since i'd taken off work anyhow, i spent the afternoon of my birthday having my first session ever with a personal trainer. we reviewed pretty much everything about my [fantastic] diet & [equally fantastic] self-motivation, & then i was measured. my scale at home says my body fat is 19%, but his calipers put me at more like 12.5%. okay?! now that i've grown accustomed to exercising & have learned some practical limits, i can start towards the true primary goal: to strengthen my erector spinae (the long muscle groups on either side of my silly twisted spine) so i don't end up in the hospital again. i'd also like to maybe MAYBE get some tone/definition in my upper body & torso. if i can accomplish that, then i'm happy maintaining 104.
thanks to thanksgiving being all early in the month, my birthday party's not happening until next weekend; since i know what my present is, i consented to wait on that, too. pleased with my dietary success & not wanting to ruin it, i was extra glad that joe found the perfect place to take me for dinner: seastar. he told me not to even LOOK at prices (which basically makes me do this), & said he'd split anything i wanted, which is pretty much my favorite thing to do in a restaurant.
we made four small courses of it, after sharing three house-made soft rolls with rye:
shigoku are my new favorite oysters. the lobster must've been butter-poached, it was so delicious, but those mussels stole the show. it tasted like they were pulled from the water all of four minutes before being served to us. the edamame was a nice touch, a lovely firm texture where other beans would've been too soft. joe loved the ceviche, but i was blown away by the crab cakes. i almost never order them because i'm generally anti-frying, but these weren't overdone or greasy. with large chunks of crab, only enough breadcrumb to hold them together, & a light coating of panko, they were just what crab cakes SHOULD be - superb. the beurre blanc was perfect with them, sweet & tangy & just right to cut the richness.
after a meal like that, it was only right to turn our four petite courses into seven with the seastar dessert trio - three miniature samplings of their regular desserts:
i'm a sucker for an apple crisp, & this one was delightful, served with a tablespoon-sized round scoop of melting ice cream. the sweet cinnamon streusel was balanced expertly with the tart apples & dried cranberries. i was surprised by the coconut cream pie, built tall from a 2" graham cracker shell - smooth & flavorful, with thin crispy coconut pieces on top which were great fun to chew. i apparently have bad luck with molten cakes, as there was again no lava, but it was delicious nonetheless. i was given more than half of that one as it was so decadent it immediately spurred joe's sneezy chocolate allergy. they brought us each a tiny coconut cookie with the check (which joe didn't let me see), & we left very happy.
after dinner, we played castlevania SotN until i went to bed, then joe did all our dishes & took out the trash. :D :D
we went light at potluck thanksgiving at our friends' place - i made my fancy cranberry sauce as orange-cinnamon this year instead of blue-cran, as the blueberries didn't look great & i didn't need five pounds in the freezer - & saved the real indulgence for spur's tasting menu the day after thanksgiving. i'd been planning this for a month, & we brought several friends with us, as it was definitely an event to celebrate. the menu gave a choice for each course; joe & i ordered one of each & split everything ^_^. with a couple of extras, this made the meal 18 even tinier courses, all of which i will gladly detail for you now!
spur's 8 course tasting menu:
sockeye salmon crostini, mascarpone, capers, pickled shallot
the sockeye was impossibly soft & buttery, met so well by the acidity of the shallots.
smoked pork rillette, persimmon, pistachio, warm baguette
beet salad, cheese butter cream, flaxseed, frisée, mustard
they served the rillette in a short mason jar which smoked when opened, & i loved the persimmon gelée. i was concerned about the cheese butter cream since i dislike nearly all cheeses, but i should know by now that spur would never lead me astray - it was amazing. apparently it's made by putting butter cream in a sharp cheese rind & working it that way; it was tangy & smooth & not at all offensive in the way i find most cheese.
baby artichokes, arugula, smoked yogurt, pine nut crisp
chicory salad, candied pecans, blue cheese, sorrel
we'd had something similar to the smoked yogurt in spur's summer tomato salad, & it was again a delight. the chicory salad (radicchio) was fresh & bright, & the crispy pecans were just right.
veal sweetbreads, heirloom squash, local cranberries, black kale, dehydrated pumpkin seeds
venison tartare, smoked beet, pickled quail egg, tarragon, crostini
the squash was done two ways, as a purée & as whole cubes. a full bite with the sweetbreads, squash, half a cranberry & a bit of kale together was especially outstanding. (i'd hope anyone reading my lj knows that sweetbreads aren't bread.) the venison tartare was a brand new experience, & briefly made me wonder why we ever cook venison (until i remembered that cooked venison is delicious, too). done in spur's traditional-on-its-head style, the pickled quail egg still had a soft yolk to top the deep red tartare.
goat cheese gnudi, baby carrots, chard, brown butter
tagliatelle, duck egg, oyster mushrooms, pine nuts
the gnudi gave me momentary pause too, but i trusted spur & was rewarded. it burst wonderfully, & was so soft & delicate. i specifically dislike goat cheese, but it didn't even taste of cheese - just of wonder & joy. there was a duck egg yolk to pop on the fresh tagliatelle, which was perfectly cooked & glorious with the oyster mushrooms.
black cod, matsutake mushrooms, turnip, ciopollini onion
slow cooked pork cheeks, beer onion purée, crispy spatzle, apple mostarda
i'd been wanting to try black cod - i've eaten many varieties of cod, true & otherwise, but i've only seen black cod show up recently & at higher prices. it was served with a millimeter-thin dehydrated mushroom slice on top. as promised, the cod was oily & richer than most, & the subtle flavors chosen by spur complemented it well. we'd also had pork cheeks at our last spur visit, & they were just as sensational this time, with a totally different array of accompaniments. they'd julianned the green apple, & the mostarda shock of it went BANG!
mad hatcher chicken, pear, winter chanterelles, watercress
wagyu sirloin, celery root purée, leek, radish
pear & chicken is a new favorite, & gave me great ideas for cooking at home. i wouldn't normally choose a chicken dish at a restaurant, but fuck, spur did it again. this is how chicken SHOULD ALWAYS be treated. it was ridiculously juicy & tender, the thin bit of skin not greasy, & there was also a potato purée piped into a fragile potato crisp tube. amazing. the sirloin showed me why wagyu is so appreciated: served medium-rare, it was so richly marbled that every bite was melty & awesome. it barely needed to be chewed! i'm a big fan of celery root purée, & the red wine sauce reminded me of the fantastic bordelaise we'd had on valentine's day.
daily ice cream with playful accompaniments:
coffee ice cream, maple pecan praline, orange meringue chips
daily sorbet with playful accompaniments:
quince sorbet, vanilla sponge cake, vanilla powder, sorrel
the coffee ice cream was another BANG of the meal. it was light, almost an ice milk, & showed multiple complexities of flavor as it melted on the tongue. the crunchy ground praline was perfect to match it. i especially liked the quince sorbet, with cubes of quince throughout, & it was very pretty & beachy sitting on the vanilla sand, surrounded by very organically-torn sponge cake. (it was supposed to be a green apple sorbet, but they ran out - & i didn't miss it at all!)
butternut squash custard, chocolate sorbet, crystallized orange zest granita
quince terrine, mascarpone ice cream, sage-rosemary caramel
poached pear, maple yogurt, burnt cinnamon sponge cake
the last course had three choices, but since we'd brought friends, we were able to try all three. the squash custard was a great surprise, thick & sweet, toned down by the sorbet & granita. there were chunks of crisp graham crackery crust as well, providing plenty of texture. spur could easily jar that sage-rosemary caramel sauce, which beautifully highlighted the quince terrine & mascarpone ice cream. we'd initially decided against the poached pear, but were VERY happy to get to try it after all - my favorite part was the crunchy cinnamon dust beneath another attractively-torn serving of sponge.
as expected, it was exceptional. i was told they're changing up some items on their menu soon, so another trip to spur will be in order in the coming months!
moving from dinners to dessert, i was able to track down the most amazing ice cream bar from china! first off, the company name is GUIZHOUBINHUISHANGMAOYOUXIANGONGSI. okay! the translation is pretty hilarious & i'm sure is less than completely accurate, but here's the info i found:
Name: music IS HEREBY classic clever clever brittle stick
Details: Fragrant chocolate crispy, creamy vanilla ice cream, injection mixed with Ovaltine shortbread chocolate bars, each layer of blooming sweet taste and wonderful taste layers of delicious, mouth, surprise, a lot of enjoyment, is a classic the clever brittle stick, you choose the classic!
my classic clever clever brittle stick DID have wonderful taste layers of delicious! i completely agree. i also found this page which lists a different title:
Erie clever music IS HEREBY brittle ice cream classic clever stick heat and anti-obesity
anti-obesity ice cream sounds legit. this second site lists the ingredients, which include drinking water, chocolate crispy edible vegetable oil, edible salt, & food flavor. yum, i love food flavor!
the company makes a blueberry version i SO would've bought, but i only saw raspberry-coffee aside from the pineapple one i tried for round two. FUCK, I NEED AN IMPORTER. (actually, it doesn't look so good on the inside, so i guess i chose wisely after all?)
& in conclusion, here's a... red carpet photo-op with the ice cream people. they live the life of royalty, man.
okay, on to jewelry.
polychrōmos - http://stretched.livejournal.com/5648728.html:
i really liked GWS's silver polychrome chain mail plugs when they first came out, but promptly forgot about them. fortunately, someone posted a question about the 1" pairs, which alerted me that the style has been discontinued. i found one pair left in 3/4", & after a minute of debate, i went for it.
BAF no longer takes photos of individual pairs in situations like this, so it's always a bit concerning as to what will arrive. (& there's a time sensitivity to asking about stock, plus i didn't want anyone else to notice that this was the last chance to buy them, heh.) after ordering, i found a photo on the forums:
since i'd seen nothing more about this style since they first came out, i figured it was likely BAF only received those two pairs, & mine would be one of them. most people in the thread put the right pair as superior, & i agreed... & thus i expected the left, muted pair to arrive.
but when i opened the package, i was pleasantly surprised to find the brighter pair!
using the flash shows the background's metallic shimmer:
for the match, i wanted a larger flare than the clear glass plugs i had laying around, so i painted over the 4ga mirror plug i had left from this set. the shininess of the design begged nailpolish for the background, which i applied & blended. i actually made a stamp from 40g wire & used it to draw tiny links, but it ended up looking too much like diamondplate - oddly enough, the other style this plug was made in. so i went with my backup plan to use actual chain links on top of the painted background:
i was going to do rows as well as columns, but trying that overpowered the background & actually made it look less of a match. so it's got some artistic license, but i'm quite happy with how it came out! here are the in-ears:
i'm still not sure how it happened, what with the other big buyers who wanted this pair, but i'm glad they're in my collection now. :) enjoy.
& i did this: