Leslie's List: Super Blooms, Snail Mail, and S Town - Cupcakes & Cashmere

Leslie's List: Super Blooms, Snail Mail, and S Town

The best things to eat, do, and read this week.
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This to-do list is culled directly from my own calendar and interests. Most everything on the list can be done no matter where you live, but because I live in L.A., my "Do" each week will spotlight a unique L.A.-based event or activity. If you're inspired by any of these tips or have some of your own to add, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Do small

If you're looking for a reason to go to Palm Springs, but can't swing the Coachella tickets, Desert X is a good place to start. Through April 30th, artists have installed impressive, site-specific pieces around the valley and surrounding desert that each speak to global and local issues. The installations are free to visit and range from a house covered in mirrors to an enormous optical illusion wall. This weekend, I visited some of the pieces on a 24-hour girls' trip and had the best time caravanning (and sometimes off-roading) to get to each location, most of which are about 15 minutes from each other. If you're going this weekend, you may be able to catch the tail-end of the "super bloom," as well. Just be sure to go in the morning since the poppies close in the late afternoon (which I learned the hard way). Here's some more information on why the super bloom is going on, as well as the best hikes to see it from.

Also, if you're looking for something to do in the L.A. area tonight, the brewery Golden Road is hosting a carnival in honor of their lager—and one of my very favorite summery beers—called 329 (it's sort of like "pi" day but for beer).

Eat small

I recently came across Milk and Eggs, a startup that aggregates produce from Southern California farmers and delivers it around the Los Angeles area. As a fan of farm co-ops, I immediately signed up for the monthly sampler ($20 to $35 a month) and was thrilled when I received a bag overflowing with tangerines, fresh coconuts, bananas, grapefruit, potatoes, cilantro, celery, zucchini, lemons, butter lettuce, and radishes. For dinner that night, I made a dish that used as many raw vegetables as possible, to keep their flavor as much as possible. I landed on this bright, vinegary potato salad as my base, served over a bed of lettuce, with tons of added thinly sliced vegetables. Eaten outside with a glass of rosé, it was the perfect springtime meal. 

P.S., If you're in the San Francisco area, try out Good Eggs, a similar company that operates out of Northern California.

Read small 2

Gabrielle Hamilton is among one of my favorite writers and chefs—she's the author of the memoir Blood, Bones, and Butter (which I highly recommend, even if you don't consider yourself a "foodie"), and the owner of my favorite restaurant in New York, Prune (which has an equally amazing cookbook). Last week, she wrote a piece for New York Times Magazine about a dish she describes as a staple in France that's "neither exotic nor particularly haute." She's talking about radishes, butter, and salt. Like her, it's one of the first dishes I can remember eating—my mom would serve it to me as a snack while she cooked dinner—but I could never describe it as poetically as she does ("The peppery, fiery radishes are tamed by the swipe through the cool, creamy butter."). With so many articles about quick tricks for three ingredient dinners and one-ingredient ice creams it felt refreshing to read about a dish that practices minimalism for the sake of flavor, not convenience.

watch

To me the best part of watching Planet Earth are the short clips at the end of each episode explaining the hardest shot they got. They always serve as a fascinating reminder that there's someone sitting on a mountain for months with a camera to get one ten-second clip of an elusive snow leopard. This video from Vox's YouTube channel, which is filled with fascinating explanations of how things work, goes even deeper into how Planet Earth achieved such amazing, Hollywood-worthy shots for the sequel. 

Listen

I'm a devoted fan of This American Life and Serial (I once chased Sarah Koenig down the street in New York to tell her I loved her and get this picture...), so I counted down to their new spinoff S Town, which was released in full (!) yesterday. Produced by Brian Reed, who you may remember from some of TAL's more politically leaning, in-depth episodes, the show is about a murder and the social dynamics of a small town in Alabama. I've only listened to the first episode so far, but I can already tell I'll be finished with the rest by the end of today. 

Make

I love sending snail mail whenever possible—it's one of the ways I keep in touch with my best friend from college who lives across the country. Since stationery can get expensive, I've started making my own lined envelopes, which look so luxe and special. Here's the DIY I use to make them.