For the last week, I’ve been living the life of Riley. Jess’ aunt and uncle took her little cousins on vacation to Hawaii. We’ve been housesitting their place in Land Park. Riley lives in a three-bedroom house in the suburbs, he’s got a cat and a dog. And this week, so do I.
I thought I’d share with you some of the people and places that I’ve experienced during my week as a Sacramento suburbanite. A Suburban Cowboy, if you will. While I’m not ready to trade in my ‘Vette for a minivan a la Steve Sanders, BH 90210, Episode 7, Season 10 (a part of me died that day. Also, no one’s gonna mistake my 1990 Honda Accord for a Corvette with plates that read I8A-4RE), I found that Land Park has a lot to offer a (quasi) young man about town such as myself.
Saturday morning I had some friends in town, and we went to Tower Cafe for breakfast. This probably isn’t a groundbreaking revelation for you locals, but the meal was fantastic. A house french toast with fruit compote and whipped cream that is the best in the state, and a crab cake benedict with avocado and Bearnaise sauce, instead of the usual Hollandaise, that was a revelation. I’l put it this way. Jess and I came back the next day and ordered … the crab cake benny and house french toast. I never, ever do that (unless it’s at a taco truck).
Saturday night (and Monday and Wednesday) we went to Big Spoon Yogurt. At the risk of hyperbole, it is the single greatest place on Earth. It is just stupid how many toppings they have for their yogurts, which also come in many flavors. And the best part about it is that the yogurt is low fat, or even fat free! Granted, I got cheesecake, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, hot fudge and about eight candy bars on mine, but that’s not the point. Yogurt is good for you! Just ask Jamie Lee Curtis.
On Sunday, after our second-straight breakfast at Tower, we rode our bikes to the farmers market under Highway 80 at 8th and W. Very impressive produce selection. I highly recommend checking it out despite the less than aesthetically pleasing locale. The venue just screams for strategically located trash can fires. When we arrived, we realized that we only had 6 bucks on us, but that was more than enough to procure some fantastically thin asparagus, a couple of Meyer lemons and a large sweet potato. For dinner we had a wasabi-pesto crusted salmon with teriyaki stir-fried cashew asparagus. It was great. The sweet potato ended up being fed to the dog, but she enjoyed it immensely.
Monday I went to the DMV in Oak Park. Now I know it’s cliched to whine about trips to the DMV. Everybody has to do it, and everyone gets a little taste of what hell may be like. Suck it up, rub some dirt on it, whatever. But my story has a twist. Monday was my third trip to the DMV in the last week, all for the same thing. The first time I threw in the towel before making it through even the second level of front doors. The next time, I left for lunch at Jarritos on Broadway. It was my most disappointing meal in Sacramento; I still think about it *shudders*. When I got back to the DMV, I still was 120 people away. So I went back to Jess’ aunt and uncle’s house to get schooled on our housesitting duties. When we returned, they had just called B215. I was B213. What is it the kids are saying these days, FML?
Which leads us to Tuesday, our third trip to the DMV. Once you park at the Oak Park DMV, don’t even think about leaving till you’ve handled your business. You may end up parking a half mile away. I made that mistake the first time around.
Got our numbers and walked down to the Boom Boom Cafe, without a doubt the best restaurant within walking distance of the DMV. Outstanding Asian fusion at a very reasonable price. I got the Korean pork bul go gi, Jess got a Thai curry eggplant, and we both were exceedingly pleased with our choices.
Don’t worry, we got back to the DMV well before my number was called. We got back, suntanned a bit by the car, signed some petitions. Then I decided it was time to head back in. So I locked the car. With the keys on the center console. I locked my keys … in the car … at the DMV. So next time you’re at the DMV and cursing your luck or lack thereof, consider this. At least you didn’t lock your %^*&#@& keys in the &#*@%#@ car! On the bright side, AAA got there a good 20 minutes before my number was called.
Tuesday night, we tried Oscar’s Very Mexican Food, whose name is oxymoronic. If it were so "Very Mexican", wouldn’t it be "Mucho Mexicano"? A decent Americanized taqueria (Very Americanized. It has a "California" burrito with french fries in it), its saving grace is the salsa verde, which is reminiscent of the one at La Taqueria in the Mission. Unfortunately, the resemblances end there.
Wednesday was our big night out. We got all gussied up (I wore a shirt with a collar on it! And considered shaving!) and walked up the street to Taylor’s Kitchen. A little American bistro attached to a gourmet market, Taylor’s Kitchen somehow manages to be both elegant and homey. Jess and I, as we often do, eschewed the entrees in favor of a larger selection of small plates. We started off with steamed clams with chorizo and a lovely Dungeness crab salad. It took all my considerable restraint not to lick the bowl the clams came in. The crab salad was lovely as well, though I’d have preferred it been served with fresh avocado rather than the avocado panna cotta it was paired with. John Paul, our waiter, then brought over a pot of macaroni and cheese, gratis. They had forgotten the bacon, thus the freebie, but it still was outrageously rich and tasty. We finished with the mushroom gnocchi in a Parmesan cream sauce, and this time, they remembered the bacon. A wonderful end to a wonderful meal. We took our desert at Big Spoon.
Thursday was our final day of suburban bliss, and I finished it off with gusto. Chloe, the family dog, is 14 years old, a cancer survivor, and suffers from severe arthritis. The family recently had enlisted the services of Karen Krstich, DVM. Karen makes house calls, and she put Chloe on some new meds and a new diet. I would have gladly eaten everything that I fed the dog while housesitting. In fact, I did eat a bowl of the last meal I cooked for her: a chicken, yam, carrot, zucchini, celery stew. It was yummy. Pretty standard vet stuff, right? Well, Karen also practices the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture. Doggy acupuncture. And so, I spent 20 minutes Thursday morning assisting in that most suburban of activities, a doggy acupuncture and electrotherapy session. Much as I once scoffed at yoga, there was a time where this whole procedure would have led me to offer up a dismissive wanking motion. But I can say unequivocally that Chloe is markedly improved from just two weeks ago. Her energy is up, she walks less gingerly and seems much happier. Doubt the healing powers of pet acupuncture at your peril.
It was an eventful week in the suburbs. I laughed, I ate, I helped a woman stick pins in a dog and then run electricity through said pins.
I’m ready to get back to Midtown.