Embrace Sweets

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Push and Pull of Life

I had a revelation last night and it came from my first night in Intermediate Tango class. We practiced walking, forward and back, turns and movement with each other without using our arms. There was no tango embrace not even the practice hold, we had only to rely on our core and support each other without tipping over (or dropping) the other person. Pressed chest to chest you had to match the force you gave with the force your partner was giving to you; you couldn't lean on them, they weren't there to support you, not really that was up to you; but, they were there to guide you and help you execute the move.

I realized three things last night:
1. My core is pretty weak.
2. I relay to much on my hands instead of trusting myself and my body to do and give what it instinctively knows
3. and lastly, I realized this one class represents so much of life (at least my own).

Life itself is a push and pull, in our daily lives we give to others and want (or at least hope) to receive the same in return.  We push against the things we don't want but we also push ourselves towards those that we do.  We give ourselves fully when it's something that resonates with us and we protect ourselves when people are trying to put their 'stuff', their energy onto us.  Throughtout all of this however do this with faith. Faith in ourselves, faith in those that we follow and faith that we won't fall.  Much like our practice we had to have faith that we could work together, to come to a mutual agreement, to complete the process only using our own strength and body weight.  I always imagined the embrace was the most important part, the way you express your intention and your passion to your partner; but now I realize that's just the icing.  If you can do all of that without holding your partner you've entered a whole new realm, a whole new dimension of trust and connection that is even more powerful.

Tango is so much more than just a dance. It's a language, it's an expression, it's an outlet and a meditation as my favorite teacher Stefan says.  I'm reminded every time I step into class that I'm not just here to learn a new dance move, but I'm here to be apart of something and I'm here to grow spiritually, emotionally and as a person.  A person who can tango and express herself in whole different light.

Ocho Cortado here I come!! Clear the dance floor. :-)

12958 Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A True Coffee Break

When the day just seems to be having its way with you our maybe you just got up a minute too soon (or late). The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is my mini retreat.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.9

There's a Carb in Heaven For Me

Is it just me or all of the best things in life centered around breads, pasta, sugar and of course butter? As my Mum says, "Why would anyone want to live without it, you'd might as well just shoot yourself" - ok, so maybe that's a little harsh but come on you have to agree (at least a little).  We've been led to believe that these things are 'bad for us' but how can anything be bad in "Moderation".  If you have moderation you can have anything. I suppose the challenge comes in with maintaining the moderation part.

So if I share a blueberry scone and hot tea in the morning, have a small slice of tomato basil foccacia bread with my lunch (of fresh made pasta and sliced chicken) and for dinner salivate and enjoy a moderate portion of butterscotch bread pudding does that count as moderation? Probably not.

If you've had the pleasure to read the book (or see the movie) Eat Pray Love, then you'll know exactly what I'm getting at.  The main character of the book spends three months in Italy and makes the most wonderful statement that 'No carb will be left behind'.  I couldn't have said it better myself. Fully taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity and the fresh country, she indulges in gelato, fresh made pastas and tomato sauces, sautéed in butter everything and of course pizza! Oh, the pizza - I'm convinced that in heaven there is an endless supply of all your favorite foods just waiting for you and to make sure you never get tired of them, you have the memory of a goldfish, so every time you eat something it's like the first time. Amazing.

I am in awe sometimes when I step back and listen to my conversations about food, when did this happen? How did this happen?  I was born in Georgia but raised in California, as a child I was a very picky eater but what I did love was my Grandmother and Great-grandmothers' cooking.  Southern fried chicken breast, collard greens, sweet potatoes and pound cakes.  This type of cooking wasn't for everyday meals but reserved for Sunday dinners, holidays, and special occasions. But it wasn't until my late 20's that I really started to appreciate food and venture out to new cuisine. My idea of 'good food' or even just food I'd eat was so limited, I was so fearful and timid.  Even when I started traveling through Southeast Asia, South America and the Caribbean, I kick myself now because I completely missed out.  Well, on the other hand the upside is I just have to go back and re-experience those places correctly.

Perhaps food has just gotten better with time, like wine, olive oil and canned fruit; I do believe there is some truth to this. Over the last decade so many culinary milestones and advances have been made in the industry. All these new types of salts, sugars, olive oil combinations, herbs and spices; different cuts of meats, hybrid vegetables and fruits, even down to the style and way things are cooked has evolved.  What was once unthought of, impossible or just considered 'wrong' is now copied and exploited all over the place.  Traditional cooking and ceremonial cooking has found a place in chic, boutique restaurants and supper clubs - eating has become fun, fashionable and interesting.  There are more food critics, bloggers (such as myself) and so-called experts than ever before.  Culinary academy's are popping up everywhere, people want to be the chefs they see on reality shows and Food Network, being just a mere 'cook' doesn't hold the fame or light anymore but to be a Chef the possibilities are endless.

Last night my Mum reminded me that when I was young and had a bedtime I used to always think that I was missing out on something, that while I slept she and all the other parents were partying, dancing and having a grand ole time.  Now I know that wasn't the case, she'd be up working late, watching TV or preparing for the next day and then she'd retire as well. Well, now things are different, if I had kids they would definitely believe something was going on while they slept. There might be a few friends over sharing a great new bottle of wine and the latest gossip, mummy and daddy might be making some exotic dinner for two and sharing a slice of Tequila Lime Cheesecake, or maybe I just might find solice in an amazing scoop of Salted Caramel Vanilla Gelato.  Who really knows, but I can tell you this; food is definitely more apart of my life, my friends and anyone I associate with than I could have ever imagined years ago.  I can't even imagine not caring about what I put in my mouth or where I'm getting my ingredients from.  It's a daily conversation but in the most wonderful way, it's not stressful, it's not about dieting or calorie counting; it's about moderation, savoring and honestly just being present and enjoying what you're enjoying.  I believe if you do that, you can't overeat, you can't eat the wrong thing and you can't finish a meal and forget what you ate just a few hours before.

Make every meal count. Appreciate every taste bud. Savor every bite.

Till the next meal!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Smoke This Joint

Baby Backs w/Mac 'n' Chez and Loaded Baked Potato

(2) sauces
Now, I don't necessarily pride myself on having a knack for barbecuing or even being a BBQ aficionado, but I do believe that like most of us I know good BBQ when I come across it. Mom on the other hand is hands down the BBQ queen and if she says it's the best well then you know you have a winner. 

Catfish (Appetizer)

The Best Baked Beans!
Next in line for our weekend food challenge is The Smokin Joint on West 3rd St in West Hollywood.  So, off the bat I was a little concerned, they call themselves a "Fine California BBQ" restaurant, now doesn't that seem to be an oxymoron? I mean Fine + BBQ I can't imagine the two going together. Isn't BBQ supposed to be sticky, messy and fun? Since when do you eat BBQ with a knife and fork with delicate white napkins on your lap? Well, I am happy to report that Smokin may be 'Fine' but they are still firmly rooted in the BBQ tradition. We ordered the Catfish (appetizer) 15 hour brisket, baby backs, mac 'n' chez, loaded baked potato and of course baked beans, the baked beans by the way were boasted as being The Best in LA, obviously they haven't tasted mine. Their sauces were superb, you actually get three to choose from (vinegar based, Carolina style and a special made in house) and they come out separately so you can add as much or as little to your dish. The meats were tender and well flavored, my brisket was cooked for over 15 hours and as it literally melted in my mouth I agree it was worth the effort. Nothing ruins a good meal (especially BBQ) faster than feeling like you're fighting with your meat - the constant pull and tug when even a knife seems to dull and give up over the effort is a sure fire deal breaker. 

15hour Brisket w/Baked Beans

What was also a great, unexpected treat were the pickles they accompany every dish. At first I just over looked them and pushed them to the side, but the owner actually bought them to my attention and insisted I try them. Shockingly they were fantastic. They are sweet, firm, crisp and best of all made in house. They finish off the meal perfectly and could also be great sides on their own.
Elton John on the Big Screen
Autographed Guitars

Smokin's location is ideal, located walking distance from the Beverly Center there is tons of parking and steady foot traffic, it's also a welcomed addition to the same ole food places that have been in the area for years. It was time the area got 'spiced' up a bit. :-)

The owner (a former musician) also keeps true to tradition with the number of autographed guitars hanging on the walls, pictures of musicians and the large television wall display featuring concerts such as Live8, Coachella , and many others.

You're guaranteed great food, great music and great service - could you really ask for more?  

So the next time you're in the mood for BBQ, head over to 3rd Street and give Smokin a try, I promise you won't be disappointed.. :-) Dig in.

8486 W. 3rd St. Los Angeles


Friday, September 3, 2010

Are You a Food Pervert, and Would You Know It?

The Food Pervert
We've been perved (that's a good thing, don't worry) by the official Food Pervert! (Now you know we've made it).

Check out her wonderful blog mention of Embrace Sweets at the Larchmont Farmers Market and other great treats like 3rd Street Farmers Market by the Grove and my soon to be new favorite The Kitchen in Silverlake.

Follow her on Twitter and Facebook for more information.