Poppies and grilled cheese

Spring is in full force, and the Lancaster poppies were in bloom early this month in April.  I decided to take a day trip up to these famous poppy fields to have fun with nature photography and test out a few different lenses.  I didn’t make it out there until just after their peak, but it was really nice to be in the middle of flowering fields and beautiful skies.  Lancaster is about an hour drive up north from Los Angeles, and I was excited to have a fun nature excursion. The sky was a perfect clear blue, but it was windy as hell.  It was quite a challenge taking close ups of moving flowers with a macro lens.

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I was hoping to frolick in infinite flowing fields of bright saffron orange poppies, but we were surrounded mostly by yellow wildflowers.  It was still a beautiful and poetic experience.  Since we went on a weekday, hardly anybody was there and we sat peacefully on the ground in a tête-à-tête with the flowers with the violent whispers of the wind blowing through our hair.

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It was a beautiful ever flowing ocean of poppies, wildflowers and weeds of blue, purple, yellow, orange, green, and brown.  It was exhilarating to be surrounded 360 degrees by nature and breath in the fresh unpolluted air.  We took a break from photography and ate juicy sweet bright red cherry tomatoes on the dirt path.  All of my senses were saturated with an innocent and pure feeling of happiness.

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The orange poppies had delicate thin petals that swayed gracefully in the strong wind.

poppy

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As the wind picked up the fallen poppy petals and whisked them away into the deep blue sky, I realized that nothing is forever in this world.  Things that touch our lives will come and go whether we like it or not.  Enjoy the moment, seize the day, live in the now…..

And eat grilled cheese sandwiches now in April, during National Grilled Cheese Month, before it’s too late.  They will not be around after a couple of weeks.  Don’t let that good one slip through your fingers.  Enjoy the sandwich, seize the cheese, live in the melt….

Clementine's

Clementine's

After our Lancaster poppy outing, we went to my favorite neighborhood joint, Clementine’s.  They throw a huge National Grilled Cheese Month celebration every year in April.  This year they were featuring specialty sandwiches in collaboration with Los Angeles celebrity chefs.  That particular week they had a Chicharron de Queso sandwich with black beans, avocado, pickled jalapeños and pico de gallo courtesy of Jimmy Shaw, owner/chef of Loteria Grill.  The previous week was a Provolone and Hot Italian Sausage with garlicky rapini on ciabatta sandwich courtesy of Evan Kleinman, host of KCRW’s Good Food and chef/owner of  Angeli Caffe.  This coming week is a Camembert sandwich with mustard greens and mushrooms on country bread courtesy of Amelia Saltsman, author of The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Cookbook. Next and final week is a Queso Mahon and Chorizo sandwich with quince paste and romesco, courtesy of Suzanne Goin, chef/owner of Lucques, A.O.C. and Tavern.

I was impressed with the celebrity line up.  After quenching our thirst with their lovely ginger limeade…

Ginger limeade

Ginger limeade

We had the ‘Little Armenia’ with soujouk, melted cheese, herbs and grilled tomato on Armenian bread.  Soujouk, sujuk, soudjouk, yershig, is a dry spicy sausage consisting of beef with cumin, sumac, garlic, salt and red pepper.  In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan they use horse meat.  They used a white Armenian string cheese that had little black nigella seeds.  The bread was perfectly toasted in the panini press, and this sandwich was unbelievably delicious.  It was one of my favorite grilled cheese sandwiches that I’ve ever had.  The meat was smokey, spicy and flavorful, and it tasted like a combination of bresaola and pastrami.

Little Armenia sandwich

Little Armenia sandwich

We also had the Grilled Garlic Melt served with fava bean purée, sauteed greens and shaved parmesan.  The roasted garlic flavor was intense in the sandwich.  This was a no frills simple grilled cheese sandwich, executed in an orthodox and simple fashion and bursting with fresh spring aromas.

Grilled Garlic Melt

Grilled Garlic Melt

Every week in April they feature 5 different types of specialty grilled cheese sandwiches.  This week I have my eye on their Pastrami Reuben with Niman Ranch pastrami, gruyere, sauerkraut and 10,000 lakes dressing.  They usually have this sandwich on their regular menu, and it’s one of the best pastrami reubens in Los Angeles.  Next week I have my eye on the Queso Mahon and Chorizo by Chef Suzanne Goin.

What a wonderful day of indulging all of my senses in nature, food and art!

Clementines

Random trivia: Did you know that in 2004 a grilled cheese sandwich bearing the image of the Virgin Mary sold on eBay for $28,000?

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