A Poem For All Time

somewhere i have never traveled,gladly beyond
By E.E. Cummings

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

My friend Bill and I watched Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters the other day. In the film, Michael Caine's character has a crush on his wife's sister and orchestrates running into her on the street one morning. They duck into a bookstore where he buys a book of E.E. Cummings' poetry for her as a gift. He tells her that one of the poems makes him think of her. "Page 112!" he reminds her, as he helps her into her taxi cab. That evening, she reads the poem and her feelings grow for him too. 

To see the poem in action, click here and start at 4:18.

Brown Butter Almond Brittle Ice Cream

1954 Hillhurst Avenue

Last night, after a casual dinner in Silver Lake, my friend Bill and I drove over to Jeni's for ice cream. (Getting ice cream after dinner is such a nice thing to do with friends.) Bill is the one who introduced me to Jeni's and it's the best I've had.

I admire the integrity of their ingredients. They don't use emulsifiers or stabilizers in their products, so it never tastes too sweet or artificial. To boot, they have the most creative array of flavors: Juniper & Lemon Curd, Genmaicha & Marshmallows, Cocoa Curry Coco... And they debut a new collection of flavors every season. A small order at Jeni's ($5) gives you two scoops of any flavor. You also have your choice of a cup, a sugar cone, a cake cone or–for an extra dollar–a waffle cone.

I almost always stick to my favorite one: Brown Butter Almond Brittle, a buttercream base laden with crunchy chunks of almond brittle. The honeyed, buttery, nutty notes of the brittle go so well with the creamy tang of buttercream. It's for us "plain vanilla" fans who want to take a walk on the wild side. My usual order is the small–with both scoops being the same flavor–in a cake cone, which I then eat with a spoon. (The only other flavor I've considered is the Goat Cheese with Red Cherries but haven't pulled the trigger on it yet.)

"I'm surprised they even offer cake cones," I noted, as we happily ate our ice cream on the drive back to his place. "They're a dying breed of ice cream vessels."

"Children like them," Bill replied, as he crunched down on his sugar cone.

"I love them," I said, scraping my spoon around the scoop of ice cream, "They're my favorite. I like their plainness. And the compartments around the top... Such a good design feature! Every bite of cone has ice cream encased inside."

"I've never seen someone order an ice cream cone and eat it with a spoon before," he pointed out, glancing over at me as he switched lanes, "But, of course, you'd do that. That doesn't surprise me."

"My teeth are sensitive," I explained, "And I use the back of the spoon to pack the ice cream into the cone compartments as I go."

Ice cream. It's serious business. I bet Jeni's would tell you that.



The Little Next Door

8142 West 3rd Street

As a creature of comfort, I rarely delineate from my trusted stand-bys–one of which is having breakfast at Joan's On Third. In my humble opinion, Joan's consistently makes the best eggs in town. There, they've mastered three basic egg-cooking techniques to perfection: Their soft-boiled eggs always have a warm, yolky center; their scrambled eggs are always scrambled into creamy-soft, fluffy folds; and their omelettes would make Chef André Soltner proud. Despite the number of breakfasts I've cooked over the years, I still feel iffy about how my eggs turn out. I don't know how their kitchen manages to churn out perfection day after day.

This past Sunday, when my boyfriend and I arrived at Joan's for breakfast, we saw that it was closed for the Easter holiday. Quel dommage! Our attention then turned to a small, ivy-covered patio with café tables and rattan bistro chairs next door, which is literally called The Little Next Door. (I've passed this French restaurant numerous times on the way to Joan's and paid no attention to it previously. In fact, I believe it was my friend Bill who once told me this place was nothing to write home about. When it comes to restaurants, I always ask Bill for his two cents.)

We started off with a warm pain au chocolat as we decided what to order. (If you don't already know this, it must be said that you should always judge a café/restaurant/bakery by its pain au chocolat or croissant–especially if it's "French".) Thankfully, theirs was a promising sign. 

My boyfriend ordered his usual omelette; I went with "Two Eggs Your Style, served with bacon and potatoes". Whence dining at an unfamiliar establishment, I tend to order my eggs over-easy because, in my opinion, it's a foolproof method of cooking eggs. (Sunny-side up can be tricky if the whites aren't cooked through on top.) Given the interesting variety of eggs Benedict on offer, it might sound like I ordered the most boring thing on the menu, but the aforementioned "potatoes" weren't your run-of-the-mill hash browns... Imagine my delight when I was surprised with a serving of pommes dauphinoise, the Queen of Side Dishes: thinly sliced potatoes cooked in milk, butter and cream underneath a bubbling blanket of grated Gruyère!

My eggs were good–because, like I said, it's pretty hard to screw up eggs cooked over-easy–but the pommes dauphinoise is truly what took this breakfast to the brink of divine. 

L.A. By Night: Mocktails and Matzo Ball Soup

I find that, while I enjoy exploring L.A. by day–meeting friends for lunch/coffee, or tagging along with my friend Bill on his various errands and activities, I don't make much of a fuss out of evening activities. Usually, Bill will want to cook dinner together at his place or, if I'm flying solo, I'll grab something like a soup or a salad. It's rare that I have dinner plans outside of that. L.A. isn't really a "let's meet for dinner" town, at least not in my experience. I mean, it could just be the fact that I'm more of a homebody than I realize. There's nothing I delight in more than being in bed by 11 p.m. 

After being together for nearly four years, my boyfriend is still unconvinced that someone my age isn't wearing denim shorts with stiletto heels and pounding tequila shots when she's in town alone. Let's see... I wear sweaters in the summer, can spend hours in a bookstore, and like to hold my coffee mug with both hands and go "Mmm!" after every sip. I swear, I have no idea what he's thinking sometimes.

This past Friday, I met a friend for a drink on the rooftop at Mama Shelter, the trendy boutique hotel in Hollywood. It was a gorgeously sunny afternoon. Tell me, is there anything better than catching up with a friend over drinks, while wearing sunglasses and feeling a cool breeze in your hair? She started with a Negroni and moved on to wine while I, on the other hand, opted for a mocktail called The Dirty Harry, a concoction made of pomegranate, jalapeño, and lime. (Alcohol, I've discovered, simply doesn't sit well with me anymore. I'm not a complete teetotaler, though. There are times where I'll rise to the occasion and have a martini or partake in a glass of wine–it just hasn't been as of late.)

After we parted ways, I decided that all I wanted for dinner was the matzo ball soup at Greenblatt's. (I've previously waxed poetic about my love for matzo ball soup here.) Of course, this isn't the sort of dinner idea that sells itself, hence, it's usually reserved for my #singlegirldinner moments. But the thing is: I really truly love coming to these non-trendy places that have been around since the 1920's. My usual order is a bowl of their famous matzo ball soup–broth only; no vegetables–with a side portion of Caesar salad. If I'm particularly hungry, I'll add a side of pastrami to that. This meal makes me feel cradled and coddled inside. I can't explain it otherwise. 

So, there you have it, folks: mocktails and matzo ball soup. A wild Friday night in L.A., indeed.

The Secret Life of an Oyster

Last month, I had an appointment for a facial at Skin Worship, a lash extension and skincare clinic in Beverly Hills that I'd found none other than scrolling around on Instagram. It had been years since I had had a facial, but I decided that 2017 was going to be the year I'd dedicate more attention to my personal well-being. When I entered the waiting room, instead of a receptionist, I was greeted with a little book titled The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Guidebook, which sat next to a deck of tarot-inspired cards. Always a sucker for things that promise to reveal my personality type, I picked it up and and followed its instructions: Shuffle the deck. Cut the deck in three. Combine back into one deck. Flip over a card to reveal your Animal Spirit. 

When I flipped over the card, I got the Oyster. ("An oyster's not even an 'animal'," my friend Bill later deadpanned when I told him.)

Patient, Secret-Keeper, Hiding the Inner Treasures

The focus and determination of the Oyster is unmatched. Anything an Oyster personality puts their mind to, they achieve with grace and charm. The only problem is, Oyster types often take their inner gifts for granted. They become shy or doubtful, and this can lead to withdrawing or protecting their deepest desires and life’s work. When the Oyster card appears, it’s important to reveal your inner treasures. What is it that you’ve been hesitant to share? The world is waiting to see.

When In Balance: feels blessed, generous, masterful
When Out of Balance: reluctant, gripping, “clams up”
To Bring Into Balance: share something

Out of curiosity, I shuffled the deck and tried again. Again, the Oyster card appeared. For the hell of it, I tried yet again. Oyster. 

I never thought about oysters outside of the context of a plateau de fruits de mer, but there are many valuable lessons to be learnt from such a small creature. It may be soft and delicate but has a strong shell to protect itself. It lives in a turbulent environment of ocean currents yet is peaceful and adaptable. And perhaps the most interesting thing about the oyster is its ability to take the sand and grit and irritants in its life and transform it into a pearl. There's something quite magical about that.