Monday, February 23, 2009

A SoCal Lundi Gras

My buddy Tom (purple hat and feathers) hosted a Carnival party tonight at his house in San Diego's North Park neighborhood.
His neighbor Robbin did most of the cooking.
She fried green tomatoes and frog legs, a special treat for me since my peeps are all from the Frog Capital of the World.

For those of you unfamiliar with Rayne, La., here are the reigning Frog Festival queens and their amphibious consorts. Click on any pic to view it larger.

Each October for the festival, the town's prettiest girls pair off with bull frogs plucked from local canals for the biggest jumping contest this side of Calaveras County.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived at Tom's house and saw frog legs cooking in the Fry Daddy.

We also had seafood gumbo, chicken and sausage jambalaya, Abita Turbo Dog beer, Hurricanes and a live Web feed from WWOZ.
We finished the night off with this perfect king cake made from scratch by Robbin. Tim found the baby, so he'll be hosting the party next year.

Happy Mardi Gras y'all!

Laissez les bon temp roulez!

Eating and drinking our way through SF

We spent much of our time looking for great food and drink. And our friends Rod and Greg helped us find some corners favored by locals. One of the best was in the middle of the Ferry Building Marketplace, a major tourist stop.
We had lunch at Hog Island Oyster Company, which offered an amazing view of the bay and departing ferry boats.
The raw oysters were great, but even better was the oyster stew - a simple mix of basic ingredients. Definitely an example of the sum being more than its parts.
The marketplace featured all sorts of specialty shops, including this one that sold locally grown mushrooms.
In the Lower Haight, we headed to one of my favorite beer bars on the planet, Toronado. It's traditional for patrons to buy a link on a bun next door at Rosamunde Sausage Grill and eat it in the bar.

A former bartender last year opened a second location in San Diego, just around the block from where I live. But the atmosphere of the original place can't be reproduced.
Tim enjoyed a Moroccan lamb and sun dried tomato sausage and a pint of Black Prince Porter.

Weekend in SF

Tim and I spent the last four days eating, drinking and trekking our way through San Francisco.
Here is a view of the majestic City Hall from Alamo Square.
We stayed in the Mission District with my friends Rod and Greg, who moved to San Francisco from New Orleans about a year after I left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.Obama in the Haight.

My buddy David, an editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and president of NLGJA, gave us a tour of the paper's headquarters just off Market Street
"Milk" was enjoying a return run at the iconic Castro Theater days before the film grabbed a couple of Oscars.
Greg and Tim in front of a massive map of SF in the observation deck of the tower at the de Young, the city's newest art museum.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Heavy metal

We spent part of the weekend roaming the high desert around Borrego Springs looking for these hulking metal sculptures of ancient animals from the Pliocene epoch when the area was covered by forests.

The pieces are located on land that is part of Galleta Meadows Estates. They're all made by sculptor Ricardo Breceda of Perris, Ca.
We found nearly 20 pieces, including this mammoth. Click on any pic to make view it bigger.
A horse and saber tooth tiger have an . . . um . . . awkward encounter.
Tim gets introduced to a saber tooth the old fashion way.
Me with a gomphothere.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Alcoholic Pass hike

We headed to the Anza-Borrego desert below the snowy peak of Mount Laguna on Sunday to hike to Alcoholic Pass (D on the map below) at the mouth of Coyote Canyon just north of the town of Borrego Springs (C).

The switchback trail took us through a steep grove of ocotillos, the lanky desert plants that turn from brown sticks to lush flowering bushes this time of the year during the winter rainy season.

At the top of the trail we signed a visitor's log tucked inside a wooden box and found this rock pile marking the spot where hikers can look down both sides of the ridge.

Mount Laguna lodge

Tim and I spent Saturday night on Mount Laguna east of San Diego indulging my life-long obsession with snow. There was plenty on the ground but we didn't get to see any fall as we had hoped. Instead, the storm that had been forecast for the weekend didn't arrive in SoCal until Sunday night.
This was the cabin we stayed in at the Blue Jay Lodge. The cabin was quaint and comfy - the gas heater worked just fine.

But the guy who runs the place is a total freak show mess! He was impatient on the phone. When we arrived he vacillated between berating us for renting the cabin for one night and thanking us for our business. And since we only had the cabin for one night, he made us leave at 9:30 the next morning, two hours earlier than normal. He made it clear that we had created a huge hastle for him by making him clean the room an extra time.

We won't be going back there, and you shouldn't visit either.
The crowds on the mountain were fairly small, suggesting that people in the area have gotten their fill of the white stuff for the season.