!!


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Back in Atlanta

Am in training. The only thing I've learned so far is that I am an ESFJ - "Extrovert Sensing Feeling Judging" aka "The Caregiver". Basically, I love to be liked and like (almost) all people!! Awww... I think am gonna be sick. I do like the food... but nothing much to say other than am just not motivated by my training and want to go home ASAP!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Airport Blog: Five months in Portland

I thought I'd start a blog series within my blog pages. What the heck, anything goes here, right. I find myself with an hour or so prior to my flight and I feel like blogging random things. So here goes...

Anyway, I can't believe it's been five months flying up to Portland and back. I had a week off due to Jury Duty (oh, remind me to blog that separately...oh vey!) I am looking at my planner. May is gonna be one busy, busy month. I already have plane tickets to seven flights! This month, other than Portland, I'll be hitting Atlanta, Dallas, Las Vegas and Seattle. It's just May 4 and I already feel tired and overwhelmed.

For those in the inner circle, (btw, if you want in on the "inner circle" just call me more often - you're in!) I've often expressed (and with increasing frequency) how "lonely" it gets living in another city. It would be nice to have part-time boyfriend, here, in the City of Roses - after all, I take my name from it. (Random thoughts, remember?)

I've resolved to try a new restaurant every week. Exciting you say? Well, try going to an awesome, new restaurant and requesting a table for one. Cue the spotlight as it follows me to my table a la "The Lonely Guy."

This week, I tried the Spanish tapas bar near my hotel. I sat down at the empty bar and asked Antonio Bandaras (let's just call him that) if I could eat at the bar, he kindly handed me a menu chock full of hot, cold, veggie, carne tapa items.

I opted for the blinis top with Spanish jamon, poched quail egg and salmon roe... del-lish!! Second tapa dish was the chicken liver mousse on a grilled baguette...yum!! I topped it off with a warm espanole tortilla aka egg omlette atop with creme fraise. I complimented my fantastic gourmet fare with an equally fantasitc book: Julia Child's My Life in France. The book caught the eye of a former restaurant employee turned long-overdue customer who asked about the various goodies set before me. We conversed briefly, Antonio interjected that I had ordered his favorite tapa dish... well.. I am good. (Did I say that outloud?)

I finished my meal, paid my bill and silently slipped out of the lovely restaurant. I did enjoy that, even as a party of one. Stay tuned, for the next Airport Blog!