Monday, December 29, 2008

Iron Chef: what is myth, passion + tomatoes

amuse bouche ~ playfully taut shot of freshly puréed tomatoes, watermelon topped with a layer of pop rocks.......artistry of Chef Erika Davis of Ponte Vedra Inn & Club

Catching up with my 2008 posts!

This past summer I had the opportunity to be on the panel of judges for a local Iron Chef competition hosted by Publix Aprons Cooking School and Shands Jacksonville for the annual Art & WineFest at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront.

First off ~ my apologies about the photography.

These were done by *ahem* a friend in between the evening's gourmet tastings + open bar, so you can well imagine.

Well, at least he was having a good time.

Alas, the photos are by unless otherwise noted.

Also, I have been having a serious problem with people borrowing my photos without asking (((sigh))). Please see copyright notice @ the sidebar and be nice.

So the secret ingredient of the evening?

from the left: Chef ?, Chef Tony Corrente, Chef Erika Davis, Chef Grace Glhan discover the secret ingredient......tomatoes

The annual event is hosted to benefit the UF & Shands Medical Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Jacksonville Florida. It's a community event that unites local chefs, restaurateurs, artists, collectors, the business + medical community as well as food enthusiasts.


I thought to share with you just a glimpse......

Chef Patrick Walley of Publix Aprons Cooking School overseeing the assembly........

for the babies: proceeds for the event benefit the babies in the UF & Shands Medical Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

toasty beginnings: an earthy bowl of tomato soup with potatoes, bacon and of course toppled with truffle oil

perfectly caramilzed scallops with chutney like tomato salsa served wtih blanched asparagus al denté to the bite

savory + sweet: grilled snapper lovingly takes bed with yellow heirloom tomatoes + topped with just a breath of microgreens

*Photo courtesy of Publix Aprons Cooking School
Chef Patrick Walley, Publix Aprons Cooking School

I met Chef Patrick a couple of years ago when I signed up for The Basics of Culinary at the cooking school. He definitely inspires his students to learn skills with great ease, fun and insight. Also to note, the local 'Iron Chef' competitions hosted by the cooking school have become his signature appeal which is a perfect example of how Chef Patrick is dedicated to building community + comradarie around the gourmet food culture. The cooking school also offers everythig from knife skills, dim sum, Italian cooking, regional cooking, kids camps and sushi making. They are also noted for having incredible celebrity guests as Top Chef's Tom Colicchio, Food Network's Michael Chiarello and the ever cool Chef Ming Tsai.

You can learn more about the cooking school here.

Also here's my interview with Chef Patrick Walley.

TM: What made you decide to become a chef?

CPW: Most chef's will claim that watching their mother, aunt or grandma magical whip up childhood treats in the kitchen is what spurred them into the crazy world of culinary. This is partly true for myself.....but I can pin point the moment that I just know that I had a connection with food. My senior year in high school in West Virginia. I needed to fill a class so I enrolled in home economics and that hand made cherry pie scored me a date with a very pretty girl. I found the power to lure women my way!! WOW. The rest is as they say, history.

TM: What was your first job in a professional kitchen?

CPW: Mostly every chef started as a dishwasher, or they should have. I to was a sud buster at a local chain steakhouse in my hometown. My true first pro chef job came when I had ran into C.M.C Michael Russell at a culinary salon in Morgantown West Virginia in 1985. I apprenticed under Chef Russell for 3 years at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor MI. This experience at such an early stage of my career begin shape my view of what great food should be about.

TM: What experience was a turning point that formed your viewpoint as a chef today?

CPW: For years chef's have been talking about knowing where your product comes from. From 2003 to 2005, I was the executive chef at an upscale guest ranch in western Colorado where I sourced 95% of my products from local ranchers and farmers. Hand picking my eggs once a week, helping harvest local fruit and vegetable to be served to our guests that night to petting the goat that gave the milk to produce great unpasturized cheeses. Knowing the people that put their heart and soul into producing the highest quality product that the earth would allow them.

TM: Who do you admire and why?

CPW: I admire the individual who is willing to take a culinary risk and taste or cook something different. Everyone has the ability to change what they consume on a daily basis and I applaud and admire the people that go out of their way to try something different.

TM: What do you enjoy the most about your work?

CPW: I enjoy introducing someone to a product that they have not used before but may have walked past a hundred times and always wondered how to cook this product. I enjoy the fact that I am making a difference in someone's daily life by helping them expand their culinary repertoire and getting them out of the rut of cooking the same dishes with the same ingredients over an over again.

TM: What is one of your favorite meals.....ever?

CPW: A year or so ago I was in Charleston South Caroline visiting some friends and was invited to a oyster roast party. Every 20 minutes a fresh batch of steamed local oysters came spilling out onto a huge wooden table, where a group of 10-12 people would quickly devour the succulent bivalves quickly as possible. No white linen tablecloth, napkin, chair or snooty waiters; just impeccably fresh food.

TM: Well said.....*just impeccably fresh food*

Thursday, December 25, 2008

as sweet as can be: season of lights + memories

from our house to yours......

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas ~ Season of Lights ~ Happiness + Peace!
I wanted to share this vintage spot from Coca~Cola which I think aired back in 1971. I recall watching this when I was little and to this day it brings back insightful taste memories of the late sixties and early seventies. There was so much going on during that time socially + culturally. Coca~Cola came out with a later version of the same commercial in the mid-eighties and it just didn't have the same feel.

Here's the original version from 1971.

Wishing you blessings, p e a c e + prosperity ~

Monday, December 22, 2008

the importance of being: The Present Moment Cafe

fresh pecan-apple cobbler with dairy-free house made ice creme

Dessert first?

No, although I do like the concept.

I recently made several trips to one of my favorite restaurants The Present Moment Cafe in St. Augustine Florida.

The restaurant features organic, raw, live + vegan cuisine. Their slogan of excellence: Fresh Organic Living Food Made With Love & Gratitude

I just love that!

simple beginnings: pot of fresh mint leaf tea, cucumber infused water and Samuel Adams......

Middle East Peace Hummus: light + fluffy, no beans, "no mean hummus is blended with cashews and topped with mint oil and tahini sauces.....served with fresh veggies and FRESH corn chips" ~ excerpt from The Present Moment Cafe menu

The creamy hummus always arrives with an array of dehydrated crisp and crunchy house made corn chips.

I am completely addicted to them as they are sweet, savory and enticing.

The chips are made with finely ground golden flax seeds, almonds, fresh corn, yellow bell peppers, onion powder, cumin seeds, oregano + Himalayan pink salt. Thus spread onto flat trays and dehydrated to crispness.

The use of conventional heating elements such as a stove, grill or oven are obsolete here. It's the art of raw food preparation which relies much on the marinating process to 'cook' down the natural elements of vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits without losing the nutritional healing properties.

Don't fear, as I grew up an ardent meat eater, gourmand and still consider myself a slight food snob. Okay, serious food snob.....the dishes are delicious, intriguing and you will NOT leave hungry. That always seems to be the fear for those entering here without knowing....will I still be hungry?

No, and the best thing about it is you'll leave feeling fantastic.

vegetable sushi maki roll made with ground fresh parsnip root with shiitake mushrooms, bell peppers, herbs, carrots + avocado rolled in nori and served with wasabi aioli + namu shoyu dipping sauce.

I make this at home often. I like to make my *sushi rice* with ground parsnips, fresh + raw ground almonds and a bit o' ginger.

You can see my raw maki sushi roll here.

Too answer your question: YES it tastes like a sushi vegetable roll!

coconut wrap samosa filled with curried veggies + lentils with a creamy cashew nut creme drizzle on a bed of fresh spinach leaves.....

Fresh young coconut meat is ground to a pasty consistency and spread on flat pans then dehydrated to form these lovely samosa wraps that are crisp + tender to the bite.

The dining room itself beholds for creativity, ease, tranquility + lotsa fun......

pad thai noodles - savory, crunchy, slightly spicy + sweet with glass noodles made out of fresh sea kelp......Is this getting too weird?

Upon visiting The Present Moment, you will want to note the menu does change with the they must be ~ in the present moment.

*Me, TasteMemory and Jenn, The Left Over Queen just being girls + foodies.....*

Isn't Jenn cute? She is the sweetest thing too. She wrote a lovely post on our visit with her usual intrinsic + passion fitted detail.

If you haven't already, you must visit her blog and read about it

And mind you ~ she's the real deal (exquisite food writer that is)....did not even see her flick out a pen + pad during the dinner! Now that's expertise + taste memory!

flourless pure cacao truffle with cashew nut ice cream

Imagine chocolate in its purest form.

Imagine food in its purest form.

The Present Moment Cafe

*this photo courtesy of The Left Over Queen

Monday, December 15, 2008

yellow curry with pumpkin: savory spun thoughts over rice alongside taste memories

like stone soup: little bit of pumpkin.......

little bit of asparagus......

little bit of spinach........shredded just so

simmered to slightly sweet savory spicy perfection

This is one of my favorite seasonal dishes to make for the family. I like to make a vegetarian version as well, but opted to make this version to blog about since it's a definite crowd pleaser. I often times cook with organic preferably free-range chicken. The meat is more tender + tastier. I pre-marinate tender bite size trimmed chicken breast meat with a little bit of yellow curry powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, olive oil and a touch of agave nectar to bring the flavor forward.

Cover + chill in the refrigerator for three hours or overnight will do.

adding coconut butter + coconut milk adds another dimension to this dish......

The fresh pumpkin wedges are simmered slowly in a heavy saucepan with minced garlic, olive oil, extra virgin coconut butter, fresh ginger root, coconut milk, garam masala and freshly ground black pepper.

Simmered and stirred on occasion to avoid scalding the curry concoction developing.....

comfort and delight in every bite

Stir in the marinated chicken.

Add dried chiles, curry powder, chili garlic sauce, touch of fish sauce, water to smoothe and asparagus.

Fast simmer . stir . reduce to low simmer . stir on occasion . saucepan to be simmering until chicken is cooked through just so yet still tender to the chew........

Fold in shredded spinach leaves, fresh basil + cilantro just prior serving with steamed Jasmine or Basmati rice.

homespun curry with asparagus, pumpkin, shredded spinach, organic well-tended chicken breasts + spiced to love

When I was little my mother used to make Japanese inspired yellow curry served over rice for the mid-week meal. Curry brings back taste memories of home.

Reflections of home include thoughts of nourishment, enclosure, growth, sense of community, peace, a place to take flight, a place to come back to and nourish again.......

This is a version using the abundance of pumpkins from this season. You can also add your own batch of favorite vegetables.....

As usual, am time sensitive here. I have FOUR posts I want upload before the end of 2008, including my visit with fellow food blogger Jenn at The Leftover Queen in St. Augustine recently. She wrote a lovely post about our recent visit together, you can read about here.

I plan to blog about my recent happenings + insight before the end of December ~ yikes!

With that said, I'll be right back.....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the abundance of giving thanks.....

fruits of our labor: new granite counter tops for this foodie

Well here it is.

Brand new granite counter tops.

The former was a Formica powder blue atrocity.

It took us awhile to pick out this design. What's amazes me about the beauty of granite is that it is not a man made design. So you can image me in the granite yard (yes a huge Flintstones like quarry with a variety of granite slabs) as I was overwhelmed with the natural beauty of granite.

I felt as if I were at The Louvre.

Each slab, quite exquisite.

For the new counter tops; I am ever so grateful!

pomegranate season: illuminated, jewels, vibrancy and the visual harvest

the morning cup: my le petit déjeuner cup reminds me of the *white shoulders* perfume bottle......wish one could forget the scent though

intermezzo toward winter

Day at the beach: Dad and I in Vung Tau, Vietnam during the war

Remembering Dad.

I was born is Seoul, Korea yet we moved rather swiftly to and through Vietnam during the mid-60's. This picture was taken when we lived in the coastal resort town of Vung Tau, Vietnam. Dad rented a French style villa not too far from this beach. This was during the war and just prior the deadly takeover that prompted us to leave. When I look at this picture it reminds me of how courageous Dad was. This was a difficult time for Korea's economic make a long story short, Dad was able to gain employment with the U.S. Army stationed in Saigon. Yes, he was a risk taker. Amazing to recall, his job had to do with managing services for food and beverages for the various U.S. Army barracks stationed throughout Vietnam. Another point in my food lineage!

A taste memory: I remember going to bed after eating homemade ice cream made with condensed milk and orange juice (the dreamsicle, 50/50 bar) while watching fighter jets go by. You can read more about it here and here.

This was a very strange, scary + sad time. Talk about fate and all things falling into place.......

Dad had friends in high places, we left swiftly left Vietnam through the central port city of Can Tho by way of army helicopter to Saigon, then somewhere in between a flight on a military cargo plane, then finally we boarded Pan Am to Hawaii to San Francisco.

My mom gave me Juicy Fruit gum to ease my nausea from all the traveling. To this day, I have mixed feelings about Juicy Fruit gum!

My father passed away six years ago, November 29th.

Remembering you Dad for your brilliance, sowing the seeds for a new life and most importantly finding ~


For this, I am so grateful.

biting into bliss: just like jewels from a crown

Pomegranate fruit is the perfect seasonal dichotomy. The abundance of these seeded capsules loaded with high vitamin juice content during the Autumn season of harvest is a peripheral reminder of more things to come.

What are you expecting as the new year beckons around?

Isn't amazing how much you have lived in this past year?

Do you already see what the new year is unfolding?

Of course, new taste memories revealed.

To American readers, blessings that you had an incredible Thanksgiving holiday!

Autumnal equinox + winter solstice bliss as well to everyone.

Also to many others welcoming in the new spring; a new found vibrancy.

Wishing you today + the days to follow an abundance of peace, good cheer + most of all.......


Monday, November 17, 2008

oh so easy mulligatawny soup

freshly chopped cilantro the final touch.....

secrets to my mulligatawny soup: blended yellow + red lentils, ginger root, fresh tomatoes, extra virgin coconut oil, black mustard seeds and......

The temperament of this soup has a rustic appeal. Perfect with potato stuffed roti or toasted flat bread with hints of olive oil, garlic + freshly minced cilantro slathered about. I like to make this soup often and it makes a common place in our home as a quick comforting meal that satiates without the fuss. Slightly nutty, very savory + smoky, with hints of spice of ginger, garlic it is robust + opulent as the broth is drenched with chopped zucchini, celery, carrots, tomatoes, parsley + cilantro.

I love making this soup in the cold weather because it's like serving the fruits of the sun in a bowl on a drab wintry day.

mulligatawny as defined in the Tamil language literally means *pepper water*

spooning up my efforts: simmered with chopped curry leaves and lime leaves would be a delight as well......

I have to admit this is not the traditional method. I have taken out the initial step of *tempering* the spices in oil. Instead, the blender works swell and so does the slow simmer. I do promise this will make a sure fire hit to even non-lentil lovers. Kinda like my beet salad, even if you don't like beets. Poor beets have a bad rap since many of our earliest memories stem from aluminum ridden beets from the can.....we were forced to eat: *Eat Your Beets*! Anyways, about this soup: it is my tried and true oh so easy recipe that is nourishing, yummy and healing to the bod + senses. At least way easier than some of Emeril's recipes.......oooh though they are quite yummy. This recipe is definitely shorter.

Also, perfect to ease the chill.

It has been colder than usual......oh forbid, last night there was a pre-frost warning so I hauled in a surviving potted plant that I have not neglected. It's a white orchid that is massively blooming and to my amazement has survived my brown thumb.

My experience with soup made out of lentils has always been a mass of brown murky chunky lentils in a bland broth. Perhaps with a ham hock leg sticking out with overt douses of smoke liquid that left little to desire to my spoiled palate.

Later, I discovered mulligatawny soup at our neighborhood Indian restaurant and found myself smitten.....totally.

Nowhere to be seen were the gooey eewy brown bad mush muddy lentils.

They were lovingly replaced by a brocade of bright yellow dal(lentils) and a sunny shades of orange-red dal as well. Then I also found myself at the Indian market immersed with decadent shades of dal that reminded me of the brightness of the sun.

New found *inventory* always makes me happy.

Screw the brown lentils......cheers to sun-kissed lentils to brighten any drab Fall/Winter day.

TasteMemory's oh so easy mulligatawny soup
recipe written by me, Ingar B.

3/4 cup yellow lentils(moong dal), soak in cool water 1 hour
1/2 cup red lentils(masoor dal), soak in cool water 1 hour
3 garlic cloves
1" knob fresh ginger root, peeled
2 whole tomatoes
2 cups filtered water

After soaking yellow + red lentils together in water, rinse well + drain. Combine about half the lentils in a blender with the garlic cloves, ginger root, tomatoes + additional water. Put aside the remaining lentils in stock pot. Blend ingredients until smooth. Add to stock pot with remaining lentils and combine with:

1/4 cup good olive oil
3-4 cups filtered water
4 dried chiles

Combine these ingredients well as the oil + water will help prevent the lentils from burning. Bring to medium simmer while stirring often so lentils do not stick and burn. Then add:

4 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 zucchini, coursely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped with seeds
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil, it's thick like butter
Splash of agave nectar
1 1/2 teasp. Garam Masala
1 teasp. black mustard seeds
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring to medium-high simmer and stir often to combine ingredients well, avoid lentils from burning + clumping. Then reduce heat to medium-low for approximately 30to 45 minutes, stirring occassionally until vegetables are tender.

Must try: 1/2 cup or more freshly chopped cilantro

Serve in soup bowls and top with generous portions of chopped cilantro.

Delicious with a lively salad and/or your choice of naan.

Vegetarian/Vegan. Dairy-free.

If you have easy access to fresh curry and/or lime that's an added delight.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

freaking out about Fall: weak in the knees about Autumn

All photography © 2008 property of Ingar Brunnett, TasteMemory + Melt Into Arts Inc.

I often wait until late Fall to buy concord grapes.....they are so much sweeter later in the season with just enough tang in the skin

I don't know what to say except that I've been a bad blogger.

I have been cooking....eating....taking photographs....breathing + easing into Fall....yet not blogging.

I am sorry.

I still love blogging.

Just taking a breather ~

Another excuse (aside from the daily drama of my life) is the new kitchen renovations as of late. It's near done. I've had this embarrassing kitchen for a food lover + food blogger......yes, overall I am thankful....quite grateful for a roof over my head and a kitchen that works, but......if you saw this kitchen.....

I do have before *pictures* of powder blue kitchen counters and stained off-white appliances that are no longer.

Of course, with the new range/oven installed; I am AGAIN doing another weird thing......I am afraid to cook or even bake as so not to dirty the new stovetop and oven!

This is where raw foods + grapes comes in handy, but for awhile was without a kitchen sink too.

But really.....can you imagine a brand spanking new oven with NO *crustineeys* embedded within? So I do a weird thing often; open the spanking new oven and just smile at it's beauty. Well, I plan to line with foil shortly and it will be initiated to baker's bliss with the holidays looming ~

Otherwise; I am alive and well.

Just thought to take a breather during summer......oh yea, summer is over....right!

a lone concord grape in a long shot with one of my robes in the background. Every time I look at that robe it reminds me of nursing my kids when they were little babies. I used to wear that robe while nursing. Very strange taste memories. Actually, I now use that robe as a tint for lighting my food shots. In the foreground are remnants of a few concord grapes I smashed for a shot that will follow below in this post.

a concord grape

owtcha my knee! no not my knee.......peeling back some thoughts with late harvest concord grapes

Seckel pears that I often crave can be quite haunting to the taste

I first came across these baby pears at the Union Square Greenmarket. It was love at first bite.

Seckel pears are petite in size compared to other pears. To the bite they are crisp and firm yet slightly gritty. I love the earthy texture and they have floral after taste that lingers sweetly. They are a definite must try compared to grocery store pears like Bartlett, Anjou or even the Bosc pear that packs a punch with sweetness.

Seckel pears are shaped to fit perfectly in a child's palm.

Perfect for the lunch box or picnic basket too.

these white grapes I picked up at the grocery store remind me of the late harvest Niagara grapes we used to buy at the fruit stands in northeast Ohio

insight into late harvest grapes: sweet with honey undertones

playing with my palette

I have been intrigued lately by micro images as you can see. I have also been lingering with foods + cultures that keep haunting my taste memories.

I promise to be back very shortly with my findings.....

Friday, October 10, 2008

latest obsession: green papaya salad

saigon bistro's perfectly seasoned green papaya salad: freshly shredded green papaya, topped with shredded basil + faux beef (made of tofu + other accoutrements I am not familiar with. The owner says he buys his fake meat from Japan). The marinade is sweet, saucy, slightly salty with hints of heat from the chili sauce. Just enough savory appeal is also provided by the faux beef. It really REALLY tastes like beef.....spooky.

I crave this dish about once a week.

The green papaya yields a mild + mellow flavor that is both tender yet crunchy.

For the life of me, I cannot find green papaya anywhere here.

I have found it on amazon for $20 through one of their vendors.

We recently discovered a dining hideaway called Saigon Bistro. I rarely post about restaurants in this area because for one reason or other, if it's not a chain the longevity of the establishment is up to question. With that said, call before you high-tail it over there.

Saigon Bistro is a fairly new restaurant located in one of northeast Florida's brand new precalculated strip malls. Every time we go there, the strip mall itself appears somewhat.....haunted. No patrons as far as the eye can see, well except this bistro.

The restaurant is invitingly friendly, in itself pleasant, handsomely designed and quaint.

Service is slightly shaky but the overall menu is the something to rave about since leaving California. This area is known for ethnic restaurants using the foulest of ingredients, hardly any fresh produce to appease to the meat + potatoes crowd as well as watering down it's ethnic identity in order not to scare off the daily grind. The owner/chef of Saigon Bistro stays true to his Vietnamese roots. The ingredients are absolutely fresh, lively and intrinsic to Vietnamese flavors. The menu does offer typical dishes for those in fear of eating God forbid I don't know whats, so for that bunch: egg rolls, fried rice, etc. ( ( ( y a w n ) ) ).

Aside from trying to please the timid, the menu is quite diverse and lovingly spectacular to fresh, fragrant Vietnamese cuisine.

Traditional bowls of Phở are offered in chicken, beef, veggie and more options. The delicate broth is served with a side of fresh crunchy bean sprouts, cilantro + basil alongside spices + sauces to bring it up a notch. They provide a great deal of vegetarian options as well as dishes with tofu and fake/faux meats that look and taste really like meat!

Also in true Vietnamese form......lots of BEEF options.

I have also tried the green bean salad which is stock full of crunchy green beans, veggies and only flash blanched to retain it's fresh snap.

The kitchen's hand is quite versed in delicately marinating their dishes to exquisite appeal to the sensitive palate.

We have spoken to the owner on several occasions and he is passionate about his menu, his customers and foremost Vietnamese cuisine. His passion is contagious.

My best wishes for culinary success to Saigon Bistro.

Saigon Bistro
Unit 202
3546 Saint Johns Bluff Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32224
Tel 904.645-0222

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

breakfast beauty + memory of light

breakfast bowl in the raw: granola with trinkets of sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, dried sulphur-free mango snippets, bananas + figs glorious sexy figs......

doused in homemade almond milk and agave nectar

it's like biting into the earth and revealing the sun

For the most part, I am not a breakfast person. I would rather have a smoothie on the go and just get it over with.

For the most part, I wake up not a least bit hungry.

But as you know by 11 a.m. for the most part, I am violently hungry and unable to focus unless I eat something gratuitous.

So to avoid further drama in my life, as if I don't have enough drama; I have decided to include a solid breakfast on those mornings that I know an extra shimmy will be needed to get me through the day.

So why not include a combination of ingredients I just adore?

I love bananas.

Let's throw in some bananas, mangoes, dried mangoes specifically. As well as granola. I found something called the *sugar free buzz free* granola at my local health food store. I don't like sickly sweet overtly syrupy granola. Figs.....what's there not to love about figs. Okay, I know a lot of people don't like figs. Like beets, not a lot of beet fans either. But here's to figs or perhaps pears. When outta figs, chopped pears are perfectly dicey!

Add some almond milk like I have made here.

I love granola. I would make homemade granola but already have a yard long list of too many things to orchestrate in a day. Granola reminds me of GORP. When I was growing up in San Francisco, they used to call trail mix: GORP (granola oats raisins peanuts or gobs of raw protein).

GORP reminds me of my post-hippie teachers I had in elementary school in the Mission District.

I loved how fluid, relaxed and non-traditionalist they were!

The post-hippie teachers wanted the students to call them by their first names. Of course, never addressing them by names like Mrs. Tipton or something. They wore loose fitting cotton garments, nose rings, curly rambunctious hair or the time spun 'fro.

One specific year I recall I had a slew of these teachers for a summer program. For the most part their classes held no structure throughout the day. We would go through our required math and reading lessons before lunch. Then after a long leisurely lunch and recess they would teach us about performance art. We wrote plays in the third grade. Experimented with costume design, set design and body movement.

I loved how they let things slide into made me feel daring.

They revealed a Pandora's box of options for us when it came to creative play. They *shared* with us about their personal relationships and spoke to us as if we were their confidante friends, not children. I recall that made us children feel comfortably confident about ourselves.

I felt our insecurites and shyness that children often harbor, slowly dimish that summer.

One teacher shared with us about the misconception of beauty in our society. She was not a beauty according to iconic movie star standards. She looked like an exotic gypsy to me. I thought she was ravishing but she told us about an old boyfriend that used to tell her often times how ugly she was. She shared with us how important it is to take pride in our individual beauty and not hold fast to negative opinions brought on by others. I recall her speaking with us about the subject matter quite intimately as the girls in my classroom including myself, did not mirror the blue eyed blonde Barbies we loved to play with. My homegirls were Mexican, Filipina, Black, Vietnamese, Nicaraguan, Guatemalan, Puerto Rican and Jewish. Then there was Korean girl, couldn't even speak Korean. Quite the bunch we were. I recall later, a blue eyed blonde northern Italian girl came in to rally up the bunch even more. We actually became best buddies for a long time after that. I wonder what she's up to today?

We were in the third grade, yet opinions about ourselves were already setting in fast.

She gave me a book about fairy tales from all over the globe. Many of the stories heightened the fact that the heroine was not always the beautiful princess or prince charming. It was as if she wanted us to embrace the fantasy of beauty but seek it's truth foremost.

This was a liberating time in my life. The memories return in brilliant form and often nudge me to break free of my own preconceptions.

When I think about this time, I visually encapsulate a great deal of light in the photo memory of it. Yes, it was an intriguing moment and to this day haunts my many taste memories......often times beginning at breakfast.

biting into the sun ©

· scoop of your favorite granola (mine has lotsa seeds: sunflower + sesame)
· sliced bananas
· sliced figs, pears or other favorite fleshy bright fruit
· snippets of dried sulphur-free mango or other favorite energy dense dried fruit
· agave nectar or honey (optional)
· chilled fresh almond milk or organic milk

© 2008 Taste Memory, the blog, the concept + concepts within, words, writing and photography is the property and copyright by TasteMemory, Melt Into Arts Inc. and Ingar Brunnett.

Please don't copy cat or steal.

Everyone else.....thanks for stopping by ;-)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

creating taste memories: American Girl Café

creating the setting with pretty bows + detailed ambiance throughout.........

Last summer while visiting in southern California, I took my girls out to lunch at the American Girl Cafe in Los Angeles.

Yes, I said last summer, so this is a back-logged post soooo long overdue!

We had scheduled to spend the afternoon with Grandma and Auntie but due to some last minute travel issues they were not able to join us. Fortunately, we were still able to have a *girls day out* on a wonderful sunny southern California afternoon.

Ahhhhhhhh, so nice to be without humidity for awhile.

dessert first concept: toasty warm miniature cinnamon rolls were served upon arrival

The American Girl Place is located inside The Grove shopping area located adjacent to my favorite Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax.

So much to say here about all this.

First off, the American Girl Place is just plain HUGE.

Downstairs is a shop with the variety American Girl dolls displayed plus their outfits, toys and other accessories.

Yes......accessories and lots of it. This store; namely this brand teaches young girls to accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. Learning about accessories at a young age may be quite harmful, don't you think? Especially to the gullible parent(s) involved.

He he....

There is also a beauty salon downstairs where the dolls can get their battered faces, eschewed and entwined knotty hair refreshed and revitalized.

Ooooh and did I mention ear piercing? Yes, ear piercing for the earrings, earring sets and more accessories.

Upstairs, there are more dolls, more clothes and more accessories. There is also a doll museum. My girls loved the doll museum.

The cafe is located upstairs as well. You can traipse through the store and do a bit of damage before you finally hit the cafe.

sparkling apple cider with Samantha.........

You MUST make reservations at the cafe. This is a highly coveted experience.

My brother told me about this place. He said he had never been inside, but the last time he was at The Grove he said he *saw kids looking through the store window and salivating*

We arrived, checked in and were given a place number. We browsed until the doors were open for our allotted time span to *lunch*. There was a HUGE mob at the door. It reminded me of trying to get into a stadium of a rock concert or sports event (my brief mention about sports here). I haven't been to a sports event since leaving California.......another story.

Everyone was being quite pleasant though. I did have thoughts that kept rewinding forward from months back of a stage mom shoving me aside while I was walking up the stairs to get seats in the theatre to for my daughter's ballet recital.

Motherhood can be quite intense.

I am trying to go with the flow.......really.

So about The Grove.

The Grove is a pleasant outdoor shopping mall, complete with water fountains, shady sitting areas and lots of decadent shops.

There is even a movie theatre embedded in between which I just adore. The movie theatre located within the hub of shops, restaurants and other activities is such a southern California concept I have surely missed. Many movie theatres or lets say ALL the movie theatres on the east side of the coast where I live near now are stand alones.

My kids gotta kick out of the movie theatres in the midst of shops and community-centric activities. This is from a consumer + marketing p.o.v thought - but I do relish the thought of urban-centric gathering areas especially in such a spread out community as Los Angeles.

Speaking of community, this brings me to the Farmer's Market I just adore.

all the girls were given a tea set + plate for their dolls to use during lunch.

The vintage farmer's market is in walking distance and a must see. I love it's old world charm, diverse ethnic pace and the ease emanated by the visitors gathered to share a moment in time together.

Really good nachos too.........

Kit enjoying cheeseburger + curly fries

dessert trio: chocolate mousse, sugar cookie with white frosting + pink sprinkles, heart shaped white cake.....

check out the grand total: $1400 for apple bubbly, burgers, salad + pasta. Wwwwwwhhhhaattt?

Okay.......the food at the cafe wasn't anything to write home about. I was biting my lip as our lunch arrived. I don't know why, but I immediately thought of Sisco and Aramark.

Then I decided to think forward. The farmer's market perhaps later. Nachos perhaps if I had any funds left over from this decadent lunch.

((( s i g h )))

But wait.....when I received the bill for our girls' lunch out, I nearly dropped when I saw the $1401.00 tallied on the receipt.

Geez, talk about snafus.

When I brought it to my server's attention she thought I was trying to get out on a bill until she caught sight of what I was talking about.

It was pleasantly corrected and I was able to breathe again.

stick on pedicures ~ lovely way to end the day