Carina Ost: On Course in My Mission Fruition

11 Jul

Photo Credit: Henri Matisse. Nude with Oranges. My favorite painting.

If there is one universal truth that I believe in, it is synchronicity. Last year, when I moved from LA after a good solid year and a half of writing about food and a building a young lifestyle company for foodies I was unsure of my direction, identity, and next steps. My move to San Francisco, mainly Noe Valley, brought me to a colorful sign that read “Ripe Fruit Writing.” Hmm, my new life plan was to be a writer and no longer dreams of being a reality tv star or media mogul. Two of the six new domains that I bought were entitled Ripeness is All dot com and Mission Fruition dot com. “Ripeness is all” was taken from Shakespeare’s King Lear and is often used to stand solo because those three words are the meaning of life for me, even if not Shakespeare’s intention. Ripeness is All was meant to be my personal growth blog and Mission Fruition is where I would try and talk about my main passion: food. I have done a pretty shitty job adding to both but I’ll blame the luck of great jobs and opportunities falling in my lap for that one.

Anyway, back to Ripe Fruit Writing. It was a writing class in my neighborhood where we had a teacher, prompts, notebooks, and pens and took breaks with hot tea and ripe fruit. In other words, it was the perfect class for me and only blocks from my house. One of my prompts that we did was trying to recall our first memory. What do we see when our mind transports us back in time to our youngest self? Supposedly, this is what will follow you for your whole life. For me, I was probably nearly three. I was just out of the bath with my mom and I refused a towel. I was wet and naked and specifically remember wet hair. I am at my grandma’s house. There are only white walls and then large pink and orange artwork of Matisse nudes, musicians playing in New York, and Asian women warriors riding lions that she batiked. My grandma and I both loved fruit but she  loved her fruit very under ripe and ice cold, straight from the fridge. I hated that feeling on my new teeth. She handed me a peach and it was so cold that I held it to my mouth like it was my egg and I was it’s mother. I would patiently wait until it was the appropriate room temperature before I took a bite. I then remember juices running down my face and deeply looking at the colors, the oranges and the reds closer to the pit.

Immediately I can see how this first memory has continued in my life. First, I still take ridiculously long baths and my mom and I normally are simultaneously in the bath in our respective homes when we talk on the phone together.  It is our bonding time. I also get made fun of for not knowing how to dry myself off. I don’t blow dry my hair and barely use a towel. The most comforting thing for me is getting under the covers wet and taking a 10 minute nap after the exhausting bath. Secondly, my grandma’s asethetic is all over my apartment and embedded in my style. Granted, I have a ton of her artwork but even the pieces I choose are very similar. Asian influences with female subjects and reds, pinks, oranges and yellow. Lastly, on to the peach, fruition is my favorite word and has been since I was 12 and fruit follows me in all that I do. When I was in this writing group we read these aloud and my classmates commented on how sensual that was and it was no wonder that writing about food is what brings me the most pleasure.

Which brings me on to me next subject, did I find what I am supposed to be doing? I don’t know yet. However, I do know that the other day I was looking through my closet and stumbled across some old school  papers. Among them was an alphabet book that we had to make. For my subject, I chose food and while flipping through the pages I discovered that I have been writing about food and taking pictures of food for far longer than I ever imagined. I also remembered in Jr. High doing a presentation where you were supposed to teach the class a skill and I did cake decorating. It was a complete and utter diaster, but again food was my beacon.

Anyway, I can’t describe how good it felt to connect the line in the map of my life from the past to the future and realize that there is a reason that I am doing exactly what I have always done and representing the person at my core. I mean, it’s impossible to ever really go off course, at then end of our lives we can clearly see the path and it will make sense but I really felt so lost just a year ago: new career ambitions, new city, new friends, and new life.  My college application essay for undergrad was called “Why I Deserve to Be Like Merv” about Merv Griffin. First, I wanted to own hotel. Later I wanted to be Martha Stewart and made a brand plan that looked identical to hers. Now, I can say that I am paving my own way and it is more true to myself than I could have imagined. As someone who grew up reading nothing but biographies there is something so profoundly liberating about filling up my own pages instead of reading and following along to someone else’s.

The King is Gone, but He’s Not Forgotten

3 Jan


My beautiful and brilliant grandpa passed away on Christmas, here is the obituary that I wrote:

Arthur J. Ost was born on July 3, 1919 in Brooklyn and despite moving to California 45 years ago, he never lost his New York accent. He was part of the original Mad Men, working in advertising in New York City on Madison Ave. He had a way with words and languages and mastered wit and humor in the more than 5 languages he dabbled in. His life saw many tragedies: the death of his dear brother Milton to Alzheimer’s and the loss of several family members, including his only son, firefighter Bob Ost, in a tragic commercial plane crash in 2000. Despite it all, Arthur was the person that everyone turned to for comic relief, an unfiltered honest answer, and simple sage advice. Whether it was helping someone lose weight by saying 3 simple words: “Why not reduce?” or giving relationship advice; Arthur was the Go-To-Man. Basically the message was: think better of yourself.

He was a stubborn man who was independent for as long as possible. He volunteered and fought injustices up until a stroke in his mid-eighties. In 2005, he moved near his daughter, Janis Ost, and his youngest grandson, Cody Ford. He made a name for himself and a home at Paradise Villa, formerly Twilight Manor. He was even featured in the Sentinel under the headline “The Rubber Band Man” for his giant 85-pound rubber band ball that he tirelessly grew. Arthur will be remembered as a poet and a radical, an instigator and a protector, a gentleman and a troublemaker. Arthur loved to look at babies and talk to children; he leaves behind a generation of young comics, perfect spellers, and storytellers that he befriended along the years. He often claimed that he was not a trained seal but he always knew how to put on a show, especially at his epic birthday parties filled with people of every ethnicity and age group and live music from Keith Greeninger.

He will be greatly missed by his only daughter and his four grandchildren: Carina, Cody, Ashley and Axel. Arthur’s life was also brightened each and everyday by his “trainer” and best friend, Pilar Glucs, they were planning on sharing a cake with both of their names on it for their 5-year anniversary next month. His final words were “Hello ladies” to Janis, Carina, and Pilar at his bedside; after all, there is a sign on his door that read, “Arthur is a gentleman, always.” Arthur, a secular Jew, took his last breath just past midnight on Christmas at age 91 with his girls holding his hand.

If there was one thing Arthur loved, above all else, it was his name in print. Long live King Arthur Ost, “The King is gone, but he is not forgotten”

 

Moving on from Uncouth Gourmands and Los Angeles

20 Oct

For the last two years, Uncouth Gourmands has been my life. For the last year and a half, I have shared my Uncouth Gourmand adventures with you. Josie and I were inseparable and I still cannot go to any event in LA without people asking where my other half or partner is. It is  a role that I have loved because I have met so many great people in the food, restaurant, PR, blogosphere and Twitterazzi worlds. I have lived in LA for the last 6 years, long enough for me to attend both college and grad school and really only since my time as a UG did this monstrosity of a city, LA, feel like a home to me. I felt as though I knew all 88 cities and the food and the culture belonged to me. However, my problem is that I love getting lost and the idea of being a Foursquare Mayor of anywhere frightens me. I want to explore something new and am moving on to a new chapter. There are three people in the food world that I have met or digitally talked to that have greatly changed my direction in the last few months. They are my idols and I am going to share what I learned from them and how they shaped my new San Francisco life.

Photo Credit to NY Magazine

1. Gael Greene is a woman who I greatly admire. At one point, Josie and I were getting a comic book made called “The Insatiables” and it wasn’t til a few months later that I realized that Gael Greene already authored a book called “Insatiable.” She embraced her sexuality along with her insatiable appetite for food. As someone who is a die-hard feminist and foodie, I appreciate her on a very personal level. Her chapter on having sex with Elvis Presley in the 50’s was the most exciting thing I have ever read. While all of the girl’s were down below on the street level of his hotel screaming his name she was actually getting him although she has a better memory of the exact sandwich she ordered him after the deed. I remember writing something to her on Twitter saying how much I admire her and Ruth Reichl and she responded to me saying, “Perhaps you are becoming a more couth gourmand.” I didn’t believe it then but it is true. The way Josie and I branded this company was she was the more uncouth and I was the more gourmand one. I am champagne and Josie is beer. I really want to learn more about the food and shed some of my uncouth ways. I will probably always sit with my leg up at any restaurant and not hold a knife and fork correctly but I want to learn wine and cooking and the process. That is where my new interest lies.

2. Thomas Keller is considered one of the best chefs in this country and when I met him a few months ago at a book signing he wrote something very profound on the inscription. I am sure he wrote this to everyone but this had particular resonance with me. It IS all about family. My family is small and exceptionally tight and for the last 6 years I have lived away from them. I always stayed in the same state but I want to be closer to my Santa Cruz roots and my family tree branches. San Francisco is a 70 mile drive to my mom’s home in Santa Cruz where my 9 year old brother and my 90 year old grandfather are and I want to be near both of those gentlemen and my mama. I think my friend Hanh said it best, “You will never regret a decision that favors on the side of family”

3. Ruth Reichl: I met Ruth at a celebration for Gourmet Magazine in January and I really felt as though she changed my life. I come from a family of writers and was always under the impression that I wanted something much more serious for my life. After all, I just got an MBA and business was my form of rebelling. I learned from her that writing, even writing about food, is extremely serious and she really made me want to be a much better food writer. I realized at this point that writing for the rest of my life would make me the happiest person in the world. Prior to this, I used writing more as a means to promote the brand that was Uncouth Gourmands. I wanted to head a lifestyle brand and, in order for people to understand that lifestyle, I shared my life. This became my favorite part of UG and through this I ended up finding my voice and what is that I want to do. In April, I headed up north to see my family and spend some time in San Francisco. The first night of this trip, my mom bought me Garlic & Sapphires after I heard from Gastronomyblog and Glutser that it changed their lives. I devoured the book by Ruth Reichl during the trip and while driving into San Francisco I did that trick that I sometimes do on dates where I say “Please don’t let me fall in love. Please don’t let me fall in love” I tend to have some restraint on dates but on this trip I fell in love. I knew driving back to LA that I would end up moving to SF and even wrote a post entitled, “I left my footprint in San Francisco” What I learned from Ruth and her book is that there is a certain inspiration that can only come when you are discovering a new city. She was from NYC but after years in LA she was in no rush to return. LA is cozy and beautiful and at one point in the book she describes it as the silk coffin because it is hard to escape. However, rediscovering NYC provided her with some great writing and especially when you write about restaurants half the fun is the first second you walk in to a new place and your first bite.

It’s official, sometime this month I will be moving to San Francisco and I will be leaving UG behind. I will always be an Uncouth Gourmand, after all I added the “Gourmand” part to the name but I don’t know how well I fit the brand anymore. It is LA based and that is where the UG Global Headquarters is and where the “magic” happens. Have no fear, Josie and I are still friends but our identities aren’t as enmeshed as they once were. People change, businesses grow, and as Josie and I (perpetual singletons) know all too well relationships don’t end up being what you imagine them to be in the beginning. The picture above was us volunteering at our favorite LA food event, Taste of the Nation LA, and we will be doing it again this year. It features some of the best food, the who’s who of the LA food world, and it all goes to help a great cause. If you are sad about this news and wanna see the OG UG girls together again then buy your tickets ASAP and we will see you on Sunday! If you can’t make it you can still find Josie on @UncouthGourmand and you can follow me @CarinaOst on Twitter.

Thank you all for everything and I hope to see you in SF or in my second home LA. Spork on, Uncouthies!

——-

Perhaps the biggest change in direction in my life was leaving my business and Los Angeles after 6 years. I am now 4 months into living in San Francisco, continuing to write about food and I couldn’t be any happier.

List of Things That Changed My Life

22 May

Food:
Uni
Raw scallops
Passion Fruit

Trips:
China
Europe -9 county excursion
New Orleans

Interesting People I’ve Met:
Ruth Reichl
Susan McDougal
Barbara Walters

Books:
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
Promiscuities by Naomi Wolf
The E Myth by Michael E. Gerber
Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

Careers:
Merv Griffin’s entrepreneurship
Martha Stewart’s lifestyle brand
Ruth Reichl and Gael Greene’s food writing

Events:
Alaskan Airlines Flight 261
Hillary Clinton’s campaign
2008 Presidential Election
Matthew Shepard’s murder

Fictional Characters:
Grace Adler
Bridget Jones
Isadora Wing
Annie Hall

Restaurants:
Manresa (Los Gatos)
Boiling Crab (Alhambra)
Le Louis XV (Monte Carlo)

Musicians:
Patti Smith
Leonard Cohen
Fiona Apple
Regina Spektor

Port Hueneme: A Resting Place

31 Jan

Let me preface by saying, this is the most personal thing I have written in a long time. I am not sure if I should post this, but I think it is a story worth telling. Many of you have probably heard me say that January is a very difficult time of year for me, but perhaps I have never really told you why. The truth is that I come from a very small and tight family and January is a roller coaster of emotions that every year makes me plead for February to come early. It begins January 14th and remains until the 31st, which is the culmination of everything. January 14th was my grandma’s birthday and 10 years ago my uncle, his wife, and their baby took my grandma and her partner to Puerto Vallarta in celebration of her 73rd year of life. The plane never made it back to San Francisco and ultimately Seattle. The Alaska Airlines plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Port Hueneme on January 31, 2000. I was 13 at the time and had my first experience with death multiplied by 5 and intensified by NTSB meetings, news crews, and surrounded by other grieving families. Every year since then I have made the trek to Port Hueneme to be as close to where my family’s last moments were. My mom drove down from Santa Cruz on Friday and I met her at the hotel late Friday night after going to a friend’s birthday party first. Port Hueneme is one of the most confusing towns when it comes to maps, directions, and everything else. However, once you arrive, you are greeted by the kindest people and feel right at home.

Even though I didn’t get to the hotel until 12:30 in the morning my mom signed us both up for a boat ride to the crash site. Despite being here several years neither my mom or I have ever actually seen where it happened. I feel like I often talk up Port Hueneme but every year I come here I see rainbows and dolphins. It truly couldn’t be any more beautiful. Our boat, filled with family and friends of passengers, was surrounded by hundreds of dolphins. It was overwhelming. The actual site was calm and still and we dropped orchids and roses into the water. We have always known it was near the channel islands but this was the first time we saw it up close and with all of the sea life surrounding it.

The day was emotional, which was expected. My mom wanted to just order in but I talked her in to getting out. My mom, who lost her mom and only sibling on board the flight, is a huge sushi fan so when I suggest Japanese she finally agreed. This small town in Ventura County isn’t really known for food and yet on the Yelp App I found a very high rated sushi spot called, Sushi Hanada. I loved the sign near the table that says no side of wasabi. They serve sushi in the traditional Japanese manner between the rice in the fish, never mixed with soy sauce. One of my best friends is from Tokyo and taught me well that it is, “So typical American style.” I did the ordering and OMG! We got the live scallop, black cod, eel and cucumber and shitake roll.

The service was great and the food was phenomenal. The place was filled with locals and I think both of us weren’t quite ready to get back and face reality and the impending day. We did the smart thing and ordered more. I love that yellow pickled radish that I can never remember the name to and they added it to a cucumber roll and then we got crab and avocado wrapped in cucumber. One dish was better than the next and we finished it all off with a single mango mochi.

We left stuffed and had a great night sleep before awakening to our most dreaded day of the year. It was comforting to know that almost everyone sleeping in our hotel was feeling the same way about this day, the 31st of January. The first thing on the agenda was an interfaith service at the monument. There was a Chaplin, a Rabbi, and the most beautiful prayer in Hindi. The passengers on the flight were diverse and thus their families are. I am not a very religious person but left the morning service feeling lighter and more at ease for the rest of the day.

We had a couple hour break between this service and the big memorial at 3:00pm. I suggested we buy some orchids for our family to add to their name places on the beautiful sundial. My mom and I drove own a dirt road to Hatfield’s Orchids where we met George and got 5 very different and absolutely beautiful orchids. I must say that everyone in this community is so kind to us and they suffered too having this tragedy in their backyard.

We arrived back at the monument where we have been so many years prior. The crowd was bigger than it has been in the last 7 years and it was especially nice to see all the rescue workers again. The United States Coast Guard led the event; followed by families, poems, and music.

The rest was a blur of tears, synchronistic moments, and reflections. The names of each passenger was read, a bell was tolled, and a family member placed a rose down. At 4:22 the exact time the plane hit the water a helicopter flew by, a moment of silence was had, and we all gathered in a circle and held hands. It was nice that this year’s circle was bigger. A decade marked deserves it. This year I learned some interesting things I never knew. First, Hueneme means resting place. I also learned the rainbow bridge Native American fable that said there was a rainbow bridge that connected the channel islands to the mainland and when people crossed they couldn’t look down or else they’d drown. However, it was said that if you died in the ocean your soul would be taken on by the dolphins. Being able to see the herds of hundreds of dolphins at sea yesterday was so comforting. I am glad my mom decided to get her dolphin tattoo this year. It has been 10 years, my life is forever changed, but I am now ready to share my story with you. It is too beautiful not to. While I had a great loss, this preventable crash brought about the most NTSB recommendations. Hopefully, their lives are not in vain and at the very least I have gained an emotional attachment to a once unknown beautiful town and community.  It is so much more than the place in between LA and Santa Barbara.

In remembrance of my family. My little grandma Jeannie who gave me an early appreciation for all of the world’s cuisines and made me sample it all in her kitchen and beyond. To my Uncle Bob who was a South San Francisco firefighter with the greatest sense of adventure as a rock climber, paraglider, and Three Stooges enthusiast. My 4 month old cousin Emily who was the youngest passenger on board. Also a big nod to my mom, who encouraged me to not only write but also post this. She has an incredible book on her own journey with grief after sudden loss and the legacy of my amazing family called, The Long Nights of Mourning.

A Very Untraditional Trip Home for the Holidays

27 Dec

It wasn’t easy getting home this holiday season. I was in my first car accident and felt the need to take my car straight to the auto body shop and then realized I was carless to make my trip to Santa Cruz. Thanks to everyone’s best friend, Facebook, I found out that two jr. high and high school friends that currently reside in LA were heading home for the holidays. They were kind enough to give me a ride and we reminisced on old memories on the way home. We listened to a song called “Too Close” by Next and I told them that when the song came on at junior high dances I remembered living the lyrics of, “Step back you’re dancing kinda close, I feel a little poke coming through on you.” It was so poetic to have so many shared experiences with a group of people you never see. We arrived late on Christmas Eve. It was just enough time for my 8 year old brother and I to make cookies for Santa and leave out carrots and celery for the reindeer. He then asked, “Does Santa like organic nonfat milk? ‘Cause that’s all we have.” I started laughing and he responded the best way possible, “Are you gonna tweet me?” Of course, I did.

Good thing my brother, Cody, and I did so much work for Santa. He was granted an electric Razor on Christmas morning. He doesn’t yet need the electric razor for facial hair so his razor is in the scooter realm. Since we are Jewish we also attended Temple Beth El on Christmas Day for a Fiddler on the Roof singalong and a chinese food lunch. It was a great deal of fun but my 90 year old grandfather who was born to kvetch was annoyed that they only served him water…what, no Diet Coke?!?!

The day after Christmas was relaxing and wonderful. My mom always complains that she eats too much when I visits and gains a minimum of 2 pounds. I am proud of this fact and love for her to indulge in my gluttonous lifestyle. This day was so no exception. My mom said she felt sick from eating too much, I was unimpressed. My little brother, on the other hand, polished off a 1/2 rack of ribs from Bruno’s BBQ by himself, that I was impressed by.

It was on this day that my mom shocked me by saying that she wanted to get a tattoo the next day. She has never had one and doesn’t seem like “the type” whatever that means. A sad anniversary is coming up for my family and I absolutely felt her need to mark this event. There was a name I always grew up hearing and it was Frank Fumano, who gave my grandpa his tattoo and who was my mom’s big first crush. Reading my mom’s book of poetry that she wrote when she was my age was chilling and her poem about Frank was always the most poignant for me. My mom once heard that Frank died and when she learned that he was alive and well and working in her hometown of San Mateo excited her beyond belief. She didn’t know what to do, and as the mother of an Uncouth Gourmand, she ended up sending a fruit basket to his office-the tattoo parlor. She knew that if she was going to get a tattoo only Frank could do it. Since I already have one, 2 orange elephants in the shape of a heart with the word for a good sigh written in Japanese (although hot tea has to be in your mouth to say it correctly), I was there for support and to monitor. The name of the tattoo salon is Al’s Rock of Ages and it is run by Al who has a ton of funny jokes and stuff to look at in his shop. By the way, if you have to go to the bathroom it is free to pee but a penny for a poo. Obviously, the highlight for me was being able to meet Frank and to help my mom get exactly what she wanted. Well, Frank was really the artist but I like to think that I helped.

Nothing about this holiday trip home was traditional but it was all so much fun. In the words of Fiddler on the Roof, “Tradition. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof!” All I can say is sometimes being a fiddler on the roof is fun and exactly what a holiday season needs!

Me: In a Nutshell

29 Aug

I don’t really know what any of this means but here are my classifications:

Sun: Libra
Moon: Aquarius
Rising: Leo

Myers-Brigg (MBTI): ENTJ

Enneagram: 8

Level of Education: MBA

Sex: Female

Location: Pasadena, CA USA

Age: 22

Ethnicity: Jewtina (Jewish and Salvadorian)

Political: Moderate Democrat

Are there any other ways I can categorize myself? Let me know.