Archive | March, 2012

Three of Maroon’s Must-Read Books

31 Mar
Robert Mapplethorpe & Patti Smith

Robert Mapplethorpe & Patti Smith

Dear Yolo,

I tend to go through periods where I read voraciously, annihilating stacks of books, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night to read. This is usually followed by a month or two where I read nothing at all aside from the plays I’m required to read for scenes in class.

These are my 3 favorite books of the last 6 months: Just Kids by Patti Smith, Lessons in Becoming Myself by Ellen Burstyn and The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson.

I didn’t realize it until I put this list together and I didn’t read them back-to-back, but not surprisingly (considering my current state of mind and my personal pursuits) these books share many, many similarities. All three books are about artists and about making art.They are all the sorts of books that make your heart bigger and make life seem richer. One of the books is fiction while the other two are autobiographical but all three lifted my heart and inspired me, expanding my sense of the world and my own personal strength and potential as an artist.

Are you still with me after that last sentence? Ok, good. The two non-fiction works were especially poignant to me. Ostensibly, Ellen Burstyn and Patti Smith couldn’t be more different, yet they are both incredibly powerful and unique artists and women. I hope you get a chance to read these too if you haven’t already. It will fortify your own sense of badass-ness.

1. My favorite of the three is Just Kids by Patti Smith. It’s easily one of the top three most important books I’ve read in the last 10 years. I knew beforehand of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography and I knew that he died of AIDS, but I knew of Patti Smith was that she was a rocker-type lady?

It’s the late 60’s when a teenage Smith moves to New York from a small town in Pennsylvania, living on the street briefly before finally getting a job at a bookstore and meeting a young Mapplethorpe. The story is theirs, of artist and muse, of lovers, life-long friends, and a love and mutual respect deeper than I think most of us are ever priviledged to know on this earth. Their paths cross and intertwine with so many other artists, musicians and writers that define the era. William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsburg, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Sam Shepard (and many more notables) make cameos in Smith’s tale.

And while the narrative is incredible, I was even more affected by Smith’s poetic prose and intimidating literacy and skill as a writer. The writing is painfully beautiful, and there is such purity in her words and it leaves trailing behind it such a gorgeous and gallant suggestion of  now, and of mortality.

Just Kids is a work of art. I’m hardly the only one who feels this way;  Smith has a was named a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 2005 and received a National Book Award for Just Kids.

NPR Books Logo  Click here to listen to Patti Smith’s 2010 NPR interview.

Lessons In Becoming Myself by Ellen Burstyn2. I also adored Ellen Burstyn’s Lessons in Becoming Myself.  I feel so grateful to both Burstyn and Smith that they bare so much of themselves in these books. They are both so inspiring and so strong and so different. Born in Detroit, Burstyn arrives in New York in the early 60s to study theater after making stops in Texas where she worked as a model and Montreal where she was a chorus girl. That’s just the very beginning. I don’t think anyone in history would be able to accuse Ellen Burstyn of not living a full life.

Burstyn struggled a lot early on, often depending on the kindness of others or going hungry unless she had a date. But even after there was significant momentum behind her trajectory in becoming one of the most respected and successful actresses in the business, her struggle was a spiritual one to find herself.

Born a Catholic, Burstyn eventually converts to Sufism.  The spiritual aspect of her story was especially fascinating to me. She falls in love with a Sufi monk, she experiences a catharsis at a spiritual retreat in the French Alps and spiritual exploration and her search for herself take her to the Middle East. She produces (though she failed to claim the credit, she ruefully explains) a movie called Resurrection, (you’ve probably never heard of it but it’s very good, and I recommend watching it) in which she also starred as a woman in the rural midwest who has the power to heal people. Sam Shepard (both Ellen and Patti have great taste)  is handpicked by Burstyn to play opposite her… the list goes on.

Tons of luminaries of the stage and screen make appearances in her story and whether or not you are familiar with her work, are an actor, artist or interested in spirituality (though at least ONE of those has to sound sort of interesting if you’re warm-blooded), I think you’ll still find the story of her life’s triumphs and tragedies fascinating and inspirational.

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

3. Ever wondered life would have been like if your parents were performance artists? Then this book is for you! The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson is totally one of the most enjoyable, quirkiest, and funniest books I’ve ever read.

Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang have two children Annie and Buster, also known as Child A and Child B. They video tape “happenings” that they create as a family. Growing up in the Fang household, Buster and Annie are assigned parts in creating these “happenings”, but they rarely know what their parents are really up to. The “happenings” are… AMAZING. So funny.

The story alternates between the present where Annie and Buster, now both adults are struggling in their lives. Annie has become a successful actress in Hollywood but she has started drinking excessively to address her apathy and dislike of mostly everything in her life. Buster is struggling freelance writer working on a feature for Esquire about potato guns. They both still live in the shadow of their parent’s creations. In between episodes from Annie and Buster’s adult lives we learn about their childhood through vignettes titled with the names of Camille and Caleb’s art.

It’s a hilarious story, but touched with the pain we all bear discovering the mortality and fallibility of one’s parents and coming into your own right as an adult and a creator. I feel like I’m not doing it justice with that last sentence. It’s lovely. I couldn’t put it down and read it in a day.

(There are rumors The Family Fang is being adapted into a film with Nicole Kidman attached to the project.  Nicole Kidman is kind of like brussel sprouts. (What? You’ve thought that before too? Let’s be friends!!!)  People either love or detest her. I’m a fan, but if you’re not– don’t hold it against the book.)

Love,

Maroon

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Inappropriate Street Art

30 Mar

Buenos Aires  Cunt Crew

Dear Yolo,

A few years ago B and I decided to get our friend Jon a calendar for his birthday. A note about Jon: he is a great guy who gets disproportionately upset sometimes by people playing pranks on him (the fact that he gets annoyed in general makes it all the more tempting to do so). At the farmers’ market one time, someone convinced us to buy a bag of jujubes. Because they are disgusting and basically inedible, we decided to draw faces on all of them and hide them in Jon’s room (this is when he and B lived together). We hid about two dozen of them in corners, drawers and under things. Once he found one it didn’t take long to find almost all of them but we kept alluding that there were more hidden for months which sort of drove him nuts.

Of course we thought it would be a hilariously banal gift for someone whose birthday is the day after Christmas to get him a calendar. Also, we wanted to see the look on his face when he saw the pictures from the calendar we got him: Extraordinary Chickens. It is full of different chickens for twelve months, most of them are extraordinary, some hideous. Since then we have gotten him Extraordinary Pigs and a Toilets of the World calendar.

In keeping with the tradition we decided to go a slightly different route this year and are making him a homemade calendar: Inappropriate Street Art. I doubt he’ll be annoyed and will hopefully find this one amusing. Once we have gathered all of the photos we will put it together (maybe I should sell copies online). The difficult part is gathering all of the images. They have to be found and photographed by us (may change those rules depending on how many we find). We have five total so far. The above picture was taken in Buenos Aires and is one of my favorites. There is also a great picture of a sprayed painted penis on a bright yellow wall, a picture of kids showing their junk to each other I saw on a dumpster, and the following:

Mr. Cock - Bariloche, Argentina

While it isn’t technically street art, it is pretty funny. It’s a sign for a children’s clothing store in Bariloche that sells clothes for babies and kids up to 8 years old. I have a hard time believing they didn’t know what cock means in English (aside from rooster) but I’m glad they named it that.  My other faovrite is certainly not the prettiest, but I laughed really hard when I saw it on a dumpster outside our local Albertson’s in Los Feliz:

No Babies Dumpster Los Feliz, Los Angeles

The one next to it also says ‘no babies’. If I find more examples I will continue to post them because they make my day sometimes.

Love,

Yolo

Style Inspired by Shirley Maclaine in ‘Gambit’

29 Mar Style Inspired by Gambit

Style Inspired by Gambit

  1. Scarab Pendant Earrings $224 at NoirJewelry.com
  2. 5 Color Harmony for Eyes – 13 Candy by YSL $56 at Sephora.com
  3. Black and Gold Suede Platform Sandals by Marc Jacobs $420 at Stylebop.com
  4. Spring 2009 RTW Collection by Tibi find on eBay.com

Dear Yolo,

I caught Gambit (1966) the other day on Netflix Instant to feed my Michael Caine obsession which was ignited by watching Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon imitate him in The Trip (if you haven’t seen that, you must immediately. It’s hilarious. I think I’ve seen it like, six times now. ).

It stars Michael Caine as cockney (way to push the envelope, Caine!) cat burgler Harry Dean and a young, crazily gorgeous Shirley Maclaine as Hong Kong dancer Nicole Chang.  It’s a light-hearted caper flick where cat burgler guy uses the good-hearted babe as bait for this mega rich middle eastern dude so he can steal a priceless artifact that belongs to the mega rich guy. And you’ll never guess what happens next! It’s not bad, but it’s not good. Yet, for some reason it got three Oscar nominations that year.

Persian Blue Bolero $36 at A-hem Vintage at Etsy.com

Persian Blue Bolero $36 at A-hem Vintage at Etsy.com

So while the storyline was pretty blah, I was totally enamored with the look of the film. MacLaine looks FLAWLESS.  Seriously, I had no idea she used to be so hot! The movie is of that era where any place aside from Europe was lumped under the nebulous header ‘The Orient’.  Characters in the movie, the sets and Maclaine’s look are a bizarre, made for Western-consumption mish-mash of pretty much every culture and country that exists from Japan to India to Saudi Arabia . Though it’s hardly accurate, (or politically correct) the stylized look is colorful, exotic and completely beguiling.

I was totally inspired by the look and since I already was BORN rocking the whole Eurasian thing… why not go all the way?

Isn’t that Persian Blue Bolero so cool? Click here to visit A-hem Vintage’s Etsy store. Lots of great vintage prints and I just noticed…20% off until April 1st. The code is their homepage.

p.s. Get ready for the re-make of Gambit with Cameron Diaz playing Maclaine’s role. Guaranteed it won’t have the charm and style of the original.  Can someone please come up with some original movies?

Style inspired by Gambit, Shirley Maclaine

click to enlarge graphic


  1. Floral One-Shoulder Dress $120 by Oasis at Oasis-stores.com
  2. Matte Gold Filigree Dangle Earring $23 from JulianaWJewelry at Etsy.com
  3. All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner $20 by Stila at Sephora.com
  4. Lollipop by Essie $8 at Duane Reade or Walgreen’s
  5. 18k Gold over Stainless Steel Filigree Design Cuff Bracelet $21.24 at Overstock.com
  6. Red Dragon & Phoenix Cheongsam $99 at MyiDress.com
  7. Ariadne Earrings $35 from SacredGallery at Esty.com
  8. Gold Coin Necklace by Kenneth Jay Lane $92 ON SALE at Net-a-porter.com
  9. Oriental Floral Dress by Oasis $129 at Oasis-stores.com

Yolo’s Skin Cancer & Sun Damage Survival Guide

28 Mar Best Product for Your Skin to Prevent and Reduce Sun Damage
Best Product for Your Skin to Prevent and Reduce Sun Damage

Yolo's Picks for Sun Damage Prevention and Treatment (click to enlarge)

Dear Maroon,

I am coming up on my  six month check-up with my medical dermatologist to see if my cancerous removed mole has in fact removed all of the cancerous portions of itself from my body. I noticed a weird and somewhat smallish mole on my lower back a few years ago. I honestly forgot about it for awhile since it was certainly not an area that I normally see, but after solicited advice from friends and loved ones that ranged from “that’s just a mole” to “um, you should probably have that thing looked at”, I decided to seek medical advice. I went in and had the whole thing removed for biopsy to be sure. Turned out it was a basal cell carcinoma – the most common type of skin cancer that usually doesn’t metastisize (spread to other parts of the body). It can however, spread to other parts of one’s skin if unchecked. I’m going in next Monday to have my dermatologist check all of my myriad freckles and moles.

I am, as you know, a bit of a skincare product and makeup whore (oh, how I miss the days of college beauty routines).  Like so many people I scour blogs and test things out to find the best possible products I can put on my face and body, not to mention homemade recipes with the things I can find in my own fridge. After a childhood and adolescence of sunbathing, hiking and junior lifeguarding, I have accumulated a fair amount of sun damage and I wanted to put my product whoriness to good use. I became obsessed with suncare a few years ago and while I miss my tanned limbs, I feel a bit more secure in my choices nowadays regarding sun care.

For a long time I have been using Vivite SPF 30 ($22). It’s pretty awesome as a daytime moisturizer/sunscreen. It has glycolic acid in it, which is fantastic for sloughing off dead skin, but I’ve had some IPL treatments which forbid the use of any retinoids or glycolic acid for awhile before and after treatment. I’ve come to rely on Elta MD SPF 30 ($25) as my go-to sunscreen now. It’s light and feels kind of amazing (I have oily skin so I hate heavy products). For days when I know I am going to be in the sun, I use Solar Protection Formula SPF 58 ($21). The downside is that the zinc in it makes you look kind of sickly, but it is awesome at protection from the sun (don’t use if you have a day date).

If you already have some sun damage, I highly recommend using some Niacin products. Nia24  is the best on the market that I have found for reducing sun damage. Their exfoliant cream cleanser is amazing as is their night damage cream.

A lot of sunblock and sunscreens can be good for sun protection but bad for your skin’s well-being. So many products on the market focus solely on sun screens but can be super-harsh for your skin. After reading a post on IntoTheGloss.com (I love that site).  I discovered the best database for figuring out protection factor versus skin-harmfulness: EWG.org.  If you have any doubt, check out the products you want to use on that site. So brilliant.

The lips are often a neglected area when it comes to sunscreen, but I really love Dr. T’s Supergoop ($8.50). I like La Mer’s Lip Balm ($50) at night, but honestly I use Vaseline more. During the day, you really cannot find a better product for lips than the SPF 30 of Dr. T’s Supergoop (I like acai better than mint)  . This stuff has saved me from insufferable California sunshine so many times (it’s only insufferable when hazy, but I do miss seasons). I had a large freckle on my lip a few years ago that has since gone away after using protective lip balms/glosses. Protect your lips.

Another note for you: apply that sunscreen to your neck, decolletage and hands. A simple homemaking tip is to get a lovely lotion jar and fill it with half lotion/half sunscreen. There are some awesome apothecary jars out there for just such an occasion. Find or make them, but regardless and whatever your age, protect and then do it again. Sunscreen wears off after four hours (every sunscreen does) so reapply and know that it is just a thing you have to do. If you have questions, ask and I am more than happy to help out.

Love,

Yolo

Best Products For Your Skin to Prevent and Reduce Sun Damage

  1. Solar Protection Formula SPF 58 $21 at Amazon.com
  2. Elta MD SPF 30 $25 at Amazon.com
  3. Nia 24 Gentle Cleansing Cream $30 at Dermstore.com
  4. Nia 24 Intensive Recovery Complex $110 at Dermstore.com
  5. Vivite Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 $22 at Amazon.com
  6. Dr. T’s Supergoop Acai SPF 30 $8.50 at Nordstrom.com
  7. La Mer Lip Balm $50 at Nordstroms.com

Art credit: Long Beach by Mark Spain

Maroon’s Mini Herb Garden

26 Mar Heirloom Herb Seeds

Maroon's Mini Herb Garden

Dear Yolo,

For a number of reasons, I now have two little mini-greenhouses with tiny plants in our apartment.

  1. As much as I try to fight it, I am a native of the Evergreen State so living in the concrete jungle of New York is especially hard on my aesthetic sensibilities.  East Coast deciduous trees make winter look especially bleak.
  2. Plants are cute!
  3. I hate buying herbs. It just pisses me off.
  4. Both of my grandparents had/have lovely gardens where they grew vegetables, herbs, flowers and all sorts of things. I loved working in their gardens with them when I was a kid. I felt a lot of affection for earthworms because I knew they were good for the soil and help plants grow and named each one I found “Charlie”. I liked to pretend that each time I found an earthworm it was the same one.
  5. It is socially acceptable to hoard plants. Many people even admire this sort of behavior.

During our last trip to Ikea, I bought two little mini-greenhouse type structures. Not really necessary, but being part Japanese means it’s hard for me to resist anything in miniature scale. I dragged back a bag of soil from Target and have been using jars, a mismatched wineglasses and little pots mugs or planters picked up from Goodwill to give my little garden a home.

One of the mini greenhouses is more or less dedicated to herbs while the other is a home for my succulent plants. I love succulents because they are difficult to kill (they basically require neglect) and they’re so cool looking.

Also, we eat a lot of guacamole so while I don’t put all the seeds to use, I do have two one-year-old avocado trees thriving with two more I have just started in small jars and am waiting to sprout. I think they will actually make nice housewarming gifts for friends because most people who come over stare longingly at the tiny trees.

Maroon's Mini Garden

I feel like I’m 10 years old again, because I find it pretty exciting to plant some seeds and then see them sprout a week or two later.  I’m sure this sounds totally stupid to some people, but as a person who has lived in urban environments for many years, seeing a plant grow is (sadly) really cool!

So far I have basil, cilantro (I know, sorry– you hate it), parsley and rosemary growing. I also have some seeds for thyme but I need to go get more soil. Not looking forward to that because the bag is heavy.

I’m especially excited about the purple opal basil I planted. The little sprouts are kind of greenish/purple right now, but they’re supposed to become this brilliant purple when full grown. More food should be purple. I’ll have to update with more pictures.

Tata for now– someone has to go to the doctor’s office so I’m filling in for a few hours at the wine store this afternoon and I need to get ready. Also, sorry my pics are kinda sucky. I left my phone at a restaurant on Friday and it looks like someone took it. Haven’t done that for YEARS. So pissed about it.

How was your weekend?

Love,

Maroon

Maroon's Mini Garden

Sunday Roast Chicken

25 Mar Sunday Roast Chicken
Sunday Roast Chicken

Mmmmmmm...

Dear Yolo,

Lately, having roast chicken on Sunday has become a tradition. It’s a healthy, delicious, simple, EASY!  meal and the leftover chicken meat stretches into sandwiches, pastas and snacks for a a few days after.

You’re no stranger to chicken roasting but for those who haven’t tried it, I strongly encourage you to. I know you can buy those ready-to-eat rotisserie chickens at the supermarket but it doesn’t compare to the taste of a chicken you roast yourself. Because there IS a difference in taste (and your peace of mind) I pick the biggest organic, free-range chicken I can find.  It’s a lovely ritual, and the results will make you feel like a kitchen god.

I’m sharing the recipe I use which is Thomas Keller’s Favorite Roast Chicken.  I love how he writes the recipe and how to enjoy the bird. There aren’t many things that feel cozier than enjoying (or sharing) the oysters of a freshly carved chicken. While I usually adapt recipes, I’ve reproduced this in its entirety because you just have to hear it straight from Keller. This is a man who knows how to enjoy a roast chicken.

To keep it healthy, I don’t serve the chicken with butter. We usually enjoy it alongside a salad or a couple of veg dishes.

Thomas Keller’s Favorite Roast Chicken
 from Gourmet Magazine (RIP!)

  • One 2- to 3-pound farm-raised chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)
  • Unsalted butter
  • Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.

Trussed and ready for the ovenSalt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it’s a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird. (Click here for a tutorial.)

Now, salt the chicken—I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it’s cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.

Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone—I don’t baste it, I don’t add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don’t want. Roast it until it’s done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the oysters, the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I’m cooking with. But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip—until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook’s rewards. Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be superelegant. Slather the meat with fresh butter. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You’ll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it’s so good. (Click here for a video tutorial on carving a chicken.)

Try and tell me that doesn’t sound good. Enjoy. 🙂

Love,

Maroon

Homemade Red Wine Vinegar

23 Mar Homemade red wine vinegar

Homemade red wine vinegar

Dear Maroon,I adore homemade vinegars because they usually taste better and after you’ve done it once, it pays for itself. Here’s a recipe for homemade red wine vinegar that can be used in the chimichurri and criolla recipes from an earlier post. It’s pretty damn simple.

Homemade Red Wine Vinegar:

2 cups of apple cider vinegar with the mother (you can find raw apple cider with the mother at health food stores)

3 cups red wine (we use a collection of unfinished bottles of wine from the previous week or two)
1 large glass jar
1 paper towel
1 large rubber band

Combine wine and vinegar in the jar. Cover with the paper towel and secure with the rubber band. Place in a dark, room temperature place (60-80 degrees ideal) for two weeks. Strain and transfer to a glass bottle (I like one with a pour spout). Let stand another week for flavors to mature and mellow. Use as you would any store bought red wine vinegar.

This vinegar is much more pronounced in nuanced flavor than store-bought versions. The real draw in doing this is that you can reserve a portion of the mother (unstrained, don’t be afraid – it looks like a gelatinous mass) and keep adding small batches of wine weekly to have a never-ending supply. Wine recycling!

Love,

Yolo
Here is the gelatinous mass that is the mother of the red wine vinegar:
Red Wine Vinegar Mother

The Finest Meats & Cheeses (mostly meats) Part II

22 Mar The Kavanagh Building. Retiro, Buenos Aires.
Florida Street, the Retiro district of Buenos Aires

Florida Street, the Retiro district of Buenos Aires

Dear Maroon,
My favorite place we went to in Buenos Aires was probably a restaurant called Sipan. It is ridiculously good. It is situated in a boutique hotel in the Palermo district and while a bit pricey, is fucking awesome. You can see sky overhead when not rainy and there’s an entire bright graffitied wall. Our amuse bouche on the first day for lunch was a piece of salmon sashimi over rice with a passion fruit miso glaze. Stupidly good. The ceviches there are literally out of this world. They’re amazing and they have the freshest fish ever with other beautiful sometimes lightly fried fish or octopus, with the best citrus and other components. I’ve had some good ceviche, but holy shit, get a bottle of Torrontes and just sit back and enjoy. We went back the next day. Honestly, this place rules (please note: there is another Sipan in Buenos Aires but the one in Palermo serves lunch).
I made it a point to try and get empanadas wherever we went and was not ever disappointed. The flaky pastry dough filled with ham and cheese or lamb and beef goodness never dissappointed.  We stayed in the Retiro district at the Park Tower. It’s a really nice hotel that apparently only tourists go to (the only people we came into contact with at that five star hotel were American or Chinese, I suggest you go elsewhere if you want a more local feel). It has a gorgeous view of the Plaza de San Martin and is walking distance from one of the most monied areas in Buenos Aires, the Puerto Madero neighborhood. Walking through Puerto Madero is really pretty but if you’re anything like me, you view it as a lovely frontispiece for people I will never really know.
We went to dinner at a restaurant there that was by far the most expensive place we ate at with the least quality of service (six courses not that well thought out). We’re no strangers to fine dining but if you make someone wear a jacket, you better damn well pull out the lady’s chair (seriously, a guy kind of pulled it out and then left midway). You will be forgiven if your food is good, but if I can’t find the waiter for a good ten minutes to get some water with our not-that-amazing wine, I am going to take issue. It’s not even worth noting the name of said restaurant, suffice to say that you are better off eating at any of the other myriad restaurants. The service is lackluster and the food? Go elsewhere in the city, seriously (except for ice cream, people really like it in Puerto Madero). The waterways are gorgeous, but I didn’t see a murder, so not that interesting.
The Kavanagh Building. Retiro, Buenos Aires.

The Kavanagh Building. Retiro, Buenos Aires.

We ended up eating at Filo in the Retiro district one night and have to say, the octopus was again amazing. We thought the place a last ditch effort for ourselves (not helped by the bare-tittied manequin in the front), but had yet another really good meal. I think there are more restaurants in Argentina that serve pizza than in New York. Big Italian quotient, and they have a really nice ham laden pizza you can get anywhere and with a liter of quilmes (Argentina’s national beer), that kind of puts our outdoor places to shame. The octopus is not to be ignored. We had it several different ways before we went to a Spanish tapas place and decided to get (Spanish) octopus. It was a large octopus served with boiled potatoes and paprika. That’s it. I desired more from the dish because I’m American but the octopus was just as tender as it was in every place we had gone to.
When we went back to Montevideo for our last night in South America, we visited the Criolla del Solis.  We didn’t have offal. Instead, some chorizo and morcilla (too sweet for my taste), and the recommended ribeye which was honestly the best I can remember eating. So fucking good. We got on a plane the next afternoon, but I still want more chorizo. I have a feeling it won’t be the same until we go back to Sudo America. (Next up for travel: Vietnam andThailand vs. Greece and Turkey).
Love,
Yolo

Eyelash Extension Aftermath: Growing Longer, Thicker Eyelashes

21 Mar Products for Eyelash Growth

Products for Longer, Thicker Eyelashes

Dear Yolo,

I am hoping that this post is like the depressing middle Star Wars movie (The Empire Strikes Back, the best one) where it ends with Luke getting his hand cut off and Han Solo frozen in liquid carbonite. I am hoping that I can follow this post up with a sequel where good experiences a triumph so complete that the joy can only be expressed by singing teddy bears who live in trees and they party so hard that even ghosts be showin’ up!!!

A few months back, I got eyelash extensions (they gave them to me at a shoot), and I liked them so much I maintained them, getting  “refills” every two weeks at this Japanese place called Wink in Midtown.

On the upside, they looked so incredible and I basically wore practically no make up while I had them. On the downside: the extensions do fall out, can get all twisty and weird,  you have to learn to sleep on your back so you don’t make more fall out in your sleep and it feels kind of itchy at first, something you kind of adjust to because you’re vain and you know looking good is sometimes different from feeling good. Additional disadvantages are the cost of the refills (an addiction to crack may be more economical) and that your natural lashes fall out with the fake ones which brings me to my current situation. My natural lashes are now so weak and tiny that the last couple times I’ve gotten refills all the extensions fall out within 2 weeks.

Oh, Vanity. You make me do the weirdest shit.

I’m now attempting life without lash extension, and messing around with products to make my lashes grow and restore them to their former glory.  I am kicking myself, because besides being stick straight, lashes pre-extensions were already long and full and I really didn’t have anything to complain about. I can’t imagine how confused my body must be right now– I’m always ripping and scraping hair off and out of places but now almost arbitrarily encouraging hair to grow around my eyeballs.

As I’ve been writing this to you, I’ve been toying with an inappropriate analogy where I liken my body’s hair growth to Native Americans, thus making the fringe zone around my eyes their “reservation”. Obviously, in this analogy I am the evil white Europeans who don’t understand the beauty and harmony of Native American culture and the fact that this land belongs to them and that basically everything I think of as an advancement is going to lead to disease, Blade Runner (I know, again with the Blade Runner!) and the eventual destruction of the planet.

But what do the casinos represent in this analogy? That is the question, my friend. What are the casinos indeed.

So about two weeks ago, I started using Wet & Wild Megalash Clinical Serum ($7) twice a day and have been coupling that with Dior Lash Plumping Serum ($28) which is an eyelash primer and conditioner.  These products simply condition your lashes so they’re stronger and less prone to breakage which allows lashes to be longer and fuller.

Maroon's Sad Eyelashes Post Extensions

Post Extensions March 2012

I spend quite a bit of time on the intrawebs looking to see if there’s an actual active ingredient in the Wet & Wild product. One site claimed there was some sort of peptide in it that encourages hair growth, but I can’t confirm that and the before and afters posted by other bloggers aren’t exactly impressive. What do I expect for $7 anyway? The only thing aside from the name written on the tube is “Made in China”, an ominous claim that makes me think I should just pony up the $120 for Latisse before my eyeballs start molding and fall out. Greg knows that I was spending practically that much every two weeks for my eyelash extensions and that Latisse actually works like crazy (I used it a couple years ago). The way my doctor instructed me to use it, my one purchase lasted 3 months+. Ok, I guess I just sold myself on that idea.

The pic above is of my eyelashes this morning. The few super long lashes you see are the last remaining extensions which have yet to fall out, just to give you an idea of the adjustment I’m going through.

RIP super-long fake lashes. May flights of drag queens sing thee to thy rest. I’ll update in a few weeks with new pics. You’ll know it went well if you hear teddy bears singing.

Love,

Maroon

Art credit: Debutante Actress Tina L. Meyer Putting on False Eyelashes in Dressing Room at Art.com

The Finest Meats & Cheese (mostly meats): Chimichurri & Criolla Sauce

20 Mar Criolla in Montecito
Dear Maroon,
One of my favorite things about South America is their ability to produce the finest meats the world over. Yes, I said it. South America has arguably the best beef and sometimes lamb in the world (also octopus, more on that later). I now endeavor to take you through our culinary experience in Argentina and Uruguay and because I travel with a chef, that seems to be the first and foremost way we experience everything, through food. Our first stop was Montevideo, Uruguay on our trip and that city is beautiful. It’s rife with historical buildings and situated on some very lovely beaches. I couldn’t change currency in the states before going there so we had to take out money at an ATM. The interesting thing about cab drivers or anyone else in Uruguay is that they hate making change for your bills and often won’t do it, to the point where they either berate you for such a large bill or give you a slightly lesser price so they don’t have to make change. I have no fucking clue how that country operates on cash. We went to the old district our first night and ate at the criolla del solis. A criolla is basically the same as a parilla, but Uruguayan. It basically refers to meat cooked on the type of grill they have and holy shit, it is awesome. In a really good (or sometimes mediocre) restaurant you will see said grill cooking your meats (a very large grill often on hydraulics to lift up and tend to the coals). Quick note because I am used to Mexican Spanish: people in Argentina speak Castellano, not “Spanish” and the double “ll” is pronounced not with a “y” sound but, well the closest thing I can approximate it to is the first sound of something like “je m’apelle”.Anyhow, our first night we started with an appetizer platter of offal. Sweetbreads, liver, morcilla (blood sausage) and some chorizo. The chorizo in Uruguay is the best I’ve ever had and I crave it to this day. It is slightly crispy on the outside and bursting with succulent deliciousness on the inside. It is nothing like Mexican or even Spanish chorizo and it is divine (somewhat akin to German braut, but not really). We had a baked potato with blue cheese to supplement our meat dinner and even the potatoes are better in South America….as they should be since that is their origin).The morning after we had lunch at the famed market near the port and sure as shit, there were meats everywhere. The building itself is beautiful, but eating at some of the “restaurant” style places there proved to be more expensive than it was worth (thanks tourism). Anyhow, it was right near the buquebus (ferry) that we took to Bueno Aires.The first night we were in Buenos Aires was Valentine’s Day. For some reason, I didn’t expect Argentina to recognize that Hallmark holiday, but they do. We had made reservations in advance at a restaurant in the boutique Hotel Fierro called Hernan Giopponi. You should check out the hotel’s blog.  Our pre-set six course Valentine’s meal was good and certainly interesting, but the best thing is that hotel’s blog. Last July there was an event called the “Taste of Titus Andornicus”, which, well you should just read about. I would’ve loved to go to that. Shakespearean play where diners can engage in the final food fight scene? Yes, please.

The next day we flew into Bariloche, Patagonia. We had a really good evening consisting of Patagonian lamb, empanadas and wine our first night in Bariloche. The nice thing is that Argentina isn’t big on importing wines (they’re governmental structure is a whole other thing), but that means you can enjoy wines for significantly less than we would get them (read:cheap, they don’t upmark by three times like we do in the states). We had amazing Malbecs the whole time and got tipped off to the best parilla in Bariloche on our second night.

Alberto's, our zip lining British friend's favorite restaurant in the world

We went ziplining with some Brits who now live in Scotland and the woman wanted to come back to Bariloche because it had her favorite restaurant in the world,  Alberto’s.  There is a parilla and pasta place of the same name (the pastas are really good and saucy). They also did an amazing provolone grilled on one side and brushed with oil and then situated on the parilla in a dish. I don’t think locals want anyone to know about Alberto’s because it is primarily dominated by locals and when we mentioned it to the guy at our front desk he seemed to want to talk about it only hushed tones. Sorry locals, but if you have come to our site it is only because we really appreciate your things.

Amazing food once again, but the best criolla and chimichurri actually came from the farm we were at during our rafting adventure. Brian has made a modern version of which I will share with you:

Chimichurri

2 cups picked Italian parsley
3/4 cup picked fresh oregano
2 large garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tsp. red chili flake
3 T red wine vinegar (preferably homemade, get the recipe here)
1/2 cup canola oil (typically a neutral flavored oil is used, but olive oil can be substituted)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to tasteFinely chop the parsley and oregano or process in a food processor several pulses. Combine remaining ingredients, mixing well. Season to taste. Let marinate for at least 1 hour and use within a few days. Serve over a grilled steak or spoon onto good bread.Note that the above recipe is not exact and requires the producer of said recipe to taste at intervals.

Those were basic notes from the recipes, but like all good savory recipes, require the chef to taste as they see fit. Also, sometimes it calls for cilantro, which I still vehemently hate. Add at will. I’ve found that in an American take on Mexican or South American food there is always an abundance of cilantro. I have rarely seen it on my travels: this is something American people want to project onto other international cuisines. I still fucking hate cilantro. I tried, and actually went so far as to test my reactions with varying different types of coriander. Fact: I love ground coriander. Fact: when it blossoms into a plant whose leaves are picked and put into a sauce I would otherwise love, I hate it. I am not alone. Julia Child hated cilantro. When it is cooked above 160 degrees Farenheit I don’t really taste it and therefore don’t hate it.

Criolla Sauce

1 medium onion, small dice

1 red pepper, seeded, small dice
1 roma tomato, seeded, small dice
1 clove garlic finely minced or grated
2 T chopped parsley
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (homemade if possible)
1/2 cup canola oil
salt and pepper to tasteCombine all ingredients and mix well. Best served the next day after marinating for a while. Will hold covered for up to a week. Is great with grilled steaks or sausages or on bread.These sauces are very fundamental flavors of Argentina and Uruguay and can be used creatively if one wishes.

Tales of adventures to be continued…Yolo

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