Stranded In The Southland

Thursday, June 23, 2005


I'm not much of a cook myself (probably because, rather than despite the fact that, my grandfather was an Austrian-trained pastry chef -- he never let my mother into the kitchen while she was growing up, and she couldn't boil water when she married my father). But the trip to Spain has inspired me.

I really enjoyed Salmorejo, which is like Gazpacho, but denser. It is basicly tomatoes and olive oil and garlic and bread thrown together in a blender, so I figured I could handle it. Alas, the recipe in:

didn't work spectacularly well. Some of that may have had to do with the way I failed to put in the full 450g of bread -- I already put in a half a loaf, and any more just seemed crazy. And I used bacon instead of fine Spanish ham. Oh, well.

It turned out to be sort of garlicy -- and I love garlic myself, but it was even a bit strong for me -- and not all that flavorful. I'll have to try a few more recipes, now that I've made it semi-successfully once. Who knows what other culinary delights await?

Mt. Islip

On my train ride home from the airport, I was delighted to see that the high mountains (save for Baldy) appear to be clear of snow. So, in order to test out my feet (and, well, yeah, bag another peak), I decided to head out for a nice short six-mile walk up to one of the 8,000 foot peaks along the Angeles Crest.

Getting up to Mt. Islip was the hard part. I started out at 6AM (yeah, there are some advantages to jetlag!), but to my surprise, it still took me an hour to drive to La Canada-Flintridge, just about the same as I see when I leave at 7:45! Yow, why aren't those people sleepin' in or something? I guess maybe the traffic at 7:45 would be worse if they slept in, so maybe I shouldn't complain.

Anyway, the drive up CA-2 was beautiful. There was nobody on the road, the air was still clear, and I just had a great time. Barring the poor deer that I came within about 20 feet of creaming. Fortunately, the deer scrambled as best it could and I braked as hard as I could and it all seemed to work out. Still, that was the closest I've ever come to nailing Bambi. Doh.

The trail was beautiful, flitting along a big bowl full of low scrub, with a great view out into the desert. To my surprise, there were still some big patches of snow, and in one place, a big avalanche had brought down a bunch of trees on the trail. The snow eventually fooled me and I wound up off of the trail and had to slog almost straight up a steep slope.

That wouldn't been so bad, but snow or not, the mosquitos were out in force. It was amazing how dense a swarm surrounded me; they only left when I'd made it to the ridge, and the wind blew them away. Doh. The only other person I saw out there was a woman who was messing with an anti-bug mesh bag over her head -- she didn't respond to my friendly good morning, but perhaps she was too busy fending off the mosquitos.

The view from the top of the mountain at some 8,250 feet was beautiful, despite some obvious recent fire damage. LA was under it's own little smoggy shell, so I just saw mountains, mountains, and distant mountains, with a little foggy area in between. It was wonderful.

And my feet seem, for the moment at least, okay.