Tuesday, November 29, 2011

[Ramblings: Ringtones]

My maternal figure is obsessed with ring tones. She can’t stand anything standard because she feels like it’s “ugly” and not “unqiue” enough for her tastes. However, she’s also too cheap to buy anything that is being sold by the phone companies (I don’t understand by she wouldn’t accept Oops I Did It Again, I was even willing to pay for it.) What resulted was hours of her looking for youtube videos with her favorite Christian songs so she could try to convince my brothers and I to rip it and upload it for her phone. Hallelujah indeed.

The funny thing with ring tones, it’s one of those things that was so very important five years ago and now, people just have conveniently moved on from. Everyone I knew in high school had their own song that was oh, so expressive of their life (usually the same 15 pop romance songs for the girls and variations of Because I Got High for the guys). Even voicemails- how many of you have called and heard the standard leave-a-message-after-the-beep blurb with a static-y version of Beyonce’s Crazy Love in the background?

I’m guilty of my own revolving playlist of ring tones when I was younger. I remember setting my ex’s ringtone to Because of You by Kelly Clarkson (I swear we didn’t break up because of domestic violence, he was a gentleman.) My maternal’s incoming calls were Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson (I liked to see it as instructions on what to do while answering the phone.) My favorite by far was I’m Normal, Please date me by Charlotte Martin.

This little ditty is a great tongue in cheek for the average girl able to laugh at herself. After all, who here hasn’t felt a bit stalkerish? (Anyone who’s never tried googling a first date or facebook stalking a crush can cast the first e-stone.) We all want to assure ourselves (and we wish our male counterparts could understand) that we really are normal, we’re just…a bit insecure. We want to feel like we don’t give a damn but at the end of the day, gauging interest through how many hot female friends he has friend-ed and whether or not he has a criminal record is just too easy to give up. I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying it happens.

My ringtone these days is the guitar strum of the iPhone defaults. Do I want to get a custom ringtone? I guess, but it doesn’t seem as important as before when walking across a college campus and having heads turn at “…My probation officer is kinda cute…” was a moment of win. Or maybe I’m just worried that my boss just might not get the joke of just how normal I am. (Restraining orders not included, I swear.)

[FOOD: Bottega Louis]

Bottega Louie. With a name like a well-oiled Italian handbag, it’s exterior also has the aura of a Louis Vuitton store. With tall open windows, bold crown molding and white with gold accented faux-euro architecture reminiscent of ancient east coast banks, it’s no wonder the bakery restaurant (or as some call it, gourmet market) captures your attention. Standing like a lioness on the corner of 7th and Grand in Downtown Los Angeles, it has a reputation for good dinners, pricey but delicious desserts and a loud andcrowded youthful atmosphere after work hours. Luckily for K and myself, we had Columbus Day off and indulged ourselves by traveling to this recommendation from M. Parking in downtown is always a pain just two levels short of pulling teeth, but thank God fthe parking lot located just behind the restaurant on Grand has $3 parking after 4PM on weekdays. Win.

We sauntered over to the restaurant and immediately the bright boxes and culinary equipments in the open bakery (the restaurant also has an open kitchen and pizza bar) excited us. (Or me. If you want to excite K, just hand him a bottle of Peruvian aji sauce to eat with anything and you’ll see excitement.) Ahem. Anyways, there’s a side door to go to the bakery and a small opencooler area with premade foods, not unlike at Fanima or 7-11, probably for the grab-n-go lunch crowds. We went around to the front of the restaurant, in through the large heavy double doors, ready to be awed. The interiors were very nice, high super-vaulted ceilings, a lounge/bar area and behind that, the main restaurant. We’d arrive at 4:40 and were informed that due to Colombus Day, they were on a limited cafĂ© style lunch menu and the dinner menu would not be available till 5. Boo. On the other hand, our suave good looking waiter did mention that the much heralded Portobello Mushroom Fries were off the menu but available. Yeeeeees. [insert fistpump here]

We peeked through the regular menu but were relatively hungry enough that we decided to try their lunch one and then add on more if still hungry. We had the Club Sandwich and a wood fired pizza. I wanted to try more than one flavor for the pizza so went half and half with Burrata, which included burrata, proscuitto, rapini and granna parmesan. The other half was Sausage, fennel sausage, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. We also clung onto the dinner menu is anticipation of the so-close-yet-so-far 5 o'clock.

After getting a nice glass bottle of chilled tap water which the water left with us after serving our glasses, we sat looking outside the restaurant. This is in the heart of downtown and it shows. Security kept walking by our window seating along with businessmen, the homeless, and the "casual crowd". Our mushroom fries came before long and boy, were they delicious just like we'd heard. Thickly sliced portabello mushroom dipped in a light batter and fried, I could see the mushroom through the fried outerskin and also the salt and seasoning dashed on lovingly. Served in paper in a metal cuplike container, what made it just right was the aioli dip served with it. Creamy with the flavour of classy mayo, it gave the light salted batter exterior and the meaty tender interior of the mushroom a nice pair of handcuffs to tie together and swim straight into my tummy. Not too greasy at all for a fried dish, this is a must order uniqueness at Bottega Louie.

After gobbling up our fries and making a crumbling embarrassing mess on the table paper, our water informed us the kitchen was ready for dinner orders so I added on a French Onion soup. (I adore soup.)

Our pizza holder was delivered with standard cheese and pepper bottles. (Oh, how I miss the fried garlic bottles of Il Chianti.) When the pizza was served, it looked yummy and Italian and not unlike Italian style pizza I've had before. The sausage pizza was my first taste and it had a nice meaty flavour, a good pairing with the mozzarella although I felt they could have put a little more cheese. In major chunks of slices, there was just marinara with a dash of spices-no meat or cheese. Maybe it's the style, but if you're eating the combination of sausage, cheese and sauce, you should be able to taste all three in every bite. The prosciutto burratta was good too, K liked this one more although I found the rapini to be a tiny overpowering and the arrangement only one slice of prosciutto for each slice to be disappointing. As Oliver Twist said, "Might I have some more, sir?"

All in all, true to the taste of Italian pizza making although not my favorite rendition. The crust was a bit thick and neither of us ate more than a bite of it, leaving a sad little mountain of discarded crusts sitting on our plates.

Next was the club sandwich with French ham, turkey, tomato, gruyere, avocade, watercress and slices of hardboiled egg. Apple smoked bacon hide out somewhere between all that, somewhere between all the healthy stuff. Served with a side of thick cut potato chips, the chips werely inedible in my view. Flavourless, dry with a oily touch, I recommend asking if you can substitute for something else. The sandwich, which comes crustless and quartered was Meh. Not mindblowing considering the ingredients had given it at least a decent palatte to work with, it is nothing more or less than an okay club.

By now we were full so the soup was a good ending. Served with a square of bread and cheese baked over, it looked really really good.

It wasn't. It was on the bland side, the simple onion soup just a little too late, the cheese not able to bring out it's flavour fully with it's onion soup partner floundering in the tastes department. The bread, which looked really pretty actually hurt the soup. Because it took up such a large space in the soup, there wa not too much soup to begin with. And because slices bread suck up liquid much the way my Dyson sucks up cookie crumbs, what was limited became less. Hardly $8 worth of soup in my opinion.

We were full and not thrilled but surely Bottega Louis could not let us down in their speciality, desserts. The waiter recommended the Le Grande Macaroon, two large Italian macaroon cookies with ice cream sandwiched between and fresh berries. The macaroon was very hard, the taste sweet but the consistency of hard cookie cake, the bite sticky as if there were jam mixed into the cookie. I admit, I'm not familiar with much macaroons but this was not my idea of a to-die-for dessert. Nevertheless, the fruit was fresh and the ice cream at least was good.

I hear their dinner menu is good but to be honest, I have yet to see any example of exemplerary cuisine. However, a large variety of desserts still await testing along with a reasonably sized lounge area, not too expensive pricing (except for the disappointing soup) and a late closing time. If I'm feeling snacky for mushroom fries while in downtown LA, I just might come back.

Bottega Louie
700 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90017
(866) 418-9162

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

[Hungry Ramblings]

It’s the day before the day before Thanksgiving and I’m finishing up work while dreading tomorrow- because it contains the annoying “wait for it to end” feeling. Somehow the day before an event always winds up being 1.5 times longer while the actual event winds up being only ½ as long as you thought it would be.

Proof? While waiting at work for the day to end so you can finally get out and have fun with your friends, haven’t you ever questioned exactly how long it’s taking for the clock to tick down to 5PM? I mean, does the second hand /really/ have to move that slow? Yet it always seems like just when you’ve warmed up to having fun, it’s time to say goodbye and head home.

Oh well, at least we have gluttony to be thankful for during the holidays. I’m very proud of my carnivorous tendencies and prefer to call myself a t-rex over a vegan (I’m vegetarian friendly, don’t worry, I eat everyone equally.) Uncle J once again will wow us all with his ability to produce enough meats to feed a platoon and have just as much ready for us to pack. For an Asian household, we have an awfully American Thanksgiving compared to every other holiday. (We do pack our Turkey full of sticky rice stuffing though- gotta represent!)

Oh wow look, another 10 minutes burned. Just a bit closer to the end of the day, freedom and delicious things to eat. Here’s wishing you all a good Thanksgiving and happy Friday shopping!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Black Friday

Oh yea guys, it’s that time of the year again. You know what I’m talking about. I’ll give you a hint: your wallet’s going to be crying by the time it’s over.

No seriously though, it’s almost to Thanksgiving and with it , the happy (or not so happy) monster known as Black Friday. Known as the point in business’s quarter earnings where the little line starts going up and “into the black” known as profit, it’s mainly known as the time when perfectly normal human beings go bonkers while lining up (or staying up) to get those special deals only available on that special day after Thanksgiving.

I’ve been there before and I’m guilty of joining in the craze as well. Lugging yourself to a cold, dark parking lot to gleefully sit on towels and blankets, huddled under a sleeping bag as you will the pitifully slow minutes to tick down to 6AM, sending boyfriends out to buy hot chocolate or to save spots as you dash into the only 24 hour 7-11 in the area that still has a bathroom open. Been there, done that. This year however, the hours aren’t just being pushed up till as early as 9PM the night before – seriously, Toys R Us, what are you thinking?

While I really want to reserve my judgment since I know I’ll be up all night probably, skimming though multiple tabs, trying to pick up as many Christmas gifts as I can, isn’t eating into Thanksgiving turkey day a bit extreme? How are you suppose to enjoy your gobble gobble when you’re worried about rushing out to line up for discount TVs and laptops? Worse of all, what about the poor employees who don’t even get to spend that meal with their families. Where’s the recession when you see all those lines waiting to get into the Coach store?

Alas, that’s why I’m supporting online Black Friday this year. I’m done with driving to the outlet and waiting half an hour outside of the Armani Exchange store only to dig through what other people have already rejected. This year, take advantage of that miracle called the internet and buy your stuff online. Many stores including Lowes, Walmart, Macy’s and more offer ship to store or store pick up for free compared to the shipping costs that crop up, meaning you can order your stuff for Black Friday prices and then go in and pick the stuff up after you’ve had a nice post turkey nap.

Check out Black Friday Deals at http://bfads.net/ to get an idea of the ads and deals coming out and remember to gird your loins and set your alarm clock on the big day. Just to give you an idea, here’s some of the more memorable stuff I saw!

- Macy’s is offering $10 off purchases of $25 or more on all sale & clearance apparel
- Kmart has Nintendo 3DS with Super Mario Land 3DS and a $25 coupon for games for $199.99
- For dads & bfs, Lowe’s DEWALT 18-V ½” cordless compact driver/drill kit with case is $99
- Best Buy has a ton of Blu-ray DVDs on sale including Harry Potter DH2 and Inception
-Target has the Dyson DC24 for $279 (I love Dyson)
-Walmart has Xbox360 (4GB w/ kinect & $50 gift card) for only $199.96

What are you looking forward to the most?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Welcome to the AA club

When I was in high school, innocent and free as a bird, a couple of my friends and I came up with a term for ourselves: the AA, abnormal Asians. In a school dominated by over 60% Asians, we were the ones that stood out. You know, the ridiculously tall Asians, the ones who were pear rather than stick shaped, Asians who probably didn’t score at the top 10% of class or thought cram school was a form of recreation. Oh, I’m not saying we could check off all of these boxes, but I’m sure all of us could list at least one and maybe add on some of our owns.

It’s a funny thing being an AA- you don’t quite fit into the compartmentalized box of your racial peers and yet you’re still a bit different from the mainstream, just like everyone else. While Michelle Phan is out giving her fabulous make up tips, I still can’t quite figure out where to make my eyelid crease darker (thanks for one eye having five folds and the other three.) While all the slender, 5’5” across the board clubbing girls are having their pick of stores like Forever 21 and H&M, I’m trying to find discounts at express, while looking hopefully through racks for the “tall” lines. When all my tiny (to me) Asian friends are posing for pictures, I’ve learned to find the farthest back spot in the line, turn to the side a little and God forbid I forget to stick my arm out at an angle on my hip. While I’m trying to convince myself that inner beauty is what matters, my size 8 jeans and butt-hiding cardigan on my 5'10" figure says otherwise.

Yet, I still don’t feel quite as mainstream as my less-than-typical body would belay. Going out with a large group of coworkers, I still feel like “the Asian girl”. Perhaps it’s less discrimination and more of just racial profiling, but it’s hard to not be tagged as “the Asian girl” when you work in a building full of- well, non-Asians. At first it was strange, being treated like I was someone special just because of my race, but then it wore out its charm. After all, I thought, when there’s a new “typical Asian”, there won’t be room to think I could be special anymore. A part of me inside feared that being unique would turn back into being abnormal, once everyone had seen a true “Asian girl”.

Crazy, right? After all, I’m college educated with a decent job, you would think my self-esteem would be unaffected by simple things like shoe size, the inability to wear five inch Louboutins like my tiny friends, or to buy anything straight off the rack without worrying it’ll be too short. I still feel a bit of sore point when my mother points out all of her friend’s children who are now in (what she deemed as) typical Asian careers as doctors and lawyers, nurses and engineers. Studying criminal law and forensics in college? It was like I had decided to shave my head.

I wish I could say this was a post about how I became stronger than all of these stereotypes, that I learned to overcome and completely disregard how others view me or how I view myself in relation to the typical Asian girl. It’s not. But they do say that acceptance is after denial so maybe this is a step in the right direction. It’s not easy being in your twenties and trying to not fail too much at becoming an independent adult, much less being one that doesn’t feel like she has a place to really fit in. But maybe at least when you read this, you’ll realize you’re not alone. Everyone is a bit different from the norm and whether you were brought up being told that Marilyn Monroe was beautiful or Angelina Jolie, the truth is, they probably were brought up on a different image than the one they sought out to be. And if we’re all a little insecure about how we fit in, it’s alright. Just don’t let it stop you from still trying to make the best of what you have.

After all, I may not be able to draw that eyelid crease very well, but I’m getting damn good at winging my eyeliner.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Emergency Food

Because even Asians need emergency zombie food supply. Just saying.