Getting Our Connect on: ProjectConnect

Did you win our contest for the Project Connect event on Tuesday at the Coloft in Santa Monica? Because if you didn’t, you really missed out on a great evening. It was a ton of networking and meeting new people. This was an unusual event because it highlighted a few things that you don’t normally see at a networking event. Rather than focusing on who you had to meet the focus was on who you can introduce other people to. The event was organized by Stephanie, owner of Social Bling, and the main themes of the night were: listening, complimenting, and gratitude.

It was hosted at the coloft building in Santa Monica. The coloft is a space that allows entrepreneurs to come together and rent out workspace for the month – kind of like a much better Starbucks. I am rereading The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki and the energy from that book is surely true at the Coloft, which enables a free flowing work environment and collaboration between entrepreneurs. The main thesis of the book being that any given crowd is collectively smarter than any individual expert.

We all mingled for a little bit in the beginning and drank some Mary Jane relaxing soda, which contains kava – a plant which has marijuana-like effects on the mind and body. We should’ve known better because the label clearly says “Do not consume more than two a day.” We failed to read the label and were giggling all night. Although Carina and I are often referred to as “Giggle Corner” even without this magical soda.

The evening was full of laughs and getting to know other entrepreneurs that do the same thing we UGs do. Being an entrepreneur is probably the scariest but most exhilarating thing one could ever do. It’s truly an incredible roller-coaster. It’s nice to be surrounded with people that have the same sentiment about our passion. Particularly because so many people really don’t understand entrepreneurship. My mother, for example, really doesn’t get it. The same was true of the mother of the Coloft’s owner, Cameron. Cameron said that when he told his Persian mother that he was going to be an entrepreneur, she said, “Oh, what kind of doctor is that?” We chuckled because we know how hard it is to have a good support system as an entrepreneur. We were all looking at each other that night with the same hope and willingness to help each other in some way or another. We’re a good, but quirky, race of people. Among some new friends in attendance were: Lizzy Shaw, Blair Goldberg, Alaia Williams, and Jenda.

Some of the other sponsors were: Social Couture (who’s the woman who brings you parties in a box), the Writer’s Boot Camp, and Bodega Wine Bar. There was a challenge at one point in the night to see what we could make happen using social media. Thankfully, a woman from Kind Plus bars was there and ran out to share some bars with us. It’s a gluten-free bar and a company that takes social responsibility very seriously. In fact, Kind was named one of BusinessWeek’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurial Companies. Their new campaign is their ‘Not so random acts’ of kindness cards. Via the web you can track these acts with a uniquely branded card. Visit here for more details.

We are ladies with food always on the mind, we can’t blame the Mary Jane soda for our munchies, but we felt the need to bring a snack for everyone in attendance. Where did we turn? Our favorite truck  The Border Grill truck came to the rescue.

Since this was a social networking event, we pulled our social network together (i.e., Twitter) and asked for some help to feed these tired kava-drunken souls. Border Grill came through for us like a good friend and, since they were across the street, brought everyone little dulce de leche churro bites and whipped cream. They were life-giving to our pseudo stoned brains. Special thanks to the Border Grill truck, Nick, and Christina, the kindest Border Grill employees in the whole wide world. Who says you can’t transcend the boundaries of Twitter and real life? It’s been our experience that Twitter friends are often more reliable than real life friends. What made this instance special was that this time it was a company pulling through and not an individual person. Border Grill, like so few other businesses, do social networking right and realize that human connection is just as important!

The night ended with song and all was well-documented by an E! camera crew. The video should be out soon and will include an interview by all the sponsors and, of course, yours truly, the UGs. It will be hypertexted and will be streaming soon to a UG channel near you. Many thanks again to everyone who came and the two lucky ladies who won our contest, Veronica in LADoubleDEntendre, and Amanda – You ladies have become very near and dear to our hearts. Thank you for your support on this here blog and your unfailing friendship to the UGs, who may very well be crazy and passionate enough to turn the world upside down with their antics and love for all things food, fun, and friends. Remember folks: listen, compliment help each other out, and be grateful in real life and on the interwebs…If you don’t we WILL come after you!

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Dining on the Edge: Dinner with Chef Keven

There’s carnal pleasure and then there’s food pleasure. I’ve never endangered my life for carnal pleasure, but for food pleasure…I do it on a daily basis.

Growing up I was deathly allergic to many things, and over the last few weeks I had gotten mild symptoms of a severe allergy. When I decided to visit my doctor he did a few tests and referred me to an allergist. Later that week, I met with the allergist; he took one look at me said, “Have you been eating shellfish?!” I admitted that my frequent visits to the SGV for Asian food had exposed me to many fish-based sauces. He told me to cut it out for my own good, but I relented. After all, I wasn’t in the hospital. It was just shellfish and I could endure the few moments of discomfort for a few moments of food pleasure. When I got my allergy test back, it said I was severely allergic to a long list of things. The most severe being: most types of seafood, peanuts, wheat, soybeans, and many others. FML. However, I will continue to eat what I want in the sake of food and I will die a king. Not very smart, but a girl has got to have her priorities in order. Such was the case at the swanky Hollywood Hills supper club that Veronica and I attended last week.

Veronica’s a  hip lady (far cooler than I) and she had a plus one to a private 5-course meal in a private home overlooking all of LA. She asked me and I jumped at the opportunity after she told me that the chef cooking was going to be the very talented Chef Keven Alan Lee of East in Hollywood.

As a woman who still, to this day, works in a busy kitchen, I admire Chef Keven’s attention to detail. His staff is disciplined and well-trained at what they set out to do. I saw the look on their faces as we ate what they had prepared for us, and they took pleasure in our pleasure. Kudos.

Below was the night’s menu:

Thai Eggplant Larb
Fried Tofu, Pickled Shallots, and Thai Peanut Sauce

Shitake Crab Poppers
Lump Crab, Garden Fresh Vegetables,
Seared & Roasted Shitake Mushrooms, Shitake Aioli

SUPER JUMBO Turkey Tofu Meatballs
Fire Roasted Tomato & White Bean Ragu

Dragon Style “Big Eye” Tuna
Thai Green Curry Rice
Dragon Torched Live

Cheven’s Signature Bread Pudding
Chololate Toffee and milk Chocolate Ganache

My favorites of the night were the Turkey meatballs, the tofu, and the bread pudding. The meatballs were obscenely fresh and soft but not as to fall apart. The tofu was fried into little adorable packets and garnished with some edible flowers.

And then there were the shitake crab poppers. I knew I’d be the one paying for it later, but its just one one of those things you have to do for yourself. So, I selfishly took a bite. It was perfection. Later that night, the taxation for my small bite was a mild swelling. That crab was worth every bit of pain. However, I think I’ll take it easy for sometime… Maybe.

Chef Keven has been asking me to shadow him and do “A Day in the Life” kind of a piece for the blog. He tells me that his day starts off at the farmer’s market, goes from town to town to find the best ingredients, and that he, a Jew, even speaks fluent Spanish. As a Latin gal, I can vouche for Kitchenese as it is actually very good. I may do the article, but I think that the cooking in the kitchen part should be left to the true professionals. After all, the rule of any good cook is to try all of the food you prepared and for me that is a deadly option.

The cocktails were also great, although maybe just as poisonous. If they’d been any stiffer, I would’ve probably woken up next to someone I didn’t know. Thank God I stopped when I did. The drinks were all mixed by Minx in Glendale. Chef Keven has recently started working with them to perfect the new Minx food menu. I will definitely have to check it out soon. Who’s in? I may even try and kill myself again for the sake of delicious food.

UG Crew in Full Force at Sexy Singles’ Soiree 2.0

The UG Girls can be described as many things but one of our favorite classifications is single. There ain’t no man holding us down, well, if they are it isn’t in a bad way. Unfortunately, it has been a while since that has happened, or as Josie has said, “I am a born again virgin.” Anyway, we knew we had to attend the Sexy Singles Soiree hosted by our two favorite bloggers and Tweetettes: The Minty and Vixen.

Since Josie and I are not the only Single Ladies in the office (you just did the Beyonce finger move, didn’t you?) we brought in our PR and Accounting interns, Lea and Maria. We were also reunited with our first intern ever, Young Jin, who gave us all the Eating Dog post. The two hosts had specialty cocktails and, as a Jameson girl, I loved the Minty’s drink. Although the interns told me the Vixen’s gin based drink was good and strong as hell. Did I meet the man of dreams? No, not quite but one thing that made a lovely cameo was the first USDA certified organic Tequila called Casa Noble. Relax folks, we did our part for Earth Day! The interns loved this tequila and I can guarantee we will all be looking for it this Cinco de Mayo.

Did I care that I didn’t meet the man of my dreams? Nope, not one bit. We had great drinks, we were at our favorite downtown spot Drago Centro with their Happy Hour which goes all day and every day, and of course we were in fantastic company. Our friends in the blogosphere/Twitterazi made appearances including Hanhonymous, VeronicainLA, and Finer Things.

The night was fantastic and the event thankfully wasn’t a sausage fest, so I had fun with the girls. Speaking of which, what is the female equivalent of a sausage fest? If you can answer that question, you’d be a total Uncouth Gourmand. My favorite part of the event was a game that they had where everyone drew a playing card and then you had to make the best poker hand. This required the group to socialize and talk to one another. I, Carina, am one hell of a competitive girl and I had the King of Spades. I was being rude and rejecting in honor of the game (probably not that far off real life) and told people that I wouldn’t talk to them unless they were atleast a face card. May not have been the best tactic but I was the only girl amongst the four winners, I got a King and Ace Full House. I liked to call us the only winners, but truly we were all winners for getting ourselves out there and opening ourselves up…I am talking about our hearts…get your mind out of the gutter!

Citysearch LA: Thirsty Crow and Grilled Cheese

I hate to make this comparison again, but first there was Yelp and then there was Citysearch (or the revival thereof). After Carina got striped of her Yelp Elite status this year, she embraced the newbie, Citysearch. I’m glad she did. As a Citysearch dictator, she was privy to a special invite for the soft opening of Thirsty Crow in Silverlake. Really tired and exhausted from the day’s occurrences, we headed to the event. Plus, our favorite truck, the Grilled Cheese Truck, was going to be present. Umm… Specialty cocktails and melted cheese between two slices of bread? Sounds like my dream. How could we say no? Above is us with the master of the grilled cheese who also owns the truck. As I walked to the table of Citysearch dictators, I was stopped in my tracks by a woman who said to me, “Seeing you with that grilled cheese in your hand and that spork in your mouth gives me so much pleasure.” I wondered, was this a pick-up line? Nope. I would never be so lucky as to get hit on in a bar. FML. At any rate, she took a picture of me and we talked for a bit. She was a delight to meet.

Ok, so here’s the lowdown on the bourbon-themed bar, Thirsty Crow. We walked in and the place was dark and somber in that mysterious ‘I want to know more’ cryptic kind of way. One patron even described it as a hipper version of The Edison downtown. I saw no such comparison but I most certainly liked what I saw. The cocktails were a bit pricey, but when you took a swig you knew why. The taste had justified the price. The cocktails were perfectly crafted with an exactitude that only a true mixologist can procure.

Below you can see the master at work and the care he put into my drink. I would be remiss to not disclose that Thirsty Crow comes to you by the people who brought you Big Foot Lounge. I will be back to Silverlake. The boys are adorable and the drinks are great. In fact, here was my Facebook update after leaving:

At the soft opening of The Thirsty Crow in Silverlake. I gotta hang out here more often, the boys are cute. Bye-bye, downtown! Sorry.

The Citysearch dictator crowd was so pleasant. I can’t wait to write my first entry so that I can go to all their fun parties where I get to act like the uncouth gourmand that I am at heart and get complimented for it, have a great cocktail, and party down with a ton of cool people.

Gastrological Astrology: For The Week Beginning April 21st

Photo Credit Rae Threat

By: Your High Priestess, Nadia Noir aka DoubleDEntendre

Week beginning April 21

Hey Zeus or Odin or whatever hot burly Viking spirit that enchants that pre-maturely erupting volcano Eyjafjallajokull, you blew it. Couldn’t you have just waited to spend your wad another week when Mercury wasn’t all retrograde, hung over, and preoccupied because he’s too busy Valhalla-ring at Freya? I’m a Gemini and Mercury is my ruling planet; I’ve had enough of his shenanigans the last couple of days. He needs to put it in his pants, grab the bull by the horns (Taurus) and make the world go in a nice, orderly direction. At this point, I just want to pull a blanket of nice fluffy ash over me, quell my frustration with some comfort food, suck down a couple of bottles of wine, and wait until one of you gods up there greets me with a fresh strawberry pie and a million dollars.

My little trickster buddy Mercury (although I hate you this week! Take your BFF bracelet back!) is retrograde in Taurus until May 11th and what this means for many of us is that we are going to feel stuck. Literally, like an ant with broken legs stuck in a giant puddle of blackstrap molasses lava quicksand, STUCK. Mercury is the fastest of all planets and Taurus is the slowest of all the signs. From a food-oriented perspective, this might be a positive influence where we can linger at long business lunches or slow cook meats to tender perfection. Just make sure you don’t burn, cut, or electrocute yourself. Or blow anything up. Did you hear that Zeus/Odin/whomever?

Aries (March 21-April 19) Aries-proof your kitchen this week. Put little padded edges on everything, don’t turn your burner on over simmer, and please stay away from the knives. In fact, I recommend you do no cooking this week because it’s going to be one of those weeks where you accidentally stab yourself in the eardrum with a chopstick. Sound ridiculous? Well, get used to it. This week every Jim Carrey-esque, banana-peel-on-the-floor gag is going to happen to you. It’s not entirely that the universe has it out for you and it wants you in the emergency room; it’s that it’s testing you. This is like your great Iron Chef moment; Morimoto is standing over you with a 7-course meal, a blowtorch, and some ice sculptures and all your sous chefs are dead. Rise to the occasion! Put your riceballs to the wall! With power, passion, and maybe a couple of Cat Cora’s ouzo shots you will be ok. PS. It’s not all bad. At least you’ll have something to blog about.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) There are some Yelp reviewers that go to a restaurant once, have a mediocre experience, write an explicitly detailed review on all the negative things that happened, and vow to ‘never go back there again’. Don’t be like one of those reviewers. First of all, that’s absurd; you can’t accurately judge something from one experience. Second, this week it is especially important for you to be a tried and true, patient and honest Taurus. Mercury is retrograde in your sign so nothing is going to go with the efficiency and accuracy you are wont to expect as a Taurus. The irony of it all is that you are probably the only sign that can truly handle it when a waiter screws up your order or you find a human toe in your bruschetta. Just like nature, like the crops, like a trendy new restaurant, like that damned volcano, it is up to you to recognize that the stability of things is cyclical. But, hey, it’s also okay to complain when you get a human toe in your bruschetta. Just make sure you pay attention the metaphor behind the toe. And, ummm, explain it to me when you understand.

Gemini (May 21-June 20) Sizzle! Crash! Buzz! Bang! Weeeeee! Dodge it, Gemini! Pick it up and throw it back! Laugh hysterically! This week, Gemini, is like your own perverse version of ‘Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs’. One day you will be covered in Siracha and cilantro and the next you will be sliding down hills of red velvet frozen yogurt throwing mochi balls at your friends. You have no control over anything this week, so you might as well enjoy yourself. Stay in the moment, do what you need to do, but don’t get stuck with any concrete dinner plans. Take your pita chip raft out into the sea of hummus and just wait. Good things will come raining down from the sky. Don’t focus on the details of what is about to rain from the sky. Whatever it is, it will be yummy, worth your while, and a lot of fun. If anyone can enjoy the pure chaos of the moment, it’s you Gemini. Just don’t forget that everyone else around you is probably drowning in Zankou Chicken garlic sauce. They might need your singular focus (and chicken wing sailboat) to fish them out.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) Look Cancer. You’ve been lucky (and lazy) lately. And guess what? This week you are going to become powerful! Your influence over others is going to be chart-blowing; almost to the point where you become like a giant livered, seven stomached, Thomas Effin’ Keller of the zodiac. I’m not sure if I envy you or your position of power scares me, but either way, healthy bosomed Food Network groupies are going to be throwing themselves at your proverbial, Croc wearing feet. However, it’s not going to be all “Book deals, houses in Maui and one night stands with Giada” for you. With great power comes great responsibility. What that means is that you are not allowed to be lazy anymore. You’ll have to crawl out of the caviar-encrusted pearl-studded safe room in your beach bungalow and actually do something. In the world. Yes, that thing that most other signs do. It’s ok. It’s like a Retrograde Armageddon out there so while everyone is running, screaming, and dodging meatballs, no one is going to notice that you forgot how to talk. To people. Yes, actual people. IRL.

Leo (July 23-August 22) There is liquid sunshine running through your veins, Leo. You are like a great big agave plant, turning itself into tequila, drinking your own sun-drenched juices, getting drunk on yourself, repeating the whole process over and over again; this is a beautiful feeling. You are salaciously slurping on the giant knob of life and it’s inebriating possibilities. The great ‘Bartender in the Sky’ has lined up all the shots for you, letting you call them, and everyone gets to jealously watch as you do body shots off of young, nubile co-eds. Before you throw on your sombrero, understand that despite all the fun you are having this is the Retrograde Armageddon; don’t get too wasted. This week your life is like a giant metaphor for getting drunk; you have to consciously pay attention to the present moment whilst having fun so that in the future (i.e. the morning after) you aren’t too hung over to go about your business. Which, unequivocally, is to continue to make people jealous with the shining debaucherous brilliant star that is the Leo life.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) “If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake.” Don’t lie. You knew I was coming. You’re just being lazy. In fact, you’ve been so lazy lately that this week the universe is totally going to turn you into that fat little boy in ‘Matilda’ that Ms. Trunchbull makes eat a whole giant chocolate cake in front of an audience of his aghast peers. And if he doesn’t, he goes into the Chokey. Do you want devious Mercury Retro to send you to the ‘Chokey’? Do you think that after weeks of consummate laying-around-on-your-plump-behind you can stomach the cake? If I were you, I would get up and start training your tummy now: Youtube Kobayashi eating competitions, garnish your daily oatmeal with Benefiber and sea monkeys, and pray to the aforementioned Viking hunk for a respite from the prophesies of those crazy constellations. Because, in truth, you are probably going to be fine this week, still rolling around in your own slop. But as Charlotte the Spider would say: You never know, Wilbur. Don’t get too comfortable.

Libra (September 23-October 22) Libra, the consummate party girl, your chart this week is demanding that you…keep partying. Not really sure how you swung that considering this week for everyone else in the zodiac is like a giant auditorium of PMS’ing women with no chocolate and no men to shank. You are the Babybel of the ball, like a bosomy Nigella in a pink crinoline party dress, surrounded by barely clothed Jamie Oliver clones, bearing plates of buttery pasta and jugs of wine made from grapes fertilized by Anthony Bourdain’s beatific juices. The only negative that might occur this week is if you expect any less than the best; do that you might get your party dress ripped off like Cinderella did by her stepsisters and not in a fun way.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) Dear Scorpio: I love you. You’re my moon sign. I get it: the passion, the torture, the mystery, the possessiveness, the pure insatiable hunger that scares the shit out of everyone. The most scandalous things go in (and out) of your mouth and no one else can digest as much unadulterated insanity as a Scorpio and come out with such a virginal unscathed colon. However, this week Mercury, the planet of communication, is retrograde and what that means is you need to shut it. Shut your trap. Don’t put anything in your mouth you can’t chew. Don’t over spice your words. Don’t let anything pass through your lips that is not simple and sweet. Just don’t do it.  You might feel crazy, on the verge of verbal bulimia, ready to purge out your heated words with the same myopic persistence as a teenage girl in a Cheesecake Factory bathroom. But swallow it. Keep it down. Your life (and everyone else’s) will be so much more delicious (and less scary).

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) Once upon a time, a long time ago, whilst under the influence of intoxicating substances (ok, not that long ago), I decided to make s’mores over a candle in my bathroom. While making the s’more the marshmallow fell off the wooden chopstick I was using and burned my left foot. I tell you this story because making s’mores is a precarious situation that takes diligence, patience, understanding, and honestly, sheer luck. If you don’t pay attention to the way the marshmallow is caramelizing or how the chocolate is burning you end up with a puddle of chocolate and just a bunch of burned sugar (which I would eat, but you Sag have way more class than I do). Right now your life is going to be like a test to see if you can “make the perfect s’more”. You are going to have to pay attention, watch your marshmallow with your one good hawk-eye, and most importantly, stay sober. Or you will end up like me. And I’m pretty sure you don’t want that.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) Other horoscopes for this week talk about Capricorn planting “seeds” and “making roots” and “setting your intentions” and lots of other hippie stuff that sort of either makes me want to a) take mushrooms or b) take more mushrooms. It’s not that you can’t apply this spiritual mumbo jumbo jambalaya gumbo to some part of your life, but when prankster Mercury is retrograde you might as well take off your shirt and start begging for strands of Mardi Gras beads made out of beignets; whatever you think is going to happen isn’t going to happen so (my) logic dictates that you just do whatever you want until you can’t do it anymore. Step out of the comfort zone, stoic Capricorn: rub yourself down with Tabasco, put on your feathered thong, swig a few hurricanes, and prepare to storm through everyone’s world. If you just let yourself go, you might find all that existential enlightenment waiting for you in perfect and pristine order once the world decides it actually wants you to tend to your garden. For now, you might as well party while the tempest of Mercury Retrograde is watering your sacred tomatoes.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) As <insert brilliant chanteuse here> would sing, “Money, you’ve got lots of friends/crowding round the door/when you’re gone and spending ends/they don’t come no more/rich relations give/crust of bread and such/you can help yourself/but don’t take too much.” This week you are that proverbial crust of bread, Aquarius. People that you haven’t seen since your favorite beverage wasn’t alcoholic will come crawling out of hidden wells ala Samara from ‘The Ring’, trying to slather the crust of your bread with their baneful butter. As a non-judgmental, fun-loving Aquarius, you are sort of okay with people stealing from your breadbasket once in awhile. Anything in the name of a good time is okay with you. And I wouldn’t recommend being petty because your life and chart is looking better than every other sign in the zodiac’ right now. But don’t expect anyone to go halfsies with you, pick up the 20% tip, or even say “thank you”. Ignore them. You can help yourself. If they take too much, decide what you want to do about it. All the stars point to you just chalking it up to a bad batch of dough. Which is awesome. See. That’s why ‘Everyone loves an Aquarius’. You should get a t-shirt that says that.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) When a chef drizzles a tiny bit of olive oil on a dish, or takes a pinch of something, that secret something, and sprinkles it over surreptitiously, it is such a subtle action, rarely noticed by the casual consumer, but it is an intrinsic step along the path of genius in the dish. Pisces, you are one of the most creative signs in the zodiac but also one of the least recognized for your talents. Maybe it’s because you are detachedly sprinkling the dish of your life, somehow making the world magical to the people around you, but never doing it enough so that enough notices the effect that you are having upon them. Usually, this is fine, but these days you want to be on J. Gold’s 99 Essential’s list, you want lines out your door, and you want a mothereffin’ Michelin Star. You want it all, and frankly, at this point, with all you’ve been through, you DESERVE it. So think up some crappy catch phrase like Emeril and “BAM!” your way into the minds of others. Don’t be modest. I know you want to roll around naked in $2 bills and raw snickerdoodle dough. You perv.

Malibu—> Opera—> Yelp Party

And Malibu traps me yet again! As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted with a shriek by a girl whom I had never met before. Apparently, it was the K from FinerthingsLA and she yelled, “You’re going to think I am such a nerd, but you’re Josie from Uncouth Gourmands! I recognize your hair!” In total disbelief that my hair was more popular than I was, I replied with a ‘yes’ and we poured ourselves a drink. We talked about blogs, boys, and friends. K is co-author to Finer Things LA, which she and her bestie have been operating for about three months now. Their motto is: A Classy Guide on Getting Drunk and Fat in Los Angeles. I dig this girl’s uncouth ways, and surely, we’re bound to collaborate soon.

The night wore on and we got, what else? Hungry. Next to the Minty, our newest and freshest UG face has been Ms. Veronica in LA. The girl knows far more about what’s hip in LA than I do, and she’s been my tour guide for the past few weeks. As you can see, I showed her my appreciation up above. Anyone that knows me, can vouche that I’m a total carnivore. In fact, I kind of hate vegetarians. I’ve been debating doing a 30-day expose into the life of a vegetarian and documenting it on the blog. However, I’m not sure if I have the discipline for that. Below you can see my last meal – A medium rare piece of pork loin of tenderness – Oops! I mean tenderloin. I think the vegetarian expose will have to wait… I’m not promising anything, either.

See above: It is perhaps the most uncouth moment of the night. Liking her fingers wet after a rare piece of meat, Miss. Veronica is now an official UG.

Speaking of UG staples, Miss Minty, invited me to the opera on Sunday and being the dilettante that I am, I jumped all over the invite on Facebook. I rushed from Malibu to downtown and headed over to see the matinee showing. It was a weird show, but we liked it anyway. From there, we headed to Eagle Rock.

Minty has over 2,000 quality reviews on Yelp, so she had a special invite to the Yelp Elite party in Eagle Rock (and a plus one). Since the show ran late, we missed the first party and met up with everyone at the Black Boar in Eagle Rock. Before we could hit up drinks, we had to tend to more important orders and since food always goes before liquor for this UG, we headed the Vietnamese place on Colorado, Lemongrass. Minty was on camera duty there, so I’ll write about that one soon.

We met up with the rest of the Yelp bunch and partied like rock stars for the rest of the night. We met up with Javier from WeirdTV and I talked him up about beer, OK Cupid, and his new favorite restaurant, Mac and Cheeza in downtown on 8th. M & C comes from the guys that brought you Larkin’s. Apparently, they mix in whatever ingredients to want into your mac and cheese. Anywhere from tomatoes to wild mushrooms. I must check this place out soon. Anyone want to join me?

I got to finally meet Carina’s gay boyfriend, Paul, and I think she may have some competition. Move over, Carina! Josie’s the new gay girlfriend in town. We stayed for a long time, actually and I got to know some of the fabulous people that make up the Yelp Elite mix. I joked at the party that I married into Yelp and when asked who my husband was — I pointed to Minty. See you at the next Yelp party… Or maybe CitySearch…

Office Bonding Buffet: New Delhi Palace, Pasadena

The picture above is reason enough for you to believe me when I say, I absolutely and totally love my job. For all you Uncouth Gourmands fans out there, I’m Meryl aka the CFO: nice to meet you. I love trying out Indian cuisine in LA; I moved here from India two years ago, and I’m constantly on the prowl for any semblance of the food I dearly miss. So when Carina mentioned Indian food, I was ecstatic!

The UG team (missing two members: Lea and Maria) set out early to the buffet at New Delhi Palace. I liked the vibe here; they had statues and ethnic decorations all over. I picked up the camera and got clicking, while the rest of the team headed over to the buffet, which definitely did not lack variety. I found the salad particularly amusing, it was a combination of potatoes, corn and carrots among other food items, but I don’t think I’ve seen this anywhere back home.

I was delighted to see the ‘basmati’ fried rice, always a favorite, which went hand in hand with the ‘Dal Makhani’ (a creamy lentil delicacy). The ‘Chole’ (chickpeas) was not as spicy as I would have expected, but then most Indian food I’ve eaten here is toned down on the spices front. The Chicken curry was simple and delicious, cooked in typical North Indian style, and along with the ‘Palak’ (spinach) curry, worked well in combination with the ‘naan’ (Indian oven-baked flat-bread).

My top choice of the buffet would definitely be the ‘Baingan Bharta’ (eggplant curry). It had just the right blend of sweet and spicy although I think they took the liberty of changing it up by adding potatoes. Anyway, it tasted just right with the fried rice. The ‘raita’ (a traditional yogurt side dish) was good, but the ‘Tandoori Chicken’ was a bit of a let down though the chutneys were appetizing. They had a mango pudding and rice pudding for desert, which were both great, but I guess I was hoping for the more traditional ‘Gulab Jamun’ or ‘Halwa’.

I think among all of us, Josie had the best time (refer to food plate above). I lost out on the garlic naan, and had to settle for the regular naan as I was too involved with getting the right pictures for my first post on this prestigious blog. But Josie and Carina both argued that it was in good faith: they didn’t want me to be embarrassed just in case I did get kissed anytime soon(!). Below is a shot of the rest of the team; to the left is Ian, our website designer, on the right is Kristiana, our marketing intern, and that’s me in the center. Overall, it was nice team lunch and good bonding time; we all had our fill and blissfully drifted off to sleep in Carina’s car on the way back to the office. In light of our food comas, I doubt we will be returning anytime soon, but I do know the buffet selection is changed daily. A definite must-try!