Terminal Boredom

So here I sit, quietly tethered to a rare power socket, in a bustling-yet-lonely corridor; flanked by jet-setters and eagle-eyed vultures with nothing but outlet lust in their black hearts…

Bored quite literally to tears, and in the grips of the layover to end all layovers in an airport more than 1000 miles out of my way, I have tasked myself with a soul-saving challenge. Today, my friends, I am breaking new ground with my first-ever all-around airport review. Yes, you heard that correctly…right now, at this VERY moment, history is being made – and YOU can tell your grandkids you were right here with me!!

To set the ambience, I find myself in Salt Lake City. If you really want to know why, you’re going to have to ask my new lifelong enemy, Delta Airlines.

They love to fly, and it shows…mostly in the evil cackles and dastardly hand-wringing

I just wanted to get to Phoenix for Comicon but Delta INSISTED on bringing me here. So, darnit, I’m going to make the most of it!! And with that, dawn illuminates a bitchin’ new era…

Salt Lake City International Airport

As I tend to do every time I step off an airplane in a new place, my first order of business was to ensure that I was still, in fact, in the United States:

Salt Lake City Utah International Airport

whew… ok, what’s next

Entertainment:

Salt Lake City boasts a wealth of entertainment options for the traveler on the go. Foremost among them are the mountains. If you, like myself, are an avid outdoorsman and cannot imagine a better way to kill a few hours than a rigorous mountain climb, well…

SLC Airport mountains
…I’m sorry, but you’re pretty much out of luck because they’re, like, REALLY far away. Something about landing airplanes and jagged, rocky geological features… I know there was a reason for putting us so far away but I sort of zoned out. Apologies. But they’re awesome for looking at… I’ve been doing it for two and a half hours now!!

But don’t go thinking the fun stops at the bottom of the hillside. Goodness, no. In fact, Salt Lake City (can I call you “SLC”? I feel we have grown to know each other so well since my arrival, and typing out Salt Lake City is just a really annoying bitch) has pioneered amazing innovations in the field of fine art “speed-viewing”.

SLC Airport Utah Salt Lake City

No longer do you have to linger painfully at a mediocre work of art for fear of appearing artistically disinclined. Step on the moving walkway and the SLC airport will do the moving for you. Talk about a time-saver!! And, since the pieces they have chosen to adorn the walls largely suck, you will not feel the slightest twinge of guilt as you fly by the visual life-work of some obscure nobody. They really think of everything out here in SLC.

Fashion:

SLC airport UTAH hoodie sweatshirt

While it may not be New York City or Milan, if you really relate (I mean, REALLY relate) to “UTAH” and love that timeless neon hoodie look, you really cannot do better. And, in case subtlety is truly not your thing, take note of the glistening chrome coffee mugs. I hear those are flying off the shelves – but could not confirm this while visiting.

Cuisine:

People ask me all the time, “Boss, where should I eat if I find myself trapped in a concrete valley, surrounded on all sided by impassable mountain peaks, with about four hours to kill?” My answer is now swift and decisive: DO NOT eat at SLC International Airport.

SLC airport Utah Cat Cora market food

After briefly pondering Utah’s version of Greek food and a few Mexican options, I settled on a little gem of a place, nestled away in the deepest corner of Terminal B. I believe it was called “Wendy’s”… After perusing the lackluster menu, I ambled to the register and threw down my money for a spicy chicken sandwich. Call it a gut feeling but I don’t think Utah is particularly versed in “spicy”…

While the allegedly super fancy natural-cut fries were uninspiring, to say the least, I found a jewel in the rough in a wonderfully pseudo-dairy dessert called a “Frosty” (yes, I’m being a smartass…I’m tired of being in this damn airport already!!). After discussing the Frosty sizing options with the whip-smart cashier, I settled on a medium. Turning her back for a moment, she promptly returned to the counter with a clear large cup, proudly half-filled. I am not entirely sure what look I gave her but it couldn’t have been good because she promptly informed me that they were out of medium cups so she MacGyvered me a medium.

I vaguely recall laughing and telling her to go ahead and just fill it and make it a large. She blinked twice and reached under the counter to retrieve a half-melted, but completely filled medium Frosty (I am NOT making this up. I would not do that to you). As my patience was about to board my flight without me, I took my melted concoction and made way back for the gate.

My final review? I’m ready for Phoenix and all the tequila and Princess-Leia-bikini-dressed women that it has to throw at me. Bring on Comicon and I’ll see SLC again…in my nightmares, if not sooner…

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Finding Comfort in Sin: Shiitake, Shallot and Sage Macaroni & Cheese with Smoked Gouda

Shiitake, caramelized shallots and sage in smoked gouda cheese sauce with a panko topping

For those of you who follow my Twitter feed, you already know that I inexplicably managed to tear my back up while writing some preliminary notes for my pending novel…the term “pending” being used very loosely… And I wasn’t even writing the GOOD part. With a tentative release date sometime in the early-to-mid(-to-late) 21st century, you just can’t buy that kind of obscure publicity.

And for those of you who do not yet follow me on Twitter, how dare you?? May the shame and public humiliation prompted by my current indignation haunt you through all your remaining days – or at least until you repent and come tweet me a little love. Your choice, as always.

In addition to the incomprehensibly blinding and hysterically unprovoked back pain, I have also spent the past few days reconciling the fact that, after a full week, my “FOCKITALL” movement has yet to effect global social reform. So, yeah… Needless to say, I’m pretty bummed. Who knew that universal paradigm shifts  and global harmonization of all mankind took so damn much work…

However, you and I have been through much together – your insight is unparalleled and I know that you know, straight down to the darkest recesses of your foodie-fueled soul, that my crusade against willfully stupid things that piss me off shall continue, unabated… The only real question born of this crushing temporary agony of spirit and deltoid is, “what the heck am I going to cook when I once again conquer gravity and can craft some serious comfort food from a fully upright position?”

If you are an American, know an American, used to date an American or have ever read a book about an American, you probably know that this is more of a rhetorical question than an actual soul-searching inquiry. Comfort Food = Mac & Cheese.

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Proposition “FOCKITALL” For Social Change (also, Black and White Cookies!!)

New York black and white cookie recipe Manhattan New York City deli

I hail from an age when good triumphed over evil, the concept of “being famous for being famous” would make people sad, and the only polarizing battle between “black” and “white” was waged on an ancient battleground of cookie-liciousness (what, me idealize?).

Far be it from me to allow a bit of harmless introspection to escape my grasp without prompting a verbose pontification of greater implications… As I worked through another day of weaving culinary magic, I began to ponder this apparent devolution of society during my brief lifetime…and came to one conclusion: good and evil may be artificial constructs that can only exist within a vacuum devoid of any degree of context and Paris Hilton will never, ever go away…BUT this black vs white thing is utterly asinine and we ALL need to get the hell over it, like, NOW.

Yes, I get profound when I cook… What, you don’t?

Never one to back down from the opportunity to charge myself with single-handedly spearheading a nationwide campaign for social change, I hereby formally propose a national movement of getting over our intolerant selves and bringing our neolithic asses into the 21st century, once and for all. And we shall do so, my friends, by calling to order the first-ever “Forget Our Counterproductive, Kafkaesque, Intolerant, Tedious Asshattery and Let Live” Day…

Yes, together we can all share in the blame for the past, we can all forgive the person to our left in the present, and we can ALL take that first step toward a better future by standing proud, raising our arms into the winds of change, and emphatically declaring “FOCKITALL” to anybody and everybody who crosses our day. (Warning: you may get punched…a lot. Remember, some people fear change.)

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I’m a Blogger, Dammit – Now, Who the Hell Am I?

Legend has it that Hemingway would do much of his writing while standing up (that’s Ernest, by the way, not Mariel…what she does standing up is none of my concern). Interestingly, I have discovered that I tend to to do the same, albeit often unconsciously. What’s more, nothing puts an old-school kibosh on a freestyle random thought process faster than sitting my taut, muscular backside down in a comfy chair for a spell of focused writing. If true art is born not of misery, at least I can see how it is nurtured along by discomfort.

And so it was this morning as I lost myself in a brief catatonic stasis (yes, another one… no, I do not need to “see someone” about it), standing mid-kitchen, somewhere between an unprepared bowl of oatmeal and the siren song of the coffee pot. I was conscious of my surroundings, yes. I had surveilled the countertop to ensure the ritualistic elements of my morning breakfast routine were at the ready. And yet, I was not “whole.” Oddly, and without warning, my thoughts had retreated inward, yet I recall passively watching my subconscious frolic somewhere out in the middle distance.

Yes, I am pretty sure I was giving myself the thousand-yard-stare. And, as my gaze unlocked with…myself…it’s complicated…after what felt an uneasy eternity, a tiny ember of truth expanded forth with the blinding MichioKakuan force of an over-eager singularity, bursting at its adolescent seams with testosterone and galactic energy…

Morgan Freeman against a backdrop of the universe

An epiphanic event so epic, it was totally narrated by this guy…for free.

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Cinco Words for Cinco de Mayo: “Prickly Pear and Habanero MARGARITA”

frozen drinks prickly pear and habanero margaritas prickly pear cactus fruit, habanero simple syrup, silver tequila and agave nectar

I’ll be the first to admit, I am not the world’s foremost cocktail guru or highfalutin’ “mixologist,” but I certainly do appreciate the creative minefield placed before a person when confronted with a stocked liquor cabinet and endless wealth of fresh complementary ingredients. And you know I live for every opportunity to saddle up and ride roughshod over the creative plains!

metal frog sculptures make an amphibian mariachi band of cheesy tacky lawn ornaments

Órale!

Of course, I’m also smart enough to know when to hedge my bets and I am always respectful of context. And, for those not-insignificant reasons, on this Sunny Cinco I offer you the safety of a margarita – with the inebriated insanity of The Boss.

Sauce Boss Hoss of Sauce frozen drinks prickly pear and habanero margaritas prickly pear cactus fruit, habanero simple syrup, silver tequila and agave nectar

I don’t get “drunk”… I get awesome.

Never content to sidle up to convention, this is not merely a margarita. This is a margarita experience. The way this icy concoction hits the tongue with frigid cold before heating your taste buds with just enough caliente to get your attention is a gastronomic event that even I’m proud of.  And the inspired incorporation of three different derivative cactus flavors into one drink is more than enough to bring a little Mexico north of the border…any border.

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“Hollywood Sucks and I’ll Cook Like I Want To”

“There are no new ideas… Everybody steals everything from everybody else…”

These words, forever burnt into my conscious along with every brush-stroke of subtle nuance with which they were so cavalierly delivered, were spoken long ago by a man that none of us should aspire to be like…that comically smug type of man who will always – always – know better than you.

Honestly, I cannot fathom falling into such a sad resignation of life itself. It is one thing to groan every time we read of another unnecessary Hollywood remake, or throw profanities and tangibles at the TV during yet another rehashed promo, thinly veiled as a new movie and yet not-so-veiled as to hide the fact that it is rehashing something that succeeded once before. For there, we are not lamenting mankind itself but merely the wealthy idiots willing to violently pillage our memories to line their own pockets with a few more crumbs of cash (Yes, F*ck you, Michael Bay. F*ck you twice with the broad side of a rusty garden tool).

Rusty garden rake on lichen-covered stone

Bumblebee will NEVER be a damn Camaro. SAY IT!!

It is another thing entirely to allow oneself to first accept, and then embrace, an emotionally bankrupt lifestyle of justification whereby one’s own lack of ambition or creative inspiration mystically and delusionally becomes “insightful” by application of the “realist” tag.

Make no mistake, creativity is not dead. It is simply difficult. Imagination is rare and becomes rarer still, the further we remove ourselves from our wide-eyed, youthful enthusiasm and clip our own wings because it is so much easier than saying “no, thank you” to the drab, monochromatic establishment…

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Easter Eggs, just like Grandma used to make them

A collaborative effort with the talented Hana over at Nutrition Check to do our small part to keep alive a pretty amazing Old World Easter tradition. Bookmark it NOW and try it next year!! I know I’ll be doing it again…

Easter Eggs, just like Grandma used to make them.

My photos + Hana’s tradition (and her grandma – I can’t take credit for that either) = store-bought egg dye is going DOWN

“Spring Has Sprung… BATTER UP!! (aka, Lemon & Pinot Sorbet)”

Bowl of sorbet, glass of pinot grigio and jelly beans on outdoor table top

Ahhh, springtime…that magical time of year when the earth wipes the gloomy slumber from its eyes and springs back into technicolor life…that fabled time of year when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of one thing:

Marisa Miller, hot Japanese girl and Eva Longoria in baseball uniforms

...BASEBALL!!

The burgeoning emergence of April, arriving on tender shoots of vibrant green glory. Without fail, a wondrous time of year…as the bitter gales of January mature into a balmy breeze that warms both the skin and the soul…as the melting snowfalls of February now water the blooming fields of color…and let’s face it…March just has a really shitty reputation all-around – especially right around the middle…

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“Exposing” Myself, in the Name of Art

As is the affliction of every misguided soul who fancies himself a legitimate writer, I also frequently pretend to be a photographer (two creative outlets you will be thrilled that I pursued in earnest the first time you hear me try to carry a tune)…

But I suppose such unfortunate delusion is to be expected, if not endured. After all, one who derives creative inspiration from life generally does so with every one of their senses.

Granted, just because one can transfer the beauty of a shared moment with friends into a renaissance revival of epic culinary brilliance, or turn an inspired sunrise into a free-flowing prosaic tapestry that draws tears from the eye of the most stoically stone-hearted reader, only to dry those tears on a gentle breeze of poetic affirmation, does not mean they can take a picture for sh#t…

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In a Word, “Brevity.” (Because “Thank You” Would be Two Words)

It has come to my attention that some of my ramblings can be a bit…wordy. Verbose, even. Ok, yes…perhaps, on rare occasion, I have found myself guilty of the unintentional crime of weaving long-winded and loquacious webs of rambling, sometimes redundant and oftentimes rhetorical, vernacular.

Cochinita pibil, lemon, spinach and risoni soup and blood orange margaritas

Although, to be fair, I do give you pretty things to look at and my undying virtual companionship

Orange-Habanero bacon, skirt steak beer marinated fajitas and jamaica hibiscus tea and island rum sorbet

For that particular transgression, however, you will have to blame my passion for the topic. I can assure you that I never start out a new entry with the blow-hard intent to drown my fair, loyal, attractive and, hopefully, manipulable readers in an unyielding wash of crashing verbal rapids.

No, the process always begins innocuously enough…typically, with a diligently crafted ingredient list, its corresponding set of protocols, about 20 minutes of uncontrollable sobbing over a lifetime of regrets – and a good-hearted compulsion to share with you not only the technical details of amazing food, but the playful joy of the journey.

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