¡Oye! A LAtina perspective on food, fashion, and art.


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Hermione Love

by Laura E. Alvarez

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How did this happen?  It’s time to read the whole Harry Potter series again!  But this time, let’s listen to the audio book.  Oh!  And it’s time to watch all the movies again.  Yay.  Right now we’re on Deathly Hallows Part Two Film and Chamber of Secrets book.  Yes, it’s confusing.  But here is a Clothes Story:  While my children and I agree that it is very annoying how much muggle clothing infiltrates into the wizarding students’ wardrobes in later films, I must say I am admiring Hermione’s looks in the last two films.  It’s kind of feminine, forest-y and ready for adventure.  I’ve been looking at these photos of my own outfit and it took me a whole two minutes (which is epic in my clothesstoryland) to figure out that I was inspired and channeling Hermione in the last two films.  Hermione on the run.  Of course, I could play Hermione’s mum, but there is no reason that her courageous seventeen year old witch can’t inspire someone like me as I venture through the various portals of Los Angeles’ West Side, avoiding traffic with my magic car.  It would be so cool if my station wagon could fly emitting nothing but Cornish pixie dust.  If only.

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Jacket by Salt and Pepper, blouse vintage, jeans by Levi’s, Stones by Nicole, and additional necklace by Evan.

Photos by Evan Hartzell

 


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give yourself a present

by Laura E. Alvarez

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Left to right starting at the top left:  a) Kale and steamed egg over sushi rice with savory on top, b) mâche and homemade beans on homemade tostada shell with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, c) pasta with Parmigiano-Reggiano and lemon (that’s right… lemon!  It’s a fruit!) water, d) savory on steamed egg on multigrain British muffin with stove top Gavina espresso. 

Every Tuesday we get a present.  Well, technically we give the present to ourselves.  It’s called Abundant Harvest Organics, and it’s a farm-share delivery service that supplies us with a box of gorgeous organic fruits and vegetables.  For a little more than twenty dollars we get a cornucopia of food that was just picked the day before from local farms.  It’s always a surprise what we will be cooking with every week.  Not only that, but it forces us to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables every day, and I mean every meal.  I have to admit that it really challenges me, this working in the fresh food at every meal, but our taste buds benefit from it, and our whole bodies benefit from it.  Breakfast is probably the most challenging, but look!  Above, you see two breakfasts with farm box ingredients thrown in.

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Hey, did you think this post was about organic fresh fruits and vegetables?  No, it’s not… because obviously, that is a donut.  Yes, a donut.  But look at how it’s presented.  This donut sits on a warm, country-carved block of Mexican loveliness with an adorable espresso at its side.  Because the donut is not from far-away Cafe Dulce, then I cannot say I escaped without a stomach ache.  Was it worth it?  Aaaaal-most.  Oh, Cafe Dulce, what is a food post without thinking of you?

Right, then.  This post is about Giving Yourself a Present.  And sometimes the present is in the presentation.

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I didn’t make this, but I did photograph it!  Yes, colorful and dynamic presentations such as this one at Ruen Pair, Thai Cuisine inspire me at home.  You can do this too!  Everyone can.  The secret is out.  Here are some tips that I recently discovered…

1) Choose a bowl or plate that compliments what you are serving to yourself.  Use something out of the ordinary like a little chopping block.

2) Layering food items is nice for some reason… and affects the taste. Wow.

3)  Pay attention to color.  The plate is your canvas!

4) Chop up little things and sprinkle them on top.  This creates texture.

5)  It’s a wonder what a tray can do.

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And lastly, to show you that presentation can actually help heal you… I texted the above photo to Byron when she was sending me messages the other week like, “Hellooo!  Are you still alive, Laura?!  I’m worried about you, Amiga!” I was SO sick in bed.  Highly unusual.  My photo to her expressed that I must be okay if I have such an attractive tray on my bed.  I mean, look at it.  Yes, there are two trays involved, flowers in a jam jar, homemade tea, and that tangerine looks like a flower the way it has been peeled.  And even… yes, some not-very tasty elderberry syrup is sweetened by the whole presentation.  Now, I must confess that this last present is not a present to myself, but a present from my Love. Presents are really nice when they come from others, too. ;)


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Mix It Up, Serendipity

by Laura E. Alvarez

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Oh, how I love mixing thrift store folk textiles, men’s work clothes, Abuelita’s jewelry, Little Tokyo finds, American Apparel factory store bargains, Fred Segal gifts, AND sandals that have been forced into functioning as water shoes.   Doesn’t everybody?  It’s kind of cool when the Levi shirt you borrowed at the park because you didn’t know it would be cold becomes such a great addition to the whole ensemble.

Thrift Store Folk Textile:  I’m pretty sure this is a Mexican dress.  I’m pretty sure my mom helped me bargain (I was an embarrassed teenager!) for one just like this in hot pink… or was it fushia… in Baja back in the 80′s.  And, I’m pretty sure I love any cotton that looks like it was made on a loom.  I LOVE that.  I can feel the love while I’m wearing it.  And these colors?!  They’re SO Greek!

Men’s Work Clothes:  You will see a lot of Levi’s in my outfits because of my husband’s influence on my wardrobe.  Also, back in the early 80′s I used to take my brother’s old Levi’s when he grew out of them.  I would peg them on the sewing machine because I was SO rockabilly in my dress.  This gives the outfit a little Californian railroad worker/craftsman warmth.  Mmmm.

Abuelita’s Jewelry:  Every time I put on one of my mom’s pieces, I feel her love.  Nice.  This necklace reminds me of beautiful things growing underwater.  The beads are glass.  It’s SO pretty.

Little Tokyo Find:  Okay, these sunglasses are kind of already falling apart, but they still look cool.  Any visit to Little Tokyo is just an excuse to go to Cafe Dulce.  Oh, Cafe Dulce.  I could build an altar to Cafe Dulce… but I digress.

American Apparel Factory Store Bargain:  Lucky us to live in L.A. so we can stop at the American Apparel Factory Store on our way to Cafe Dulce – drat, did it again!  Just call this the Cafe Dulce Post, already where no one actually goes to Cafe Dulce and there are NO photos of Cafe Dulce.  Gosh.  Anyway, I found these brilliant blue leggings there for a few dollars and that is why that store is so wonderful.  A great place to shop for kids, as well.  There’s something for everyone!

Fred Segal Gifts:  Bettina Duncan gave me these earrings years ago for Christmas and I think they are just amazing.  She has a shop at Fred Segal.  She’s so smart.  I always feel a little Victorian when I put them on, even though maybe Victorian ladies did not wear earrings.

Forced Into Water Shoes Sandals:  Hush Puppies!  Colors that go with everything.  Found them at DSL Shoes when I needed water shoes to go to a tropical island, but they are not water shoes.  Shhh!  Don’t tell them.  I have walked hip boutique streets in these babies AND walked in a dark and mysterious river, as I boarded my stand up paddle board, for real I have.

Thank you, Evan Hartzell for the nice photographs.

 

 


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rogue parenting – playing hookie

Deviating, renegade, playfully mischievious?  Yes.   Dishonest, to destroy, knavish?  Of course not.  To cheat or no longer belong?  Well, here it gets a little fuzzy.

Rogue.  It’s exciting.  It’s adventurous.  It’s “a handsome rogue.” It’s “She’s gone rogue!”  Oh my goodness, what is she going to do next!  It questions the norm in its actions.  Typical artists… to love this word.  However, rogue is for everyone.  It’s unplugging from the matrix.  It’s connecting.  Are we stretching the definition a bit?

This little cutie has gone rogue.  We know.  You didn’t think that this is what rogue looked like.  Stretch your mind a bit.  It’s a wonderful rainy school day.  These children have made a lovely morning tea party… on a school day.  Yikes!  Rogue!  I warned you.

For the moms – green tea.  For the kids – chocolate chai (decaf).  For all – black berries and rasperries on top of coconut cream.

Requisite contemplative rainy day photo.  Just couldn’t resist.

Our magical destination for going rogue today?  Disneyland?  Six Flags?  Build a Bear?  No.  Atwater!!

This or Die.  A place where you can see art, feel hip AND get your hair cut.

And like, that really cool tattoo artist kind of art.  All fantasy and delicate.

Even the rain boots are celebrating this rogue outing with their purple and gold colors.

No, the salon is not enough.  While the haircuts commence, we need to go buy coffee… and tea… and hot chocolates so we can have a haircut party.

The excitement of the hairbrush!  So many beautiful colors on one head of hair.

Here’s something we do when going rogue.  Going on adventure?  Throw a sketchbook at it.  Oh, and don’t forget the drawing tools like we did.  There is no perfect in going rogue.  No map.  Sometimes you have to wing it and borrow a number two from someone.  And we just want to say the grown ups were drawing, too.  Just have to say.

Indulging in the soft light on a fresh cut.

Indulging in the soft light on a butterfly earring.

Glorious.

Atwater.  And the sun came out.

Bon Vivant Market and Cafe.  A site of riches. It’s like we are on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride!

See, it is a ride.  Hiding monsters.

Not doing that right now, but it’s really pretty.

Hey, maybe this is someone else’s rogue parenting moment.

by Laura E. Alvarez


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thrifting into the new year

How lucky are we… to have boys who love to go thrift shopping and are passionate about food?  An added benefit is to adore the mother of your boy’s good friend. So, I guess the answer is that we are very lucky.

The Goodwill on La Brea in Los Angeles rocks!  I had NO idea.  Oh my goodness.  Some Goodwill locations really seem to cater to the “get dressed for your corporate interview” need… which is great, but this Goodwill…  This Goodwill caters to the “need an outfit for time traveling pronto” people.  That was us.

Ravenclaw Prefect pin  and fez from Whimsic Alley

These two boys are really into Dr. Who right now, thus the tweedy jackets and fez.  It’s all about who you become with that outfit.  For example, my go-to all black stretchy evening wear means I am a relaxing Korean soap opera watcher, while a tweed jacket and a fez for someone else means only one thing:  time travel!  Well, and maybe eating Cuban food.

Did I say Whimsic Alley?  Why yes, I did.  See, we started this little outing at our favorite Harry Potter headquarters, Whimsic Alley.  Yes, I do love it there.  It’s like a little trip to Hogsmeade.  Thus, we have the young lad hiding his butter beer (It’s really just butterscotch soda.  I love it.) behind his menu at El Colmao, one of our favorite spots for Cuban food.  Liquados de mamey?  Check.  Garlic roast chicken?  Check.  Cuban coffee.  Oh, yes.  We need our fuel to thrift.

Black beans, rice, avocados, and garlic roast chicken at El Colmao

 

When I go to El Colmao, I feel like I am time traveling.  Even though I didn’t grow up coming here, the 1960′s time capsule look with the chandeliers and vintage signed head shots make it feel like a place I would have come to after church every Sunday.  I can just picture it.  Instead, we were going to an Orange County K Mart where we might get a submarine sandwich. Did I just share that?  Anyway, this food shot is so not a foodie shot because I think usually foodies remember to take the photo before they start eating the food.

Here is a silk, Hong Kong made dress I got that day at the Goodwill.  It kind of reminded me of Kiki’s Delivery Service even though I couldn’t find an image of a character wearing a dress like this in the movie.  The good news is that I found this when I was looking for a Kiki image.  (Note to self:  Do a post on the espressos and amazing blue of Espresso Cielo in Santa Monica)

Earrings by Evan Hartzell

 

And lastly, a terry cloth top from the same Goodwill trip that makes me feel like I am a soap maker in the Japanese countryside.  You see it, don’t you?  Oh, those days of making soap.  The soft breeze from the garden coming in through the open windows.  The intoxicating soap scents wafting through the air.  I think I just heard the sushi rice cooker go “ping!”.

Fashion.  Food.  Art.  Repeat.

By Laura E. Alvarez


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Put a Little Reggio in Your Life

 

I am a strong believer that your environment teaches you and gives you some of the most valuable experience that no traditional classroom will ever be able to give you.  But, to get anything out of it, just like a traditional school, you have to pay attention.  The reason that the Reggio Emilia Approach speaks to me is that as an adult I’m always searching for beautiful and imperfect, sensitive and firm, freedom with boundaries.  What I needed for my children was a place of safety,  a place of expression where there was encouragement, but where each new accomplishment was not lauded as genius.  There is a respect that takes place in a Reggio environment.  These children learn it from an early age.  They learn how to respect their surroundings, each other, their lives.

 

 

Reggio Emilia is predominantly found in toddler and preschool environments.  But, it speaks to all ages because it’s philosophy is timeless.  Below, I have have given you some examples from a profound book called, The Hundred Languages of Children.

 

 

“In a strongly firsthand way, deeply rooted in ongoing cycles of observation, interpretation, and documentation, Reggio educators have borne witness to child learning in its earliest genesis and in its least restrictive environment…Least restrictive in this case refers not to an “anything goes” chaos but an environment liberated from false boundaries and external caveats that inadvertently impede or unnecessarily parse the complex development of children.  Instead, the whole school environment of Reggio-infant-toddler centers and preschools is positively influenced by the presence of the atelier.

Teachers endeavor to continually provoke children’s natural propensities to search for meaning, to pose questions of themselves and others, and to interpret the phenomena of their own lives.”

-Margie Cooper, The Hundred Languages of Children (pg. 298)

 

 

“Often Reggio educators use the phrase rich normality to describe the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive environments to which they continually aspire, calling important attention to the promise of ordinary moments.  For it is the stringing together of  ordinary moments that ultimately give shape and quality to  human life over time, just as it is the stringing together of ordinary moments that ultimately gives shape and quality…”-Cooper (Pg. 298)

 

 

 

“How much positive attention do we give ordinary moments in our programs for young children in North America?  For example, the physicality children naturally express in their everyday encounters-running fingertips along a fence line, spinning and darting in open spaces breathing deeply the fragrances of the natural world, handling objects to view every angle-are wide ways children build understanding through natural dispositions for researching worlds polysensorially-that is, through all their senses.  Within these natural ways of children, there lives an aesthetic dimension, described by Giudici as the ‘pursuit of loveliness, of harmony, of balance, poise, equilibrium and sensibility to relations’ that exists epistemologically…aesthetics is not a separate dimension from experience but rather an element of it”-Cooper (Pg. 299)

 

Stop when you can, when you think about it and talk with your kids about what you are seeing, feeling. If you smell something desireable or even undesireable, what kind of sensation does that invoke in you? Be present with yourself, your kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am convinced that this Reggio way of thinking does not end in preschool. For, I live it everyday.

-M. Byron Trent


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Boccalone Days, Boccalone Nights

Chris Isaak sings about San Francisco days, San Francisco nights.  I would have to change it just a bit to Boccalone days, Boccalone nights thanks to celebrity chef Chris Cosentino‘s salumeria located in the Ferry Building.  Yes, I said celebrity chef.  When I go somewhere, anywhere, it has to be to eat.  I want to try it all.  For all the times that I had been to San Francisco, I had yet to dine at Cosentino’s Incanto.  So, for this trip I was geared up and ready.  I was ready to throw down some cash and since I was fresh off of watching Anthony Bourdain in Parts Unknown,  I grabbed my crew ready to waltz into Incanto and have Bourdain’s life fall into my lap.  Really?  I mean, who do I think I am?  Clearly someone who did not call ahead.  I’m even embarrassed to be admitting it.  It was a Wednesday night and in my experience if you go early enough, like when they open, you can usually get a table or sit at the bar.  When I’m with my girls, I usually eat quickly and enjoy an amazing meal and everybody wins!  The kids get exposure to culinary adventures with my guidance and the server gets a early quick turn of a table with a nice tip to go along.  I like doing this even when I don’t have my kids.  I like to have time to soak up the city and grab a drink or, with my kids, move on to another place for dessert.  I should have taken it as an omen when we learned that Incanto was closed that night.  I was crushed.  This is pretty much how the trip would go.  A culinary comedy of errors.  The trip was short and dinner would not be in the cards for us.

 

Fortunately, the Hotel Monaco in Union Square offered a lovely reception in the lounge where I regrouped and pretty much realized that we were not located in the best walking center for food.  My six year old could not have cared less as she was busy socializing and getting her Martinelli’s Apple Cider on!

The Ferry Building itself is a feast for eyes and going there on an empty stomach gets one all aflutter.  Laura immediately noticed the spring in my step and said, “we have stepped into your Disneyland!”  Whenever I enter a food paradise I feel just like Tim Burton’s character Jack Skellington from  A Nightmare Before Christmas when he enters Christmas Town, “what’s this? whatever could it be?”  The apple does not fall far from the tree.  At one point I thought I lost my 6 year old only to find her nuzzled up to the the sales girl at the Stonehouse Olive Oil boutique noshing on bread, dipping away into various oils.  We walked away with 6 bottles.  We tasted our way through the Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Cheese Shop, later slathering fromage blanc and sheeps milk ricotta onto our freshly baked onion bread from Acme Bread Company. The best was left for last.  Meat cones.  Yep, I said it.  For those of you who know me well,  you are already agog by the sheer fact that I have consumed this much gluten and dairy (albeit, I stuck to my usual goat and sheep) and now I am about to talk not only about meat, but, “tasty salted pig parts,” in a CONE!   I had to people!  It was beautiful, man!  I had Lonza (Cured and dried pork loin, it is very similar in both taste and texture to prosciutto. This is the back loin that is cured in salt and fennel.), orange and fennel salami. Delizioso!



There are the greatest chefs, the masters, who are analogous to our greatest musicians and then there are the others, either marketing geniuses, or those who were in the right place at the right time.   Their melody is lacking, but we all listen just the same.  Cosentino has the melody and the marketing.   In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if he is a music aficionado of some sort.  I wonder if music has had an impact on all great chefs lives?  In fact, isn’t it a symphony when you have the perfect meal?  It just depends on my mood.  It could be a handmade tortilla, the inside perfectly seasoned, spicy and wet, dripping from my fingers downed with an ice cold beer with a shot of good tequila, or maybe some sweet slightly briny oysters with a crisp chablis?  That’s why food is fore play especially when accompanied by a great playlist, and well, I’m done.

-Byron

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