Monday, December 07, 2009

Women Owned Businesses: To Grandmother's House We Go

If you love Mexican or Sicilian (and soon Turkish) cuisine then is there a treat out there for you. To Grandmother's House We Go is a culinary tour company dedicated to bringing the students the most authentic traditional cooking knowledge available. Currently touring in Oaxaca and Sicily and soon to be adding Istanbul, these are hands on food experiences with real experts, women, mostly real grandmothers, who have the secrets to the traditional and classic recipes of their regions.

Founded by Chef Sue Baldassano To Grandmother’s House We Go was part of her personal journey to reconnect with the food of her grandmother and as an antidote to what many of us find contrived in restaurants these days. The tours to Oaxaca, Mexico are in February and Sicily, Italy are in June. If you’re looking for a vacation with meaning and learning, I don’t think you could find one that’s better. For more information, contact Sue B. here.

In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that Chef Sue B. was one of my instructors and the Director of Education at the Natural Gourmet Institute where I recently graduated from the Chef’s Training Program. Sue was a great teacher, cool, funny, no nonsense and passionate. I’m doing what I can to follow her lead as I embark on my journey in the culinary world.

Support Women Owned Businesses!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Esther Hautzig, R.I.P.

When I was about 12 or 13 I picked up The Endless Steppe and was simply captivated by the story. There are few books in my life that have had such a massive impact on me emotionally, in fact, this and The Diary of Anne Frank may be the two which have had the most. I read today that Esther Hautzig the writer of The Endless Steppe passed away at age 79 here in New York. I bought and re-read it in 2007 and cried and cried just like I did the first time. On the jacket it said she lived in New York and I had a thought to reach out to her and tell her how much her words meant but of course life took over and I didn't. I hope to go to Vilna someday (my great great grandfather was from there too) and think of her and how important her life was.

Obituary from the New York Times.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Women Owned Businesses: Restaurant Sant Pau, Sant Pol De Mar, Spain

Spain has been getting an extraordinary amount of culinary attention in recent years, in many ways because of the innovations of Ferran Adria at El Bulli as well as the visibility of Jose Andres in the United States. For the last 5 years, most things Spanish, Basque, Catalan, Galician, Asturian, and Andalusian have interested me and my recent completion of a chef’s training program has helped me focus my curiosity towards all things gastronomic. I took the opportunity on my latest visit to Spain to visit the restaurant of Carme Ruscalleda, Restaurant Sant Pau, the only three Michelin star in Spain owned and operated by a woman. It's in Sant Pol de Mar, only about an hour north of Barcelona on the train and it was worth every penny, every minute and every bite.

Sant Pol De Mar

We arrived a bit early to Sant Pol de Mar and as we stepped off the train and tried to sort out which way to find the restaurant, we passed Carme Ruscadella on the platform which doubles as the main sidewalk of the town. I smiled at her and said "hola" and she returned the greeting. I was already beaming as you can see from this pic.

Sant Pol De Mar

Once we checked into the restaurant we were seated at the best table there was, right in the middle of the dining room, facing the sea. The restaurant seats about 40 and it appeared as though it was about 3/4 full by the time service was in swing. We ordered a Cava (Carme's special vintage) and proceeded to be served with some of the most incredible service I could ever have imagined. Attentive without being overly so, offering explanations and guidance when needed, but never in a condescending way. We had approximately 15 courses and stayed for 5 and a half hours! On our way to the garden for coffee they took us through the nicest professional kitchen I have ever seen. I think any chef in the world would be jealous of a view of the sea while you're working. Here is a sampling of some of the pics, and you can see more here.

Carme Ruscalleda Cava
Vegetables on Rice Cream
Gamba Tail
Cheese Course and Contrasts

I was so struck not only by how beautiful the food was, but how thoughtfully and with what detail it was conceived. It was by no means cheap, and was not something I think one would want to do once a month or even once every six months, but a meal like this once a year is absolutely worth it.

Some notes:

From Barcelona, catch the Renfe Cercanias C1 along the coast to Sant Pol de Mar. I think it's about 7 Euros round trip per person.

You don't have to dress up but you should wear decent clothes. I don't think jeans or sneakers are totally appropriate unless they're especially dope.

You can order wine by the bottle or get a wine pairing with each course. We opted for the glass of cava to start and a Catalan bottle for our appetizers and main course. For the cheese course we had another glass of cava and a Catalan digestive marc de cava after dessert and coffee. The bottle was about 40 euros (definitely on the cheap side of their list) but was totally delicious and they didn't seem to think we were dumb for going that route.

There are menus in English, Spanish and Catalan. The waiters, sommelier and servers all seemed proficient in English with the guests who were American.

I can dream that I'll be able to return someday.

Support women owned businesses!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Aerial Views and Pools

I'm obsessed with aerial views and pools. I'm super happy to be going to Barcelona tomorrow and see these, some of my favorites.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Punk Owned Businesses: The Tango Company

Welcome to the latest installment of rad people owned businesses. I have thus far concentrated on women owned businesses because that's what I'm into, but I'm also into rad PEOPLE and Carlos Cañedo is one of the raddest people I know. He is also a true punk, and the perfect person for the first edition of "punk owned businesses".

Carlos and I met when we were he was on tour with Rice and Bumblescrump, a wee 17 year old methinks. He was a rough and tumble bundle of energy, with an infectious sense of humor and passion. We began to play music in 1994 and have done so off and on for the past 15 years.

Within that span of time Carlos has brought the same passion for music to dance and has become an internationally recognized Tango dancer and instructor. About five years ago he began his own Tango instruction company, called fittingly, The Tango Company, which is THE place to learn Tango in NYC. He and his partner also perform in New York and around the country and world and should not be missed if possible.

If you've ever thought "hey, I'd like to learn Tango" now is your chance. Call Carlos and he'll hook you up.

Support Punk Owned Businesses!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Remembering Teddy

Thank you for all the work you did Senator Kennedy, as the principle sponsor of more landmark legislation than any other Senator in U.S. history, and for leading the fight in historic legislation for women's rights, civil rights, and human services, including:

The Equal Rights Amendment Extension Act of 1978, which provided more time to pass the ERA.

Minimum wage laws that impacted women.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibited discrimination against pregnant women and revered the Supreme Court decision that permitted discrimination against women in the workforce.

The Civil Rights Restoration Act, which restored the scope of Title IX and reversed the Grove City Supreme Court case that had gutted Title IX.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), which protected reproductive health care providers.

The Family Medical Leave Act, which provided 12 weeks unpaid job-protected leave to workers for newborn care, adoption or faster care, or illness of the worker or her/his spouse, child, or parent.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991, which provided to women workers the right to collect damages in sex discrimination cases.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which reversed the Roberts Supreme Court decision that gutted the ability of women workers to sue for wage discrimination.

Numerous health care measures including stem cell research, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Mental Health Parity Act, and reproductive health funding.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Delorean Mix Tape for Ayrton Senna

The new delorean is so incredible. Right now they're recording their new album. More news as it unfolds.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Useful phrases in Castellano, Euskerra, Galego, Català

This was a labor of love for myself. I'll never be without it now, and neither will you if you want it.


EnglishSpanish/ CastellanoBasque/ EuskerraGalician/GalegoCatalan/Català




Bye*Hasta luego/adiosAioAdeusFins ara/ Adéu


Yes/no, please/thank youSi/no, por favor/graciasBai/ez, mesedez/eskerrik askoSí/no, por favor/grazasSí/no, si us plau/gràcies


Where is...?¿Donde esta...?Non dago...?Onde está...?On és...?


I don't understandNo entiendoEz dut ulertzenNon entendoNo ho entenc


Two beers, pleaseDos cervezas, por favorBi garagardo, mesedezDúas cervexas, por favorDues cerveses, si us plau


The check, pleaseLa cuenta por favorKontua, mesedezA conta, por favorEl compte, si us plau.


Do you speak English?¿Hablas inglés?Ingelesez hitz egiten al duzu?Falas inglés?Parles anglès?


How much is this?¿Cuanto cuesta esto?Zenbat balio du?Canto custaQuant costa això?


Excuse meDiscupleAizuDesculpeDispensi

Looking Through The Windows, R.I.P. MJJ

Monday, June 01, 2009



Six days after President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court, some important facts are being obscured by the name calling (and no, I don't think that's an accident). So here, to help remind us all what's at stake in this debate, some important facts about Sonia Sotomayor:

Number of years as a judge: 17 years: 6 years as a District Judge; 11 years on the Court of Appeals.

With 17 years of service as a federal judge, Sotomayor has had more judicial experience than either John Roberts or Samuel Alito had when they were nominated to the Supreme Court by George Bush;

Number of years as a prosecutor: 5

Sotomayor served for 5 years as an assistant district attorney in the office of highly respected Robert M. Morgenthau Jr. of New York, prosecuting crimes including shoplifting, robbery, assault and murder;

Number of years in private law practice: 8

She specialized in intellectual property litigation and international law with the firm of Pavia and Harcourt in New York; had been elected partner by the time she left to become a federal judge.

Number of academic honors: At least 4

Sotomayor was valedictorian of her high school class; graduated summa cum laude from Princeton (highest honors) where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and awarded the Pyne Prize, the top award for undergraduates, reflecting high grades and extracurricular activities; and was an editor of the Yale Law Review;

Number of times saved Major League Baseball: 1

In 1995, Sotomayor issued the injunction against Major League Baseball, preventing it from imposing new collective bargaining rules unilaterally and hiring replacement players. As a result, the players ended their strike and the season began - the next day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Simple Social Graces on 17Dots/ East Village Radio

This week’s show is like a many a love letter mix tape from my past. Songs of heartache and longing and love mixed with total dance jams. Listen here and let me know what you think!

Codeine - Cave In - Frigid Stars LP

Jesus and Mary Chain - Perfume – Munki

Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood – Sand - How Does That Grab You Darlin’?

Unrest – Imperial - Imperial F.F.R.R.

New Order-Every Little Counts – Brotherhood

Lush- Never Never – LoveLife

Jackson Five – Looking Through the Windows – Looking Through The Windows

Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance - Raw Like Sushi

5Star – All Fall Down – Luxury Of Life

Martika – Toy Soldiers – Martika

Atlantic Star – Object of My Desire – Object Of My Desire

Madonna – White Heat – True Blue

Go Go’s – This Town – Beauty and The Beat

Nick Lowe – Cruel To Be Kind - Labour Of Lust

Adverts – Gary Gilmores Eyes – BBC sessions

Wipers – So Young – Over The Edge

Green Day – I Was There – 39/Smooth

General Public – General Public – General Public

Vic Goddard – Stop That Girl – Rough Trade Sampler

The Jam – Beat Surrender – A Solid Bond EP

5th Column – Schroeder Ye! Ye! – All Time Queen of the World

Look Blue Go Purple – Cactus Cat - LBGP EP2

The Shaggs – My Pal Foot Foot – Shaggs Own Thing

Galaxie 500 – Flowers – Today

The Go Team – Slumberland Gods - Pre Moon Syndrome

The Smiths – Miserable – Rough Trade Sampler

Velocity Girl – Blackzilla - Pre Moon Syndrome

Alaska – Bailando – Grandes Exitos

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Notes from the James Beard Awards 2009: Day 2

Day 1 really took a toll on my body physically. It was a good lesson: restaurant work is no joke. You're on your feet and using your arms actively for pretty much 8 hours straight. I woke up feeling like I had been in a car wreck so I called in sick to work and went back to bed. I basically stayed flat until about 12, then took a shower, had some food and got ready to leave for Day 2.

I arrived at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall around 2:40, changed in to my whites and checks and scarf again and reported for duty. I was assigned to assist Chef Michelle Bernstein at the James Beard Awards reception. This years awards' theme was "Women In Food" which was thrilling. The reception featured stations run by about 25 different women chefs and really showcased some incredible creativity. While I waited for the Chef to arrive I chatted with some of the other student volunteers and realized my friend Mac's wife Andrea Reusing who owns a restaurant in Chapel Hill called Lantern was one of the featured chefs too. Small and cool world!

When Chef Bernstein and her assistants arrived we got to work sorting out what we had and what was missing. Her menu was uni (sea urchin) Cuban sandwiches and a Poisson (fish) broth with foie gras foam. Although I've been experimenting with seafood in my diet recently, foie gras is a bit of a stretch for me but I assisted with whatever she needed and my personal politics made no appearances. I have decided that this is my policy as I continue my studies and have new opportunities in the food world. What I think doesn't matter until it's my shop and in this case, to be able to assist one of the most well respected woman chefs in the country was a huge example of the value of leaving something at the door. This is actually something I think about a lot and struggle with, but something I've decided is right for me right now.
My station at the james beard awards. Working with Chef Miche... on Twitpic
As we continued to set up another assistant showed up who was none other than Jeff McIniss from last season's top chef. He was really sweet and we ended up working together pretty closely as the evening went on. He's from Miami as is Chef Bernstein, and was in town too so she asked him to help with serving the VIP dinner which included her menu as part of the first course. The dinner began immediately after the awards were over and we began to press the sandwiched and pour the soups and foam. It was great experience for me as I'd never worked in a catering situation at all, let alone one where you're serving Jacques Pepin, Daniel Boloud, Eric Ripert, Ming Tsai and Lidia Bastianich. It truly was a THRILL. As things wound down I was able to stroll around the hall and sample some of the other menus and have a glass of wine. I left feeling happy and having learned a ton. Chef Bernstein was super sweet and I loved seeing her camaraderie with the other chefs and particularly the other women chefs. It raised my bar of aspiration higher but to me that's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Notes from the James Beard Awards 2009: Day 1

Delicious artichokes at chef's night out at vermilion. on Twitpic
I know, I know. Late pass to me on not being a hyper fast blogger. But dude, I was working and tired as hell when it was over so there. I'm finally recovered AND done with my internship at Pure Food and Wine (more on that shortly) so I'm ready to type!
May 3, 2009
Super super rainy day. I had volunteered to work the "chef's night out" party, one of the kick off events for the James Beard Awards. The party was held at At Vermilion, the relatively new NY branch of the Chicago Restaurant Vermilion. I arrived at 3 PM to report for duty along with another student from the Institute of Culinary Education I appeared to be the only Natural Gourmet student there and most of the others were from ICE or the Culinary Institute of America. After suiting up (instead of my usual chef's cap or bandanna I wore a rather smart looking hounds tooth scarf, fetchingly matching my checked pants!)I reported for duty. Chef De Cuisine Ipshita Pall assigned me to get to work frying cakes for the party. One of the signature desserts is a piece of deep fried cake flavored with plantain and spices and paired with luxurious sauces. having worked only in a raw restaurant and attending a cooking school which doesn't deep fry much I had no real experience with the fry station but got the hang of it pretty quickly. As they were expecting about 1000 guests we had to fry about 900 pieces of cake which took about 4 hours. Although my hand took a bit of a beating it was surprisingly satisfying and I think I only burned a few of the cakes which was pretty lucky. Working alongside the line cooks and at the direction of the two women chefs and expediter Eli (formerly of of At Vermilion, now at Table 8) was really wonderful.
When the party started I was assigned to the plating station inside the the kitchen and also two stations in the upstairs party to make sure that they didn't run out of food. It got hectic but was really fun. I sadly didn't get to see my hero Rick Bayless who I understand was there but did see a bunch of food network B listers and some top cheftestants and the winner of season one.
One of the reasons I was excited to work this was the the owner of the restaurant and the executive chef Maneet Chauhan (as well as the aforementioned chef de cuisine) are all women. It was interesting to see the dynamics between the staff and the women in charge, particularly since there were some vast cultural differences between them. I noted that the main key to bridging these differences is humor and of course, good tasting food.

Friday, April 17, 2009

17dots radio show on EVR playlist No. 2

My show this week really is about my "youthier" times (thank you for that term S. Marbury, I use it often.) I got mega nostalgic pulling the songs to play and even more so playing them in order. Technical issues prevented me from playing fully hard core to twee back and forth, but you get the idea. In my view, all these songs are punk and all of them have parts that make them poppy. Genre identity is pretty boring to me.

Anyway, listen here an I hope you dig it. If you have any questions about any of the songs or bands, let me know!


Beat HappeningGodsend

Happy Go LickyAnsol

FrumpiesDeliberate Indifference


Tiger TrapSupreme Nothing

AutoclaveI'll Take You Down

ChiselHip Straights

Big BoysWhich Way To Go

Minor ThreatSalad Days

Black FlagDepression

EggHuntWe All Fall Down

Rites of SpringFor Want Of”

Comet GainStrength




Huggy BearCarn't Kiss

RiceRice Pickers

Aislers SetLast Match

Gray MatterChutes and Ladders


Born AgainstJanelle

The Filthy PrudesRecord Player

Nation of UlyssesLove is a Bull Market

PastelsNothing To Be Done

VoidWho Are You?

HeavenlyItchy Chin


Go SailorTogether Forever In Love

FugaziMargin Walker

Talulah GoshBeatnik Boy

BlitzVoice of a Generation

Youth of TodayNo More

Big Drill Car5 Year Itch

MinutemenUntitled Song For Latin America

Shudder To ThinkRed House

Clikitat IkatowiEar

SpinanesHawaiian Baby

Courtney LoveMotorcycle Boy

Brief Weeds(It's So Hard Not To) Say Hello

UnrestYes She Is My Skinhead girl


CannanesNo One

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Women Owned Businesses: Ooga Booga


It's pretty amazing when your friends do amazing things. Case in point: Wendy Yao and Ooga Booga. About 6 years ago she mentioned her idea: a small shop in Chinatown LA selling books, affordable art, some clothing, some music. And here we are, 5 years later Ooga Booga in full effect. Over the years I've picked up books, records, shoes and art all at fair prices and all made by interesting, unique and generally items that are unavailable other places. Ooga Booga often has cool parties with snacks and DJ's and art shows too.
943 N. Broadway No. 203,
Los Angeles, CA 90012,

So get on their mailing list, visit the shop and:
Support Women Owned Businesses!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Women Owned Businesses: Keep Company

Keep Company

In honor of this sunny spring day and the fact that I'm wearing my Bentons I wanted to tell you about another cool Women Owned Business. Keep Company is a shoe and apparel company owned and operated by Una Kim. They have become well known for their colorful vegan shoe lines but have cool jackets and t-shirts too. The prices are reasonable and it's worth a lot to know that your gear is well made and not exploitative. Look for it in smart shops or order it online.

Support Women Owned Businesses!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Women Owned Businesses: DUDUA


Whenever people visit Barcelona and ask me for tips at the top of my list is "you must visit Dudua." Strolling the Gothic neighborhood is wonderful no matter what your destination and no matter how many times I've done it I always get turned around, but I always find my way to Dudua. Owned and operated by Alicia Rosello, Dudua is a small shop with wonderful handcrafted items almost impossible to find anywhere else. She trolls the web and cities she visits to find the most unique, colorful, cute and quality made items, and sells them for great prices. Dudua is also home to small art shows by local artists from Barcelona, Madrid and other cities as well as the place to catch some special rock shows at a moments notice.

So definitely be sure to visit when you're in Barcelona and tell Alicia Simple Social Graces sent you!

c/Rossic 6
08003 Barcelona, Spain
Phone:(0034) 93 315 04 01
(Metro Jaume I – L4)

Support Women Owned Businesses!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Women Owned Businesses:

Today is the first in a new series of posts about Women Owned Businesses (WOB.) I am so proud of my lady friends who have begun and are running successful business. Please support WOB!


I-Healing is a wonderful company selling all natural skin care products and natural health items. I-Healing is the exclusive online distributor of Sanders Perry products which contain no chemical emulsifiers or glycerin. They are derived from over 50 varieties of natural plants coming from all over the world. I have been using these products for about 6 months now and I love them.

Owned and operated by Asami Monodrone, I-healing is a great example of a simple idea put into action. She has a very specific product line and a targeted market. She sells a quality product and has excellent service. The prices are not cheap but when you think about the crap you put on your face to save a buck and the other crap you spend your money on, it's worth it!

Asami is also a classmate of mine at Natural Gourmet and is one of the sweetest, funniest and charming food lovers I've met!

Support Women Owned Businesses!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Patriarchal Pet Peeves

Indignation at society's lack of fairness is something I try to manage wisely. It's rather useless energy and I try to spend time working on the positive tip rather than then neg. But once in a while I get a bee in my bonnet and I feel like now is a good time to get some of my pet peeves off my chest.

1- I can't stand hearing men complain about how inappropriate they think it is for women to put make up on on the train. SHUT UP DUDE. In life, and especially in NYC, every 5 minutes counts and many times that 5 minutes is the difference between being late or on time for work. And sadly, most women feel more confident having a little color on their faces. There might be a lot wrong with that but I would blame the patriarchy there too so we're not gonna get too far in a "make up free face" effort. Might I suggest you join me in my campaign for hand washing stations at all MTA exits? That is a much better use of our energies!

2- Airplane carry on guidelines are inherently sexist. They are generally one small suitcase and one personal item such as a purse, laptop bag or briefcase. Well my friends, women have to carry a purse AND a laptop bag or briefcase. I have personally been stopped multiple times for this offense and it enrages me every time. if all items are not to exceed a weight in excess of 40 pounds, then that should be the stated policy.

3- Working in a mildly corporate environment in New York City I still am absolutely aware of the different standards for appearance between men and women. As I have rather annoying high maintenance hair (yeah it takes a lot of work to look this average) I get totally P.O.'d when I see the dudes in my office stroll in with messy as hell hair, that shit just would not fly for us ladies. I can hear the comments now "what the HELL happened to you?" And not to mention the rumpled Rumpelstiltskin look many of them rock that would only send the message I'm not into if I tried to do the same.

So what can I do about any of these things besides rant on my minimally read blog? Nuthin'. I'll live.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Restaurants to Hit List

I've been so busy lately learning more about cooking I feel like I haven’t had a chance to actually cook OR eat at all the delicious new places popping up or offering “recession specials ”. I've started a list of all the places I want to try to hit when the opportunity arises. Here it is:

Dirt Candy
Owned and operated by a graduate of NGI, and an exciting new concept: vegetables are the focus and are prepared to maximize deliciousness but without concern for health or politics so there are some fatty rich morsels of delight. Can’t wait.

The Farm on Adderly
Ditmas Park may be the new Smith St. as far as restaurants go and this is the one that’s been around the longest. I can see making Ditmas Park being a regular summer excursion ‘cuz it’s so pretty.

All the Jean Georges restaurants are offering a “recession special” $24 lunch $35 dinner. Two of my classmates raved about the Matsugen one so I have to hit it before the recession is over? Will there be a depression special then?

Number 7
All the reviews have been stellar both from friends and the times. Seems especially inviting for brunch?

The more low key little brother to Da Silvano this place looks fun and yummy and worth checking out.

Socarrat Paella Bar
I haven’t been too lucky with most of the “authentic” Spanish restaurants in town but from the pictures and reviews this looks really good. The item in today’s serious eats sold me too. It’s like tapas bento boxes. PERFECTO!

Vinegar Hill House
Newish restaurant started by my buddy Sam Buffa and Chef Jean Adamson. It’s close enough to walk to from my house so why haven’t I gone yet? Cuz I’m an overscheduled maniac! Next time I go to St. Anne’s Warehouse I’m so there. Looks delicious.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Mauricio Funes was elected President of El Salvador yesterday. The first time the left leaning FMLN has won the presidential election in over 20 years. I dream that this could be the turning point for El Salvador, a nation which is so beautiful which has such strong people who deserve a new opportunity.

LA Times coverage here.

BBC World News coverage here.

Washington Post coverage here.

Tim's El Salvador Blog.

Friday, March 13, 2009

17dots radio show on EVR playlist

Today is my first 17Dots EVR show and it was super fun. You can stream it here. I was nervous because I have never pre-recorded a radio show and knowing that it was going to air later and be streamed almost forever made me a little more self concious. I got the hang of it about 1/3 of the way in and it was really fun. I tried to play songs I love, bands I love and songs that mean something to me.

If you have questions about any of these bands please let me know. I could talk about them for the rest of my life.

Otis Redding "Try A Little Tenderness (Live in London)"

Sam Cooke "I Have a Friend Above All Others"

Extra Golden "Obama"

Rare Essence "Lock It"

Chuck Brown "Back It On Up (Sho Ya Right)"

ESG "Dance"

Two Tears "To Be Alone"

Frumpies "Duvet Ta"

Beehive and the Baracudas "Are You Queer?"

Obits "One Cross Apiece"

Love Or Perish "La Zorra"

Jean On Jean "Hawaii"

Emily's Sassy Lime "There's a Snake in the Steakhouse"

Prima Donnas "Headfull of Pills"

The Donnas "Gimme My Radio"

Charades "Cuando Tu No Estas"

Grabba Grabba Tape "Dr. Groxtronix and Lil Kul Lo"

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists "La Costa Brava"

Campamento Ñec Ñec "Achicharra Tus Sardinas" (not available digitally)

Delorean "Big Dipper" (out soon!)

Requesters "Air Guitar" (gotta figure out how to get this on an album)

The Teenagers "Streets of Paris"

Coconot "Polen Muchacha"

Phoenix "1901" (available on their website

Edwyn Collins "Girl Like You"

Comet Gain "Steps To The Sea"

Dinosaur Jr. "Little Furry Things"

Oasis "The Shock Of The Lightning"

Hot Snakes " Plenty For All"

Stereolab "The Seeming and the Meaning"

Beat Happening "Tales of a Brave Aphrodite"

Marine Girls "Love To Know"

(Tracks one and two are dedicated to SHR, DMR, OEHR and SMHR, welcome home guys!)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cut Your Cold In Half (or sniff trying.)

So this cold season I've been pretty lucky. I had a cold in the fall but I was able to stay pretty healthy until last week when I ran myself ragged with school and work and work and school. I really had no time to be down or recover properly so I tried everything I could to get my sypmtoms under control. A year or two ago under the same circumstances I would have gone straight to the pharmacy and bought some antihistamines, decongestants and toxic throat spray but I'm not interested in that anymore. Based on some recommendations I tried a the following combination of treatments:

Flushing my ears with Peroxide (there are many theories that colds start in the ears and since the ears are connected to the nose and throat it makes sense that at minimum it should be treated!)

Saline Nasal Wash to remove impurities and keep the nose hydrated. I didn't get the neti pot but I will and use it to ward off future frustration.

Finally Oregano Oil. I had this recommended to me by two different people and I think it was the key to cutting my cold in half. You can feel it working as you swallow it. You put some drops under your tongue every few hours and let it work it's magic.

Feel free to share your tips with me!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Dog in the Manger, Library of Congress and Hyperfast Hanging Out

On Tuesday night I had the great pleasure to have been taken to see A Dog In The Manger at the Shakespeare Theater in Washington D.C. My friend and colleague Portia Sabin, label dude at Kill Rock Stars and I were in town along with The Donnas and tons of other artists to lobby on Capitol Hill in support of the Performance Right. Our trip was coordinated by the musicFIRST Coalition and was extremely interesting and seemed very successful. Portia's father David Sabin was appearing in the production of A Dog In The Manger and invited us all to the show. It was such a treat and the play was wonderful. The lead actress was Michelle Hurd (Det. Jeffries from Law and Order) and David played two roles. As I'm obsessed/partial to all things Spanish (written by Spanish playwright Lope de Vega) this proved no exception. Set in Naples in the 1500's it fit right in with my Elizabethan era interests and was comic and passionate and just great. Afterward we continued our Spanish theme we went next door for drinks and tapas at Jaleo. Who could ask for more?

Earlier in the day we had a break between meetings and walked over to the Library of Congress and I couldn't remember ever really taking the time to walk around. The curse of growing up in Washington is you don't take advantage of all it has to offer. Like the amazing architecture and architectural details that many of the buildings have. We stumbled upon an exhibit called "Exploring The Early Americas" which had Mayan artifacts, maps from the Spanish conquest and some of Columbus' original texts written in Castilian that appeared to be a mix of Spanish, Catalan and Latin. I was in hog heaven and could have stayed there all day. I will definitely go back the next time I'm home.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

focus on the positive!

It was glorious. 5 days of beach, sun, swimming, reading, cooking, eating (many pupusas!), napping and even some cool family time. And ever since I've been home I've been under siege from indie music business heartbreak, knee problems, cold weather and my generally over scheduled life. I am so busy at work I can barely keep up and I'm not getting to the gym and it's amazing how quickly 5 days of bliss can be evaporated.

But there are good things on the horizon, here are a few:
Midterm exam is on Wednesday, after that it's over!
Going to D.C. with The Donnas and the musicFirst day on the hill.
Someone special's birthday.
quick trip to Austin.
Pablo and Maurix coming to visit.
Comet Gain coming to NY.
Learning more.
My knee healing and getting back on the fitness track.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nos vemossss!

Simple Social Graces is taking a break. I'll be back next Wednesday. Until then I'll be here:

Monday, February 02, 2009

E.S.G Live at Le Poisson Rouge 1.24.09 The Music Call Was Stronger

After seeing E.S.G at Le Poisson Rouge last week I couldn't stop thinking about them. I sat in bed the next morning with the lappie googling them and reading any interviews I could find. It wasn't easy. The ones I did find are great though. Renee Scroggins the lead vocalist and leader of the group comes across as so sincere and so sweet and so serious about music and what they've done and what they still want to do. My schedule right now is ridic so I'm not seeing too many shows. Seeing this one was refreshing in that there was total sincerity on stage. The audience of mostly hip 20 somethings were sincere too and that was refreshing as well. I had an instinct to be cynical about the audience’s enthusiasm but after thinking about it for a while I want to trust it.  So many of us are dying for authentic inspiration and for me, nothing does it like women playing music. 

This interview in XLR8R between Renee and Girl Talk is awesome. Nothing like hearing directly from the artists: "sample credits don't pay our bills."

McSweeny's Dispatches From The Anacostia

McSweeny's has been publishing a series called "Dispatches From The Anacostia." Friday's was about a girl who wants to go to cooking school but needs to get her G.E.D. So potent.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Exit Strategy

For the last 10 years I have been traveling to Cannes for the Midem conference every few years. This is my fourth year in a row. It's a nice trip because it sure doesn't suck to get out of town in the depths of January and frolic on the French Riviera, see friends from other countries and eat yummy food. This year feels different though. Even though the weather is so disgusting here in NY and birds are taking down planes, I really do feel like this is one chance for Americans to be together and be proud and I wish I was going to be. I'll be with my American people on Tuesday night watching a live feed of the ceremony and speech and I'll probably cry in front of them but that's the price I'll pay.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More fun with raw dairy: homemade cheese

The one sort of odd thing about joining the raw dairy club is I don't actually drink milk at all. I use a little in oatmeal or the infrequent times I eat cereal for the last 10+ years I've used non dairy milk mainly. I do love cheese though, and have begun to be more adventurous with it especially as I travel more through Spain and learn more about the regions and the specific details of the typical cheeses of those regions. And now that I've learned more about the benefits of raw dairy and the negative effects of too much soy, I'm eager to incorporate more into my diet. All the recipes I've read about making cheese have seemed fairly easy so having these wonderful and fresh products gave me the perfect incentive to finally give it a try. I used Mark Bittman's recipe in How To Cook Everything Vegetarian as it's my current go to book for almost anything that I want to get right. The instructions are coherent, the ingredients simple and I've always always had good success with it. Here is his recipe:

Fresh Cheese
  • 1 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  1. In a large sauce pot with a heavy bottom heat over medium high until it starts to boil, stirring consistently so as not to burn the bottom of the pot, about 10 minutes
  2. Line a strainer with three layers of cheesecloth, get string or rubber band ready
  3. add buttermilk to the boiling milk solids should start to form "curds" and "whey". It will look sort of like cooked egg whites suspended in a slightly thick yellowish liquid. Remove from the heat and stir in salt.
  4. Pour mixture though cheesecloth and let curds collect and whey drain off. Run cold water over it so it's easy to handle and squeeze out whey until bundle feels firm.
  5. Tie string or rubber band to close the cheesecloth and fasten to a wooden spoon and suspend over a bowl or pot to let drain for about an hour.

The cheese was so fresh and clean tasting, largely I'm sure do the the high quality of the dairy but also because it's hell of fresh! It's almost like mozzarella in it's cold texture but when I heated it it didn't seem to melt like mozz, that's cool though! Seriously, the best thing about this is how easy it is. It might be sweet for a party to cut it into cubes and marinate it in herbs and olive oil. You're friends will be like: "what??!!"

Thursday, January 08, 2009

La Pequeña Mac and Chis

Since I started at Natural Gourmet I've been hearing about the raw dairy club that delivers there. I finally decided to sign up after reading Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine by Dr. Ron Schmid. It seems simple and obvious that heating milk to pasteurize it kills enzymes and nutritional value but in our culture the mere mention of raw milk causes cringes and seems to evoke real fear. But people, when you have to cart the milk thousands of miles and store it for almost a month (or in the case of that crap in a box years?) of course you need it to be stable and of course you'll compromise on nutrients. And there is lots of evidence that raw dairy is beneficial for you both nutritionally and healthfully. A good resource on this is the Weston Price Foundation and the campaign for real milk.

So with that, I've begun to buy cheese made with raw milk as much as possible (not that difficult) and signed up with the raw dairy club (email me if you want more info) to get the best quality and value I can find. Today was my first delivery so in celebration, I made:

La Pequeña Mac and Chis

Although I used raw dairy in this recipe and it really did seem exceptionally delicious, you can certainly make this recipe with organic dairy, I'd suggest you give up dairy produced in factory farms.


  • sea salt
  • pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups raw unpasteurized milk
  • 3 cloves garlic, half roughly chopped, half minced and divided
  • 5 tablespoons raw cultured unsalted butter
  • 1/2 a medium sized onion, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose organic flour
  • 4 cups shredded raw Cheddar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • half cup raw milk Manchego
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
Directions: Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small saucepan heat the milk with the roughly chopped garlic.

Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, sweat the onions and minced garlic.
Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming.
Strain the garlic out of the milk and whisk it into the butter and flour mixture.

Continue to whisk vigorously, and cook until the mixture is nice and smooth.
Stir in the 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese.

Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.
In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add the breadcrumbs and oregano.
Add the cooked macaroni and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture.
Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the Manchego and follow with the breadcrumb mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes**, or until hot and bubbly.

Let rest 5 minutes and serve.

**while it's baking eat a VERY FRESH SALAD!