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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Going Strawless In Hollywood! You Can Do It.

Okay, this post isn't exactly about surfing and food, but it kind of is. Because, well, yes, there is indeed a picture of a cheeseburger, animal-style, from In-n-Out, and I know that's distracting you, but this post is about something else in the photo.

No, not the fries either. It's the drink. Note that there is no plastic lid, and no plastic straw with my drink order this time. Here, see?

I have to confess that I used to instinctively reach for a lid and straw when at In-n-Out and places like it. Why not? They're right there, and they're free, right?

Well, actually they may be free but there is a cost to all these straws floating around. It's an environmental cost. All those plastic straws...millions of them...billions most likely...all those straws are one of the biggest sources of plastic pollution in oceans the world over. Not only do they never biodegrade, they also injure, maim and often kill ocean wildlife. I don't want to get overly preachy, but seriously, people, how often do you actually need that straw, and the plastic lid that goes with it?  Okay, I'm good with straw use if you have a medical reason, or you're like four years old, but there are good solutions there too -- there are reusable straws made of steel, as well as paper ones like the straws they used at the Rincon Brewing Company up in Carpinteria.

Well, you might say, I need it in the car, so I don't spill.  Well, lookie here! 

I drove all the way from the In-n-Out in Hollywood toward home, and because the cup fits nicely in my cup-holder, not one drop was spilled. Okay, if you made an emergency stop, maybe you'd get spillage, but I've had that happen even with those lids. 

So as somebody who enjoys the ocean whenever possible, I'm asking anybody and everybody who may see this to just think about those plastic straws? Do ya really need it?  Really?  If you don't, why not pass on it. The oceans, and all the creatures that swim around in them will thank you.

If you want to learn more about plastic straws and ocean pollution just google Plastic Straw Ban. There's tons of information out there.  

Okay and thanks for letting me get a little preachy.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

World Oceans Day? Here's One Way To Help. And It's Delicious!

It was World Oceans Day last Thursday, and though I didn't get a chance to swim or surf, whenever I am in the water or on the beach, I try to do what I can to help. For instance on my way to the showers after a surf, if I see a piece of garbage on the beach I'll pick it up and toss it in a proper bin. I do this even in the ocean. Not too long ago, the nephew (my former surf caddy...he got a job, damn it!) and I paddled out in Santa Monica, and for some reason there was a lot of trash in the water, which, luckily, is not often the case. I'll usually grab any piece of plastic or trash that I can reach, and I tuck it into the arm of my wetsuit. Then, later, again it gets properly disposed.

I encourage everybody to do what they can to help the oceans of the world. There's many ways to do this, but one of the biggest is use less plastic. Do you really need a plastic straw? No, probably you don't. Can you bring reusable bags to the market? Of course you can. There's numerous ways to cut down on plastic, but there are other ways to help too, and one of the biggest? Eat less meat. A plant-based diet is much easier not just on oceans, but on the environment as a whole. Now, we are not vegans, but we eat vegetarian and sometimes vegan several times a week. Okay, you might say, but eating this way is just not delicious. Well, take a look at this burger from Impossible Foods, that was recently scarfed down at Umami Burger!

Impossible Foods, which is based up in the Bay Area, seems to have done the impossible. They've created a plant-based burger that is so close to looking and tasting like meat you'd almost not know the difference. I've tried the vegan burger at Veggie Grill, from Beyond Burger, and although that one is good, the Impossible Burger beats it hands down.This burger was insanely delicious, and although I could eat In-n-Out every day of the week, I could do the same with the Impossible Burger.

So if you want to eat something delicious and help the world, try it. Here in Los Angeles, you can also find it at the excellent vegan restaurant Crossroads Kitchen, but I think it's only on the menu at lunch, and late night at the bar.

Here's more info:

Friday, May 5, 2017

Sharing The Stoke. In Surf And Food. Like Pink's!

They say that sharing the stoke -- introducing surfing to somebody new to it -- is a great thing, and I'm here to tell you that it's true. Recently our nephew Bart graduated from college and decided to move west to pursue career options in California (never a bad idea!). Although he grew up near the ocean in Maine, he was always more into sports like hockey, skiing and lacrosse (plus there isn't really a huge surf culture in Maine, although you can, of course, surf off its coast). Anyway, we spend a lot of time at the beach and I, of course, continue my kooky surf odyssey any chance I get, so when Bart expressed an interest in surfing I put him together with my former instructor, and soon he was bitten by the bug. This is not uncommon. Now he has the essentials -- a board, a wetsuit, a buddy a short drive south of her who surfs extremely well, and an Uncle who's willing to paddle out any chance he can get.  It's a joy watching a person take a shine to something you love, and I'm sure that soon (if not already) Bart will be surfing way, way better than his lame uncle.

Speaking of joy, a quick side note: I recently had the honor of volunteering for a wonderful organization that shares the stoke with special needs children. It's called A Walk On Water, and what these intrepid surfers do is paddle out with kids who most likely would never get a chance to get on a board. They get the kids up and surfing like pros. I spent the day on the beach at Malibu during the most recent event, assisting wherever needed, and I have to say seeing the smiles on those kids' faces was unforgettable (another side note: got to meet surf dog Haole, a surfing retriever, seriously, the coolest dog you will ever see!) Anyway, can't wait to volunteer for this amazing group again.

Meanwhile, you can't talk about surfing without talking about food. Well, maybe you can, but I can't, and with Bart still learning the ins and outs of Los Angeles, there's also much to teach in terms of what to eat after a surf (or just whenever). In fact he's already working on a super-long list of must-tries. Near the top of the list, of course, is Pink's, the original on La Brea, where's it has stood since 1939! After our most recent paddle-out, we headed to Pink's and here was a nice light (haha...just kidding) lunch.

The chili-cheese dogs are a must-try in my book, but I also went for another classic combo from my New York days, just mustard and kraut, while Bart sampled a Lord of the Rings dog because it has some of Pink's excellent onion rings on top. So Pink's is crossed off the list. What will be next?!

Here's some useful info, not just about Pink's but also A Walk On Water and Haole:

Friday, February 3, 2017

B-Day Waves. Plus A Vegan Lunch at Santa Monica's Erven.

Winter swells (and lots of winter rains -- a very good thing for California) have been keeping me out of the water the last couple of weeks. It's not just that heavy storms have a tendency to stir up a lot of junk, much of which is best avoided for a couple of days, but also the swells that accompany these storms are just too big for this Kook. Yes, still. I will remain, probably always, mellow day surfer, and I'm good with that. So what do you do when you can't get in the ocean? Well those same storms brought a lot of snow, so you head to the mountains, and you ski. I hit up the very old-school Mt. Baldy, which is barely an hour from LA, this past weekend.  Conditions were just awesome -- the best on Baldy in years.  Maybe the best I've experienced there ever.  The only drawback?  Huge crowds!  So lesson learned: hitting Baldy is only for sneaking off on a weekday after big snows. Otherwise there's just too many people.

But I keep my eye on the surf reports daily, eagerly searching for those conditions that are in my sweet spot and, lucky for me, some nice conditions popped up. On my birthday! It was one of those days, though, where I got to the beach, and things were a little different than the Surfline report. Yeah, it was pretty mellow but every once in a while, a bigger set would roll through. I paddled out anyway, sat out the bigger ones, and had some fun trying to go after the smaller ones.  After getting out of the water I was, of course, hungry. Since I knew the b-day dinner was going to be not exactly healthy (we were going for French bistro fare), something lighter was called for. I'd been reading a lot about the recently opened Erven (for chef Nick Erven) in Santa Monica. The restaurant is Vegan and I like to eat Vegan as often as possible, especially for breakfast and lunch, so that's where I landed, and I had the delicious sandwich you see here--

Tucked inside the excellent bun was shaved squash, Thai basil, golden raisins and some kind of creamy sauce, made with some kind of nuts certainly. Those blue corn tortilla chips came on the side and to drink I had a fresh juice made of carrots, ginger, turmeric, fennel, orange and apple. Can't get much healthier than that, huh? The juice was amazingly delicious too, though. Here's the thing about eating like this at lunchtime. You eat a lot, but you feel great after, not bloated or weighed down in any way. Also, it's good for the planet. I will return to Erven and try a bunch of other stuff because everything looked great.  

Here's more info. about Erven.  Go!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Two Paddle Pomerance Strikes Again. Plus the Nomad Truck!

It happened again. I had a nice (at least I for me) surf session, and I was sitting in my car looking at emails and stuff, and this dude comes up to the car, and he says, "Hey, can I offer a piece of advice?"

"Okay, yeah, sure, but I know what you're gonna say," I answered.  "I get up too soon. It's kind of my Achilles Heel."

"Yep," he said.  "I was watching you. Two paddles more is all you need."

I thanked him for the pointer, even though I've heard it before. Two paddles more! It's become my mantra, and what you can call me if you see me out there (although here's another quick tip that I recently came across, also a new thing I repeat in my head -- when you're trying to catch a wave, it's all about speed and momentum. I should know this by now, of course, but I still have the tendency to not paddle hard enough to pick up enough speed as the wave comes. So I'm repeating these words a lot too: speed and momentum).

As always, two paddles or no, an after-session lunch was required. I had been hearing much lately about Daniel Humm, of New York's Nomad, coming to Los Angeles. Well, his new restaurant is coming and will be downtown. For now a Nomad Truck is cruising the streets of LA, and one of items I'd been hearing about from the menu is this hot dog you see here:

It's called the Humm Dog, and it's been available back east. For sure, it's not your ordinary hot dog. It's off the charts! Seriously. It's a bacon-wrapped dog -- sort of a tribute to those ones you pick up late at night after a concert or something -- topped with a celery relish, and on the bottom a truffle-flecked mayonnaise. The bun is one you usually associate with a lobster roll -- it's split on top, then each side is grilled, so it's browned, crisp and insanely delicious (clearly there is butter involved. Lots of butter). If you like hot dogs, go and get one ASAP.  Oh, the fries are excellent too.  Here, look--

So that's it. Two Paddle Pomerance will get back to the waves, and you should check out Daniel Humm's Nomad Truck. And stay tuned for the opening of the restaurant.

You can follow the Nomad truck on Twitter to find out where they are. Do it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My Very Own Surfer Girl. Plus Wings At Gus's on Crenshaw.

Not sure I'd ever say this, but I have a surfer girl. Not like a surfer girlfriend or anything like that, of course, but a girl who surfs who I sometimes hang out out with and chat with. Like the other day, I paddled out on a pretty mellow day, and there was my Surfer Girl friend already perched on her board in the line-up. I've been seeing her around for a couple of years, and we'd often get to talking. What defines her as a surfer girl, in my mind? Well, she seems to spend every minute she can in the water or at the beach. She's got sun-kissed bleachy hair and the vibe of somebody who maybe partakes of a little cannabis (although maybe not -- I know she's got a couple of kids).  She's a really great surfer, and I think she gives swimming lessons too.  Anyway, she was out there that day and we got to talking. She watched me paddle into a couple of waves, and actually catch some, and she said she was stoked at the amount of improvement she was seeing since the last time she saw me.

Then, of course, maybe I got overly confident but I totally nose-dived off a wave and ate foam.  Surfer Girl, watching me, pointed out exactly what I did wrong -- when I caught the wave and started to pop up, my hands were way too far forward on the board.  They have to be back at your side -- like those chicken wings I've talked about before.

The mention of chicken wings, of course, made me hungry, and since I'd been meaning to try Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken since it popped up at the corner of Pico and Crenshaw, I stopped on the way home and got the little lunch you see here:

This was the three wing plate (but for some reason they gave me four...not complaining!), with really nice creamy cole slaw, and I swapped out greens for beans because I love collards, and these were smoky and delicious too.

Gus's is a small chain that began many years ago in Tennessee and has slowly been expanding. I love wings -- if I make fried chicken I go for the wings. If I'm out somewhere and can order them, I do. These wings were really superb. Crispy but meaty, with a little spice but not too hot.  Definitely worth a return visit.  Get to Gus's if you like fried chicken (and even if you don't you could make a meal of the amazing sides!).

More info. on Gus's here:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Look The Part. Plus Another Vegan Burger...This One With A French Laundry Connection!

For the second time in a matter of months, I've been mistaken for somebody who knows what he's doing on a surfboard. No joke. The first time I was headed to the water in my wetsuit, board under my arm. I was almost at the shoreline and a couple was seated there in the sand. The girl looked up at me and said, "Are you our surfing teacher?"
     "Huh?" I answered.
     "We're waiting for our surfing teacher," said the girl. "I thought you might be him."
     Well, needless to say, I set her straight. Later, I texted this incident to a real surfing teacher, the one who did his best with me for a really long time.  He got a good chuckle out of it, for sure

Then, just the other day, I was out again. It was a pretty mellow morning surf on some pretty small waves, so a good day for me. There was a long time between sets and so lots of downtime. At one point this girl on a board nearby said something that sort of made me laugh.  "I'm just going to watch you," she said.
     "Really?" I answered.  "Why?"
     "Well, because you kind of look like you know what you're doing."

So I set her straight too. I can sometimes look like I know what I'm doing, and sometimes, if everything comes together right, I can even impress myself, but most of the times I'm still in the Kook category.

Knowing what one is doing is good thing, both on a surfboard and in the kitchen. One chef who way  more than knows what he's doing is Timothy Hollingsworth, whose career I've been following for a while. Hollingsworth (who also surfs, btw!) was for many years Chef de Cuisine at the French Laundry in Yountville, and he may even have been there when we were lucky enough to be chosen as guests to attend a meal at the French Laundry by a dear friend. This was a multi-course menu, complete with different wines for each course.  It started around lunch time and we all rolled out of there several hours later. In short, that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and anybody interested in cooking or food should definitely make a journey to Yountville, if you ask me. But back to Chef Timothy. He's now in LA, with two restaurants under his belt -- the barbecue-oriented Barrel and Ashes in Studio City, and Otium, downtown next to the Broad Museum. I haven't gotten to Barrel and Ashes yet, and we're reserving Otium for a special occasion like an anniversary or a birthday, so I was happy to hear that Chef Timothy was doing a partnership with Burgerlords, which is a really awesome little burger spot in Chinatown. I've had both their regular cheeseburger, and the Vegan version.  Burgerlords has begun doing monthly partnerships with chefs around town, available I believe on Mondays only, and Chef Timothy was the first.  He created two burgers, one featuring eel, and a Vegan burger that included shaved carrots, carrot top pipian (kind of like a mole), avocado spread and habanero pickled onions, which you see here, along with that heaping mess of crisp, delicious fries. I chose it because I like to eat vegetarian or vegan when I can, and it was a great combination -- it totally satisfied, and I didn't miss the meat at all.

So keep an eye on these guys. I, for one, can't wait to see who they'll collaborate with next.  More on Burgerlords here--