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julia would have been 100 years old today. happy birthday ol’ girl!

photographed in her cambridge, massachusetts, kitchen, june 29, 1970. by arnold newman/getty images.

i love this photo, mostly because her kitchen looks like a workshop, with all her tools on display behind her, and her plans to create something wonderful in front of her.

of course google honored her 100th birthday by having her as their theme of the day, the new york times put out a lovely piece about how she still translates into today’s cooks repertoire, and i will continue to pay homage to my muse, my inspiration and, although unbeknownst to her, my mentor every year on the day of her birth. i wish i would have known the impact she would have on my adult life when i would watch her tv show as a wee lass, or perhaps the reason cooking and food are as important to me as they are because she influenced me early on without my even knowing?

she was interested in what was in season, what tastes good, and figuring out what is the best method in which to cook food. even though some of her recipes were a bit complicated, many were pretty much back to the basics and fairly simple…good ingredients + optimal cooking methods = tasty food. all of which are right where my philosophy of cooking lands, and ultimately what this blog is about.

it is obvious that i love to cook, but i also believe as the master said,

‘cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.’ -julia child

i love that my kitchen is like a workshop to me, is filled with the tools i need to create, and that julia is always there to remind me to enter into any experience with abandon.

thank you julia, happy birthday, and bon apetite!

as i sit at the starbucks in signal hill waiting for my car to be serviced having a grande drip coffee, i am reminded of a dirty ashtray. many people are aware that i am a snob about many things food related, and coffee is no different. i am often forced to drink swill at work, and obviously in situations like right now, but it also makes me remember just how wonderful coffee can be if made right.

i believe if the beans are good, roasted correctly and brewed just right, coffee is best black. no cream. no sugar. no additives.

several years ago i had to stop by my employer’s house to pick up a check, and he offered to make me a cup of coffee. we had talked about our mutual love of coffee, so i figured it would be good. as it turned out, it was the best cup of coffee i have ever had in my life. i’m kicking myself for not writing down the name of the bean, but i remember them being expensive and for some reason ‘blue mountain’ comes to mind. a quick google search later makes me think this just might be the one.

i am fortunate that there are several independent coffee shops close to where i live downtown, so if i run out of my organic black cat espresso from intelligentsia, i can hop on my trusty steed and head out for a jolt of caffeine nearby.

here are a few non-starbucks options in my hood:

made– located next door at the downtown women’s center. it has a lovely gift shop, some food items from tiara café, and their coffee is quite good.

coffee bar– this place sits smack dab in the middle of hip and happening spring street. the sandwich i had here was pretty good too.

harlem place cafe– their yelp page says they have closed, which if true, is a very sad thing. i must do some recon on this one.

spring for coffee– this tiny place is also on spring street, and although i usually get the coffee to go here, they do have a few tables. on occasion they even have intelligentsia coffee which is a plus.

urth caffé– though they seem a bit corporate, they have organic and fair trade beans, their food is tasty, and their in house baked goods make a perfect compliment to all drinks coffee and tea related.

groundwork– these guys are

one of the very first certified organic coffee roasters in southern california (as well as the largest organic coffee roaster in los angeles), while pioneering sustainable, relationship-based, and organic coffee sourcing.

one can only hope that the next time i bring my car in for service, that there will be some sort of competition to starbucks, and god willing it wont be a coffee bean + tea leaf.

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