Thursday, June 8, 2017

Oliver Oil

Don't get any fur in it, you'll never get it out

And now for something completely different-- a digital painting! It's still food-related though, honest. Back in January, I began a private commission for painting an olive oil label featuring an owner's cat... aptly named Oliver. Cats? Puns? Food? I'm so on board. 

First round of sketches

When working with a client of any kind, I have a consultation with them first to discuss subject matter, timeline, and budget. I try to absorb as much info as I can about what they're envisioning, and then I get to sketchin'. I had received quite a few reference pictures of Oliver, who is one of those floofy cats that sometimes gets a hilarious lion cut. His face also conveys a lot of what I like to call "judgemental attitude." It's like he's peering directly into your soul and judging what he finds.

Second round of sketches

My client enjoyed all three sketches, but we both felt like it needed more oomph. For round two of the sketches, I suggested we pull in super tight around the cat's face so we could really convey that facial expression.

Color comps

We both really liked the one with the olive branch in his mouth, so it really helped sell the "Oliver Oil" concept. After all, this bottle is meant to sit next to a stove and be used, we'd better be sure what's inside! Once the sketch was approved, it was time to move to color comps. We chose option #2, and I began to paint!

Closeup of "Resting Judgeface."

I've painted a lot of fuzzy characters in my time, but I've never really, y'know, painted fur. Like in detail. It was actually quite fun to do, once I'd figured out a technique that worked for me. Once the painting and hand-painted text was buttoned up, my client had the challenge of "how to put it on a bottle." The issue with a label like this is that you need for it to be waterproof so the oil doesn't ruin the design. It takes a special sort of paper, and most "custom" olive oil label printing services require you get at least 10.

Spitting image!
And so this is the solution my client came up with! The bottle ended up being a different shape than the one we'd planned for, but I still think it turned out quite cute. I'd like to come up with my own solution to printing olive oil (and wine!) labels, because I want to design more!

Interested in me painting your pet (or something else) for a custom wine or olive oil label? Feel free to email me at joie (at) heyjoiecomics (dot) com. If you like, you can check out my other illustration work, too!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Starbucks UniFrappe: Liquid Unicorns or Liquid UniCant's?

Prepare your retinas AND your taste buds to be seared!
By now I'm sure there's no one left in the US who hasn't heard of Starbucks' newest drink, the Unicorn Frappucino. There have been tons of Instagram photos of it, articles discussing how the baristas are all definitely about to mutiny, Katy Perry spitting it out after one sip, and some woman telling her husband about her pregnancy with it.

In my tiny corner of the internet, I am known as a Unicorn Lover (some might say "Expert"). I have unicorn art on my walls, unicorn soap, unicorn clothing, unicorn makeup brushes, and even a giant, hand-painted carousel unicorn in my living room.

Of course I'd been tagged in posts about this upcoming drink approximately 8,437 times in the week leading up to the release. I had seen the ingredients list. I had extreme reservations at the idea of the "mango and sour" flavors it was going to have.

But I persevered because how could I not? I am a Unicorn Lover. I prepared my pancreas by giving it a blanket, a hot tea, and lots of soothing affirmations. I also set up an Instagram Live event, because by golly, if I was gonna do this, I needed an audience!

I wanted to order a Short. Really, I did. I did not WANT 33g of sugar floating in my bloodstream, or my pancreas turning to dust in a fit of frustration. But alas, Starbucks told me no. I was forced to get the Tall size, and, for the sake of the food illustration and full experience, I also got it with the dang whipped cream.

It was a rather pretty, saturated confection with swirls of retina-searing magenta and blue. The cloud of whipped cream looked lovely with the pink, glittery sugar topping all of its white crests. Alas, it was supposed to also have blue powder, but I think my Starbucks decided I didn't need it in my life. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise at the end. I had to add the blue in the illustration on my own, for accuracy.

So. I had an audience, an extremely, extremely brightly colored drink, and had prayed to the insulin gods.

It was time.

The first sip was an actual punch in the face. We're talking mouth puckering, eyes watering, absolute gag reflex. I had accidentally gotten a full mouth of just the blue sour syrup... and it had been several decades since the last time I'd had a Warhead candy. It caught me completely by surprise, and I had to take a moment to recover before I could continue. The pink part didn't really taste like mango-- it was more just... "fruit." Once I swirled some of the blue and pink together (and no, Hungry Readers, it did not color change), the sour and fruit worked together to make.... a new flavor.

A flavor that wasn't bad. But it also wasn't good. I didn't completely hate it, but I also definitely did not want to drink the rest. I ended up having about half, but by this point I'd hit about 17g of sugar and I tapped out.

I'm sort of offended, honestly. Here I am, a resident Unicorn Expert, and Starbucks didn't consult me on what unicorns taste like? I mean, they didn't consult Katy Perry either, but I digress. Unicorns do not taste like sour mangoes, or sour fruit of any sort. They taste like marshmallows. Maybe cotton candy (although I'm not a fan of that, personally). Perhaps they could even taste like white chocolate. But sour mangoes? No, sir, I don't like it.

Here's my main takeaway: it was a fun promotion, and I'm glad I gave it a try. I got to do a nice illustration of it, and I don't have many reasons to bust out  markers that are that bright, usually. As a matter of fact, I didn't have all the shades I needed in that level of brightness, so I did have to do a bit of digital work after I scanned the original.

Perhaps some may say that us mere mortals can't fully appreciate the taste of unicorns, but I for one think that's not the issue. I believe we mortals can't possibly imitate the magic that is unicorns. We shot for the moon and landed... I dunno, somewhere in west Jersey?

If you also want to have a sugar rush and then a headache afterward, make sure to get your drink by this Sunday when the promotion ends!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Common Cupcake Types

Hello passengers, my name is Joie and I'm your tour guide today on our Sugar Safari! We're out to spot some colorful confections today, so keep your seatbelts buckled, your insulin ready, and your peepers peeled! And remember, no flash photography as these desserts are wild and dangerous.

Ah, and here's our first cupcake now, just off to your left. Chocolate cakes can come in many shapes and sizes, but this one is especially majestic in that its chocolate icing has been salted! The salt decoration is the meager beginnings of what will become a lovely mating display later this season. Chocolates have some of the highest populations here, and tend to be found grouped up with Vanillas.

Ah! Quick, grab your cameras folks-- this lovely syrup watering hole up ahead has a visiting pack of Strawberries. Look at that one, she's a beaut! Perfectly fluffy white buttercream icing, glossy berries, and a lovely polka dot wrapper. Great specimen, that one!

This area is well known for its citrusy cakes, and this Lime is no different! Its lime crest buried in the cream cheese frosting denotes its rank within the group. This one is especially powerful, and may even be the Alpha. Sir? Sir, I need you to get Little Timmy to pull his arms back inside the vehicle-- we don't want to challenge the KEY Lime in a battle of dominance!

Quiet now, folks. Here we've come upon some cakes hunting. Food is sometimes in high demand without enough to go around, and it appears that the Confettis are closing in on a herd of sprinkles-- which are cakes' favorite prey. Sprinkles are incredibly difficult to catch because of their agility, so a cake pack has to work together seamlessly to feed themselves. Watch the way that the Confettis use their colorful appearance to hide in the tall grass. Waiting. Watching.

Oh gosh, what's this?! A Velvet interloper has entered the scene! Seeing a Velvet on its own is fairly rare; he must've been an old Red that got usurped by a more powerful one and driven away from his pack. He's looking quite lean on sprinkles, which is likely what's driven him to just run at the sprinkle herd without a plan. Desperate times call for desperate measures! The Confettis don't look happy about this at all-- the sprinkles have been alerted to danger and have wisened up. Looks like no one will be getting dinner tonight.

And what's this? Oh, oh my. Here we have the completed the circle of life-- just off to the right. It appears that a juvenile Black Forest cake may have strayed too far from his group. The world is a dangerous place, and rogue Forks can be anywhere! From the stab marks in the ground here, I would guess it was a group of no less than three that found the Forest by himself.

Let's be honest, "Gone" really IS the most common type of cupcake.
Well, that concludes our Sugar Safari for the day, ladies and gentlemen! We are back in the safety of the Visitor Center, so please make sure you have all your belongings before exiting the vehicle. Thank you for going wild cake spotting with me today, and be sure to check out the gift shop on your way out! See you next time!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Kato Chef Tasting: 4th Course

These ribs might be short, but they're tall on FLAVOR
Be sure you've tasted course one, two and three before moving on to this one!

So at this point in the meal, I've noticed a trend. Each dish has a stronger flavor and heavier consistency; they play upon the tasty notes that have already been established, and are definitely ramping up to a crescendo. We've got a Flavor Symphony, here! Is this how all meals are meant to be? Is this real life?

These short ribs with turnips and chili were mind blowing. The flavor was hearty and while quite heavy, and the meat was extremely soft and supple. It had been cooked in such a way that it practically fell apart on my fork... which led to some scrambling and attempts at covering up how ungraceful I am. The turnips on top lent the dish a nice crunch to it without detracting from the flavor. I dipped each bite in a tiny bit of chili sauce to really round things out with a ZING!*

This illustration was particularly challenging because of the delicate veins in the turnips-- they're so subtle that I had to be careful not to overdo it.

Next will be course five of the chef tasting, in which we go full tilt flavor!

*I used to hate hot sauce, but I'm slowly becoming a lover. I'm pretty sure this was a house sriracha, and it was DELIGHTFUL.


So you might've noticed I was missing for quite awhile, and it was because of WonderCon! As a working artist, I have to exhibit at comic and art conventions in order to grow my audience, sell my wares, and meet art directors. Each show requires a ton of prep work, and then a certain amount of recovery time afterward as well. This show was totally food related though, as I just debuted my very first set of food illo art prints and pins!

Deliciousness for your wall or photo frame!

If you missed WonderCon and were interested in getting your hands on these prints or the accompanying pins, stay tuned: I'll be opening a web store soon! If you want to stay up to date on the things I get up to as an artist, sign up for my newsletter. It's a weekly "open diary" on what it's like to be an artist, what new work I have, upcoming shows, and (eventually) coupon codes for the store!

Sign up here! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Kato Chef Tasting: 3rd Course

You see that fish there? It's so soft that it's like eating straight butter. Oh yeah.
And we're back with the amazing Course Three in my Kato Chef Tasting Experience. Be sure to read parts One and Two first!

Something that I thought was remarkable about Kato's dining room was how small and minimalist it was. The walls are light, the floor is wood, and there are absolutely no frills. Artwork sprinkled around and a simple tea light on the tables count as the decor. I'd say there are, what, 10 tables total? 15? I find it interesting that they took this approach, and I expect that it's so you can focus on the food. No gaudy decorations or talking animal heads here! (Apologies to lovers of Rainforest Café, heh.)

I suspect that's also why they don't serve any alcohol, and their drink selection is extremely limited. Green tea or sparkling water work just fine when alcohol could detract from your enjoyment of the delicate flavors they're putting in your face. Plus, realtalk, as a restaurant owner I bet it's just easier to get through life when you don't have to worry about booze permits.

So! The delightful third course of the evening was trout with chili and seared cabbage. This dish, seriously. UNG. I almost died when I put it in my mouth. The trout was cooked in a sous vide so it actually burst apart as soon as it left my fork, and the amazing flavors locked inside are the kind you'd write home to mom about. Or... write about on a blog on the internet.

The chili sauce is apparently fermented, and while it has a dash of heat, it uses it subtly to enhance the other flavors. The seared cabbage* is crisp and its strong flavor sticks with you long after this course is over, but in a good way.

Stay tuned for Course 4! "How many courses ARE there?" you ask. The answer is five, plus dessert, plus additional food we ordered at the end to round everything out. In other words, I've got a lot of drawing to do.

* I am definitely not supposed to eat cabbage. That's that FODMAP thing again that I mentioned before. I'll get around to discussing it, one day. I ate it anyway though, in the name of art!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trader Sam's Passionate Python

Lemony Snake-it's "Series of Unfortunate(ly Empty Cuz I Drank Them) Drinks"
I went to Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland recently, and ordered this delightful drink called The Passionate Python. "Ah," you say, "NOW I get the joke in the caption." Well ssssspotted, Hungry Reader! This drink is described in the menu as "Dark and Aged Rums, Red Passion Fruit and Tropical Juices garnished with an Orange Peel 'Python.'"

I really enjoy drawing drinks-- there's a fun challenge in their simplistic design. Drawing glass and getting the subtle gradients shifts in the liquids just right can be tough, especially with markers. Markers are a rather unforgiving medium, mind you. One small twitch and it's all over.*

This particular illustration was an exercise in playing with layering techniques. I don't like going straight into a piece with my most vibrant marker-- no no! I'd rather layer a saturated color over a less saturated base to keep the color from becoming unnatural (not... that the color of this drink was natural, but I digress).

To achieve this bright red orange without going overboard, I first put down a layer of Goldenrod (PM-69), put Poppy Red (PM-13) on top, and then finished it with hits of Scarlet Lake (PM-5).

"But what about that ghostly lemon peel and the straws in there?" you wonder. There are clearly no pen lines, so how did I do that? I'll tell you in Parseltongue: Ssssssssssss sssssssssasaaasss sassssssssss shhhh sssssss! You're welcome.

*Note to self and others: Do not attempt to Marker while drinking the subject of this illustration. The results won't go well! Please Marker responsibly.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Kato Chef Tasting: 2nd Course

There is no ham in hamachi
Welcome back, hungry reader! This is the second post in a series about my Chef Tasting experience at Kato Restaurant in Santa Monica. If you haven't yet, be sure to read Part One first! Kato is a restaurant that specializes in Chef's Tastings, and is a Californian/Japanese/Taiwanese hybrid. And no, Chef Tasting doesn't meant we ate the chef, in case you were wondering.

Kato itself is hidden in the corner of a strip mall in Santa Monica-- it can actually be quite difficult to spot until you're practically standing on top of it. One might even call it a Room of Requirement-- it's impossible to find unless you're desperate for tasty, well-crafted food. The dining room is terrifically small, so you MUST make reservations... and make them, like, a week out because this place is very popular.

So on to our second course, which was hamachi and cucumber topped with a charred scallion sauce. What are the herbs on top? I'm not entirely sure, as I'm not good at identifying these things by sight yet.* Fennel? Maybe? The dish's flavors were gentle, cool, and seemed slightly pickled. This made an excellent pair against the good punch in the mouth that the charred/smoky flavor of the sauce gave you!

Stay tuned for the 3rd Course coming soon!

*I'm learning, I swear. At least, it's on my "To Learn" list. So I'll get around to it. No really!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Kato Chef Tasting

You can't find delightful piles of fish like this easily
Last month we tried out a highly rated restaurant in Santa Monica named Kato, a Californian/Japanese/Taiwanese hybrid chef's tasting restaurant.

Hungry Reader, you may be asking "Um wat?" which is the exact same question I asked myself because I, too, think in memespeak. Luckily for you, I went and found out! A chef tasting is when a restaurant's chef designs a menu that takes customers on what I like to call a food experience. A Foodsperience, if you will. The flavors of each small course are meant to work together like a team to send you to Tasty Town.

It began with what's called an amuse bouche, which is sort of like an appetizer but smaller. It literally means "to amuse your mouth." It was a tapioca snack with roe (fish eggs), and while it was brownie-like, was also very salty. Think "sea salt brownie with heavy emphasis on the sea and possibly as dark as it is because maybe squid ink?" Regardless, it was delightful and I was ready for more!

We then received our first course, which was tuna tartare with eggplant and herbs over crispy rice. Seriously I put this thing in my mouth and the world stopped*. The rice gave it a fantastic crunchy texture that contrasted with the softness of the tuna. The vinaigrette had almost a minty note to it, and the shallots gave the sauce absolute sass. SASS, I say! The dish was very light overall, which, by the end of the meal I learned is the best way to start a Foodsperience so you can build a flavor symphony over time.

But more on that next time with Course 2!

*"The world stopped" is going to be a phrase that I use often in this series with Kato, because spoiler alert: THE FOOD IS REALLY GOOD

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review: Fiesta Martin

Yes, that fish still has its head

So my husband and I moved last fall, and in our old neighborhood we had an amazing sushi place. It was so good that we went about once a week. We always lamented though, "Gosh, we really wish we had a good Mexican place around here."

Lo and behold, our new neighborhood has a dearth of sushi (sigh), but has the exact sort of Mexican place we asked for: Fiesta Martin at 1330 N La Brea. We've been here quite a few times, and the atmosphere is warm and inviting. The service can be a little slow, but it never lacks for friendliness. I think we've had the exact same waiter every time, and this dude is just the nicest. Is he the Martin that likes to Fiesta? I can't say.

The menu here is nothing short of huge-- there's an array of house specials, seafood, caldos (soup), and appetizers. Their tacos are tasty, the fajitas phenomenal, and the burritos boat-sized. For me, a win is that they have chimichangas. I know that they may be a cross-cultural invention... but I just happen to like them. Also, their salsa is of particular interest to me, as it doesn't have many onions/the onion chunks are large enough that I can pick them out.*

A repeat dish I've ordered is the mojarro frita, which is an entire tilapia, deep-fried. Yes, with the head on. It's crispy, light, and is seasoned well. There are also plenty of things that are more traditional like the Milanesa (A+!), and then some truly this-is-a-bad-idea-but-it-looks-so-good dishes such as the Camarones Costa Azul (A+ for clogging ones' arteries!).

The chili powder on the rim was a... surprise

The drink menu is staggering as well-- they've got standard margaritas, and then complex, frankly ridiculous-looking cocktails that feature sidecars and upside down beer bottles that seem to defy the laws of gravity.

My favorite drink, however, is called the Cantarito and it originates from Jalisco, Mexico. It's served in a clay pot, has tequila, grapefruit soda, various fruit juices, and then has bits of fruit floating on the top. Plus, the drink is less than $8. As a previous graduate student, that is the perfect price to get a bit fancy, especially here in Los Angeles.

So is the food good? 4 out of 5 tacos!
Expensive? Nope
It's LA, what's the parking like? Meh, there's a tiny parking lot out back, and some street parking in the surrounding neighborhood.
Good for groups? Yes
Reservation required? Nope!
Is it QUIET? No, but especially no when there's some sportsball game going on.
Final verdict: YUM. Fiesta on, Martin. Fiesta on.

*No, I don't hate onions. I actually rather like them, but I have to keep my diet fairly low FODMAP, which I will get into at a later date on this blog. Feel free to Google it now if you like though. Go on, you know you're curious.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Petit Fours from Valerie Confectionary

Tiny ovens, anyone?

If you're an LA local and you haven't visited the Grand Central Market downtown yet, get thee a Lyft and go. Right now. I'll wait. No, really.

Back yet? Or maybe you're at work and can't leave your desk. Alright fine, I'll just tell you about it instead. The Grand Central Market is a magical wonderland that brings together various LA cuisines and cultures in a delicious way, and each time I go my definition of "YUM" gets redefined.

We went this past Saturday evening, and we happened to catch Valerie Confections when it was open. The first time we went to the market it was closed, and I spent a good 15 minutes trying to lick the chocolates through the display case.

We were able to sample their petit fours in two flavors: Earl Grey and Champagne. I haven't mentioned this yet here on my blog, but my favorite dessert? Cake. And cake dipped in chocolate is an upgrade to an already perfect dessert, especially when said chocolate is named "the best chocolate in LA" by Los Angeles Magazine. So.

The Earl Grey petit four had a very strong bergamot flavor to it, but was light and airy.* The lemon ganache on the outside was extremely complementary, and I was left feeling refreshed. There was a tiny silver fleck on top, and I suspect it may have been silver lustre dust.

The Champagne honestly didn't taste like champagne at all, but I didn't mind. I loved that it had dark, bittersweet chocolate, and the buttery cake inside really broke up the flavor before it became overwhelming. The tiny bit of edible gold on the top was a nice touch. "But what does gold taste like?" you ask. I... don't think it's meant to have a flavor. But I'm still learning, so maybe it was just too subtle for me to have noticed.

The end verdict: I can't wait to try more from Valerie's. Besides the petit fours they've got chocolates, truffles, toffees, cakes, coffees, and more, so if you like sweet things you're probably covered. Go try it!

*As an aside, I'm a weirdo and have always maintained that bergamot has echoes of a Froot Loops flavor. I am apparently not the only person who has this opinion, but maybe the rest of you may think I'm insane. Doesn't matter, because it's my favorite tea thank you very much.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sous Vide Pork

You really can't lose when you have mashed potatoes

Have you seen the new cooking craze, Sous Vide? Well, it's not new-new-- the technique has been around since 1799 and was "rediscovered" and refined in the 60s and 70s. It's basically where food is put inside a vacuum pouch and cooked at a steady temperature by water or steam.

It's "new" in that now it can be achieved with a fancy kitchen gadget that is finally affordable for the average consumer. It is an electronic stick that you put in a pot of water with your vacuum-pouched-food, set the temperature, and let 'er fly.

My husband and I got one for Christmas, and let me tell you-- it makes AMAZING meat. We've used it to cook steaks a few times, and in this case we cooked up a pork tenderloin that turned out phenomenally. It was mouth-wateringly moist, and the salt and pepper we put on the outside really brought out the flavor of the meat.

Did YOU know that pork tasted like something? I mean, bacon notwithstanding. Pork actually has a flavor. I used to not be a huge fan of pork, and I'm wondering if I just kept having overcooked meat all the time. That's understandable, since there was that whole trichinosis scare back in the day. I'm pretty sure I cooked my porkchops into a pile of ash out of fear.

Now they say it's really not that much of a threat anymore. And thank goodness for that! Our pork was perfectly medium-well all the way throughout, and exceptionally juicy. We paired it with some mashed potatoes (frozen, yes I know... travesty, but they work in a pinch!) and some steamed spinach.

Have you tried the sous vide technique? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Heeeey Margarita!

There aren't many uses for this lime green color marker... besides this.

So this "drawing my food thing" began with me just sketching various things I ate for lunch. After a few goes at it, I found another simple and easy object to practice drawing-- drinks. I have frequent access* to them and they're visually interesting, so it seemed like an easy fit. This and the last drawing in particular were the first time I'd attempted to add some color into the mix with my old pals: Prismacolor Markers.

In undergrad in 2007, I did an entire semester of independent study with markers, so I own over 100 of the things. I know, I know. Sacrifice food for the expensive art supplies, I know.

Anyway, I spent three months finding only two books on the subject out in the wide, wide world, and one cost $70. $70! Do you know how many bottles of very cheap wine that is? Or alternately, it's about 20 markers.

I instead made my own book that was a glorious 60 pages of swatches, technique trial and error, and my first set of fully-rendered marker pieces. Where is that book now, you may ask? No clue. I may have chucked it at one point, once I went to grad school and was told that digital art was the way of the future. What a letdown, am I right?

Fast forward ten years, and I'm finally using them again.** I still love and need my computer to maintain an income, but it feels SO GOOD to get away from that glowing screen and make something with my hands again.

*I mean, I AM an artist. Writers have this same thing too, I hear.
**Can we talk about how amazing it is that they haven't dried out in all this time??

Monday, January 9, 2017

Wine o' Clock

When you want some wine, but all you have in your pocket is $2

Who doesn't love a good drink after work? I used to hate wine, but became a huge fan of it when I was in grad school; I was living in the wine-centric city of San Francisco at the time. Sonoma and Napa are just two hours north, after all!

I even remember my first lesson about wine types outside of just knowing them as "red" or "white." I was invited to a dinner at my friend Maggie's house, and she told me to "bring a cab." In confusion, I showed my ignorance by asking if she meant I should use a cab to get to her house.

"Oh... um. No, it's a wine. Look for a sign in the grocery store that reads Cabernet Sauvignon."

My friends in San Francisco were exceptionally patient with me. I still laugh to this day about some of the dumb questions I asked them!

That evening was my introduction to what would end up becoming my favorite type of red wine even to this day. I really enjoy the dry "punch you in the mouth" flavors that Cabs typically have.

That said, wine is also expensive, especially for an at-the-time graduate student. How does one solve this problem? Why Two Buck Chuck, of course! I learned it was easy to budget for $2/bottle every now and then, and so "Wine O' Clock" (also known as "Sunday Wineday") was born.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Hello, I'm Hungry

I'm a sissy and can only handle literally three drops of hotsauce on my avocado. And that's AFTER training for it!

Ladies and Gents, Ready Your Forks 

My name is Joie Foster, and welcome to Refining My Palette, my shiny new blog all about food and food illustration. Yes, it's a food pun. Deal with it, there will be plenty of those here.

I'm a Los Angeles-based illustrator, and I work in a variety of industries including comics, animation, and tabletop games. I've always been a food lover and wanted to learn more about it, but focusing on making my art career work has pretty much taken over my life.

I went to art school, and predictably it was a lesson in "what's the cheapest and fastest ways to eat?" I spent my entire undergrad breathing and bleeding art... and eating a ton of ramen. Or Hot Pockets. Lean Cuisine. Tiny Costco pizzas... Wendy's value menu. You get the picture.

Graduate school brought me a whole new dilemma-- I'd learned a bit about cooking and food, but now had absolutely zero money in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the world. I legitimately could not afford to buy or cook meat in my postage stamp sized apartment, so I had to get creative with vegetarian meals I could cook en masse and eat the leftovers for two weeks. So, you know. Rice. Lots and lots of rice.

One of my more creative attempts at using up my Thanksgiving  leftovers this past year.

So now I'm an "Adult." Or so says my driver's license. I've since learned at least some basic-plus (that's when you're one step past basic, but definitely not intermediate) cooking skills, and have come to appreciate better food than my academic career might indicate. I've also entered an age decade that begins with "3" and just gotten married. That's about the most adultiest-adult thing you can do besides paying taxes.

We got tons of great kitchen gear from our amazing family and friends, and as I was reading the very complicated instructions on how to season our new wok I thought, "Wow, I really wish I knew more about food so I feel like I can do this thing justice."

And thus was born this new little side project of mine: refining my palate. Learning to cook better, learning to define tastes better. What spices can I use besides just basil, salt, and pepper? What sort of flavor goes well with another? What IS the best way to cook a steak? Why is it that you have to tie a turkey's legs together?* Only, as I'm an artist, it isn't just going to be a side hobby-- no. It'll also be an illustration expedition as well. So Refining My Palette it is!

So welcome, please feel free to subscribe and follow me on social media and stuff. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram. If you're curious about seeing more of my comics and illustration work, please feel free to check out  my portfolio website!

*Oh yes hungry reader, I, along with my husband, was in charge of cooking the 23 pound turkey for Thanksgiving this year. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing... but somehow the thing turned out delicious and no one died from undercooked poulty. Whew. Skin of our teeth on that one...