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Date:2011-10-31 20:46
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Tibetan food isn't exactly common in the Western world, but, unsurprisngly, it's just about everywhere in Sikkim and Darjeeling.

It's in essence a high altitude variant on Chinese food with more dairy and more bread, and a whole lot of tsampa, or flour made from roasted barley.

Like most of East Asia, noodles and dumplings (called Momos) are staples of day to day life, and soy sauce and chili crop up constantly. Noodle soup, called Thukpa, is eaten just about daily, as is balep, or Tibetan bread.


Blind Date Restaurant
Fancy Market (Top floor - watch for the sign from the street.)
12, NB Singh Road
+91 35 4225 5404
Darjeeling, India


Blind Date is a small, somewhat creatively decorated restaurant in Darjeeling that specializes in Himalayan food - the common cuisine ground in between Nepal, Tibet, Sikkim and Bhutan. The constants? Momos (dumplings), Thukpa (noodle soup), fried bread and fried rice, and more dairy products then are usually encountered in East Asian influenced cuisines. Most importantly: Blind Date is both dirt cheap and delicious. For your buck, it's just about the best eating experience in Darjeeling. Don't miss it.

Just be sure to use the bathroom first, since, like every restaurant in Darjeeling (just about) there's nowhere to go in the restaurant. Not a problem for men, who may exert the Indian males God-given right to piss on anything wherever he pleases at any time, but ladies may want to hold back on the beer. Watch this space for an upcoming screed about Darjeeling's discriminatory bathroom facilities, but, writing about food right now.



I believe this was Chhurpi, the Himalayas' somewhat weird but delicious variant on the West's hallowed cheese soup. (The fact I am unsure irritates me - I lost my notes somewhere, and Google is proving unhelpful). We ordered it with pork, which was the way to go. Although it's made with Himalaya-style fermented cheese - pretty much cottage cheese with a weird name, don't need to delve into it further, do we? - the taste is somewhat equivalent to cheddar. However this stuff is made, it's ideal for a foggy day at high altitude.



Ting-mo, or Tibetan bread rolls, are often served steamed (like the Chinese do) and are a rather inoffensive and basic carbohydrate. Good at high altitude to keep you hiking but not something I'd pick out of a police lineup for supper. Thankfully, deep frying turns the stuff into golden-crispy Grade-A deliciousness. Get two orders.

I don't have a picture of Blind Date's variant on the theme, but momos are just what people in the Himalayas - and at various restaurants in India - call God's Chosen Food, the dumpling. The main way you can tell them apart from East Asian variants on the classic is the shape - momos tend to be rounder. Other then that, they're filled with various kinds of things and served in a dizzying number of ways. I happen to like the variety that are pan-fried and served with a thick chili sauce the best, but I'll eat and adore pretty much anything pan fried and served in a thick chili sauce. You can never go wrong with momos in this part of the world, and thankfully, you'll never be forced to live without em'.



I should add that Blind Date has some of the best chili chicken on the subcontinent. Chili chicken is a much beloved Chindian dish (You know, the bastard love child of Chinese and Indian food) and is sort of like a spicier, harsher, variant on General Tso's chicken. This being India, the chicken is usually served bone-in and stir-fried with a not-fucking-around chili sauce, some whole chilis, and some vegetables. My friend Kiran and I are nuts for it, and this was great.



Fried rice is what Asia runs on. The world will probably run on fried rice in a hundred years. I'm cool with this. Blind Date, true to form, has excellent fried rice. They keep it in the pan long enough to get a little nutty crisp on it, which is essential, and there's plenty of stuff in it, which is also essential.



Gobi Manchurian, another beloved deep-fried and spicy Chindian dish. It's deep-fried cauliflower in a sweet and spicy sauce. Just about ubiquitous and pretty good if you, like most people, prefer your vegetable products crispy and delicious.



I've got a thing for fried greens, which most people think is kind of weird. Whatever. These were really good, and a nice mix of various local-greens varieties - not over or undercooked, nice and fresh, a simple and slightly spicy Chinese-style sauce with some vinegar.








I continued hanging out with Patrick. Kiran was still up on the mountain and -hopefully - coming back down in a timely fashion, if altitude sickness and yetis hadn't got him first. I had nothing to do and was very much enjoying it. I visited Darjeeling's Top Tourist attractions a bit half-heartedly. I ate a lot of meat since I had grown to miss it in the mountains. I went for long, hilly walks to nowhere in particular. I failed to wake up early enough to go to Tiger Mountain.

I checked out of the Planter's Club at the earliest possible opportunity and booked myself into the more salubrious, if pricier, Shangri-La Regency, which did not have the ghosts of centuries past knocking about and a functional cable television, where I laid sprawled out on the bed and watched Indian intellectuals complain about the Commonwealth Games.

And I'm going to get these introspective posts about the nature of life and death out of the way in a chunk here, because I guess it seems right. Darjeeling was for me, a lot about wandering around on misty hills and ruminating - somewhat against my will - on existence. Looking back on it, almost a year on, it all seemed prescient, in light of what was waiting for me in Cambodia.

After I met Patrick, I met his traveling friend, a Dutch 27-year-old who used to be a competitive cyclist, a real athletic hot-shot. Bert was smart as hell, and he and KIran took to each other immediately, once Kiran actually arrived. They argued geo-politics and Patrick and I talked about packed-to-the-gills buses and hot days in India and what happens when you're trying to make a flight for the Congo. The four of us had dinner together. I'll talk about that later but right now I'll talk about this. Putting a food blog post in here doesn't quite seem right.

There's a cafe in Darjeeling you should find, or perhaps you won't avoid finding it, because far as we could tell it's the only place in town that stays open past 9:00 AM.



The design aesthetic is abo what you'd get if your seventy-five year old maiden aunt with a proclivity for knick-knacks happened to be a Tibetan Buddhist monk: lacey things, images of Buddhist saints, lamps in awful taste with dangly things coming off of them and lots of Thangka paintings - there was a scent of incense and perhaps mothball in the air.

The menu, this being Darjeeling, featured nothing stronger than black tea and hot chocolate. I defaulted to hot chocolate in deference to the mist. I settled into a puce cushion. We talked about everything.

It is odd for me to write this now, to think that I would be reading (not much later) of Bert's suicide in January, only a week or so before my second Phnom Penh tragedy - that I will not talk about here, but maybe someday. I went online and noticed a sudden flurry of postings on his Facebook page, which is how death is announced nowadays.

His family had put up an obituary site and I went there and looked. I couldn't figure out how he'd died, since most of the postings were in Dutch. I got a Dutch friend to read a news report I found with his name in it. A suicide. No more details. None I'll ever get, probably. Don't want to pry further.

Had something in him already begun to become undone, despite how normal he was and how charming he was, and how he was telling us about his impending degree in sport's health? He was out here traveling, as many young people do who have some time and a bit of cash on their hands. Some of them are on holiday and that is all they are out for.

Some of them are both on holiday and also looking for something, a purpose, which is the category I like to think I fall into (and fall short of). And then there are the ones who are looking for something far more dire, a reason to root themselves to the earth - a trip that can turn into a farewell tour, I guess.

Did he find what he was looking for up in Sikkim and Darjeeling? Was it the failure to find (whatever it was) that drove him to kill himself? Or were the Himalayas nothing at all to him, a blip on the radar of a mind that had already begun to descend downwards and downwards, again?

Winston Churchill called depression the Black Dog. It follows you everywhere. Churchill strong-armed it, but that's luck, as much as strength. And many don't strong-arm it, let it take them away.

He was young and fit and ordered tea alongside us. He was very blonde and had freckles and was good looking, and spoke with only the faintest hint of a Dutch accent. We had breakfast with him and Patrick at Glenary's, and he complained about the quality of the baked beans.

I have forgotten where he was off to beyond Darjeeling, but the photos remain on his Facebook, which no one has aced out yet. These are things I did not anticipate in a pink-and-mauve Tibetan buddhist cafe around 11:00 PM at night, when we had conversations we ought to have been having in a dirty bar.

Maybe that's the thing of travel alone,the particular quality - the wisdom that's imparted, the things you get left behind with, the people you meet who steer you along out of some sense of duty.

Bert is dead now, but I'll remember him and that surrealist Darjeeling tea-shop forever, and that provides a hint of comfort to me.

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Date:2010-02-23 20:23
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Pho Hien Vuong
6835 Stockton
Ste 400
Sacramento, CA 95823
(916) 391-8538


Pho Hien Vuong is one of Stockton's multifarious pho joints, located right across the street from the (dearly beloved) SF supermarket. I am not entirely sure if I can identify anything in particular that differentiates the space within, other then that it is clean and Nickeloden cartoons are usually playing for the benefit of little-kid diners. The food, however, is quite tasty, and the menu provides some interesting selections that don't always make the cut at other Vietnamese eateries.



A lotus root salad with shrimp and pork. Delicious, light and fresh, and presented extremely attractively. This is one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes - something about the interplay of sweet tangy fish sauce dressing, crunchy lotus root, shrimps and pork is just the perfect thing, even more so on a good hot day. Which it wasn't when I ate this, but, ah, no matter.



My dad went with the perennial classic of beef stew, complete with the tendony bits that give him so much pleasure. A nice rich beef broth, with a good amount of flavor, and plenty of miscellaneous "stuff."



I always seem to order the same thing here: the special noodle soup, with snails, crab, ground pork, and some other miscellaneous stuff (including congealed blood cubes, which i am distinctly ambivalent too). The soup has a gamy, seafoody, delightful flavor that is rather hard to find in another dish, and is elevated any ore with the addition of shrimp paste/sambaal/large amounts of hoisin. I am a big advocate of Soup With Stuff In It and this really fits the bill.


Pho Hien Vuong is a nice option for a good Vietnamese meal if you're out hunting for weird Asian food products on Stockton, or just need some snail-and-crab soup in your life. Check it out.

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Date:2009-02-07 10:24
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Half-assed update tonight, I'm rather busy, life is pain.

Socola Chocolates

Scrumptious looking Vietnamese inspired chocolates. They have bacon and durian flavors. I am sold. Socola is the Vietnamese word for chocolate, by the by.

Dungeness Crab Week in San Francisco.

Feburary 19th to March 1st is Dungeness Week in the Bay and I am incredibly pissed I cannot be there. I imagine I could make some sort of low rent variant on chili crabs from the little blue gulf guys we get here, though. Hmm, I believe I have my weekend project.

Restaurants Being Nice Again - NYTimes

And so too does snooty ass eating find its Waterloo: the economy. Soon we will start seeing blue-plate specials at WD-50 and Vong, Thomas Keller shilling MRE's and Bouchon labeled meal bars in the back of Women's Day. As an aside, a 35 dollar prix fixe menu at Vong? I wish I was in New York, even if it is butt-ass cold there.

Daphen Derven joins NOLA Food and Farm Network

Good development, this. We need more dedicated food pros boots on the ground in NOLA. I'm hoping to volunteer with the Edible Schoolyard for my community service project at Tulane next year...grae

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Date:2008-11-27 13:39
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Hey everyone....

Please keep the victims of the Mumbai attacks in your thoughts tonight. I'm gonna be tempering my turkey-day feasting with worry about the wonderful people I know from Mumbai and India at large. I'll try to post some ways you can help soon once oppurtunities arise.

I'm blogging about it all over here if you want to read more about the situation: Teenage Chowhound

Happy Turkey Day and let's be thankful for peace. And a giant rousing FUCK YOU to terrorists everywhere.

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Date:2008-08-04 08:25
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(Photo copyright Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd.)

I'd like to interrupt my regular programming to mention this: a series of bomb attacks occured yesterday in Bangalore, India, scene of many of my happiest recent memories. I was rather worried about my many friends and associates in Bangalore, but thankfully, everyone seems to have come out unscathed. It's a damn shame that people all over the world feel the need to commit this kind of random and disgusting violence (but we shouldn't let it scare us, now should we.)

No one knows a motive as of yet: apparently the low grade weapons were set out for the primary purpose of terrifying the populace. Which they definitely achieved. Assholes.

A similar attack occurred in Jaipur while I was in India, and my utterly-uninformed self is wondering if the two were related. They don't know the motive behind the Jaipur attacks too, but they apparently were aimed at inciting sectarian violence.

My thoughts go out to all B'lore residents.

Ubuntu Restaurant and Yoga Studio
1140 Main St
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 251-5656


Vegetarian restaurants generally don't evoke images of culinary grandeur. Vegetarian food is associated with tofu, brown rice, and distressing, gloppy Hippie Chow - not the kind of scrumptious, decadent cuisine that really stirs the soul.

To combat these notions, I present Ubuntu, Napa Valley's glorious new vegetarian restaurant. Although the restaurant may rather curiously be attached to a yoga studio, the wife and husband chefs (who met while cooking at Manresa) give the place enviable culinary chops. Furthermore, the space is simply beautiful: an open kitchen set next to a well-stocked bar, a huge communal table running down the center of the room. This friendly yet hip vibe suits the restaurant perfectly: Ubuntu serves high concept and delicious food at reasonable prices and replaces Haute Cuisine snobbery with a healthy dose of wonder at what can be done with vegetables.

On our recent visit, we decided to sit outside to enjoy the perfect summer evening. Our server brought us menus, and we were immediately confused and intruiged by the menu: Ubuntu serves completely unique food. We decided to fire away and pick whatever sounded interesting: this proved to be a very good strategy.



First up was the "carta da musica" with truffled pecorino, mushroom chips arugula, and a good splash of super high quality olive oil and saba. Carta de musica translates into "sheet music" referring to the flat and flaky nature of the bread, and this was great: think of the lighest, airiest just baked cracker you've ever had, topped with decadent, delicious pecorino cheese, peppery, sharp arugula, and unexpected, smoothly buttery fried mushroom chips. This is a simple dish and just plain perfect: transforming flat-bread into something light as air and at the same time satisfying.



We moved on to the grilled peach and french bean salad, topped with burrata cheese, basil, and pesto and basil stem vinegar. This was also excellent: freshy and slightly squeaky blanched beans, tossed in a pesto so fresh you could just about feel the basil. The burrata cheese was also delicious, adding a bit of dairy decadence to what could be a slightly insubstantial dish. The grilled peaches are pureed into a tangy and slightly rich spread that goes just perfectly with the pesto, cheese, and fresh green beans: a great and unusual combination. Grilled fruit needs to see more attention on American menus.



This simple looking ramekin contained one of the most delicious things I've eaten this year. The menu describes it as "cauliflower in a cast iron pot," and it's a complex dish: cauliflower is roasted in the oven with vadouvan curry powder, pureed with plenty of cream and butter, and served raw in a granular "couscous", accompanied with coriander and toast. It's a triumph: the smooth cauliflower is almost impossibly rich, and when juxtaposed with the spiced roast cauliflower and the smooth, pleasing crunch of the "couscous" is innovative. This dish is great in that it takes richness away from the realm of animal or dairy preparations and hands it over to a new source: the humble cauliflower. You know you're eating something marvelous when you pause every bite to comment on how damn delicious it is.



We hadn't intended to order dessert - we'd already hit Bouchon Bakery - but Ubuntu's food had blown us away so much that we had to give in. A good call: Ubuntu is doing amazing, amazing things with the sweet side of the menu. Here's roasted strawberries with lavender meringue, lemon cream, and frozen yogurt, presented creatively and gorgeously on a big old piece of slate. This was such an interesting thing to eat: the smooth, tangy lemon cream matched perfectly with the roasted, rich strawberries, creating an impromptu strawberry lemonade flavor - but don't forget the tangy, flash frozen yogurt medallions or the ethereal and sweet meringue chunks either. This is my kind of dessert: light, delicious as anything, and beautiful to behold. I have never wanted to lick a rock more.



Finally, we sampled the frosted feuilletine with bananas, keffir lime ice cream, and rum milk - the server described it to us as "frosted flakes for grownups" which sold us on the spot. And that it was: crunchy little bits of cookie, served with super-fresh banana and tangy, deeply interesting keffir lime ice cream: the way I wish my morning cereal was. The rum milk was served in a little ramiken on the side, allowing you to add it at will: a fun touch to an already interesting dessert. Excellent.

I really can't compliment Ubuntu enough. This restaurant is serving interesting, innovative and most importantly delicious food. Ubuntu also proves handily that thee is no deprivation inherent in vegetarian cuisine: vegetables in the proper hands can be just as deeply, primevally satisfying as meat, and just as pleasing to an avowed omnivore's tastes. I intend to come back as soon as possible to try everything on the menu and see what other surprises these chefs have in store for me. This is more then good food: this is interesting food, working at the edge of what's possible with vegetables and cuisine.



Mongolia Is Cooler Then You Think


Image from Boundless Journeys

I have had a curious lifelong fascination with Mongolia. Something about the idea of rugged warriors storming innocent villagers on the backs of blood sweating horses caught my young imagination, and the interest hasn't lifed: I still read books on Mongolia, listen to Tuvan throat-singing, and harbor a passionate desire to someday wander the steppes in real living color someday. Perhaps I was a Mongol warrior in a past life and just have a subconscious half-remembered desire to light fire to grass huts, intimidate innocent Polish people (they really did get that far) and wear silly hats. Perhaps.

Mongolia is curiously popular on the dirt bag tourist circuit. While staying in Beijing, I met a truly surprising number of people who had been to Mongolia and had nothing but good things to say about the experience. One guy did have his tent robbed, but he really shouldn't have left all his stuff in it and gone out to toodle around town so NO SYMPATHY. I also recall one gentleman who related an epic tale of hitching from Mongolia to Beijing on 15 bucks and eternal optimism, which leads me to believe Mongol people must be pretty nice indeed.

Certainly I should feel no shame at harboring interest in a land that spawned an empire which eventually subjugated 22% of the earth's total landmass. Mongolia may not have that type of political sway anymore, but it is still inhabited by tough-as-nails people with a unique culture, an interesting animist native religion, and some of the eeriest and most ethereal music on earth. I am afraid they cannot be credited for Mongolian Barbeque - I hear actual Mongol food is pretty damn dismal - but they do have a hand with the barbequed marmot. Perhaps I can do a graduate school dissertation someday on the cuisine of Mongolia. And exactly two people will ever read it.


Fun Facts:


- Although Genghis Khan was Not a Very Nice Chap, the Mongol empire did tolerate a surprising amount of cultural and religious indepence from its vassals. After they burned your city and killed most everyone. After that, they were cool.

-Genghis Khan's son began the Yuan Dynasty in China, which lasted for only 100 years because the Mongol ancestors had become too pussified by Chinese culture to maintain power. This adds credence to my theory that China is actually The Borg.

- Some scholars say that the death toll from the Mongol invasion of basically everything amounted to 40 million. Ouch.

- India's Mughals (you know, those guys who built the Taj Mahal under Shah Jahan) are descended from Genghis Khan.

- Mongolia is not exactly an easy country to get around in (no interstate highways back in the day), meaning that Mongol horsemen would drink small amounts of their horses blood when things got really rough. Yummy.

-Mongolia is the world's most sparsely populated country, with only 2.9 million people in a Very Very Big Landmass. It may be an ideal travel destination for the misanthropic.

-Mongol wrestlers are extremely scantily clad. The story goes that during a big wrestling match many years ago, one competitor was discovered to have been a woman. The male wrestlers were as you may imagine totally mortified and since then, near-nudity has been the way Mongolian wrestlers do. I bet they get chilly.

Mongolian Music is absolutely unique and deserves much more attention then it currently gets. Mongolian and Tuvan music has a deep, dark primeval quality to it that is absolutely bewitching: you can really feel humanity's simultaneous loneliness and exaltation at occupying the big wide open of Mongolia's plains and mountains. And it just sounds cool.

Throat or overtone singing is Mongolia's best known sound - it is really quite impossible to describe what it sounds like, so download some of the mp3s offered below. It sounds completely bizarre and your neighbors may wonder what the hell you are listening to, but this stuff is addictive. And gorgeous in a primitive, fascinating way. By the way, Tuva is a part of the Soviet Union, but shares a cultural identity with Mongolia and Mongol people, and many Tuvans live within Mongolia's borders. So now you know.

Not all Mongolian music is steeped in tradition, of course. If you saw the recent Mongol movie (which was quite good), you might have noticed the interesting rock/throat singing song that played over the ending credits. This kind of fusion music is gaining popularity in Mongolia and the Soviet Union and really does sound awesome. I like Yat-Kha, a Tuvan band that has toured internationally, and does a great job of integrating a rock and punk sound with that eerie throat singing sound. If you think about it, throat singing and the traditional death metal scream aren't that different. Download the mp3s off the website: you won't be sorry.











Bouchon Bistro
6534 Washington St,
Yountville, CA 94599



Thomas Keller is America's reigning culinary deity - the creator of Yountville's French Laundry, widely hailed as the country's best restaurant. The mighty French Laundry itself isn't exactly accessible to the common man: prix fixe menus start at 210 dollars and reservations are only obtainable by, say, selling your soul. (Presumably to Keller.)

There is an option for the (relatively) poorer among us: Bouchon, Keller's casual Yountville bistro. Featuring classic French fare served in a noisy and laid back setting, it's Keller's kickback joint, the kind of place where rich people trying to Lay Low hang out in t-shirts over wine and oysters. This does not mean you will get a break on prices, mind you, but you will feel more like the kind of robust French countryman who just happens to be able to drop 32 bucks on a lunch entree. Because you are Earthy.

Bouchon's dining room has a nice, slightly ornate look to it, but the tables are very close together, creating a very present danger of elbowing the people next to you if you make any quick movements. As my mother commented, we live in America: we have the ability to build restaurants big enough to allow people to eat without invading each others personal space. If they're really going for authenticity, they need to pipe in some body odor, issue cigarettes to all customers, and install a bidet, and I don't see them doing any of that.

Our friendly server was able to seat us ahead of our reservation. Menus are rather cute and come wrapped around the silverware. Specials are listed on a big blackboard, and change every day dependent on what's fresh. (This is totally a rule in Northern California.)

The menu focuses on good French home cookin' - none of the super contemporary touches Keller plays with in his flagship restaurant, but lots of hearty, classic flavors. I am not well versed in French cuisine and was happy to get a chance to try the real deal.



We began with appetizers. I chose the Canard salee et Confit ($14.50), composed of cured duck breast and leg confit, on a bed of frisee, pickled turnips, poached cherries, and spiced honey vinaigrette. This really was a beautiful dish: the combination of meaty, rare duck breast, fatty and decadent confit, and tiny, salt fried duck skin strips was perfect, and I deeply enjoyed the wine-infused cherries that accompanied the meat. The honey vinaigrette was also masterfully subdued and lovely, not too sweet or cloying: I want the recipe. It is always nice to have a duck dish that does not overwhelm with fat and grease, and this is it: understated, sophisticated, good.



We are a family of leek aficionados, so my mom chose the Salade de Poirexau ($12.50), composed of grilled leeks, new potatoes, haricots verts, spring onions, and a lentil vinaigrette. This was also excellent: fresh leeks provided an earthy, garlicky juxtaposition to the brilliant green haricots verts and onions. The lentil vinaigrette was especially interesting: the lentils provided an interesting texture difference. It's a nice, fairly simple dish, and a refreshing way to begin a meal.



I decided to go all light on this business and went with the Salade de Carpaccio Fume ($13.50) - smoked beef carpaccio with tomtato confit, celery branch, and green olive bread spread with creamy horseradish. This was quite nice though not as substantial as I'd been hoping (and I wish there was more tomato confit.) Still, it was beautifully presented and the super-fresh beef had a nice meaty flavor.



I also ordered the Ratatouille ($6.50) as a side dish, and NOT BECAUSE I ENJOY MOVIES ABOUT ANIMATED RATS. This was very tasty - probably because there sure was a lot of oil in it. Now, it tasted delicious and I ate all of it, but I felt a bit queasy afterwards...not that I regretted it. They could tone down the oil, but then again, it might not taste so good. I hate these kind of tradeoffs.

There's a dessert menu, but most people head next door to the equally famous Bouchon Bakery - which is exactly what we did. It's a tiny little place full of European tourists, but it certainly turns out good and classic French pastries. I had a tasty, super fresh fruit tart - light and airy, with a nice buttery crust. We also tried a raspberry macaroon, which was really quite delish: intense raspberry flavored cream, squishy yet crunchy cookie - just the perfect sort of sandwich cookie. Keller also makes upmarket Oreos with chocolate sable cookies, sold at the bakery. Well, next time. (I maintain Oreos don't actually taste like anything so the only way to go is up.)


Special note: Presentation of dishes is just beautiful at Bouchon. Somehow the colors and shapes combine to create appetizing, rustic compositions that would be worthy of any food porn magazine. It's food that is pretty but not too pretty to eat, which I find to be a terribly important distinction.

Conclusion: Bouchon is turning out excellent, detailed, and lovingly created renditions of French bistro food. Is anything innovative going on here? No - this is not food that will blow you away or make you think. But it is simple and soul-sustaining food taken to a superlative level of quality and freshness, and that in and of itself is worthy of praise. Bouchon is an excellent choice for rustic French food - what you see is exactly what you get.















I had a very nice birthday. Mom and I left at a decent hour for Napa. Surprisingly, traffic in Napa actually isn't that bad in the summer on a Wednesday, and we got to drive around and look at things in relative peace. We made Bouchon Bistro right on time (a little early) and had lunch....I'll post in detail about that later.

We also made a lovely stopover at the new Oxbow Market, which is sort of like a foodie's vision of an ultimate, surpassing food court. It's a collection of many of Northern California's best and most well known artisan food producers, and a really excellent boon for food nerds: one stop shopping for the real deal. Everything from produce to coffee to seafood to tacos is on offer.

I was particularly taken with the Fatted Calf, where I talked food nerd shop with the affable lady behind the counter and sampled various protein-ridden delights. They had just taken a giant, fatty, decadent meatloaf out of the oven and I had a bite....absolutely delicious. I fully intend to return soon to buy some meat to take home and cook. I considered purchasing a duck and bullying my dad into smoking it, but it would have become vile in the car ride home. We should have brought the cooler.

The other shops at Oxbow are also excellent - I particularly enjoyed browsing the racks at the WholeSpice outlet, which carries an impressive selection of weird and esoteric fresh-ground spices from around the world. They even had my elusive curry leaves.. The owner is a rather strange Israeli guy and he teased me gently to my mother as I happily snatched up aforementioned curry leaves, harissa, and zhoug - "She's a bit weird, isn't she?"

"Oh, yes."

I remain unembarrassed. He even was kind enough to mix me up a spicy Israeli spice mix which I intend to muck about with in the near future.

Ritual Coffee Roasters also supplies good stuff, though admittedly I do not know enough about coffee to properly evaluate it. I do know that the barista was 1. cute and 2. had a couple of 25,000 dollar Clover coffee machines, the last ones sold tot he public before Starbucks snapped up the rights. This is probably terribly important to coffee addicts so I will relate it here.

The rest of the market has such delifghts as a roti chicken joint, a speciality tea seller, a fishmonger, fine chocolates, and a lovely wine and cheese area with drop-dead gorgeous charcuterie platters. I considered buying a very very stinky Epoisses but no one wants their car to stank like that.

Oxbow is a really nice place to hang out: the people who work there are all friendly and passionate about food, and it's easy to get into discussions with interesting people over delicious, unique comestibles. We need more places like this.

We proceeded from there to Ubuntu, which was just incredible and I cannot say enough nice things. A review will of course be forthcoming. I will state for now that my meal at Ubuntu was the only time in my life where I have licked a rock of my own free will.

In short: an ideal birthday for me, which mostly involved eating a lot. I'm angling for the French Laundry for my 21st. Better start calling for reservations now.





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(Photo copyright Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd.)

I'd like to interrupt my regular programming to mention this: a<a href="http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/PoliticsNation/Low_intensity_blasts_high_intensity_panic_in_Bangalore/articleshow/3281808.cms"> series of bomb attacks </a>occured yesterday in Bangalore, India, scene of many of my happiest recent memories. I was rather worried about my many friends and associates in Bangalore, but thankfully, everyone seems to have come out unscathed. It's a damn shame that people all over the world feel the need to commit this kind of random and disgusting violence (but we shouldn't let it scare us, now should we.)

No one knows a motive as of yet: apparently the low grade weapons were set out for the primary purpose of terrifying the populace. Which they definitely achieved. Assholes.

A <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0514/p99s01-duts.html">similar attack</a> occurred in Jaipur while I was in India, and my utterly-uninformed self is wondering if the two were related. They don't know the motive behind the Jaipur attacks too, but they apparently were aimed at inciting sectarian violence.

My thoughts go out to all B'lore residents.

<strong>Ubuntu Restaurant and Yoga Studio
1140 Main St
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 251-5656
</strong>

Vegetarian restaurants generally don't evoke images of culinary grandeur. Vegetarian food is associated with tofu, brown rice, and distressing, gloppy Hippie Chow - not the kind of scrumptious, decadent cuisine that really stirs the soul.

To combat these notions, I present Ubuntu, Napa Valley's glorious new vegetarian restaurant. Although the restaurant may rather curiously be attached to a yoga studio, the wife and husband chefs (who met while cooking at Manresa) give the place enviable culinary chops. Furthermore, the space is simply beautiful: an open kitchen set next to a well-stocked bar, a huge communal table running down the center of the room. This friendly yet hip vibe suits the restaurant perfectly: Ubuntu serves high concept and delicious food at reasonable prices and replaces Haute Cuisine snobbery with a healthy dose of wonder at what can be done with vegetables.

On our recent visit, we decided to sit outside to enjoy the perfect summer evening. Our server brought us menus, and we were immediately confused and intruiged by the menu: Ubuntu serves completely unique food. We decided to fire away and pick whatever sounded interesting: this proved to be a very good strategy.

<img src="http://cheberet.com/ubuntubread.jpg">

First up was the<strong> "carta da musica" with truffled pecorino, mushroom chips arugula, and a good splash of super high quality olive oil and saba.</strong> Carta de musica translates into "sheet music" referring to the flat and flaky nature of the bread, and this was great: think of the lighest, airiest just baked cracker you've ever had, topped with decadent, delicious pecorino cheese, peppery, sharp arugula, and unexpected, smoothly buttery fried mushroom chips. This is a simple dish and just plain perfect: transforming flat-bread into something light as air and at the same time satisfying.

<img src="http://cheberet.com/ubuntupeaches.jpg">

We moved on to the<strong> grilled peach and french bean salad, topped with burrata cheese, basil, and pesto and basil stem vinegar</strong>. This was also excellent: freshy and slightly squeaky blanched beans, tossed in a pesto so fresh you could just about feel the basil. The burrata cheese was also delicious, adding a bit of dairy decadence to what could be a slightly insubstantial dish. The grilled peaches are pureed into a tangy and slightly rich spread that goes just perfectly with the pesto, cheese, and fresh green beans: a great and unusual combination. Grilled fruit needs to see more attention on American menus.

<img src="http://cheberet.com/ubuntuflower.jpg">

This simple looking ramekin contained one of the most delicious things I've eaten this year. The menu describes it as "<strong>cauliflower in a cast iron pot," and it's a complex dish: cauliflower is roasted in the oven with vadouvan curry powder, pureed with plenty of cream and butter, and served raw in a granular "couscous", accompanied with coriander and toast.</strong> It's a triumph: the smooth cauliflower is almost impossibly rich, and when juxtaposed with the spiced roast cauliflower and the smooth, pleasing crunch of the "couscous" is innovative. This dish is great in that it takes richness away from the realm of animal or dairy preparations and hands it over to a new source: the humble cauliflower. You know you're eating something marvelous when you pause every bite to comment on how damn delicious it is.

<img src="http://cheberet.com/ubunturock.jpg">

We hadn't intended to order dessert - we'd already hit Bouchon Bakery - but Ubuntu's food had blown us away so much that we had to give in. A good call: Ubuntu is doing amazing, amazing things with the sweet side of the menu. Here's <strong>roasted strawberries with lavender meringue, lemon cream, and frozen yogurt</strong>, presented creatively and gorgeously on a big old piece of slate. This was such an interesting thing to eat: the smooth, tangy lemon cream matched perfectly with the roasted, rich strawberries, creating an impromptu strawberry lemonade flavor - but don't forget the tangy, flash frozen yogurt medallions or the ethereal and sweet meringue chunks either. This is my kind of dessert: light, delicious as anything, and beautiful to behold. I have never wanted to lick a rock more.

<img src="http://cheberet.com/ubuntucornflakes.jpg">

Finally, we sampled the<strong> frosted feuilletine with bananas, keffir lime ice cream, and rum milk</strong> - the server described it to us as "frosted flakes for grownups" which sold us on the spot. And that it was: crunchy little bits of cookie, served with super-fresh banana and tangy, deeply interesting keffir lime ice cream: the way I wish my morning cereal was. The rum milk was served in a little ramiken on the side, allowing you to add it at will: a fun touch to an already interesting dessert. Excellent.

I really can't compliment Ubuntu enough. This restaurant is serving interesting, innovative and most importantly delicious food. Ubuntu also proves handily that thee is no deprivation inherent in vegetarian cuisine: vegetables in the proper hands can be just as deeply, primevally satisfying as meat, and just as pleasing to an avowed omnivore's tastes. I intend to come back as soon as possible to try everything on the menu and see what other surprises these chefs have in store for me. This is more then good food: this is interesting food, working at the edge of what's possible with vegetables and cuisine.



Mongolia Is Cooler Then You Think

<img src="http://cheberet.com/mongolia.jpg">
Image from <a href="http://www.boundlessjourneys.com/destinations/asiapacific/mongolia.html">Boundless Journeys </a>

I have had a curious lifelong fascination with Mongolia. Something about the idea of rugged warriors storming innocent villagers on the backs of blood sweating horses caught my young imagination, and the interest hasn't lifed: I still read books on Mongolia, listen to Tuvan throat-singing, and harbor a passionate desire to someday wander the steppes in real living color someday. Perhaps I was a Mongol warrior in a past life and just have a subconscious half-remembered desire to light fire to grass huts, intimidate innocent Polish people (they really did get that far) and wear silly hats. Perhaps.

Mongolia is curiously popular on the dirt bag tourist circuit. While staying in Beijing, I met a truly surprising number of people who had been to Mongolia and had nothing but good things to say about the experience. One guy did have his tent robbed, but he really shouldn't have left all his stuff in it and gone out to toodle around town so NO SYMPATHY. I also recall one gentleman who related an epic tale of hitching from Mongolia to Beijing on 15 bucks and eternal optimism, which leads me to believe Mongol people must be pretty nice indeed.

Certainly I should feel no shame at harboring interest in a land that spawned an empire which eventually subjugated 22% of the earth's total landmass. Mongolia may not have that type of political sway anymore, but it is still inhabited by tough-as-nails people with a unique culture, an interesting animist native religion, and some of the eeriest and most ethereal music on earth. I am afraid they cannot be credited for Mongolian Barbeque - I hear actual Mongol food is pretty damn dismal - but they do have a hand with the barbequed marmot. Perhaps I can do a graduate school dissertation someday on the cuisine of Mongolia. And exactly two people will ever read it.

<strong>
Fun Facts:</strong>

- Although Genghis Khan was Not a Very Nice Chap, the Mongol empire did tolerate a surprising amount of cultural and religious indepence from its vassals. After they burned your city and killed most everyone. After that, they were cool.

-Genghis Khan's son began the Yuan Dynasty in China, which lasted for only 100 years because the Mongol ancestors had become too pussified by Chinese culture to maintain power. This adds credence to my theory that China is actually The Borg.

- Some scholars say that the death toll from the Mongol invasion of basically everything amounted to 40 million. Ouch.

- India's Mughals (you know, those guys who built the Taj Mahal under Shah Jahan) are descended from Genghis Khan.

- Mongolia is not exactly an easy country to get around in (no interstate highways back in the day), meaning that Mongol horsemen would drink small amounts of their horses blood when things got really rough. Yummy.

-Mongolia is the world's most sparsely populated country, with only 2.9 million people in a Very Very Big Landmass. It may be an ideal travel destination for the misanthropic.

-Mongol wrestlers are extremely scantily clad. The story goes that during a big wrestling match many years ago, one competitor was discovered to have been a woman. The male wrestlers were as you may imagine <em>totally</em> mortified and since then, near-nudity has been the way Mongolian wrestlers do. I bet they get chilly.

<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Mongolia">Mongolian Music</a> is absolutely unique and deserves much more attention then it currently gets. Mongolian and Tuvan music has a deep, dark primeval quality to it that is absolutely bewitching: you can really feel humanity's simultaneous loneliness and exaltation at occupying the big wide open of Mongolia's plains and mountains. And it just sounds cool.

<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overtone_singing">Throat or overtone singing</a> is Mongolia's best known sound - it is really quite impossible to describe what it sounds like, so download some of the mp3s offered below. It sounds completely bizarre and your neighbors may wonder what the hell you are listening to, but this stuff is addictive. And gorgeous in a primitive, fascinating way. By the way, Tuva is a part of the Soviet Union, but shares a cultural identity with Mongolia and Mongol people, and many Tuvans live within Mongolia's borders. So now you know.

Not all Mongolian music is steeped in tradition, of course. If you saw the recent Mongol movie (which was quite good), you might have noticed the interesting rock/throat singing song that played over the ending credits. This kind of fusion music is gaining popularity in Mongolia and the Soviet Union and really does sound awesome. I like <a href="http://www.yat-kha.com/">Yat-Kha</a>, a Tuvan band that has toured internationally, and does a great job of integrating a rock and punk sound with that eerie throat singing sound. If you think about it, throat singing and the traditional death metal scream aren't that different. Download the mp3s off the website: you won't be sorry.











<strong><a href="http://www.bouchonbistro.com/">Bouchon Bistro
6534 Washington St,
Yountville, CA 94599</a></strong>


Thomas Keller is America's reigning culinary deity - the creator of Yountville's French Laundry, widely hailed as the country's best restaurant. The mighty French Laundry itself isn't exactly accessible to the common man: prix fixe menus start at 210 dollars and reservations are only obtainable by, say, selling your soul. (Presumably to Keller.)

There is an option for the (relatively) poorer among us: Bouchon, Keller's casual Yountville bistro. Featuring classic French fare served in a noisy and laid back setting, it's Keller's kickback joint, the kind of place where rich people trying to Lay Low hang out in t-shirts over wine and oysters. This does not mean you will get a break on prices, mind you, but you will <em>feel</em> more like the kind of robust French countryman who just happens to be able to drop 32 bucks on a lunch entree. Because you are Earthy.

Bouchon's dining room has a nice, slightly ornate look to it, but the tables are very close together, creating a very present danger of elbowing the people next to you if you make any quick movements. As my mother commented, we live in America: we have the ability to build restaurants big enough to allow people to eat without invading each others personal space. If they're really going for authenticity, they need to pipe in some body odor, issue cigarettes to all customers, and install a bidet, and I don't see them doing <em>any of that. </em>

Our friendly server was able to seat us ahead of our reservation. Menus are rather cute and come wrapped around the silverware. Specials are listed on a big blackboard, and change every day dependent on what's fresh. (This is totally a rule in Northern California.)

The menu focuses on good French home cookin' - none of the super contemporary touches Keller plays with in his flagship restaurant, but lots of hearty, classic flavors. I am not well versed in French cuisine and was happy to get a chance to try the real deal.

<img src="http://cheberet.com/bouchonduck.jpg">

We began with appetizers. I chose the <strong>Canard salee et Confit ($14.50)</strong>, composed of cured duck breast and leg confit, on a bed of frisee, pickled turnips, poached cherries, and spiced honey vinaigrette. This really was a beautiful dish: the combination of meaty, rare duck breast, fatty and decadent confit, and tiny, salt fried duck skin strips was perfect, and I deeply enjoyed the wine-infused cherries that accompanied the meat. The honey vinaigrette was also masterfully subdued and lovely, not too sweet or cloying: I want the recipe. It is always nice to have a duck dish that does not overwhelm with fat and grease, and this is it: understated, sophisticated, <em>good.</em>

<img src="http://cheberet.com/bouchonleeks.jpg">

We are a family of leek aficionados, so my mom chose the <strong>Salade de Poirexau ($12.50)</strong>, composed of grilled leeks, new potatoes, haricots verts, spring onions, and a lentil vinaigrette. This was also excellent: fresh leeks provided an earthy, garlicky juxtaposition to the brilliant green haricots verts and onions. The lentil vinaigrette was especially interesting: the lentils provided an interesting texture difference. It's a nice, fairly simple dish, and a refreshing way to begin a meal.

<img src="http://cheberet.com/bouchonbeef.jpg">

I decided to go all light on this business and went with the <strong>Salade de Carpaccio Fume </strong>($13.50) - smoked beef carpaccio with tomtato confit, celery branch, and green olive bread spread with creamy horseradish. This was quite nice though not as substantial as I'd been hoping (and I wish there was more tomato confit.) Still, it was beautifully presented and the super-fresh beef had a nice meaty flavor.

<img src="http://cheberet.com/bouchonrat.jpg">

I also ordered the Ratatouille ($6.50) as a side dish, and NOT BECAUSE I ENJOY MOVIES ABOUT ANIMATED RATS. This was very tasty - probably because there sure was a lot of oil in it. Now, it tasted delicious and I ate all of it, but I felt a bit queasy afterwards...not that I regretted it. They could tone down the oil, but then again, it might not taste so good. I hate these kind of tradeoffs.

There's a dessert menu, but most people head next door to the equally famous Bouchon Bakery - which is exactly what we did. It's a tiny little place full of European tourists, but it certainly turns out good and classic French pastries. I had a tasty, super fresh fruit tart - light and airy, with a nice buttery crust. We also tried a raspberry macaroon, which was really quite delish: intense raspberry flavored cream, squishy yet crunchy cookie - just the perfect sort of sandwich cookie. Keller also makes upmarket Oreos with chocolate sable cookies, sold at the bakery. Well, next time. (I maintain Oreos don't actually taste like anything so the only way to go is up.)


Special note: Presentation of dishes is just beautiful at Bouchon. Somehow the colors and shapes combine to create appetizing, rustic compositions that would be worthy of any food porn magazine. It's food that is pretty but not <em>too pretty to eat,</em> which I find to be a terribly important distinction.

Conclusion: Bouchon is turning out excellent, detailed, and lovingly created renditions of French bistro food. Is anything innovative going on here? No - this is not food that will blow you away or make you think. But it is simple and soul-sustaining food taken to a superlative level of quality and freshness, and that in and of itself is worthy of praise. Bouchon is an excellent choice for rustic French food - what you see is <em>exactly</em> what you get.













<img src="http://cheberet.com/oxbow.jpg">

I had a very nice birthday. Mom and I left at a decent hour for Napa. Surprisingly, traffic in Napa actually isn't that bad in the summer on a Wednesday, and we got to drive around and look at things in relative peace. We made <a href="http://www.bouchonbistro.com/">Bouchon Bistro </a>right on time (a little early) and had lunch....I'll post in detail about that later.

We also made a lovely stopover at the new <a href="http://www.oxbowpublicmarket.com/">Oxbow Market,</a> which is sort of like a foodie's vision of an ultimate, surpassing food court. It's a collection of many of Northern California's best and most well known artisan food producers, and a really excellent boon for food nerds: one stop shopping for the real deal. Everything from produce to coffee to seafood to tacos is on offer.

I was particularly taken with the <a href="http://www.fattedcalf.com/">Fatted Calf,</a> where I talked food nerd shop with the affable lady behind the counter and sampled various protein-ridden delights. They had just taken a giant, fatty, decadent meatloaf out of the oven and I had a bite....absolutely delicious. I fully intend to return soon to buy some meat to take home and cook. I considered purchasing a duck and bullying my dad into smoking it, but it would have become vile in the car ride home. We should have brought the cooler.

The other shops at Oxbow are also excellent - I particularly enjoyed browsing the racks at the <a href="http://www.wholespice.com/">WholeSpice</a> outlet, which carries an impressive selection of weird and esoteric fresh-ground spices from around the world. They even had my elusive curry leaves.. The owner is a rather strange Israeli guy and he teased me gently to my mother as I happily snatched up aforementioned curry leaves, harissa, and zhoug - "She's a bit weird, isn't she?"

"Oh, <em>yes."</em>

I remain unembarrassed. He even was kind enough to mix me up a spicy Israeli spice mix which I intend to muck about with in the near future.

Ritual Coffee Roasters also supplies good stuff, though admittedly I do not know enough about coffee to properly evaluate it. I do know that the barista was 1. cute and 2. had a couple of 25,000 dollar Clover coffee machines, the <em>last ones sold tot he public</em> before Starbucks snapped up the rights. This is probably terribly important to coffee addicts so I will relate it here.

The rest of the market has such delifghts as a roti chicken joint, a speciality tea seller, a fishmonger, fine chocolates, and a lovely wine and cheese area with drop-dead gorgeous charcuterie platters. I considered buying a very very stinky Epoisses but no one wants their car to stank like that.

Oxbow is a really nice place to hang out: the people who work there are all friendly and passionate about food, and it's easy to get into discussions with interesting people over delicious, unique comestibles. We need more places like this.

We proceeded from there to <a href="http://www.ubuntunapa.com/index_flash.html">Ubuntu</a>, which was just incredible and I cannot say enough nice things. A review will of course be forthcoming. I will state for now that my meal at Ubuntu was the only time in my life where I have licked a rock of my own free will.

In short: an ideal birthday for me, which mostly involved eating a lot. I'm angling for the French Laundry for my 21st. Better start calling for reservations <em>now.</em>





<img src="<img src="http://cheberet.com/harvard.jpg" alt="http://cheberet.com/wangfujing.jpg">
Wangfujing, site of many over-heated mall runs.

Tomorrow (well, tonight) is my birthday. I don't have much planned. It'll definitely be an improvement over last year, where I ended up sniffling into a sub-par bowl of beef noodles in Beijing's Wangfujing district and elbowing through a scrum of over-stimulated Chinese eleven year olds to examine the new Harry Potter book. Then I ended up having an awkward dinner with a bunch of Russians, where I attempted to be interested in their complaints about <em>basically everything. </em> (We did have some tasty Peking duck.)

Things looked up around evening. I wandered over to my usual haunt, the Sakura Bar near Qianmen. In the course of the evening, I fell in with a couple of friendly Mexican grad students. We ended up getting drunk and talking about how awesome Cypress Hill is late into the night over magnum bottles of Tsingtao. Now that made up for a lot.

There was, however, absolutely no cake involved. I imagine birthday cake can be obtained in Beijing, but it will probably be red bean flavored and have demented, overjoyed looking Olympics mascots on it.

Mom and I are going to Bouchon tomorrow for lunch, then will pursue exciting retail opportunities in St Helena and Napa. Napa features such delights as excellent shoe stores so I'm looking forward to it. A post on Bouchon will DEFINITELY be forthcoming.

Everyone should do themselves a favor and listen to this song: <a href="http://aurgasm.us/2008/02/zeep/">Zeep, "Keep An Eye On Love."</a> It's breezy seventies sounding samba and it makes me happy right down to my ventricles. (Do I have ventricles?)

I think I'll do a post about Mongolia and Mongolian music next. I just can't get enough of those crazy steppe-dwellers.
<img src="http://cheberet.com/harvard.jpg" alt="http://cheberet.com/wangfujing.jpg">
Wangfujing, site of many over-heated mall runs.

Tomorrow (well, tonight) is my birthday. I don't have much planned. It'll definitely be an improvement over last year, where I ended up sniffling into a sub-par bowl of beef noodles in Beijing's Wangfujing district and elbowing through a scrum of over-stimulated Chinese eleven year olds to examine the new Harry Potter book. Then I ended up having an awkward dinner with a bunch of Russians, where I attempted to be interested in their complaints about <em>basically everything. </em> (We did have some tasty Peking duck.)

Things looked up around evening. I wandered over to my usual haunt, the Sakura Bar near Qianmen. In the course of the evening, I fell in with a couple of friendly Mexican grad students. We ended up getting drunk and talking about how awesome Cypress Hill is late into the night over magnum bottles of Tsingtao. Now that made up for a lot.

There was, however, absolutely no cake involved. I imagine birthday cake can be obtained in Beijing, but it will probably be red bean flavored and have demented, overjoyed looking Olympics mascots on it.

Mom and I are going to Bouchon tomorrow for lunch, then will pursue exciting retail opportunities in St Helena and Napa. Napa features such delights as excellent shoe stores so I'm looking forward to it. A post on Bouchon will DEFINITELY be forthcoming.
http://cheberet.com/wangfujing.jpg">

<img src="http://cheberet.com/wangfujing.jpg">

I am 19 years old. I just went through a rather unpleasant transfer process from my previous college to another. With an eye toward staying in California, I applied to four UC campuses and a few state schools, as well as Claremont Mckenna. I won't go into boring detail, but at one point, I had been accepted nowhere due to one untransferrable (and required) math class, and things were looking pretty grim. According to the media, I was another good student caught up in the "bubble": a record breaking number of qualified kids seeking admission to the same handful of elite schools. Had a great injustice been done to me?

I take a pretty keen interest in college news, and of late, I've noticed a whole lot of handwringing over the competitive storm that has swept over America's elite and not-so-elite campuses. Harvard is accepting basically no one, including baby Nobel Prize winners and valedictorian quadriplegics with big sad eyes. Same goes for the other Ivies, and things aren't looking much better at the UC campuses, Stanford, or any of the other big name schools. Even schools that were formerly considered backwaters are now seeing hordes of applicants and cutthroat competition. Kids that would in the past be considered young Future Captains of Industry are being left out in the cold or even being forced to go to community college.

What's a soccer mom to do to get her decidedly Above Average little Blaire or Taylor into an Ivy League school? (Another aspect of my generation: we are unable to do anything for ourselves, being transformed into compliant video game playing rag dolls by our very loving parents. But at least we have plenty of Self Esteem!)

Seems to me that this situation is a symptom of something good: more kids are getting the chance to apply competitively to America's very best schools. Back in the good old days Cyndie Q. Soccer Mom laments, nowhere near as many kids had the option of going to those elite schools. Kids from crap backgrounds or with blase parents or recent immigrants or what have you languished and never even got a chance to go near that there IvoryTower. Our education system may still be a mess, but it's achieved good things: we are producing more and more kids who are capable of meeting the challenges top instutions produce. As college admissions counselors frequently note, kids are often picked for entry to top schools more on chance as much as anything else - many rejected kids are just as capable of performing the work as those that are admitted.

I think it's a good thing to give a leg up to kids from tough backgrounds. I think it's a damn good thing. A kid from the ghetto or the country who will be the first in her family to attend college needs that elite education a lot more then a privleged child of suburbia like myself does. If I don't go to an elite school, it doesn't matter much: I still have access to connections, support, and a nice financial cushion in case I mess up. To someone hailing from a tough background without these perks, a high-caliber education at a "name" school could mean a lot.

I also hope that this nasty little reality check will finally snap America's middle class out of the notion that a good education may only be obtained at a handful of institutions that People Will Know About. Being able to wave around a diploma from a fancy institution may make you feel more like a man or deeply intimidate your irritating next door neighbors, but it actually doesn't count for much in the corporate world. Thankfully, the business world still relies (mostly) on one's performance and ability, more then it does on who you were drinking buddies with at a big fancy school. (There is of course a powerful network encompassing graduates of Ivy League schools, but it is certainly <em>not</em> the only path to success.)

Finally, my generation has been overprotected, coddled, and reassured to an extent I believe unequal in American history. We have been told throughout our lives that we can achieve anything if we work hard enough and that we are special and perfect and wonderful no matter what we do, leading many of us to hold onto a deluded fantasy that we really <em>are</em> all of these things. When the rejection letters start coming in and reality sets in, we are absolutely devastated. This can only be good for us. We cannot have whatever we want whenever we want it, and sometimes no matter how hard you work, the world will <em>still kick your ass</em>. These are lessons we need to learn.

The "bubble" may cause America to realize that small and less well known institutions can deliver an excellent education (and a more personalized experience) then many big and famous schools can, that little Blaire will not be a life-long failure because she didn't go to a school with a lot of pretty Ivy on the walls. America, thankfully, has a large number of excellent if little known institutions that turning out smart and happy students: they will survive and succeed and will (astonishingly) suffer little ill effects from being denied their Ivy birthright. Perhaps my teenage brethren will even realize that kissing ass and systematically whipping themselves into perfection to enter a Name School just aint' worth it - maybe we'll start living a little again, instead of keeping up our unfortunate reputation as America's <em>least</em> rebellious generation since WWII. We can only hope.

As for me? I got very lucky. I applied to Tulane University at the very last minute, filling out my application online from a blinking internet terminal in Bangalore, not really expecting to be accepted. To my surprise, Tulane admitted me. I was even more surprised when Tulane sent me a letter to inform me that I had been awarded a not-inconsiderable scholarship on the basis of God Knows What. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, and now I'm extremely happy to be going to New Orleans: land of my ancestors, cultural mecca, America's delightfully third world city. Tulane has been knocked around a lot in recent years but it's making a brave effort to get up on its feet again, along with the rest of the city: I'm happy I'll be around to see it happen. (And eat oysters.)

In the end, I did get admitted to a nice school, one that people might even know about - but I do believe those weeks in India where I was simultaneously enjoying myself in the Sunny Climes and confronting a possible admission-less reality taught me something important: college isn't everything, and attending a famous institution is even less important. There are a hell of a lot of ways to get where you want to go - Harvard is by no means the only path to happiness or success or money or what have you. Community college, vocational school, the local state institution, lighting out on your own: those all work too. My generation will figure that out in the course of their lives, just like I did.

Seriously. We'll be fine.



<img src="http://cheberet.com/harvard.jpg" alt="http://cheberet.com/wangfujing.jpg">
Wangfujing, site of many over-heated mall runs.

Tomorrow (well, tonight) is my birthday. I don't have much planned. It'll definitely be an improvement over last year, where I ended up sniffling into a sub-par bowl of beef noodles in Beijing's Wangfujing district and elbowing through a scrum of over-stimulated Chinese eleven year olds to examine the new Harry Potter book. Then I ended up having an awkward dinner with a bunch of Russians, where I attempted to be interested in their complaints about <em>basically everything. </em> (We did have some tasty Peking duck.)

Things looked up around evening. I wandered over to my usual haunt, the Sakura Bar near Qianmen. In the course of the evening, I fell in with a couple of friendly Mexican grad students. We ended up getting drunk and talking about how awesome Cypress Hill is late into the night over magnum bottles of Tsingtao. Now that made up for a lot.

There was, however, absolutely no cake involved. I imagine birthday cake can be obtained in Beijing, but it will probably be red bean flavored and have demented, overjoyed looking Olympics mascots on it.

Mom and I are going to Bouchon tomorrow for lunch, then will pursue exciting retail opportunities in St Helena and Napa. Napa features such delights as excellent shoe stores so I'm looking forward to it. A post on Bouchon will DEFINITELY be forthcoming.

Everyone should do themselves a favor and listen to this song: <a href="http://aurgasm.us/2008/02/zeep/">Zeep, "Keep An Eye On Love."</a> It's breezy seventies sounding samba and it makes me happy right down to my ventricles. (Do I have ventricles?)

I think I'll do a post about Mongolia and Mongolian music next. I just can't get enough of those crazy steppe-dwellers.
<img src="<img src="http://cheberet.com/harvard.jpg" alt="http://cheberet.com/wangfujing.jpg">
Wangfujing, site of many over-heated mall runs.

Tomorrow (well, tonight) is my birthday. I don't have much planned. It'll definitely be an improvement over last year, where I ended up sniffling into a sub-par bowl of beef noodles in Beijing's Wangfujing district and elbowing through a scrum of over-stimulated Chinese eleven year olds to examine the new Harry Potter book. Then I ended up having an awkward dinner with a bunch of Russians, where I attempted to be interested in their complaints about <em>basically everything. </em> (We did have some tasty Peking duck.)

Things looked up around evening. I wandered over to my usual haunt, the Sakura Bar near Qianmen. In the course of the evening, I fell in with a couple of friendly Mexican grad students. We ended up getting drunk and talking about how awesome Cypress Hill is late into the night over magnum bottles of Tsingtao. Now that made up for a lot.

There was, however, absolutely no cake involved. I imagine birthday cake can be obtained in Beijing, but it will probably be red bean flavored and have demented, overjoyed looking Olympics mascots on it.

Mom and I are going to Bouchon tomorrow for lunch, then will pursue exciting retail opportunities in St Helena and Napa. Napa features such delights as excellent shoe stores so I'm looking forward to it. A post on Bouchon will DEFINITELY be forthcoming.

Everyone should do themselves a favor and listen to this song: <a href="http://aurgasm.us/2008/02/zeep/">Zeep, "Keep An Eye On Love."</a> It's breezy seventies sounding samba and it makes me happy right down to my ventricles. (Do I have ventricles?)

I think I'll do a post about Mongolia and Mongolian music next. I just can't get enough of those crazy steppe-dwellers.
<img src="http://cheberet.com/harvard.jpg" alt="http://cheberet.com/wangfujing.jpg">
Wangfujing, site of many over-heated mall runs.

Tomorrow (well, tonight) is my birthday. I don't have much planned. It'll definitely be an improvement over last year, where I ended up sniffling into a sub-par bowl of beef noodles in Beijing's Wangfujing district and elbowing through a scrum of over-stimulated Chinese eleven year olds to examine the new Harry Potter book. Then I ended up having an awkward dinner with a bunch of Russians, where I attempted to be interested in their complaints about <em>basically everything. </em> (We did have some tasty Peking duck.)

Things looked up around evening. I wandered over to my usual haunt, the Sakura Bar near Qianmen. In the course of the evening, I fell in with a couple of friendly Mexican grad students. We ended up getting drunk and talking about how awesome Cypress Hill is late into the night over magnum bottles of Tsingtao. Now that made up for a lot.

There was, however, absolutely no cake involved. I imagine birthday cake can be obtained in Beijing, but it will probably be red bean flavored and have demented, overjoyed looking Olympics mascots on it.

Mom and I are going to Bouchon tomorrow for lunch, then will pursue exciting retail opportunities in St Helena and Napa. Napa features such delights as excellent shoe stores so I'm looking forward to it. A post on Bouchon will DEFINITELY be forthcoming.
http://cheberet.com/wangfujing.jpg">

<img src="<img src="http://cheberet.com/harvard.jpg" alt="http://cheberet.com/wangfujing.jpg">
Wangfujing, site of many over-heated mall runs.

Tomorrow (well, tonight) is my birthday. I don't have much planned. It'll definitely be an improvement over last year, where I ended up sniffling into a sub-par bowl of beef noodles in Beijing's Wangfujing district and elbowing through a scrum of over-stimulated Chinese eleven year olds to examine the new Harry Potter book. Then I ended up having an awkward dinner with a bunch of Russians, where I attempted to be interested in their complaints about <em>basically everything. </em> (We did have some tasty Peking duck.)

Things looked up around evening. I wandered over to my usual haunt, the Sakura Bar near Qianmen. In the course of the evening, I fell in with a couple of friendly Mexican grad students. We ended up getting drunk and talking about how awesome Cypress Hill is late into the night over magnum bottles of Tsingtao. Now that made up for a lot.

There was, however, absolutely no cake involved. I imagine birthday cake can be obtained in Beijing, but it will probably be red bean flavored and have demented, overjoyed looking Olympics mascots on it.

Mom and I are going to Bouchon tomorrow for lunch, then will pursue exciting retail opportunities in St Helena and Napa. Napa features such delights as excellent shoe stores so I'm looking forward to it. A post on Bouchon will DEFINITELY be forthcoming.

Everyone should do themselves a favor and listen to this song: <a href="http://aurgasm.us/2008/02/zeep/">Zeep, "Keep An Eye On Love."</a> It's breezy seventies sounding samba and it makes me happy right down to my ventricles. (Do I have ventricles?)

I think I'll do a post about Mongolia and Mongolian music next. I just can't get enough of those crazy steppe-dwellers.
<img src="http://cheberet.com/harvard.jpg" alt="http://cheberet.com/wangfujing.jpg">
Wangfujing, site of many over-heated mall runs.

Tomorrow (well, tonight) is my birthday. I don't have much planned. It'll definitely be an improvement over last year, where I ended up sniffling into a sub-par bowl of beef noodles in Beijing's Wangfujing district and elbowing through a scrum of over-stimulated Chinese eleven year olds to examine the new Harry Potter book. Then I ended up having an awkward dinner with a bunch of Russians, where I attempted to be interested in their complaints about <em>basically everything. </em> (We did have some tasty Peking duck.)

Things looked up around evening. I wandered over to my usual haunt, the Sakura Bar near Qianmen. In the course of the evening, I fell in with a couple of friendly Mexican grad students. We ended up getting drunk and talking about how awesome Cypress Hill is late into the night over magnum bottles of Tsingtao. Now that made up for a lot.

There was, however, absolutely no cake involved. I imagine birthday cake can be obtained in Beijing, but it will probably be red bean flavored and have demented, overjoyed looking Olympics mascots on it.

Mom and I are going to Bouchon tomorrow for lunch, then will pursue exciting retail opportunities in St Helena and Napa. Napa features such delights as excellent shoe stores so I'm looking forward to it. A post on Bouchon will DEFINITELY be forthcoming.
http://cheberet.com/wangfujing.jpg">
">

















I have nothing to do this summer.

Due to a sad confluence of events and a crap economy, I haven't been able to find a summer job. Further more, I am going to New Orleans soon to pick out an apartment (oh boy!) and employment prospects are not looking good.

Of course I am looking forward to going to New Orleans. Very much. It is one of America's great cities, the home of my ancestors, and also has delicious food, including such wonders as oysters Rockefeller, soft shell crabs, and po' boys as big as Sammy Sosa's thighs. Tulane University decided to 1. accept me and 2. give me a big scholarship, and since I am not one to turn down Free Money, I took it. I am very happy things turned out that way.

Which leads me to the gist: I want to take a new route with this blog. I want to be able to post something every day, and since it's hard even for me to think of something to say about food every day, I'm going to diversify my portfolio and begin writing about all sorts of stuff.

I am interested in a lot of things beyond food, ranging from cartooning to Mughal history to Utahraptor predation methods, and I would like to talk about them. If I find something interesting on the internet, am excited about something, or simply want to complain, it'll go here. I make no claims about anyone on the entire internet actually wanting to <em>read</em> it but it'll keep me out of trouble (and maybe even out of prison!).

I will still post often about food, mainly because food occupies an embarrassing amount of my mental space and I am relocating to New Orleans, where apparently people are just as food obsessed as I am. I cannot wait.

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Date:2008-06-30 00:30
Subject:mongolian fun
Security:Public

If you're looking for some REALLY different music, download these mp3s from an honest-to-god Tuvan-Mongolian punk rock band. Awesome.

http://www.yat-kha.com/html/what/yat_kha_cds.php

I saw "Mongol", which kinda prompted this post. It was very good and very violent. I loved the sweeping shots of the Mongolian steppe. Reminded me of Xinjiang. Also WHOO GO BACTRIAN CAMELS.

I am back from India and fine, though I want to go back. I miss everyone. I am looking forward to going to Tulane however.

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Date:2008-06-23 11:52
Subject:
Security:Public

Tulane just gave me 20,000 dollars a year for two years so, uh, guess I am moving to New Orleans. You should eagerly await stories regarding tranvestite techno dance parties and Creole food in the near future. Sweet!

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Date:2008-05-16 07:12
Subject:
Security:Public

sooooo

Didn't get accepted at any of my transfer schools. Kind of not what I was hoping for. My options right now are: take a math class at community college and attend UCSC in the winter (bleh.) I could do something fun over the winter though I guess. Maybe teach English overseas?

I am also waiting to hear back from UNM honors program and Arizona State University. Not exactly the lofty heights of academia but I am a teeny tiny bit desperate.

I would like to issue a public service announcement to all students: work hard and do well in school, you too could be fucked up the ass!

in other news i am still in india. my flight home from delhi got cancelled and uh long story but i'm back in bangalore til' june 15th. may make it to coorg/kerela/goa depending on how shit works out.

so that's good.

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Date:2008-04-26 11:39
Subject:yay
Security:Public

I'm still alive and in India. In Mumbai til' May 2nd then returning to the USA. Sill doing the blog, though I can't post to the internet right now...this will be rectified soon. laptop no wifi basically.

Unfortunately the universe is mad at me and I have learned long-distance that my transfer prospects are grim and getting grimmer. All the UC's and state schools rejected me due to the transfer of a single math course, so now I'm appealing, sending syllabi, and generally begging for mercy. We shall see.

Simon's Rock, I have learned today, forgot to send my transcripts to Claremont, and my professor got confused and didn't send her rec either....(not her fault)....so that is also in fuckup land.

So my options appear to be St. Mary's in the Bay or, uh, exotic dancing. And I can't dance. Remember kids! This is what a 4.0 will get you! (jack)

I am considering staying in Mumbai. Unfortunately I do not think this will work.

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Date:2008-03-02 09:22
Subject:hello india
Security:Public

Here in Bangalore...it's nice so far. The Chicken Emporium is across the street and I've already seen a cow.

The place I'm staying isn't bad at all. It's very clean, I'm sharing a room with a nice girl I just met, and the staff makes excellent chai (and there's a coffee shop across the street.)

Weather is hot and dry but not humid - perfect for me.

I'll be blogging here so uh yeah

http://indiassunnyclimes.blogspot.com/

1 comment | post a comment



Date:2008-02-22 10:24
Subject:update and surveys
Security:Public

So.

I've got my Indian visa in my hot little hand. It is shiny and stuck to my passport.

Bought a bunch of adorable hot-weather dresses and whatnot. (Indian standards of dressing are more modest then our own.) I am enjoying the twirling.

Otherwise, life is going about as it is going. I've finally graduated to "sorta kinda can cook" level. I made Chinese curry with five spice day before yesterday, and last night I made a lamb tagine that really did come out pretty delicious. I guess I will make a good wife to my Thai drug lord! (Not really.)


I just like filling these out for some perverse reason. God!Collapse )

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Date:2008-01-31 15:51
Subject:deedle do
Security:Public

So can anyone hook me up with some more Slavic disco or what? I'm dyin' here.

I think I might have to write an essay about my love affair with disco and how it seems to be following me around the world, grasping me in its glittery, glittery embrace. Did I tell you I own a pair of size 5 and a half white go-go boots?

In other news, uh. Been doing some drawing again. I mean, I never stopped god knows (look at my school notebooks in evidence), I just wasn't like, into it.

Too bad I'm probably too lazy to hook up my scanner.

I seem to be regaining a large measure of the sanity and normal behavior that unfortunately escaped me at the Rock. I wonder if India will help or just make me regress into Wacky World.

1 comment | post a comment



Date:2008-01-26 11:47
Subject:an update an update
Security:Public

Life is good.

I have a job at Utrecht Art Supplies. It's actually a pretty darn good job. I like the customers we get, I like my co-workers, and I get to spend downtime in the store shooting rubber bands at people and doodling.

Just booked my flights to India this morning. British Airways. I hope the food isn't bangers and mash...(like on Virgin Atlantic..) The trip is looking better and better. I may be visiting Indian family friends of my grandparents in New Delhi after my internship is over. I will see the Taj Mahal and maybe even visit their house in the Himalayan foothills. I am scared of the gigantic langur monkeys though.

I am now the Food Intern at Midtown Monthly magazine in town. This means I get to call deeply incredulous local restaurants and arrange photo shoots and such. I may have some of my reviews in next months issue which is lke ttly awsome.

For much more frequent updates, as always, check out my food blog here: http://teenagechowhound.blogspot.com/

2 comments | post a comment



Date:2007-12-15 22:49
Subject:no more frozen wasteland
Security:Public

I'm back in California and done with Simon's Rock for good. I will never have to wear a parka, slog through the snow, or suffer through what are charmingly called "stinging ice pellets" ever again (unless I want to.) I will also not have to listen to 15 year old kids prattle on about Focault over lukewarm Sysco food in the dining hall again. I will also never have to write a response journal or (hopefully) construct an Excel spreadsheet complete with explanation ever again.

Yay!

I'm certain I will grow to miss things about Simon's Rock (and people, of course,) but for now I'm basking in freedom, getting really good grades (even if I suffered for them) and generally being back in California where I belong instead of among a bunch of stiff necked Easterners who think boiling food is a really good idea. To fifty degrees, a sushi restaurant on every corner, and hippies...oh wait, they have hippies in Great Barrington too. Damn.

Merry Christmas!

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Date:2007-12-07 22:59
Subject:the annual meme
Security:Public

In 2008...

1. Will you be looking for a new job? Yep. I'll need a bum job (retail, making tacos, dancing around in a hot dog suit) for a few months before I leave to India. And then hopefully I'll score an internship in Boston for the summer upon my return from India's Sunny Climes.

2. Will you be looking for a new relationship? I'm so totally ambivalent to the idea of being in a relationship right now...I haven't even considered the idea for months. If it happens, that'd be swell, but I'm exerting no energy on making it happen. I got other shit to do. (Also, hookups = nice substitute.)

3. New house? Quite a few new houses if all goes well - India, wherever I'm living at the school I transfer to. I love moving, I love uprooting myself. It's written in my blood.

4. What will you do different in 08? Obsess less, slack off more, stop being such a an on-edge perfectionist. I spent this year knocking myself out in the pursuit of academic perfection and although I might be a "success," I can't say I'm happier then I was last year. I need to relarn how to be human again.

5. New Years resolution? Learn to relax and laugh and lighten up again. Have the time of my life in India. Begin the path of becoming a REAL WORKING WRITER. Party my ass off. And gain 15 pounds. People going around saying I should have been Posh Spice for Halloween is not cool.

6. What will you not be doing in 07? Obsessing over my own mini-imperfections, driving myself crazy with every single possible way that something could go wrong, destroy my life, murder my hopes and dreams. I HAVE TO LIGHTEN UP.

7. Any trips planned? India in the Spring, where I'll be interning at a music magazine in Bangalore. Everything else is a bit fuzzy, though I may intern in either Boston or China next summer if all goes well.

8. Wedding plans? Not so much. Unless I marry a well-appointed young son of a raj or something, which is what my mother demands I do.

9. Major thing on your calendar? The day I leave Simon's Rock behind me for forever...in about four more days.. Mmmm.

10. What can’t you wait for? Leaving Simon's Rock and winter, closing that chapter of my life, stepping off the plane in California with full rein to remake myself once again. This kind of thing feels good to me. I wonder what I'll become after India. I'm a surprise to myself.

11. What would you like to see happen different? I never want to get into the hyper-achiever loop I found myself in this semester ever again. My grades are not my life, my awards are not my life, and getting a 4.0 does not make you a better person. Go outside, take a deep breath, and watch the stars. Burn your term papers. That's what needs to happen different. I need to drink more beer.

12. What about yourself will you be changing? My perfectionism, my over-ambition. But most importantly, my drifter nature. Why can't I stay rooted and happy in one place? Why are all my friends casual acquaintances? I've brought this on myself, but why, and how did it all begin? Will I still be packing up and moving somewhere closer to the Big Rock Candy Mountain of myth when I'm 90 years old?

13. What happened in 07 that you didn’t think would ever happen? Me becoming a soulless shell of an academic overachiever. If you knew me a punkass little kid, that's just about the most unlikely possible outcome.Apparantly I had the capacity within me all along and just needed the right...motivation. (Getting the fuck out of New England.)

14. Will you be nicer to the people you care about? I'll try, as always, but is there a clear way to categorize nicer? Certainly i never set out to be cruel, but I often am, and I am very sorry.

15. Will you dress differently this year than you did in 06? Yes. I pretty much gave up on fashion this semester due to Having No Life Beyond Studying. I'm looking forward to hitting the mall and making myself somewhat hot again. I miss clothes that serve no practical purpose and are not machine-washable.

16. Will you start or quit drinking? Start drinking again. I stopped completely in the name of Achievement, but now I think I'd have been better off if i'd punctuated my brutal study sessions with a few stiff slugs of bourbon. It would have put me all in perspective, arranged the puzzle pieces.

17. Will you better your relationship with your family? I hope so. It's good already, but I want to move it from a kid relationship and into an adults with adults relationship - but that takes time and effort and learning on my point. I want to learn how to be truly helpfu around the house instead of just a roadblock. I want to learn to cook.

18. Will you do charity work? Definitely. One of my first priorities upon return to Sacramento is calling the animal shelter and getting back on their dog walkers lists. There's no better way to spend a Saturday morning (and few more exciting ways, either.)

19. Will you go to bars? Doubtless many in India. I adore Asian countries lax adherence to liquor age cutoffs.

20. Will you be nice to people you don’t know? I generally am. I hope I do not become more cruel.

21. Do you expect 08 to be a good year for you? I'm trying to hold back expectations. I do have a suspicion it will be very interesting indeed. Action packed, maybe..

22. How much did you change from this time last year till now? I loved Simon's Rock then, back when I was still partying, allowing myself to have fun. Now I despise Simon's Rock, because I turned myself into a grades robot, withdrew from friends, became nothing more then a 4.0 generator. It wasn't worth it and I brought it on myself. I feel bad. I won't, however, miss the RIDICULOUS cold weather here, living in the boonies, or the dead on arrival dating scene.

23. Do you plan on having a child? Nope.

24. Will you still be friends with the same people you are friends with now? Maybe, but it'll all be long distance. There will be Facebooking. This shit is so melancholy.

25. Major lifestyle changes? Yes, living in India then starting college at a new school will definitely qualify. But considering that I feed on major lifestyle changes, bring em' on. They're my dug.

26. Will you be moving? Quite a bit, just the way U like it.

27. What will you make sure doesn’t happen in 08 that happened in 06? Becoming obsessed with my work and achievements to the exclusion of all the other good and beautiful things in life. I threw away fun for...what...exactly? I must relarn the fine art of dicking around, goofing off, and sitting on my ass.

28. What are your New Years Eve plans? I'll be in Tampa, Florida, visiting my wonderful grandmother and enjoying the balmy weather.

29. Will you have someone to kiss at midnight? Hope not with expected company.

30. One wish for '07? To figure it out.

1 comment | post a comment



Date:2007-10-16 14:59
Subject:goodness gracious
Security:Public

I am getting an A- in math for my midterm.

In other news, I coulda sworn I saw a pig fly by my window.

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Date:2007-10-15 21:31
Subject:what in the heck?
Security:Public

I still have a Livejournal?

I'm sorry I've neglected this so badly in the last few weeks!

Just had my fall break. It was pretty excellent, although I'm bummed that I didn't get to see Emily or, well, anyone else, since all my old Waldorf friends are still at college...therein the disadvantage to Simon's Rock and its curiously timed breaks. Ah well, I'll see em' all at Thanksgiving. It was good to see the parents and to eat delicious, delicious Vietnamese food pretty much every day. My mom IMed me last night to gleefully report that they had frozen pizza for dinner, since of course I am the Evil Menu Nazi. Pshaw. So this is what I get for attempting to elevate the level of culinary discourse in this family!

I'll be done with Simon's Rock forever and ever in....exactly seven and a half more weeks. Yay.


In any case, I'm feeling a bit better at school. I didn't even go into conniptions today because I got a dreaded, terrifying B on my math paper. DEFINITELY making progress.

I know what the problem is: I have this irrational fear that if I don't get completely perfect grades, I won't get into any of my transfer schools, not a single one. And then, sadly, I will have to stay at Simon's Rock, and deal with the winter and the craziness for a million trillion more years.

This is of course silly and has no grounding in reality. I figure if I keep on telling myself that (a million jillion more times?) I might actually believe it.

I'm working on the UC and State applications right now, and I'll be doing the private school applications throughout the spring. They should be No Big Deal.

I do have something to be very excited about: I'm officially going to be in Bangalore, India from March 3rd to April 16th, doing a music magazine internship. There will doubtless be chai, masala dosas, and lots and lots of cheap beer in my future. At the end of that time, my parents will come, and I'll fly up to Delhi to meet them. Plan is to take the Palace on Wheels train through Rajasthan during the week that my dad has available. It should be amazing. Or, you know, I'll get Delhi Belly from hell and have to be air-lifted out, could go either way.

What's new with you?

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Date:2007-09-23 23:45
Subject:oh gb
Security:Public

A Nice Day In Town?



Small secret: I don't like Simon's Rock. Not one bit. In fact, "passionate hatred" has become my main opinion on the place. Still, I can appreciate (to a degree) the charming Norman Rockwellesque character of Great Barrington. I can generally enjoy myself in town, even if I do tend to find myself dying for a banh mi or a decent lunch under 10 bucks or some semblance of culture not run by really old Ivy League graduates. But it can be a pretty place.

Today's venture into civilization began with me hitchhiking down the hill (usual.) I nearly sprinted over to Siam Square, my usual Thai place, weak with hunger. The friendly lady running it immediately recognized me, what with me being in there twice a week, and took my to-go order of Pad Thai.



I don't know if it was my hunger or the beautiful Indian-Summer day or what but it tasted good. I plonked down my little takeout box on the park bench, all alone beside the firestation, and happily chowed down on my tamarindy-noodley lunch. They'd even prepared it in such a way to get just a little oh-so-good char on the noodles, which combined with the meaty chunks of chicken, made me a happy puppy.

I then read another 100 pages of Jack London's, "The Sea Wolf," which is totally un PC by most liberal arts college standards. I don't care if he wasn't being Culturally Sensitive or exposing the Massive Flaws Inherent In Our Philosophical System (though he kinda was trying to, what with Wolf Larsen commenting a lot on our essential...yeastiness.) I love good adventure yarns.



And then I went on one of my usual strolls through town, taking incredibly awful photos as I went (I'm good at that.) I walked down past the Co-Op and to the middle school, where a baseball game played entirely by laughing, light-hearted middle aged men was going on. I watched them flop around for a while, then parked myself by the bridge and watched the river go out. The quality of light was gorgeous, and as I heard the clink of the bat and watched the jet-trails spin overhead, I momentarily thought, New England ain't so bad.



But then I remembered winter and the lack of banh mi and I wanted to go back to California again.

6 comments | post a comment



Date:2007-08-31 01:38
Subject:fuckballs
Security:Public

I miss my shitty, tiny closet single room.

My current room is slightly bigger (by like, an inch) but it's also on the first floor. Facing the new smokers area. And right underneath the 2nd floor bathroom. This means all night I get to listen to: flushing toilets, people horse-laughing outside, people blasting rap music while idling their cars at 3 AM and giggling groups of freshmen coming in the door directly outside my room.

This is especially ironic because the entire reason I have a medical single is because of my persistent, nasty sleep problems.

I really don't want to be That Whiny Kid, but this has gotta stop. Although moving will be probably be just as much of an ordeal....oy.

3 comments | post a comment



Date:2007-08-12 20:47
Subject:back!
Security:Public

Hey! I'm back from China. I couldn't update or view LJ or Blogger due to the mysterious Chinese government while I was in Beijing, so that explains the long LJ-silence. Anyway, I kept a hand-written journal and took a ton of photos, so expect me to start writing and putting up every day of my trip (and I mean it) on my blog once my laptop gets repaired. It died a tragic hard-drive death...but I think it'll be okay once the repair guys get their hands on it. Back to school in a couple weeks, but right now I am VERY much enjoying being back in civilization...

I also managed to almost completely beat jet-lag by means of ancient vooodoo. Or I stayed up all night long the day before I flew out at noon, then drugged myself into total submission on the plane with Tylenol PM. In any case, it WORKED. Remember that.

7 comments | post a comment


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