Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Here are a few more shots from our drive down the Pacific coast last week. We scrambled down to Glass Beach again in the morning and filled a bag with bits of glass, tile and metal. I'm going to run the glass through my tumbler with super-fine grit and see if I can get it to stay shiny. We would've loaded up on wild blackberries, too, but they were not ripe enough yet. The blackish ones were beginning to taste a little sweet, but were still mostly sour and very seedy. Oh well!

South of Fort Bragg we visited the Point Cabrillo lighthouse.
The restored lighthouse and the lighthouse keepers' compound are charming. It's easy to see why this was considered a "reward posting" for those who had served well in more desolate spots, especially on rocky islands that were inaccessible much of the year. There's an inn there now; maybe we'll stay there someday.

The cliffs are a scary in spots and the warning signs kept us away from the sheer edges, but in front of the lighthouse a path led down to the water's edge. With the tide low, we could check out the tidal pools to see the anemones and starfish.
Then we continued south along the twisty, narrow Highway 1. You can't drive it too fast. Not only are there tight curves and sheer drop-offs ...
... there are cows on the road, too. "Slow down, you maniac! Moo!"
I was jealous of those who have homes along the cliffs. But if you lived there year-round, I guess you might get a little bored.
Feeling peckish, we stopped in Point Arena for lunch at The Record. The town looks like Hippie Heaven, and The Record is a focal point.
It has a little grocery packed with gourmet and organic goodies, and cafe in the back with an extensive menu. Be sure to wash your hands! Especially if you've been making out.
I ordered a cheesesteak on a french roll. Really really good, with a couscous salad alongside and a bottle of ginger beer.
We enjoyed the company of a well-behaved canine who appeared on the deck (no one knew where he came from). When I told him, "No, sweetie, you can't have any," he walked away immediately. When he came back later I relented and gave him a taste, but only after telling him to sit and shake hands, which he did so very politely.
He didn't appear too hungry, so I hope he was just out for a stroll. We bade him farewell and continued on our way, stopping only for a beach walk and the sunset before heading home.

Turning Japanese

Spotted these three Japanese classics in one block the other day. You don't see many like these around anymore. They're not what you might expect to see in a "classic" lineup, but their rarity makes them interesting.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Soothing sips at Seven Cups teahouse

I'm fortunate to live in a neighborhood that is chock-full of interesting shops and restaurants within easy walking distance. When one business closes, what takes its place is usually not a disappointment (unlike the bank that replaced the mom-and-pop hardware store near my old house. Boooooo).

The latest addition is Seven Cups, a Chinese teahouse in what was previously a yoga studio.
I first noted the place under construction back in May and took pictures through the window (you can click on them to see them larger).
Now it's all fixed up nicely and has been open about a month.
The owner taught in China (in Hangzhou and Shanghai) and developed a love of Chinese tea there. He wasn't in on Saturday when I stopped by, but I'm sure I'll meet him one of these days.

The space is quite prettily done up, with tea displays at the front and about nine tables in the back half. It's a peaceful space, and not too chock-a-block with tchotchkes (easy to overdo with Chinese decorating). The Guan Yin sign seems a little silly, but serves as a gentle reminder not to eat the dried fruit and nuts at her feet.

Their tea list has 90 varieties! Green, yellow and black.
Some of the pu'er teas are sold as pressed cakes.
The gal who was there when I came in seemed a little scattered, but she got me settled at a table with a cup of Little Rose Tuocha. "Tuo cha" means "block tea." It's a smaller compressed pu'er, in this case with some rose leaves added.

At each table is a little bowl of rock sugar. I enjoyed savoring pieces of it between sips of tea.
The tea is served in steeping pots. The pu'er is in a little rice-paper ball that opens up as it steeps.
I passed the time with my book, "Black Swan Green" by David Mitchell. It's a sweet memoir-style novel narrated by a 13-year-old boy in 1980s small-town England. A brilliant read, very engaging. It captures the era and the pangs of adolescence beautifully.

I highly recommend it.

The tea was tasty, and I had a nice chat with the girl who started her shift just after I sat down. She had her hands full with a large party that came in for a tasting, but wasn't too harried to tell me about her interest in all things Chinese (she's studying Chinese medicine, and martial arts, and Mandarin). I'll go back and chat with her some more (she would like to practice her Chinese) and hopefully meet the owner, too.

Their website (which is a little wonky in Firefox) doesn't say what their hours are, but they do offer free tastings on Fridays at 3, and you can also schedule tasting parties for six or more people that feature multiple teas along with snacks of fruit, nuts and little cakes for $6-$8 per person. That would make for a fun gathering!

Seven Cups
1882 S Pearl St
Denver, CO 80210

Silly kitchen gadget No. 23

While at the Viking store the other day I perused their assortment of kitchen gadgets and came across another Chef'n winner: the Grapefruiter. I should have taken a sideways photo of it, too, since I still don't quite grasp how it works, except as a glorified sharp-edged scoop. The little pictures on the package seem to indicate that the membranes on the segments magically come off, too, but I suspect that's not the case.

I found an illustration online of it in action. I guess it might be useful if you don't have full use of both hands. But for the able-handed, would it be any more useful than a sharp knife or a grapefruit spoon? The Amazon reviews indicate it also leaves a lot of pulp behind.

How many grapefruits would you have to segment regularly to make this $10 item a must for your kitchen?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happy reunion

If you drive east from Denver on I-70 and get off at Havana Road going south, you'll come to a stop sign at Smith Road. If you or someone you know has gone astray in life, you may be heading to the Denver County Jail on the left.

But if you turn right instead, you might find some old friends at another facility across the way.
I visited Denver Urban Farm today in search of my goat buddies. And I found them! Look! It's Cutie!
And Sweetie!
And LaFawnduh!
They were living with a number of other goats – including the little doelings whose names I never knew – in a spacious yard at the farm.
In another pen nearby I found James.
He was sharing quarters with a friendly sheep.
Another pen held pygmy goats, who looked like regular goats with really short legs.
The farm has ample garden plots, with a gazebo at the center for birthday parties. (The kids got a full tour, including some pony riding and animal petting.)
There were kids all over the place, working with the animals. Some of them were learning to drive.
Or giving the horses some exercise.
A pair of border collies were watching that with great interest.
The place had a lot of horses.
Some of the corrals had electric fences.
I learned a lesson about the fence with the draft horses, alas. I was reaching over to scritch the black one under the chin and my arm brushed the fence. We both got a shock! Oops.
A flock of sheep was out clearing weeds. Later someone came along and whistled. "Come on, ewes! Time to go home!" And the sheep all trotted off obediently to their pen.
There are also chickens out and about.
Some Brahman cattle (I think that's what the gray one was, anyway).
And even a toothy alpaca!
The folks working there told me I should come back on "goat nights" on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when the kids put all the goats on leashes and take them for walks. I'll have to come walk my buddies sometime!

I wish they were still at their old farm, but I'm glad to know they're in a good situation, unsavory neighbors notwithstanding. If you want to go visit them, too, the farm is open to the public from 10 to 1 on Saturdays, and by appointment other times.

Denver Urban Farm
10200 Smith Rd
Denver, CO 80239

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A store I'd love to pillage

I drive past this place every day and think, "I should check it out." Yesterday I did.
Oooh-la-la, the stoves they are so preeeeeetty.
The prices, though. Yowza.

That's for a dual-fuel, 30-inch stove. The all-gas ones are about $1,000 cheaper.

I've learned not to hate my ceramic-top electric stove, but I don't love it. With electric stoves, the burner is either on or off. There's no in-between. To make rice, I have to boil on one burner, then slide the pot to another that I've set on low, because the boiling burner doesn't cool down fast enough. And good stir-fries are out of the question; can't get enough heat.

But if I get a gas stove, I'll also have to upgrade my ventilation. Currently I have a microwave above the oven with a fan underneath. It vents into the kitchen. But the fan's not powerful enough, and I want a vent to the outside. I could, however, buy their convection microwave with Viking-grade exterior vent. For $1,300.

Or I could move my microwave somewhere else and put in a hood. Also about $1,000, not including what it would cost to install with a vent through the wall or ceiling (there's a deck above the kitchen, so that's an option).

Pretty colors are another option.
If you get tired of a color, they can replace the panels. No idea what that costs. But the red looks nice!
Not that I have room for one this big. In my kitchen or my wallet.

I resisted the lure of the 40-percent-off Le Creuset, too.
What kind of stove do you have? Would you recommend it?