Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer Libation Series: The Pimm's Cup

This drink is courtesy of my brothers who have been relentlessly plugging its hip variation, the Square Cup (w/ Square 1 Cucumber Vodka) . Although the Square Cup is available exclusively on the menu at Varnish (Downtown LA), I had it for the first time at Alembic on Haight St. (San Francisco).

For a cool summer cocktail with a hint of cucumber, serve these easy drinks at you're next summer outing and watch their eyes light up in amazement.

Fill a tall 12 oz glass with ice and add 1 1/4 oz. Pimm's #1 and 3 oz lemonade.
Then top off with 7up.
Garnish with cucumber.

*I like to muddle a few slices of cucumber at the bottom for extra flavor.

Rule #39

Spontaneously buy a round of drinks for your friends at least once in your life.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

BzaThoughts: College

Rare occasions warrant a post that I consider personal. If you've read carefully through the years then you could infer about as much about my personal life as I care to share. But graduating college is a unique time for most of us to reflect on. What makes this time particularly different from all other "milestone" achievements in our lives is that we've all taken such different paths and had unique experiences down the nebulous road to adulthood. And although graduating college isn't necessarily a prerequisite to maturity, it certainly is a push in the right direction. (I think of it as analogous to standing at the edge of a train platform or a balcony high above ground, and then having some one grab your shoulders from behind to scare you). There are also those of us who have taken the scenic route to adulthood-- the more of experiential learners-- and those who might never choose to take the "college" route at all. So, for today I'll make an exception and not so much share with you about myself as express my sincere gratitude for the past four improbable and fortunate years I've spent in college.

Just before I moved to New York my long-time trainer and friend, who was a native New Yorker, passed on some valuable advice. He told me that "New York City is a place where something is happening every minute of everyday. Anyone can pretend to be important and busy with something, but choosing what you make yourself busy with will be the toughest part." I immediately thought he was referring to drugs or getting involved with the wrong crowd. I remembered what he told me and have began to see that he meant so much more by it than I once perceived.

I used to believe this was a city where people came to change, whether they liked it or not, and whether it was for better or worse. For the most part this has been true for the close friends I've kept during my time here. After all, I've certainly changed. The people around me have changed too. We sometimes felt a little smarter, a little more hopeful or determined. At other times we were tempered by harsh realities and realized that we were neither of the above. But those times taught us the most about each other and the type of friends and people we actually are.

By no means is this idea "New York-centric". I think anyone between the ages of 18 and 25 regardless of geographic location is going to change in some way or another. At least they should hope they do . But all too often we use the idea of this inevitable tendency towards developing our "self identities" and try to force ourselves (desperately,) unnaturally into something far from it. Consequently those people forget those around them. College has taught me one important lesson, perhaps the only important lesson or Rule of the Game that matters at this age.

"self-discovery" is overrated.

As I've been surrounded by people with such diverse backgrounds and stories and perspectives, if all I learned in college was about myself then I would have considered this time wasted. Learning people and how to appreciate them for the things that make them honest, humble and sincere is a lesson I will carry far beyond my time in this city and this part of my life.

The process of finding one's "self" is inherently selfish and frankly a naive concept. Because you can't see who you are by yourself- without knowing who and what you are not. I'm not talking about the way people dress or the music in their iPods or what they order to drink at the bar... or even if they are at the bar at all! I'm referring to the kindness, tolerance and consideration that all too often escapes us as we struggle to "find" ourselves in college.

As my days in New York City are numbered, I am fortunate to have spent time surrounded by people who have understood these indispensable tenets too. And as I look forward to what I hope will be a promising start to my post-graduate career in Washington DC, I remember the advice a great man gave me who made his career in the nation's capitol:

"Think hard. Choose wisely. Feel deeply. Build positive relationships with the people around you. And never stop thinking of the future"

Whenever I have to move or leave a place for a long time I make sure to remind people that "I never forget a friend" and that I mean it in all sincerity. I say this because, as I've elaborated earlier, people change-- and that's okay. But as long as those people and you (because I consider the followers of my blog my friends) know that, then we can bypass the social norm of "growing apart". We'll pick up right where we left off and share stories, have a drink or share a meal. But until then...

Thanks everyone.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Who The...?

I'm a huge Anthony Bourdain fan. Tony and I go way back (See Rule #1). Occasionally, when I get the chance to watch something other than a two-minute pod on Current TV or an ever-inspiring Billy May's sales pitch, I try to catch the latest episode of his show on the Travel Channel.

But it seems another globetrotting culinary journalist has made his way onto TTC in recent months. His name is Andrew Zimmerman. And he eats weird food. That about sums up his show in 10 words. The first time I tuned in I was curious to see where he could go with this show and how he would distinguish himself from Bourdain. Needless to say I was very disappointed... I'll even go as far to say I was annoyed and at some points offended! He spends a majority of the time on screen qualifying himself as "Mr. Adventure" by eating anything put in front of him. Next he'll explain just how disgusting a dish is before wincing like a toddler eating broccoli. All this while the poor guy who makes a living by preparing this delicacy and preserving his culture stares and smiles while Zimmerman tells America how "bizarre" this food is.

It seems I'm not the only one who feels this way and upon further reading I found that Food Network's Tyler Florence called Zimmerman out for the same reasons. Zimmerman gets paid to go to the middle of nowhere to eat weird stuff. Other than exaggerate how odd any dish may be, he has nothing interesting or meaningful to say about it. On the contrary you have Tony Bourdain who travels and may come across some equally exotic dishes but rather than picking at it and making childish faces he will respect it, describe it and move on.

On that note, I'll keep this rant to a minimum and stop here. And in the way of my favorite Travel Channel star I'll gracefully move on.. I wish I could tell Zimmerman to keep doing what he does best and hope that he stays on the air but I have no clue what it is, exactly that he does. So I guess I'll just give him a virtual pat on the back and hope that the next animal genitalia he consumes is tastier than the previous.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Rule #38

It's simple math. 24>23.