So here's something weird: now that I live in California, I almost never go to Chipotle. There's even one right by my place but, though I've long loved the chain, I almost always skip it in favor of something that feels more uniquely Californian. I mean, if I'm in the mood for sorta- kinda-Mexican food, I have tons of choices, regardless of what part of the town, county, or region I'm in.
It's not about avoiding chains, either. I think it's more that, even after nearly six months (!), I'm still in tourist mode. When I'm in a foreign country, I might be tempted to visit a McDonald's, but only to see how it's different from the US version; for most of my meals, I want to try something I can't get back home. Just so, in So. Cal things as commonplace as Rubio's, Wahoo's, even El Pollo Loco, have the benefit of feeling novel, because we don't have them back home.
Today, I discovered a strange, added bonus to my somewhat illogical avoidance of Californian Chipotles: as I walked through the front door, that familiar Chipotle aroma hit me, and it instantly reminded me of home. I wasn't at the Chipotle of Orange, CA, I was on State and Grand, or on Ontario in Streeterville where we used to take our lunch breaks, or down on Jackson by the library. Through avoidance, I managed to make a national chain feel like home.
The catch, now, is that I'll only be able to experience this feeling maybe once every month or two. I figure if I walk through those doors too often, the smell of the restaurant will lose its transportational powers.
But I can live with that. After all, it's just Chipotle.
One minute, I'm suggesting "pizza party" as a birthday idea for a friend. The next minute, I'm singing. I had to look up this commercial for the '80s board game, "Pizza Party," to jog said friend's memory and tickle my nostalgia bone. But the truly amazing part? I'd been singing it in the right key.
I thought about calling this post "Marissa's Tips for Living the Dream: Celebrate Any Damn Thing," but that just didn't seem informational enought.
Today, as some of you are sure to be aware, Apple stock (aka AAPL) passed 600 and Apple announced they'd begin paying out quarterly dividends. This is kind of bittersweet news for me (I had a tiny bit of the stock once, but had to sell it to survive my year of joblessness), but my dad was pretty psyched. In fact, he decided he had to celebrate by creating a cocktail.
And it's good.
Here's the recipe
2 oz vodka
1 oz Goldschlager
3-4 oz Martinelli's, chilled
Combine vodka and Goldschlager in a shaker (ice optional). Strain into a martini glass and top with Martinelli's. Sit back and think about how you bought Apple stock in the 1980s when people thought the company was going down the tubes. Alternately, stare blankly into the glass, enjoying the pretty gold color and the bubbles.
Said the drink's brilliant inventor, "We'll enjoy it for today. The stock's been going up so fast, something's gotta...[trails off]."
Genius, master chef, goofball, pessimist. That's my dad.
In Lincoln Park, there's a funky little restaurant called Icosium Kafe. Hidden in a long list of drink choices, you can find "Armenian Mint Tea with Honey" listed. If you should ever go to this restaurant, get this drink. They serve it to you in a pretty metal pot with miniature glass mugs, rimmed in gold. The glasses have mint leaves in them, which you can douse with a bit of honey before adding the tea and stirring with the tiny spoon they've provided.
It is ridiculously delicious. After trying this unassuming little beverage for the first time, I had to peek under the lid of the tea pot. Inside, there was healthy handful of mint leaves, two mint tea bags, and even some cloves. This simple but beautiful drink was too essentially decadent not to recreate.
Do it! But consider not using tea bags that have been in your family since the 1980s.
Are you a devout Catholic, or perhaps a member of some lesser religion? Have you decided to give up meat this Lent, maybe not all meat, certainly fish doesn't count as meat, and perhaps not every day of Lent, as that's over forty days when you count Sundays, so maybe just on Fridays, to sort of put a cap on the excitement inherent in the start of the weekend?
Guess what! This year, once again, Taco Bell has got your back. Jesus would want you to eat there, as a reminder of his suffering in the wilderness, taunted by the devil.
On second thought, this actually makes some sense...
I have been putting off getting a new camera for a long time now, saving up for something really nice. It wasn't what I originally planned on, but when I came across the new Olympus PEN, I fell in love. I can't explain it, but somehow the camera seemed perfect for me.
I was inspired to trust my gut and purchase the PL-1 in part by something unexpected my father did just last week. Let me spin you a tale…
Our coffee maker broke three weeks ago. I love coffee, but I am perfectly capable of getting through the day without it (not that I don't have a caffeine addiction like the rest of us; I can be sated by Diet Dr. Pepper, nectar of the gods). My dad, on the other hand, drinks a pot of coffee before noon every day; in fact, on weekends I would sometimes wake up to an already emptied pot, dad jumping to his feet to say "I guess I should make some more coffee." Our little coffee maker had worked hard for five years, and then it stopped, right before my dad left town for two weeks.
While he was gone, I was at Williams Sonoma, a place I often go to lust after things, dream of future space and money, and buy nothing. I spotted a beautiful Moccamaster coffee maker that had Dad's name ("Dad") written all over it. I figured it would be one of the candidates in an exhaustive body of coffee maker research. I was wrong. Dad walked into the store behind me, looked at the specs of the gorgeous machine, and said "well, let's get it."
I was shocked! I even suggested that he look around a bit and think about it before biting the bullet. But much to my surprise (again) Dad said it was something I'd told him that made him feel like going for it. After reading Dan Ariely's Predictable Irrationality, I'd talked non-stop about Ariely's study showing that comparing similar things with totally different features can be more frustrating than helpful, and often leads to an (economically) irrational choice. Dad stated his reasoning simply: he didn't want to frustrate himself with a big search when it was already clear that this was the ideal coffee maker.
Long story short, I bought the PEN. I didn't consult my photographer friends. I didn't do a particularly thorough side-by-side comparison of the PEN and other cameras. And I couldn't be happier with my decision.
All photos taken by me with my new camera! Yay!!! Check out my Flickr.
Today, my dad comes home after being out of town for work for two weeks. What better reason does one need to make cupcakes? I felt like branching out a little from my usual baking cookbook staple, Shirley Corriher's Bake Wise, but there's no better source for recipes, so I used her "Moist Golden Cake" as a base for some extremely silly cupcakes that were inspired by a cake I saw at the River North Goddess and Grocer the other day:
I didn't really want to make a six-layer cake, but I loved the idea of coloring batter and playing with it. My cupcakes didn't involve any icing in between layers, which created a really psychedelic banding effect. I only made five layers (no yellow, alas) because I would be separating the batter over 12 little cupcake wells. Five layers seemed like trouble enough. My colors aren't as bright, either, but I'll keep that in mind next time. I didn't want to spoil the delicious cake with all that dye, and I didn't want to waste all my dye on an experimental dessert! I'm happy with the results, nevertheless:
On top is lemon cream cheese frosting, which I made by altering Shirley's "Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Frosting" recipe. There's about a tablespoon of pure lemon extract and the zest of one lemon in there. It's really lemony, which is perfect with the richness of the frosting and cake. Plus, dad will love it. But don't spill the beans; it's a surprise!