food

Love Letters to Gelato...and Coffee

In college, I used to spend easy Saturdays lingering too long, alone in one of the many coffee shops near University of La Verne. Introvert warm fuzziesss.

Well-intentioned to be diligent, I would probably bring a totebag stocked with my laptop, sketchbook, maybe a book I wouldn’t read.

Most of the time, these unmeasured blocks during which I set to out to “create” weren’t directly productive. Instead, I’d end up meeting someone, and someone they knew and spending hours at the shop, just talking. Sort of fighting the existence of an internal clock.

Until that blessed interruption, I would be blogging, doodling, reading blogs, maybe actually reading and generally scheming for ideas of the future. Mostly just being.

I was interested in graphic design, in interior design and fashion blogs, in music and writers my friends introduced me to, and in hand-lettering, which I go back and forth about now. Seeking retirement but…not really…? It doesn’t challenge me the same way majority of my work does now (and for some reason I looove to make things difficult!).

I don’t revisit this Saturday ritual much now, and am 100% rethinking it. The last time a conversation was born out of time I was killing, it was August, at Dripp in Fullerton. I met an art director who told to me about agency work, negotiation and…recommended returning to typography, combining it with illustration.

Haha…so, question. Do you fight your roots? If so, maybe we should both make like these ligatures and let loose a little.

Type does continue to grab me first, on book covers, t-shirts and fresh, new-to-me online portfolios. A stunning photo says a thousand words you receive all at once, but aesthetics can give words a clear shot to hit you the same way.

For Life & Thyme’s recent gelato story, I was excited to get the chance to letter these beauuuuutifulll Italian flavors.

So maybe next time you’re holding a cup or a cone, just looking to kill time, inspiration will find a seat on the couch next to you.

A Slice of Your Attention

Ziza called me between trips. Back from Italy, and off to Belize.

Would I be interested in illustrating for a story?

YES.

Life and Thyme, September 2018.

Life and Thyme, September 2018.

This summer, I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of contributing to Life and Thyme’s excellence in food journalism, but to get to illustrate for my mentor, L&T’s first guest editor, was tops.

Over the next few weeks, Ziza’s series “Food as the Foil to Overwhelm” will walk through how food more instinctively, instantly and deeply connects us than all of the technology that promises to.

In her opening post, “Meditations on Garlic,” she writes,

Through its growing, its eating, or even in its absence, food teaches us about life, and therefore our role in it. When it comes to cooking, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Frankly, we don’t even need to be good at it; we just need to let ourselves do it. We’ll recalibrate in such a place, in being with our senses.

We had a few different ideas on that initial call, exploring shapes of thought process or of being literally too plugged in.

Once I had this idea, for a slightly sinister charcuterie board, I had to explore the end of it to show her the full concept.

Pencil sketch on newsprint.

Pencil sketch on newsprint.

In it, hands reach for a bite while ensnared by plug-in cords (Why did I let my phone get to 38% before getting to this party?), and notifications hide in sweet honey, while emails pile up under Google and Instagram wheels of cheese.

It’s hard to get settled, get calm, get fed, when all of those things keep tugging at your brain. They’re clamoring for just a slice of your attention.

But nourishment — physical, emotional and spiritual — isn’t fleeting, it’s foundational. And nothing slows us down like being next to the crackle, sizzle and rising of food.

Read Ziza’s first post here!

Coastal Carbs

This year, most of my travels have unintentionally followed the Pacific, and almost all of them were first-time visits.

I don’t plan where I go according to a specific theme (loved ones — loved ones is the theme), but you’d think my stomach does based on this blog post.

I started off in Portland this January and flew to Berkeley in March. (Total Berkeley visits: 3)

The summer held the most gorgeous sunsets in Punta Mita in Nayarit, MX (lol this is not a pasta town), and in San Diego, a mainstay for my family. My family road-tripped to Yosemite, to stay with friends who moved last year to Mariposa, then hit Lake Tahoe, and Berkeley again.

Most recently, my parents and I visited my cousin in Seattle! She’s a jewelry designer and has made the state of Washington her home for the past four years.

I can think of music and smells and the way the sun said goodnight to describe each of these places… but I’d rather share with you “Coastal Carbs” - the best hand-made bowls of pasta and noodles I’ve had up and down the West Coast.

(From left to right)

Pasta Casalinga — SEATTLE (Pike Place Market)
This place is owned and operated by a couple: one with roots in the PNW and one in Torino. I’m a bad food journalist. I don’t remember the name of this dish. But there’s about 4 things on the rotating menu, each named for where the ingredients come from. You can’t go wrong.

Grassa PDX — PORTLAND (West End)
Ok this was what I was most excited for in traveling with friends to Portland…and it delivered. Cold and gray outside, I was primed for the warm comfort of this fresh cacio e pepe. I think I wrote in my Darling City Guide that if I went back I would order the Sunday ragu. Play pasta musical chairs with your plates if you go with friends. …Just remember to rotate before you finish off someone else’s!

Pasta Casalinga — SEATTLE (Pike Place Market)
My cousin ordered the “From the Garden” special, reginette con guanciale e romanesco. What did I tell you about not taking other people’s plates? Well… maybe one of you will be grateful for the help finishing off such good stuff.

Kamonegi — SEATTLE (Fremont)
Out of these four spots, this is the only visit that included a long wait. But it was worth it for the buckwheat noodles in this warm, tiny spot in the neighborhood that claims the Fremont Troll. Soba can be ordered in three different styles: bukakke (cold), seiro (with hot soup concentrate) or nanban (in hot soup). Most dishes were duck-based but my tonkotsu heart went for the pork based soup concentrate.

Kamonegi also offers a few different green teas: sencha, hojicha and genmaicha (green tea with toasted rice!). Many Japanese restaurants will have the variety, but Kamonegi makes the ceremony, or process, of eating here educational in an approachable, thoroughly enjoyable way.

And that’s it!

Now that you’re dreaming of pasta, sail away with HONNE. Perfect soundtrack for checking if Southwest or Alaska Airlines is having a sale…?