Posts Tagged ‘mike barrie’

The Coffee Maker

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

me, michael, hiline

I was sitting with my husband in our sorry little kitchen. It’s small. Totally old school with a swinging hinged door that closes you in. No modern open floor plan where the kitchen blends into the family room. I love our little 1700-square foot Spanish Bungalow, but I’m never sure it’s where he feels most at home — but that’s a whole other story that I may, or may not, get back to.

This night, I had thrown together a meal. I hate cooking. It’s not something I’m that great at. It’s always a struggle. And lately, I have gotten even lazier than the naturally lazy person I was when we had kids at home. So, I might make a “salad” of pre-washed lettuce that I throw in a bowl, and my husband will make fun of the little effort that went into it. I’ll serve it with a large potato that we share — and he will inform me that for now we can still afford two potatoes – though with retirement looming, we may soon have to cut back to one. (more…)

Lake House

Monday, September 5th, 2011

I’m a looky-loo. I real estate dream shop online, a lot!!!! Late one night when my husband was safely sleeping,  I forwarded a photo of a house on a lake I had found and the subject said, “Lets buy this instead of doing an addition to our house.  It’s MUCH cheaper.”

So, instead of doing construction , we bought a house online in Quebec.  Doesn’t everyone in L.A. do that?  Come on.  You know you do.

Well, we did.

So, there we were that first week, enjoying our pristine lake when we got our first and possibly only visitor.  It was our neighbor, the retired judge who lives up the road on our quiet lake.

He was there to inform us about ecology and keeping the lake from getting that nasty blue algae that was killing a lot of the other lakes.  First we heard of that.  Perhaps we didn’t research enough.   Pollution was the culprit.  He told us about phosphates and to use phosphate- free soaps and detergents.  We were in.  He told us to let our grass grow wild right at the lake’s edge.  We were reluctantly in.  The former owners had loud parties and cut the grass long after they were told it wasn’t safe for our lake.  We would be the good citizens and stay on top of all that we could.  Have good lake etiquette.  And we did.  And we do. (more…)

Comforting Food in Icy New York

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

aroz con pato for one or two

When I landed in New York city about a week ago, it was late, it was cold and I was hungry. A few years ago someone told me to try Gabriels, an Italian restaurant right near where I stay. I am such a creature of habit and keep going back to the same places that I never found the right moment to try it. So, on this night I did and had a very good bowl of pasta with crabmeat in a sauce with tons of tomato’s. Also, it was extra garlicky which suits me fine. It was the bread that night that blew me away. If you read my blog, you will know what a freak I am about my bread, especially when in New York. L.A. doesn’t have great bread, at least not for me. We have heard for years it’s the water in New York. Whatever it is, I long for it when I’m home in L.A. and this particular night I was so immensely sated that on another night I went back pretty much specifically with the bread in mind. What I really loved about the restaurant was the feel of the place, it’s very old school. It reminds me of Chasens in a way or Matteo’s, a restaurant I went to every Sunday night of my life with my dad. At Matteo’s on Sunday nights, what tourists loved were the celebrity sightings. And so, if you like celebrity sightings, that night at Gabriels, David Duchovny had been eating there and walked by my table when he left. Never knew he was so tall, didn’t realize he was so good looking.
Gabriels Bar and Restaurant located just off Columbus Circle 11 West 60’th

I had a few lunches with girlfriends. My favorite being Prune for lunch. I have talked about Prune here before and I will say it in one word. Brilliant!! What I hated was that for me there were too many interesting choices. I ended up with their signature cheeseburger served on a very thin English muffin. The cheese is white cheddar and honestly, I’m writing this in L.A. and wishing I were back there eating that for lunch right now.
Prune 54 East 1st street

Creature of habit that I am, I enjoyed another wonderful meal, this time introducing my step-daughter to Fairway Market Café. To me, the place feels like a close friend who survived a dreaded disease like cancer or something. It was heavily rumored to be closing and now that rumor seems to have disappeared, I’m grateful to say. Had my usual, the branzino and their genius onion rings.
Fairway Market café and steakhouse 2127 Broadway at 74’th street (more…)

Germ Warfare

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

me and the friends that surrounded me, Tracy, Kimberly and Stacey

It is the end of an era. I just found out that Broadway Deli in Santa Monica closed. I wasn’t about to recommend it or anything, it really wasn’t all that exciting. But I’m sort of blown away by the news. It held a lot of sentimental memories for me. When the ex-husband left me for another woman — okay, that wasn’t in the least bit shocking, but it happened — I was shaken. I’d walk up to tables of random people at the Broadway Deli and announce that my husband just left me for another woman and did they happen to know of anyone they could set me up with. Sometimes, friends would point to tables I missed and say, “Oh, look you haven’t told those people over there, or them there.” And so I would march up to complete strangers and do my line.

When the long predicted (by my father) infidelity happened, my friends showered me with support and we often ate dinner at the Broadway Deli. Sometimes also at Remi, next door, but that too closed, ages ago. I didn’t go to Broadway Deli much anymore, but it is where I had my first date with the man that would become my future husband. I love the memory of that date. It’s a part of my history, my story. Our story.

He will tell you I threw myself at him. And I have my version. You can be the judge.

I was having breakfast at Nate ‘n Al’s — basically my father’s commissary. He ate there every day except Sundays when he said “they bused in the gentiles”. This was after the not-so-shocking news about my current husband which my father had predicted for twelve long years. My dad would often say, “He will leave you for a girl he meets in the program”. He meant my husband will find a woman in the PHD program he was enrolled in. And he did exactly that. Hey, it’s all good, in case you think I’m some sort of a victim, which I’m not. It was full speed ahead or in my dad’s philosophy “NEXT!” which is what he would say if a show was cancelled or his movie project fell through. Only, I use it (and even he did) for relationships too. If it ends: NEXT!!! So, in the spirit of Next, I was with him early (which I hate) and dressed nicely, maybe even with a touch of makeup (rare ). At our table was Rodney Dangerfield and Bob Hilliard, a comedy writer who had written for the “Honeymooners.” So, you get the idea, all old Jews and me. (That should be the title of my book, “All old Jews and Me”. I want to remember that. But, I better use it quick or it will be “All old Jews, Including Me.”) (more…)

Free Agent

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Robin's Thanksgiving table being set

I felt fine about Thanksgiving. Well, fine until today when I kept reading on everyone’s Facebook page how great their leftovers taste; writing in full description how they all make their turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce and mayonnaise. Some put stuffing in that sandwich. I wouldn’t. But did I mention I don’t have leftovers?

This was finally the year to go to Robin’s. She has invited us for a few years but we are too big a bunch to feed unless it’s without all the kids. This year my husband really wanted to be with his family, so he chose to go to his cousin’s and I became a free agent and traveled far for me, Calabasas. I already knew Robin was a good cook, I have been eating her food for years, and her mother Abbe was actually my first cooking teacher. I knew I was in for something great and it was!!!! Perfect. My favorite was Robin’s stuffing and Gene, her husbands green bean casserole was outrageous. He uses haricot vert green beans and fries the onions, doesn’t use canned shit. Didn’t realize Robin can be militant about “her” kitchen, “her” turkey dinner and that I might be stepping on toes when I said I’d be bringing a few pies. She said it was a good lesson in letting go of some control when she allowed me to bring them.

Robin and Gene, their kitchen, HER turkey...don't walk in there!!!

I will mention — and I did mention this in last year’s blog (remember?) — that the Gelson’s Market bakery, Viktor Benes, has an amazing pecan pie — almost as good as my mom’s, which was the best. However, their pumpkin is not as good as other homemade pies, like the one my friend Bruce makes. Bruce had invited me over on Wednesday for a Watch-Me-Make-My-Pies party. I’m sure it was lovely and the aroma in his kitchen must have been intoxicating. But I couldn’t bring myself to go and then not have a taste right away; I’m not that much of a masochist.

At this time of year, I am reminded of what my dad often said: “You didn’t choose your family, but you do choose your friends and can make them your family.” In case you haven’t noticed, I will be forever quoting my father. Let’s face it, he was my hero and I love just about everything that came out of his mouth, including the word cunt which seems to offend the rest of the world.

In the spirit of “my friends are my family,” I chose Robin’s house. She is family and I told her that when she asked everyone at the table to please say what they are grateful for. I also love old people. They are often the forgotten ones and I said during my what-I’m-grateful-for speech that I also came to Robin’s to see her mother again. Abbe, her mom, told me that the way she gets enough exercise is by walking back & forth cleaning up dog and horseshit — an image that in itself was worth the trip to Calabasas.

Tradition. This is the premiere holiday of tradition, isn’t it? And I for one have never been that traditional. But the special fragrances of the turkey feast is something that I always long for and associate with my mother who I miss being in the kitchen making her great Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, I made a big sort of failed attempt at it myself – but this time I was fine with my kids going to their dad’s house. (more…)

Prune, My Kinda Retro

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

The East Village is, was and always will be my hood in the big apple. Sure, I now stay on the Upper West Side and much to the dismay of my husband, I gravitate downtown. He will often say “downtown again?”
My friend Peggy always lived on the Lower East Side and she was my friend-to-stay-with in New York. It was really seedy and exciting then, the 70’s. It’s been totally gentri-yuppie-fied in recent years.
The Hells Angels owned the block — or maybe even blocks — around where Peg lived. And each day as I ventured out, one or another of them would ask me to fetch him something like matches perhaps -from the corner store. So I did. Who wouldn’t? It was always more of a command — and I was to obey.
One hot summer night when Peggy and I were feeling playful and fearless, I actually hopped on the back of Mike the Bike’s Harley for a quick spin around Alphabet City. She was on the bike of another Hells Angel whose name I cannot recall; I only remember his toothless grin and his notoriety from the Altamont infamy of some years earlier.
I am not the biggest adventurer — in fact, I’m not adventurous at all. But I describe myself as a person with the opposite of xenophobia. I love foreigners and strangers. In those days, I’d been known to see a street filled with Puerto Ricans, dancing to the beat of their segregated world, and I would jump in to dance wildly with them. But I also backed out quickly when I sensed danger (clearly, they were xenophobic).

Peggy and I, east village, early 80's

In the 80’s, I moved to New York with my newborn baby Oliver and the ex. Guess where? The East Village. Always fascinating, many other like-minded souls. And hookers in front of the building where we lived. Colorful and familiar. Saint Marks Place, just steps away, was my world and I still love it. Guess I should mention that my father grew up there so it has an even deeper meaning /history for me. (more…)

No More Trouble in Paradise or…To Marry or Not to Marry, that is the Question

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

The North Shore of Kauai has always held deep meaning for me. It was where I escaped on my first adventure as a newly single woman raising three kids alone. That was nearly twenty years ago. (And it was where, in the early 70’s, I filmed a Lipton Tea commercial — another blog, another time). I was suddenly thrust into single life just as my dad-the-sage had long predicted during the twelve years I spent with Father of My Children.
Our blissful wedding, almost nine years earlier to the day that I was to leave on my Hawaiian adventure, was held on Pico Boulevard in the parking lot of Rent-a-Wreck. Talk about an ominous sign (See blissful wedding day photo.) During the ceremony, various people and probably even my own dad were loudly laying odds the marriage would never last. After the split, I found out no one present gave it more than six months.
On the fateful morning of the Big Reveal (I picked up a phone extension to hear F.O.M.C. listening to The Other Woman reciting love poetry, (GAG) ), I called my dad to tell him that he was right about Mr. Right. He barely reacted. He then informed me that my eternal student/out-of-work husband had once hidden 18 thousand dollars in dad’s bank account and had obviously forgotten about it. My dad told me to help myself to the money.
Eighteen thousand dollars sounded pretty good since it was eighteen thousand more than I had at the time, but I only took nine, choosing to split it with F.O.M.C. So young, so honest, so foolish! Now, with nine thousand in hand, I decided that my kids and I needed ten days in Kauai to recover from a broken marriage. Anything left over would go toward the down payment on a new car. (Yes, this was back when there might be something left from $9,000 after a Hawaiian vacation.) Things were looking up already. I called in a favor from my friend Sherry, whose family owned a hotel on the island. $60 dollars a night, not bad.
I never told my kids that we were going away because I love to surprise them. The night before we were to leave, I waited till they were asleep to pack their bags. Then at 6:00 AM, I woke them to announce we were heading to paradise. It was thrilling.
I brought my gourmet meal to eat on the plane. I was way ahead of my time in doing that. And I’m not exaggerating when I say gourmet. (On a recent flight, I brought caviar and the woman next to me said, “You really travel in style”. The snack cost nearly as much as the coach ticket.) But I let my kids eat the airplane food, since I figured it was okay with them. Airline meals were so lousy they really did us all a favor to end them.
To land on the island of Kauai is like encountering a mirage. Five hours of flying, then you touch down, stepping into beauty and wonder and fragrances so magical they can’t be real. At this point, you’re probably hungry, and if you’re headed where we usually are — the North Shore– you stop at Ono Burger. It’s a not-so-fast-food stand on the ocean side of the road next to a mini-mart, and it’s really good. All the locals go there and you can’t go wrong with whatever you order. And if you do go wrong, who cares? You’re in Hawaii. You sit and eat at a picnic table surrounded by wild chickens and feral cats, and feed them. Everybody does.
On that trip I took my kids on a sunset cruise adventure — obviously suffering a memory lapse about my history of seasickness. The captain of the boat fell instantly in love with me, I’m not sure why, but it probably had something to do with certain men being hardwired to take care of women. I’m extra-small and some men just have a visceral reaction to protect me. (Others step on me – see F.O.M.C.) The attention from Cap’n Jack did a lot for a girl who’d just fled a loveless marriage. But all the Good Captain got in return was vomit on his shoes. Finally, he told me that I needed to jump overboard. At first, I thought he was kidding, but he said it would steady my equilibrium or something and at that point I would have done anything for relief. I jumped. My kids stared as I treaded water, as surprised as the curious sea turtles circling me.
Cap’n Jack, flirt or nurturer that he was, dove in and stuck it out with me. He had his hands all over me, whispering sexy things in my ear. He completely ignored the other guests on the cruise, which was great for my ego but not so great for them. It occurred to me that he might be a bit of a gigolo who thought I was a rich young woman traveling with a babysitter, as I was. Well, then too bad for him. I had just spent my last nine thousand. But for a fleeting moment, I imagined moving to Kauai and a happy-ever-after life as a sea captain’s wife. As you can see, I was clearly starved for attention.
Some nights I would take the kids to Lafferty’s, the amazing local ice cream store. If you go, get the Kona Coffee. But all the flavors are great. It was there, in a bit of foreshadowing of my soon-to-be future life, that I spotted an unusual Rastafarian-looking dog… that I became, not out of character for me, quite taken with. The owner said it was a Portuguese Water Dog. He was chocolate in color and a spectacular-looking creature.
Soon after the well-deserved Kauai vacation with my kids I went on my first date with my future husband. No, he was not a Rastafarian. But he did have a Portuguese Water Dog. That dog, Moby, would also become my dog. Everything fell into place. (more…)

The Little Things

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

with my son Oliver, about to eat an amazing breakfast

I can do so little for my husband and he will thank me. I can make the most thrown together, not interesting mish -mosh of a meal that I haven’t even cooked myself and at the end of that meal, he will not only thank me but HE will clean everything up. That’s what he just said after I threw together some cold chicken that was in the refrigerator. I didn’t even cook that chicken, I picked the thing up at the market yesterday….no, no, no, no, that’s a lie, HE picked it up from the market yesterday, an already fully cooked chicken. I had some side dishes that I picked up today at the Farmers Market. And I did manage to find the left over steamed broccoli and I sautéed it in olive oil, garlic and pine nuts. I told him the truth when I met him. I’m a homeBODY, not a homeMAKER. But I guess since he doesn’t cook, anything he eats is a mystery, a lovely tasting magical mystery. That’s how he acts and I totally understand it. When I woke up this morning, I had an e-mail waiting for me from my son Oliver and I rarely look at the time an e-mail comes in but I did, just curious about how late he stays up. There was one sentence that Oliver wrote. The note read “ when I’m rich I will order a croque-madame at 3:17 am from my personal chef ”.
I thought, I can totally relate, it would be MY “if only I were rich” dream. I would have a private chef.
My husband isn’t THAT gastronomically unlucky because today’s lunch menu was a whole different story. I made pancakes, but not my usual buttermilk pancakes. I love my buttermilk pancakes, the recipe is easy and it always tastes great. When I try other pancake recipes, I am often disappointed. I’m not sure why, but I thought, well today, I will try this other one because it sounded like it could be a good one. It’s not just a good one. It’s great. It’s from a hotel in San Francisco called Campton Place.
I’m just sorry Oliver doesn’t live in L.A. because he’s a big all day breakfast eater and it’s a meal he would have really enjoyed.

Campton Place pancakes recipe
For the Topping (I didn’t make this topping but it sounds amazing)
4 ounces ( Istick) unsalted butter
1 Fuji, Braeburn or Granny Smith apple, peeled, cut, cored and cut into ½ inch cubes
½ cup apple cider

For the Pancakes
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
¼ cup wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted

1. Make the Topping Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in medium non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the apple and sauté until softened and slightly caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add the cider and cook, stirring for 3 minutes, until the apples are tender and the sauce is slightly thick.
2. Remove from the heat and transfer to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Beat the remaining 6 tablespoons butter until fluffy. Add the apple mixture and stir well to combine. Set aside.

4. Make the pancakes: Sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla and melted butter. Whisk in the flour mixture and combine well, but do not overmix.
5. Heat a griddle until hot. Ladle the batter onto the hot griddle, about 1/3 cup per pancake. The batter should sizzle quietly when it hits the surface. Cook until bubbles break through, a couple of minutes, and turn the pancakes over. Cook for another minute, until the pancakes are nicely browned on both sides. Transfer to plates and serve hot, or if making all at once, keep warm in a low oven. Serve with the apple topping.

Never Really Been So I Don’t Really Know

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

me, fairway

I have run an informal, not- for -profit concierge service for years.  I field calls weekly from various friends asking what restaurant to go to for certain occasions.  I like giving this advice, I love sharing information.  From very early on in life I have loved connecting people.

If I’m in a hotel, no matter where or when, I’m often found deep in conversation, in a hot tub, probably about food with strangers.  I once belonged to the Loews Hotel fitness club which was, and is, not terribly expensive and comes with the use of their pool, hot tub, steam room.  It was a great deal and I really love to swim and didn’t have a pool of my own at the time.  Most nights I could be found in the hot tub with random people telling them where to eat while they were in L.A. on vacation.  Great for THEM.

Years ago,  I remember sitting in a hot tub in the Berkshires, at a hotel I recommend by the way,  called Porches.  I told some of my new -found “friends for the next 20 minutes “that I would be spending a lot of time on the upper west side of New York.  They were my east coast counterparts.  They told me all these places I needed to go.  Did I listen? Well, I never forgot but I never really tried all, no make that any of their suggestions.  I am set in my ways and love my Magnolia cupcakes so much that I totally disregarded their recommendation of the “real” best cupcakes in the city.  They had said the name Mitchell London and it sounded like a salon and not a food place so I just ignored it.  The mental note was still there and sometimes I would pass a Mitchell London store as I was headed to a museum or somewhere to eat on the upper east side.  But I just kept ignorant.  And, it was maybe better that way. (more…)