Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Next Time, I'll Order In.

 I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery. When I got there, the guy was locking the front door. I said, 'Hey, the sign says you're open 24 hours.' He said, 'Yes, but not in a row.'  -Steven Wright

So the adventure has officially begun! last weekend was a flurry of packing, and moving and running up two flights of stairs with heavy boxes (I'm fairly sure that this new living situation where I routinely bound up and down the stairs is going to do more for my LGN Plan than my Calabasas gym membership ever did (if you want an explanation of the LGN, peep this.)

Aside from the exhaustion of the actual moving, everything went very smoothly, and I settled in. Saturday night, I explored Main, and discovered a sweet new hangout spot (which I will expound upon in a later post), and Sunday morning I even made an early trip to the Farmers' Market.

But Dear Readers, I know my blissful move is not why you read this blog, so instead of rambling on about my cute apartment and it's abundance of closet space, I'm going to tell you about The Dinner Party Preparation Fiasco.

To begin, I love to entertain, and at my old apartment, we threw big dinner parties quite frequently. Now I have no intention of ending my love of cooking for other people, but I assumed that I would need to take a hiatus at least until I got some vital supplies, like uh, dining chairs. Furthermore, my kitchen is just big enough for one person to turn around in, has no microwave or oven, so to put it mildly, I'm a little out of my element.

So yesterday when I received a phone call from a dear friend visiting from out of town, I'm not sure what possessed me, when I immediately said "Yeah, come over! I'll cook!" He agreed and said he and a friend would be at my place in about an hour and a half. After taking a quick look in my fridge, I realized that unless we were going to have toast or leftover curry for dinner, I needed to find a grocery store. My first impulse was to google the closest store and go, but then it dawned on me that in all of the moving, I hadn't yet set up the internet, plus, parking in Venice is the equivalent of winning some kind of lottery and I didn't want to move my car. This left me with the good old fashioned method of finding things, which is to go look for them. How barbaric.

Now, I knew that there were great Farmer's Markets in Venice and I got the vague idea that there would be little bodegas, shops and bakeries on every other corner, in the same way that you can't throw a rock without hitting a Starbucks, so I blithely put on a sun dress and grabbed a green reusable bag and cheerily set out on a search.

My first stop was a natural foods store on Main. I had decided to make pasta with chicken and vodka sauce, so I immediately set out to find tomatoes and pasta. En route to the produce section, I found almond butter, pistachio paste, jojoba extract, and a box of whole wheat-stone ground extra enriched pasta. It cost $8.50 for a box. This wouldn't have been a deal breaker, but then I saw that they only had soy-ice cream, which I think is blasphemous. Next.

Undaunted, I headed down the street to Rose Cafe & Market. Perfect! I thought. It was a cute, boutique type of store that looked like it carried tasty, fattening, normal food. I never got to find out though, because it closed at 5PM. I might as well have been in Malibu.

On to the next option. I quickly texted a friend who suggested the big CVS nearby might actually have food in it, similar to a Super Walmart, so I headed on over. At CVS, I found that one could indeed throw a dinner party with ingredients found there, but only if the guests were really excited for ramen and bananas that night.

By now, dinner time was rapidly approaching and I was sweaty, tired and running out of ideas, so I headed over to the boardwalk. I recalled seeing small bodega on the boardwalk when I had gone searching for apartments a few weeks prior, but I couldn't remember exactly where. Naturally, I decided asking a local was the best way to find out. The following conversation ensued:

Me: Hi, do you know where the closest supermarket or grocery store is in walking distance?

Woman selling jewelry and missing a few teeth: Nope. But you should buy dis necklace, it has healing properties! It look so pretty wit yo skin! You like me to read your palm? I tink yo aura is blue and dis necklace would complement yo aura.

Me: um, I'm just looking for a....nevermind. But thanks?.....I mean, no thanks......um, bye.

My next encounter with a Venice local wasn't much better. It involved a man wearing hammer pants with a loud speaker and a boom box and a comment about my curvaceous body type, but did not involve directions to a grocery store. While walking to the next block, I was approached by a very small person wearing a masking, selling trinkets. When I walked faster to avoid him, he shook a stick at me.  I decided I was definitely better off finding the store on my own. I walked another 5 or 6 blocks down the boardwalk, and just as I was about to give up, spotted a tiny market on the corner of Ocean Front and Westward. The shop was small, but had everything I needed, so I hastily gathered up tomatoes, lettuce a baguette of french bread, cream, and pasta (which only cost $2.50) and headed home.

I arrived at my apartment, breathless but triumphant, and started unpacking everything, to start cooking. I was mostly done sauteeing tomatoes, onions, chicken and garlic in a pan when I realized that I was missing a key ingredient for vodka sauce: Vodka. Since the only alcohol I had on hand was a bottle of Zinfandel and a handle of triple sec, I decided to make do without it. Luckily no one noticed.

Dinner ended up going really well; my good friend Lo came over and saved the day by bringing ice cream and more wine, and by the time my other friends arrived, no one was the wiser that I had been sweatily running around Venice, desperately trying to locate a grocery store and avoid capture by Venice street performers. We ate, drank, and were merry, and I can pretty confidently say that my first Venice dinner party was a success.

Lesson learned: Set up your internet right away. Oh yeah, and stay away from guys with boom boxes and midgets waving sticks.

These don't quite do it justice, but below are some high quality Blackberry pics of my tiny, but cozy and bright kitchen and dining room:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Venice or Bust!

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."  - Andre Gide

If you've ever thought "I wish I could start over/be someone else/ go somewhere new" then this blog is for you.

 I am in search of one thing: Adventure. I grew up all over the world, but my parent settled in a pretty southern California suburb, and I went to college in a sleepy seaside community. I have an awesome job,  beautiful friends, I live in a gated community, my life is happy and comfortable, and that scares me to death. Some people are content not to explore, or discover, or be challenged, and one of my greatest fears is becoming one of those people.

So here I am,  a suburban raised, cul de sac community bred, Pepperdine girl, moving to Venice Beach, one of the most crazy, artistic, vibrant little cities in the country. I'm moving from a 2 bedroom condo with a pool to a beach front studio the size of a shoebox in an 80-year old building.  I'm not sure there could be any bigger of a difference between the valley and this beach refuge that is home to artists, vagrants, peddlers and performers. I have no idea what to expect, and I'm so excited, if not a little terrified. This is the first time I will live alone, the first time I'll be completely independent, and the official beginning of my young adult life.

So the countdown begins: I'm moving in exactly 5 days. I'll face new challenges like a 20 minute commute, searching for a grocery stores, parking, and the perfect local bar spot, acquiring a beach cruiser (and preventing it's subsequent theft, no doubt) and making new friends while holding on to my old ones.

This is my story. It's one part diary, one part restaurant review, one part venting outlet and probably three parts psychobabble. I'll probably screw up and get into trouble, and get lost, and talk to strangers, and if I'm lucky, I just might learn something, and have a little fun along the way. It's more than just switching apartments; hopefully my Venice adventures will bring me a greater sense of self reliance, an openness to new people, food, and experiences, and maybe even love (maybe). And hopefully for you, Dear Reader, it's an entertaining journey.

Here's to losing sight of the shore.