We had such a nice break. The boys had two weeks off school. Paul managed to take the whole time off too. I lined up activities and pals to play with for every minute of it, and then on approximately the first second of vacation Desmond came down with a cold. And then the next day, of course, so did Felix. So I called the pals. Cancelled plans. And it was just the four of us.
Me: So, Desmond, what did you think of Mohawk Bend?
Desmond: I like it.
Me: What was the best part?
D: Coming to the hiking path.
(This interview was conducted after dinner on our way to the Silver Lake Reservoir for some after dinner running around.)
Me: Okay, but dinner - what was the best part of dinner at the big new restaurant we just went to? How was the pizza?
D: I liked it. I liked that pizza.
(He had the kids meal. It comes with a really good little pizza, vegan or dairy - be sure you specify! It was cut into 6 tiny slices so it was perfect for our two under-fives to share.)
Me: Your pizza came with a salad - did you like it?
D: Yeah. I liked the salad.
(It was simple and crunchy and perfect for a kid with any level of salad tolerance.)
Me: What else did the kids meal come with?
D: Did it come with those little...with the spicy things...with the fried vegetables?
Me: No, that was Mommy's dinner. I had the squash and chips, which was actually tempura vegetables. (In that picture up there it was already half eaten. It was madness at our table. Everything was gobbled up in a swarm of legos that I had brought to keep the boys entertained in case of any sort of waiting. As it turned out, we ordered an artichoke approximately the second we sat down and that kept the boys occupied until dinner arrived even with a couple ordering snafus. So as I cleaned up all the legos the boys devoured everything on the table. I quickly photographed and ate what was left in their wake.) You liked that, huh? Was the sauce good?
D: (Nods enthusiastically.)
(The spicy things the boy referred to were the two tempura-battered chiles. They were delicious. I didn't have to share those.)
D: I liked the fries because they were little. I never had little fries before.
Me: How about the burger? Did you like the burger that Daddy ordered?
D: No. Nah.
(I did. It's a big fat quinoa - lentil patty served on good bread smeared with avocado and dressed with a little pile of ume pickled onions that I loved and wished were a bit more copious. There's a nice little wedge of homemade-tasting sweet pickle on the side and a little bowl of exceedingly dull coleslaw. I grudgingly gave him two tiny bites of my half of the burger, so he's not really one to judge. But to be fair to the burger, he did ask for a second bite and it is comprised mostly of quinoa - which the boy avowedly hates. It was good...though just a touch under dressed.)
Me: What else should we talk about? Wasn't the place cool?
(We sat on the patio in front that is mostly shielded from Sunset Boulevard. But if you have a runner, well then you're probably not going out to eat, but still I think the best option for families might be the pleasant atrium in the back that doesn't open onto a busy street. And to deal with more practical matters for families - they have highchairs, but no changing table in the bathroom. Though there there is a sink with a short counter in the large stall that could serve in a pinch.)
Me: Should we go there again?
D: (More nodding.)
Me: Is that restaurant good for kids?
(More enthusiastic nodding.)
Me: I think so too, Buddy.
Both of us: Cheers!
(Oh also, if you're looking for a kid's drink, they do serve more than beer. There's a nice little citrus spritzer of fresh squeezed juice and sparkling water that the boys I think mostly spilled but also enjoyed. I never got around to asking for a cup with a lid - so I'm not sure if they have them. And of course, the beer list is excellent and Paul and I want to go back without the kids and sample the entire thoughtful cocktail list - everything just sounds perfect. Actually, the whole place just about lives up to my restaurant fairy tale expectations.)
Today we are recovering from a nine day weekend. (And when I say today, I mean last Monday, but like I said, I seem to be on vacation.) The movie that Paul is working on had a brief hiatus, so we just took the whole week off. We visited with cousins. And played on the beach. We took a trip to the California Science Center and then ran around the Rose Garden. We swam. And played with friends. And had a picnic dinner at the Huntington Gardens (one of my all time favorite summer things to do). We rode the ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier and went to the Kidspace Museum in Pasadena.
And then crossed two things off my summer to do list when we went to Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark and came home to make pickles.
A couple weeks ago Desmond insisted, insisted, that pickles grew on trees. I, of course, immediately scheduled this field trip.
And this farm makes an excellent field trip. Way more than just farm labor tourism (Oh! But it's that too! Do you see Paul and Felix up there working on their farm-labor-is-fun attitude adjustment?), small children dig and scoop in a giant sand pit while goats climb nimbly overhead on wooden planks. Animatronic chickens sing totally inappropriate songs to your vegan children (Desmond comes home singing, "What do you do with a drunken chicken? What do you do with a drunken chicken?" Nothing vegan, it turns out.) Kids clamber up into the driver's seat of a real live (and completely stationary) combine or slide down the shoot in back. We visit with real live chickens and cows and horses and a couple emus. We have a picnic on the grass. And then willingly pay eight dollars for Desmond to mine for gems, we're just so caught up in our surreal bucolic morning.
It was a good week. Here's the rest of our summer to do list. What's on yours?
If you come to my house for Valentine's Day, it is required (not optional) that you bring a valentine for all those present. I love the elementary school version of the holiday that celebrates love for all your pals in a non-icky-long-stem-roses kind of way.
In this vein, this is my valentine to you. Each of you. Inspired by a long ago lazy afternoon spent with good friends at that purple Cuban cafe on Sunset in Silver Lake.
These turnovers should be accompanied by big steamy mugs of cafe con leche, and of course, people you really like.
Guava Cheese Turnovers
If your puff pastry is frozen, get it out of the freezer. Open it up and let it thaw on the counter.
Now let's make the cheese. Grind the cashews in a food processor to a a pretty fine meal. Add the yogurt, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Process again until smooth and creamy.
Arrange a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat to 400 degrees.
When the pastry is pliable, unfold it on a floured counter or board, and cut each sheet into four smaller squares.
Place a generous tablespoon of cheese onto the middle of each square.
Arrange a slice or two of guava paste on top of each dollop of cheese.
Fold over to make a triangle. Seal edges with the tines of a fork. With a sharp paring knife, cut a few little slits in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Happy Valentine's Day, Love.
Copyright 2006 - 2012 Trina Jaconi Biery