Saturday, August 29, 2009

Meredith's Bread

Meredith's Bread is a New York farmer's market staple, and I took it for granted as our bread supplier. They've been around since 1987, and use only New York State ingredients whenever possible. Overall, their products are great, and they've just recently started allowing orders online, so if you can't get to one of their booths (they're all over the city and the counties between NYC and Albany), you can still have fresh bread shipped.

I usually get their andama, which is a cornmeal-based bread, because it tastes so fantastic as toast. Unfortunately, it can be a little crumbly, so while it's amazing on sandwiches that you eat right after you make them, it doesn't take well to being packed in a lunch. For that, we've used their whole wheat, spelt, and multi-grain, all with good results.

However, today, while searching for that andama, I popped a sample of chocolate biscotti into my mouth absentmindedly. It set off about a million happiness receptors in my brain, and I had to buy a pack. I'm not a huge cookie fan, but these have a perfect, light and spongy texture, and a flavoring that is sweet without being overpowering. I had one this afternoon with some Ronnybrook milk and it was the perfect snack.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An A+ Blog for a Mixed Up World

It's been a while since I posted a review, and since I have been busy studying lately, I give you a review I posted on my LJ back in April with some small changes:

So I've (fairly) recently discovered the blog Sociological Images.

I really enjoy it, for several reasons. On an intellectual level, it presents a lot of interesting ideas that tend to be on my mind often. I often find myself checking the blog to find an video or an article relating to something I had just been speaking to my friend Drew about. Also, a lot of the time the posters just post the video/image/article and either leave it at that or write a sentence or two to give you some background. Their opinions usually aren't plastered all over the place (unless you count the subject matter of the media, in which case the opinions are kind of clear). You can just view the item and think about it. I like it a lot.

The subject matter of the blog varies from post to post. Some posts are devoted to the depiction of gender in the media while others focus on society's misconceptions about race. One recent post put up pictures of billboards with contradicting ads juxtaposed next to each other (e.g. an underage drinking PSA next to a Bud Lite ad). While on any other blog, posts like this would be funny, Sociological Images makes one reassess the use of mixed messages in American society.

On a more shallow level, I really like the layout of the blog. I have a weird phobia of opening up new pages. I think it's a leftover from the many years my parents continued to have dial-up internet long after DSL made its appearance. I don't like having to navigate away from the page I'm on. I usually have 5 or so tabs open at the top of my Firefox window so that I don't have to constantly be pressing the back button. That being said, a lot of the videos are right there on the page, and even when there are links, they usually lead to another part of the same website, making it very easy for a freak like me to navigate their way back to the original page. I make this point because Feministing, which I'm a very big fan of, is usually riddled with links to other pages and the whole thing makes me anxious.

So if you have some time on your hands and you need something to think on, visit the blog. I like what they're trying to do and it will spark some interesting conversations with your coworkers. Unless you're coworker is Tim the Pharmacist, whom I beginning to suspect is actually a Republican. But that's another story for another time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

88.1, non-corporate radio

There is such a thrill on hearing a song you like on the radio. It's totally different then playing it yourself. And that is what I like about the radio -- the element of synchronicity. If you hear something good, or something familiar, it feels important, like you are part of something larger than yourself.

That's why I got such a big kick out of listening to the radio as I entered adolescence, but I think we all know the limitations of corporate-run radio with constant advertising and limited music selection. I discovered 88.1 WKNC in high school when we used to (illegally) eat lunch in the parking lot with the radio on, and often heard the most ridiculous songs like one about T-rexes and their T-friends, and that one Streets song that has an alcoholic and pothead arguing about who is tougher.

I discovered other charms of this station, which is actually the college station of NC State University out of Raleigh. (They apparently have an unusually strong radio transmitting power for a college station so I can hear it almost everywhere in Durham, except for [infuriatingly] my childhood bedroom where it is a little fuzzy.) Late at night, driving in the car in summer, the station plays strange ambient techno that made midnight excursions around deserted downtown Durham extra weird.

Another charming thing are the PSAs that replace ads. You can hear a rap about not drinking and driving, an invitation to host international students in your home, and energy saving tips. You can look up their playlists, archived by time, on their website and so most people I know have these scraps of paper in the car with all these different times scralled in while-driving handwriting to look up when they get home.

Burgers in Los Angeles

Over the past week in the Golden State, I sampled several beef products.

At the In-N-Out Burger on Sepulveda Westway by the airport: This legendary "joint" only operates on the near West Coast and never serves food that was frozen. I got a cheeseburger "animal style" and a chocolate shake. BEST BURGER HANDS DOWN. The meat was juicy, the bun was not soggy, the cheese was not overpowering, and the sauce and onions (the "animal style" additions that are not on the main menu) really set this meal over the top. There was also fresh lettuce and tomato. It came in a little paper package and was very tidy. The shake was good, but not as good as I had remembered, and incredibly difficult to drink through a straw. It produced real Puckery Fish Face. I thought I'd be getting vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, but it appeared to just be chocolate ice cream. The intense thickness meant that we had to wait for it to melt before we could really drink it, and by that time it was kind of like tepid soup. We also shared fries, which were crispy and hot (and delicious when dipped in the milkshake!). Overall: 9.5

At the Getty Villa Center in Malibu: Laura and Mom ordered the Turkey Burger (ok, this one's not beef). This item was cooked rare and came with sauce (similar to In-N-Out's sauce, which is kind of like ketchup and mayo mixed together), lettuce & tomato, and some superb fries that were covered in parsely and garlic. Really garlicky, yum. The rareness of the turkey burger itself was a tad off-putting--it was bright pink in the middle and not very hot--but the soft ciabatta bun and the saucy goodness accompanying it were tasty. Plus, those fries! Overall: 9

At the Fatburger on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica: Normally I would not be caught dead in a place with a name like "Fatburger," but Dad told Laura it was really good. (He also recommended Carl's Jr. but we did not go there.) I got a Small Baby Fat burger, which weighs in at 2.5 ounces. (They get as big as XXXL Triple King, which is almost ten times as large: 24 ounces. You get your photo on the wall and a t-shirt if you finish it.) Like In-N-Out burger, the Baby Fat comes in a paper package. This endears me to the burger. It came with the standard accoutrements of mayo, mustard, relish, lettuce, and tomato. The relish was too sweet. The fries were absolutely cold. The burger itself was rare, which is nice. They did not have cherry coke on tap. Overall: 6.5

At Billingsley's on Pico by the 405: This old steakhouse (est. 1946) has been a Dechter/Schaffer family favorite for years. They have daily specials (Monday is prime rib and Tuesday is BBQ ribs) that come with soup or salad, potato, and dish of ice cream. On the walls are old or fake-old bizarre signs, with sayings like "This is a good place; act respectable" or "Hookers and drunks enter through the back. Front door's broken" or other mock-classy warnings. One must get the green goddess dressing with the salad. It was herby mayonnaisey and a little sour and absolutely delicious. (Here's a recipe from Molly Wizenberg, of Leah's beloved Orangette blog, from Bon Appetit.) I ordered my prime rib rare, and it was evenly pink and hardly fatty at all and sweet. Went down like butter. It could have been hotter, though. Laura's BBQ ribs were absolutely falling off the bone and came drenched in cloying BBQ sauce. All of it was yummy. And the spumoni ice cream at the end was quaint. Overall: 8