Other WelchWrite Blogs: My Word with Douglas E. Welch - Career Opportunities
- TechnologyIQ - Careers in New Media

Home -- Contact Me -- Search Welchwrite.com -- Subscribe to AGN
Douglas' Events, Appearances and Seminar Calendar

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Madeleine Bistro Opens in Tarzana

Crossposted from My Word...

This week our friends and fellow parents from school, Molly and David Anderson, have opened their new vegetarian/vegan restaurant, Madeleine Bistro. As a confirmed carnivore, I can tell you, this vegetarian cuisine is among some of the best food I have ever tasted. Any of you who know me personally understand just what a compliment this is!

Two weeks ago, Rosanne and I attended a "pre-opening" which featured a 6 course tasting menu of the many dishes that Madeleine Bistro will feature on their regularly changing menu. Even though I am a notoriously "picky" eater, and not fond of vegetables at all, I ate, and greatly enjoyed 99% of everything I was served. It was a wonderful meal on the scale of many of the fine restaurants in Los Angeles. The added kick of it being vegetarian was merely a wonderful extra. We both walked away that evening with one of the best food "highs" we have had in a long time.

My favorites from their current menus (linked below) include:

Thai red curry - Pan-roasted tofu with basmati rice cake, late spring baby vegetables
"Chicken"-fried seitan with Mashed potatoes, pan gravy, baby carrots, haricots verts
Cajun Caesar Sandwich - Blackened seitan, Caesar dressing, French roll, plantain chips
Madeleine club - Chicken-fried seitan, tempeh bacon, sourdough bread, plantain chips
Raw blueberry-lavender soup with Strawberry-kiwi-lemon sorbet terrine, macadamia tuile
Flourless chocolate cake with Whipped creme, raspberry coulis, creme anglaise

I also enjoyed several other dishes that are not on the current menu, including an artichoke risotto that was amazing. I look forward to being able to try this again in the future.

If you or your friends are into great food that happens to be vegetarian, please stop by Madeleine Bistro and enjoy yourself!

Lunch Menu | Dinner Menu

Madeleine Bistro
18621 Ventura Blvd.
Tarzana, CA 91356
(818) 758-6971

Dinner: Tuesday through Thursday: 5:30pm - 9:30pm
Friday and Saturday: 5:30pm - 10:00pm

Lunch: (beginning Wednesday, June 1st)
Tuesday through Friday: 11:30m - 2:00pm

Sunday Brunch: (beginning Sunday, June 12th)
Sunday: 10:00am - 3:00pm

Closed Monday

Monday, May 30, 2005


We have seen our garden's first Passionflower bloom!

I scavenged some seeds from a neighbors vine a few years ago and planted a few around the yard to see what would happen. Nothing, it seems, is what would happen. (SMILE) Then, out of the blue, or perhaps out of the ground, a vine sprang up in a large pot by the front door.

While the butterfly larvae have been well-fed by the vine, it hadn't put off any flowers. Then, a few days ago, Rosanne and Joe noted a single, lovely bloom. Joe tried to take a photo of it, but the focus was off. I went to take another, but it appears that the blooms close up during the heat of the day. I will grab one as soon as I can and post it here.

For more information on Passiflora vines, visit this Google Search.

Gazebo Plans from Black & Decker

If you are (MUCH) handier than I am with power tools, you might be interested in this online set of plans and directions for constructing your own Victorian-style gazebo. I wouldn't attempt it myself (nor do I have the space for it), but it seems nice that you can find information like this, for free, on the Internet.

Gazebo Plans

(Via del.icio.us/tag/garden.)

Gardening and the Long Weekend

There is something about a long holiday weekend that makes you want to get out into the garden. Of course, now I am a bit sore.

This is certainly not my favorite job. My arms usually end up feeling like jelly by the time I am done, but it only takes a couple of hours at the very most and then I don't have to worry about it again until next year.

Luckily, the weather cooperated perfectly this weekend, with temperatures barely breaking into the 70's. In years past, I have had to sweat it out in 90 degree temps, grumbling the entire time. Rosanne and Joe were also out visiting Nonna so it seemed like a great time to get it done. I put my iPod on and listened to podcasts the entire time I worked. That also made the time pass quickly. Nothing like getting a little knowledge while you do physical labor.

As I was finishing up the raking my neighbor stopped by to ask if he might take some limbs off a cedar tree that border our properties. It seems it was leaking sap badly and ruining the finish on his car. I really like these neighbors, they have helped us out many times in the past, so I had no problem with this. In fact, since the tree was crowding out some others and really didn't look that good, I thought we might just remove the entire tree. This is part of the on-going "editing" that has to be done here, thanks to the previous owner's dramatic over-planting.

After looking at the tree for a while, though, we realized it was too big of a job for us. We didn't have big enough ladders to reach the top and might end up injuring ourselves. So, it is time to pull out the checkbook and bring in the tree company, again. This is one expense I don't really begrudge as most of our trees are well beyond my ability to trim or remove. Still, it does get expensive.

Now that the azaleas are trimmed, I can see where the weeds have taken over the various paths, so now it is time to do a little digging and mulching to neaten that area and start the prep for our Italian guests (arriving in mid-July) and our big summer party.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Addressing garden landscape issues

I am somewhat blessed in that I don't have any major problems with my property. Sure, it is a bit shady and the tree roots have dried out some areas, but I don't have drainage problems, rocky or any other issues that would cripple my garden.

If your garden is not so lucky, though, this article can give you some pointers on dealing with the issues and building a garden even where it might not seem feasible.

It's Not a Problem, It's a Feature I've been talking a lot lately about working with the conditions you have and not fighting nature. David Beaulieu has a wonderful FAQ of Landscape Solutions for Problem Areas. If you think you're plagued by too much rock or a...

(Via Gardening.)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Container Recommendations

This short article by CISCOE MORRIS nevertheless has some good recommendations on plants for those containers sitting around your garden. Now where did I put that urn? (SMILE)

Contain(er) yourself! (5/26/2005) The key to a dynamite container garden is the right centerpiece. It sets the theme and provides a framework around which to build your masterpiece. The centerpiece must stand out either because it is decorated with showy flowers or fruit, features colorful foliage, or sports unusual form or texture.

(Via Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Gardening.)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

More pine pruning adventures

I have been taking advantage of the nice weather lately and fallen to SPring/Summer cleanup tasks again. Last night, as a family, we spent 2 hours working in the front garden.

The rains caused an explosion of grass everywhere, so much pulling and cutting still needs to be done. We are slowly making progress against it, but it is difficult to get to some of the grass as it is growing right out of the tightly knit azalea and juniper beds. The pebble paths, randomly strewn with flagstones also defeat any easy attack. the grass loves to grow right along the edges of the tone, making it almost impossible to use a hoe or hand digger to get it out. I have used a bit of Round-Up in the past, but I haven't in the last several years. Too much environmental baggage tied up with it, I guess.

I finished up the last 2 small pine trees along the street. Both were terribly over-grown. (I really need to prune more often, time slips away) It only took me an hour or so to do both and they look nice, clean and sculptural again instead of simply a shaggy green mess. I assume some of you will tell me if I am doing something entirely wrong with these trees. I am guessing in my pruning, for the most part, and going for looks over any sort of botanical style.

When I prune anything in the garden, I try to consider how animal browsing and weather would have effected the plant if it wasn't in an urban setting. Would the deer have nibbled off this part or that? Would the snow have broken this limb or the other? Than I try to bring the plant into a natural looking style based on those thoughts. It makes pruning very zen-link. I tend to lose myself in the act, almost like painting or drawing.

I have 3 or 4 more of these pines to trim, but they are smaller and less over-grown, so it shouldn't take me very long. The next big project is taking the hedge trimmer to all the geometrical azalea beds. This job only takes a couple of hours, but I am totally wiped out by the end of it. Holding my arms are odd angles turns them to jelly by the time I finish. I have thought about breaking it into sections, but once I start it drives me to complete the entire set. Wish me luck!

Summer is here, so check out your irrigation setups. I need to repair a few drip lines and check out the older soaker hoses, but I think things are in fairly good shape.

Keep Digging!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

How to Succeed at Seed Starting

I need to spend some time with this page, as my seed starting attempts are haphazard at best. I think my problem is probably lack of patience, as well, but that effects all aspects of my life. (SMILE)

This page comes from North Dakota State University - NDSU Extension Service, but I think most of the information applies everywhere.

How to Succeed at Seed Starting very detailed instructions

(Via del.icio.us/tag/gardening.)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Pruning pines prudently

Got the itch to work a little more tonight. I tackled the pruning on 2 of small pines up front. This time I got pictures of before and after. The first is an un-pruned tree and the second is a smaller tree that has already gotten its haircut.

I really like the sculptural element of the trunk with the foliage in a sort of "ball and stick" along it. The pruning seems dramatic now, but in a few weeks they will settle back into a less stark look. These pruning seem to last at least a year before I have to re-do them.

It feels quite artistic to look at each limb, note which was it is twisting and which way I want it go go next. It is almost like painting for me. I tend to get lost in it until my pruning hand or back starts to hurt.

I have about 6 more to do in the front garden, but some of those are less overgrown. I guess they receive less light and grow more slowly.

It feels good to get back in the garden. I am finding my old sense of enjoyment in cleaning up after Winter and looking forward to the Summer on its way.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Time, energy and the right job

It is a rare gift these days when I can get all three of these items into alignment and actually get something done in the garden (I almost wrote "...in the office). Something always seems to be taking me away or draining my energy to such an extent that even sitting in the garden seems a chore. This is really just a trick of the mind, though. If I take the time to relax and let go of the day-to-day cares, the garden finds a way in.

These evening I wandered out to the back garden and noticed a few small things that good be cleaned up. The un-killable Sickle-thorn fern had sent out new, large shoots well above the rest of the plant. The fern is aptly named. It has these small but exceedingly sharp thorns. I wonder if it would be of any use against deer? In the past I have cut this plant back to the ground and yet it still returns. I suppose I would have to dig up the roots to truly get rid of it.

Our 9-year-old rosemary bush is doing well, even in the partial shade, but it needed a haircut. It has grown large enough now, so I performed a bit of topiary on it, forming it into a serviceable ball. My son thought it looked near, so that is praise enough. (SMILE)

Finally, I started my pruning of the small pine trees that dot the garden, front and back. I am training these into a semi-Japanese-style, treating them almost like an overs-sized bonsai. I trim the branches so that the limbs bend this way and that, creating twists and gnarls over time. After 9 years, I am actually starting to see some interesting results. Only about 6 more to go now. I shouldn't wait any longer to do this job, though. As temperatures rise, the trees release more and more sap with each cut and it can turn in quite a messy operation.

Finally, I trimmed a few, small dead branches off of the Japanese maple. It looks as if a few were damaged with all the wind and rain we have had this year. Nothing serious, though, just a bit of tidying up.

I am amazed at how large the trees have grown since we moved in 9 years ago. It is only over time that you can appreciate the growth. Even then, you don't notice it all the time, just when something catches your eye, like the wire that has become totally engulfed by the trunk or the way the locust tree now covers nearly the entire area of the roof, when before, it barely reached above the patio awning.

We are preparing again for our usual Summer garden party, with people playing music, kids running about and a gathering of good friends. It is time to pick up the pace a bit, but today was a good start.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Garden art?

This gallery of carved watermelons takes the concept of garden art to an entirely different plain. Get one for your next garden party.

Carved watermelons of great splendiferousness

This gallery of carved Chinese watermelons is a garden of delights: every click brings up a new height of amazing, baroque, delicate fruit-art. Link

(Via Boing Boing.)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Roses for Shade

I think I need to look into some of these roses for my garden. I love roses, but over the 9 years we have lived here, the garden has gotten shadier, not brighter, due to the continued growth of the many trees on the property. We have "edited" out quite a few trees over the tears, but the garden is still waaaaaay over-planted. Even worse, the trees have become so large that I can no longer prune or remove them by myself. I have to bring in the tree crew and that is starting to cost real money. Still, I am going to have to bite the bullet as the willow tree in the back garden has expired and needs to be removed before it falls on something important.

Rosy Shade - Roses for Sun Challenged Gardens Roses for shade? Well, almost. While all roses enjoy a full day in the sun, many will grow just fine in partial shade. Heavy bloomers and rugged rugosas that thrive in full sun, will bloom a little less in partial...

(Via Gardening.)