Monday, November 29, 2010

Spider pavilion

In October, the Natural History Museum had a special outdoor exhibit called the spider pavilion. It was a greenhouse-y type structure with mesh walls and celings that had a ton of free roaming spiders in it. When I heard about it, I knew I *had* to go. Spiders (especially their web-making abilities) are sooo fascinating. Here's a pretty big one, about the size of my hand:

The webs were above pathways, across pathways, in trees, on walls...everywhere! It was pretty neat. There were also a few butterflies that people watched breathlessly as they somehow flew around without getting tangled in any of the webs. Another shot of one above our heads:

We chatted it up with one of the museum workers, and they said each morning one of them had to go into the pavilion and clear the paths of new webs that sprung up overnight. The museum also had a neat bug exhibit inside where we saw some pretty crazy looking beetles and the like. We looked around the rest of the museum, too, but no museum in any city can live up to the ones in Chicago. I can't believe how much better the museums are in Chicago than everywhere else...okay, I guess the Louvre and the Met beat the Art Institute, but overall Chicago's museums are really great.

bouchon pic

Sunday, November 28, 2010

October: The official birthday month

Connie, Mia, and I (friends from high school) all have our birthdays in October. So every year, we try to get together sometime during the month, which is quite a feat since we haven't all lived in the same state since 2001. We've been scattered between California, Illinois, and New York in various configurations for the last several years. This year, though, we met in LA and Connie (and her fiance Brian) flew in from NYC and Mia from Berkeley to have a whirlwind weekend.

A few weeks ago I had randomly bought tickets through Groupon for hydrobike rentals in Long Beach. I had never heard of hydrobikes, but they seemed like a fun and easy weekend activity to do someday. Luckily, Mia and Connie were interested so we drove down to Long Beach to ride em:

They were basically bikes attached to flotation devices. Pedaling spun some blades underwater that chugged you along. The day was gray and almost rainy, which was sad. But it was still a fun ride!

Later on we fancied it up with dinner at Bouchon in Beverly Hills. The mushroom salad was the star of the night, but everything was pretty good. I do have major complaints about service, though--we had a reservation and we still waited for 30 minutes before they were able to seat us. Then they sat us at the most terrible table in the house; it was literally right behind the hostess stand and in the middle of the most concentrated foot traffic. That table really shouldn't have existed at all. It didn't even feel like we were *in* the restaurant...we were kind of on the outskirts of it. Or maybe in the middle of the exit. I'm not someone who complains about service a lot, but when you're spending that much money I demand SOMEthing.

But anyway, it was about the company, right? It was great seeing the girls again, and props to Connie and Brian for taking that 6 hour flight back and forth just for a two-day weekend! Happy birthdays to us...

Lithuanian Fair

In early October, N and I went to the Annual Lithuanian Fair. I really had no idea what to expect--I don't know anything about Lithuanian culture, but I thought it was so interesting that there's enough Lithuanians in LA to have a large fair every year. It was held at a church not too far from our apartment. There were craft tables for kids where they could make flower garlands and do a May pole-ish kind of dance. But, of course, I was there for the food:

Top: potato pancakes with fruit compote and sour cream; bottom left: sausage, sauerkraut, pickles, and boiled potatoes; and bottom right: pierogies topped with bacon and sour cream. Lesson learned: Lithuanian food almost always comes with sour cream, no matter what it is. 

But the biggest part of the fair, by far, was the beer. The crowd was pretty rowdy by the time N and I left! There was a stage with live entertainment and singers, but most of it was in Lithuanian so we had no idea what was going on. 

Another note--I believe this fair is the only time that we were the only Asians/racial minorities in sight since we've moved to LA. The crowd was definitely pale skinned, blond haired, and tall and willowy. Not surprising, I guess!

catch up: the boiling crab

I had a craving for crab for a really long time, so N and I finally went to the Boiling Crab in Alhambra to be rid of it (this was back in September). I had heard it gets insanely crowded during dinner time, so I figured if we went at the very beginning of the dinner hour we'd be okay. We arrived at 4:50pm, and we ended up waiting an HOUR AND A HALF! It was insane. If I wasn't craving crab so badly, I would never have waited that long.

The Boiling Crab is a crazy restaurant where you order shrimp, crayfish, and crab by the pound, and they serve it to you in a plastic bag. There's various seasonings you can get on your seafood, but the agreed upon best flavor to get is "the whole sha-bang" which is a combination of all of their seasonings in one big mixture. It's salty, spicy, cajun-y, and just really, really good. The tables are covered with a shiny wax paper and each party gets an entire roll of paper towels since you eat everything with your hands there:

We got king crab legs, shrimp, and sweet potato fries. Once you get your plastic bag full of seafood, you dump it out straight onto the table and go at it. The shrimp come shell on, so it is impossible to be neat about it. 

It was good. Really, really good. But could I ever justify that wait again? I don't know. There were plenty of people doing carry-out, so maybe that's the way to go...if you could cover your home dining table with paper.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

so behind

I have so many things to write about, but no time to do it... other news, it is NINETY-SIX degrees here and it's November! California is so crazy.