March 31, 2011 § 1 Comment
On Day Eighteen, I planned to go to the Vegan Bake Sale at Criminal Records benefiting the Red Cross relief efforts in Japan. Unfortunately by the time Patrick and I left the house and sat through crazy traffic in Little Five Points, no vegan delights remained. We browsed Criminal’s assortment of records and CDs, asking around to see where we could find a good Bloody Mary in the neighborhood, my new activity for the day.
Shannon said that The Highland Tap has the best in town, that The EARL’s are decent too, but for a Saturday afternoon in Little Five Points, Corner Tavern would be our best bet. So we headed to Corner Tavern.
I ordered my Bloody Mary drink and Patrick, a Guinness. I quickly discovered that I don’t particularly like Bloody Marys. Something about the tomato juice flavor with a tanginess and spiciness rubbed me the wrong way. I made many faces, but I finished the 16 ounces of nastiness like a trooper. About halfway through Patrick suggested (between snickers at my expressions) that we add some Guinness to the concoction. I was slightly reluctant; it would give me more liquid to consume. It actually cut the tart, spicy flavors that irked my palate.
I chugged the remaining tomato drink. Although it did seem to alleviate the last bit of a hangover I had from my late night with Liz the previous evening, I couldn’t seem to get the unappealing taste out of my mouth. Patrick graciously shared the rest of his stout with me.
Since trying the BM, some have said that I simply didn’t like the Corner Tavern’s version, that other bars served better ones. Perhaps they are right, but I don’t see what anyone could do differently to eliminate the tastes that I didn’t enjoy in the drink. I mean, it was the tomato juice and spices, and those are main components of any Bloody Mary.
We did end up getting some vegan treats. We stopped by Kristin’s on the way home to make a donation to the cause and she was awesome enough to let us choose from a selection she had leftover. The vegan butterfinger was kind of awesome.
March 30, 2011 § Leave a comment
In my early twenties, I lived in Cabbagetown for a couple years. 97 Estoria was our neighborhood bar. In fact, the second half of my stint in the community I lived right next door to the bar, on the other side of the fence, before there was a fence. In the later years of being a twenty-something I have frequented the bar less and less. However, on Day Seventeen my friend Liz was coming to town from the suburbs for the evening and suggested we go hang out and see a friend who was working that night.
I was going to let Liz decide what new activity I should attempt. I suggested writing on the bathroom wall of the bar and she jumped on it, especially since she so handily carries a sharpie in her purse. So on Day Seventeen, I added art to the wall in the ladies’ toilet at 97 Estoria.
Trying to decide how I should mark my territory was a difficult decision. I thought about the uncreative “Laura was here,” or “LS + LB = BFF,” or even just writing a quote I admired. I didn’t fully decide until I shut myself in and pulled out the marker. I found a blank space by the toilet paper holder, and emboldened by half a pitcher of Coors Light, I started to write. I wrote a tagline to this blog. It seemed appropriate. And then I decorated around the words with some 8 year-old girly swirls.
New task accomplished, I returned to Liz and the patio where we had an impromptu photo session featuring some red lipstick and continued making up for months of not seeing each other by talking nonstop. I can’t wait until our next lady date. Next time, I’ll go to the burbs and tag her bathroom.
March 29, 2011 § 1 Comment
On Day Thirteen, I succumbed to the pleading voices on WABE-FM and went online to make a donation during their spring fund drive. I was especially persuaded by the Trees Atlanta promotion. For every donation, the non-profit would plant a tree in Atlanta. I hope mine’s on the Beltline. I love when the NPR affiliates have a pledge drive because I usually get to hear another piece of Fresh Air’s interview with Jay-Z. Really, this is like the third time I’ve heard a new part of it during my commute home. Always during a membership drive.
Plus, now I can laugh along when Ira Glass calls people out for listening and not pledging instead of feeling guilty.
March 28, 2011 § 2 Comments
On Day Fifteen, tired of eating or cooking, I decided to exercise my right brain in an effort to slim my face. A couple months ago I had bought a linocut kit on the interweb to try out. Day Fifteen was just as good as any other, right?
First, I had to find an image. I pulled out some old Dover Publishing books that I had bought off of ebay a few years ago. I go through crazes with the online auction house where I will search out some weird odds or ends to purchase. The books were part of that. I also have an impressive collection of random vintage photographs I mean to do something with…someday.
I found a few images. Not having cut a linoleum block before, needing a relatively simple image, and inspired by Portlandia’s hilarious mocking skit about putting birds on things, I chose a bird on a branch silhouette.
I enlarged the bird and traced it on one side, rubbing the other so the graphite transferred to the linoleum block. Then I started cutting.
When I was almost done pushing out the shards of linoleum, I decided to take a break. I felt as if I had contracted the worst case of carpal tunnel ever. I must have been working quite a few unused muscles. I could barely twist my arm back and forth, and the idea of going back to finish the two tiny areas that remained left me frozen. I strapped on an old wrist brace I had lying around (I have one for the ankle too…I’m clumsy) and got back to it.
When I was finished I looked at the carved piece of rubber. It was kind of cool; I really liked the cuts on the negative space the most. I wondered if they would transfer to the final print.
I poured ink on a glass plate, ran a brayer through it, then rolled the wet tool over the cut work. I pressed one of the sheets of cardstock and paper onto the stamp and buffed the back of the paper with a spoon. I slowly peeled back the image to see if it had adhered. I totally put a bird on a piece of paper.
March 25, 2011 § 1 Comment
I read an article last week about Julian Wolkenstein and a 2010 project of his exploring symmetry in faces. It got me wondering about the symmetry in my own image. On day fourteen, I decided to find out.
I took as straight a picture as I could with a webcam and then split it in half down the middle. I then mirrored each side to show how each half of my face would look whole were it totally in perfect symmetry.
I look like an alien in one and a chubbier version of me in the other. So I did it again straight faced.
Same reaction. It’s just so strange to realize how unsymmetrical your face really is. I kind of understand why Barbra Streisand is only photographed from one side, and I think my version of that side may be my left, the youthful alien one.
Wolkenstein mentions that one of the interesting finds in the symmetry exercise is to compare it to the brain hemispheres. He suggests that the leaner side of your face correlates to the more worked side of your brain. I suppose that would mean I was more left-brained.
If I pursued more creative activities on a daily basis, would my facial symmetry change? That would be interesting.
And apparently, as I discovered after I had done some photoshopping, Wolkenstein has a website/application that does the mirroring for you. I bet that would have been much easier.
March 23, 2011 § 3 Comments
Twice we have attempted to dine at Ann’s Snack Bar, home of the world-famous ghetto burger. Twice we have left after about twenty minutes, too hungry to sit for an unknown amount of time, waiting for the juicy load of meat on a bun. On Day Thirteen, we waited. And waited.
Patrick and I arrived at about 215 on a Monday afternoon, and found a couple of stools at the bar. This was a promising trip; before we never even waited long enough to get into the narrow diner style seating area.
Ann had just loaded the grill with over a dozen balls of ground beef. The bar smelled of cooking hamburger. Most of the other seats were taken, with a few people waiting for their lunch outside on the screened in porch area.
After about fifteen minutes a surly looking woman wearing sunglasses and a turban style hair net comes over and asks us if we are eating in, and what we would like to drink. She brings our huge sweet teas over and continues shuffling back and forth, gathering bags of fries from the freezer, standing over a pot and cutting up an onion like an apple. I wonder if the glasses help her eyes to not water as she deftly slices up the onion.
Watching the burgers, Ann sprinkles a healthy dose of what looks like Old Bay seasoning (her special mixture) over the grill, adding handfuls of the sliced onions over the lot of meat and continually flipping the patties and smushing them back into the heat with her spatula. We wonder which burgers will be ours, but considering we hadn’t even given our order, I feared we had longer to wait.
Patrick says that Clay Davis (corrupt senator from The Wire) would be at home in the joint, and as he starts to imitate the character’s catchphrase, his eyes go wide as he remembers the rules above our head. “No cursing in the bar.” An old southern dude sits at the other end of the counter, talking back and forth with the proprietor, laughing.
Ann adds cheese to the grill’s offerings and prepares some buns by tossing them into a small oven laden with pots of cooking goods. I watch her prepare the famous ghetto burger. Toasted bun. Smear some mayo on the bread. Squeeze a circle of ketchup and then mustard on both sides. Pour a ladle of chili from one of the simmering pots on the bottom bun. Layer two (TWO!) cheese-covered patties on top of the chili. Pull a couple slices of crisp bacon from somewhere between the pots on top of the stove and lay them on the top bun. Add a leaf of lettuce and a freshly sliced tomato. Marry the top and bottom buns and press down, cutting the whole mass of sandwich in half. Plate and serve.
She does this about eight or ten times, some going to the people at the counter on paper plates, some distributed in to-go bags to either seated patrons or those who have ordered and are waiting outside in the covered area.
At this point, we had been sitting for about an hour, never having ordered. We resign ourselves to the fact that we may only be half-way done. After Ann rings up individuals at the cash register in the middle of the counter, the entire process begins again. She comes to us to take our order. I go with the world-famous ghetto burger and Patrick chooses the hood burger, with its added ingredient of coleslaw. Our tea is low and doubting that we get a refill, we decide to save what remains to wash down our burgers that should be coming in about an hour.
While we sit, a few people try to come into the bar area, but no stools are available. Ann tells them to wait outside. If they don’t understand, she says it louder, and a patron or her assistant informs them that they have to wait for a stool. I grin to myself; this is exactly what you were supposed to expect coming here.
Finally, after an hour and a half of sitting, our food is delivered to us at the end of the counter. It’s a hot mess. It looks so much messier and so much more delicious than the Big Mac I tried on Day Ten. And it tastes like what you would expect. Messy, flavorful, meaty goodness.
I eat half of mine before realizing I am in peril of developing meat eye. Patrick is insistent on eating as much of his hood sandwich as possible, but even he leaves a few bites. The burger is quite yummy, but I am no burger aficionado. Ultimately, it’s the whole experience of eating at Ann’s Snack Bar that is the real treat. And it lived up to all expectations.
When Ann brought us our lunch, she asked if it was good. We nodded the affirmative in between mouthfuls of sauciness running down our faces and chins. She apologized for it taking so long. I guess it really does say something when even Ann notices how long you’ve sat at the bar.
March 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Whenever I visit my parents in Charlotte, my mom usually makes Eggs Benedict one morning. I love the combination of an english muffin, crisp canadian bacon, a perfectly cooked egg with a bright runny yolk, and the lemony spice of hollandaise sauce. So on Day Twelve, I decided to make them myself, the challenge being to poach an egg (or four).
Following tips and recipes I had found online, I added a teaspoon of vinegar to the simmering water. I didn’t have white vinegar, so used white wine vinegar. It seemed to work just as well. The eggs looked like little jellyfish floating in the pot of water. I was a bit transfixed for the few minutes it took to cook them.
I used hollandaise sauce from a mix; it’s what my mom does and with the fear of messing up the eggs on my mind, I wanted to limit the margin of error. I was excited about adding paprika on top too. There aren’t a ton of dishes I cook that use the spice. Actually, it only ever goes on deviled eggs in our house.
The whole dish turned out fairly well. I think I overcooked the eggs, but the yolks were still slightly runny. My mom has a special pot to poach eggs in, but I doubt this will be a breakfast staple to warrant the purchase, even in pursuit of prettily formed eggs. Someone suggested I use a tuna can. I’ve never used a tuna can to poach an egg…could be an idea for the next brunch.