27 March, 2012

Weekend, Etc.

I've been making a conscious effort to fill up my calendar less these days, which is good for my stress level (it's tricky to balance work, health, and having two social plans booked every day), but I must admit makes for much less exciting blog posts.. In the last week I've spent some QT with friends, but have only two things I really must report on. One is going to see a press screening of Whit Stillman's new film, Damsels in Distress (thanks to my friend Jessica!), which was fantastic and payed a wonderful tribute to one of my favorite films from my childhood (Damsels in Distress, starring Fred Astaire, George Burns and Gracie Allen). I don't often use the word "delightful" to describe movies, but this one was!

The other is having seen the incredible (and EPIC) 1927 film Napoleon at the Paramount Theater with a live soundtrack by the Oakland Symphony. This film was innovative in many ways, but particularly in its use of "Polyvision," a technique using three cameras to capture a panorama, which was then projected on three screens. We had seats in the the third row and when the curtains rolled back to reveal those two extra screens for the final reel of the film, it truly felt like we were IN Napoleon's Italian invasion. There were times when the 6 hour film got a bit dull, and our backs were sore from sitting for so long, but it was completely worth it for that final moment in Polyvision. I only wish that all movies were filmed that way- incredible! The film is rarely shown because of the apparatus required for this sequence, but if you are in the Bay Area, there is one more screening next Sunday, April 1! And if not, if it ever screens near you, I can't recommend seeing it enough. Here's a great interview with Kevin Brownlow, the man who restored the film.

22 March, 2012

Draw Something!

Inspired by David Neale at The Golden Smith, I have become completely obsessed with the iPhone game Draw Something. It's quite a challenge drawing with a big finger on a tiny screen, but I'm having a ton of fun! If you play, you can find me at username: deerseason87. But please only add me if you actually like to draw- it's such a bummer when people simply write the solution on their screens instead of trying. Here are some drawings I've done recently. (I am so sad I neglected to take a screenshot of my stellar "alien" drawing...)

SXSW 2012

I flew directly from Stockholm to Austin, where my friend Jessica picked me up and took me to 24 for a veggie burger and roasted banana milkshake (one of my favorite Austin meals), then to Domy Books for the opening reception for Wayne White's show (in conjunction with the premiere of Beauty is Embarrassing, a film about him, at the festival), and then to the Long Center for a screening of Eating Alabama, a documentary about a couple who ate only from local farms for a year. After the film we were going to go to the Sherlock party PBS was throwing (I am totally obsessed with that show), but as you might imagine I was a tad tired, having been awake for more than 24 hours at that point, so we stopped for a late night donut at Gourdough's, and turned in.

As action-packed as that sounds, we did really try to take things easier this year than last. We planned our trip to coincide with the film but not the music portion of the festival, since last year it was clear that pretty much any band we wanted to see either played recently or would be playing soon in the Bay Area, and running all over town to hang out with throngs of drunk party-goers in the hot sun ended up being exhausting. So this time we got to see a total of nine films over the course of two and a half days, and eat lots of good street food, and hang out with our friends, all without feeling rushed or sacrificing sleep. Not bad! I think my favorite movies were Casa de Mi Padre (it was really quite amazing), The Source (a documentary about the 1970's Los Angeles-based cult of the same name), and Beauty is Embarrassing. Brookyln Castle (about children playing chess) and Daylight Savings (a love story starring two Bay Area musicians, so I'm a bit biased) were also very charming. And it was fun to see 21 Jump Street with an enormous crowd- both Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were there, which added to the general excitement. In addition, we saw Eating Alabama, Gayby, and Somebody Up There Likes Me.

But the highlight of the festival for me was seeing the world premiere of Lena Dunham's new HBO show Girls. We got to see the first three episodes, and I can't WAIT for the whole series to air. I absolutely loved her film Tiny Furniture, and this did not dissapoint by comparison. Think Sex in the City meets Freaks & Geeks (Judd Apatow is producing, which is no coincidence), in which the ladies are all 20 years younger and considerably less glamorous. You can watch more previews and clips on the HBO site.

And how could I not mention food? Besides 24 and Gourdough's (we made two trips there of course), we also had great chicken and waffle tacos from Lucky J's, ice cream sandwiches from Coolhaus, amazing corn dogs from Fire & Soul, and a really delightful lunch at the East Side Farmacy- seriously, this place is adorable!- on our way out of town. In addition, our friends made the trek out to the Salt Lick with us for some kick-ass BBQ, and I have to admit I had more than my share of chocolate peanut butter milkshakes at the Alamo Drafthouses during movies.

Time for a cleanse?

21 March, 2012

Sweden: Food

This was a very quick trip, and food in Sweden was insanely expensive (really- a lunch that would cost $15 here was about $45 in Stockholm), so we weren't able to get to a lot of places I would have liked to try. (I'm just going to have to save my Krona and go back sometime for a food tour!) But we did have a couple of truly memorable meals, and discovered some fantastic new foods on our many visits to markets and grocery stores (we are all packaging nerds).

The one fancy meal we had was at Mistral, in the suburbs of Stockholm. I'd read about the restaurant in Saveur and liked the farm-to-table sound of it, expecting something a bit more rustic than the contemporary, detail-oriented, nouveau cuisine style offered at many of the city's other fine dining establishments. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mistral was a wonderful combination of the two! Run by three young men who take turns cooking and working the floor, and serving only two to three tables per night, eating at the restaurant really felt like being in someone's home. (In fact, the other patrons dining while we were there were one of the chefs' parents!)

From the beautiful tablescapes made up of scattered items from the garden and kitchen, to the friendly conversations we had with all the guys, to the wonderfully imagined incarnations of seasonal foods, we were totally enchanted. We had a seven course meal with wine pairings, so I will fully admit that I don't remember every detail, but certain dishes really impressed me, like one made with beets cooked for 10 hours and then soaked in rosewater, and an unsweetened pumpkin granita that tasted more "pumpkiny" than anything I've ever had (including raw pumpkin, if that's possible?). I loved the dessert course of jerusalem artichoke ice cream (so delicate and sweet) paired with Tokaj so much that I want to try and recreate it. And both my friend and I were completely taken with the story of one chef's vegetarian-raised, eleven year old son tasting meat for the first time (freshly hunted elk) that inspired another dish with venison, cabbage, kelp and roe; the boy's reaction to the new taste sensation ("it tastes like fish") had sparked a conversation among the chefs about the similarities between the ocean floor and the forest floor. Really, everything was just beautiful, and totally worth the splurge.

at mistral, onions with jerusalem artichoke, apples, butter, coffee, crispy mushrooms, and duck gizzard

Besides Mistral, my other favorite food finds in Stockholm were the bakery at the Rosendals Tradgard, where they use locally milled, organic flour- I had the most amazing sourdough roll with basil pesto and walnuts- and Urban Deli, a grocery, bakery, and restaurant all in one, where we had this beautiful dish of roasted root vegetables served with hazelnuts, aged chevre and sour cream. YUM.

urban deli

rosendals tradgard

Also, since you know I love food on a stick, and have a particular fondness for the Twister Dog since I first discovered it at the Alameda County Fair three years ago, I couldn't resist stopping into this place when we passed it! I opted to try a "Waffle Dog," the making of which involved a special waffle iron designed to hold a hot dog and stick inside the batter, resulting in what looked like a hot dog in a sleeping bag and tasted... well, like a waffle wrapped around a hot dog.

In Uppsala, we had some truly spectacular meatballs with lingonberries at the aptly named and wonderfully decorated Lingon.

As we were on the road quite a bit, we ate quite a lot of easily transportable food like knackebrod with cheese, yogurt, sandwiches, etc.. I was thrilled to find that rhubarb was a popular flavor both for juice and yogurt, and became a little obsessed with trying all the other interesting kinds of juices as well (loved the lingonberry and elderflower, but was not such a big fan of rosehip).

One night in Orsa, after a day on the frozen lake and the observation that every open restaurant was serving pizza, we aquiesced and tried Swedish pizza. This one, with pineapple and ham as well as bananas and curry, was actually quite good.

And finally, here are some assorted grocery and market photos.

19 March, 2012

Spring Garden

It's been a sad morning here and I thought I'd take a break from Sweden posts and share some pictures of what's going on in the garden these days.

18 March, 2012

Orsa Speed Weekend 2012

The impetus for this trip to Sweden was the discovery of Orsa Speed Weekend by some motorcycle enthusiast friends of mine, who invited me along for the adventure. When Anjel first described the event to me, she used the phrase "Mad Max on ice," and I was sold. Much like at Bonneville , people bring their vehicles to Lake Orsa to make land speed records... on ice. The ice requires spiked tires, which were definitely pretty impressive. We spent a full day in the middle of the lake, watching all kinds of motorcycles, cars, and rocket powered creations race. And I finally found an excuse to wear the alpaca fur hat my father bought me in Peru years ago!

16 March, 2012

Sweden: Textures

I just got back from a quick trip to Sweden, including some time in Stockholm, Uppsala, and a weekend on Lake Orsa at an event best described in an another post. For starters, here are some snapshots I took along the way.