Friday, April 30, 2010


Guzzling for gas.

A beautiful day on the 405.

The beauty of In-N-Out.

Double Double - Animal Style.

It's starting to seem like my cruising speed.

Damn that guy in the Aston.

San Diego

Cappuccino at Caffe Calabria

Most weeklies have escort ads, California has medical marijuana.

Naturally moderate.

A cigar in the Gaslamp District.

Cheryl's prototype golf bag

Thunderstorms Across Kentucky

6E - Insight Unlikely

That. Would Be Bad

Final Boarding

If Only In-N-Out Did Breakfast...

$9 Breakfast Pizza - Crazy

Ugh, This Sucks

United Premim LAX

The Returner

As my trip to Southern California winds it's way down, I'm simply not ready to leave. I could stay here for another two weeks. I don't look forward to the journey back home.

The past two weeks here have been quite enlightening and entertaining. I've visited family and friends, reconnected with old friends, resolved a few questions that have been lingering for the past three years, met a ton of new people, found new opportunities and generally got away from my troubles and tribulations.

Being away has lent some perspective. I've watched from afar as a team of baristas forge something truly new and exciting on the East Coast. I've read the reports, reviews and tweets about people's experiences and it's been very exciting. I've tasted new coffees that I'm sure will be winners when they hit our brew bar and we're going to bring some cool stuff to the people back home over the next several weeks.

The past five months have been difficult and challenging and it was good to be away. But as some things change, others stay the same and I'm not very excited about returning to things that remain the same. This trip has been a rediscovery of everything I enjoyed about traveling and being away. In turn, it's been a rediscovery finding myself again and who I want to be.

There's still more to explore and I cringe at the thought of stepping about that aircraft in a few hours for the journey home. Truth be told, I'd rather be away. In many ways, I feel that it's still too early to return. Two weeks were nice but four weeks would be better.

But even for myself, as with most people, responsibility beckons and one must put aside their personal desires in order to remain responsible and rejoin what I consider to be some of the greatest baristas on the planet today.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Japanese Kit Kat

Kit Kat Galore from Japan.

Caffe Calabria

Rosetta Cappuccino

It's morning and I'm slightly groggy. I wasn't expecting to spend the night in San Diego, I feel worked and there's still the two hour drive back to Los Angeles. Dennis and I hit Caffe Calabria for morning coffee and pastries.

One problem with traveling is that it can be quite difficult to find nice coffee spots. Hell, it's difficult to find a nice coffee spot in your own city, much more so when traveling. That's why it's fortuitous to find a place like Calabria where the coffee is quite good and the technique agreeable.

Our Spread: Cappuccino, Macchiato, muffin and almond croissant.

Since my morning excursions to the St. Veronique bakery in Paris' 7th Arrondissement, I've been searching for similar almond croissants. Much like my continuing search for conchas, my search for almond croissants has typically been less than exciting. And while I think we offer a killer almond croissant at Spro Hampden, I don't usually eat them because why eat your own product and, therefore, your own profit?

Which leaves me to sampling almond croissants elsewhere and the almond croissant at Calabria is pretty darn good. Smooth, lightly sweet and very tasty. I think of having another but the thought of trekking down to Mexico for tacos pushes us forward.

Inside the almond croissant.

Roasting chick - very hot.

Thursday Morning Espresso

In the morning, I spy a strange espresso brewer on top of Cheryl's fridge. It's odd and oddly compelling. One where you place hot water in the chamber, lock the portafilter and press the handles down. I think about trying it, but I don't think she has a grinder. I don't even know if she has coffee in the place. Ah, forget it. I'll just go back to Calabria.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stumped in SoCal

In the night I hear them talk,
The coldest story ever told,
Somewhere far along this road he lost his soul,
To a woman so heartless.
How could she be so heartless?

This morning I'm feeling a little stumped.

Last night I was talking with a friend who's known me for many, many years. She knows me very well and has followed my adventures and exploits with equal amounts of amusement, disapproval and disdain. And when I'm in need of a course correction, she's been there to admonish me whether I liked it or not, whether I asked for it or not.

She hit me with some simple science. That for years, she's watched as I've traveled the world and dated different women - always choosing to eject out of the relationship the moment before we got "too close." It's what's she's come to expect of me and how surprised (or not, or maybe impressed) she's been over the past eight months as I tried to forge and maintain a relationship deeper than two inches with someone back home.

Hmmm, I didn't know what to think at first. Did she think I was really that shallow in my previous relationships? I liked all of them. Cared for all of them. I'm still on good terms with all (most) of them. But I had to admit in the end that maybe she was right. Maybe I did keep them all short because I wanted to avoid entanglements.

She noted that it not only was out of character for me to try to have a relationship but to have one with someone at home? Unheard of. Completely out of character. I tried to argue and plead a case that she was wrong, but I couldn't. I hadn't dated anyone at home in years. I guess I hadn't met anyone I found interesting and compelling enough to bother.

Everyone I had dated lived elsewhere, she said. But that wasn't the point. The point was that she was surprised I actually tried and that gave her hope in the world (really?). She's always encouraged me to find someone to be "serious" with and I've always fought her on that request.

In the end, the relationship at home didn't work out. Toss out eight months of my life on that one, I told her. "That's not the point, dumbass," said she. "The point is that you went through it and tried, which leaves you open and ready for the person you were meant to be with.

Hmmm, seems that June can't get here soon enough...

California Love

Puff, puff, pass - do not repeat.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tommy Burger Again

Gerry and the Number One Special.

I'm in Woodland Hills tonight having a very quiet evening with friends. A quiet evening instead of drinking and partying - it's a nice change of pace. I feel like I'm recovering and exploring sobriety for the first time in weeks. Maybe the haze is starting to clear.

We're not doing too much except hanging and wasting time. Part of me is itching to go back to L.A. and find some trouble, the other part is cool with just cruising. After awhile we're hungry and head out to Tommy's Burger.

My Number One Special, with regular fries.

Unlike the last outing to Tommy's, this time I'm actually hungry and eating a burger. It's better than I remember. More flavor, less grease. The Tommy Burger is famous around here. Two beef patties, two slices of cheese, chili, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onions and sauce. It's pretty darn good. Not the best burger in the world, but quite good nonetheless.

Whatever the case, Tommy's has an intense and loyal following here. Add some fries and a Diet Coke and it's a pretty good late night eat.

Christian prepares to eat his Number One Special.

Cruising L.A.

Traffic on the 405 in West L.A.

Sometimes I think L.A. isn't a bad place to live - and then I run into traffic. It's 7:45pm on the 405 North and there's still a backup past Santa Monica Blvd. Unbelievable. I wonder how Angelenos put up with this stuff.

I abhor traffic. It impedes my flow. I can't drive 55. Hell, we're barely doing 25. Sucks.

As I make my way across L.A. to the San Fernando Valley, I reminisce about the old days in SoCal. Back in my paintball days, I used to stay with my cousin in Van Nuys, then make the drive all the way down to Hawthorne. It didn't seem too far back then and, somehow, I don't remember ever running into traffic. From what I recall, the drive was quick and easy. But now it's long and far away. Who knew?

Descending into the San Fernando Valley.

In my movie days, I would stay again in Van Nuys or at friends places in Los Angeles. Those seemed like easy commutes to the studios or supply houses. Now, a trip from Hermosa to Location Sound is quite a haul that needs to be planned accordingly.

I'm considering living in L.A. for the very first time. Possibilities abound here and because of the traffic, I've been considering flats in West Hollywood and surrounding areas. The one house in the Hollywood Hills looked pretty tempting, but at $4,000/mo. I thought it better to pass.

One of the girls out here encouraged me to live in Marina Del Rey, which is quite nice and by the water, but I'm not sure about the commute to WeHo - although she assures me that her commute to Beverly Hills is about fifteen minutes. We'll see.

King's Hawaiian

Hawaiian Sweet Bread French Toast

Years ago, when I used to live in Honolulu, my friends and I used to go to the old King's Bakery Coffee Shop on South King Street. Fond memories of the Hawaiian sweet bread french toast and early morning shop talk.

Today, the old bakery and coffee shop are gone - replaced by the new bakery in Torrance. No more King's in Honolulu. With that in mind, I headed over to the Torrance location in search of french toast and found it just as good as I remembered. How nice it is when you can eat something so comforting without actually having to make it yourself.

Loco Moco Kim Chee Fried Rice

King's Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant
2808 Sepulveda Boulevard
Torrance, CA

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Vibe Between Friends

Carlyn and Seena

Tonight I've found myself back down in Orange County to meet up with Carlyn and Seena - two girls I've known since college years. I'm nearly an hour late because of the heavy traffic leaving L.A. and then going to the wrong location.

It's good to see old friends - especially ones whom I've always been close. The conversation turned as it always does between us to a mix of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, with something about vibrators run amok as they get worn down. Of course, there are some things in life that I try not to understand...


Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms

Fried Octopus

Grilled Beef Tongue

Grilled Pork Belly

Tori Kara Age

The girls ponder

Grilled Squid

Grilled Salmon

Shiso Rolls

Salmon and Yellowtail Nigiri

Hamachi Kara

Rainbow Roll

Green Tea Ice Cream

Not bad...

Kappo Honda
18450 Brookhurst Street
Fountain Valley, CA 92708