January 31, 2009

Bar Bites at Bar Pintxo

T and I love this tiny tapas place just off of Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. And when I say "tiny" I truly mean tiny: Bar Pintxo only fits about 30 people and is just a stone's throw away from the super touristy 3rd Street Promenade, so needless to say the place fills up fast. Which is why we tend to stop by before the dinner crowds descend, usually on a week night or around mid-afternoon on the weekends.

Our go-to order every time we come is the crimini mushroom with jamon and diced vegetables for him and I die for the tuna stuffed tomato with garlic and parsley (both of which are ironically not pictured here. Sorry!). Today we tried the mouthwatering "gambas al ajillo" (white shrimp, garlic, parsley and lemon) and "espinacas a la catalana" (wilted spinich with pinenuts, garlic, apple and raisins), and paella with squid ink whose name I don't remember since T ordered it on the sly.

And when I saw "patatas bravas" on the menu, I knew I had to order it, if only to satiate my curiosity about the dish that emanates all the way back from my high school Spanish class days. They also have an extensive list of Spanish wines which, if you don't know wine, and even if you DO, can nevertheless be a debilitating experience. Which is why I tend to tell the waitress whatever I'm in the mood for that day (which can be anything from full-bodied and hearty to something a bit fruitier with a hint of blackcurrant and plum--the latter is what I requested this afternoon, almost verbatim!) and she'll bring me back something so flavorful and perfect that I've come to just trust the system and no longer bother with the menu anymore. And yes, everything is as delicious as it sounds.

One of the reasons I adore this place, apart from the scrumptious food, is the old world ambiance. Each time I step over the threshold I feel as if I just entered a cool, off-the-beaten-path bar in the middle of Barcelona or Madrid. The dusty wine bottles lining shelves on the wall, the elegant chandelier dangling overhead, the chalkboards featuring the day's specials in Spanish, all of this lends a very down-to-earth, yet elegant European vibe to the place. It's only when your American waitress cheerfully asks what you'd like to drink and you can see the glistening Pacific Ocean from your perch at the bar that you realize where you really are. I find the transporting quality to Bar Pintxo only adds to its considerable charms.

January 30, 2009

Walking down Montana Avenue

I am so charmed by this little window display. The nutcracker appears to be doing quite a convincing job of guarding all these ballet flats at London Sole. I mean, would you cross him? I wouldn't! I imagine I'd be very happy indeed if I had a pair of these chic little flats waiting for me beneath the Christmas tree. I didn't fare so well last year, but there's always next Christmas. Those silver ones are calling my name.

January 29, 2009


One of my resolutions not just for 2009 but for life is to have more flowers around my apartment. These lisanthus flowers hung around for a little over a week, which in flower time is quite a long time. At least, for me it is!

January 24, 2009

New Horizons

I took these snapshots on the morning of President Barack Obama's inauguration. There's so much promise in the dawning of a brand new day, not to mention in a new presidency. If you couldn't already tell, I'm really excited and optimistic about the future and where our country is headed in the next few years.

January 20, 2009

Let the healing begin

I cannot believe that today we finally get a new President. Has our country ever before reached such feverish heights over a new commander-in-chief? Between the paintings, t-shirts, and songs, along with the unadulterated hope and belief in change that Obama has inspired, as a nation we have become Obama-obsessed. And I’m no better than the rest. I’ve become absolutely consumed with anything and everything to do with the inauguration. Not owning a television on which to watch and hear the latest information makes my obsession somewhat difficult to satiate, which only serves to feed it even more. I catch hour-long glimpses of the latest CNN offerings at the gym, and to and from work I tune into NPR in my car and I read the latest happenings online, but I hardly feel as though this is enough. I need details. As in, how many people will be moving the Obama family into the White House and when, exactly will that happen? While he’s being sworn into office? How much stuff are they bringing? How are they decorating their new abode to make it more their own? What happens with the Obamas’ Chicago residence? What kind of dog did they finally get for Malia and Sasha? You know, all the important stuff. Thankfully, I'll be getting my Obama fix by watching the inauguration at work today, along with the rest of the United States.

We’ve been told that change will be a long time coming and that we shouldn't set our expectations too high. I completely agree with this assessment and am aware that for awhile a lot of us will continue to struggle. But at least we're struggling towards the light, towards a positive change we wish to see in this country. And that in itself is inspiring. Happy Inauguration Day!

January 18, 2009

Boots, how do I love thee?

Check out my brand spankin' new boots I scored in the half-yearly sale at Nordstrom. I've been looking for flat boots for ages until I came across these lovelies. Though to be fair, they're not exactly flats, as they have a slight wedge action going on. But I'm happy to take any help in the height department I can get (I'm only 5'2. Enough said). I've long had a little love affair with boots, especially knee-high ones such as these. Not only do they keep your legs warm, but they also offer a bit of versatility to your wardrobe in the way of toughening up a delicate dress or adding a bit of intrigue to a pair of otherwise basic jeans. Plus, they conjure that whole perfect-fall-day-in-the-city vibe which I can't get enough of. Boots, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways....

January 14, 2009

File it under random

A friend of mine kindly pointed out to me that upon doing a google search for this blog using the words "joanna" and "lark", the first web site that pops up is a Joanna Lark selling fetish clothing and accessories from the UK. I mean, what are the odds? And what are the google gods trying to tell me, I wonder?!

January 10, 2009

Prints from Sharon Montrose

If you read blogs with any regularity,you might have already come across these quirky, but delightful animal portraits by Sharon Montrose. Don't you love the spareness of the off-white backdrop and bleached hardwood floors? I certainly do! According to her etsy shop, these creatures live quite happily in a California zoo. Montrose captures each animal's unique personality, from the playfulness of the porcupine to the lordly exasperation of the owl (doesn't he appear to be tapping his claw, as if telling her to take the darn picture, already?). I take such pleasure in coming home and glancing up at my little menagerie hanging from my wall. Oh, the stories they tell....

January 5, 2009

Weekend Musings

Sigh. Why do holiday weekends have to end? It always amazes me just how quickly they go by. One minute you're relishing the thought of four luxurious days where you seemingly have all the time in the world to do just about anything that tickles your fancy, and the next you're lamenting the cruel, hard fact that work/school/reality must set in in a mere 24 hours. Still, I can't really complain (but oh, how I love to do it), as these past few days have been wonderfully relaxing with a healthy dosage of good friends, good food and good wine, not to mention some quality 'me' time. I finally finished Mrs. Woolf & the Servants, which was an illuminating look not only at Virginia Woolf's relationships with her domestic staff, but also her relationship with food and her own body (i.e. she wasn't a big eater, something I cannot identify with at all). I even enjoyed my workout session with my trainer (can you imagine Virginia Woolf with a trainer?!). Yes, I have a trainer and I go to a gym. This coming from a girl whose athletic zenith in life was doing a hand stand in yoga...with the instructor's help, I hasten to add.

In the final moments of the long weekend, the boyfriend and I (or T, as I shall henceforth refer to him in this space, because I'm getting lazy in my old age) braved the strong winds that had been blowing through the west side all day, grabbed a warm drink (earl gray for him, soy latte for me) and headed out to the bluff in the Pacific Palisades where we took in the setting sun. Only about twenty other people had the same brilliant idea. So did a few dogs. And it was FREEZING and extremely windy, even more so on that bluff than anywhere else. So our romantic interlude lasted all of one minute, and as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon, we scrambled out of there as fast as our legs could carry us.

Our legs carried us to Village Books in the palisades because I wanted to browse their selections, and I think T just wanted to get warm. I have to say that I really like this bookshop. It has a very cozy, neighborhood feel to it, and I like how the patrons all seem to know each other. Case in point: yesterday two men were talking very loudly in the shop about their houses and which architects they used and which homes they admire in the neighborhood, which would have been a fine conversation to overhear if it wasn't so suggestive of two grown men comparing body parts, if you know what I mean. It's the whole "my house is bigger than yours" mentality. Eventually, they graciously took the conversation outside, where they proceeded to talk at each other at exactly the same decibel. But apart from all that, I just like to give Village Books my business, especially in this day and age when Barnes & Noble and Borders loom on every corner, and Amazon is tantalizingly only a click away on the computer. So you can imagine my disappointment when I read that the shop is struggling a bit at the moment. Luckily, (or I should say hopefully), rescue came in the shape of one celebrity palisades resident and Village Books patron, Tom Hanks. I nearly whooped out loud for joy when I read about what he did for the shop. Which just seems so like him, too. I heart Tom Hanks and books and (hopefully) happy endings for book shop owners and extended weekends.

Oh, and for those who are interested, I ended up leaving Village Books with a copy of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, a book I've been meaning to read, and Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope, because what better time to read the president-elect's latest book than the month of his presidential inauguration? In two weeks, people!