(Click here to watch videos from the road)
We left Malibu Tuesday afternoon and drove non-stop to Big Sur. This would be my first time driving up the coast. 5 years ago Lee worked on a project in Sausalito which allowed us the opportunity to take an apartment over looking the Bay. I’d fly up north packing “those people” (my girls) to meet Lee, spending a week or two at a time roaming the city of San Francisco via the ferry boat that crossed the foggy bay. However I now know that to completely understand the state of California one must see it all from the road.
Stop 1 was the red wood forest – I’d first fallen for these magnificent beings on a visit to Muir Woods, if you don’t believe in etherial worlds then visit this forest. We arrived well into the darkness staying at Big Sur Lodge located in the forest. Our super cute cabin included a wood burning fireplace – no tv and no phone. The best part about family road trips is that we all become one connected unit, no distractions allowing our roles to be just that momma, daddy, sisters. After a yummy rest in the cold pacific air we inhaled a great breakfast and hiked into the woods. All I could think about as we moved through the tribes of red woods – yep, tribe ’cause they stand together in clusters -never alone, always supported by one another – a mirror for our family. I thought about their giant roots connecting them deep into the earth. I was sure to breath as deeply as possible inhaling the massive amounts of oxygen these gems were giving off.
We drove on to Sonoma County where we spent the most wonderful few days with Nanny & Bubba (Ted & Peggy) my adopted adult parents – I met them in my early 20′s – they’d not had children and I was still in need of a momma and a daddy. They stepped in and have been the most amazing influence in my life. My girls know them as their grandparents & the adoration we all share is beautiful. On Friday Lee and I headed into to San Francisco, leaving the girls with Nanny & Bubba.
Our first stop was Mill Valley, I really like this little town with it’s quaintness, simple style and fresh food restaurants. Lee and I stumbled into the Mill Valley Hat Box, an old school hat store where I bought my first Stetson Fedora. We booked a swanky hotel and a reservation at Millennium Restaurant. What we didn’t take into consideration was that our hotel was located literally on top of Old Navy in the shopping district of San Francisco and our Friday get away was BLACK FRIDAY! Holy cow was it NUTS! I’d not planned on shopping at all on Black Friday and to find myself smack dab in the middle of CRAZY TOWN was something else. As we stepped out of our hotel to walk to Millennium we marched right into a giant protest – OCCUPY folks were going head to head with CONSUMER- AHOLICS. Lee and I found ourselves paralyzed by it all, and we weren’t the only ones watching, there were plenty of people NOT holding shopping bags standing on the outskirts figuring out what it all means – asking themselves are we the 99%? All I know is that there is something happening here y’all and as soon as the message can be delivered in a clear and coherent voice WE are going to participate, ’cause shawty – Humans Are Not Commodities and the only way things will change is when WE all see our value.
After crossing through the Occupy /Consumer mayhem we found our way to Millennium Restaurant – FANTASTIC FOOD! Lee my cowboy husband LOVED his dinner too – a vegan restaurant that has nothing hippy, crunchy or health food esque feeling to it. A 5 star experience that could totally run with all the big dog restaurants everywhere. A FLASH OF LIGHT- all I could think about was my “Plan B”. You see when I first moved to LA 15 years ago a young gal, I made a promise to myself,”If this place doesn’t work out I am moving to Key West to be a waitress, hang out on a beach and live my life.” There I was sitting in Millennium and a new Plan B filling my mind. I sat watching the guys in the kitchen knock out that amazing food while I dreamed up how I could get a job washing dishes, chopping veggies for a year. Living close to Ted and Peggy and sucking in this eclectic city, while I train in this fine kitchen – learning what I don’t know. The second half of Plan B is to return to Nashville and rock a little cafe and cooking school…
All this “kitchen work” is partly because I’ve just wrapped up a session of technical chef skills with Chef Rectum in Los Angeles. I’d enrolled the moment we arrived in LA this past September. I’d decided that I wanted to learn the basics of “regular cooking” meaning animal & dairy. After all I do cook grass fed beef on occassion and once in a very blue moon organic chicken. ‘Cause I don’t ever want to be so rigid that I miss out on learning something new. The class was small only 6 of us with an occasional visitor. I jumped in like a kid happy to start kindergarten. I didn’t tell ANYONE who I was, what I do or what I KNOW. Instead I just said, “Hi I’m Meme, from Nashville and I want to learn as much as you can teach me.” Truth be told, I didn’t want PRINCESS KNOW IT ALL to come out, ’cause she is the cock blocker of my growth. So, I kept it under wraps and by the way I cut the veggies the first time around NO ONE would know I’d ever cooked before let alone on TV!
Reflecting back I see what I learned and that was how to cut an onion, tomato, make chicken stock and that an asshole always shows his or her rectum. In particular Chef Rectum revealed her stinky bottom to me when she referred to Tennessee as a place of white trash – how it all went down was one afternoon we were making mussels. I commented that I’d thought that muscles were fancy and difficult to prepare. Judith the Jew (I only call her this because she must have mentioned in every sentence that she is Jewish, which is great as I am a Hebrew speaking half kosher woman myself) so she says in her New York/ Beverly Hills accent, “Honey Fancy? Everybody knows mussels are the white trash of the sea.” I busted out laughing, ’cause the thing about Judith the Jew is she’s super funny without knowing it. Chef Rectum says in her tough I don’t take any shit ’cause I’m a woman who has worked around men for a long time kinda voice, “What’s so funny over there?” I started to tell her, then Judith The Jew hits me in the ribs, “Don’t say anything she has no sense of humor.” Of course I’d already shared what Judith said, not sure if it was hard for Chef Rectum to hear since her ears obviously are covered by her pants, but she looks at me and says, “I’ll tell you what’s white trash, anybody from Tennessee. Everybody knows that’s where white trash lives.”
I busted out laughing, seriously was she telling me about white trash – after all isn’t being a BIGOT the worst form of white trash? Then she says, “Besides mussels are very Italian, the Italians love them.” I responded very calmly in front of the class and in my best Tennessee accent, “Well I was trying to tell you before you insulted me that my grandmother who came from Italy used to make them but that of course was before we threw all of our shoes away and ran over the hills of Tennessee to “f&%!” our brothers.”
Then I looked over at Michael The Curmudgeon (his nose is always so far up Chef Rectums behind) struggling to remove a “tuff” of seaweed from a mussels shell also known as the “beard” I said, “Be sure to get all of it as I’d hate to pluck a muscle’s white trash pubic hair from my teeth at the dinner table.” He almost choked! Then I sat down to enjoy my meal, NO one knew what to do with me as I complimented the food, cleaned up my area, removed my apron and said good night for the last time. So you see now I’m thinking real good and hard about where I want to do my next round of schooling.
Saturday we hoofed it all around China Town in search of magical Jade (check out my style page to see what I’m talking about) and then I screwed up and ate in a tiny little Chinese restaurant – I ordered veggies, white rice and a cup of tea – but the oil was bad and no good for my tummy and I hit the floor Saturday night. Yep, I still am very careful with my food and will be for the rest of my life. The good news is that I get back up quicker and Nanny and Bubba took great care of me and the girls.
Now I’m home and writing to you from my new office in Malibu…I’m plugging away but loving that I’ve got a plan B - if need be.