Locomotoring

Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Ojai, an escape from the humdrum

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Ojai exists to charm the suburbia and city dwellers. It is picture perfect everywhere, from its cute little homes to its expansive meadows. And the food here is a mecca for those of us on any type of fringe diet.

Our designer built cottage

A perfect town to experience California’s indoor-outdoor lifestyle

Ojai Meadow Preserve, a delightful and easy hiking trail where it is easy to get a bit lost

A lovely brook where the trail becomes particularly directionless

Meditate, ponder, rest

Written by locomotoring

February 24, 2019 at 9:08 pm

Posted in California

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Falling in love with Sequoia National Park

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Last 4th of July, we drove down south, a circuit tour from Bay Area to Pismo Beach to Ojai to Sequoia National Park and back up. While all three destinations are delightful in their own right, I simply fell in love with Sequoia Park. At the root of the deep affinity was my realization that for the last 3 years, I had been putting together Dogwoods, Manzanitas, Cercis and Ribes that grow abundantly in Sequoia NP. Inadvertently, I have been trying to mimic the Sequoia landscape in my backyard!

Ribes in bloom

Manzanita in bloom

Dogwood in bloom in the backyard

Kaweah River

Dogwoods of Sequoia National Park

Crescent Meadow

Bear at Crescent Meadow

View from Moro Rock Trail at Sequoia NP

Top of Moro Rock at Sequoia National Park

Written by locomotoring

February 24, 2019 at 8:04 pm

Posted in California, USA

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Atelier Crenn from an year ago

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Third time is the charm for the photos, with the latest renovation, there is now a hint of light for the lens. Not that photos matter or even the menu matters. A dinner at Crenn is like a series of short adventure trips for the uninitiated. No baby steps, you jump straight into it – sky diving, canoeing the rapids, zip lining, bungee jumping and so forth. Imagine you have been handed a schedule that looked like the following,

Sky, gravity & wind
River, foam & paddles
Canopy & pines

Frankly, even if the schedule came with a video of the activity, you will only know the motions and not the sensations.

Here was what the menu said on Nov 22, 2017,

Plum kambucha
Kir Breton
Fish & Chips
Geoduck, Sea Urchin & Citrus
Seeds & Grains
Caviar, Monkfish & Koji
Brioche & Housemade butter
Abalone, Cabbage & Smoked Creme
Matcha Tea Service
A-5 Wagyu, Porcini & Bearnaise
Harbison, Buckwheat & Truffle

Nopal Elixir
White chocolate avocado cremeux
Mesa Crisp
Sapote Ice Cream & Maracuya
Vanilla Bean Guanabana & Crystallized Tobacco Leaf
Recreation of Agave, Coconut & Iced Pulque
Mignardises

Think of the elixirs and tea services as brief rest stops in between the adventure courses. I had been experimenting with home brewing kambucha last year, but that only made me wonder how did Dominique manage to get kambucha to taste good, let alone great. Thanks to a recent trip to Mexico City, at least the dessert menu ingredients like Sapote and Guanabana were familiar. Harbison? Your Googling is as good as mine. Her pastry Chef Juan Contreras, a Los Angeles native, has been with her for a while but this was the first time we noticed an influence from south of the border.

The menu also showed a hand-drawn Ocotillo, a desert cactus. We had seen Ocotillo in bloom earlier that year during the trip to Joshua Tree National Park. From a distance, they look like red tipped 20 ft tall grass. When the earth is dry, the stems are leafless, grey and thorny. The leaves sprout whenever the earth is a little moist. I took that to be the representation for the dessert menu.

Some of the photos …

Kir Breton, this is the only repeat adventure from last two times. Champagne cocktail served in a white chocolate shell with creme de cassis on top.

Fish and chips

White chocolate avocado cremeux

Sapote Ice cream & Maracuya

Vanilla bean guanabana & crystallized tobacco leaf

Recreation of agave, coconut & iced pulque. Pulque is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. It has the color of milk, somewhat viscous consistency and a sour yeast-like taste.

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December 30, 2018 at 10:46 pm

Noah Purifoy’s outdoor museum

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Assemblage sculpture from Noah Purifoy’s museum in Joshua Tree, California

Noah Purifoy was an accidental find. During last visit to Joshua Tree National Park, we ended up staying close to his museum of assemblage sculpture. Since then, I learned many things, a) media describes him as an artist forged by fire, his earliest body of sculpture, constructed out of charred debris from LA’s 1965 Watts rebellion, was the basis for 66 Signs of Neon, the landmark 1966 group exhibition on the Watts riots that traveled throughout the country, b) he was exhibited at LACMA in 2015, “Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada“, 50th anniversary of the Watts riots  when several of these large-scale sculptures from Joshua Tree museum were brought in along with some of his early works, and  finally, c) something provocative even by today’s standards, his 1971 solo show.

A 1971 solo show at the Brockman gallery in Los Angeles—for which he converted gallery space into a squalid, crowded inner-city apartment shared by an extended black family, complete with a stinky refrigerator, roaches, and figures getting busy under bedcovers—was an even more provocative exploration of racial and social injustice (the title of the show: “N* Ain’t Gonna Never Ever Be Nothin’—All They Want to Do Is Drink and Fuck”). – Julia Felsenthal for Vogue in 2015

One of the pieces, that stuck me most was an assembled home.

View 1: Assemblage sculpture of a home at Noah Purifoy’s museum in Joshua Tree, California

View 2: Assemblage sculpture of a home at Noah Purifoy’s museum in Joshua Tree, California

View 3: Assemblage sculpture of a home at Noah Purifoy’s museum in Joshua Tree, California

 

I didn’t know anything about Noah when we stumbled upon his open museum. I had seen assemblage sculpture in closed museum spaces before, a piece here or a piece there, and they never quite made much sense. But out there in the bright desert sun, in a seemingly middle of nowhere little (albeit destination) town, on a vacation from the humdrum of life, and seeing them all together, a narrative has started to form.

I am beginning to realize that the museum spaces are as important as the pieces themselves. I remember feeling sorry for the magnificent creatures of Theo Jansen when they were exhibited indoors at the San Francisco Exploratorium. They felt broken and powerless in the cavernously large and poorly lit exploratorium. I am sure they would have been wonderful on the beach, howling in the wind.

The disappointment at the Exploratorium was similar when seeing sunflower seeds of Ai Weiwei at the Tate Gallery in London. The original intention was a design where visitors could walk or roll on an infinite carpet of porcelain sunflower seeds in the vastness of the turbine hall. Juliet Bingham, Curator of Tate Modern had said, “Each piece is a part of the whole, a commentary on the relationship between the individual and the masses. The work continues to pose challenging questions: What does it mean to be an individual in today’s society? Are we insignificant or powerless unless we act together? What do our increasing desires, materialism and number mean for society, the environment and the future?” But shortly after its opening, this interactive display was declared a health hazard due to porcelain dust. So, Tate had to put the seeds in a conical pile  in the center of a featureless bright room, cordoned off with a security guard watching over.

So if a museum piece doesn’t make sense, I just have to remind myself that perhaps it is in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Written by locomotoring

May 7, 2018 at 6:30 am

Posted in California, USA

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“Destroy Shit/Hole” at Harajuku

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Mural on Cat Street, Harajuku

Ly, an up-and-coming painter born and raised in Tokyo, brings her imaginary world of the fantastical monster named LUV in grey-scale paintings and murals. For more of Ly (#ly_painter), check out her instagram and/or website.

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August 12, 2017 at 6:26 am

Posted in Japan, Tokyo

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East meets west? I think not.

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Super soft mochi balls with various syrups – honey, tart lemon, green tea, and strawberry. With sweet adzuki bean, tart and dried plum blossom and soy bean powder.

Jean-Paul Hévin’s mascarpone – layered chocolate and banana mousse.

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August 12, 2017 at 5:17 am

Posted in Japan, Tokyo

Japanese pottery

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There is traditional pottery that comes with amazing glazes and hand painted artwork and then there is the Japanese minimalist aesthetic. Both extremes are stunning. Former is relatively easy to find in Tokyo – every guidebook will provide a pointer or two. The later on the other hand was serendipity for us.

Yumiko Iihoshi Porcelain: Yumiko Yoshihoshi is the artist behind the line and is relatively recent graduate of Kyoto Saga College of Art and Ceramics Degree. As far as I could decipher from auto translation, her designs use both industrial production and hard craft. The pieces are mass produced but hand glazed.

Fine workmanship, delicate pieces, and beautiful organic but minimalist shapes. The Harajuku store is in a strange building called Co-op Olympia. It is a renovated old building with cavernous hotel like walkways. It took us two trips to locate. The shop is is one of the suites.

The traditional designs are explosion of colors or textures. Absolutely delightful. And if you have taken a class or two of pottery, you will appreciate the art even more so.

Overall, the size of the piece and prices are not very correlated. Japanese are fond of small and beautiful objects and there are many delicate small dishes for serving kaiseki style food.  These are not dishwasher friendly, no two pieces are exactly alike. What you typically get is beautiful shapes, textures, and glazes and sometimes, fine hand painting.

A beautiful sake pot with two serving cups.

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August 11, 2017 at 6:58 am

Posted in Japan

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