Welcome to Brunette à Bicyclettea collection of thoughts, photos, and videos; my digital scrapbook of the people and places I’ve come to love, wherever I happen to be (currently, that’s Washington, DC).
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Category Archives: California
Don’t let it’s less-than-photogenic appearance dissuade you. This stuff is seriously good. Tomatoes aren’t something I generally associate with Vietnamese food, but now I’ve officially given up on trying to pin down this cuisine. What do I know? Continue reading
My mother and I are kindred spirits. When I come back to California for a visit, she always has a new restaurant or cafe she wants to try. In addition to the running list I know she has in her head, she usually has some newspaper and magazine clippings and reviews set aside, waiting for the first excuse to try them out. I understand the urge sine I too have these lists, and I am always happy to oblige. Cut from the same cloth, she and I.
This week, she suggested a “new fish place” she’d heard about. We’ve been disappointed by new openings in this area in the past, including a deafeningly loud wine bar whose ingredients needed a serious quality boost. But Slapfish (19696 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, CA 92648. Open daily.) is nothing of the sort, and an example of what I hope is a growing trend toward fresh, considered, sustainable eating in Orange County. Continue reading
Back in Southern California to visit family, I was reminded of how spoiled we are in this part of the country. The climate is ideal, with an abundance of herbs and fresh produce all year long. As we walked through the farmers’ market, Z remarked that Washington DC just doesn’t come close in terms of price or variety. Despite the incredible stone fruit in summer and the incomparably crisp and juicy apples we get in the fall, I have to agree with him. It’s hard not to get a little homesick for amazing avocadoes, meaty artichokes and the fresh cusine that California is so famous for. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I was standing in the perfect DC apartment. Impeccably well-maintained and at the bottom of our budget, it had everything we were looking for — hardwood, outdoor space, nice square-footage, tons of storage, right next to a bikeshare stop … The agent had already taken me there once, and we were back so Z could take a look. There were no applications in before us. In fact, we were the first prospective renters to even see the place. We were shoo-ins. And, Z and the real estate agent stared at me in disbelief as I turned it down.
My home, wherever it is and whatever form it takes, borders on sacred. I’d like to think I’m fairly adaptable generally, but on this point, I don’t budge. Call it basic, but I need to have a place, however small, that I can draw a mental line around and say “mine.” I think putting your whole life into boxes, bags, and suitcases over and over does this to a person. The uncertainty of apartment hunting is always stressful and down-to-the-wire, but I know when I’ve found something that I’m going to love (or not), and have trouble going against my gut. Continue reading
I usually come back to Southern California, where I grew up, to visit my family during the holidays. While most people are at the mall frantically shopping for gifts for everyone on their list, you can find me at the various restaurants and grocery stores, eating my way through California Mexican and Vietnamese food and stocking up on everything I can’t get in Paris. Every time I come back, I’m reminded of all the things I will always love and miss about this area of the US.
Now, the Mexican and Vietnamese dining scene here has been meticuously documented, and there are tons of great sites to get you started if you’re hungry and in the area. I’m not going to try to compete with their exhaustive and impressive efforts. Instead, I’ve included some at the bottom of this post and I’d like to take you on one of my typical shopping/eating trips for necessities. Continue reading
When I think of Christmas with my family a few things come to mind: Unpacking my mother’s dishes with the little trees for their once-a-year appearance. Croissants and sausage and egg casserole on Christmas morning. Opening stockings before the rest of the family arrives. My grandmothers trying to save all the wrapping paper from their gifts (“But, it’s so pretty!”). And, the bûche de Noël. It’s a Christmas fixture at my family’s table, a tradition that my grandmother brought over from France and one that I’ve carried with me from sunny California to freezing Beijing. Continue reading